March 29, 2011
March this month has not only been mad, it’s been downright crazy. Not a single No. 1 seed is left, with the highest seed in the Final Four being No. 3 UCONN. It’s no surprise to see UCONN still alive, as both their men and women’s basketball teams are perennial championship contenders. This year, though, the focus is on the underdogs, namely: Butler and VCU. Butler made history over the weekend as they narrowly beat the Florida Gators (74-71 in overtime), to become the first mid-major NCAA team to make back-to-back final four appearances. The Butler Bulldogs will take on an even bigger underdog when they play Richmond-based VCU Rams for a chance at the title game. In their pursuit of a championship title, the Rams have beaten such powerhouses as Purdue, Florida State and even the President’s pick to win it all: Kansas University. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, have come out on top against the likes of Pittsburgh and Wisconsin. The two underdogs face off on April 2, and the winner will take on either Kentucky or UCONN in the championship game April 4. While I think a Cinderella story is always sweet, this time around I foresee Butler and UCONN in the final showdown. Then again, my bracket’s been busted since mid-March.
Baseball is back this week, with the Nationals Opening Day game this Thursday against the division rival Atlanta Braves. The Nats also announced they are hosting their third annual NatsFest this Wednesday, March 30. The event is open to the public, and will feature an open practice and a chance to meet the players. Schedule and ticket information can be found here http://outfield.mlb.com/was/fan_forum/natsfest.jsp with partial proceeds benefiting the Dream Foundation. If you can get out of your office for a few hours, it seems like a fun way to kick off the baseball season and donate to a worthwhile charity.
The Caps have won 5 of their last 7 games, including their weekend match-up against the Montreal Canadiens. The Caps actually shut out the Canadiens, winning 2-0 and causing the first three-game shutout for the Canadiens since 1949. While the Caps have been faring fine without their captain, Alex Ovechkin returned to practice with the team today. He is said to be pumped and ready to go for tomorrow night’s game against Carolina. Coach Bruce Boudreau, however, is staying conservative, and says he expects Ovechkin back on the ice full-time by the end of the week. Boudreau no doubt wants his star player healthy for the post-season. With just six games remaining in the regular season, the Caps have already clinched a playoff spot. Because they are used to making it to the playoffs only to lose, fans and players alike are hoping the team’s late season trades will help, not hurt, them come April.
March was a lousy month for the Wizards. Having only won 2 of their 13 games, they go into tonight’s game having dropped four in a row. The team has 10 games left this season, and with match-ups against the Heat and Celtics, they might net 20 wins this season after all. They do, however, face the Cavaliers twice, which is the closest thing to a guaranteed win that a NBA team can expect this season (The Cavs are 14-58, the worst record in the NBA). Once the season ends on April 13, the focus will turn to the draft and the hopes that next season they might be able to advance beyond last place.