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Good morning. One year ago, Adam Silver postponed the NBA season. Like the rest of us, he had no clue how long it’d take to come back. “I thought when we shut down, we’d be taking a 30-day hiatus.”
Anyway, 49 days until the NFL Draft. Let's get to it.
- Blake
In today's Sprint:
⚽️  What a goal
⚾️  Breaking down arbitration
🏈  Open letter
Trivia: Who has the most goals in Champions League history?
  1. Cristiano Ronaldo
  2. Lionel Messi
  3. Ronaldinho
  4. Thierry Henry

AROUND THE LEAGUES
Fireworks
In classic European soccer tradition, PSG fans took to the streets at 4AM and set off fireworks outside the Barcelona team hotel. Apparently with Neymar out, PSG fans felt their team needed a little help.
The strategy worked. Despite plenty of opportunities, Barca failed to score more than one goal. In fact, they looked a little sleepy.
PSG 5 vs. Barcelona 2, on aggregate
  • Lionel Messi scored from absurd range and Barcelona dominated the run of play. But PSG goalie Keylor Navas made eight saves in the first half to keep PSG in control.
Liverpool 4 vs. RB Leipzig 0, on aggregate
  • Sadio Mane and Mo Salah scored within four minutes of each other as Liverpool finally looked like the team to win last year’s Champions League.
NBA
(19-16) Dallas Mavericks 115 vs. (18-15) San Antonio Spurs 104
  • Lonnie Walker’s circus shot overshadowed big nights from Mavs’ Kristaps Porzingas (28 pts, 14 reb) and Spurs’ Demar DeRozan (30 pts, 11 ast).
College Basketball - Men's
Big 12 First Round: (15-9) #25 Oklahoma 79 vs. (2-22) Iowa State 73
  • Iowa State managed to go 0-19 in the Big 12 this year, just two years removed from being Big 12 Tournament champs.
ACC Second Round: (13-11) Duke 70 vs. (13-7) Louisville 56
  • Duke’s Mark Williams (23 pts, 19 reb) dominated both ends of the floor. Duke just needs three more wins for the ACC title...
College Basketball - Women's
AAC Semifinals: (17-3) #20 South Florida 51 vs. (17-8) Tulane 47
  • After Tulane’s bench reportedly called her a baby, USF’s Maria Alvarez hit four clutch threes to help the Bulls escape the upset.
NHL
(17-11-0) Edmonton Oilers 7 vs. (9-18-1) Ottawa Senators 1
  • The Oilers scored more than twice their average goals per game (3.19), including 4 in the first period.

BASEBALL
It's Arbitrary
Somehow, we're only 21 days from MLB Opening Day. The Texas Rangers plan to allow full capacity on Opening Day, becoming the first U.S. sporting event to do so since golf’s Players Championship on March 12, 2020.
The MLB off-season featured:
  • Owners involved in the Robinhood fiasco
  • Blockbuster trades
  • The lesser known, and very confusing, arbitration process
What’s arbitration, you ask?
If a team and player don’t agree on a salary by mid-January, then each party gives their salary target to arbitrators for a scheduled hearing in February.
Players with more than three but less than six years of Major League service qualify.
The decision: Imagine a courtroom. At the hearing, each party pleads their case to an independent panel of arbitrators. That panel then sides with either the player or club, and the salary is set for one year.
Both teams and players try to avoid arbitration. This year, only a few star players had to go:
  • Carlos Correa (Astros)
  • Dansby Swanson (Braves)
  • Ian Happ (Cubs)

THURSDAY WATCHLIST
NBA
Brooklyn Nets (24-13) vs. Boston Celtics (19-17) - 7:30 ET on TNT
Golden State Warriors (19-18) vs. LA Clippers (24-14) - 10:00 ET on TNT
College Basketball - Men's
#10 West Virginia (18-8) vs. #12 Oklahoma State (18-7) - 11:30 AM ET
#16 Virginia (17-6) vs. Syracuse (16-8) - 12:00 PM ET on ACCN
#19 San Diego State (20-4) vs. Wyoming (14-10) - 3:00 ET on CBSSN
College Basketball - Women's
#13 Michigan (14-4) vs. Northwestern (14-7) - 1:00 ET on FS2
#9 Indiana (18-4) vs. Michigan State (14-7) - 6:30 ET on FS2
NHL
New York Rangers (10-11-3) vs. Boston Bruins (13-6-4) - 7:00 ET on ESPN+
Golf
The PLAYERS Championship - First Round - 12:00 ET on Golf Channel

WATER COOLER TALK
🏀  A team must have five active players to play in the NCAA Tournament. Otherwise, they’ll be replaced or disqualified. The NCAA must have forgotten how competitive Alabama was in this game back in 2017.
🏀  LaMarcus Aldridge and the Spurs “mutually agreed for him to work on opportunities elsewhere,” said coach Gregg Popovich.
⚾  The New York Mets practiced their World Series celebration. Obviously, this means they’ll miss the playoffs.
🏈  After the pandemic wrecked their 2020 seasons, the XFL and CFL are considering a partnership to expand the game of football.
🏈  Julian Edelman, who is Jewish, wrote an open letter to Meyers Leonard after the Miami Heat center used an anti-Semitic slur earlier this week. It’s well worth the read.
🎾  After 400+ days away from tennis, Roger Federer took the court and won his first match back. This time, he wasn't wearing Nike’s. Instead, he rocked his new signature shoe from On, a Swiss startup he’s invested in.

TRIVIA ANSWER
A. Cristiano Ronaldo owns the most Champions League goals with 134, including this beautiful bicycle kick against Juventus.