☕️ Happy Monday! Texas Tech has canceled classes for tonight and tomorrow. Do the right thing, UVA.
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
There will be plenty of defense in tonight's national championship between No. 3 seed Texas Tech and No. 1 seed Virginia (9:20 pm ET, CBS), as both teams rank among the country's very best on that end of the floor.
Why it matters: While the internet is littered with sportswriters calling this "generationally unsexy" matchup a bad thing, I'm here to convince you of the opposite.
Texas Tech's scheme: Whereas most teams focus on defending the 3-point arc or the basket, Texas Tech's primary goal is to defend the middle of the floor and force the ball to specific areas.
Virginia's scheme: Head coach Tony Bennett's "Pack Line Defense" was invented by his father, Dick, and gets its name from an imaginary line a few feet inside the 3-point arc.
The bottom line: Texas Tech sets up a trap and forces you to walk into it (common result: turnover), while Virginia packs it in so tight that there is seemingly nowhere to go (common result: settle for contested 3).
Baylor knocked off defending champion Notre Dame to capture its third national title. Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
When star player and leader Lauren Cox went down with a serious knee injury late in the third quarter, it wasn't clear how Baylor — clinging to a 12-point lead — would respond to the sudden adversity.
P.S. ... Oregon star point guard, and projected No. 1 pick, Sabrina Ionescu announced via The Players' Tribune that she will return to school next season, citing "unfinished business." Worth a read.
Pray for Chris Davis. Seriously. Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images
A year after finishing with the worst batting average ever (.168), Orioles first baseman Chris Davis is 0 for 23 this season and is now hitless in his last 44 at-bats dating back to September, two shy of the record for a position player.
Why it matters: We have officially entered "never seen anything like this" territory, and it has me questioning how this is even possible. A slump of this magnitude on the heels of the worst-hitting season ever? Seriously, what is going on?
What's next: The Orioles begin a three-game set against the Athletics in Baltimore tonight.
P.S. ... Speaking of epic struggles, Nationals reliever Trevor Rosenthal has thrown 38 pitches this season, recorded zero outs and been charged with seven earned runs.
Above: Wake Forest senior Jennifer Kupcho won the inaugural Augusta National Women's Amateur — the first women's tournament ever held on the 87-year-old course.
Above: Benches cleared in Pittsburgh, and Reds outfielder Yasiel Puig was one of five players ejected after he tried to fight every Pirate.
Above: Two goals from substitute Gerard Deulofeu (above) helped Watford come back from 2-0 down to defeat Wolverhampton 3-2 and advance to next month's FA Cup final against Manchester City.
The 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs are set, with five of the eight first-round series getting underway on Wednesday night.
The intrigue: From 2009 to 2018, the Kings, Ducks and Blackhawks combined for 10 trips to the Western Conference finals and five Stanley Cups. This year, all three longtime powers are absent from the postseason.
Go deeper: Full playoff schedule
From Mike Sykes: Trae Young and Luka Dončić have dominated the Rookie of the Year conversation all season, but their fellow top-five picks — Deandre Ayton, Marvin Bagley and Jaren Jackson Jr. — have been pretty darn good, too.
By the numbers: The top five picks in this year's draft are just the sixth group in history to exceed .100 win shares per 48 minutes, a metric used to divvy up credit for team wins to individual players.
Note: The 2009 draft class (0.108 WS/48) should technically be above the 2018 class, but only three top-five picks took the floor that year (Blake Griffin was injured and Ricky Rubio was in Spain), so we left that class out.
P.S. ... Speaking of impressive rookies, Knicks center Mitchell Robinson (36th pick) is blocking 10.4% of opponents' 2-point field goal attempts while he's on the floor, good for fifth all-time(!).
Hank smash. Photo: Bettman/Getty Images
45 years ago today, Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run, passing Babe Ruth for No. 1 on the all-time list — a spot Ruth had held for 39 years.
All-time HR leaders:
If Texas Tech wins tonight, the Red Raiders will become just the second men's basketball champion since 1997 not to be based in the Eastern time zone.
Answer at the bottom.
SNL's Colin Jost being thrown out of the ring last night during WrestleMania 35. Photo: Brian Ach/Getty Images for WWE
"With ratings flailing, Vince McMahon and family got on stage in late 2018 and promised to start listening to fans and giving them what they want. WrestleMania 35 was the culmination of that promise," writes Bleacher Report's Chris Roling.
By the numbers: According to WWE, WrestleMania 35 grossed $16.9 million, breaking the record for MetLife Stadium. The sold-out crowd of 82,265 hailed from all 50 states and 68 different countries.
Pro-tip: Download The Action Network app to master the art of sports betting.
1. Who will cover the spread in tonight's title game between Virginia (-1.5) and Texas Tech?
2. Will Virginia and Texas Tech combine for Over/Under 117.5 total points?
3. Which duo will score more combined points tonight? Virginia's Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome or Texas Tech's Jarrett Culver and Matt Mooney?
🎰 Play now: Make your picks (cutoff time: 9:20 pm ET)
We're changing things up this week. Instead of having a tiebreaker and selecting only one winner, every reader who nails all three predictions will get a shoutout (name, hometown) in the following day's newsletter.
Kendall "Doesn't understand the appeal of WWE" Baker
Trivia answer: Kansas in 2008 (beat Memphis in OT)