Your Turn: March has lots to choose from, but there’s only one NCAA Tournament
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What tops your sports list the rest of March?
The NCAA Tournament (we see you, Loyola)? Cubs and White Sox spring training? The stretch runs in the NBA and NHL (the massive shortcomings of the Bulls and Blackhawks notwithstanding)? All things Bears and NFL Draft?
“March Matness!” answered both @RandyRob319 and @L_Hinschberger on Twitter in separate, perhaps even coincidental, references to this month’s NCAA wrestling championships.
“The Champions League, plus the Premier League battles to avoid relegation,” wrote @PaulFromChicago, one of those soccer enthusiasts you occasionally hear about and, thus, summarily shun.
“World Championship Candidates Chess!” wrote @morehockeystats, one can only hope not with a straight face.
These people are outliers. They are not to be trusted.
But back to the original question: What tops your sports list the rest of March? That’s what was asked in this week’s lead “Your Turn” poll.
Ah, March Madness. With Selection Sunday practically upon us — where will the committee send Loyola, anyway? — college basketball’s unbeatable postseason was the only acceptable No. 1 answer. From there, though, it was nip-and-tuck between the NFL, the NBA and NHL, and baseball’s goings-on in Arizona (and Florida).
“Spring training for me,” wrote Cyndi via Facebook. “Nothing better signifies that summer isn’t too far [away]. Gotta love baseball.”
“I’m a sucker for mock drafts,” wrote @jospeh_john, scoring one for football.
Don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m a sucker for everything from conference tournaments to on-campus selection parties to first-round upsets to teary renditions of “One Shining Moment” when the ever-so-big, endlessly thrilling Dance is done. Speaking of which, what the heck happened to Illinois and Northwest … nah, only kidding. We’ve hammered them enough around here.
WHO’S UP FIRST?
The Cubs’ Ian Happ hit like a real bum in 60 at-bats last spring: a .383 average, five home runs, a .441 on-base percentage and a puny OPS of 1.191. Please — like anyone was going to get excited about that.
But this year? Just get a load of what the 23-year-old is doing at the plate: In only 21 at-bats, he’s batting .429 with four bombs, a .500 OBP and a cartoonish OPS of 1.690.
Maybe this whole baseball thing is up Happ’s alley after all.
Happ already has had a couple of outstanding games hitting in the leadoff spot, a fine development for him considering all of Cubdom would love to see someone claim that role as his own. So who is the team’s best option at the top of the order: the switch-hitting Happ, the switch-hitting Ben Zobrist, emerging righty Albert Almora Jr. or someone else?
Here’s how you’ve weighed in so far:
Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that so few voters were sick and twisted enough to get behind Kyle Schwarber and/or Jason Heyward, but how about Zobrist getting so little love? Or maybe Cubs fans simply like Almora and love Happ at leadoff that much.
On to a handful of “Your Turn” questions:
Should Cubs fans be overly encouraged by Happ’s hot start in spring training? —@ndosports
Overly encouraged? Most Cubs fans I know these days roll out of bed overly encouraged. Yu Darvish will break most, if not all, of Jake Arrieta’s 2015 records. Kyle Schwarber will don his superhero’s cape again. Everyone else will range from just fine to “we’re going to need a new wing in the Hall of Fame.” And so on.
I like Happ. I like how he’s willing to play wherever Joe Maddon puts him in the field or in the lineup. I like the thunder in his bat and the sneaky speed in his legs. But he’s young. He’s still a hitting slump waiting to happen. Hey, he could even still be traded. Ask me again in May.
Louisville, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Oklahoma, Arizona State: Which of those teams do you think get into the NCAA Tournament? —@wcacat
Oklahoma and Louisville: in. Syracuse and ASU: out. Notre Dame: more capable of going on a run than any of the other four, but what do I know? Just do what I do and see what the so-called “bracketologists” are saying. They’re the ones with the fancy diplomas on the walls.
Should Loyola be worried about losing coach Porter Moser?
I know I would be. Especially if the Ramblers win another game or two.
With apologies to Loyola, the season has been a big disappointment for hoops fans in Chicago and, more broadly, in Illinois. My suggestion is that Illinois, DePaul and Northwestern play a round-robin tournament with the winner to face Simeon. Perhaps the winner of that game could face the Bulls. What do you think? —William, via email
I’ll take Simeon and the points, that’s what I think.
Follow me on Twitter @SLGreenberg.