Happy Friday! Hope you’ve recovered from 12 hours of basketball — because we have 12 more today!
Let’s get right to it.
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Good morning to everyone but especially to…
THE SAINT PETER’S PEACOCKS
Welcome to history, Saint Peter’s! The 15-seed Peacocks picked up their first NCAA Tournament win ever in stunning, dramatic style, beating 2-seed Kentucky, 85-79, in overtime. There are several ways to qualify how unexpected this one was:
- Saint Peter’s closed as an 18.5-point underdog, making this the fourth-largest betting upset since the Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985.
- With the win, 15 seeds improved to 10-135 all-time against 2 seeds.
- 98% of CBS Sports brackets picked Kentucky.
- This was all such a big deal that Saint Peter’s school website crashed after the win.
So, how did it happen?
- The Peacocks were excellent shooting the basketball: 51% from the field, 53% from three and 86% from the free-throw line.
- They are the first team to hit those splits against Kentucky since UConn did it… in 2010.
- Daryl Banks III led the way with 27 points, and Doug Edert hit five 3-pointers en route to 20 points off the bench. Edert outscored the Kentucky bench by himself, 20-17.
- The Peacocks didn’t give up. They trailed by six with less than three minutes left in regulation and by four in overtime but made timely plays and hit clutch shots to eventually pull out the win.
Our College basketball experts rank it as the third-biggest upset ever on the opening weekend of March Madness.
- “It marked just the 10th-ever instance of a No. 15 seed beating a No. 2 seed, and the fact that it was one of the sport’s giants on the losing end made it all the more memorable.”
- The US Men’s National Team announced its roster for the final three World Cup Qualifiers.
- An Indiana cheerleader rescued a stuck ball. It was the highlight of the night for the Hoosiers, who lost 82-53 to St. Mary’s.
- Archie Miller will be the next men’s head basketball coach at Rhode Island.
And not such a good morning for…
THE KENTUCKY WILDCATS
While it was a historic win for Saint Peter’s, this loss was a big one for Kentucky.
- A First-Team All-American big man in Oscar Tshiebwe
- A backcourt with both veteran savvy (Sahvir Wheeler and Davion Mintz) and a likely one-and-done lottery pick (TyTy Washington)
- A sharp-shooting wing in Kellan Grady
- The most experienced roster in the John Calipari era
Kentucky seemingly had all the pieces in place, and Calipari knew it.
- Calipari: “Sad day not just because we lose a game. It’s that the season ended with this group.“
At times this season, the Wildcats looked like world-beaters. In December, they beat North Carolina by 29. In a two-week January stretch, they beat Tennessee by 28 and won by 18 at Kansas. But, that was as good as it got writes our college basketball expert Kyle Boone:
- Boone: “While Kentucky at times looked like the best team in college basketball, the loss against Saint Peter’s is the culmination of a late-season swoon… It lost four of its final nine games to end the season, including twice to Tennessee and once to Arkansas before taking on the Saint Peter’s upset.”
The Wildcats wasted a 30-point, 16-rebound performance from Tshiebwe thanks in large part to Washington and Grady combining for just 13 points on 3-for-19 shooting. Kentucky will reload, as it always does, but this loss — with this group — will sting for a long time.
Not so honorable mentions
There were many other tournament upsets! | Previewing today’s action 🏀
We changed the headline of this newsletter a bunch of times late last night, because the first full day of the NCAA Tournament was truly wild. In addition to Kentucky losing…
- Iowa — fresh off a Big Ten Tournament title — fell to 12-seed Richmond, 67-63. Jacob Gilyard led the way with 24 points, and the Spiders held the Hawkeyes to just 20.7% on 3-pointers.
- That wasn’t the only 12-5 upset, though. New Mexico State stunned UConn, 70-63, behind 37 points from Teddy Allen. It’s the Aggies’ first NCAA Tournament win since 1993; they had lost 12 straight since then.
Here are all the biggest winners and losers from yesterday’s action. And guess what? We get 16 more games today! Chip Patterson has identified today’s biggest storylines, and there’s no debating number one:
- Patterson: “No storyline in the entire tournament will resonate across the entire sports world like the final run for Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, the winningest coach in the history of Division I men’s basketball. The Blue Devils are a No. 2 seed in the West Region, and their first round game against No. 15 seed Cal State Fullerton will be a focal point of Friday evening with a 7:10 p.m. ET tip-off.”
Here are our expert picks as well.
Davante Adams headed to Raiders in blockbuster trade 🏈
Last offseason, Davante Adams said it would be a “dream” to play with Derek Carr, who was his college quarterback at Fresno State. This offseason, he said he wouldn’t play on the franchise tag the Packers had given him.
Thursday, both of his wishes were granted. In a blockbuster trade, the star wide receiver is headed to the Raiders, and he’s signing a 5-year, $141.2-million deal to become the league’s highest-paid wide receiver. Here are the details:
- Raiders receive: Davante Adams
- Packers receive: 2022 1st-round pick (No. 22 overall), 2022 2nd-round pick (No. 53 overall)
Now, you may think Aaron Rodgers isn’t very happy about losing his top target, but Rodgers was aware Adams was likely on his way out before signing his own massive contract. The Packers now have several options for how they can build their roster — and rebuild at wide receiver — in the draft.
As for Carr, this is a huge boost for him under new head coach Josh McDaniels. Look at this supporting cast:
- RB Josh Jacobs
- WR Davante Adams
- WR Hunter Renfrow
- TE Darren Waller
- Sullivan: “Davante Adams can take this offense to another level and is a much-needed addition, especially as the other teams in the AFC West continue to improve across the board. … [It makes] this offense a very well-rounded unit that will be a nightmare to defend in the red zone.”
Meanwhile, the AFC West is ridiculously loaded, writes NFL insider Jason La Canfora.
Baker Mayfield requests trade, but Browns won’t grant it 😬
There was a reason Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns were the “Not Such a Good Morning” section in yesterday’s newsletter — and it’s unfolding right in front of our eyes.
- Yesterday, Mayfield requested a trade from Cleveland, saying in part, “The relationship is too far gone to mend.”
- But the Browns denied the request.
- This coincided with the Browns falling out of the Deshaun Watson race.
Now both parties are caught in a who-blinks-first scenario, writes NFL expert John Breech.
- Breech: “The Browns can’t force Mayfield to play for them and there’s always a possibility that he could hold out if the team refuses to trade him. Mayfield is heading into the final year of his rookie deal and it’s possible the Browns could change his mind about the trade request if they offer him a monstrous extension, but the relationship has deteriorated so much between the two sides that it’s possible that not even money will fix it.”
What we’re watching this weekend 📺
- We’re watching the men’s NCAA Tournament all weekend. Here’s the entire schedule.
- We’re also watching the women’s NCAA Tournament all weekend. Here’s the entire schedule for that.
As for everything else…
🏀 Mavericks at Hornets, 7 p.m. on NBA TV
🏒 Rangers at Lightning, 8 p.m. on ABC