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March Madness update

March Madness has already brought surprises to the table

One of the best sporting events of the year has finally arrived. Fans of college basketball have been waiting over 700 days for the next March Madness, as the tournament was cancelled last year due to COVID-19.

What a tournament it’s been so far. Let’s dive right in.

West Region

Let’s start off with the best team in the country. Before the tournament, there were many expectations for the Gonzaga Bulldogs. They went undefeated in the regular season, going 26-0 in the process. Needless to say they made it to the round of 16, also known as the Sweet 16.

The Creighton Blue Jays will play in the Sweet 16 after beating the 13th seed Ohio Bobcats 72-58, ending junior standout Jason Preston’s season. This will be Creighton’s first time in the Sweet 16 since 1974. Their leader, Marcus Zegarowski, led the way with 20 points in the second round matchup. A date with juggernaut Gonzaga awaits.

One first round matchup was cancelled due to the pandemic. The game between the Oregon Ducks and the VCU Rams was ruled a no-contest because of COVID-19 protocols on the VCU end. This gave Oregon an automatic win, which saw them advance to the round of 32.

The Iowa Hawkeyes, number two seed in the west, were hoping to give their star player Luka Garza, College Player of the Year favourite, one final shot at a championship. They won their first-round matchup against Grand Canyon Antelopes handily, 86-74, but the second round told a different story. They lost to Oregon by a whopping 15 points, 95-80. It will be interesting to see where Garza lands in the 2021 NBA draft.

The sixth seed in the west region, the USC Trojans, have looked phenomenal so far, and hardly anyone has been talking about them. They beat down the Drake Bulldogs in the first round 72-56 and beat an injured Kansas Jayhawks team 85-51 in the round of 32. We’ll see if they can keep it up. They match up against Oregon in the Sweet 16.

Midwest Region

All of the one seeds won their first round matchups rather comfortably. Number one seeds now own a 143-1 record against 16 seeds in the NCAA tournament. That sole win came in 2018, when the UMBC Retrievers defeated the Virginia Cavaliers 74-54.

Not all of the one seeds lasted very long though. The number one seed in the Midwest region, the Illinois Fighting Illini, lost in the second round to the Loyola Chicago Ramblers. Illinois came into this tournament as one of the favourites to win it all. The Ramblers proved they should not be taken lightly, as Cameron Krutwig showed that he is one of the most dominant big men in the country.

The Ramblers will play the Oregon State Beavers, who just beat the Oklahoma State Cowboys and top NBA recruit Cade Cunningham, 80-70. Oregon State was projected to finish last in their conference, the Pac-12. They now find themselves in the Sweet 16.

The Syracuse Orange has always been a fan favourite, but they have not garnered much attention after a slow start to the season. Everything changed for them once the calendar switched to March. They won against the sixth seed San Diego State Aztecs in the first round, and squeezed out a win versus the heavily favoured third seed West Virginia Mountaineers in the round of 32. Next up, a date with the powerhouse second seed, the Houston Cougars in the Sweet 16 of the Midwest region.

South Region

Upsets were bound to happen. But who would have expected them to be of this magnitude? This is the first time in NCAA tournament history that four teams seeded 13 or higher have reached the round of 32.

The most shocking upset of the tournament happened early on in the South region in the round of 64. The 15th seed Oral Roberts Golden Eagles defeated the number two seed Ohio State Buckeyes 75-72 in overtime. Kevin Obanor and Max Abmas led the way for Oral Roberts, scoring an outstanding 59 points combined. It’s going to be a long off-season for an Ohio State group that had championship aspirations.

Oral Roberts wasn’t done there. They came into the round of 32 with as much confidence as anyone. They shocked the basketball world once again, defeating the Florida Gators 81-78. They are the second 15th seed to ever make the Sweet 16. Could they be the first 15th seed to ever make the Elite Eight? They will be facing off against the heavily favoured third seed Arkansas Razorbacks.

Number one seed in the South region, the Baylor Bears will take on the fifth seed Villanova Wildcats in the Sweet 16 after both teams won their second-round matchups easily.

East Region

One 14th seed made it out of the first round of the tournament this year, and that team was the Abilene Christian Wildcats. It was a complete team effort, as the defence stepped up and no player scored more than 11 points in the victory. Sadly, that’s as far as they would go, as another underdog, the UCLA Bruins, defeated them in the second round. Alabama Crimson Tide and their high-flying offence is next on the agenda for UCLA.

Last, but certainly not least, we have the number four seed in the East region, the Florida State Seminoles. They survived a small scare in the first round against the St. Bonaventure Bonnies, but bounced back in a big way, blowing out the Colorado Buffaloes 71-53. They face the first seed Michigan Wolverines in the Sweet 16 after they beat the LSU Tigers 86-78. Eli Brooks was clutch down the stretch when LSU made it a close game. He poured in 21 points and seven assists.

There you have it, everything to get you up to date and ready for the next round. Buckle up for the Sweet 16, because the madness is just beginning.

 

Graphic by Rose-Marie Dion

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Sports

Major sports leagues’ power rankings

 Looking at the most dominant teams in all major sports leagues

While it’s been a tough year for sports with COVID-19, we’ve been lucky enough to witness a championship in all four major sports. With two of the four major sports leagues already into their seasons, one having recently concluded and one on the verge of starting, let’s take a look at the top five teams in their respective sport.


National Basketball Association (NBA)

  1. Utah Jazz (27-8) 

No one would have expected the Utah Jazz to be sitting comfortably in first in the NBA standings. Led by all-stars Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, this team has been firing on all cylinders, winning 23 of their past 27 games. The Jazz are out for vengeance after losing seven games to the Denver Nuggets in the first round of last season’s postseason.

  1. Brooklyn Nets (23-13)

Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving have been on fire this season, averaging 121 points per game. On the other hand, their defence has been a different story. However, it’s been improving every game. It’s championship or bust for this superteam.

  1. Los Angeles Lakers (24-11)

The Lakers will always be near the top of the NBA standings as long as LeBron James is healthy. However, they have looked a bit lost recently; losing four of seven Anthony Davis went down with a calf injury. The good news: it’s not supposed to be long-term. A healthy Lakers team in the playoffs is the team to beat.

  1. Los Angeles Clippers (24-12)

The Clippers have been almost unbeatable when both Paul George and Kawhi Leonard are in the lineup. The problem is actually to have them both dressed up at the same time, as they have had multiple injuries.

  1. Philadelphia 76ers (23-12)

Team leader Joel Embiid has been a pleasure to watch this season and has been playing like a MVP candidate. Could a deep playoff run finally be in store for a 76ers team with so much to offer? Only time will tell.


 National Hockey League (NHL)

  1. Toronto Maple Leafs (17-4-2)

The Maple Leafs have been the hottest team in the NHL recently, with Auston Matthews leading the way. The superstar is leading the NHL in goals with 20 in 18 games. Can he score 50 goals in the shortened season?

  1. Tampa Bay Lightning (14-4-1)

The reigning Stanley Cup champions came out of the gate hot. Even with some injuries, the core of this team looks as good as ever. Winger Nikita Kucherov is also inching closer to a return. Watch out.

  1. Florida Panthers (13-4-4)

The Panthers might have the most underrated offensive duo in the NHL with Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau. Chris Driedger has also been a revelation in goal, while starting goalie Sergei Bobrovsky has been underwhelming.

  1. Vegas Golden Knights (13-4-1)

The Golden Knights have been getting consistent offence throughout their lineup. However, the main reason for their success has been Marc-Andre Fleury. He’s leading the league in almost every goaltending category.

  1. Boston Bruins (12-5-2)

The Bruins always seem to be near the top. Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak are playing like the best line in hockey and are wreaking havoc in the loaded East division. Not to mention their great goalie tandem.


Major League Baseball (MLB)

  1. Los Angeles Dodgers

Who’s going to stop the Dodgers? Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, David Price and newly acquired Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer. All of this with the best batting in baseball. Good luck to everyone else.

  1. San Diego Padres

The Padres conquered the offseason, signing Fernando Tatis Jr. to the longest deal in baseball history while also trading for Yu Darvish and Blake Snell. The Padres may be on their way to dominating baseball for years.

  1. New York Yankees

It’s going to be interesting early on for Yankee fans. This team looks dominant on paper, as they finally have a healthy Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. If Gerrit Cole performs as usual and Corey Kluber shows glimpses of his 2017 self, it’s game on.

  1. Atlanta Braves

Last season, The Braves were one game away from the World Series without their superstar Mike Soroka. A healthy rotation mixed in with a dominant offence led by Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuna Jr. is going to be a joy to watch.

  1. Chicago White Sox

The White Sox are going to be one of the most exciting young teams to follow. Their roster is as deep as anyone, and the acquisition of Lance Lynn may be the most underrated move of the offseason.


National Football League (NFL)

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

As reigning Super Bowl champions, the number one spot is theirs to lose. Back-to-back championships are entirely possible.

  1. Kansas City Chiefs

The core will be returning, and quarterback Patrick Mahomes is going to be hungrier than ever. The Chiefs will be the odds-on favourite to win it all next season.

  1. Buffalo Bills

It’s finally time for everyone to respect the Bills. With a dynamic young quarterback in Josh Allen, talented receivers and a top 10 defence, this team’s future is bright.

  1. Green Bay Packers

Could Aaron Rodgers force a trade to end his tenure with the Packers if they don’t fulfill his needs in the offseason? Time will tell, but the clock is ticking on the Packers’ championship window.

  1. Los Angeles Rams  

The Rams boast an elite defence with Aaron Donald leading the pack. They just needed an upgrade on offence to really emerge as Super Bowl contenders. Getting Matthew Stafford was perhaps the answer.


 


 

 

Graphic by Taylor Reddam

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