👋 Good morning! There are no brackets to fill out this morning, and that is incredibly depressing. But don't worry — I have a plan to (sort of) save March Madness.
Today's word count: 1,922 words (7 minutes).
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
If the world were still right, Americans all across the country would have crowded around the TV last night to watch "Selection Sunday," and millions would have already submitted brackets.
How it works: Over the next eight days, we'll be simulating the 2020 NCAA men's basketball tournament using ESPN's Joe Lunardi's final projected bracket and a simulation engine.
Here's the top of the bracket...
And here's the bottom...
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios
After months of negotiations, a narrow majority of players voted to approve a new 10-year labor deal that will shape the NFL over the next decade.
Why it matters: The new collective bargaining agreement will allow the NFL to expand its regular season from 16 to 17 games as early as 2021 and expand the playoff field from 12 to 14 teams starting this season.
The backdrop: When the current CBA was signed in 2011, it included a new rookie wage scale that saw the No. 1 pick go from signing for $78 million in 2010 (Sam Bradford) to $22 million one year later (Cam Newton).
As we enter the 2020s, the "fundamental change" seems likely to occur on the player health and durability front, as teams adjust to (a) fewer practices and (b) more games.
What to watch: While there's still a chance that the start of the 2020 league year will be postponed due to the coronavirus, it remains scheduled to begin at 4pm ET on Wednesday, with the "legal tampering" window set to open at noon today.
Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who quickly announced that he'd pay workers "as if the games happened" during the NBA shutdown, spoke with me by email on Saturday.
Based on what you currently know, what do you predict will happen with the rest of the NBA season?
You were the first NBA owner to announce a payment plan for hourly employees. Are you surprised some of your fellow owners have yet to announce similar plans?
How do you think Adam Silver has handled the coronavirus situation?
What role do sports organizations play in a situation like this?
What should teams and athletes be doing during this sports outage to stay connected with fans and provide a sense of normalcy?
Atlanta Hawks CEO Steve Koonin thinks the NBA season should start in December and end in August — and we might get a preview of the "end in August" part this summer. Would you support Koonin's proposal?
For bored sports fans in need of recommendations: What are your favorite sports movies?
Just in ... Sources: NBA teams bracing for mid-June return (ESPN)
Driving the news: As new CDC guidelines recommend cancelling gatherings of 50 or more people, states are imposing drastic measures — like ordering bars and restaurants to close and imposing curfews — in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Where do players go during a sports outage? The NBA, NHL and MLS are requiring players to stay in their home markets, while MLB is allowing players to leave spring training and go home to their families.
DULUTH, Ga. — On a weekend without sports, Professional Bull Riders reigned supreme over the American sports landscape, as riders competed in an empty arena 30 miles north of Atlanta.
The big picture: The number of deaths from COVID-19 outside of China has exceeded those from within the country for the first time, Johns Hopkins data shows.
PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil — Players from Brazilian club Gremio took to the field wearing masks yesterday in protest of their match being held. "This protest by our players makes implicit our support for the championship to be halted — life must take precedence," said Paulo Luz, Gremio's director of football.
SYDNEY, Australia — Former Providence star Bryce Cotton (31 points) and the Perth Wildcats crushed Andrew Bogut and the Sydney Kings, 111-96, on Saturday to take a 2-1 lead in the NBL Grand Final, which was played in an empty arena.
20 years ago today, WRAL, a CBS affiliate in the Raleigh/Durham market, made TV history by offering viewers the first chance to watch every NCAA basketball tournament game.
What they saw that year: The 2000 tournament was a doozy. Due to a string of upsets, only one top-four seed advanced to the Final Four, which looked like this: No. 5 Florida vs. No. 8 North Carolina (see above) and No. 1 Michigan State vs. No. 8 Wisconsin.
🎥 Watch: Florida vs. Michigan State (full game)
The Iditarod dog sled race began two weekends ago, and while celebratory events were cancelled following Alaska's first confirmed case of the coronavirus, the race is mushing on with many teams already past the halfway point.
Go deeper: At the Iditarod, 'they do a very good job of social distancing' (WashPost)
Photo: Michael Reaves/Getty Images
Calais Campbell, who the Jaguars traded to the Ravens yesterday, is one of four players with 80+ sacks and 30+ batted passed over the past 10 seasons.
Answer at the bottom.
Courtesy: Custom House Publishing
For decades, statisticians, psychologists and economists have wondered whether streaks actually exist. In "The Hot Hand: The Mystery and Science of Streaks," Wall Street Journal sports reporter Ben Cohen explores that question.
What he's saying: I spoke with Cohen about "The Hot Hand," which was released six days ago. Here's his answer to "what inspired you to write the book?"
"I wrote a few stories about the 'hot hand' for the Wall Street Journal a few years ago and I just couldn't get it out of my head. After I write a story, I'm usually sick of it immediately and ready to move on, but with this, the opposite happened.
"When I realized I was only scratching the surface on all the areas where the hot hand can be applied, I knew there was potential for a book. It was a very convenient excuse to use basketball to explore parts of the universe that I don't get to write about as a sports journalist."
Kendall "Mateen Cleaves is all of us" Baker
Trivia answer: J.J. Watt (Texans), Carlos Dunlap (Bengals), Cameron Jordan (Saints)