Princeton. Wow, our boys are wicked smart. Speaking of smart, Josh M. had a perfect "First 1 Out, Last One In" entry with Purdue and Princeton. We had more than 50 entries, if you also think you got a perfect 2.1, please email me today or forever hold your peace. As for the Ivy League Tigers, somewhere Pete Carril and Bill Bradley are smiling like Cheshire cats, you know?
Alabama. The arch villains of the NCAA draw are the last very good team standing in its regional with a clear path to the Final Four before it since 2 Arizona, 3 Baylor and 4 Virginia were all bounced in the first weekend. Heck, to get to the title game, the highest opposing seed Alabama could face is third-seeded Michigan State.
TCU bettors against Gonzaga on Sunday night. How about this roller coaster in the final seconds, which registers as one of the best wins/baddest beats in my betting memory: Gonzaga was -4.5 and leading by 7 with 15.6 remaining and the ball. TCU steal and foul. TCU makes both free throws. Zags up 5 with 13.7 left. Gonzaga inbound leads to a breakaway dunk. Zags up 7 with 8.4 left. TCU buries a 3. Zags up 4 with 3.4 left. TCU fouls to the chagrin of every TCU bettor everywhere and Gonzaga makes both free throws. Zags up 6 with 0.7 left. Ball game right? Nope. Rolled inbound pass not touched for more than 60 feet, scoop, shoot, swish at the buzzer. Zags 84, TCU 81 and a miracle cover in less than 16 seconds that felt like 16 days for more than a few of us.
The person who put $33,000 on Farleigh Dickenson to beat Purdue at plus-1500. Yeah, that paid right at half a million dollars. That will make you a weekend winner.
Giannis. Dude hit a perfect triple-double, going for 22-13-10 on 9-of-9 shooting. Side question: How is Giannis only getting nine shots, coach? That said, the headline read, "Giannis Antetokounmpo makes history" but since he's the 13th player to have a perfect triple double -- and the second this season -- is that really making history?
My first-round picks. We made money both days, going 10-6 Thursday and Friday despite a slew of bad beats in between.
My Saturday picks. Man, research helps. I shared what I was riding on Saturday and posted a big fat bagel-for-6. Yep, the imperfect perfection. I pulled the plug on Sunday and took a family break. We'll be back at it today. Deal? Deal. See you at 5.
John Calipari. Egad. I have forever stood by this as the greatest compliment I can pay a coach so the inverse has to be the greatest criticism, no? Over the last half decade, John Calipari's Kentucky players are way, way, WAY more talented than the Kentucky team. Look at the river of talent he has assembled (something he deserves a ton of credit for since he's also in charge of recruiting and roster management) and compare that to the results. Everyone is bagging on Tony Bennett's last five years, and that's completely fair since Virginia has three first-round exits to double-digit seeds, a missed NCAA and a natty in those five years. But look at Cal's last five years in which there was a tournament: Second-round exit, first-round exit to a 15, Elite Eight loss to Auburn, Sweet 16 loss to Kansas State, Elite Eight loss to UNC. Would you rather have Bennett's roller coaster or Calipari's consistent underachieving?
The WBC. By all measures and reports, the World Baseball Classic is a fun event filled with passion, emotion and stacked lineups. That should be a good thing, especially for a sport that needs all of those now more than ever. But man, can we do something about the scheduling? If you thought the World Cup over Christmas was bad, anything against the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament is a nightmare. Seriously, name any other sporting event besides college hoops that got more than 15 minutes of your time this weekend.
Auburn's second half. Wow, what a gag job. Epic. (Well, until the Hawks on Sunday turned a 20-point third-quarter lead against the woeful Spurs into an inexplicable home loss.) And in truth, this one falls on Bruce Pearl, who did not account for any of the Tigers 12 million missed shots and 8 million missed free throws in a classic, "Houston, we have a problem" second-half collapse. But Pearl chatted with the CBS sideline reporter right before the break, and the last words out of his mouth were, "We got 20 minutes to go," which was a) a message he likely conveyed to his Tigers and b) screams of "let's just hold on for dear life fellas" and playing (and leading) not to lose.
The seeding committee. Wow, this year was crazy right?
So, it's not everyday that any college basketball team makes Duke the sympathetic, Daniel LaRusso-level victim.
(Side question: Yes, Johnny Lawrence and the Cobra Kai went too far, but LaRusso was not innocent in the confrontations that culminated in the most anticipated All-Valley Karate Finals ever, you know?)
Still, Duke has always been more bully than bullied. A March fixture that perceives to get every break, get more than its fair share of whistles and get pass after pass, even when Coach K issued his very haphazard and convenient "Respect the game" speeches. (Side note: Surprising how almost all of Coach K's bully-pulpit moments were after a somewhat surprising Duke loss through the years, you know?)
Here's more on Tennessee's win over Duke from Paschall.
Anyway, so Duke, its fans and its army of former players who either went to the NBA or to ESPN, are all a tizzy because Tennessee pushed them around in a decidedly physical and equally as decisive Vols win in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
It also caused Florida Atlantic's coach to get his jokes on after his FAU bunch bounced Cinderella Fairleigh Dickinson on Sunday. When asked how his team will prepare for Tennessee, Dusty May made the most of his first step into the spotlight.
"We're going to study Australian rugby rules and get ready for the Vols," May told the press after Sunday's win.
Whether he was was trying to get a spot in next year's rotation of ESPN guest commentators or not, May's spin is savvy.
Forget all the Duke crocodile tears and faux outrage for a second. Because, yes, it's laughable that we are in a place in sports that a team using its clear edge -- Tennessee was stronger, older and deeper than the Duke teenagers on the floor Saturday -- is a bad thing.
Is Jay Bilas going to campaign for rule changes because Duke got pushed around and ultimately pushed out of the NCAA tournament? Maybe.
But May's preemptive strikes is a smart play and continues to direct the narrative about UT's "thuggish" and physical antics on both ends of the floor.
That now becomes a story line not just in what happened but will will happen this weekend in the Sweet 16.
And goodness anyone who knows the Pac-12 from Pac-Man knows college basketball referees love to make any meaningful moment about the guys in stripes blowing whistles.
So FAU has the early lead, and here's betting Rick Barnes will not be outdone. He'll downplay his team's style of course and may even be self-deprecating in some ways with something along the lines of "When you struggle scoring as much as we do at times, you have to win anyway you can."
But here's hoping he and the Vols embrace the physicality of their play and their clear edge in strength and size.
Have Josh Heupel run some Oklahoma drills in the first Sweet 16 practice that the media gets to see. Have the basketball team come out for a lay-up line in helmets.
Because if May and the media are trying to get into the refs' heads about Tennessee's style, here's hoping Barnes and Co. make sure Tennessee's style is in FAU's line of sight too.
Either way, Saturday's win may be one of the biggest ever for a UT program that has seen a surreal number of ups and downs this season.
Did they leave one of the sport's true bluebloods black and blue and bloodied? Yep. They sure did.
But 40 years ago, a guy coaching a collection of players no one thought could win coined the March adage, "Survive and advance."
Now the Vols are adding their own Ivan Drago slant to the saying, focusing more on the advancing and not really caring who survives.
This and that
-- Stephan Jaeger had an up-and-down weekend, but an up-and-down weekend on the PGA Tour still means you get paid, and more times than not, paid well. Jaeger shot 72-74 over the weekend and fell to a tie for 27th at the Valspar. He pocketed $53,190 for the effort. Wanna know how crazy the purses in modern golf are, well, buckle up. International star Gary Player made $1.8 million in PGA earnings and Johnny Miller made $2.7 million. Since turning pro in 2012, Jaeger has made more than $3.2 million on the PGA Tour.
-- So Adam Sandler is to have his name etched with the all-time greats of American comedy and Whoopi Goldberg by receiving the Mark Twain Prize. Got to admit, that's pretty awesome, especially for a guy who started his career as "Stud Boy" on the MTV game show "Remote Control." Wow.
-- Interesting note from the above story on Sandler, of the 24 all-time Twain recipients, a third have been part of Saturday Night Live. Sandler joins former cast members Bill Murray, Tina Fey, Will Farrell, Billy Crystal, Eddie Murphy and Julia Louise-Dreyfus. Lorne Michaels, who created SNL, won the Twain Prize in 2004.
Weekend winners and losers. Go.
As for Multiple Choice Monday, let's do this:
Pick your favorite Adam Sandler movie:
-- "The Waterboy"
-- "Happy Gilmore"
-- "Billy Madison"
-- Other (and please specify)
As for today, March 20, let's review.
Some all-timers were born on this day. Carl Reiner would have been 101 today. Mister Rogers would have been 95. Bobby Orr is 75 today.
Kenny Rogers died on this day in 2020.
Does he make the Rushmore of celebrities who made it big in the food business?
Go and enjoy this final day of winter.