It’s A Monster Weekend
HE JIM SEZ UPDATE: IT'S A MONSTER SPORTS WEEKEND (AS IF YOU DIDN'T KNOW!)
As we like to say here at Jim Sez, it doesn't get a whole lot better than this! The first weekend in April is loaded with great sports action including - of course - this NCAA Tournament's Final Four on Saturday and Championship Game come Monday Night plus it's the opening of the 2016 Major-League Baseball season too.
NCAA TOURNAMENT NOTES
Lots of folks wondering if this is gonna be the swan song for North Carolina head coach Roy Williams providing he's cutting down the nets in Houston on Monday night and the speculation as to whom would replace Williams runs rampant along Tobacco Road.
Ask us and we say that if - and only if - the UNC Tar Heels win it all this year than Williams will wave bye-bye and the great hoops school would bypass long-time assistants C.B. McGrath and Steve Robinson (the on-going investigations would wipe the cupboard clean) and name either Gonzaga head coach Mark Few or Wichita State's Gregg Williams as the next Carolina boss ...
Okay, so we've all had time to look back now on this year's NCAA Tournament and here's a couple of ironies that played itself out:
The NCAA Tourney folks "punished" Villanova with a #2 seed and by not allowing the Wildcats to host Sweet 16 and Elite 8 games in Philadelphia after Jay Wright's club lost in the conference championship game versus Seton Hall and yet moving the Big East team to play in Louisville likely helped while lessening the in-city pressures they would have felt;
And, what about the pure fact that #1 seed Kansas was forced to play in the toughest bracket of them all - the South Regional - while Big 12 runner-up Oklahoma snagged a #2 seed in the easiest bracket of them all, the West Regional? Think about it for a second: If Kansas and Oklahoma would have "switched places" than we most likely would be sitting here speculating on the KU Jayhawks being in the Final Four. Unfair? Hmmm.
THE BASEBALL REPORT
Okay, so there's really two different "Opening Day" spectacles in MLB (see Sunday/Monday) but let's concentrate right now on the three games Sunday that officially kick off the 2016 season:
ST. LOUIS at PITTSBURGH - 1:05 p.m. ET, ESPN
No doubt the Cardinals and Pirates are the afterthoughts in the National League Central behind the headline-grabbing Chicago Cubs but remember last year the Redbirds won 100 games (they had been projected back then to win 87.5) and the Buccos won 98 games (projected to win 83.5 last season) so don't necessarily sleep on either team this year. Biggest story here is Cards' ace RHP Adam Wainwright who last year threw just 28 innings in regular-season play (2-1, 1.61 ERA and no HRs allowed) because of an Achilles Heel injury.
TORONTO at TAMPA BAY - 4:05 p.m. ET, espn2
Our Jim Sez MLB Predictions posted here the other day called for Tampa Bay Rays RHP Chris Archer to cop this year's American League Cy Young Award ... and he sure deserved a better fate than a year ago when he registered a 12-13 mark with a 3.23 ERA while allowing only 175 hits in 212 innings. Now, right out of the box he deals with baseball's highest-scoring team from a year ago (891 runs) and the Blue Jays' lineup - starring reigning MVP 3B Josh Donaldson (41 HR, 123 RBI, .568 slugging percentage) - will be a major handful again.
NEW YORK METS at KANSAS CITY - 8:35 p.m. ET, ESPN
The long-awaited rematch of last year's World Series has plenty of sub-plots right out of the gate including how is Mets' RHP Matt Harvey (recent bladder ills) gonna handle this Opening Night assignment and will any NYM batters hit the dirt for some brushback stuff in last year's Fall Classic ... or might that wait till RHP Noah Syndergaard's start come Tuesday afternoon in KC? The Royals finished next-to-last in the AL in home runs last year (139) but that didn't seem to faze 'em!
NOTE: Catch our NCAA Tournament Championship Game preview in this next edition of Jim Sez.
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