Gonzaga broke UCLA’s heart in March Madness again with Julian Strawther’s logo 3

Julian Strawther’s bold game-winning shot was Gonzaga’s latest dagger to UCLA in March Madness

The Gonzaga Bulldogs and UCLA Bruins already had a deep and storied rivalry in the men’s NCAA tournament coming into their Sweet 16 matchup in the 2023 bracket on Thursday. The first lasting image of Zags basketball was Adam Morrison falling to the floor in tears after losing to the Bruins in the 2006 Sweet 16. Gonzaga got its revenge in the 2021 Final Four with an even more memorable moment: Jalen Suggs’ near halfcourt buzzer-beater to put the then undefeated Zags into the national title game.

Add the 2023 edition right to the top of the list. Gonzaga beat UCLA, 79-76, thanks to a thrilling game-winning shot in the final seconds that staved off an epic Zags collapse. Now Gonzaga is one win away from its third Final Four in the last five men’s NCAA tournaments.

The Zags led by 10 points with 2:30 left, but UCLA would storm back by forcing turnovers, making shots, and watching Gonzaga miss its free throws. The Bruins took the lead with 13 seconds left when senior point guard Tyger Campbell found freshman shooting guard Amari Bailey for the go-ahead three. Gonzaga called timeout and drew up a play for Strawther. To hear head coach Mark Few tell it after the game, Strawther had a read to get downhill after receiving a high pitch. That wasn’t the one he chose. Instead, Strawther bombed a deep and audacious three that found the bottom of the net.

The confidence it takes to even attempt that shot while down only one point in the final seconds is astronomical. That would be a bad look for most players in college basketball, but Few knew it was a good shot for Strawther. The coach said his team practices that play regularly, and Strawther often takes and makes that shot.

The play was immediately reminiscent of Suggs’ game-winning shot against UCLA in the 2021 Final Four.

In 2021, the score was tied, and the clock was running out. Suggs had no other choice but to attempt a near halfcourt shot. Strawther very easily could have tried to get to the rim or find an open teammate, but it sure seems like he was hunting the deep three the entire time.

The play that Gonzaga ran for Strawther was basically a carbon copy of what Jay Wright once ran for Kris Jenkins when he hit the game-winning shot in the national championship game of the 2016 men’s NCAA tournament.

Strawther hit a very similar game-winning shot for Gonzaga earlier this year:

Drew Timme was the star for Gonzaga most of the night, finishing with 36 points, 13 rebounds, four assists, and two blocks. However, Timme badly missed two free throws late in the game that led to Bailey’s go-ahead three. He said there’s no bigger Strawther fan than himself after the game.

Gonzaga now plays UConn, with the winner going to the Final Four.

The NCAA tournament is just more fun when Gonzaga plays UCLA.

The Warriors scored free basket on Mavs because of ref mistake, according to Dallas protest

The Mavs are alleging a ref mistake caused them to line up incorrectly and give the Warriors a free two points. Now Dallas is protesting Golden State’s win.

The Golden State Warriors and Dallas Mavericks were separated by a half-game in the Western Conference playoff standings entering their Wednesday night showdown in Texas, with the margin being the difference between making the playoffs outright or needing to go through the play-in tournament to qualify. A critically important game for both teams was swung by one of the strangest plays you will ever see, which resulted in the Warriors getting an uncontested layup. Golden State went on to beat the Mavericks, 127-125.

Late in the third quarter and coming out of a timeout, the Warriors inbounded the ball under their own basket. Only one problem: the Mavs were acting like they were receiving the ball on the other end of the court, and it ended up giving Golden State a free two points. This was incredibly bizarre in the moment, but proved to be even bigger in the end when the game was decided by only one score.

I swear I’ve never seen a play like this in NBA history before. Watch the video here:

Mavericks governor Mark Cuban tried explained Dallas’ side of the story after the game. According to Cuban, the refs originally called Mavs ball, then changed the call during the timeout, but never told Dallas. Here’s what Cuban wrote:

“For those wondering about the play with 1:54 to go on the 3rd, let me explain what happened. The ref called Mavs ball . The announcer announced it. Then there was a timeout . During the time out the official changed the call and never told us. Then when they saw us line up as if it were our ball, he just gave the ball to the warriors. Never said a word to us They got an easy basketball. Crazy that it would matter in a 2 point game. Worst officiating non call mistake possibly in the history of the NBA . All they had to do was tell us and they didn’t.”

The Maverick plan to file a grievance with the league over the referee mistake, according to NBA insider Shams Charania:

After the win, the Warriors are the No. 6 seed in the West, which is the final seed that makes the playoffs outright. After the loss, the Mavs fall to the No. 9 seed in the West, which means they would have to win consecutive play-in tournament games to make the playoffs. Golden State improves to 38-36, while Dallas falls to 36-37.

How do the officials let this happen in a pro game? Dallas also had plenty of other chances to win, but giving up a free two points has to hurt.

We’ll update this story as it develops.

Paul George injury updates: Clippers star out until NBA Playoffs after knee sprain

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Paul George is set to miss the rest of the regular season at least for the Clippers.

Since the Los Angeles Clippers made the biggest splash of the 2019 offseason by acquiring Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the franchise have been under the microscope. However, despite the superstar pairing, the biggest story hasn’t been their play but their lack of court time.

Between Kawhi Leonard’s load management and Paul George’s various injuries, the pairing hasn’t spent much time on the court together. It seemed the Clippers were finally getting their entire roster together in time for the playoffs, but unfortunately, the injury bug has bitten again. Paul George will miss the next two or three weeks with a sprained right knee, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

During the Clippers 101-100 loss to Oklahoma City Thunder, George went up for a rebound and came down awkwardly.

With his leg bent in the wrong direction, it did not look good, and George was helped to the locker room.

Here’s the outlook for the Clippers at the time of George’s injury:

Considering how it looked live and on replays, this is good news. George knows better than most how the injury could have been much worse. George missed an extended amount of time after he injured his leg during the USA Basketball scrimmage in 2014. George, as we know, fully recovered, but it was a long process.

Even though the Clippers are currently in fifth place in the west, they are only 2.5 games up on the 11th-place Lakers. As a result, the west is a very tight race from spot four to spot 12. This will put more pressure on players like Leonard, who will not be able to rest as many games as he has for most of the season.

With the news that he will be re-evaluated in a few weeks, there is hope he can be ready before the playoffs or, at the very least, at some point in the first round. Now they could evaluate him in a couple of weeks and find additional damage that could prolong his rehab, but let’s hope that is not the case and George is back on the court in the near future.

Shohei Ohtani versus Mike Trout is how the WBC needed to end

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In a moment you dream of as a child, Ohtani squares off with Trout to close out the WBC

It was everything you dream of as a young child playing baseball in the backyard.

3-2 count. Two outs. Ninth inning.

And a world championship on the line.

That was what we saw in the ninth inning of the championship game of the World Baseball Classic on Tuesday night. Japan, with a 3-2 lead in the championship game, turned to baseball’s unicorn, Shohei Ohtani, to close out the win.

After leadoff hitter Jeff McNeil worked a walk, daring to lay off a 3-2 fastball just below the strike zone, Ohtani induced a ground ball from leadoff hitter Mookie Betts to erase the walk, and push Japan one out away from a championship.

Standing in Ohtani and Japan’s way?

Ohtani’s teammate in MLB, Mike Trout. One of the game’s best hitters.

Ohtani started Trout with a slider, the pitch he seemed to have the most command of during the inning. But the first pitch slider was low, giving Trout the 1-0 advantage.

That’s when Ohtani turned to his fastball.

He put a 100-mph fastball right down the heart of the plate, and Trout gave it everything he had with his swing. But the ball settled in the mitt of catcher Yuhei Nakamura, evening the count at 1-1.

Trout gave a nod to his teammate before settling in for the next pitch.

This was another fastball from Ohtani that missed outside. Advantage Trout again, at 2-1.

On the next pitch, Ohtani again dialed up the fastball. Another 100-mph heater right down the plate.

Another swing-and-a-miss. Another nod from Trout to his teammate.

With the count now 2-2, what would Ohtani do? Would he go back to the fastball, or try and sneak another slider by his teammate?

Ohtani wanted to punch him out with the heater, and put everything he had into the next fastball. It hit 102 on the radar gun, but bounced low and outside.

3-2. Two outs. Ninth inning. A championship on the line.

And then? The nastiest slider you might ever see:


For good measure, here is the call from Japanese TV:

To put Ohtani’s WBC run, and his status as the game’s true unicorn, in perspective, consider these numbers:

But let’s return to the ending.

The at-bat, and the battle between MLB teammates, delivered the kind of moment WBC organizers were dreaming of, capping off a tremendous tournament. Since its launch in 2006, the WBC has not been without criticism. Whether the timing of the event — and the injuries that we have seen in this year’s installment — as well as the need for the event itself, the WBC has seen its share of critics.

But on Tuesday night, the WBC delivered everything its organizers and proponents imagined. Two of the game’s best players, staring each other down, in the ninth inning with everything on the line.

The kind of moment you dream of as a child, now on a global stage.

A great deal of ‘motivation’ around Mercedes following the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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After a solid week in Jeddah, can Mercedes continue their comeback?

For Mercedes, the 2023 Formula 1 season began much as the 2022 campaign did, with the team searching for answers. After a fifth-place finish from Lewis Hamilton and a seventh-place finish from George Russell in the Bahrain Grand Prix — a day Team Principal Toto Wolff called “one of our worst days in racing” — Mercedes bounced back this past week, with Russell finishing P4 and Hamilton right behind him in P5.

Now, the mood around the team is much, much different.

In a video posted to social media on Tuesday Andrew Shovlin, the team’s Trackside Engineering Director, can be seen addressing the entire team back at their Brackley headquarters. In the video, Shovlin talks about the motivation within the organization, and the ideal that something special could still be possible this season:

“Thank you for all your efforts. Particularly, what’s nice is coming back and sort of sensing the energy, because you think there’s a lot that this team gets from how we all collectively bounce off each other. And coming back even after Bahrain you got this sense of people wanting to put it right,” Shovlin tells the team. “Coming back after Jeddah, we’re now starting to see what those building blocks are going to look like, and you can sense that there’s a great deal of motivation. And hopefully, we can turn this year into something special still. So, well done.”

Shovlin’s optimism mirrors recent comments made from Wolff. Following the Bahrain Grand Prix, the Mercedes Team Principal indicated in comments to the media that the team is making “bigger gains” with their car development than in recent years. “The kind of gains that are coming in our [research and development] and in aero are much bigger than we’ve had over a long time. We’ve unlocked some potential because we simply look at things from a different angle now,” noted Wolff. “We have a different perspective because of our learnings of the Bahrain test and Bahrain race. So there was no step back, on the contrary there was immediately two steps forward.”

That optimism was shared by Russell following his finish in Saudi Arabia. Speaking at the post-race press conference — when it was believed Russell had secured a third-place finish due to a ten-second penalty handed down to Fernando Alonso — the Mercedes driver talked at length about the developments already made to the W14, and what could be coming.

“We definitely made a step in the right direction. I think, above all, we just truly maximize the potential of the car. We had a really strong qualifying yesterday, which was really enjoyable,” said Russell after the Grand Prix. “I’d really pleased to come home in P4 on the road because I felt like that was the maximum that was possible. And I was having fun up there. The car was feeling good.”

Russell then concluded his comments with a look ahead.

“And we know we’ve got some more performance in the locker, in some races to come.”

Over the next few days, the men and women Shovlin was addressing back in Brackley will be working to find that performance.

We’ll see if they can find that performance in the Australian Grand Prix, the third race of the F1 season.

Sweet 16 teams, ranked by chances to win March Madness in 2023 men’s NCAA tournament

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Let’s rank the Sweet 16 by their national title chances.

The first weekend of March Madness produces some stunning results and dramatic moments every year, and the start of the 2023 men’s NCAA tournament was no different. We saw a No. 16 seed beat a No. 1 seed for only second time ever when Fairleigh Dickinson did the unthinkable vs. Purdue. We saw a No. 15 seed beat a No. 2 seed for the third year in a row with Princeton knocking off Arizona, and the Tigers’ run isn’t done yet. While we didn’t have a true buzzer-beater, JP Pegues’ three-pointer in the final seconds to help Furman upset Virginia was close enough.

We’re now left with 16 teams and eight awesome games when the tournament resumes on Thursday to start the second weekend. With half of the No. 1 seeds and half the No. 2 seeds already eliminated, it truly feels like almost anyone can win the whole thing.

Before March Madness picks up again, here’s how we’d rank the 16 team still standing based on their chances of winning the national title. Each of our five writers ranked the teams 1-16, and the final rankings were determined by the averages.

No. 16 Princeton Tigers (15-seed)

Princeton made some history with Saturday’s win over Missouri to advance to the Sweet 16. The Tigers became the first Ivy League team to make it to the Sweet 16 since Cornell back in 2010, and they became just the fourth No. 15 seed in NCAA men’s tournament history to advance to the Sweet 16, joining Florida Gulf Coast, Oral Roberts, and St. Peter’s. While their win over Arizona on Thursday was a tight-knit affair, Saturday’s win over Missouri showed that Princeton can take control of a game. The Tigers built a 33-19 lead in the first half, and after Missouri closed the gap before halftime, a 10-0 run in the second half saw Princeton pull away for good. What perhaps stood out most was the work the Ivy League champions did on the glass. Princeton won the battle of second-chance points 19-2 while out-rebounding Missouri 44-30. That advantage for Princeton included a 16-8 advantage in offensive rebounding. Caden Pierce led the way for Princeton with a career-high 16 boards, including seven on the offensive end. That advantage could be tested in the Sweet 16, as both Baylor and Creighton is also solid on the glass. The Bluejays ranked 12th in the nation in OR% on defense, ahead of the Tigers. — Mark Schofield

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No. 15 Michigan State (7-seed)

Death, taxes, Tom Izzo in March. Sure it’s a cliche, but unbelievably accurate. This is far from Izzo’s best team on paper, but that’s meaningless in moments like this. Beating No. 2 Marquette proved why Izzo is one of basketball’s greatest strategists, as he worked the entire offense through Tyson Walker, with Joey Hauser’s rebounding strength shining en route to a double-double. Balanced on both sides of the ball, the Spartans relish in playing spoiler, and this is easily a team that could continue to shock. Kansas State represents a serious threat in the Sweet 16, but so did Marquette and we saw how that ended up. With time to prepare Izzo will have this team ready to compete, and counting out Michigan State is a fool’s errand. Keep watching Tyson Walker in this tournament. While he was slightly flat against USC in the opening round, he broke out in the big way against Marquette, giving the team a headache as he used his athleticism to drive the lane and force foul after foul, shooting 7-8 from the line as he finished with 23 points. — James Dator

No. 14 Florida Atlantic Owls (9-seed)

Has it been the prettiest of wins? No, not at all. But the Owls keep dancing, and are headed to the Sweet 16 for the first time in program history. What’s made the Owls’ run so impressive is that they’ve managed to turn up the defense while the offense finds its shot. The Owls have held their opponents so far to under 30% shooting from deep, and in their 78-70 win over Farleigh Dickinson, the Owls defense held the upstart 16-seed to 38% from the field and forced 11 turnovers. The Owls have also gotten major contributions from their best players, who have made tough shots all year. Johnell Davis poured in 29 points to go with 12 rebounds, five assists and five steals, the first player in NCAA history to have that statline in the tournament. The scariest part? FAU hasn’t found their shot from deep yet. The Owls normally shoot almost 37% from deep and make ten threes per game, but that hasn’t fallen yet. When it does, watch out because we could have an upstart crashing the Final Four. — JPA

Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

No. 13 Arkansas Razorbacks (8-seed)

It’s easy to see four potential NBA draft picks on Arkansas’ roster headlined by arguably the most star-studded freshmen class in the country and believe these Razorbacks succeed by being a glitzy offensive powerhouse. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Arkansas survived a late push from Illinois and wiped away a double-digit second half deficit against No. 1 seed Kansas by grinding out possessions and giving up nothing easy on the defensive end. While projected lottery pick Nick Smith went scoreless against the Jayhawks, fellow freshman studs Anthony Black and Jordan Walsh swung the game with their tremendous defense against KU stars Jalen Wilson and Gradey Dick. The Razorbacks have some reliable veterans, too, and they wouldn’t still be playing without Devo Davis and Ricky Council IV coming up so many clutch buckets in Des Moines. Arkansas has the talent to play with anyone, but they win because they use it mostly to dig deep on the defensive end. After knocking off the defending champs, Arkansas has to believe it can play with anyone still standing in the West. — Ricky O’Donnell

No. 12 San Diego State Aztecs (5-seed)

The Aztecs might not win in the prettiest of ways, but it’s damn effective. San Diego State has suffocated teams en route to the Sweet 16, only giving up 57 and 52 points in their first two games. With their full court press and the physicality they play with, they can turn any game into a slugfest. Offensively, they want to get the ball into the post and are primarily run through their bigs, but their best player so far has been guard Matt Bradley. The 6’4, 220-pound senior is able to create his own shot and get tough buckets for the Aztecs when they need to score. They don’t shoot it as well as most other teams in the tourney, but if they can continue to get good performances from sharpshooter Micah Parrish, the Aztecs will continue to dance. — JPA

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No. 11 Xavier Musketeers (3-seed)

A year to the day after Sean Miller agreed to return as the head coach at Xavier, he saw the Musketeers punch their first ticket to the Sweet 16 since 2017. Xavier’s 84-73 win over Pittsburgh followed a model the Musketeers relied on all season long: Unselfish play. Xavier was sixth in the nation in Assist Percentage, with an assist coming on 64.1% of Xavier’s baskets this season. Against the Panthers, the Musketeers had a combined 22 assists, with 17 coming on their first 19 baskets as they built a 14-point lead at halftime. Three players — guards Souley Boum, Colby Jones, and Adam Kunkel — averaged at least three assists per game this season, and they combined for 15 assists against Pittsburgh. In addition, the Musketeers got another big game from their man in the middle, as Jack Nunge led the way with 18 points. It was Nunge’s critical block at the end of Xavier’s opening-round win over Kennesaw State that put Xavier into the Round of 32. Their strong guard play, and unselfish offensive philosophy, is a great combination for a run to the Final Four. — Mark Schofield

No. 10 Creighton Bluejays (6-seed)

This Creighton team always felt like it had all the pieces for a deep NCAA tournament run dating back to the preseason when sharpshooter Baylor Scheierman signed on as the final addition from the transfer portal. It was a rocky road for the Bluejays for most of the season in a tough Big East, but now the vision of what this team always could have been is starting to come into focus. Creighton has ball handling, shooting, and rim protection, and each part of the lineup made key contributions in their wins over No. 11 NC State and No. 3 Baylor. Center Ryan Kalkbrenner is one of the country’s best shot blockers, but it was his scoring (31 points) that carried Creighton against the Wolfpack. The win over a very good Baylor squad was a true team effort, spearheaded by point guard Ryan Nembhard’s ability to get into the paint for easy buckets and free throws. Creighton has been a consistently good program, but they’ve never made an Elite Eight before. With a favorable matchup against No. 15 seed Princeton coming up, this is the time to do it. — ROD

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No. 9 Kansas State Wildcats (3-seed)

Jerome Tang was supposed to have a multi-year rebuild on his hands when he left his assistant position at Baylor to take over Kansas State: the Wildcats were picked to finish last in the Big 12 coming into the season with a roster mostly pieced together in the transfer portal. Instead, K-State started 15-1, rose to No. 5 in the AP Poll at one point, and placed top-three in the toughest conference in America. Their Sweet 16 run has proved this team is no fluke: after taking out Montana State in round one, Kansas State won the battle of the Wildcats by outlasting Kentucky in one of the best games of the tournament. At this point, it feels like Tang’s team has the talent to compete with anyone. The 5’8 Marquis Newell has become one of the best point guards in the field, Keyontae Johnson continued his remarkable comeback story with a clutch step-back three to sink Kentucky late, and everyone else gets after it defensively. Suddenly, the Wildcats are the highest seed still standing in the East Region. This Kansas State run feels real, even if no one would have believed it back in Oct. — ROD

No. 8 Miami Hurricanes (5-seed)

When you play the Hurricanes, you better be ready for a track meet. Miami plays at a frenetic pace, getting up and down the court and letting their guard play dictate the game. Guards Isaiah Wong (the ACC Player of the Year) and Nigel Pack can torch defenses with their speed and ability to get to the rim, just as they did against Indiana. Against the Hoosiers, Wong, Pack and Jordan Miller combined for 58 points, carving the Hoosier defense up every time they went to the rim. Defensively, they play with a lot of activity, but can be susceptible to large scoring runs. However, if you want to beat Miami, you gotta catch them first, and that might be your biggest issue. — JPA

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No. 7 Tennessee Volunteers (4-seed)

This Tennessee basketball team has a very special set of skills, one that makes them a formidable opponent in March: they play defense as good as any team that’s left in the tournament. Without star floor general Zakai Zeigler, the Vols have had to lean on their physicality and defense even more, and it makes them an absolutely terrifying opponent to play against. They don’t allow teams to make many three pointers, and their length combined with their physicality gives a lot of teams problems. Offensively, they can enter long periods without scoring points, but they get contributions from everyone, such as seniors Santiago Vescovi and Olivier Nkamhoua. Defense is their strong suit though, and if they’re making a deep run, it’ll be because of their defense. — JPA

No. 6 Gonzaga Bulldogs (3-seed)

There’s a certain type of college basketball fan that views Gonzaga as a March Madness underachiever because they haven’t won a national title, but in reality no program in the country succeeds at a high level more consistently. The Zags are into the Sweet 16 for the eighth consecutive year, a truly remarkable accomplishment that has included two appearances in the national title game if no championship rings. This isn’t Gonzaga’s best team over that stretch, but it’s still a very good one. The Zags currently have the No. 1 offense in the country, led by the tremendous all-around game of senior center Drew Timme, who put up a heroic 28-8-3 performance in a tight win over TCU in the round of 32. Anton Watson provides additional defensive support on the inside, while Julian Strawther is one of the best shooters left in the field at 6’7. The looming matchup with Gonzaga feels like the best of the regional semifinals. Can they get enough stops to make one more Final Four run with Timme? If not, we can’t wait to see them try to out-score the Bruins. — ROD

Photo by C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

No. 5 UConn Huskies (4-seed)

UConn is back in the Sweet 16 for the first time since their improbable run to the 2014 national championship as a No. 7 seed. This time, it doesn’t feel so surprising. The Huskies felt seriously under-seeded when the bracket listed them as No. 4 seed despite being top-5 in KenPom efficiency rankings and top-10 in the NET. UConn had size, it had shooting, and it had impressive balance on both ends of the floor. So far, all of those things have shined through in their first two wins. We ranked junior big man Adama Sanogo as a top-10 player in March Madness entering the tournament, and he proceeded to dominate the opening weekend: after dropping 28 points and 13 rebounds on Iona, he followed it up with 24 points and eight rebounds during a win over Saint Mary’s. UConn’s shooters have been on fire, too, hitting about 45 percent of their threes across the two wins. The defense? Yes, that’s good, too, with both tournament opponents held under one point per possession. With top seed Kansas out in the West Region, the Huskies can dream of another Final Four run. They really do have the pieces to do it. — ROD

No. 4 UCLA Bruins (2-seed)

Despite everything, the Bruins just keep winning. UCLA is in the Sweet Sixteen for the third consecutive season, but they’ve found themselves severely banged up on the path there. Already without Jaylen Clark, one of the best defenders in the nation, the Bruins suffered another blow when sharpshooter David Singleton crumpled to the floor with an ankle injury late in their win over Northwestern. Singleton says he’s good to go, but UCLA is thin. It’s become a theme for them: last tournament Jamie Jaquez Jr. sprained his ankle so bad that he needed offseason surgery, and the year before it was Johnny Juzang who hobbled through the tournament.

The Bruins have played dominant so far, only trailing for 62 seconds of game time at the beginning of their second round game. They have one of the best backcourts in the tournament: Jaquez Jr. is scoring with ease, averaging 20.5 points and 8 rebounds per game and Tyger Campbell feasted at the free throw line (12-12) against Northwestern. Their weak point is their lack of depth at center, where freshman Adem Bona is backed up by Kenneth Nwuba. If Bona or Nwuba gets into foul trouble, the Bruins will have a weak point for an opportune team to attack. – Adam Ward

Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

No. 3 Texas Longhorns (2-seed)

Texas was battle-tested in the country’s toughest conference all season, and the bumps they took along the way sure seem to be helping this team play its best basketball at the right time. The Longhorns were dominant on their way to a Big 12 tournament championship, and picked up where they left off to start the big dance with wins over Colgate and Penn State. This team is starting to feel like it checks every box for a national champion: they have two star guards who can create for themselves and others in Marcus Carr and Tyrese Hunter, they have a rotating cast of big forwards who can finish plays inside and defend the paint, and they have as much depth as any team still standing. Interim head coach Rodney Terry helped recruit so many of these players in the transfer portal, and he’s pushing all the right buttons at the moment. Texas basketball isn’t a sleeping giant anymore; they’re here, and they have every piece a team needs to win six games in this tournament. — ROD

No. 2 Alabama (1-seed)

There’s no avoiding that discussing the Crimson Tide is messy, and complicated. The off-court legal proceedings swirling around the team will linger after the season is done, and we don’t yet know if star player Brandon Miller will be charged in connection with the death of Jamea Harris. Murder charges have been filed against former Alabama player Darius Miles and his friend friend Michael Davis, and we’re yet to fully know how far out this extends.

It’s difficult balancing celebrating this team as a force on the court, while also acknowledging the situation off of it. When it comes to the Sweet 16 the best we can do is discuss the performance we’ve been presented with. Alabama has done exactly what a No. 1 seed should. They blew out Texas A&M – CC in the first round, and cruised to a 22 point win over No. 8 Maryland in the second round, putting the hammer down in the second half and pulling away, showing their depth. Miller is one of the best players in college basketball, and able to score in bunches when needed, but he’s also willing to take a back seat and allow teammates Jahvon Quinerly and Mark Sears shine against teams with stronger front courts. This variety of ways to score should propel the Crimson Tide into the Final Four, and they’re absolutely a team to favored to go all the way. — James Dator

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

No. 1 Houston Cougars (1-seed)

A shaky opening-round game against Northern Kentucky had some prognosticators wondering if Houston would be able to put together a deep run, but Saturday’s effort against Auburn, particularly in the second half, likely erased those fears. Despite trailing at the half by ten, the Cougars took over in the second half, outscoring the Tigers by 27 en route to their 81-64 victory. Houston also got some good news prior to tipoff regarding the health of All-American guard Marcus Sasser. Despite being limited against Northern Kentucky, and not playing in the second half, Sasser played without limitations on Saturday and hung 22 on the Tigers. If Sasser is healthy, and the Cougars continue to frustrate opponents with their stifling defense, Houston could put together a deep, deep run. — Mark Schofield

March Madness bracket update: Scores and schedule from men’s NCAA tournament

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Here’s the latest from the 2023 men’s NCAA tournament

The first day of the 2023 men’s NCAA tournament was full of dramatic finishes, wild upsets, and new players becoming March Madness heroes before our eyes. As the tournament advances to its second day, the slate will loaded with fascinating matchups and will surely produce more memorable moments.

It looked like there was going to be a huge upset coming to start day two when the No. 14 seed Kennesaw State Owls built a double-digit lead in the second half against No. 3 seed Xavier. Instead, the Musketeers went on a 15-0 run to surge ahead in the final minutes. Kennesaw State still had a chance to win on the last shot of the game, but Xavier big man Jack Nunge came up with a game-saving block to secure the win:

The No. 14 seed UC Santa Barbara Gauchos also had an upset on their mind when they took a one-point lead into halftime against No. 3 seed Baylor. Unfortunately for the Gauchos, their offense went cold in the second half as Baylor caught fire. Guards Adam Flager and LJ Cryer led the way for the Bears, who advance to play the winner of No. 6 Creighton vs. No. 11 NC State.

Find updated scores for the 2023 men’s NCAA tournament here

South Regional

First Round

No. 1 Alabama 96, No. 16 Texas A&M-CC 75

No. 8 Maryland 67, No. 9 West Virginia 65

No. 5 San Diego St. 63, No. 12 Charleston 57

No. 13 Furman 68, No. 4 Virginia 67

No. 6 Creighton 72, No. 11 N.C. State 63

No. 3 Baylor 74, No. 14 UCSB 56

No. 7 Missouri 76, No. 10 Utah State 65

No. 15 Princeton 59, No. 2 Arizona 55

Second Round

No. 5 San Diego State 75, No 13 Furman 52

No. 15 Princeton 78, No. 7 Missouri 68

No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 8 Maryland | Saturday March 18 | 9:40 p.m. ET | TBS

No. 6 Creighton vs. No. 3 Baylor | Sunday March 19 | 7:10 p.m. ET | TBS

Sweet Sixteen

No. 5 San Diego State vs. Alabama/Maryland Winner

No. 15 Princeton vs. No. 6 Creighton/No. 3 Baylor Winner

Midwest Regional

First Round

No. 1 Houston 63, No. 16 N. Kentucky 52

No. 9 Auburn 83, No. 8 Iowa 75

No. 5 Miami 63, No. 12 Drake 56

No. 4 Indiana 71, No 13 Kent State 60

No. 11 Pitt 59, No. 6 Iowa State 41

No. 3 Xavier 72, No. 14 Kennesaw State 67

No. 10 Penn State 76, No 7 Texas A&M 59

No 2 Texas 81, No. 15 Colgate 61

Second Round

No 1 Houston 81, No. 9 Auburn 64

No. 2 Texas 71, No. 10 Penn State 66

No. 3 Xavier vs. No 11 Pitt | Sunday March 19 | 12:10 p.m. ET | CBS

No. 5 Miami vs. No. 4 Indiana | Sunday March 19 | 8:40 p.m. ET | TNT

Sweet Sixteen

No. 1 Houston vs. No. 5 Miami/No. 4 Indiana Winner

No. 2 Texas vs. No 3 Xavier/No. 11 Pitt Winner

East Regional

First Round

No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson 63, No. 1 Purdue 58

No. 9 Florida Atlantic 66, No. 8 Memphis 65

No. 5 Duke 74, No. 12 Oral Roberts 51

No. 4 Tennessee 58, No. 13 Louisiana 55

No. 6 Kentucky 61, No. 11 Providence 53

No. 3 Kansas State 77, No 14 Montana State 65

No. 7 Michigan State 72, No. 10 USC 62

No. 3 Xavier 72, No. 14 Kennesaw State 67

No. 2 Marquette 78, No. 15 Vermont 61

Second Round

No. 4 Tennessee 65, No. 5 Duke 52

No. 6 Kentucky vs. No. 3. Kansas State | Sunday March 19 | 2:40 p.m. ET | CBS

No. 2 Marquette vs. No. 7 Michigan State | Sunday March 19 | 5:15 p.m. ET | CBS

No. 9 Florida Atlantic vs. No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson | Sunday March 19 | 7:45 p.m. ET | truTV

Sweet Sixteen

No. 4 Tennessee vs. No. 9 Florida Atlantic/No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson Winner

West Regional

No. 1 Kansas 96 vs. No. 16 Howard, 68

No. 8 Arkansas 73, No. 9 Illinois 63

No. 5 St. Mary’s 63, No. 12 VCU 51

No. 4 UConn 87, No. 13 Iona 63

No. 6 TCU 72, No. 11 Arizona State 70

No. 3 Gonzaga 82, No. 14 Grand Canyon 70

No. 7 Northwestern 75, No. 10 Boise State 67

No. 2 UCLA 86, No. 15 UNC-Asheville 53

Second Round

No. 8 Arkansas 72, No. 1 Kansas 71

No. 2 UCLA 68, No. 7 Northwestern 63

No. 4 UConn vs. No. 5 St. Mary’s | Sunday March 19 | 6:10 p.m. ET | TNT

No. 3 Gonzaga vs. No. 6 TCU | Sunday March 19 | 9:40 p.m. ET | TBS

Sweet Sixteen

No. 8 Arkansas vs. No. 2 UCLA

Updated March Madness men’s bracket here

Pierre Gasly believes ‘double points’ are achievable for Alpine in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Photo by Bryn Lennon – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images

Both Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon qualify in the top ten at Jeddah

It was a tale of two drivers at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix for Alpine. Esteban Ocon retired late in the race after a series of penalties pushed him further and further down the grid, while Pierre Gasly charged into the top ten after starting in 20th position.

However, Sunday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix could be a much different story for the drivers, and for Alpine.

Both Gasly and Ocon barreled their way into the third qualifying session on Sunday, and when the dust settled — including the ten-place grid penalty for Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who posted the second-fastest time — both drivers locked out spots in the top ten. Gasly will begin the race ninth, with Ocon starting in the third row, from the sixth spot.

“That was an intense qualifying session and a strong performance all around, so a good job by the entire team. Overall, I’m happy with seventh today,” said Ocon in a statement to the media, including SBNation, after qualifying. “We’re starting in sixth with Charles’ [Leclerc] penalty and it’s all to play for from the third row tomorrow. During qualifying, the car was the strongest it’s felt all weekend and it’s good to see that we’ve improved day by day, session by session, so credit to the team for that.”

Alan Permane, the team’s Sporting Director, called the qualifying session an improvement over the first week of the season. “Today’s qualifying is a significant improvement from the first race of the season and it’s certainly satisfying to have both cars reach Q3 and starting in a competitive place on the grid for tomorrow’s race,” said Permane. “Esteban did a great job with a well-executed session, which he built up lap by lap, and delivered when he needed to in an extremely tight field, split by small margins. It was important for Pierre to have a smooth session, especially after Bahrain qualifying. He’s now put himself in contention for strong points tomorrow and we’re certainly feeling good with how our long run pace has looked so far this season.”

Gasly admitted to having mixed feelings about the session, as he thought there was even more to get out of the A523. Still, the team is in good shape for Sunday. “I have mixed feelings after today’s Qualifying. While I’m pleased to reach Q3, I still feel we came up a little bit short on our expectations today and there’s some finer details we need to work on to make sure we extract the maximum from our package,” said Gasly. “It’s great that we have both cars inside the top ten – credit to Esteban on a good job – and it means we’re in a strong position for the race where the aim is to score solid points.“

All three believe a solid result for Alpine is possible when the lights go out Sunday night in Jeddah. “Tomorrow we’ll aim to have a clean race and bring both cars home in the points,” said Ocon. “It’s a long race where strategy will be important and we’re all fully focused on a strong result.”

“A decent job today, some small details to fix, and we’re looking forward to seeing what we can achieve tomorrow with both cars,” added Permane.

Despite his mixed feelings regarding qualifying, Gasly seemed the most optimistic when discussing Sunday. “Our race pace has been good, we showed that in Bahrain, and in practice yesterday, and I’m feeling confident that double points are achievable,” said Gasly on Saturday night.

Complete March Madness schedule for the men’s 2023 NCAA tournament

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The first round of the NCAA tournament begins Thursday, March 16

The 2023 men’s NCAA tournament begins on March 14 in Dayton, Ohio and continues through to the Final Four and national championship game in Houston.

You can check out the complete bracket here.

Here is the complete schedule for March Madness below:

Friday, March 17 (Round of 64. All times Eastern)

  • No. 10 USC vs. No. 7 Michigan State |12:15 p.m. |CBS
  • No. 14 Kennesaw St. vs. No. 3 Xavier | 12:40 p.m. | truTV
  • No. 14 UC Santa Barbra vs. No. 3 Baylor | 1:30 p.m. | TNT
  • No. 12 VCU vs. No. 5 Saint Mary’s | 2:0 p.m. | TBS
  • No. 15 Vermont vs. No. 2 Marquette| 2:40 p.m. | CBS
  • No. 11 Pitt vs. No. 6 Iowa State | 3:10 p.m. | truTV
  • No. 11 N.C. State vs. No. 6 Creighton| 4:00 p.m. | TNT
  • No. 13 Iona vs. No. 4 UConn | 4:30 p.m. | TBS
  • No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson vs. No. 1 Purdue| 6:55 p.m. | TNT
  • No. 11 Providence vs. No. 6 Kentucky | 7:10 p.m. | CBS
  • No. 12 Drake vs. No. 5 Miami | 7:25 p.m | TBS
  • No. 14 Grand Canyon vs. No. 3 Gonzaga| 7:35 p.m. | truTV
  • No. 9 Florida Atlantic vs. No. 8 Memphis | 9:25 p.m.| TNT
  • No. 14 Montana St. vs. No. 3 Kansas St. | 9:40 p.m. | CBS
  • No. 13 Kent State vs. No. 4 Indiana | 9:55 p.m. | TBS
  • No. 11 Arizona St vs. No. 6 TCU | 10:05 p.m. | truTV

Thursday’s First Round Scores

  • No. 8 Maryland 67, West Virginia 65
  • No. 13 Furman 68, No. 4 Virginia 67
  • No. 7 Missouri 76, No. 10 Utah State 65
  • No. 1 Kansas 96, No. 16. Howard 68
  • No. 1 Alabama 96, No. 16 Texas A&M CC 75
  • No. 5 San Diego State 63, No. 12 College of Charleston 57
  • No. 15 Princeton 59, No. 2 Arizona 55
  • No. 8 Arkansas 73, No. 9 Illinois 63
  • No. 9 Auburn 83, No. 8 Iowa 75
  • No. 5 Duke 74, No. 12 Oral Roberts 51
  • No. 2 Texas 81, No. 15 Colgate 61
  • No. 7 Northwestern 75, No. 10 Boise State 67
  • No. 1 Houston 63, No. 16 Northern Kentucky 52
  • No. 4 Tennessee 58, No. 13 Louisiana 55
  • No. 10 Penn State 76, No. 7 Texas A&M 59
  • No. 2 UCLA 86, No. 15 UNC Asheville 53

Saturday, March 18 (Round of 32. All times Eastern)

  • TBD vs. TBD | 12:15 p.m. | CBS
  • TBD vs. TBD | 2:30 p.m. | CBS
  • TBD vs. TBD | 5 p.m. | CBS
  • TBD vs. TBD |6 p.m. | TNT
  • TBD vs. TBD |7 p.m. | TBS
  • TBD vs. TBD |7:30 p.m. | CBS
  • TBD vs. TBD |8:30 p.m. | TNT
  • TBD vs. TBD |9:30 p.m. | TBS

Sunday, March 19 (Round of 32. All times Eastern)

  • TBD vs. TBD| noon | CBS
  • TBD vs. TBD | 2:30 p.m. | CBS
  • TBD vs. TBD | 5 p.m. | CBS
  • TBD vs. TBD | 6 p.m. | TNT
  • TBD vs. TBD | 7 p.m. | TBS
  • TBD vs. TBD | 7:30 p.m. | truTV
  • TBD vs. TBD | 8:30 p.m. | TNT
  • TBD vs. TBD | 9:30 p.m. | TBS

Thursday, March 23 (Sweet 16. All times Eastern)

  • TBD vs. TBD | 6:15 p.m. | TBS
  • TBD vs. TBD |7 p.m. | CBS
  • TBD vs. TBD |8:45 p.m. | TBS
  • TBD vs. TBD |9:30 p.m. | CBS

Friday, March 24 (Sweet 16. All times Eastern)

  • TBD vs. TBD |6:15 p.m. | TBS
  • TBD vs. TBD |7 p.m. | CBS
  • TBD vs. TBD |8:45 p.m. | TBS
  • TBD vs. TBD |9:30 p.m. | CBS

Saturday, March 25 (Elite 8. All times Eastern)

  • TBD vs. TBD |6 p.m. | TBS
  • TBD vs. TBD |8:30 p.m. | TBS

Sunday, March 26 (Elite 8. All times Eastern)

  • TBD vs. TBD |2 p.m. | CBS
  • TBD vs. TBD |4:55 p.m. | CBS

Saturday, April 1 (Final Four. All times Eastern)

  • TBD vs. TBD |6 p.m.| CBS
  • TBD vs. TBD |8:30 p.m. | CBS

Monday, April 3 (National championship game).

  • TBD vs. TBD |9 p.m. ET | CBS

Last year, No. 1 seed Kansas beat No. 8 seed North Carolina in the national championship game. Plus, don’t forget about the great Cinderella story of Saint Peter’s. The school gained many new fans as the Peacocks, a 15-seed, made it all the way to the Elite Eight round, losing to the Tar Heels to end their historic March Madness run.

This year’s tournament will take place in 15 different locations.

A total of 68 teams will make the tournament field. Of those 64, 32 are automatic qualifiers from conference tournament winners. SB Nation made predictions for every league.

For current NCAA tournament bracket predictions, follow SB Nation’s best source for Bracketology, Blogging the Bracket. You can bet on the NCAA Tournament at DraftKings Sportsbook.

NIT 2023: Bracket, schedule, and scores

Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

Here’s the full bracket, schedule and scores for this year’s tournament.

It’s NIT TIME BABY! (extremely Dick Vitale voice). The National Invitational Tournament is upon us, and while many teams will be disappointed they’re in competition to become the best bridesmaid of March, rather than the bride, there’s still a lot of pride to play for.

Each year the NIT features one major snub who becomes the favorite to run the table. This year it’s Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights had every ounce of justification to be in the NCAA tournament, but were pushed just outside the bubble.

That doesn’t mean a Rutgers win should be considered a foregone conclusion. Yes, they’re a very good team — but last year Texas A&M was the huge NCAA snub and ended up losing to Xavier 73-72 in the NIT final.

The big edge the NIT has always held over the NCAA tournament is atmosphere. Sure, playing at big independent sites brings money and parity to the sport, but there’s something to be said for keeping the on-campus atmosphere like the NIT does. It’s for this reason that the seeded teams get to play at home to open the tournament, with the campus sites hosting until the quarterfinals are complete. Curiously you’ll see that this omits Oklahoma State, who have to travel despite being a No. 1 seed because of a prior commitment on campus to host the NCAA Wrestling Championships.

The 2023 NIT Schedule

First Round

Tuesday, March 14

  • Hofstra 88, No. 1 Rutgers 86 OT
  • No. 3 Michigan 90, Toledo 80
  • No. 4 UAB 88, Southern Miss 60
  • No. 3 Liberty 62, Villanova 57
  • No. 2 Vanderbilt 71, Yale 62
  • No. 2 Wisconsin 81, Bradley 62
  • Eastern Washington 81, No. 4 Washington State 74
  • No. 3 Colorado 65, Seton Hall 64

Wednesday, March 15

  • No. 1 Oklahoma State 69, Youngstown State 64
  • UCF 67, No. 4 Florida 49
  • Morehead State 68, No. 1 Clemson 64
  • No. 2 North Texas 69, Alcorn 53
  • No. 3 Sam Houston 58, Santa Clara 56
  • No. 4 Cincinnati 81, Virginia Tech 72
  • Utah Valley 83, No. 2 New Mexico 69
  • No. 1 Oregon vs. UC Irvine | 11 p.m. | ESPN2

Second Round

Saturday, March 18

  • No. 3 Michigan vs. No. 2 Vanderbilt | 12 p.m. | ESPN

Sunday, March 19


Tuesday, March 21

Wednesday, March 22


Tuesday, March 28


Thursday, March 30

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