TWIST: This Week in Sports Talk is our weekly recap of how to talk about sports this week like a pro. If you’re just starting to learn about sports, or need a quick summary of what’s up in your favorite league, or just want to know why your spouse keeps obsessively checking the sports scores, read on. Here’s what you need to know to talk with a sports fan the week of March 17, 2019.
how to talk with a sports fan this week
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
we begin with march madness
It’s March, and you know what that means. Yep. March Madness.
NCAA basketball takes the spotlight. Today is Selection Sunday. The 32 teams winning conference tournaments are automatically included in March Madness. The other 36 will be chosen from the at-large pool today at 6:00P Eastern.
office pool time
Be sure to check who’s in and who’s out before you head into the office. And if you can, get in a pool for March Madness. It will be fun, and a lot better than sitting on the sidelines while everyone else is talking about their brackets.
In case you’re wondering, this is what a bracket looks like.
who will be top seeded?
Reportedly, there are seven teams in consideration for 1 seeds in the tournament: Virginia, Gonzaga, Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee and Michigan State. There are only 4 #1 seeds, and many think the much-hyped Duke team, with star player Zion Williamson, could end up with a #2 seed.
the return of zion
Speaking of which, Zion Williamson was back in the game against Syracuse this week in the ACC tournament, and he was in top form, scoring 29 points. Thankfully, his exploding-shoe injury didn’t bench him for the season, and he’s not sitting out to avoid getting hurt before the NBA draft. He said he wanted to play with his teammates.
Late Saturday, Duke won the ACC by beating Florida State, 73-63. Zion played well again, scoring 21 points.
For the record, Williamson is still wearing Nikes, despite the epic fail the last time he wore them. This week, he wore Nike Kyrie 4 sneakers. And no, they did not blow out. With Williamson back and playing well, Duke might be the favorite for March Madness.
That’s all fine, but what we really want to know is whether Sister Jean, 99, who became an international superstar during Loyola-Chicago’s run in last year’s NCAA tournament, will be back in the stands this year. We hope so!
what you need to know to talk about sports this week
For Those Who Do Not Avidly Follow Professional Sports and Want to Be Able to Talk to a Sports Fan, here are the happenings that you should know about for the week of March 17, 2019:
The playoffs are approaching, and the NBA is heating up. There are just over a dozen games left in the NBA regular season for most teams. The Golden State Warriors, the Denver Nuggets, the Houston Rockets, the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Portland Trail Blazers, and the Utah Jazz are all on fire right now. In the East, the Boston Celtics are hanging in and the Toronto Raptors remain strong.
nice to know:
Meanwhile, in LA the Lakers continue to fade. LeBron James has admitted that the playoffs “are a long shot.” As of this posting, they’re number 11 in the West, with a 31-38 record for the season (meaning they’ve lost more than they’ve won).
Star rookie Luka Doncic continues to light up the court with the Dallas Mavericks. Just turned 20, he’s demonstrated a preternatural ability to slow down on the court when needed. His specialty, like James Harden of the Houston Rockets, is the “step-back three” shot. There have only been three rookies in NBA history to average 20 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 5 assists per game: Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan, and LBJ. Doncic is the fourth.
2. in other sporting news
major league baseball:
MLB opening day is the earliest one ever this year. The 2019 Major League regular season will begin with the Japan Opening Series, featuring the Oakland Athletics hosting the Seattle Mariners at the Tokyo Dome in Japan on March 20-21. Traditional Opening Day, featuring all 30 Major League Clubs, will take place on Thursday, March 28.
Will the Sox roll over the Yanks this season? Stay tuned, fans.
As we mentioned last week, rotator cuff issues can be nagging. The New York Yankees #1 pitcher Luis Severino will be out at least until at least May 1, instead of the 2 weeks reported last week. That may be a major issue for the Yankees, who already have a spotty starting rotation.
At the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, the dream of seeing Roger Federer play Rafael Nadal almost came true. Unfortunately, in what would have been their 39th match, and the first time the two faced each other in 17 months, Rafa decided to withdraw. He’s suffering from patellar tendinitis in his right knee. So Federer advances, and we wish Rafa a speedy recovery.
The Players Championship (TPC) is underway at Sawgrass. As always, the focus is on Tiger Woods. He finished strong on day 1 with -2 70. Unfortunately, on day 2 Woods imploded on the famous Sawgrass par-3 island hole, carding a quadruple-bogey, ouch! After the third round, and as of this posting, Jon Rahm is at the top of the leaderboard, with Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood tied for second place (and only one stroke behind). Woods is tied for 43rd place.
The free agency period has officially started, and it’s been a really eventful week. There were significant shifts in talent, and record-setting paychecks. The NFL Players Association reports that players have received $1.7 billion in new contracts just this week.
Here’s the short version of where things stand as of this posting. Winners: the Cleveland Browns, New York Jets, and Oakland Raiders. Losers: the New York Giants, the New England Patriots, and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Too soon to say: the Denver Broncos, the Chicago Bears, and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
nice to know:
Here’s the slightly longer version of what happened this week.
new york giants
The New York Giants have pretty much cleaned house; this week they traded Odell Beckham Jr (OBJ) in return for some draft picks and defensive player Jabrill Peppers. The team released safety Landon Collins, who then signed an $84 million deal (with $32 million guaranteed) with Giants’ rival the Washington Redskins.
Further Giants moves this week? They signed wide receiver Golden Tate to fill OBJ’s role, further proof that the team is all in with veteran quarterback Eli Manning again this season (he’s receiving a $5 million roster bonus this weekend). Fans are split on whether the Giants should draft a quarterback in April, or trade for Josh Rosen. The Arizona Cardinals seem to be infatuated with Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray as their #1 pick. So Rosen may be available.
new york jets
Meanwhile, the New York Jets made what are considered to be some smart acquisitions: Le’Veon Bell, formerly of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and some linebackers, including C.J. Mosley from the Baltimore Ravens.
The Cleveland Browns are viewed as the big winners of the week. By signing OBJ and Kareem Hunt, in combination with their second-year quarterback Baker Mayfield and OBJ’s former LSU teammate Jarvis Landry, the experts are viewing them as one of the best teams in the AFC. Unlock the beer, dudes!
We previously reported that the Oakland Raiders have added Antonio Brown, formerly of the Pittsburgh Steelers, to their roster. This week they signed Tyrell Williams from the San Diego Chargers and Trent Brown from the New England Patriots.
The Brown family is lovely, and their three adorable children pretty well walked off with the press conference to announce their dad’s new home. Are you kidding? That is SO CUTE.
new england patriots
As is usually the case, the New England Patriots have lost a number of good players. They have only acquired new players at “bargain prices,” as is their practice. Trey Flowers is going to the Detroit Lions. Over the past 4 years, the Pats paid him a total of $4 million. Now the player has a five-year deal that will pay him up to $90 million. In a similar move, Trent Brown is going to the Oakland Raiders. Last year the Pats paid him $2 million; he signed with his new team for $66 million for 4 years (with $37 million guaranteed), a record for an offensive lineman.
In other words, it’s not so bad to be an ex-Pat.
In other Patriots Nation news, Gronk has still not decided whether or not he’s playing in the upcoming season.
The Philadelphia Eagles let Super Bowl winning quarterback Nick Foles go to the Jacksonville Jaguars for a four-year, $88 million contract. As part of that move, the Jags have released quarterback Blake Bortles.
And as previously noted, the Pittsburgh Steelers lost Le’Veon Bell to the Jets, and Antonio Brown to the Raiders, leaving their prospects for the season looking dim.
Now that OBJ has been traded to the Cleveland Browns, he wants to live in LeBron James’ (LBJ) Ohio mansion (since he’s now living in LA). It’s unclear if LBJ would welcome the drama that will inevitably accompany OBJ’s arrival in town. We say list it on Airbnb and see what happens next.
The Kansas City Chiefs continue to be plagued by bad behavior on the part of their players. You may recall that Kareem Hunt was let go by the Chiefs mid-season after a video surfaced showing him pushing and kicking a young woman. He was picked up by the Cleveland Browns, and has been suspended by the NFL for the first 8 games of the upcoming season.
Now comes word that Tyreek Hill of the Chiefs is under investigation for battery involving a juvenile. KC, what is going on?
And finally, yesterday Johnny Manziel (aka “Johnny Football”) announced that he has joined the 1 – 5 Memphis Express team in the new Alliance of American Football (AAF) league. He’s baaack! This is the AAF’s first season, and attracting a known player can only help get them on the map.
That’s what you need to know to talk with a sports fan this week. You’re good to go. See you next week!
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