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🏀Philadelphia: Start the fire, make the pizza

March 17, 2021
Source: Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports
Source: Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports

’Nova Nation: The 5-seed Wildcats have a storied March Madness history with three  National Championships, including their 1985 win as a No. 8 seed. This Cinderella story still holds the record for lowest seed to ever win the title. Never count out the ’Cats. 

  • The team needs some of that ’85 magic this year as they enter the tournament without co-Big East Player of the Year Collin Gillespie. His season ended with a torn MCL earlier this month. Tragic.
  • Thankfully, guard Justin Moore is back after suffering a severe ankle sprain and is ready to help high-scoring forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl show the NCAA what they’ve got. 
  • The Wildcats open the tournament against the Big South Conference champion and No. 12 seed Winthrop Eagles in the first round on Friday. The Eagles have lost only one game this season, but the ’Cats are ready to make it two. 

Do it like Drexel: This is Drexel’s fifth-ever March Madness appearance and their first in 25 years. The No. 16 seed Dragons have a first-round face-off against the No. 1 seed U of I Illini, whom many bracketeers consider a strong contender for the title. Sounds like a job for a fairy godmother.

  • Drexel guard Camren Wynter leads the team in average points per game, but sophomore forward Mate Okros has gotten hot lately, leading the team with 14 points in their conference championship win. Catch them at tip off on Friday at 1:15 p.m. ET. 

🏀March Madness is Upon Us

March 15, 2021
Source: Big 12 Conference/Twitter
Source: Big 12 Conference/Twitter

The GIST: Forget the Grammys, last night’s men’s March Madness selection show gave us all the big reveals and winning reactions we needed. And we get twice the fun, thanks to the women’s tourney selection show tonight at 7 p.m. ET. So spoiled.

The field: Selection Sunday brought some notable firsts. Heading into the tournament, all teams were reseeded (check out yesterday’s Sunday Scroll for more on the tourney setup), and Baylor earned their first No. 1 seed in school history. Meanwhile, No. 15 Grand Canyon and No. 16 Hartford will make their first-ever appearances. Welcome to the party!

  • As for firsts you don’t want to celebrate: Duke and Kentucky both missed the tournament for the first time since 1995 and 2013, respectively. The last time both schools missed the Big Dance was 1976, when “Dancing Queen” was released. The irony.  

COVID-19: A handful of top teams — including Virginia and Kansas — withdrew from their conference tourneys last week due to positive COVID-19 cases, leaving us worried we were in for yet another “Groundhog Day” scenario. It’ll be tight, but those schools can still compete in the on-court madness under the NCAA’s tournament protocols

  • Upon arriving in Indianapolis (where the men’s tournament is being held), all team members will be required to produce seven days of consecutive negative tests in order to play. Fingers crossed.

WBB: While we don’t expect any major surprises tonight when the women’s 64-team bracket is revealed, a couple teams proved they’ll be tournament threats when things kick off next week. On Saturday, Maryland won their fifth Big Ten title in the last seven seasons, winning every game in the tournament by double digits. Sheesh. 

And Baylor won their third consecutive Big 12 crown on Sunday, with a 76–50 rout of West Virginia. Don’t sleep on the Bears.

🏀The mic’s always hot, asshole

March 15, 2021
Source: Macie West/Norman High School
Source: Macie West/Norman High School

The moment: Last Thursday, Tulsa’s Norman High School girls’ basketball team was about to play in the quarterfinals of the Oklahoma state championships. As the pre-game anthem played, the entire team knelt and linked arms. 

  • Meanwhile up in the broadcast booth, announcer Matt Rowan — who thought his mic was off — shared a short but expletive-ridden racist rant on the livestream broadcast. We won’t repeat it, but take a listen if you’d like. Fair warning: it’s disgusting.

The “apology”: We put in air quotes because we’re not buying it. Rowan released a statement on Friday, acknowledging his hateful words and attempting to apologize, yet laid most of the blame not on his obvious racism, but instead on his Type I diabetes and spiking blood sugar. Oh, is racism a symptom of insulin deficiency now? 

The victory: Despite Rowan’s wish that Norman High get “their ass kicked,” the reigning champs won the game and the state championship, capping a perfect 19-0 season and living out Michelle Obama’s catchphrase, “When they go low, we go high.”

  • As for Rowan, the players wore their response to him on T-shirts ahead of the title game on Saturday: “THIS IS WHY WE KNEEL.” The day also happened to be the one year anniversary of Breonna Taylor’s murder.

The team received the support of many, but the message from the WNBA’s players association has to be our favorite. Ignorance and hate cannot define them.

🏀New York: When you wish upon a star

March 15, 2021
Source: Syracuse Basketball/Twitter.com
Source: Syracuse Basketball/Twitter.com

Syracuse: The Syracuse Orange were edged out of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) tournament by the Virginia Cavaliers' game-winning three pointer in the quarterfinals this week. 

  • Selected as an at-large bid, the 11-seed Orange will face the 6-seed San Diego State Aztecs in the first round on Friday. This’ll be fun. 

St. Bonaventure: The 9-seed St. Bonaventure Bonnies cruised their way to the Atlantic 10 Conference title, beating the VCU Rams 74–65 and punching their ticket to the madness yesterday. While we’re pumped for the team, we’re still not sure what a Bonnie is. 

  • Whatever they are, the Bonnies take on 8-seed LSU Tigers in the first round on Saturday. It’s the East Region’s rubbermatch, and we can’t wait to tune in. 

Colgate: The Colgate Raiders earned an automatic bid by beating the Loyola Greyhounds 85–72 to win the Patriot League Championship. 

  • The 14-seed Raiders, led by senior guard Jordan Burns, will take on the 3-seed Arkansas Razorbacks in the first round on Friday. Not likely, but we may see an upset here.

Iona: The 15-seed Iona Gaels earned their ticket to the dance by winning the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference earlier this week. But unfortunately for the Gaels, they’re up against the 2-seed Alabama Crimson Tide for the first round. Yikes.

🏀Philadelphia: Wearing a ring, but ain't gon' be no Mrs.

March 15, 2021
Source: Drexel Dragons.com
Source: Drexel Dragons.com

Sixers: ICYMI, MVP contender Joel Embiid hurt his knee landing after a dunk and had to leave the 76ers game against the Washington Wizards on Friday. Since then, the injury has been diagnosed as a bone bruise, which will be reevaluated in two weeks. While we hate to see any injury, the bruise is at least much less serious than the initially suspected hyperextension. Phew.

  • Even without Embiid, the Sixers don’t seem to be slowing down, beating the San Antonio Spurs 134–99 last night in their first game without the All-Star. 
  • Forward Tobias Harris popped off with 23 points and nine rebounds, making it clear that Philly isn’t in danger of losing their top spot in the East just yet. 

MBB: Last night, two Philly schools made the March Madness bracket, including the Drexel Dragons, who earned an automatic bid by winning the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) championship last week. It will be their first appearance at the Big Dance in 25 years, and they just might be one of this year’s inevitable Cinderella stories. 

  • The Villanova Wildcats also made the cut despite their loss to the Georgetown Hoyas in the Big East Conference Tournament this week. Now, the ’Cats are headed to Indy with something to prove and a fourth title to gain. Let’s dance!

WBB: The Drexel Dragon women also secured their spot by winning their own CAA Championship, upsetting the top-seeded Delaware Blue Hens 63–52 on Saturday. Doing the same as the boys, only better.