March Madness has arrived early, plus a big deadline looms for MLB, MLBPA


Comfortable Monday morning, people. Hope you had an exquisite weekend.

Let’s get proper to it.

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Good morning to everybody however particularly to…


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THE PHILADELPHIA 76ERS

There’s good, there’s actually good, after which there’s what James Harden is doing for his new staff — which is traditionally good.

Listed below are Harden’s numbers from his first two video games as a 76er:

  • Friday at Timberwolves: 27 factors, eight rebounds, 12 assists
  • Yesterday at Knicks: 29 factors, 10 rebounds, 16 assists

Within the course of, Harden turned the…

  • First participant in NBA historical past with 25+ factors and 10+ assists in every of his first two video games with a staff
  • First 76er with 25+ factors, 10+ rebounds, 15+ assists and five-plus steals in a recreation

Extra importantly, Philadelphia was completely dominant, beating Minnesota and New York by a mixed 47 factors.
Although Harden and Joel Embiid have not had a lot time to gel, they’re displaying spectacular outcomes already, writes our NBA knowledgeable Jack Maloney

  • Maloney: “Each gamers are greater than able to carrying an offense by themselves, so you possibly can stagger them and all the time have an MVP-level expertise on the ground. And whenever you play them collectively they solely make issues simpler for one another. … Plus, the 2 are already displaying some good chemistry on the pick-and-roll, and good luck as soon as they actually determine that out.”

The 76ers get yet one more shot towards the Knicks on Wednesday earlier than a difficult stretch: vs. Cleveland, at Miami, vs. Chicago and vs. Brooklyn. We’ll see how they fare, however for now, the early returns are overwhelmingly optimistic.

Honorable mentions

And never such an excellent morning for…

THE AP TOP SIX MEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL TEAMS

Right now’s the final day of February, however over the weekend, the insanity of March confirmed up a couple of days early. On Saturday, every of the highest six groups — and 7 of the highest 10 — misplaced.

A day like Saturday reveals the variety of groups that may make a title run is kind of massive, writes our school basketball reporter Matt Norlander:

  • Norlander: “Look past the losses and you may see how deep the game is with groups that may win the title, then there’s one other tier that’s Last 4-capable. That group might be virtually 20-deep. And whereas Nos. 1-6 shedding inside hours of one another makes for an enormous headline, a lot of the groups that misplaced within the prime of the polls have been felled by respectable foes. Gonzaga, Auburn, Kansas and Kentucky all have been taken out by ranked groups. Even Purdue’s loss to Michigan State got here towards a Sparty membership that is comfortably within the NCAA Match and was atop the Huge Ten standings a month in the past.”

Whereas the sheer variety of top-ranked groups shedding is an eye fixed opener, there have been loads of huge winners this weekend, too. (We’re you, TCU!)

Saturday’s craziness will definitely jumble right this moment’s AP Ballot and has already wreaked havoc on Jerry Palm’s Bracketology, the place the highest seeds and the bubble alike acquired main shakeups.

Not so honorable mentions

MLB, MLBPA enter final day of negotiations earlier than deadline ⚾

Weeks in the past, MLB set Feb. 28 because the deadline for a brand new collective bargaining settlement earlier than regular-season video games are canceled. Right now is *checks nook of pc display* Feb. 28.

The 2 sides have been assembly on daily basis for the previous week. In keeping with studies, house owners stated Sunday’s talks have been “productive” whereas the gamers say the edges are removed from an settlement. Total, neither facet introduced “vital momentum” or a “breakthrough,” which… appears lower than perfect.

There are a number of main sticking factors, however an enormous one is the Aggressive Steadiness Tax (CBT). So, what precisely is the CBT? And why is it such an enormous deal? Let our MLB knowledgeable R.J. Anderson clarify:

  • Anderson: “The CBT is a mechanism that was first launched as a luxurious tax. In recent times, the house owners have normal the CBT into the league’s unofficial wage cap. … The gist is that groups are penalized if the mixed common annual worth of their participant contracts exceed the tax line. The additional over the edge a staff is, the steeper the wonderful.”

Gamers need the CBT threshold to develop considerably; house owners not a lot. Why? The upper the de facto “wage cap,” the more cash accessible to spend on gamers. House owners need a decrease synthetic “wage cap” to allow them to spend much less on rosters — although income across the sport has grown exponentially just lately. We’ll see if the 2 sides can hash out variations right this moment. If not, a shortened 2022 season looms. 

Sepp Straka earns first profession PGA Tour win at wet Honda Basic ⛳

The PGA Tour welcomed a brand new participant (and a brand new nation) into the winner’s circle on Sunday. Sepp Straka took dwelling his first profession PGA Tour win, beating Shane Lowry by a stroke to win the Honda Basic. Straka is the primary Austrian to win on the circuit.

Straka entered the day 5 strokes again of Daniel Berger, however Berger’s disastrous begin (he triple-bogeyed the third gap and was five-over via 5 holes) introduced everybody again into it, and finally Straka was the one to take benefit.

Tied with Lowry at -9 via 71 holes, Straka made birdie amid a downpour on 18, and, one group later, Lowry solely managed par. It was a formidable efficiency worthy of a win, writes our golf reporter Kyle Porter:

  • Porter:He hit the photographs that mattered and closed when it was successful time. It is easy to attempt to challenge manner out into the longer term or discuss broadly about what victories imply, however like Straka displayed on No. 18 on Sunday, usually it’s miles extra significant to easily reside within the second. Grade: A+

Phil Mickelson continues to lose sponsors 🏌


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For many of his profession, Phil Mickelson had no hassle discovering sponsors. Now, he is having hassle conserving any round.

After longtime companion KPMG parted methods with Mickelson final week over his feedback on the Saudi Arabia-backed Tremendous Golf League, Workday, Amstel and Callaway adopted swimsuit.

This is what Callaway needed to say:

  • “Callaway doesn’t condone Phil Mickelson’s feedback and we have been very disillusioned in his alternative of phrases — they under no circumstances mirror our values or what we stand for as an organization. Phil has since apologized and we all know he regrets how he dealt with current occasions. We acknowledge his want to take a while away from the sport and respect that call. At the moment, we now have agreed to pause our partnership and can re-evaluate our ongoing relationship at a later date.”

Mickelson can be out because the host of American Specific, a PGA Tour occasion in Palm Springs, Calif.

What we’re watching Monday 📺

🏀 No. 5 Baylor at No. 9 Iowa State, 7 p.m. on ESPN2
🏀 Hornets at Bucks (-10), eight p.m. on NBA TV
🏀 No. 10 Baylor (-1.5) at No. 20 Texas, 9 p.m. on ESPN



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