5-at-10: Weekend winners and losers, free bracket contest, March Madness projections, so long Aaron Donald

Scottie Scheffler celebrates after winning The Players Championship golf tournament Sunday, March 17, 2024, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)
Scottie Scheffler celebrates after winning The Players Championship golf tournament Sunday, March 17, 2024, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

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Weekend winners

Scottie Scheffler. Dude has figured out how to golf his ball. Scheffler steam-rolled TPC Sawgrass Sunday with a 64 to repeat as The Players champion. Is the Masters going to be a cakewalk for him, and moreover, has there been a more dominant player on Tour since Tiger in his heyday than the current version of Scottie?

Bruce Pearl. Man, Pearl was calling ball plays in Nashville, no? His Auburn Tigers made tidy work of a strong SEC field that sent eight teams to the tournament. With the possible exception of Kirby Smart and Dawn Staley, is there anyone else in college sports with the job security Pearl has currently?

Sports fans. This is such a great, great, GREAT sports week. Plus, MLB starts Wednesday morning with Dodgers-Padres in Korea.

Justin Fields. The former first-round pick goes from the clown show in the Windy City to Pittsburgh where he a) gets to play for Mike Tomlin and Arthur Smith, who was a dreadful HC but has proven to be a good OC, and b) has zero expectations as he competes with Russell Wilson for the QB1 gig. And that the Steelers have those two in the QB room and got them for the league minimum (Wilson, who is collecting fat checks from Denver) and a sixth-round pick is swindlous. Pretty sure I made up the word swindlous, but I kinda like it.

Chatt Prep hoops. Netting a state title without a senior class is boss sauce. But calling Chatt Prep a "public" school is debatable. Couple of years ago, they had a middle school football team that would have smoked most of the high school football teams in their Class A league. Chatt Prep is going to be a handful in football and hoops for years to come.

Weekend losers

Fans of greatness. Aaron Donald called it a career over the weekend, and of all the tremendous stats, two jump off the page to me. First, Donald and Barry Sanders are the only players in NFL history to play at least 10 seasons and be selected to the Pro Bowl in each year. Second, he's a three-time defensive player of the year, and there are only three dudes in that category — Donald, JJ Watt and some cat named Lawrence Taylor. That's elite company. Best DT ever?

Rick Pitino. Ha, ha. Pitino's St. John's crew made a nice tournament run, but they were left outside the NCAA bubble. Couldn't have happened to a nicer chap.

Jon Rahm. So if a LIV golfer sounds off and no one is watching the CW, does it make a sound. Look, I get the LIV folks making the decision to cash Saudi PIF checks that can cover the wants and whims of their grandkids' grandkids, but go play in your short pants and quit bagging on the PGA folks. You made your choice. Beat feet.

Blake Snell. Seriously, a lefty Cy Young winner can't land a MLB team? I get the injury concerns, and I know Scott Boras is the anti-Jerry McGuire, but man, I hope the Dodgers make the call. Or how about AA? One year, $30 million to have a top-of-the-rotation ace on a team poised to win the whole ball of wax?

Iowa's women. Yes, they got a 1 seed, but the fightin' Caitlin Clarks got a nasty draw that includes LSU — yes, the defending champs — in the bracket as a 3. Yikes.

Trev Alberts. The former Nebraska All-American football player was the NU AD before leaving his alma mater for the same gig at Texas A&M. That's not losing the weekend of course, but when the brackets were dropped, guess who Nebraska drew in an 8-9 first-round match-up? Yep, Texas A&M.

My picks. Of course we got above 101-plus units, which meant we had a weekend cooler. So it goes.

Brackets, baby

So it's selection Monday. That means we have brackets everywhere.

We have hurt feelings.

We have gambling, and contests — yes, we will do the Last-in, First-out challenge again this year — and coaches spewing venom.

We have bubbles that burst and 12 seeds breathing a sigh of relief.

We have superstars eyeing a chance to craft a forever legacy and the real possibility of a repeat champion with UConn.

We have sneaky match-ups and some scary double-digit-darlings lurking and ready for the chance to pounce on a power five foe.

This is arguably the best week of the sports year folks, and it's right before us.

So, let's roll with some NCAA bracket big guesses, shall we? I think we shall.

First, someone make the seeding make sense to me.

The committee said UT was the top 2 seed, which is fine since the Vols got bounced in the SEC quarterfinals.

But if UT was the top 2, why are they not in UNC's bracket since the Heels were the last 1?

And while we were here, Auburn got hosed. Period. A 4 — and apparently the lowest 4 — after winning the SEC tournament?


And in truth, UConn got hosed, too. The Huskies — allegedly — were the top overall seed, but they got Iowa State as the 2, and the Cyclones are legit, and Auburn as the 4 in a brutal bracket.

Again, nah.

As for the money picks, let's look around.

In the East, I have Auburn over Iowa State to get to the Final Four. Of course it's a homer pick, but you got to back your boys right?

In the West, let's take Arizona over Michigan State, so yes, UNC is the first 1 I have losing.

(Side note: The Last In, First Out contest is free and open to everyone. The rules are simply, you get 1.1 points for picking the last double-digit seed to be eliminated and 1 point for correctly guessing which 1 seed will be the first one bounced. Easy-peasy, lemon squeezy. Questions? Deadline is Noon Thursday.)

In the Midwest, I'm leaning toward Tennessee over Gonzaga and the Vols making their first Final Four in program history.

In the South, Houston over Kentucky in a barn-burner.

With the exception of Arizona, Auburn, Houston and Tennessee are three of the top-five defensive teams in the country by almost every metric.

And that matters.

Until it doesn't of course, because the Madness is on us.

This and that

— Fields was not the only QB1 on the move over the weekend. Jimmy G joined the Rams, and the Steelers sent former first-round pick Kenny Pickett to Philly.

— I think this is pretty cool, to be honest, that UTC's women will face NC State and former then-Lady Mocs coach Wes Moore, who was a Big Dance regular during his great run here in Chattanooga. Here's more from Gene Henley, the TFP UTC beat writer.

— We mentioned Scottie Scheffler winning The Players. Of the Baylor School crew, Harris English finished tied for 19th and made more than $285K over the weekend. Keith Mitchell made $49,750 for finishing last over the weekend among those who made the cut. Wow, that's good work if you can get it, right?

Today's questions

Weekend winners and losers, go.

Multiple choice Monday:

What was your biggest takeaway from the bracket release? Go.

As for today, March 18, let's review.

Not a lot, to be honest, so if we did a Rushmore of defensive linemen, who makes it along with Aaron Donald? And Reggie too, of course.


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