Happy Friday, everyone! By the time I talk to you next, we'll have two NCAA Tournament fields set and -- who knows? -- maybe a new home for a certain quarterback. Before we talk again, be sure to sign up for our men's bracket games and women's bracket games, both of which are now live.
Let's get right to it.
Good morning to everyone but especially to...
THE NEW YORK JETS
It's hard to ever know exactly what's running through Aaron Rodgers' head, but as we await his decisions on if and where he'll play, one team thinks it's on his good side.
The four-time MVP met with the Jets, and the Jets are reportedly optimistic about where they stand.
- Team owner Woody Johnson, general manager Joe Douglas, head coach Robert Saleh and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett -- who worked with Rodgers in Green Bay -- all met with the 39-year-old quarterback.
- The Packers granted the Jets permission to speak with Rodgers. If they hadn't, this would be tampering. The NFL's negotiating window opens Monday.
- The Jets' Super Bowl odds have soared in recent days.
It may be something. It may be nothing. But the fact that the Jets are at least talking to Rodgers -- something only they and the Packers have done this offseason -- is encouraging. Plus, as our Cody Benjamin outlines, the Jets just make sense for Rodgers.
- Odell Beckham Jr. is holding a workout for NFL teams today.
- Here are the 2023 NFL compensatory picks.
And not such a good morning for...
There will be no March magic for North Carolina. In fact, the Tar Heels will be making the wrong type of history as the first preseason No. 1 to miss the NCAA Tournament since it expanded in 1985 after losing, 68-59, to Virginia in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals.
While nothing will be official until Sunday, the Tar Heels entered the day on the wrong side of the bubble and likely needed to win this game and at least one more, according to our Jerry Palm.
- The Tar Heels went 8 for 27 (29.6%) on 3-pointers. That was a problem all season: They ranked outside the top 300 nationally in 3-point percentage.
- Virginia got 17 points from Jayden Gardner, 15 from Reece Beekman and 14 from Armaan Franklin.
This was a massively disappointing year for North Carolina, which brought back four of five starters from a team that made the national championship game. The Tar Heels couldn't get over the hump, especially against the nation's top teams, with a 1-9 record against Quad 1 foes. This final loss will prove too much to overcome.
You can keep up with ACC Tournament action here.
Not so honorable mentions
- Yankees lefty Carlos Rodón (forearm) will begin the season on the IL.
- The Texans lost a fifth-round pick and were fined $175,000 for a salary cap violation involving Deshaun Watson.
- Fred VanVleet got fined $30,000 for a scathing criticism of one referee in particular.
- Za'Darius Smith asked the Vikings for his release. The Vikings have no intention to grant it.
- Cal fired Mark Fox after a 3-29 season. Here's our coaching change tracker.
Kevin Durant out multiple weeks with ankle injury 🏀
What first seemed like an innocuous misstep by Kevin Durant has turned into a significant injury. The Suns star is expected to miss two-to-three weeks with a left ankle sprain.
- The injury happened during warmups Wednesday before the Suns' eventual 132-101 win over the Thunder. It was supposed to be Durant's home debut with his new team.
- The Suns are 3-0 when Durant plays. He's averaging 26.7 points on ridiculous 69% shooting.
- Durant already missed nearly two months this season with a sprained MCL in his right knee.
The Suns are currently fourth in the Western Conference, and this may hurt the Suns' playoff seeding. But Phoenix can take solace in the fact that Durant usually returns from injuries and catches fire, writes our Brad Botkin.
- Botkin: "You wonder if Durant is going to be able to flip the switch for the start of the postseason after yet another potential four-week layoff? Don't worry about it. The man's switch never turns off in the first place. ... Durant is not only that great, but that versatile. Throw in the experience of a Chris Paul and the similarly adaptable talents of Devin Booker, and the Suns are about as equipped to hit their peak on the fly, without rehearsal, as any newly formed team possibly could be."
CBB coaching updates: Georgetown fires Patrick Ewing, Bill Self out for Big 12 Tournament 🏀
Patrick Ewing the player led Georgetown basketball to incredible highs. Patrick Ewing the coach led Georgetown basketball to incredible lows.
After six seasons, Georgetown finally fired their legendary big-man-turned-coach, a long-anticipated move.
- The Hoyas went 75-109 over the last six seasons, the worst mark of any Big East team. That span included a Big East-record 29 consecutive conference losses.
- Ewing's final game was an 80-48 loss to Villanova in the first round of the Big East Tournament.
- The high point came in 2021, when the Hoyas stunningly won the Big East Tournament with four wins in four days. They then lost to Colorado by 23 in the Round of 64.
Our Matt Norlander has a list of candidates to replace Ewing, and there are plenty of big names on it.
Meanwhile, Kansas head coach Bill Self will miss the Big 12 Tournament after he was hospitalized Wednesday. Assistant Norm Roberts coached the Jayhawks to a 78-61 win over West Virginia on Thursday.
- Here's what the Jayhawks had to say about playing without their coach.
- A Kansas statement said Self "underwent a standard procedure that went well" and is "expected to make a full recovery."
- Self is expected to coach in the NCAA Tournament.
Kansas will face Iowa State in the Big 12 Tournament semifinals today.
Does Matthew Stafford being shopped signal a Rams rebuild? 🏈
This week started with Derek Carr signing with the Saints and Geno Smith re-signing with the Seahawks. Might it end with more quarterback movement?
We've known about Aaron Rodgers for a bit, but could Matthew Stafford also be on the move? The Super Bowl LVI champion is the subject of trade chatter as the Rams consider a teardown.
- Jalen Ramsey has reportedly been shopped, too. Linebacker Leonard Floyd is expected to be released or traded.
- Officially, Stafford has $63 million guaranteed remaining on his latest contract extension, which could be a sticking point.
- Rams GM Les Snead, when comparing his team to a house, called Stafford, Aaron Donald and Cooper Kupp "weight-bearing walls." So it doesn't seem like he wants to move Stafford, but things obviously can change.
Players Championship: Morikawa, Scheffler start strong while McIlroy struggles ⛳
The first round of the Players Championship is almost in the books -- darkness forced Thursday's action to end prematurely -- and Chad Ramey leads the way after firing an 8-under 64. But it might not be a restful night of sleep for the 18-hole leader, because there are big names behind him.
- Collin Morikawa is one shot back, there are three players three shots back, and Scottie Scheffler is one of six players four shots back.
- To say Ramey leading is a surprise is an understatement. He has one career PGA Tour win and has missed the cut in three of his six PGA Tour events this year.
- Rory McIlroy, meanwhile, is way off the pace after shooting a 4-over 76. A shocking missed cut is a possibility, writes our Kyle Porter.
Morikawa -- whose ups are spectacular and downs are really down -- had it all working, Kyle writes in his takeaways. One of the best parts of TPC Sawgrass is the water on the 17th and 18th holes, and we saw the very best and worst in Round 1.
- Hayden Buckley made a hole-in-one on 17.
- Aaron Wise dumped three drives into the water and made 10 on 18.
Here are Round 2 tee times and pairings.
What we're watching this weekend 📺
🏀 We're watching college basketball all weekend. Here's the schedule.
⚾ We're also watching the World Baseball Classic. Here's the schedule.
🏀 Cavaliers at Heat, 8 p.m. on NBA TV
🏀 Raptors at Lakers, 10:30 p.m. on NBA TV
🏒 Flyers at Penguins, 3:30 p.m. on ABC
🏀 Bucks at Warriors, 8:30 p.m. on ABC
🏒 Bruins at Red Wings, 1:30 p.m. on TNT
🏀 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship Selection Show, 6 p.m. on CBS
🏀 NCAA Women's Basketball Championship Selection Show, 8 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 Knicks at Lakers, 9 p.m. on ESPN