It’s one of our favorite days on the sports calendar — bracket day. Are you ready to make your picks? Don’t get too excited. Your odds of selecting a perfect bracket are 1 in 9.2 quintillion. Cue Jim Carrey — “So you’re telling me there’s a chance.”
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Release the Madness
Everything You Need to Know for the 2023 NCAA Tournament Bracket
It’s bracket time! College basketball’s conference tournaments concluded over the weekend and left behind the final 68 teams in the 2023 NCAA Tournament. There were surprises on the bubble and snubs on the seed lines, but we officially have a bracket to hyper-analyze for the next 72 hours. Alabama (SEC), Purdue (Big Ten), Arizona (Pac-12), Texas (Big 12), Duke (ACC) and Marquette (Big East) were conference champions over the weekend. Let’s rewind the conference title-game highlights and take a look at the bracket.
Big 12: Texas def. Kansas (76-56)
Big East: Marquette def. Xavier (65-51)
Big Ten: Purdue def. Penn State (67-65)
Pac-12: Arizona def. UCLA (61-59)
No. 1 Overall: Alabama
Alabama passed over Houston and Kansas for the No. 1 overall seed after winning the SEC Tournament with a comfortable blowout against Texas A&M on Sunday. Houston and Kansas both lost their conference finales and opened the door for the Crimson Tide to take the top spot.
1-Seeds: Alabama, Houston, Kansas & Purdue
Despite their losses in conference tournament title games, Houston and Kansas were two of the best teams all season long. The final spot on the 1-line came down to Purdue and UCLA, and the Boilers held on to win the Big Ten final while UCLA lost to Arizona in the Pac-12 finale. Advantage, Boilers.
2-Seeds: Arizona, Texas, UCLA, Marquette
3-Seeds: Baylor, Gonzaga, Xavier, Kansas State
4-Seeds: Indiana, Tennessee, Virginia, UConn
Last Byes: Boise St., NC State, Utah St., Providence
Last Four In: Pittsburgh, Miss. State, Nevada & Arizona St.
First Four Out: Rutgers, Oklahoma St., Clemson & UNC
Next Four Out: Vanderbilt, Oregon, Wisconsin & Michigan
Rutgers and Oklahoma State were likely the only bubble teams who truly believed they were making the field of 68 on selection Sunday. Texas A&M (7) was the most snubbed by seeding. The Aggies ended up on the 7-line after finishing second in the SEC and reaching the conference finals.
Two 13-seeds and one 12-seed have great cases for early-round upset bids. #13 Furman (vs. #4 Virginia), #13 Louisiana (vs. #4 Tennessee) and #12 VCU (vs. #5 Saint Mary’s) are first-round upsets to watch. #12 Charleston and #12 Oral Roberts are also sleepers to keep an eye on.
Conference Bid Breakdown
Big Ten: 8 Teams
SEC: 8 Teams
Big 12: 7 Teams
ACC: 5 Teams
Big East: 5 Teams
Pac-12: 4 Teams
Mountain West: 4 Teams
West Coast Conference: 2 Teams
American: 2 Teams
Release the brackets! We’ll have coverage of the First Four play-in games on Tuesday and Wednesday, as well as full schedules of first and second-round action before the weekend.
First Four: Tuesday & Wednesday (Mar. 14-15)
1st & 2nd Rounds: Thursday – Sunday (Mar. 16-19)
The Sportsletter’s Final Four
I’m sticking with 1s and 2s in my Final Four picks. I think the top 6-8 teams in the country have a leg up on the rest of the field. My Final Four: #1 Kansas, #1 Purdue, #2 Texas and #2 Arizona. Injuries to UCLA and Houston bring them down a peg. I think #2 Arizona takes down #1 Alabama. In the end, I like the Boilers and Jayhawks in the final with Purdue and 7-foot-4 Zach Edey dominating the paint to win it all (77-74).
Think your Final Four is better?
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CBS Sports: Ranking Every Team in March Madness From 1 to 68
Women’s Bracket Revealed
Undefeated South Carolina Looks to Defend Their Title in 2023 Women’s NCAA Tournament
The women’s NCAA Tournament bracket was revealed a few hours later on Sunday night, and it’s the juggernauts from South Carolina against 67 challengers. Aliyah Boston, Zia Cooke and Dawn Staley are 32-0 with just five games decided by single digits. They’re the undisputed No. 1 overall seed while Indiana, Virginia Tech, and Stanford round out the 1-line. Here’s a look at the women’s bracket breakdown and what to watch for this weekend.
1-Seeds: South Carolina, Indiana, Stanford, Virginia Tech
Everybody knew South Carolina was the No. 1 overall, but the three teams that filled out the 1-line aren’t who you might’ve expected when the season began. Stanford fluctuated throughout the year, but they stayed on the top line after winning the Pac-12 title. Both Indiana and Virginia Tech are making their first appearances as 1-seeds in program history.
2-Seeds: Maryland, Iowa, UConn, Utah
3-Seeds: Notre Dame, Ohio State, Duke, LSU
4-Seeds: Texas, Tennessee, UCLA, Villanova
Last Four Byes: Miami, Alabama, Marquette, West Virginia
Last Four In: Illinois, Miss. State, Purdue, St. John’s
First Four Out: Kansas, Oregon, Arkansas, Washington
Next Four Out: Columbia, Syracuse, Nebraska, Kansas St.
Players to Watch
Aliyah Boston (South Carolina) is the force that fuels the defending champs, but Iowa’s Caitlin Clark is the tournament’s best bucket-getter — a 3-point sharpshooter. Stanford’s 1-2 punch of Cameron Brink and Haley Jones is also must-see television.
First Four: Wednesday & Thursday (Mar. 15-16)
1st & 2nd Round: Friday – Monday (Mar. 17-20)
NCAA: 15 Players to Watch in the 2023 Women’s NCAA Tournament (Video)
Scottie, The Players Champ
Scottie Scheffler (-17) Dominates The Players Championship, Retakes World No. 1 Ranking
No drama at TPC Sawgrass. The Players Championship is famous for turning wild down the stretch, but Scottie Scheffler left no doubt on Sunday. Scheffler was near the top of leaderboard after Rounds 1 and 2 (-7), but a 7-under Saturday gave him a two-stroke lead. He carded five straight birdies on Sunday to put the field in his rearview mirror before finishing with a 3-under 69 and a five-stroke win (-17). Scheffler captured his seventh career win and the largest margin of victory at The Players since 2006. The 26-year-old took home the $4.5 million purse and reclaimed the No. 1 spot in the World Golf Rankings this week after Jon Rahm (1st) withdrew and Rory McIlroy (3rd) missed the cut.
Fun Fact: Scheffler is just the third golfer to reign simultaneously as defending champion of The Players and The Masters (Tiger Woods & Jack Nicklaus).
S. Scheffler (-17)
2. T. Hatton (-12)
T3. T. Hoge (-10)
T3. V. Hovland (-10)
5. H. Matsuyama (-9)
Other Notable Scorecards: J. Rose (-8), S. Im (-8), M. Homa (-8), C. Morikawa (-7), R. Fowler (-7), P. Cantlay (-6), J. Spieth (-6), X. Schauffele (-6), J. Thomas (E), R. McIlroy (Cut), J. Rahm (Withdraw) | Full Leaderboard
Bears Trade No. 1 Pick
Chicago Bears Trade No. 1 Pick in NFL Draft to Carolina Panthers for WR D.J. Moore & 4 Draft Picks
With six weeks until the 2023 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears traded the No. 1 overall pick to the Carolina Panthers on Friday in exchange for four draft picks and WR D.J. Moore. Rumors suggested the Bears were wanting to shop the top selection with their trust in Justin Fields as the quarterback of the future, and Chicago loaded up with draft capital and a new star receiver. Meanwhile, the Panthers have now traded away Moore and RB Christian McCaffrey in the last six months, but they control the top of the draft.
Panthers Get: No. 1 Overall Pick
Bears Get: WR D.J. Moore, 4 Draft Picks (No. 9 & No. 61 in 2023, 2024 1st-Round, and 2025 2nd-Round)
Who Does Carolina Want?
The Panthers are certainly moving up to get their quarterback of the future for new head coach Frank Reich. The consensus is that Carolina is targeting Bryce Young (Alabama) or C.J. Stroud (Ohio State). Stroud is the bigger, more prototypical NFL quarterback, and he performed as well as anybody at the NFL combine. Young has been regarded as the more accurate passer. Carolina is on the clock…
The Bruins edged the Red Wings on Saturday (3-2) for their 50th win of the season and a piece of NHL history. Boston is the fastest team to 50 wins (64 games) ever, breaking the record held by the — guess who? — Red Wings in 1995-96 (66 games). They’re on pace to break the all-time single-season record of 62 wins.
The 76ers get the NBA nod from the weekend after stretching their latest win streak to five games. Philly beat the Blazers (120-119) on Joel Embiid’s game-winner Friday night before crushing the Wizards on Sunday (112-93). Embiid had 73 points in both games combined, and the Sixers (45-22) are surging up the East.
SKIING: Shiffrin Breaks World Cup Record
Mikaela Shiffrin stands alone as the winningest skier in World Cup history. The 27-year-old American broke Ingemar Stenmark’s record with her 87th career victory in Sweden on Saturday.