1. Sweet 16 starts tonight
The NCAA Tournament marches on and while we’re past the point of game action running for over 12 hours a day, every matchup is juicy from here on out. Tonight sees tournament darling Michigan (-1.5) trying to continue its run against Oregon; Gonzaga (-3) attempting to get over the hump against West Virginia; Kansas (-5) playing Purdue just an hour east of the Jayhawks’ campus in Lawrence; and Arizona (-7.5) aiming to beat coach Sean Miller’s old team, Xavier.
Of tonight’s teams, only Purdue, Kansas, and Xavier covered in both of their first two tournament games, while Gonzaga has yet to win ATS. Underdogs have been awesome up to this point, yet in last year’s Sweet 16, favorites covered in seven of eight games.
2. No white horse for Lightning
When the Tampa Bay Lightning were winning nine of 12 games to start the month, they looked to be the team no one wanted to see in the playoffs, especially considering Steven Stamkos was supposed to be coming back to the lineup soon. But now, with 10 games remaining, that return seems unlikely. Recovering from a torn meniscus in his knee, Stamkos said he’ll only play when he is “back to 100-percent.” It’s doubtful if he’ll be feeling that good at any point in the next few weeks, especially if the Lightning’s three-game losing streak keeps growing.
This team is slipping out of the playoff race fast, and the deflating news that their captain likely won’t be back may have sucked the last bit of fight out of them. I wouldn’t be backing them much down the stretch.
3. John Thompson III fired from Georgetown
The Georgetown Hoyas have had a Thompson behind the bench in 40 of the last 45 years. Following in the giant shadow of his father, who led the program to its only National Championship, John Thompson III had a strong start to his tenure, taking the team to a Final Four in 2007. But things have gone downhill since then. The Hoyas became that team in your bracket you always targeted for a first-round upset, and missed the dance altogether the last two years.
There’s an expectation that former Georgetown star Patrick Ewing could take over as coach, having spent the last 15 years as an NBA assistant without getting a chance at a head coaching job. It’s unclear the impact he would have on the court, but a superstar name like that should help the Hoyas recruiting. Georgetown’s top prospect, point guard Tremont Waters, decommitted last week, a microcosm of the downward spiral this program is in.
A hire like Ewing would give the team and fans hope, although it will take a few recruiting cycles before the Hoyas will be contending for Big East titles again.
Photo Credit: Lisa Gansky (Flickr: IMG_6043) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons