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To Be Overhyped, You Have To Be Hyped

First, we take one more look at the NCAA Tournaments as we close in on the Final Four. On the women’s side, a thrilling clash between Baylor and UConn (complete with a controversial non-call at the last second) helped pump up the interest in the women’s tournament — probably much more than the hyped UConn-Iowa clash in the Sweet 16. But all hype matters, and the strong class of freshman stars who are getting exposure now should help keep interest in the women’s game high for years to come. When it comes to the men’s side, the Hot Takedown team stumbles onto the idea that a good defense can win you a championship. At the very least, it’s helping Michigan and Houston stay competitive.

Next, we turn to Major League Baseball. The regular season begins Thursday, which means it’s time for us to draft our World Series picks. The Los Angeles Dodgers have the best odds according to our model and were indeed picked first by Geoff. But Sara’s first pick, the New York Yankees, are always dangerous, and the San Diego Padres, Neil’s first choice, are looking to improve on their great run from last season. We weigh whether there’s reason to be optimistic about the New York Mets (yes, as long as you’re not actually a Mets fan), whether the much-improved Toronto Blue Jays and trendy Chicago White Sox will disappoint (probably), and whether the Los Angeles Angels can finally win a playoff game (we can only hope). Whatever happens, we’re excited to have a full baseball season to chew on this year.   

Finally, in the Rabbit Hole, Neil looks at the implications of the NFL’s move to lengthen its regular season. In addition to added wear and tear on players, a 17-game season will change what we think of as a winning team record — it will be almost impossible for the Detroit Lions to go 8-8, just for starters — as well as what individual stats are actually impressive. A 4,000-yard passing season becomes 4,250 with the extra game. Peyton Manning’s all-time passing record is 5,477 yards — but that could be 5,819 in a 17-game schedule. That may not stop Patrick Mahomes, but it does throw some wrinkles into how we as fans think about football records. 

What we’re looking at this week: 

  • Michigan just keeps winning, despite its big injury. 
  • UConn takes a hard-fought thriller with Baylor.  
  • Our 2021 guide to the American League.  

Sarah Shachat is Hot Takedown’s producer.

Sara Ziegler is the former sports editor at FiveThirtyEight.

Neil Paine was the acting sports editor at FiveThirtyEight.

Geoff Foster is the former sports editor of FiveThirtyEight.