Daytona Delayed & A Wild Night

February 20, 2024 Daytona Delayed & A Wild Night

By: Carlos Alvarez

Good Morning

Welcome back to another grand edition of The Sportsletter (and a more traditional one today). The Great American Race and a historic night of hockey lead us into a week full of soccer, college hoops and more. I caught wind of something magical on ice last night and flipped the channel just in time. If you like hat tricks, how about three?

Letter Rip!


Wild Night: 1 Game, 3 Hat Tricks

Photo: Bruce Kuckhohn / Getty Images

Wild Top Canucks (10-7) in 17-Goal Thriller That Featured 3 Hat Tricks

A boatload of NHL action hit the ice last night — 10 games to be exact — but one stole the show. The Wild hosted the Canucks in Minnesota for a would-be, run-of-the-mill regular season event that became so much more. The record-shredding game somehow leaped up our board to the A1 story after ripping NHL history to pieces. The Wild trailed 5-2 in the second period before notching six goals in 5:45 of game time — the fastest six-goal frenzy in franchise history. The streak stretched from the second period into the third before the Wild scored seven third-period goals en route to a 10-7 win and a flurry of records, including the most combined goals scored in an NHL game this season (17) and the most goals the Wild have scored in a single-game in franchise history (10).

1 Game, 3 Hat Tricks

To top it off, three players — J.T. Miller (Canucks), Joel Eriksson Ek (Wild) and Kirill Kaprizov (Wild) — scored hat tricks in the same game for just the first time since 1992. Kaprizov and Eriksson Ek also had three assists each! It’s only the fourth time it’s ever been done since the expansion era began (1967). And it was just the tip of the (hat?) for a wild night in the NHL.

Watch: Wild Top Canucks (10-7) in 17-Goal Thriller With 3 Hat Tricks

NHL Scoreboard

Bruins def. Stars (4-3, OT)

Red Wings def. Kraken (4-3, OT)

Oilers def. Coyotes (6-3)

Ducks def. Sabres (4-3)

Flames def. Jets (6-3)

Golden Knights def. Sharks (4-0)

Senators def. Lightning (4-2)

Hurricanes def. Blackhawks (6-3)

Maple Leafs def. Blues (4-2)

*Auston Matthews Scores 49th Goal of the Season



Daytona 500: Byron\’s Big Finish

Photo: Chris Graythen / Getty Images

William Byron Wins 2024 Daytona 500 After Only Leading Final 4 Laps

Better late than never! The postponed Daytona 500 was pushed to Monday after a rain-filled weekend in Florida, and an unlikely hero emerged. William Byron won the 66th Daytona 500 on Monday despite only leading for the final four laps. Byron was previously 0-for-6 in The Great American Race, and he’d only finished running twice. Both those finishes were outside of the top-10, and he began Monday with +2000 odds (tied for 10th-best).

Byron\’s Big Finish 

Byron took the lead late (Lap 196) and was aided by a caution flag just into the final lap. Multiple challengers over-extended their push for the lead at the end of Lap 199, resulting a multi-car crash. Byron cruised to victory under the white-flag caution with a fender advantage over Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Alex Bowman (2nd). And after a weekend where Toyotas won the qualifiers and Fords won the front row, it was Chevrolet — with four of the top-5 finishers — who won the event.

Byron’s emotions were evident in the victory interview as he thanked his team, his father, and a long list of his supporters. It’s the 11th career victory for the 26-year-old Charlotte native, but it’s certainly his biggest. Congrats to William Byron!

Daytona 500 Results

1. William Byron (#24, Chevrolet)

2. Alex Bowman (#48, Chevrolet)

3. Charlie Bell (#20, Toyota)

4. Corey LaJoie (#7, Chevrolet)

5. A.J. Allmendinger (#16, Chevrolet)

Watch: William Byron Wins 66th Daytona 500

Read More

FOX Sports: William Byron Wins 1st Daytona 500 After Huge Late Wreck

NBC Sports: William Byron Wins Daytona 500 on 40th Anniversary of Hendrick Motorsports



Unanimous UConn: NCAA Poll Updates

Photo: Icon Sportswire / Getty Images

Men: UConn Becomes First Unanimous #1 of Men’s College Basketball Season

It’s officially UConn and the field with one week (and change) to March. For the first time in the 2023-24 NCAA basketball season, the men’s poll has a unanimous No. 1 overall. Danny Hurley’s UConn squad has separated from the pack after trouncing #4 Marquette over the weekend (81-53) while #2 Purdue lost a stunner to Ohio State on Sunday (73-69). After jumping back up to #2 this week, Houston held off a fight with #6 Iowa State last night (73-65) . Arizona and Tennessee round out the top-5 while a trio of blue bloods fill out the bottom of the top-10. As it stands, the 1-line for March Madness consists of UConn, Houston, Purdue and Arizona. We don’t see that changing, but three weeks is a long time until Selection Sunday.

Men’s AP Top-10

1. UConn (24-2) | —

2. Houston (22-3) | ↑1

3. Purdue (23-3) |

4. Arizona (20-5) | ↑1

5. Tennessee (19-6) | ↑3

6. Iowa State (20-5) | ↑4

7. Marquette (19-6) |

8. Duke (20-5) |

9. Kansas (20-6) |

10. North Carolina (20-6) |

Full Men’s AP Top-25

Women: South Carolina Still Perfect & Geno Auriemma Passes Coach K for #2 in All-Time Wins

The women’s top-10 appears, well, much the same. The top-six teams are unchanged from week to week as South Carolina’s unbeaten run is still in tact. The Gamecocks only have four more games to complete a perfect 29-0 regular season. All four remaining opponents are unranked, including Tennessee at home to finish the job on March 3. Up in the Northeast, it’s been a busy week/end for the UConn women’s team. Paige Bueckers announced she’ll return for her fifth season, and head coach Geno Auriemma passed Mike Krzyzewski for No. 2 on the all-time wins list (1,203). He only trails Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer active record by six games. There’s a lot to watch down the stretch.

Women’s AP Top-10

1. South Carolina (25-0) | —

2. Ohio State (22-3) | —

3. Stanford (23-3) | —

4. Iowa (23-3) | —

5. Texas (24-3) | —

6. NC State (23-3) | —

7. USC (20-4) | ↑3

8. Virginia Tech (22-4) | ↑4

9. Oregon State (21-4) | ↑2

10. Kansas State (22-4) | ↓3

Full Women’s AP Top-25

Read More

CBS Sports: Geno Auriemma Passes Coach K as No. 2 on All-Time Wins List

NBC Sports: UConn is Unanimous No. 1 in AP Poll, Washington State Ends 302-Week Poll Drought



Cutting Down the Nets

Photo: Dustin Satloff / Getty Images

Brooklyn Fires Head Coach Jacque Vaughn, Names Kevin Ollie Interim Head Coach With Season in Flux

The Brooklyn Nets surprised a few people with a shock firing on Monday morning following the NBA All-Star break. Brooklyn fired head coach Jacque Vaughn after a 21-33 season and immediately announced Kevin Ollie will serve as the interim coach for the rest of the year. Vaughn took over for Steve Nash when the Nets’ super-team era fell apart two-plus seasons ago. He was just 71-68 in the regular season and 0-8 in two playoff series (two sweeps). The move comes less than a year after Vaughn signed a multiyear contract extension . Brooklyn hopes Ollie can revamp a roster that is ranked near the bottom in both offensive and defensive efficiency in 2024.

Taking Down the Nets

Brooklyn has slipped into the background noise of the NBA ever since the franchise sent Kevin Durant to Phoenix last offseason for Mikal Bridges and draft capital. There are some good pieces on the Nets’ roster, including Bridges, Cam Thomas, Ben Simmons, Cam Johnson and more. Unfortunately, their 21-33 puts them 11th in the East and just outside the playoff picture. They were .500 (15-15) the day after Christmas (Dec. 26). That’s a 6-18 dropoff. Things hit rock bottom after an ugly 50-point loss to the Celtics last week.

Vaughn thanked the Nets brass on his way out in a classy move, but Ollie will now attempt to salvage what’s left of the season.

Read More

Yahoo! Sports: Nets Fire Head Coach Jacque Vaughn 5 Days After 50-Point Loss

ABC News: Nets Fire Jacque Vaughn With Team in 11th Place at the All-Star Break



The Next Face of the NBA?

As LeBron James wrapped up his record-setting 20th NBA All-Star appearance this weekend, the question kept coming up: Which superstar is the next face of the league? All-Star Weekend showcased plenty of candidates. (ESPN)

2024 NFL Mock Draft

We\’re a couple of weeks away from the NFL scouting combine, when our 2024 draft silly season kicks into a higher gear. For now, three quarterbacks go 1-2-3 in the latest mock draft before the combine shakes things up. (Yahoo! Sports)

MLS Kicks Off With More Messi Mania

The 2024 MLS season kicks off tomorrow before a full opening weekend ahead, but it’s Lionel Messi to help get things started. Expect a new-and-improved Inter Miami entering Messi’s first full season. (FOX Sports)





Today\’s Must-Watch List

Champions League

Inter vs. Atletico Madrid (3:00 pm ET, CBS)

PSV Eindhoven vs. Borussia Dortmund (3:00 pm ET, CBS)

Concacaf Gold Cup (Women)

Mexico vs. Argentina (7:30 pm ET, ESPN+/Paramount+)

USWNT vs. Dom. Republic (10:15 pm ET, ESPN+/Paramount+)


Stars at Rangers (7:00 pm ET, ESPN+)

Canucks at Avalanche (9:00 pm ET, ESPN+)

Predators at Golden Knights (10:00 pm ET, ESPN+)

NCAA Basketball

M: #1 Uconn at #15 Creighton (8:30 pm ET, FS1)