Sports News of the Week: UNC Spoils Coach K Celebrations in Durham, Alex Bowman Wins the Pennzoil 400, and 75k Soccer Fans Sing the National Anthem

by Chris Haney
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As we look back at the last week of sports, we’re revisiting stories from a variety of leagues. Once again, we’ve got huge college basketball stories highlighted by UNC’s upset of Duke as the university celebrated Coach K in what was Mike Krzyzewski’s last home game. We’re also looking back at the winner of Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race and updating you on the Major League Baseball lockout. Additionally, we’re sharing a touching moment at an MLS game that saw 75,000 fans band together to sing the national anthem as one. Here’s your last week in sports and what’s coming up next.

What to Watch For This Week In Sports

  • All of the major NCAA conference basketball tournaments begin this week. That includes the ACC, Big 12, Big 10, Pac-12, SEC and more as March Madness gets underway.
  • 2022 NCAA Selection Sunday is March 13, so make sure to join an office pool or five and start filling out your tournament brackets.
  • The Ruoff Mortgage 500 at Phoenix Raceway is up next on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule.
  • Plenty of huge NBA matchups throughout the week as teams jockey for a playoff spot.

In Case You Missed It

  • The North Carolina Tar Heels upset the No.4 Duke Blue Devils and spoiled Coach K’s going away party.
  • NASCAR driver Alex Bowman won the Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday.
  • Major League Baseball has officially pushed back Opening Day after canceling regular season games.
  • Colby Covington won by decision against Jorge Masvidal in the UFC 272 main event.
  • L.A. Lakers forward LeBron James turned back the clock and dropped 56 points in a comeback win against the Golden State Warriors.
  • The Green Bay Packers have offered quarterback Aaron Rodgers a new long-term deal in hopes of keeping the NFL MVP in Wisconsin.
  • The newest MLS team, Charlotte FC, broke a league record during their first home game on Saturday for the highest attendance ever at a game.

UNC Spoils Duke’s Going Away Party For Coach K

On Saturday evening, longtime Duke men’s basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski stepped onto the hardcourt of Cameron Indoor Stadium one last time. The Blue Devils welcomed their rival North Carolina Tar Heels to Durham for the second round of their annual regular season matchups. Duke dominated the first game against the Heels in Chapel Hill earlier this season. However, No.4-ranked Duke got all they could handle from Carolina this weekend.

As Coach K brings his career to a close in Durham, Saturday’s game was his last at home before he retires after the 2022 NCAA Tournament. Former players, coaches, alumni, and even celebrities packed into Cameron Indoor to see Krzyzewski and his team run out on Coach K Court one last time. Fans paid insane ticket prices to witness Krzyzewski’s last home game with average prices going for more than $5,000 per ticket. For most in attendance, they’d leave disappointed as Coach K and his team were left stunned at home.

No matter the rankings, the Carolina-Duke rivalry is always a toss up, which the Tar Heels proved once again. After a close first half, UNC ran away with the game and pulled off the huge upset 94-81 while ruining the send off for Coach K. Fans seemed shocked, Duke assistant Chris Carrawell snubbed UNC coach Hubert Davis in the handshake line, and Krzyzewski himself even addressed the crowd afterward and apologized for the loss. Considering Coach K is the winningest men’s college basketball head coach ever, no apologies were needed.

Alex Bowman Wins the Pennzoil 400 In Las Vegas

On Sunday afternoon, NASCAR returned to Las Vegas as  Alex Bowman took the checkered flag at the Pennzoil 400. Bowman only led for 16 of the 274 laps at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. But he made a late push at the right time for his seventh Cup Series win of his career.

A large wreck with only four laps to go completely changed the outcome of the race. Previously, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. looked like they would fight it out for the victory since the pair had a five-second lead on the rest of the pack. Yet wrecks and a restart would alter the race entirely in the last few laps.

Kyle Larson, Alex Bowman, and William Byron would come away from the restart in the front of the field. Meanwhile, Busch fell back to fourth place and Truex Jr. dropped to the sixth position. That opened the door for Bowman and the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet to take the lead and the checkered flag.

That makes two wins in a row for Hendrick Motorsports and their stock cars. Last week, driver Kyle Larson also took the checkered flag at the Auto Club 400 in Fontana, California. Can Team Hendrick keep their hot streak alive with three consecutive wins while in Phoenix this weekend at the Ruoff Mortgage 500?

Major League Baseball Has Officially Delayed Opening Day

On Tuesday of last week, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred revealed that the ongoing MLB lockout would delay Opening Day for the 2022 regular season. As of now, the first two series of the new season have been canceled, and more could follow. The league already delayed spring training, but the entire preseason is now canceled after the MLB and the Players Association failed to agree on a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

“My deepest hope is we get an agreement quickly,” Manfred said to reporters after the announcement. “I’m really disappointed we didn’t make an agreement.”

On Sunday, the MLB and MLBPA met again in New York City to try to work out a new deal. Yet once again the two sides reached an impasse and remain far apart on an agreement. That means it’s looking more likely that further games will be canceled in the near future. If they don’t figure out a deal soon, MLB fans might miss out on the entire 2022 season.

Charlotte FC Breaks Attendance Record, Belts Out National Anthem

As big as soccer is worldwide, “The Beautiful Game” still isn’t exactly on every American’s list of favorite sports. However, interest continues to build in the sport as more cities across the nation get their own professional team. That was evident over the weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina as Major League Soccer welcomed its newest team to the league.

On Saturday night, Charlotte Football Club (Charlotte FC) played their inaugural home game at Bank of America Stadium. CFC will share the stadium with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, which has a capacity of around 75,000 seats. The team welcomed 74,479 attendees on their debut and set an MLS attendance record along the way. It’s another promising sign for American soccer and its growth in this country. But the game this weekend also made for an especially patriotic and viral moment before kick off.

During the pre-game festivities, Charlotte welcomed Michelle Brooks-Thompson, a former Season 3 finalist on NBC’s The Voice, to sing the national anthem. Due to technical difficulties, the crowd and fans watching at home only heard her sing the first two lines of the song. Unfortunately, her microphone cut out for the majority of the anthem. Yet the largest crowd to ever attend an MLS game stepped up and belted out the anthem in her place.

Without skipping a beat, fans from all over came together to sing our nation’s anthem. What started out as a disaster became an emotional rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Fans banded together in a touching moment of unity. In a country that often feels divided, it’s a reminder that that our differences are smaller than they may seem. On Sunday, Brooks-Thompson touched on just that in an interview.

“It definitely wasn’t what we wanted at first,” Brooks-Thompson told the Charlotte Observer‘s Scott Fowler. “But you know what? It became a magical moment.”

“We have a lot of disagreements in our country right now,” she added. “But last night, you had 74,000 people in agreement to sing for our country. It doesn’t get a lot better than that.”

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