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🏀March Madness: Women's Final Four

April 01, 2021
Source: Arizona WBB/Twitter
Source: Arizona WBB/Twitter

No. 1 South Carolina vs. No. 1 Stanford, 6 p.m. ET: South Carolina rolled in their Elite Eight game, defeating No. 6 Texas 62–34. Meanwhile, Stanford struggled in theirs, falling to the largest deficit of their season before surging to a jaw-dropping 78–63 comeback victory over No. 2 Louisville. Even Ciara and Russell Wilson are fans.

  • This top-seed showdown features two legendary coaches: Stanford’s Tara VanDeveer is the winningest coach in NCAA women’s history, while South Carolina’s Dawn Staley is a former WNBA great and 2020 Naismith Coach of the Year. Buckle up.

No. 3 Arizona vs. No. 1 UConn, 9:30 p.m. ET: While Arizona is the new kid on the block, reaching the women’s Final Four for the first time in school history, UConn is making their record-setting 13th (!!!) consecutive Final Four appearance. No bad luck here.

The aforementioned herstory-maker freshman Paige Bueckers (pronounced BECKERS) is averaging 20 points per game, but she’ll be up against two-time Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, Arizona’s Aari McDonald. What a matchup.

Major key alert

April 01, 2021
Source: Zhe Ji/Golf Digest
Source: Zhe Ji/Golf Digest

The GIST: The LPGA season kicks into high gear today with the first of five majors of the year: the ANA Inspiration. Time for us to wax poetic about one of our favorite traditions in sports.

How it works: Held annually at Mission Hills Country Club in California, the ANA Inspiration winner (and sometimes her caddie) traditionally takes a post-round dip in the course’s 18th hole pond, called Poppie’s Pond, and is then presented with a plush robe and a trophy. It’s too cute!

  • Most of the world’s top golfers are participating this weekend, including last year’s champ Mirim Lee (whose belly-flopping caddie joined her in the water).

Who to watch: Along with Lee, American Nelly Korda and Canadian Brooke Henderson — who Lee beat in a three-way playoff last year — are back to try again. The defending champs from last season’s other three majors are in contention, too: Sophia Popov, Kim A-lim and 2020 LPGA Player of the Year Kim Sei-young.

  • Jessica Korda (Nelly’s sister and recent tour winner) is also playing, making it a busy weekend for the Korda family: their tennis pro brother Sebastian is playing in tonight’s Miami Open quarterfinal. How do you like them genes?
  • And if that’s not enough golf, you can also watch future ANA Inspiration winners take part in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, which starts today too.

The GIST's Quick Hits - CA (March 29, 2021)

March 29, 2021
Source: Formula One/Twitter
Source: Formula One/Twitter

🏎Formula One: Lewis Hamilton is back on top...just as we expected. The reigning F1 world champ held off a pushy Max Verstappen to open the season with a win at the Bahrain Grand Prix yesterday. 

  • ICYMI, there’s still plenty of time to read yesterday’s Sunday Scroll (and watch Netflix’s F1: Drive to Survive) to get caught up before the next race: the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix on April 18th.

🏒NHL: The Montreal Canadiens are back. After some COVID-19 protocol hiccups, they’ll get back to playing tomorrow night against the Edmonton Oilers before a two-game spread against the Ottawa Senators. But newest Hab Eric Staal won’t take to the ice just yet though, because — surprise, surprise — COVID-19 protocol.

  • Montreal’s COVID-19 issues led to 13 rescheduled games and the regular season end date extended to May 11th. Yikes. Still, the Toronto Maple Leafs continue to lead the North Division ahead of the Winnipeg Jets. 

Figure skating: Tessa and Scott left us in good hands. Canadian ice dancing pair Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier won the bronze medal in this weekend’s ISU World Figure Skating Championships, marking the pair's first ever World’s podium finish. 

  • And while men's singles skater Keegan Messing didn’t win a medal, he did earn a berth in next year’s Winter Olympics with his sixth place finish. 

⚽️Soccer: Yesterday wasn’t a great day for Canadian men’s soccer. Canada’s under-23 team played against Mexico in an Olympic qualifier, where they sadly (but expectedly) lost their last chance at an Olympic berth. 

Canada’s senior team was also set to play in a FIFA World Cup qualifier yesterday, but the match was rescheduled for today at 6 p.m. ET after their opponents, the Cayman Islands, had some COVID-19 protocol issues.

🏀Proof is in the progress

March 29, 2021
Source: Eric Gay/AP Photo
Source: Eric Gay/AP Photo

Sweet, Sweet Sixteen: Before we look ahead, let’s quickly reflect on the epic Sweet 16 matchup that was Paige Bueckers (pronounced BECKERS) and No. 1 UConn versus Caitlin Clark and No. 5 Iowa. While these two players are the top freshmen in the NCAA, neither dominated the game on Saturday.

  • Instead, it was a showcase of the depth both teams possess, with UConn comfortably edging out Iowa 92–72 (the score doesn’t reflect how fun it was to watch). Bueckers complemented fellow freshman Aaliyah Edwards, as well as the game’s top scorer Christyn Williams.
  • Elsewhere, No. 1 NC State was upset by No. 4 Indiana, and No. 3 Arizona knocked off the very strong No. 2 Texas A&M. Goodbye, whatever was left of our bracket.

Eight isn’t enough: The Elite Eight games start today. First up in the River Walk region, UConn plays No. 2 Baylor in arguably the most exciting game of the tourney yet. These powerhouses’ regular season matchup was canceled due to COVID-19 protocols, so this is the first time we’ll see them face off.

  • The Mercado region is the only region without top seed representation. Instead, the upsetters, Indiana and Arizona, will play each other for a spot in the Final Four in tonight’s late game.
  • Tomorrow, the top team of the tournament, No. 1 Stanford, faces No. 2 Louisville (who sadly beat Oregon last night...we’ll miss you Sedona Prince!) and Hemisfair’s No. 1 South Carolina takes on another underdog, No. 6 Texas. Follow all the action here.

🏀NCAA Men's Sweet Sixteen Recap

March 29, 2021
Source: Oregon State MBB/Twitter
Source: Oregon State MBB/Twitter

Tonight’s games: No. 12 Oregon State continued their underdog run, defeating No. 8 Loyola Chicago on Saturday to advance to their first Elite Eight since 1982. The Cinderella story Beavers will need all the magic they can get when they take on No. 2 Houston and their stifling defense tonight at 7:15 p.m. ET.

  • Tonight’s late game features two former conference foes: No. 1 Baylor taking on No. 3 Arkansas. Baylor cruised to a big win over No. 5 Villanova on Saturday, while No. 3 Arkansas narrowly squeaked by No. 15 Oral Roberts.

Tomorrow’s games: No. 1 Gonzaga extended their undefeated campaign with ease, handily defeating No. 5 Creighton 83–65 yesterday. Gonzaga will face No. 6 USC, fresh off a hard fought victory over No. 7 Oregon. We do love an underdog, but our money’s on the ’Zags in this one. How can you bet against this guy?

  • Meanwhile, No. 1 Michigan secured another W for the top seeds, dominating a physical 76–58 battle with No. 4 Florida State yesterday. Michigan will face surging No. 11 UCLA, who pulled off another upset by defeating No. 2 Alabama 88–78 in overtime yesterday. 

The UCLA Bruins are just the second team to advance to the Elite Eight after competing in the “First Four” play-in round. More like Bru-Win, right?