Mar 8, 2021 5 min read

March Madness: The return

March Madness: The return

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Good morning, frents!

Is this the week Russell Wilson or Deshaun Watson comes to town?

If you're optimistic, you're getting behind Kyle Long's belief the Bears will make a "massive splash" at quarterback.

If you're not, you probably can't get past Peter King declaring our capital-starved team "screwed" in their search.

There are no shades of gray here, no half-pregnant. Either the Bears are emptying their pockets to get a franchise-altering quarterback — or they're spending the summer figuring out how to sell us on Alex Smith or another year of Nick Foles.

Sunday's results
Lightning 6, Hawks 3
N'Western 79, Nebraska 78
D’Backs 5, Cubs 4
Rockies 1, Sox 0

Today's schedule
Rangers at Cubs (2, Marquee)
Sox at Dodgers (2, MLB.TV)

Let the Madness resume

Of all the chaos in sports over the past year, it's sometimes easy to forget most sports found a way to push through.

The Masters got played in November. The NBA finished its season at Disney World. The Sox and Cubs earned playoff spots in just 60 games.

NCAA basketball wasn't as lucky. The pandemic really got going just as the conference tourneys were about to begin. There was no time for an alternate plan during a problem we were still struggling to fully grasp. And so it quickly became one of the only sports to truly lose its crown event.

A year later, March Madness is returning with the Big Ten tourney in Indianapolis this week. The entire NCAA tournament will be held there, too, as coronavirus continues to make its impact.

It's going to be different with no crowds, mascots or pep bands. But at least there will be college hoops. March just isn't the same without them.

Here's a look at the four local teams still alive.

Loyola

The Ramblers are back in the tournament for the first time since their 2018 Final Four run, thanks to a decisive win over Drake in Sunday's Missouri Valley Conference final. Porter Moser's squad is going to be a tough out and there's no chance of sneaking up on anyone this spring. This team already had Five Thirty Eight calling it more talented than the 2018 edition and it boasts the best defense in the nation at just 55.2 points per game.

Sister Jean is still around, too! The 101-year-old nun has been fully vaccinated, though bubble protocols — and common sense — will probably require her to just watch the games on television.

The biggest question for Loyola this week: Where will they end up being seeded? A 11th seed in 2018, ESPN's Joe Lunardi currently projects the Ramblers as an eight seed.

Illinois

The Illini are coming off one of their best weeks in school history, toppling both No. 2 Michigan and No. 7 Ohio State on the road and getting Ayo Dosunmu back in the lineup. That should be more than enough to put them on the No. 1 seed line, but they can bolster their case in Indy as the Big Ten's No. 2 seed. They'll play Friday night at 5:30 against the winner of Thursday's Indiana-Rutgers game. (Full bracket here)

Northwestern

The Wildcats started their Big Ten season with three straight wins and ended it the same way. Unfortunately, there was an overstuffed 13-game losing streak in the middle, clinching the fourth straight losing season for Chris Collins since a tournament appearance in 2017. The only way Northwestern gets to stay in Indy is if it keeps winning and its long-shot bid starts Wednesday against Minnesota.

DePaul

LOL. The Blue Demons' 4-13 season should mercifully end against Providence Wednesday night in the Big East tournament. At which point new AD DeWayne Peevy will have to make a call on the future of coach Dave Leitao. Judging from Peevy's comments to the Sun-Times' Steve Greenberg, it sounds like a new era in Lincoln Park is in the cards.

Zach LaVine scores 13 in All-Star debut

The NBA's All-Star game didn't have the buzz of years past and his team lost, but Zach LaVine still made the most of it

LaVine had 13 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals for Team Durant. He even turned in a tweet-worthy highlight, finishing off a half-court alley-oop from Donovan Mitchell. He also participated in the three-point contest, but was knocked out in the first round.

Here's hoping LaVine was able to spread the word of what the Bulls are building to a few potential future teammates. And that he's able to get some rest before the Bulls pick it up again on Thursday night.

Hawks fall after second-period collapse

You'd probably have taken it had someone told you that the Hawks get three points from their three-game set with the defending champs.

And yet Sunday was still a bummer. The euphoria of an early 3-0 Hawks lead and visions of taking 5 of 6 points from the weekend quickly gave away to sloppy penalties and six unanswered goals by Tampa Bay.

Connor Murphy also almost killed a guy and probably earned himself a suspension in doing so.

On the bright side, this tic-tac-toe goal from Patrick Kane, Dominik Kubalik and Mattias Janmark was mesmerizing.

Big road trip ahead as the Hawks start a six-game swing through Dallas, Florida and Tampa Bay on Tuesday.

ICYMI: We'll never see another Blackhawk like Brent Seabrook

Spring training


D'Backs 5, Cubs 4: Jake Arrieta made his spring training debut, giving up one hit and one walk over two scoreless innings. Adbert Alzolay could've had a better day, giving up all five of Arizona's runs in just 1.1 innings. Both Willson Contreras and Anthony Rizzo homered in the first.

Rockies 1, Sox 0:  Lucas Giolito allowed only one walk over three scoreless innings and the bullpen only allowed two hits over four innings. Rockies pitching, however, was just as good, allowing only four hits to the Sox lineup all day.

  1. Allen Robinson's most insane catches of 2020. (Someone on the NFL's social media team is doing A-Rob a solid here) Twitter
  2. Marshall Goldberg's family gave JJ Watt its blessing to wear his retired 99, which has sparked an interest in the former Chicago Cardinal great. Canton Repository
  3. The Cubs got a wakeup call after having to send Pedro Strop home because of a COVID protocol violation, Patrick Mooney writes. The Athletic
  4. How the Sox plan to use Michael Kopech and Garret Crochet in the bullpen. NBC Sports Chicago

5. Why Chicago has the same accent as Rochester, N.Y. Chicago Mag

Kevin Kaduk
Kevin Kaduk
Kevin is the founder of Midway Minute.

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