Let\’s Dance

March 17, 2022

By: Carlos Alvarez

Good Morning,

A double-OT stunner in the First Four, plus NFL and MLB free-agent mega-deals? Wednesday was something special, but today is a sports holiday. No bracket is safe. Make one and prove me wrong.

Letter Rip!


Last call for brackets! Join The Sportsletter Bracket Pool and make your picks BEFORE GAMES START TODAY (12:15 pm ET).


Pool Name: The Sportsletter (March Madness)

Pool Password: SportsletterBracket2022


1st Place: $500 Amazon Gift Card (+ Swag)

2nd Place: $250 Amazon Gift Card

3rd Place: $100 Amazon Gift Card


Irish Ignite the Madness


Notre Dame Outlasts Rutgers in First Four Double-OT Thriller (89-87, 2OT)


The madness can’t be contained. Notre Dame and Rutgers needed double overtime to find a winner in an NCAA Tournament barn-burner. The game went past midnight to find a winner before the Irish — just minutes into St. Patrick’s Day — got the last laugh. After countless game-tying moments (18 lead changes in all), Paul Atkinson Jr. (26 points) corralled a rebound for Notre Dame and delivered the game-winning put-back. The luck of the Irish! Earlier in the 16-seed matchup, Wright State won its first NCAA Tournament game behind 37 points from Tanner Holden. The women’s action saw #11 Dayton blow out #11 DePaul while #16 Howard advanced.


Let’s recap Wednesday’s First Four (men’s and women’s) before turning the page to the First Round.


Men’s First Four Highlights

#11 Notre Dame def. #11 Rutgers (89-87, 2OT)

#16 Wright State def. #16 Bryant (93-82)


Women’s First Four Highlights

#11 Dayton def. #11 DePaul (88-57)

#16 Howard def. #16 Incarnate Word (55-51)


Today’s NCAA Tournament Tip-Off Notes


The time has come. No more COVID-19 cancelations or empty arenas. It’s the real deal, and it starts now. Today’s schedule features three 1-seeds, a trio of 8-9 matchups and another triple dose of the always-popular 5-12 battles.


What I’m Watching: To be clear, the answer is everything. But if I’m getting specific, I like the spicy matchup between 9-seed Marquette and 8-seed North Carolina. The 5-12 game between Indiana and St. Mary’s has plenty of intrigue. San Francisco and Murray State (7-10) gives me mid-major vibes where everyone’s a winner. And Richmond vs. Iowa (5-12) could be points, points and more points.


Upset Alert: Don’t sleep on 11-seed Michigan and 13-seed Vermont. Michigan can compete with anyone, and the Catamounts are giant-killers.


Players to Watch: There are plenty, but I have four notable ones worth the watch if you haven’t seen them on the national stage. Oscar Tshiebwe (Kentucky), Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga) and Keegan Murray (Iowa) are stars you may know, but you might not know of Colorado State’s David Roddy. He\’s must-see TV, and he\’ll tip things off with the first game of the day.


Get your brackets in by 12:15 pm ET. Then…

Let’s. Go. Dancing!


\"🗓️\" Complete 1st-Round Schedule (Men)


Tonight’s First Four (Women)

#16 Mount St. Mary’s vs. #16 Longwood (7:00 pm, ESPN)

#11 Florida State vs. #11 Missouri State (9:00 pm, ESPN)


*All Times Eastern


Additional Storylines

B/R: March Madness Matchups We Want

CBS Sports: Numbers to Know for 2022 NCAA Tournament

NCAA: Juicy Plotlines to Keep an Eye On

ESPN: Big Bets Coming in on Duke to Win NCAA Championship

B/R: Ranking the 25 Best Players in the 2022 Men’s NCAA Tournament



Free Agency: Bills Ink Von Miller


Buffalo Signs Super Bowl-Winning Pass Rusher to 6-Year, $120 Million Deal


The Bills broke the bank! In a stunning free-agent signing, Buffalo shelled out the cash to steal pass rusher Von Miller from the Super Bowl winning Rams. At 32 years old, Miller’s six-year, $120 million contract is eye-popping. It’s a front-loaded deal, meaning the Bills are pinging their Super Bowl window for the near future even if it means paying Miller the big bucks in his late 30s. The announcement was shocking given the decision to leave sunny Los Angeles and spurn Dallas for the weather in Buffalo, but Miller’s legendary career has produced two Super Bowls in Denver and L.A. The Bills are hoping he’ll pay out a third Lombardi Trophy while QB Josh Allen is in his prime.


Notable Trades

Raiders Trade DE Yannick Ngakoue to Colts


Notable Free-Agent Signings

Bills Sign LB Von Miller (6 Years, $120 Million)

Bucs Re-Sign WR Chris Godwin (3 Years, $60 Million)

Ravens Sign DE Za’Darius Smith (4 Years, $50 Million)

Raiders Sign DE Chandler Jones (TBD)

Bills Sign TE O.J. Howard (1 Year, $3.5 Million)

Dolphins Sign RB Raheem Mostert (1 Year, $3.1 Million)


Complete NFL Free Agency Tracker


Additional Storylines

Buffalo News: Von Miller Can Help Josh Allen Get Over the Hump

CBS Sports: Potential Landing Spots for Browns QB Baker Mayfield

Yahoo! Sports: Titans Reportedly Release WR Julio Jones After Injury-Plagued Year



Free Agency: Rockies Recruit Kris Bryant


Colorado Signs 3rd Baseman to 7-Year, $182 Million Mega-Deal


Kris Bryant is moving for the third time in less than a year. The former Cubs star was traded to the Giants before last season’s trade deadline, and now he’s heading to Colorado. The Rockies recruited Bryant with a massive seven-year, $182 million deal. Bryant began to slump last season after the trade, but the 2016 NL MVP and World Series champion still earned his fourth All-Star nod in 2021. The Rockies have failed to reach the playoffs in each of the last three seasons, and last year’s trade of Nolan Arenado coupled with Trevor Story’s likely departure made Colorado desperate for a versatile player like Bryant. He’ll likely be the cornerstone bat alongside Charlie Blackmon.


Notable Trades

Blue Jays Acquire 3B Matt Chapman From A’s


Notable Free-Agent Signings

Rockies Sign 3B Kris Bryant (7 Years, $182 Million)

Cubs Sign OF Seiya Suzuki (5 Years, $85 Million)

Phillies Sign OF Kyle Schwarber (4 Years, $80 Million)

Giants Sign OF Joc Pederson (TBD)

Yankees Re-Sign Anthony Rizzo (2 Years, $32 Million)



Dodgers Sign 1B Freddie Freeman (6 Years, $162 Million)


Additional Storylines

MLB: The Latest Rumors on Remaining Free Agents

CBS Sports: Freddie Freeman Still Being Pursued by Dodgers, Red Sox & Rays



\"🏀\"  NBA: Dinwiddie Calls Game in Brooklyn

A busy night in the NBA had plenty of highlights to choose from, but Spencer Dinwiddie’s revenge buzzer-beater took the cake. Dinwiddie hit a game-winner Sunday in Boston, and he returned to Brooklyn with another one to take down his former team (113-111).


\"🏒\" UCL: Pulisic Strikes, Chelsea Advance

Amid ownership controversy, Chelsea were 2-1 winners over LOSC on Wednesday to advance to the Champions League quarterfinals on aggregate (4-1). LOSC scored first, but American Christian Pulisic added the equalizer before halftime. Cesar Azpilicueta found the winner in the 71st minute. Villareal also advanced after defeating Juventus (3-0).


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