Last Week in Sports (3/12 – 3/18)
Feel free to use your bracket for scratch paper. March Madness just upended everything we thought we knew about college hoops.
Trail Blazing a Win Streak
With their win over the LA Clippers last night, the Trail Blazers record their 13th win in a row, a streak which began with a win over the Golden State Warriors on February 14. Portland’s streak also includes a second win over the Warriors, a win against the Cavs, and the Thunder.
After losing LaMarcus Aldridge to free agency in 2016, the Trail Blazers have relied heavily on point guard Damian Lillard to carry them to the playoffs. Dame was notably left out of the All-Star game this year even though he’s putting up 2015-16 Steph Curry-like numbers across the board and is especially devastating to opponents in the final minutes of a game. With their next four games against the hungry Pelicans, the Westbrook-led Thunder, the defensive-stalwart Celtics, and the video game final boss Rockets, it’s hard to imagine this streak reaching 17, but if it does, the sky’s the limit for these young guns.
The title of the Cinderella storybook? Dame Time.
Farewell, Tom Benson
Tom Benson, owner of the New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans, passed away on Thursday at the age of 90. Benson was a fervent supporter of New Orleans in every sense, stepping up to purchase the Pelicans in 2012, at a time when the NBA was considering moving the team to another location. Without Benson, it’s safe to say that the Pelicans might be elsewhere and the Saints might not have that 2009 Super Bowl win. Here’s to Tom, a legitimately great team owner in a world where those are few and far between.
NFL Free Agency Breakdown
Notable moves last week:
Kirk Cousins, QB, to the Vikings.
Sheldon Richardson, DL, to the Vikings.
Case Keenum, QB, to the Broncos.
Jordy Nelson, WR, to the Raiders.
Tyrann Mathieu, DB, to the Texans.
Michael Crabtree, WR, to the Ravens.
Justin Pugh, DL, to the Cardinals.
Kyle Fuller, CB, to the Bears.
I’ll take Cousins to the Vikings as the most significant move made so far. Cousins is not a top 5 QB, but he’s leagues and bounds above Case Keenum. For a team that was able to reach the conference championship without a Pro Bowl-level QB, this is a serious upgrade that might position them for a Super Bowl berth.
Notable players still available:
Ndamukong Suh, DL
Terrance Newman, CB
Cameron Fleming, OT
Austin Howard, OT
Jordan Matthews, WR
Marquis Flowers, LB
Of the players still on the market, none have the impact (or a Madden 18 score of above 90) that Ndamukong Suh so abundantly has. The Dolphins have made a series of impossibly confusing moves but chief among them is cutting Suh, their best player last year. NFL insiders say the Saints, Seahawks, and Titans are reportedly interested in the game-changing defensive lineman, but the favorites to sign him are currently the LA Rams.
NCAA Upsets Galore
After only one week of March Madness behind us, no accurate brackets are left according to ESPN. This tournament has been marked by upsets that have left fans across the country holding their heads in disbelief. No.1 Virginia, many analysts’ favorite to win it all, lost to no. 16 UMBC by 21 points. This marks the first time in NCAA history that a region’s top four teams lose out in the first round.
Other notable upsets include no. 2 Cincinnati losing to no. 7 Nevada, no. 4 Wichita State losing to no. 13 Marshall, no. 3 Tennessee losing to no. 11 Loyola, no. 3 Michigan State losing to no. 11 Syracuse, no. 1 Xavier losing to no. 9 Florida State, and no. 2 UNC losing to no. 7 Texas A&M in what became coach Roy Williams’ worst tournament loss of his career. Of the remaining 16 teams, 9 of them are fifth-seed or lower. That’s March Madness alright!
The favorites remaining in the tournament are no. 1 Kansas, no. 1 Villanova, no. 2 Duke, and no. 3 Michigan.
Ronaldo’s 50th Hat Trick
It happened on Sunday night against Girona. Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, a.k.a. soccer’s LeBron James, a.k.a. man with 200+ million followers on social media, a.k.a. god among men in the world’s most popular sport, achieved something that no other individual has, notching his 50th game with three or more goals yesterday. Ronaldo has distinguished himself as the best soccer player alive today, but he’s still chasing the title of best all time. While most numbers help make his case, there is one number where he falls dramatically short: 0 World Cup wins and 0 World Cup Final appearances. If Ronaldo ever gets Portugal that coveted title, he could likely be remembered as the best to ever do it. Here’s a video of the master at work in their 6-3 win against Girona