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Announcing Chris and Andy's debut on HBO Now.
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The Ringer
In the April 4 newsletter, we announce Chris and Andy’s debut on HBO Now and round up our MLB Ringers.

HBO and The Ringer Present After the Thrones

According to the Maesters, an epic show deserves an epic conversation, so Chris Ryan and Andy Greenwald are answering the call with After the Thrones. Beginning April 25, they will host a weekly Game of Thrones recap show every Monday on HBO Now, breaking down each week’s episode. For more information, visit our show page. Banter is coming!

After the Thrones
Kyle Schwarber
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Meet The Ringer’s 2016 MLB Ringers!

By Ringer staff

Happy Opening Day, cherished readers! Three games are already in the books, but the full slate arrives today (well, other than Astros-Yankees, which inclement weather has cruelly postponed, and Tigers-Marlins, which for some maddening was scheduled for Tuesday). The Ringer’s resident baseball fans are super pumped, and we want to share our glee with you by gushing over the nine players we’re most excited about entering the season. Peace, love, and baseball.

Bryan Curtis: Rangers 2B Rougned Odor. How's this for a don't-get-too-excited/wait-I'm-already-excited spring training moment? On March 25, Odor homered three times against the Padres, giving Rangers fans who were already feeling good about themselves an extra jolt. In the debit column: We get headlines like "Funky Odor," surely just one of many groaners. But what a small price to pay for upside.

Robert Mays: Cubs LF Kyle Schwarber. Explain to me how this is the work of an actual human person. Really, I'll wait. I think Dennis Eckersley said it best: "Mercy. What in the world?"

Sean Fennessey: Mets LF Michael Conforto. Last night's platonic disaster of an opener notwithstanding, this could be a special season for the Mets.

[Waits to be struck by lightning bolt.]

OK, I'm still alive and so is Keith Hernandez. Pundits have pointed toward the young arms in Flushing, but the thumper hitting sixth is the reason to dream again. A 2014 first-round pick out of Oregon State, Conforto is the kind of disciplined power bat the Mets have developed only once — the declining, depressing David Wright. The 23-year-old Conforto was on base four times last night, and was the only Met who seemed ready for the season. May he wake his teammates with one of these soon.

Chris Ryan: Phillies 3B Maikel Franco. On Friday, Maikel Jack Franco (not his real middle name) launched a ball into the Philly night sky that will land sometime around the Democratic National Convention in July. Get used to this. Franco hit nine homers in spring training and looks to be fully recovered from the wrist injury that disrupted his 2015 season, right when he was doing stuff like this at third:

Craig Gaines: Dodgers SP Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw has had an unlucky 13 playoff appearances. OK, some of them have been plain bad (his personal bird of ill omen is the cardinal), but Kersh didn’t put Hanley Ramirez at short or build bullpens out of spare parts bound by Brian Wilson’s loose whiskers. In this first season after his Sundance Kid’s departure for millions and mediocrity in Arizona, I will be following this generation’s best pitcher more keenly than ever, fervently hoping all summer that he’ll get a chance to unleash Public Enemy No. 1 in postseason appearances 14, 15, 16 …

Mallory Rubin: Orioles 2B Jonathan Schoop. You already know that the Orioles have an MVP-caliber infielder in his early 20s who’s capable of pairing Gold Glove defense with a 30-homer season. What you might not know is that they actually have two: Schoop, henceforth referred to as “Johnny Baseball,” can’t match Manny Machado’s fame or five-tool production, but he might be able to match his dinger and web-gem totals this season. And boy, is that cause for celebration!

Megan Schuster: Twins CF Byron Buxton. Buxton spent his spring training making highlight-reel catches, enjoying the Florida sunshine, and prepping to make his first Opening Day roster. If his bat can catch up to his speed and defensive skills, then we might be able to justify that Mike Trout comparison. (OK, that's still a reach.)

Tate Frazier: Yankees SP Luis Severino. He's 22. He throws an absurd cutter that baffles batters on both sides of the plate. He's fourth in this year’s rotation, but he’s the future for the Pinstripes. And he's got the best ears in baseball, bar none.

Geoff Chow: Dodgers 2B Chase Utley. That hair. That “slide.” What else is there to say?

Brice Johnson UNC
Getty Images

Your 2016 NCAA Tournament Champion Will Be the Team That Thinks Big

By Jonathan Tjarks

Schools need strong guard play to make the Final Four, but that alone won’t make a national champion. Once you advance that far into the tournament, everyone has good guards; the advantage of having an exceptional backcourt is neutralized. To become a national champion, the deciding edge has to be found elsewhere on the roster. And often the players who put a college team head and shoulders above the rest are the ones who are literally head and shoulders above the rest.

We are only hours away from the national championship game, and the biggest question is which frontcourt will have the advantage. North Carolina and Villanova have been overwhelming smaller teams all tournament long, but something will have to give tonight.

As dominant as the Villanova big men have been, they haven’t faced anything like the Carolina frontline. Brice Johnson, Kennedy Meeks, and Isaiah Hicks were all top-50 recruits coming out of high school and are expected to be NBA draft picks. In their win against Syracuse on Saturday, the Tar Heels sent waves of talented big men at the Orange 2-3 zone. Johnson, Meeks, Hicks, and Joel James made plays in the high post and crashed the offensive glass, overwhelming a shallow and less talented frontline.

Nova’s Daniel Ochefu and Kris Jenkins are fringe NBA prospects at best. But they have proved that they can dominate undersize frontlines by forcing defenses to send double-teams, then promptly kicking the ball out to any one of Villanova’s knockdown shooters. Jenkins and Ochefu will face their greatest test on Monday night.

Roy Williams will have a number of frontcourt combinations tonight, but expect to see Johnson and Hicks the most. That would put his two fastest big men on the floor, force Ochefu to guard on the perimeter, and make Jenkins work hard on the boards.

The beauty of the NCAA tournament is that it tests every part of your team. Villanova has the guards to win it all. Now it’s time for the Wildcats’ big men to step up.

The Everybody Wants Some!!Dazed and Confused Conversion Chart

Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some!!, which was released last week, has been called a spiritual sequel to his 1993 classic, Dazed and Confused. Where Dazed was set on the last day of a Texas high school in 1976, Everybody tracks a college baseball team very much enjoying the first days of school in 1980. The films, each incredible hangout movies that you just want to sink into, share the theme of self-discovery and acutely study the way young people interact. And just as Dazed helped launch Ben Affleck’s and Matthew McConaughey’s careers, Everybody should jump-start the IMDbs of several of its stars.
 

Everybody Wants Some!!
Elias Stein
Diana Taurasi
Bill is joined by Diana Taurasi to discuss her WNBA return, UConn's dominance, and the stupidity of lowering rims.
The Pivot
Mallory and Tate break down tonight's national championship with the help of USA Today's Nicole Auerbach.
Episode 2
Geoff and House recap the WGC-Dell Match Play at Austin Country Club, look at the PGA Tour's future possibilities, and more.
 
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