Happy Wednesday morning, all. This is one of my last reminders for you to go fill out your bracket if you haven't already!
Let's get right to it.
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Good morning to everyone but especially to...
THE INDIANA HOOSIERS...
It wasn't pretty, but as the old saying goes, there are no pictures in the box score. Indiana picked up its first NCAA Tournament win since 2016, beating Wyoming 66-58 in the First Four.
- Trayce Jackson-Davis scored 29 points and grabbed nine rebounds in his NCAA Tournament debut.
- Jordan Geronimo came up huge with a career-high 15 points.
- Indiana forced Wyoming into 19 turnovers, including 10 by Cowboys standout Hunter Maldonado.
It's that defense that makes Indiana a solid candidate to make a run past the Round of 64, as I wrote Monday:
- "At 38th in the NET rankings, Indiana is the highest-ranked First Four team, and it has the pieces to win multiple games. ... It may not be pretty, but if someone outside Jackson-Davis, Thompson and Johnson can contribute offensively, the Hoosiers' defense can keep them in -- and potentially win -- some games."
I'll give myself a pat on the back there. The Hoosiers, though, have no time to pat themselves on the back. They'll take on 5-seed Saint Mary's tomorrow.
... AND ALSO A GOOD MORNING TO THE TEXAS SOUTHERN TIGERS
Call them the Kings of the First Four. For the third time in the last four Tournaments, Texas Southern earned a victory in the opening round, beating Texas A&M Corpus-Christi, 76-67. The Tigers' reward is 1-seed Kansas. Obviously the odds are against them -- 16 seeds are 1-143 all-time against 1 seeds -- but all they can do is give themselves a chance. That's exactly what they did last night.
- Kyrie Irving scored a Nets-record 60 points in a win over the Magic.
- The Yankees signed Anthony Rizzo.
- Here's the men's basketball AP All-American team.
- Alex Ovechkin scored career goal No. 767, passing Jaromir Jagr for third all-time.
And not such a good morning for...
YANKEES AND METS PLAYERS WHO ARE NOT VACCINATED
The Yankees and Mets could soon be in a similar predicament the Brooklyn Nets have dealt with all season. Unvaccinated Yankees and Mets won't be able to play home games under New York City's current mandates. It's the same rule that prevents Nets star Kyrie Irving from playing at Barclays Center.
The big problem for the Yankees is that, as our MLB scribe Mike Axisa explained, Aaron Judge is "widely believed" to be unvaccinated.
The slugger avoided answering a question about his vaccination status -- and its impact on his availability -- on Tuesday:
- Judge when asked if he has received the COVID-19 vaccine: "I'm so focused on just getting through the first game of Spring Training. So I think we'll cross that bridge whenever the time comes. But right now, so many things could change, so I'm not really too worried about that right now."
Judge, 29, is entering the final year of his contract, and this wouldn't be the first time he misses games if he ends up having to do so. Judge had a stint on the COVID-19 Injured List last year and dealt with significant injuries in each of the two seasons before that. In his lone full, healthy MLB season -- 2017 -- he won AL Rookie of the Year and finished second in AL MVP voting.
If indeed unvaccinated, Judge also won't be able to play at the Blue Jays, given Toronto's current rules. The Yankees visit the Blue Jays nine times this season. The Mets, meanwhile, failed to reach the 85 percent vaccination threshold that would have afforded the team loosened COVID restrictions last season.
Not so honorable mention
- Baker Mayfield posted what seems to be a goodbye to Cleveland on Twitter, though he hasn't been traded or released... yet
Who has the easiest path in the NCAA Tournament? Plus, more bracket advice 🏀
When filling out your NCAA Tournament bracket, there's no worse feeling than seeing a team you feel good about playing... another team you feel good about. What do you do? Well, turn to our college basketball expert David Cobb, who has mapped out the easiest and hardest paths to a potential Final Four trip:
- Cobb: "[Kansas has] the shakiest case to be a No. 1 seed yet managed to land the easiest path of the group. There should be little fear in facing the winner of No. 8 San Diego State and No. 9 Creighton. ... From there, potential Sweet 16 matchups with Providence and Iowa are quite favorable for KU from an advanced statistics standpoint. ... Then there's Auburn, which enters playing the worst basketball of anyone with a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the bracket."
As for other things that should help you put the finishing touches on your bracket:
Get an edge in your bracket contests and picks
SportsLine's computer model has nailed 17 first-round upsets by double-digit seeds. It has also beaten 92% of CBS Sports bracket players in two of the last three tournaments. Get bracket picks from the model that simulates the entire tournament 1,000 times.
SportsLine's model can help you crush your bracket and spread picks:
- In its upset bracket, the model is calling for eight double-digit outright upsets in the first round this year. It also has a No. 2 seed falling in the first round and a No. 11 seed going all the way to the Final Four! Find out who all those teams are right here.
- The First Four rolls on Wednesday night and SportsLine's model has a strong spread pick for Notre Dame vs. Rutgers. See which side of the spread hits well over 50% of the time right here.
Randy Gregory's stunning flip to Broncos; Ravens sign Marcus Williams 🏈
One moment, Randy Gregory was set to be a Cowboy for the foreseeable future. The next, he was headed to the Broncos instead.
In one of the strangest twists in recent memory, Gregory reportedly agreed to a five-year, $70-million deal with Dallas -- the team even announced the agreement on its Twitter account -- but then backed out. According to reports, the Cowboys inserted a clause that voided Gregory's contract if he was fined or suspended for any drug offense or violation of the NFL's personal conduct policy, which hadn't been discussed previously nor included in his previous contract.
Gregory then took the same amount of money from the Broncos, making the Cowboys Tuesday's big loser, writes NFL expert Jeff Kerr.
- Kerr: "The Cowboys are taking a step back this offseason and are falling out of contender status in the NFC (if they were considered that prior to this offseason anyway)."
You can check all of Tuesday's winners and losers here.
The other big-money deal was Marcus Williams agreeing to a five-year $70-million deal with the Ravens. Baltimore's secondary struggled last year amid a ton of injuries, and Williams is a major addition.
For complete, up-to-the-minute analysis of NFL free agency (which officially opens tomorrow), be sure to read:
- Grades for every major move
- Team-by-team tracker
- Team-by-team grades
- Live updates for the top 100 free agents
Atletico Madrid, Benfica into Champions League quarterfinals; two more matches today ⚽
Atletico Madrid and Benfica are the latest teams to qualify for the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals after both broke first-leg deadlocks with wins yesterday.
Atleti got a goal from defender Renan Lodi to beat Manchester United 1-0 in England after the two sides drew 1-1 in the first leg. In his team's biggest game of the season, Cristiano Ronaldo was nowhere to be found, writes our soccer reporter James Benge.
- Benge: "The headline statistic was the first European match without a shot in 3969 days, since a draw with Barcelona in the Camp Nou. Ronaldo did not even get close. He did not even get a touch in the box. That itself breaks a six and a half year streak in this competition going back to a group stage game against PSG."
Benfica, meanwhile continued its Cinderella run with a 1-0 win at Ajax after drawing the first leg 2-2. Darwin Nunez scored the decisive goal for the Portuguese side. Here are the quarterfinal teams so far:
- Atletico Madrid
- Manchester City
- Real Madrid
- Bayern Munich
By the end of today, we'll find who clinches the final two spots: Chelsea takes a 2-0 lead to Lille while Juventus and Villareal will look to break a 1-1 deadlock. You can find previews for those matches here and here, respectively, and watch both on Paramount+.
What we're watching Wednesday 📺
⚽ Lille vs Chelsea, 4 p.m. on Paramount+
⚽ Juventus vs Villareal, 4 p.m. on Paramount+
🏀 Men's First Four: (16) Bryant vs (16) Wright State, 6:40 p.m. on truTV
🏀 Women's First Four: (16) Incarnate Word vs (16) Howard, 7 p.m. on ESPNU
🏀 Women's First Four: (11) DePaul vs (11) Dayton, 9 p.m. on ESPNU
🏀 Men's First Four: (11) Notre Dame vs (11) Rutgers, 9:10 p.m. on truTV
🏀 Celtics at Warriors, 10 p.m. on ESPN