The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament was so exciting, so chaotic and so much fun over the first weekend, it made it a lot easier to shred our brackets much earlier than expected. The madness of March tops our look at five big takeaways from the weekend in sports.
So many Cinderella stories in March Madness.
Oral Roberts is in the Sweet 16 as a 15 seed. 12th seeded Oregon State, coming off a surprising Pac-12 tournament championship, continues to roll. And 101-year-old super fan Sister Jean and her Loyola-Chicago Ramblers are back, knocking off top-seeded Illinois. Every seed except the 16 won a game in the first round this year, giving us one of the most unpredictable tournaments in recent memory.
Big Takeaway: Wherever you look across the brackets, there’s bound to be an upset you never thought possible. Your bracket is busted, your co-worker’s bracket is too. There’s no use in sharing sob stories this year. Instead, embrace the bust! The 64-team tournament is perhaps the greatest event in all of sports and it was taken away from us last year. Enjoy every moment of it this year because it’s already showing us how special it is.
Chris Paul makes history.
Phoenix Suns point guard Chris Paul became the sixth player in NBA history to reach 10,000 career assists, when he found Deandre Ayton on a massive 3rd quarter alley-oop dunk in a 111-94 win Sunday night over the Los Angeles Lakers. Paul joins an elite class of point guards in NBA history to amass 10,000 assists and 2,000 steals – only John Stockton and Jason Kidd have done the same.
Big Takeaway: Paul’s career numbers confirm how great he’s been, but the Suns record shows us how great he still is. The Suns are 28-13, 2nd place in the West and only two games behind the Utah Jazz for the top record in the conference. Remember when some people were worried about the $85 million left on Paul’s contract when the Suns acquired him? That trade has proven to be worth every penny.
Beating the Lakers is always fun.
Two down, one to go. The Phoenix Suns rolled past an undermanned Los Angeles Lakers team Sunday night at home, defeating their archrivals for the second time this season. The win gives the Suns a full game lead over the Lakers in the standings. These two meet one more time near the end of the regular season in early May.
Big Takeaway: LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Marc Gasol were all out with injuries and did not play. Despite L.A.’s lack of star power, it still counts as a win over the Lakers, something Suns fans will never turn down.
Cardinals win some and lose some in free agency.
The Arizona Cardinals did a lot of splashy things last week as free agency opened across the NFL. Pass rusher Markus Golden is back, along with punter Andy Lee and right tackle Kelvin Beachum. Newcomers include wide receiver A.J. Green (signed a 1–year deal as a free agent), kicker Matt Prater (free agent deal) and center Rodney Hudson (acquired from the Raiders for a draft pick).
Gone in free agency are cornerback Patrick Peterson (Minnesota), pass rusher Haason Reddick (Carolina) and running back Kenyan Drake (Las Vegas).
Big Takeaway: Remember the big free agency signing – J.J. Watt – came before the free agency period began. Plus, the trade for Hudson boosts the physicality of the offensive line and hopefully gives quarterback Kyler Murray somebody he can trust at the center position. General manager Steve Keim is nicely building the team with a focus on the line of scrimmage because the Cardinals need to have a lot more toughness to compete in the NFC West.
Fitz sits waiting in free agency.
It’s March 22 and Larry Fitzgerald has not announced a decision on his future with the Arizona Cardinals. In each of the previous four seasons, the sure–fire Hall of Fame wide receiver had made up his mind in February and returned to Arizona on a 1-year deal (always a reported $11 million).
Big Takeaway: This deep into the NFL off-season leads us to believe Fitz is weighing offers from other teams and seeing if the Cardinals will match. The AJ Green signing gives the Cardinals another solid option in the passing game. We doubt there’s $11 million on the table anywhere for the 37-year–old wideout, but there are championship-caliber teams out there. If the money is the same, we’re willing to bet Fitz goes to a team where a Super Bowl ring is a real possibility.