Good morning to everyone but especially to...
THE GEORGETOWN HOYAS...
For just the fifth time in five decades, Georgetown is hiring a new coach. The Hoyas hired Providence coach Ed Cooley to take over a once-proud Hoyas program looking to return to relevance.
- Across a dozen seasons at Providence, Cooley, 53, went 242-153 (.613 win pct) and made the NCAA Tournament seven times. The Friars won their first Big East regular-season title in 2021-22.
- Cooley will take over for Patrick Ewing, who was fired earlier this month after going 75-109 over six seasons.
- Ewing had been the fourth straight coach connected to John Thompson Jr., the Hall of Famer who led Georgetown's rise starting in 1972. Then came Thompson Jr.'s former player and assistant coach Craig Esherick (1998-2004) and John Thompson III (2004-17) before Ewing, who starred at Georgetown under Thompson Jr.
Sources told our Matt Norlander that Georgetown had been targeting Cooley for weeks, and Matt describes this as "a tectonic [move] in the Big East; this amounts to a coup for Georgetown, which strengthens its program and theoretically weakens its Rhode Island intra-conference brethren."
This is a great hire. At Providence, Cooley churned out hard-nosed, quality teams that won close games, a must in the Big East. Whether Cooley raises the Hoyas' ceiling to what it was under Thompson Jr. (or even Thompson III) remains to be determined. But Cooley immediately raises the floor for Georgetown -- a floor that didn't exist under Ewing, whose team at one point lost a conference-record 29 straight Big East games.
There's no question Georgetown is better now than it was two days ago. That's a huge first step.
... AND ALSO A GOOD MORNING TO THE ST. JOHN'S RED STORM
As for another historic Big East program looking to return to prominence, St. John's hired Rick Pitino. The Hall of Fame coach is back in the Big East after agreeing to a six-year deal with the Red Storm in the $20 million range.
- Pitino, 70, owns a 834-293 (.740 win pct) on-court coaching record, which the NCAA has knocked down to 711-290 (.710 win pct) due to a host of scandals while at Louisville, which eventually got him fired in 2017. However, he went unpunished in the IARP's November 2022 ruling.
- Pitino's head coaching career started all the way back to 1975 at Hawaii. He's also coached Boston University, Providence, the Knicks, Kentucky (1996 champions), the Celtics, Louisville (2013 champions -- later vacated) and, most recently, Iona, where he won two MAAC regular-season titles, two MAAC Tournament titles and made two NCAA Tournaments in three years.
- Matt wrote a terrific piece on Pitino back in late February that explored whether or not he'd return to big-time coaching. The answer, it turns out, is "yes."
Pitino is one of the all-time great basketball minds. He takes over a St. John's program that hasn't won an NCAA Tournament game since 2000. The Johnnies went 68-56 without a single tournament bid under Mike Anderson in the last four seasons. Pitino, with his deep Big East knowledge and basketball acumen, could lead a major turnaround.
Anderson, meanwhile, is planning to file a lawsuit against St. John's after the school fired him for cause, asserting Anderson did not create an environment of academic compliance within the program and that he did not "appropriately supervise" his assistant coaches. Anderson says the claims are "wholly without merit." Anderson had $11 million remaining on his contract.
- Japan stunned Mexico, 6-5, with Munetaka Murakami's two-run walk-off double scoring Shohei Ohtani and Ukyo Shuto. Japan will face the US in the WBC title.
- Cam Newton will throw at Auburn's Pro Day.
- Magic Johnson is joining Josh Harris' bid to buy the Commanders.
- Julius Randle scored 57 points, but the Knicks lost.
- The Grizzlies hope Ja Morant returns tomorrow.
- The Texans added a couple of solid pieces to their offense.
Not so honorable mentions
- Alabama suspended freshman defensive back Tony Mitchell.
- Dillon Brooks got suspended for technical foul accumulation... again.
- St. Francis Brooklyn is cutting all of its athletic programs.
The Women's NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 is set 🏀
Monday marked the end to the first week of the women's NCAA Tournament, and it was a wild one.. No result was more stunning, though, than 9-seed Miami's 70-68 win over 1-seed Indiana.
The Hoosiers are the second 1 seed to be knocked out in as many days after 8-seed Mississippi beat Stanford.
- The Hurricanes went up 65-60 with under two minutes remaining after Haley Cavinder's 3-pointer, but the Hoosiers knotted things back up quickly with two Grace Berger free throws and a 3-pointer from Yarden Garzon.
- Miami went back up three with some free throws before Garzon hit another three -- this one a stepback off the dribble -- to knot things up with 6.6 seconds left.
- Miami drew up a great play out of the timeout, and Destiny Harden got a friendly bounce on a short jumper to stun the raucous home crowd.
- The Hurricanes have won their two Tournament games by a combined three points, to make its first Sweet 16 since 1992, when the field included just 48 teams.
That was one of many hectic finishes Monday, and our Isabel Gonzalez and Andrew Julian did a great job covering it all. Here's the full Sweet 16 field.
Men's Sweet 16 preview: Reseeding the field 🏀
All right, has everyone caught their breath? After an insane first weekend at the men's NCAA Tournament that continued the recent trend of big-time upsets, there's a brief break in the action before things start up again on Thursday.
But that doesn't mean a break for us, because our college basketball team keeps on chugging with terrific preview content. One of my favorites is our Chip Patterson reseeding the remaining field, 1-16.
Here's his top five:
One team outside the top five that I really like? Tennessee. The 4-seed Volunteers are in the wide-open East regional that also features 3-seed Kansas State, 7-seed Michigan State and 9-seed FAU. Chip has Tennessee ninth in his reseeding.
- Patterson: "After first downgrading the Vols for letting an 18-point lead evaporate in the final 11 minutes against Louisiana, there had to be an upgrade for the way Tennessee absolutely put the clamps on a streaking Duke team ... If any team in this tournament gets caught playing a game on Tennessee's terms, like Duke did on Saturday or even No. 1 overall seed Alabama did earlier this year, it will be in big trouble."
Here's what else we have for you:
NFL free agency: Playing matchmaker for top players available 🏈
It's been more than a week since teams could start negotiating with players, and though several big names are off the board (here's our top 100 tracker), there are still many good players looking for a new team.
No free agent has generated more buzz than Lamar Jackson, although that buzz has certainly died down ever since the Ravens franchise tagged him and several teams said they're not interested in him. But things can change, and our Cody Benjamin played matchmaker for each of the top 10 free agents still remaining. That starts with sending Jackson to...
- Benjamin: "Lamar Jackson to the Lions -- Technically the Ravens own the rights to their star quarterback, but the non-exclusive franchise tag still allows any team to make an offer. And Detroit has signaled with its busy offseason that it's ready to go from scrappy spoiler to spicy contender. ... Better yet, they've got multiple first- and second-round draft picks this year as ammo."
I love this idea. Dan Campbell wants to run the ball, and Jackson would really help diversify the running game. Detroit has intriguing skill-position players and a talented offensive line. Will they go for the 2019 MVP, though? As Cody mentions, the draft capital is there.
As for a star who doesn't currently have a team, Odell Beckham Jr. gets matched with a different NFC North squad. You can see all of Cody's pairings here.
What we're watching Tuesday 📺
⚾ USA vs. Japan, 7 p.m. on FS1
🏀 Cavaliers at Nets, 7:30 p.m. on NBA TV
🏀 Celtics at Kings, 10 p.m. on NBA TV