UVA’s epic March stinker, plus women’s bracket upset picks

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Good morning! One more day until brackets lock. 

Brackets Brackets Brackets: We are sort of officially underway

We had real, live men’s NCAA Tournament basketball last night. Quickly: 

  • Colorado State claimed its No. 10 seed with a 67-42 beatdown of offense-challenged Virginia, who put up one of the worst showings I can remember. The Cavaliers had 14 points at halftime. What a slog. The Rams get No. 7 seed Texas on Friday.
  • Wagner survived a late charge from Howard in a battle of No. 16 seeds, winning 71-68 to earn a chance to play No. 1 seed North Carolina. This is Wagner’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2003, and the Seahawks surprised everyone by winning the NEC tourney after being 13-15 at one point. 

And now let’s talk women’s NCAA Tournament upsets, as we promised yesterday. Two I found intriguing: 

No. 6 Syracuse vs. No. 11 Auburn or No. 11 Arizona
Upset chance, according to our number-crunchers: 38.2 percent or 57.4 percent
This is wild. Auburn and Arizona play each other tomorrow night in a First Four game, and our model identified either as having a great chance to upset the Orange. The Wildcats might be favored to win that 6-11 matchup. Maybe write this one in pen?

No. 5 Oklahoma vs. No. 12 Florida Gulf Coast
Upset chance: 43.3 percent
I love this purely because it is FGCU, whose men’s team stole the nation’s fascination in a 2013 NCAA Tournament run. The women’s team has been a consistent presence in this tournament, which means they won’t be scared of the moment. 

Circle back to our full bracket prep file as you fill out your winners before tomorrow. Also, there are two women’s First Four games on tonight, too.Copy

News to Know

Star OL pulls about-face
Everyone felt warm and fuzzy when Kadyn Proctor announced he was transferring home to Iowa from Alabama. Now, just two months later, Proctor informed Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz he will re-enter the transfer portal and, as he told On3, return to the Tide. This comes after the former freshman starter received a large payment via Iowa’s NIL collective and even promoted a local car dealership online. Ouch.

Okwara steps away
Lions defensive end Romeo Okwara announced he is leaving the game of football after eight seasons in the NFL, though the word “retire” appeared nowhere in his statement. Okwara had a unique journey: An undrafted free agent turned into a valuable defensive end, and in the last season, an effective rotational lineman for the best Detroit team in years. He was set to be a free agent this offseason.

More news

Quick Explainers: What to make of Clemson’s lawsuit

Will the ACC become the next college conference to collapse during the big contraction of the 2020s? We’re not there yet, but it feels more possible than ever after Clemson filed suit against the conference yesterday. Two quick points: 

  • Clemson became the second school to take legal action over the ACC’s grant of rights, specifically the large exit fees should any school wish to leave the conference. Florida State lodged a similar complaint in December. (Yes, both schools agreed years prior to those fees.)
  • The legal haggling here will likely go on for years, but make no mistake: This is bad for the ACC. Its two biggest football programs have overtly stated they’d like to explore options elsewhere, which is understandable, considering the significant revenue gap between the ACC and the behemoths: the Big Ten and SEC. 

Then again, maybe the ACC wouldn’t collapse without Clemson and FSU. It’s not difficult to imagine it lasting as a basketball-focused conference while the Tigers and Seminoles find riches somewhere else. 

This is an extremely complicated situation, so make sure to read Chris Vannini’s full explainer here for more.

Watch This Game

NCAAM: No. 16 Grambling State vs. No. 16 Montana State (get tickets)
6:40 p.m. on truTV
Our last 16 seed is up for grabs. The Bobcats finished just fifth in the Big Sky, but their run through the conference tournament snatched a bid from Eastern Washington. 

NCAAM: No. 10 Colorado vs. No. 10 Boise State (get tickets)
9:10 p.m. on truTV
And the last spot in the Big Dance is claimed here. This should be a good game, too. Time to actually fill out your brackets after this one.

Pulse Picks

Terrence Shannon Jr. has been accused of sexual crimes. He’s also leading Illinois into the NCAA Tournament. Brian Hamilton reports on the uncomfortable nuance surrounding a possible deep Illini run on the biggest stage. 

This was so fun, from Tess DeMeyer: Where do the NCAA Tournament’s tallest players … find clothes that fit? So many funny stories. Worth a read this morning. 

In an expansive mailbag, Stewart Mandel wonders: Amid all this change in college sports, will football and basketball become less popular?

I thought Ken Rosenthal’s column on Scott Boras’ bad winter was really smart. Sure, the big-name guys can opt out after a year — but they have to prove themselves again for another season. That’s a risk.

Jon Rahm doesn’t regret leaving for LIV (yet), but he sounds like a man who’s missing the big PGA tournaments. Also in there: an incredible-sounding Basque menu for his Masters dinner. 

Zach Harper has fresh NBA Power Rankings with a notable new wrinkle: the Pelicans are officially title contenders

Most-clicked in the newsletter yesterday: Top 10 possible men’s NCAA Tournament bracket breakers

Most-read story on the site yesterday: What makes Caitlin Clark the best shooter in basketball? Ben Pickman explores the physics behind her shot.

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(Photo: Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

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