Villanova, meet the Big Easy. The Wildcats arrived on Thursday for their day in the Final Four media spotlight, seeming completely secure as the undercard. Jay Wright and Co. aren’t balking at Duke-North Carolina commanding the biggest stage considering it’s the first time the legendary programs have met in the NCAA Tournament and that Coach K guy has at most two games left in his illustrious career.
That leaves the Wildcats to focus on Kansas — just the way they want it. “I’m so worried about Kansas, honest to God,” Wright said.
And following all of the action will be Allan Ray, a member of Wright’s first recruiting class at Villanova who has become a must follow on social media for his insightful analysis of his former program.
— Inquirer Sports Staff, @phillysport
March Madness Memories
The Icons series, reflecting on the memorable players, personalities, and moments in Philadelphia sports history, continues today with a look at Jameer Nelson. The “little kid from Chester” went on to do big things and was one shot away from St. Joseph’s first Final Four in 43 years. Eighteen years later, he doesn’t regret anything about that game.
No active player has played more games than Jean Segura’s 1,230 without reaching the playoffs. Neither he nor the Phillies have played in the postseason since he debuted in 2012, but no one is more motivated than Segura. That’s part of the reason the 32-year-old showed up to spring training looking like he stole Lou Ferrigno’s quads: He wants to play 155 games and help the Phillies get to the playoffs, finally. And he’s running out of time.
Joe Girardi went with a lineup on Thursday that very well could be the Phillies’ regular look this season. And it’s stacked.
Phillies fans will hear Larry Andersen’s voice a lot less this season. The longtime Phillies radio announcer is reducing his role further this year and will call just 40 home weekend games.
Next: The Phillies play the Orioles at 1:05 p.m. Friday (NBCSP).
Off the Dribble
Could the 76ers have a vaccination problem that limits them in a potential playoff series with the Toronto Raptors? They’re not saying anything about it now. After the team declined to comment when asked by ESPN this week, coach Doc Rivers was asked about it Thursday by The Inquirer, and he responded, “We don’t talk about it.” Rivers said, “You will figure it out eventually,” and that could come next Thursday against the Raptors at Scotiabank Arena in the final stop of a three-game Sixers road trip.
Rivers doesn’t want James Harden to simply “fit in” with the Sixers offense. He wants Harden to be ... James Harden. “We need you to think of yourself as a scorer,” Rivers told Harden.
The Sixers looked out of sorts on Thursday night, though. They committed 15 turnovers in a loss to the lowly Detroit Pistons.
Next: Hornets at Sixers, 12:30 p.m. Saturday (NBCSP).
Eagles running back Boston Scott is a two-sport athlete, but not quite like Bo Jackson or Deion Sanders. Scott’s second sport doesn’t come with the same physical wear and tear of traditional sports. He excels as a competitive esports player in Rocket League and had attained “Grand Champion” status in the video game, which places him in the top .52% of over 6 million competitive players globally. He became the first NFL player to sign with a professional Rocket League team, Dignitas.
On the Fly
Another day, another new face at Flyers practice.
Ronnie Attard, who signed out of Western Michigan University on Tuesday, participated in his first activities as a Flyer on Thursday in Voorhees. Attard is the second player to join with the Flyers this week, following Noah Cates, who debuted on Tuesday.
The defenseman, who ranked third among all NCAA defenseman in points this season with 36, says he is excited for a “fresh start” with the Flyers and plans to “bring a lot of energy, a lot of emotion to the game.”
Next: Attard will make his NHL debut on Saturday against the Toronto Maple Leafs (7 p.m., NBCSP).
It’s contrary to the “Win and they’re in” mentality many have during March, but even with the closing-game qualifying loss to Costa Rica, the U.S. is firmly in the fall World Cup tournament.
Now the new campaign becomes an individual one, as players return to their club teams and try to perform in ways that not only help their organizations, but also convince U.S. skipper Greg Berhalter to put their names on the final World Cup roster. Jonathan Tannenwald has a roundup of all the best soccer games on TV this weekend.
Worth a Look
‘We need to stay positive’: Drexel squash player Alina Bushma’s family is back home in Kyiv, unable to flee the Russian invasion and doing what they can to help defend their homeland.
And Finally ...
We compiled today’s newsletter using reporting from Rob Tornoe, Andrea Canales, Jonathan Tannenwald, Alex Coffey, Marcus Hayes, Giana Han, Mike Sielski, Mike Jensen, Frank Fitzpatrick, Gina Mizell, Keith Pompey, and Ariel Simpson.