Last night I watched two titans battle it out, trade punches and provide two solid hours worth of entertainment in a showdown that we've been waiting for for a long time. Oh, you thought I was talking about the men's national championship? Absolutely not ... that game was over after about 20 minutes. I'm talking about "Godzilla vs. Kong," baby.
Good morning and welcome to Tuesday, friend. Last night's title game between Baylor and Gonzaga was surprisingly lopsided, and perhaps in a surprising direction. Baylor proved to be the superior team (at least when it counted most) and now they've emphatically stolen a piece of immortality from the Zags. Well, you know what they say ... nobody's perfect. Hope that makes you feel better this morning, Gonzaga!
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We also had a big NFL trade go down yesterday so we'll take some time to examine the impact that deal might have on the rest of this offseason, the upcoming season and beyond. Today also happens to be a Tuesday, which means that my mailbox is open for mailbag submissions; feel free to send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) asking about whatever you want ... sports, pop culture, video games, anything else might interest you.
On to the good stuff!
📰 What you need to know
1. Baylor chews up Gonzaga, wins national championship 🏀
And then there was one. March Madness and the college hoops season came to an end last night as a national champion was crowned on the men's side of the bracket -- and Baylor stands alone at the top of the college basketball world this morning. The Bears spoiled Gonzaga's hopes of a perfect season (and our hopes of a close title game) by jumping all over the Zags early and never relenting en route to a 86-70 win in the national championship. Gonzaga never led in the title game.
Baylor played strong defense, rebounded well and hit timely shots (many from distance) to cruise to a convincing victory on Monday, and now they have their first national title in men's program history. Some winners and losers, from our David Cobb:
- Winner: Baylor's redemption arc -- When Scott Drew took over took over the Baylor job in 2003, the program was in shambles. They hadn't made the tournament since 1950 and the school was embroiled in national scandal following the murder of Baylor player Patrick Dennehy. But Drew promised to lead the Bears back to relevance and, after nearly two decades of building and polishing, he's led them to the promised land
- Loser: Gonzaga's shot at history -- Not since 1976 has an undefeated team won the national championship, a streak that Gonzaga had the chance to end last night. But, for the second time in the last four complete seasons, the Zags fell one win short of the program's first national title. Given the historic implications, this one probably stings a little extra
- Winner: Baylor's transition game -- Not only did the Bears play excellent defense and force Gonzaga into making plenty of mistakes (especially early), they also thrived in transition. Baylor converted 14 Gonzaga turnovers into 19 points and regularly found shooters in transition to maximize the output of each possession.
- Loser: Impact of foul trouble -- Several key players found themselves in foul trouble on Monday night, on both sides. Flo Thamba, Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua, Jalen Suggs and Drew Timme all spent time on the bench because of fouls. Ultimately, Baylor's depth paid off, as the Bears held a 21-7 edge in bench scoring
Obviously the Zags are going to be incredibly disappointed that they couldn't cap off the perfect season, but the title game loss won't erase what still stands as an all-time great season from Gonzaga. The Zags went 410 days between losses, and that's something to be proud of. Unfortunately for them, Baylor was good enough on Monday to deny that ol' "team of destiny" label that was attached to Gonzaga.
Personally, I wasn't particularly cheering for either side but more rooting for a close, entertaining game -- especially after putting some money down on Gonzaga +8.5 in the first half. Unfortunately, the gap was never closed and the entertainment value suffered a bit because of it, but at the end of the day I'm just thrilled that we made it through the tournament.
Let's do it all again next year, but hopefully with less cardboard fans.
2. Jets trade Sam Darnold to Panthers 🏈
Another NFL offseason domino fell yesterday and -- surprise! -- it's a trade that involves a quarterback. We all pretty much saw the writing on the wall for Sam Darnold in New York, and the Jets closed that chapter by trading him to the Panthers on Monday. Carolina gets Darnold while the Jets get a 2021 sixth-round pick, a 2022 second-round pick and a 2022 fourth-round pick.
You know the deal ... now's when we hit the knee-jerk trade grades, courtesy of our Jared Dubin:
- Panthers: B+ -- Carolina has been seeking an upgrade (or at least a different direction) at quarterback after one season with Teddy Bridgewater at the helm. Darnold didn't live up to his promise in New York, but he's still young and the change of scenery could be really good for him. The Panthers will now have a two-year window to evaluate Darnold while paying him low-end starter money. That opportunity could be worth the cost
- Jets: A -- The Jets have the No. 2 pick in a draft stacked with QB talent, so they were inevitably going to move on from Darnold. To get a package that includes a Day 2 draft pick (even if it's a future) is a very strong return for the Jets -- considering how poorly Darnold has played over the past few years
There's no question that Darnold's existing body of work leaves a lot to be desired (he had a league-worst 72.7 passer rating with Jets last season), but you also have to consider that the Jets didn't exactly set him up to succeed. He was pressured on a league-high 42.4% of dropbacks in 2020, and he already has more weapons in Carolina than he ever did with the Jets. Plus, there's a long history of players finding success once they stop playing for Adam Gase, so maybe there's hope for Darnold in Carolina.
It's also worth considering that Darnold is still younger than you might think. He'll turn 24 in June, meaning he's actually six months younger than last year's top pick Joe Burrow.
Ultimately, this deal now opens up two big questions: Who do the Jets like for their new quarterback at No. 2? (The latest mock draft from our Ryan Wilson has BYU's Zach Wilson going to New York.) And what happens with Bridgewater? (The most logical solution seems like a trade, though Panthers GM Scott Fitterer said "we're going to find the right place for him, whether it's here or someplace else.")
3. Hubert Davis takes over at North Carolina 🏀
It didn't take the North Carolina Tar Heels long to find their replacement for Roy Williams, and they didn't have to look very far either. UNC announced yesterday that Hubert Davis will take over as head coach of the program, giving the school its first change of leadership in nearly two decades.
- Davis was a star guard for the Tar Heels under Dean Smith from 1988 to 1992
- He left a cushy broadcasting job at ESPN to join Williams' staff in 2012 and has spent the last nine seasons as an assistant for the Tar Heels
- Davis has been heavily involved in recruiting, bench coaching and scouting during his time as an assistant -- including during UNC's title run in 2017
Davis always seemed like one of the most likely candidates to be Williams' successor because he checks a lot of boxes. Part of the UNC family ✅ Deep love for the program ✅ Coaching experience ✅ Familiarity with what it takes to win in today's world of college hoops ✅
This is undoubtedly Davis' dream job and I'd imagine the possibility of this opportunity is a big reason why he decided to leave ESPN nearly a decade ago, Now the job is his and the pressure is on. Don't screw it up!
4. Avalanche take over top spot in NHL Power Rankings 🏒
I've been doing NHL Power Rankings all year long and only one team has sat at the top of the rankings through this entire season so far ... until now. The Tampa Bay Lightning have finally been knocked down a notch and the Colorado Avalanche have claimed a throne they've rightfully earned with dominant play over the past month.
Get a load of this: The Avs are 13-0-2 in their last 15 games and are outscoring opponents 62-24 in that stretch, dominating possession and smothering opponents at a stunning rate. There's no question they're the best team in the league right now.
Here's the rest of the top 10:
- Golden Knights
- Maple Leafs
You can check out the full Power Rankings right here.
📝 Odds & Ends
- Fernando Tatis Jr. left Monday's Padres game after injuring his arm on a swing
- MLB is moving this year's All-Star Game to Coors Field in Denver
- Kentucky guard Devin Askew plans to transfer ahead of his sophomore season
📺 What to watch today
🏒 Penguins vs. Rangers, 7 p.m. | NYR -121 | TV: NBCSN
⚾ Mets vs. Phillies, 7:05 p.m. | PHI +125 | TV: ESPN
🏀 76ers vs. Celtics, 7:30 p.m. | BOS +1 | TV: TNT
🥇 The best thing I saw last night
We finally got "One Shining Moment" back in our lives last night and it still managed to deliver the goosebumps.