The Viral Roundup – Embrace The Madness Edition
Happy Monday! We trust your weekend was a roaring success and no one burst your bubble on Selection Sunday. Welcome to The Viral Roundup, our daily recap of all the big stories, big buzz and big developments that have walloped the world of sports. In today’s edition: Brackets are being primed in offices across North America, the Raptors can’t shake their losing ways and the Ducks let out a victory quack on their home pond.
Did You Hear?
Ladies and gentlemen, start your brackets. Selection Sunday has set the stage for what’s bound to be a wild 2015 NCAA Tournament. Some schools enter March Madness with better odds of success (Kentucky’s a 6/5 bet to win it all, although one Vegas sportsbook has them at even money) than others (1000/1 is the read for Coastal Carolina), but it’s those scenarios that make shocking upsets all the sweeter. Your #1 seeds for this year’s go-around are Wisconsin, Villanova, Duke and undefeated Kentucky. As always, there were some snubs that had certain post-secondary institutions crying foul. Temple (23-10), Colorado State (27-6) and Murray State (27-5) were all passed over in favour of underperforming big name schools like UCLA and Indiana. Prep your office pool entry wisely.
Did You See?
Hamburglar Fever has gripped Canada’s capital. No, no one’s suffering from Mad Cow Disease or anything of the sort. It’s the miracle run of goalie Andrew “the Hamburglar” Hammond that’s got Ottawa going wild. Following a 2-1 home shootout win last night against the Flyers, a fan tossed a celebratory hamburger onto the ice to hail the city’s new goaltending hero. (The burger would later return to the crowd, so he’s a Robin Hood style Hamburglar.) Considering Hammond is a spectacular 10-0-1 since being summoned from the AHL, he’s quite possibly the best value menu option ever. The Senators currently sit 5 points behind the Boston Bruins for the final Wildcard spot in the east.
Did You Know?
- The Nashville Predators continue to find themselves trapped in an ugly late season tailspin and the Pacific Division leading Anaheim Ducks were in no mood to let the Preds off the hook. After jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the 2nd, Nashville gave up four unanswered 3rd period markers (including captain Ryan Getzlaf’s 23rd of the season) and stumble to 2-8-0 in their last 10. That’s not a good look for a club that’s had St. Louis squeak past them to move into the Central Division’s top spot. The decline has also pushed Anaheim into the peak position of the Western Conference standings. As of this morning, the Ducks are listed by some books as an +875 option to win the Stanley Cup, while others plunk them at +1000.
- The Bruins and Capitals clashed last night in Washington with both clubs seeking to tighten their tenuous grip on a playoff spot. Caps goalie Braden Holtby turned away 32 shots and shut the door on Boston’s four power play opportunities to pick up his eighth shutout for 2014-2015, as the Capitals emerged with the 2-0 victory. The win turned Boston’s five game win streak to dust and featured Nicklas Backstrom exiting the game as Washington’s career assists leader. The Capitals are now two points up on the Bruins for the first Wildcard spot.
- Cam Talbot continues to shine between the pipes in Manhattan. Henrik Lundqvist’s understudy turned in another spectacular performance, making 38 saves at Madison Square Garden in a hard fought 2-1 Rangers victory over the fading Florida Panthers. The Blueshirts have caught fire of late with five straight Ws under their belt. This latest victory gives New York sole possession of the Eastern Conference’s top spot.
- Is it time to slip into panic mode in Toronto? The Raptors continue their downward spiral with another morale pummelling loss, this time at the hands of the visiting Portland Trail Blazers. LaMarcus Aldridge netted 24 points and collected 10 boards in the 113-97 Blazers triumph, saddling the Raptors with their 10th loss in 12 games. Luckily for the Raps, they’re in the lowly Atlantic Division and it’s not like the 2nd place Boston Celtics (29-36) are ready to collect on the freefall. Toronto heads into Indiana tonight as a five and a half point underdog.
- Blake Griffin’s return to the Los Angeles Clippers wasn’t enough to seal a victory over James Harden and the visiting Houston Rockets. Harden tallied 34 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists to lead the Texan squad to a 100-98 win over the Clips. A post-surgery Griffin netted 11 points, grabbed 11 boards and was responsible for 5 turnovers in his first game back. Speaking of stars with injury woes, Dwight Howard was out of Houston’s lineup for the 22nd straight game. The big man with the big contract has suggested he could be back in the lineup before April, although the franchise says they have no official projection for when he might return. The Rockets are currently a 25/1 bet to win the NBA Championship.
- Russell Westbrook put up 36 points and nabbed 11 rebounds in a 109-100 home matinee win over the Chicago Bulls. The Oklahoma City Thunder also reaped the benefits of double-double stat lines from centers Enes Kanter and Steven Adams in the victory, while Bulls power forward Nikola Mirotic emerged with 27 points in a losing effort. OKC travels to the Lone Star State tonight to take on the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs and Thunder currently sit in spots #7 and #8 in the Western Conference standings.
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