It’s a bittersweet weekend. The final day of March means our month of madness starts to fade out, but not before one last crescendo. We’ll welcome April with the crowning of champions, but one last forecast for the Final Four is in order.
The Final Fourcast
The 4 Biggest Questions for the NCAA Men’s & Women’s Final Four Weekends
The month of madness is finally coming to a close. We’ve seen a 16-seed and a 15-seed make NCAA Tournament history while all four 1-seeds failed to reach the Elite 8 in the men’s bracket for the first time ever. The women’s game saw two 1-seeds sent packing by 8-seeds in the Sweet 16 while South Carolina continues their pursuit of a perfect season. And when the upcoming weekend closes out March and welcomes April, we’ll be crowning champions.
It’s Final Four weekend and the big finale of a month to remember. Two games tonight will determine our women’s National Championship Game on Sunday while Saturday’s men’s Final Four will set up Monday’s title game. Here are the four biggest questions we’ll get answers to this weekend:
4 Biggest Final Four Questions
1. Will South Carolina Go Undefeated?
We start with the women’s tourney where Caitlin Clark (Iowa), Kim Mulkey (LSU) and the underdog Hokies (Virginia Tech) are all waiting to take their shot at the juggernauts from South Carolina (36-0). Aliyah Boston, Brea Beal and Zia Cooke are two wins from a historic perfect season, and head coach Dawn Staley has built the next great women’s basketball dynasty. Perfection is within reach, but it requires one final test.
2. Can Florida Atlantic Make History as a 9-Seed?
The lowest seed to ever win the National Championship is an 8 — Villanova in 1985 — but Florida Atlantic has risen from Conference USA and slayed one giant after another. The Owls have taken down Memphis, Duke and Kansas State, and only two games stand in the way of FAU becoming the lowest seed to ever win March Madness.
3. Is UConn One of the Best Tourney Teams Ever?
The 4-seed Huskies were a hot pick when the bracket was revealed, and there’s a reason why. Connecticut began the year on a 14-game win streak, and they were ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation before the holiday break. The Huskies tumbled after losing six out of eight, but they went 9-2 the rest of the season with those two losses by a combined five points. If you isolate that brutal three-week stretch in the schedule, UConn was 23-2, and they still ended up as a 4-seed. They’ve manhandled every opponent in the tournament to the tune of a 22.5-point average margin of victory — the fourth-highest ever. Only UCLA (1967), Indiana (1981) and Loyola Chicago (1963) have scored higher average win margins in the history of the NCAA Tournament.
4. Who Wins the Tournament MVPs?
We’ll use our fourth question to touch on both the men’s and women’s brackets. Three players stand out in the women’s game — Caitlin Clark (Iowa), Angel Reese (LSU) and Aliyah Boston (South Carolina) — and it obviously depends on which team wins it all. The men’s tournament has more options with multiple potential winners on each squad. Both Jordan Miller and Isaiah Wong are capable MVP candidates from Miami. Johnell Davis and Alijah Martin are the deserving duo from FAU. UConn is led by Adama Sanogo and Jordan Hawkins who have taken turns dominating opponents. Then, there’s San Diego State with a roster so fluid and deep that just about any starter could pop off and win the award. If it wasn’t predicated on who wins (it’s not supposed to be, but it is), then Caitlin Clark (Iowa) and Jordan Hawkins (UConn) would be the likely favorites.
Women’s Final Four Schedule
#1 Virginia Tech vs. #3 LSU (Fri. 7:00 pm ET)
#1 South Carolina vs. #2 Iowa (Fri. 9:00 pm ET)
Women’s National Championship (Sunday, April 2)
Women’s Championship Odds
South Carolina (-310)
Virginia Tech (+800)
Men’s Final Four Schedule
#5 San Diego State vs. #9 Florida Atlantic (Sat. 6:09 pm ET)
#4 UConn vs. #5 Miami (Sat. 8:49 pm ET)
Men’s National Championship (Monday, April 3)
Men’s Championship Odds
San Diego State (+350)
Florida Atlantic (+550)
Yahoo! Sports: Ranking the Final Four Starters From 1-20
Opening Day’s Best Moments
Aaron Judge Hits HR in 1st At-Bat as Opening Day Launches 2023 MLB Season
The 2023 MLB season is officially underway after all 30 teams were in action for yesterday’s Opening Day slate. Among the top moments were Yankees’ Aaron Judge — who else? — hitting the first home run of the season, the Astros raising their 2022 World Series banner, and a pitcher singing the national anthem in St. Louis. The 162-game marathon season is just getting started. Here are the best moments and a full scoreboard from Opening Day.
Top Moments From Opening Day
Full Opening Day Scoreboard
Bruins Capture Presidents’ Trophy (NHL’s Winningest Team) as History Chase Continues
Can’t say we didn’t see this one coming, but the Boston Bruins have officially wrapped up the NHL’s Presidents’ Trophy. The Bruins beat the Blue Jackets in overtime last night (2-1, OT) on David Pastrnak’s OT winner, bringing Boston’s point total to 121 (record: 58-12-5). They’re not done chasing history, though. The Bruins have seven games left to play and need just five wins to break the NHL’s single-season wins record (62) set by the 1995-96 Red Wings and tied by the 2018-19 Lightning. Boston’s 2022-23 campaign already ranks fifth on the all-time best seasons list.
Best NHL Seasons of All-Time
1. 1995-96 Red Wings: 131 Points (62-13-7)
2. 2018-19 Lightning: 128 points (62-16-4)
3. 1776-77 Canadiens: 132 points (60-8-12)
4. 1977-78 Canadiens: 129 points (59-10-11)
5. 2022-23 Bruins: 121 points (58-12-5)*
*7 Games to Play
The Presidents’ Trophy Curse
It’s the Bruins’ fourth Presidents’ Trophy in franchise history, which is tied for the second-most by any team. However, teams who’ve won the award haven’t been lucky in recent history when the postseason starts. The last nine teams to win the Presidents’ Trophy failed to win the Stanley Cup. The last team to win both the Presidents’ Trophy and Stanley Cup Trophy was the 2012-13 Blackhawks.
Other NHL Highlights
The battle of the East’s top two teams was anything but even on Thursday night. The Celtics handed the Bucks their second-largest home loss in franchise history (140-99). Jayson Tatum (40 points) led the way, and Boston is just two games back of Milwaukee.
The Nuggets are close to a lock for the West’s No. 1 seed, but the Pelicans — scrambling for play-in seeding — got a road win (107-88) behind Brandon Ingram’s 31-point triple-double. Nikola Jokic didn’t play for Denver.
The championship of the NIT featured two Conference USA squads in the finale with North Texas holding off a comeback by UAB to win their first NIT title (68-61). Tyler Perry (20 points) won the NIT MVP award for North Texas.
Fun Fact: Both NIT finalists — North Texas and UAB — hail from Conference USA, the same conference won by 9-seeded Final Four finalist Florida Atlantic.
The Sacramento Kings have officially ended the longest active playoff drought in professional sports. So who’s next? The Jets (12 years) are the new kings of playoff droughts. Here are 12 teams currently struggling to get back to the postseason. (FOX Sports)
It’s been an eventful NFL offseason thus far, from Tom Brady to Aaron Rodgers and Lamar Jackson. We’ve also watched two weeks of free agency unfold, and we now know what the teams needs to look like for the NFL Draft. (Bleacher Report)
In the five years since legalized sports betting began spreading across the country, student-athletes have reported regularly receiving abusive messages from gamblers on social media, including death wishes and threats of violence. (ESPN)