Mitch's Sports Report: Who Was Smart Enough To Foresee A Yale Upset?
Who was smart enough to pick Yale over Baylor in their NCAA March Madness bracket? (Eli alumni excluded from that question).
That was probably the biggest upset from day one of the tournament, with many people, including yours truly, picking Baylor not just to beat Yale easily but to go pretty deep into the tournament. But the Bulldogs played bracket busters, topping the Bears 79-75 yesterday for Yale's first ever NCAA tournament victory. And it didn't stop there. Another twelve-seed that shocked a five-seed was Arkansas-Little Rock toppling Purdue 85-83 after two overtimes. Josh Hagins was the hero in this one, scoring a career-high thirty-one points, including a half-court three-pointer to force the first overtime. Madness indeed.
This afternoon the Middlebury Panthers womens' hockey team will try to pull off a major upset of their own when they take on mighty Plattsburgh State in the semi-finals of the NCAA Division three Frozen Four tournament. The top-seeded Cardinals already have back-to-back titles and are odds-on favorites for a three-peat when they skate against the Panthers this afternoon. The puck drops at 3:30 at Stafford Ice Arena on the Plattsburgh State campus. The other semi-final match-up features Elmira against Wisconsin River Falls.
To the NHL, and the Boston Bruins continue their west coast road swing tonight against the Ducks in Anaheim, following a 3-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks Tuesday. The Bruins currently sit in second place in the Atlantic division, a seemingly secure position, but consider who's behind them and how close. The Tampa Bay Lightning are just one point back of the B's in third place and after that you're looking at two wild card spots. The first of those is owned currently by the Pittsburgh Penguins, who have eighty-four points to Boston's eighty-six, so they're just one game behind. The Detroit Red Wings regained the final slot after beating Columbus last night while the Philadelphia Flyers were idle, all underscoring just how in flux the playoff structure is with about a dozen games left in the regular season. The Bruins are winless against west coast teams this season, and better turn that around soon or they could find themselves falling from a top three spot in the conference to a shaky ground foothold on a wild card berth.
The New York Rangers are also out on the left coast and last night they dropped a 4-3 decision to the L.A. Kings in overtime when Anze Kopitar played hero not once, but twice. First, Kopitar rescued the Kings when he tied the game at three apiece with just four minutes left in regulation, tipping home a shot by Milan Lucic, then deflecting a slap shot by Jake Muzzin a minute and a half into overtime for the game-winner. The win didn't come without controversy, though, and the NHL will need to fine tune their coach's challenge policy because what they've got right now isn't working. The Rangers issued a challenge on Kopitar's tying goal, claiming their goalie Henrik Lundqvist was interfered with in the crease, but after video replay, which did show a Kings player in paint, the refs allowed the goal to stand. On other occasions in other games similar goals have been disallowed so right now the rule seems arbitrary and video replay isn't adding any clarity, it's just slowing down the fastest sport on earth.
Good news for New England Patriots fans understandably upset about the Pats trading away pass rusher Chandler Jones to the Arizona Cardinals. Turns out the Pats had a contingency plan in place, and used the savings from taking Jones' salary off the books to acquire tight end Martellus Bennett from the Chicago Bears. Bennett should provide a frightening bookend for the league's defenders when he teams up with all-pro Rob Gronkowski. The six-foot-six, two-hundred seventy-three pound Bennett ranks behind only Gronk among tight ends with most yards after a catch since 2013. He had fifty-three receptions and three touchdowns last year with the Chicago Bears, a season cut short when he fractured his ribs. The Pats gave up a fourth round draft pick to get Bennett, which seems worth the cost since teams will now be forced to deal with two capable and dangerous tight end receiving threats rather than just one.