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Thursday Therapy: Oh Canada, Tourney Time, Tank-off!

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The Minnesota Timberwolves travel to New York to see their neighbors at the bottom of the league, the Knicks. Will they play more than seven players? Will the Knicks play Alexey Shved 48 minutes? And who should we be watching on the first day of the NCAA Tournament?

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning. Being a Timberwolves fan today may mean watching a whole lot of basketball. Let's dive right in before we think too hard.

Last Night, This Morning

  • If you hadn't heard, the Timberwolves played across the border in Canada last night and lost, 105-100, to the Toronto Raptors. Andrew Wiggins scored 15 points in his first game as a professional in his home country, and struggled with foul trouble for most of the night. Lindsey has your recap here.
  • If you haven't read the excellent piece from Harsh Dave at Raptors HQ about Wiggins' homecoming that's been linked on the front page, check it out here.
  • Media reports from last night: HomeStrib recap | AwayRaptors HQ recapToronto Star recap | Bruce Arthur of the Star on WigginsTSN recap

Other NBA News and Notes

  • The Philadelphia 76ers won last night (94-83 over Detroit) and are now 1.5 games better than both the Timberwolves and Knicks, who are tied at 14-53. Tonight's game in New York determines who heads into the final fourteen games of the season in the driver's seat for the best odds at the #1 overall pick. Liberty Ballers has a nice piece on the Tanking Rankings.
  • In the second and final regular season match between the two best teams in the league so far this year, the Warriors comfortably beat the Hawks, holding serve after the Hawks beat them at home.
  • The Western Conference playoff race is a complete mess, and it's awesome. The Blazers lost to the Heat, powered by Dwayne Wade's 32 points. Meanwhile, the Spurs, Thunder, Mavs and Clippers all won. Portland dropped below Houston into the 4 seed, while LA, Dallas and San Antonio stayed steady at 5, 6 and 7 respectively. Those five teams plus Memphis at 2 are separated by only 4.5 games. Pretty much anything could happen at this point. OKC, meanwhile, snagged a temporary half-game lead over New Orleans for the 8 seed. Phoenix (also off) is down by 3 games.
  • In the East, the 7 and 8 seeds will be interesting. Currently inhabiting the 8 seed: the Boston Celtics! Paul Flannery of the mothership has a great article on how the Celtics are somehow in the playoff race while still developing (not just because they're in the East). Miami (7), Boston, Indiana and Charlotte are separated by 1.5 games, with Milwaukee (2.5 up on Miami) and Brooklyn (2 down on Charlotte, 2.5 from 8th) not completely out of the picture. Miami won on Wednesday, while Boston, Indiana, Milwaukee and Brooklyn all lost. The Eastern Conference, ladies and gentlemen.

College Ball

  • The NCAA Tournament's Round of 64 begins today. Some games that might draw your attention:
  • (2) Arizona vs. (15) Texas Southern, 1:10pm CT, TNT: Stanley Johnson of Arizona is in many draft top tens, and while the Timberwolves are unlikely to move low enough to end up with Johnson, he's definitely one to keep an eye on.
  • (10) Ohio State vs. (7) VCU, 3:40pm CT, TNT: D'Angelo Russell and the Buckeyes are underdogs to VCU in their opening game. Russell hasn't had much of a supporting cast this year but as a likely top-5 pick in the draft, he's got the potential to carry any game. I'm hoping the Buckeyes can win this so we can see a bit more tournament Russell.
  • (16) Hampton vs. (1) Kentucky, 8:40pm CT, CBS: The big one. Karl-Anthony Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein, and John Calipari's parade of draft prospects start off their quest for a national championship against Hampton, who won a play-in game on Tuesday to be here. This will likely be one of the ugliest games of the tournament, but will it be uglier to watch than Timberwolves-Knicks? You decide!

Cricket Update

  • For those of you who remember my extended bit on the Cricket World Cup over the All-Star Break, an update: the tournament is now into the quarterfinals, with one complete, one currently in progress (as I type this at quarter to 1am CT), and two to come this week.
  • South Africa absolutely annihilated Sri Lanka yesterday, breaking a streak of losing knockout matches in major tournaments that had them labeled as chokers for many years. This was kind of a sad way to bid farewell to two of the greatest cricketers in history, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara of Sri Lanka, but goodbyes can't always be perfect. They both retired from ODIs at the end of this tournament, which for them, is now. | South Africa 134/1 beat Sri Lanka 133 all out by 9 wickets (192 balls remaining): Cricinfo match report
  • (updated 7:55am) Likely to be the most lopsided of the four quarterfinals, surprise entrants Bangladesh are currently bowling bowled to India, who chose to bat first. Bangladesh got in by knocking England out of the competition last week, to much dismay in the British Isles, which was pretty delightful for anyone not supporting England. A Bangladesh win here would have been an incredible upset. I'll update this in the morning with more. Bangladesh couldn't keep wickets up during the chase, and were bowled out well behind India's total. | India 302/6 beat Bangladesh 193 all out by 109 runs: Cricinfo match report
  • Later this week are Australia-Pakistan and New Zealand-West Indies. Pakistan had to win their final group match with Ireland to beat them clear of the group, and the Irish, who put up a great fight through most of the tournament, beating both Zimbabwe and the West Indies, couldn't get one more great performance out. New Zealand (along with India) swept their six group stage matches, so my pick for the title is still looking good.

Music

Well, that was a ridiculously long post for a morning thread. Let's finish it off with some tunes, shall we? Still a bit in my Irish jollies from Tuesday, and Boston and New York are both in the Northeast, right? Happy Thursday, all.

PS: I'm planning on being in the Twin Cities and attending the game on Wednesday of next week against the Lakers. Any advice on places to stay and other things to do while in town would be much appreciated! It'll be my first game actually going to Target Center for a game. I'm stoked.