Happy Monday! I know the calendar would beg to differ, but March doesn't truly begin until the NCAA Tournament bracket is finalized, so welcome to March! Selection Sunday was yesterday so of course we're going to be taking a deep dive into the field and getting some takeaways from our college basketball crew. You can also get a head start on our CBS Sports bracket games because what fun is March Madness when you don't enter a pool and let your terrible bracket ruin your life?
It wasn't just about college hoops yesterday, though. We had some big NFL news with Drew Brees' retirement (and the Saints' big-money succession plan), as well as the final round of The Players Championship.
Last night was also The Grammys and it turned out to be a surprisingly awesome show. Things were done a bit differently due to the pandemic, but it was thoroughly entertaining nonetheless. I actually really loved this year's soundstage format (as opposed to the typical arena setting) because it felt more intimate and allowed the artists to get really creative with their performances. I wouldn't hate sticking with that style moving forward (also, congratulations to my girl, Taylor Swift.)
OK, let's kickstart this week.
📰 What you need to know
1. Breaking down everything about the bracket 🏀
Yesterday wasn't just any Sunday, it was the ever-glorious Selection Sunday. Of course, that means we now know the NCAA Tournament field -- seeds, regions, matchups and all. The stage is set for the tourney and now the fun really begins.
There wasn't a whole lot of drama or many stunners in the selection process, especially at the top. Here are the most important details from the bracket reveal.
- The No. 1 seeds are Gonzaga (West), Baylor (South), Illinois (Midwest) and Michigan (East)
- Michigan State, UCLA, Wichita State and Drake were the last four teams to get in (the two play-in games will be held on Thursday)
- Louisville, Colorado State, Saint Louis and Ole Miss are the standby teams (in that order), so if a team has to exit the tournament due to COVID-19 protocols, those will be the squads waiting to fill in
Now, let's get a couple of big takeaways from our expert Kyle Boone:
- The Midwest Region is a monster: The Midwest is arguably the most dangerous region with Illinois (1), Houston (2), West Virginia (3) and Oklahoma State (4) at the top. Whichever team comes out of that section of the bracket is going to have an incredibly tough road and there will probably be plenty of carnage along the way
- Gonzaga's path will be no cake walk: The Zags (26-0) are only the 20th team in history to enter the tournament undefeated, and the last time an undefeated team won the national title was in 1976 (Indiana). Gonzaga's not going to be able to walk through the field, but they did get a favorable draw with a relatively weak region. Virginia and Kansas are dealing with COVID issues, Oklahoma has been struggling of late and the Zags have already beaten Iowa this year
We're going to have plenty more coverage leading up to the start of the tournament this week and it's safe to say we're all pretty excited around these parts. Going without the tournament was devastating last year and it feels good to have the madness back in our lives in 2021. Even just scanning the master schedule and seeing all the games laid out is getting the heart rate to spike a little.
2. Drew Brees officially calls it a career 🏈
We had an idea that Drew Brees' NFL career might be over after this past season, but that much was confirmed yesterday when the quarterback officially announced his retirement. Brees posted a video of his four kids sharing the news and celebrating the retirement, and the timing of the announcement is notable because it came exactly 15 years to the day that Brees signed with the New Orleans Saints in free agency.
- Brees played 20 seasons (five with the Chargers, 15 with the Saints). He is currently the NFL's All-Time Leader in Passing Yards (80,358) and 2nd all-time in passing TDs (571)
- He won one Super Bowl (Super Bowl XLIV) and was Super Bowl MVP
- He made 13 Pro Bowls (only Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have more among QBs ... both with 14)
- Brees: "Each day, I poured my heart and soul into being your quarterback. Till the very end, I exhausted myself to give everything I had to the Saints' organization, my team and the great city of New Orleans. We shared some amazing moments together, many of which are emblazoned in our hearts and minds and will forever be a part of us. You have molded me, strengthened me, inspired me, and given me a lifetime of memories. My goal for the last 15 years was striving to give you everything you had given to me and more."
Not surprisingly, a ton of Brees' peers took to social media to give a tip of the cap and congratulate him on a great career. As for what's next for the Saints ... well, they didn't wait long to get a new plan in place. In fact, just minutes after Brees went public with his decision, the team announced a huge contract restructure for Taysom Hill in the form of a four-year, $140 million extension.
Now before you go bonkers over Hill getting that kind of cash, here's what you gotta know:
- Hill's deal has four voidable years, so the restructure is essentially a one-year extension that will pay Hill about $12.159 million (plus incentives)
- The money breaks down like this: $9.686 million signing bonus, a $1.439 million guaranteed roster bonus and $1.034 million guaranteed base salary plus incentives
- The voidable years allow the Saints to spread out his signing bonus and free up nearly $7.5 million in cap space (Hill's hit will be $8.4 million)
Makes a lot more sense now, right? Don't worry ... I almost lost my mind when I initially saw those numbers too. And since we really don't know if Hill can be a viable starting quarterback in the NFL just yet, it's also worth exploring what other options the Saints have for replacing Brees in 2021 and beyond.
3. Justin Thomas holds on to win 2021 Players Championship 🏌
Take a bow, Justin Thomas. It's been the Bryson DeChambeau Show on the PGA Tour of late, but Thomas managed to outplay Bryson and put on a show of his own this weekend at TPC Sawgrass. JT won The Players Championship with a total score of -14, edging past Lee Westwood (-13), Bryan Harman (-12) and DeChambeau (-12) for his first win at the event.
- It's Thomas' 14th PGA win, making him the fourth player since 1960 to win 14 PGA events before turning 28 (Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Johnny Miller)
- He shot 64-68 in the final two rounds, tying the tournament record for closing 36-hole score (132)
- Thomas on Sunday: "It's a lot harder than when there weren't fans here. I fought so hard today. I stayed really patient. One of the best rounds of my life from tee to green. Total control of the ball."
And for those keeping track at home, that's two straight weeks that Westwood has finished alone in second place on the leaderboard. That's got to sting a little bit ... even though that second-place money is still pretttttttty good, if you're into that kind of thing. I could probably sleep soundly knowing I didn't win but I made $2.6 million over the course of two weeks.
4. RIP Marvin Hagler 🥊
The weekend also brought some sad and stunning news, as legendary boxer Marvin Hagler died on Saturday at the age of 66. Hagler's wife shared the news, saying he "passed away unexpectedly" at their house in New Hampshire, but no official cause of death has been given.
He leaves behind an incredible legacy in the sport of boxing.
- Hagler (62-3-2, 52 KOs) was considered one of the toughest and most beloved boxers of his generation
- Hagler was part of the legendary "Four Kings" of the 1980s (Hagler, Tommy Hearns, Roberto Duran and Sugar Ray Leonard)
- He made 12 defenses of the undisputed middleweight title he held from 1980 to 1987
- He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1993
Tributes from key figures around boxing poured in after news of Hagler's death, but the best way to remember him might be by watching one of the greatest and most thrilling rounds in the history of the sport: Hagler versus Hearns in 1985.
📝 Odds & Ends
- JuJu Smith-Schuster penned a letter thanking Pittsburgh fans in the event he leaves the Steelers in free agency
- Zach Ertz is growing increasingly frustrated by the Eagles' attempts to trade him
- Mets infielder Luis Guillorme worked an incredible 22-pitch walk during a Spring Training game this weekend
- PSG players Angel Di Maria and Marquinhos had their homes broken into during a match yesterday
📺 What to watch today
🏀 Knicks vs. Nets, 8 p.m. | BKN -8 | TV: ESPN
🏒 Flyers vs. Rangers, 7 p.m. | NYR -105 | TV: NBCSN
🏀 Lakers vs. Warriors, 10:30 p.m. | GSW +2.5 | TV: ESPN
🥇 The best thing I saw yesterday
Ottawa Senators goalie Joey Daccord gave a great, emotional interview after recording his first NHL win against the Maple Leafs yesterday.