1. Kansas shifts to tournament favorite
It took a while, but the “madness” portion of the NCAA tournament was finally achieved over the weekend. Although it was mostly just the “mad” part, as frustrated fans of eliminated teams lamented the incompetent officiating. Even with blown goaltending calls and terrible foul calls, there’s not a team in the Sweet 16 that doesn’t deserve to be there: each one could conceivably move on to the Elite Eight.
As for the odds, the Jayhawks are now at the top of the board. However, Arizona and UNC are the biggest favorites in the next round, both facing a 7.5-point spread. In the first week of the tourney, underdogs were 29-23 ATS, while the OVER cashed in 35 of 52 games.
2. Celtics-Wizards renew rivalry tonight
If you’re worried about possible basketball withdrawal, fret not. The NBA’s best new rivalry completes its regular season chapter tonight when the Washington Wizards visit TD Garden to take on the Boston Celtics. With the intensity between these teams slowly growing over the past year, the Wizards fired the latest shot when they wore “funeral black” to their 123-108 victory over the Celts in January.
Tonight’s meeting will be interesting, as it’s the last chance to establish any sort of mental edge before a likely second-round meeting in the East playoffs. From a betting angle, it’s easy to like Boston tonight: the Wizards have covered just twice in the last 10, and the home team has won every meeting this year.
3. Columbus is about to ruin/improve everything
Despite it being wildly unnatural and against every fiber of common sense, some people enjoy eating their dessert first. If you are one of those three people on earth, then the Blue Jackets sudden surge up the NHL standings must be a welcome sight. For everyone else, it kind of sucks.
Thanks to the stupid new playoff format, it seemed we were destined to have Washington and Pittsburgh renew rivalries in the second round, with the winner likely to go on to the Cup finals. But now Columbus has gone on a tear, winning 12 of its last 16 and catching the Capitals in the race for first place. If the Jackets keep rolling, we could see one of the top three Stanley Cup favorites eliminated in a first round Penguins-Caps series.
Don’t think the Jackets are going to take their foot of the gas in the final 11 games either. Not only will first place give them an easier path to the finals (having to beat just one of Pittsburgh or Washington instead of both), but they could also win their first banner in the franchise’s history. In 16 seasons, the Blue Jackets haven’t even won a division title: now, they could claim the Presidents’ Trophy.
Photo credit: Keith Allison (Flickr)[https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/]