Last Week in Sports (3/26 – 4/1)
The NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship is tonight on CBS! But can it live up to the women’s final?
NFL’s New Targeting Rule
The NFL owners’ meeting pulled a rabbit out of the hat on Wednesday when they surprised everyone with a new rule against targeting. The rule would penalize players that lower their head to initiate contact with a 15-yard penalty and a potential ejection. The response in the media has been mixed, with some crediting the rule with potentially saving the NFL while others view it as too challenging to enforce. Regardless, it seems like a win for the health of the players at a time when many are calling for changes to help reduce concussions.
Major League Baseball is Here
The baseball season began with a home run on the opening pitch this year as the Cubs’ Ian Happ connected against the Marlins in Miami. This is the first time in 30 years that the season has opened with a homer, as Chicago took home the win 8 – 4. The second game of that series between the Cubs and the Marlins went to 17 innings before the Marlins clinched it. With Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs being a Parkland, FL native and graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the number 17 was considered especially significant given the 17 victims of the tragic school shooting there only last month. Rizzo hit a home run to a standing ovation in what was an emotional season opener.
NBA Injuries and the Playoff Race
Open sesame! The NBA playoffs are anyone’s to conquer now that injuries have derailed some major contenders. Joel Embiid is out with a broken eye socket and isn’t expected back until at least the first round of the playoffs. He was injured in a collision with Markelle Fultz’s shoulder which, in an ironic twist, was itself injured until only recently. The Celtics are still missing Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, and Marcus Smart, which makes them more beatable than they’ve been all year. With the newly healthy Wizards sporting a rested John Wall, they could pose a serious threat to their hobbled eastern conference colleagues if they aren’t bumped in the first round by King James.
Meanwhile, the western conference is especially up in the air given the tightness of the standings. The four seed Spurs are only three games ahead of the nine seed Nuggets, who are playing without Gary Harris this week. The Timberwolves are without Jimmy Butler and Jeff Teague, and the Warriors continue to struggle without Steph Curry, as Kevin Durant was ejected for a loss in his first game back on the hardwood. They’ve since won two in a row but hardly look like the Warriors the NBA has come to fear over the last three years. The Rockets seem to be the only team in contention without any health concerns. Cross your fingers, Houston, this could be the year.
Notre Dame Women’s Team Wins It!
After sinking a stunning buzzer beater in the Final Four matchup against the undefeated UConn Huskies, Arike Ogunbowale did it again in the championship game to rob Mississippi State at the horn, 61 – 58. The victory was especially surprising given that Notre Dame scored only 3 points in the entirety of the second quarter and trailed by 15 in the third. It marks the biggest comeback in an NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship since 1982.
It’ll be number one Villanova versus number three Michigan on CBS tonight for all the marbles. After an astounding amount of upsets in the first round of the tournament, we end with two fairly predictable teams in the finals. Lucky for us, these teams are both offensive juggernauts who play wishy-washy defense. It should make for an entertaining championship game with lots and lots of three pointers. If Michigan’s shooters are hot, it could spell the end for Villanova.