Good morning to everyone but especially to...
THE MEN'S FINAL FOUR
Your bracket is very likely busted, and for good reason: For the first time ever, there are ZERO 1 seeds, 2 seeds or 3 seeds in the men's Final Four. Let's get to know the group headed to Houston: 4-seed UConn, 5-seed Miami, 5-seed San Diego State and 9-seed Florida Atlantic.
When I think of UConn, I think dominant. The Huskies' smallest margin of victory so far in the NCAA Tournament is 15 points, and their 82-54 Elite Eight destruction of Gonzaga was the largest margin of victory in an Elite Eight game since 1992.
- It starts in the middle with Adama Sanogo, who has been second to none. He's averaging 20 points and 9.8 rebounds while shooting over 65% from the floor in the Tournament.
- Like any great team, though, the Huskies have plenty of perimeter talent, too: Jordan Hawkins nailed six 3-pointers in the win.
- Basically, there are lots of reasons UConn is far and away the favorite to win it all.
As for who the Huskies face next... when I think Miami, I think guard-tastic. And I don't care that it's not a word. The Hurricanes' awesome guards were a huge reason I took them to make them the Elite Eight, and I wish I had gone one step further because the Hurricanes are into their first Final Four after rallying past Texas, 88-81.
- Do-it-all 6'7" guard Jordan Miller shined brightest: 27 points on seven-for-seven shooting and 13-for-13 free throws.
- It's the second-most points with perfect field goal and free throw shooting in NCAA Tournament history: Christian Laettner had 32 in 1992 against Kentucky, the game in which he hit "The Shot."
- Miami closed the game on a 37-17 run.
- Jim Larrañaga is the fourth coach to make multiple Final Fours as a 5 seed or worse.
- Here's our Dennis Dodd on the Hurricanes.
When I think of Florida Atlantic, I think tough. So, too, did Kansas State head coach Jerome Tang when he spoke to the Owls after they beat his team, 79-76, in the Elite Eight. The Owls have won 35 games this season. Our Matt Norlander got to know the Owls, and he concludes, "This team is capable of winning the national championship."
In order to do that, they'll first have to beat San Diego State, and when I think of San Diego State, I think consistent. The Aztecs rotate nine different players, and for all their differences, they all defend and hustle like their lives depend on it. Scoring on the Aztecs is nearly impossible, with long limbs flying everywhere. Creighton was the latest victim in a 57-56 thriller.
- Darrion Trammell was fouled -- perhaps controversially -- with 1.2 seconds left, and hit one free throw to give the Aztecs the win.
- The only team to break 60 points against San Diego State this Tournament is top overall seed Alabama. The Crimson Tide got to 64 -- 18 fewer than their season average.
- Just one player averages double figures, but eight average at least six points.
Here's our early preview of the men's Final Four.
- Texas will offer the full-time job to Rodney Terry.
- The Timberwolves got a huge win at the Warriors.
- For the first time since 1998, the Cavaliers are going to the playoffs without LeBron James.
- Sam Burns won the WGC-Dell Match Play.
- Tyler Reddick won the Texas Grand Prix.
And not such a good morning for...
THE DALLAS MAVERICKS
On Feb. 5, the Dallas Mavericks traded for Kyrie Irving, signaling they were all-in on winning a title.
Meanwhile, for months it's been clear the most important thing the Hornets can win is the upcoming NBA Draft lottery. But that doesn't mean Charlotte can't play spoiler, and that's exactly what it did, beating Dallas on Friday (117-109) and again on Sunday (110-104).
- The Mavericks are now 11th in the Western Conference, one spot out of the play-in, and have lost four straight.
- Dallas is just 3-8 when Irving and Luka Doncic both play. Overall, the Mavericks are just 7-13 since acquiring Irving.
- Irving, meanwhile, called out fans for booing.
Things hit a new low Sunday with Doncic picking up his 16th technical foul of the season, meaning he's suspended one game. There's plenty of blame to go around, writes our Michael Kaskey-Blomain.
- Kaskey-Blomain: "The front office will have to be held accountable for failing to build a formidable team around Doncic... Similarly, Jason Kidd will have to answer for the team's woes, especially on the defensive end, where they rank in the bottom third of the league. Kidd's lack of urgency is also somewhat alarming. ... Doncic is a generational offensive talent, but his extreme ball-dominance doesn't make it easy for other stars to flourish alongside him."
There is time and opportunity -- the Western Conference standings are really tight -- for Dallas to get right, but the margin for error is shrinking.
Not so honorable mentions
- Joel Embiid is questionable for a potential MVP showdown against Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets.
- Tottenham and Antonio Conte parted ways. Spurs need a plan from ownership, writes our Chuck Booth.
Women's NCAA Tournament: Caitlin Clark makes history; UConn stunned 🏀
It's a new day in women's college basketball, and leading the charge is Caitlin Clark. In Iowa's 97-83 win over Louisville, the Hawkeyes superstar had...
- 41 points (!)
- 10 rebounds
- 12 assist
That all adds up to the first 40-point triple-double in NCAA Tournament history, men or women. She's amazing. Unreal. Choose a superlative, and she's it. Her eight 3-pointers were one shy of tying a women's Tournament record. And now she's two games away from a national title. It's Iowa's first Final Four since 1993.
The other team into the Final Four is LSU -- its first since 2008 -- after beating Miami 54-42 in a defensive duel. We have two more games tonight:
Another reason it's a new day? For the first time since 2007, UConn is not in the Final Four. Heck, the Huskies aren't even in the Elite Eight. Geno Auriemma's squad lost to Ohio State, 73-61, in the Sweet 16.
The season always seemed to be an uphill battle, at least compared to the lofty standards Geno Auriemma has established.
- Former Player of the Year Paige Bueckers tore her ACL in the summer and missed the entire season.
- Azzi Fudd also missed significant time with her own knee injury.
- UConn also lost consecutive games for the first time since 1993.
Make no mistake: UConn will be back, with both Bueckers and Fudd leading the charge. But this year won't belong to them.
LeBron James returns from injury, but Lakers fall to Bulls 🏀
After missing 13 games due to a right foot injury sustained in late February, LeBron James is back.
However, he couldn't lift the Lakers to a win in his return, losing to the Bulls, 118-108.
- James came off the bench for just the second time in his career and posted 19 points, eight rebounds and three assists in 30 minutes.
- He also showed signs of rust, especially with five turnovers. That was a big issue for the Lakers as a whole, who turned it over 18 times compared to the Bulls' nine.
- The Lakers went 8-5 in those 13 games without James, and they are currently ninth in the West. They have seven games left this season.
Oh, and I'd be remiss to not mention Patrick Beverley trolling his former team.
Yankees' top prospect Anthony Volpe makes Opening Day roster ⚾
The Yankees appear to have their new shortstop, and they have a Spring Training breakout to thank for that.
It was announced Sunday that Anthony Volpe made the Opening Day roster after battling with Oswald Peraza and Isiah Kiner-Falefa for the shortstop job in the spring.
- Volpe, 21, hit .314 with six doubles, a triple, three homers, five RBI, 13 runs and five stolen bases in Spring Training.
- That last category is notable: He stole 50 bases last season, and steals should be up this year thanks to rule changes.
- Our R.J. Anderson had Volpe as the 12th-best prospect this season.
What we're watching Monday 📺
🏀 Elite Eight: Maryland vs. South Carolina, 7 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 Mavericks at Pacers, 7 p.m. on NBA TV
⚽ USMNT vs. El Salvador, 7:30 p.m. on TNT
🏀 Elite Eight: Ohio State vs. Virginia Tech, 9 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 76ers at Nuggets, 9:30 p.m. on NBA TV