Ebs’ Hot Takes: March Madness Final, Yankees, Mets, Russell Westbrook, Hawks


WILKES-BARRE, PA – It’s a big Monday in the sporting world! 

Not only is the NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship Game Monday night, but it also marks the first full slate of the MLB season. It’s an exciting day for any sports fan.

I was going to do an Ebs’ One Big Thing on just the national championship game this week, but I wanted to appease the masses and touch on as many topics as possible.

So instead, we’ll have a brand new set of Ebs’ Hot Takes.


Joel Berry II will be the reason North Carolina cuts down the nets Monday night. North Carolina guard Joel Berry II won’t be the best player to take the court Monday – that title goes to UNC wing Justin Jackson – but his veteran presence will be the difference.

Berry isn’t close to 100 percent healthy, and doesn’t need to score 25 points to make a an impact for the Tar Heels. He just needs to control the game and put UNC’s pieces like Jackson, Kennedy Meeks and Theo Pinson in position to make plays.

This Gonzaga team is talented, and it’s the best team Mark Few has had yet. So Monday will not be a cake walk for the Tar Heels, however, I do like their chances.

While the Zags have plenty of talent, and may very well be the favorite when this game tips off, UNC has been here before. You don’t think that Kris Jenkins’ game-winning shot from a year ago has been played over and over again in the heads of the Tar Heels for the last 365 days? Because it has.

The combination of Berry and Jackson will be too much for the Zags.

Also, has this been the best March Madness in recent history?

Don’t panic about Masahiro Tanaka. While I find it out that Masahiro Tanaka’s reasoning for his horrid start Sunday was because he thought he might have been too hyped for the Opening Day start odd, I am in no way panicking about the New York Yankees ace.

In fact, I bought two shares of Tanaka in fantasy baseball this year.

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Tanaka allowed one run all spring and has struggled against the Tampa Bay Rays in recent history – he allowed a four-run first inning the last time these two teams met.

I actually see Tanaka bouncing back in a big way.

Could this be the season Tanaka finally wins the AL Cy Young award? I think so.

Did you know that Tanaka has the best winning percentage in the AL since 2014?

This is the season Tanaka puts it all together.

The New York Mets are primed for a postseason run. Do I think the New York Mets are going to go out and win the World Series?

Probably not. I still think they’ll have to go through teams like the Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals first, but I do think a postseason run is certainly possible.

While I believe their postseason path begins in the wild card game, the Mets have the pitching to win win-and-advance games. If the offense and pitchers can stay healthy – and that’s a big if – this team could be a dangerous out this fall.

My one worry with this team is their offensive firepower. Outside of Yoenis Cespedes and maybe Jay Bruce, is there anyone in this lineup that you actually fear? Ehh.

Pitching is going to have to lead the way.

Russell Westbrook is the real MVP. There isn’t much of a debate for the NBA MVP this year. Russell Westbrook is averaging a triple-double and just recorded his 40th of the season. 

Sure, LeBron James is the best player on the planet and James Harden is having a phenomenal season, but look at what Westbrook is doing with what’s around him.

Kevin Durant left Oklahoma City for Golden State in the offseason and then Serge Ibaka was traded away. Yet the Thunder have already locked up a playoff spot and are a real threat in the Western Conference.

Honestly, I don’t think the Atlanta Hawks are going to make the playoffs. I know most of you, if not all of you, could care less about the Atlanta Hawks, but I need to vent for a second.

Guys, the Hawks are about to miss the playoffs for the first time in 10 seasons.

Not too long ago they were 37-29 and comfortably in the playoff picture. But after going 2-9 in their last 11 games, the Hawks have dropped to sixth in the East and with such a tight window – five teams separated by three games – and Atlanta’s remaining games – Boston Celtics, two games against the Cleveland Cavaliers, one against the Charlotte Hornets and one against the Indiana Pacers – things look bleak.

I just don’t know.

Atlanta’s hope is that Paul Millsap’s return this past weekend is the spark they needed to get back on the right track.

Come back tomorrow for Ben Whitney and please follow us on Twitter at @ByDJEberle & @MeetTheMatts, Instagram @MeetTheMatts and like our Facebook page, Meet The Matts.

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About the Author ()

DJ Eberle: The youngest of our team, DJ is also the largest. Offensive Tackle Large. In fact, this Albany native used OT for Western New England University – until he graduated in May of 2014. Like Junoir Blaber, he’s a regular on Rugby Wrap Up – his dad played rugby with The Matts. His cross to bear, however, is his love for the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres. As for baseball and basketball, it’s the Yanks and Atlanta Hawks. Follow him on Twitter: @ByDJEberle.


    I am already worried about the Yanks rotation. Tanaka and his injury don’t help.

    • We’re more worried that DJ Eberle has lost the last three marbles in his head, what with the Cy Tanaka claims. Matz has a better shot.

      • DJ Eberle

        If Rick Porcello can win a Cy Young, so can Tanaka.

        • Tanaka is less reliable than Harvey and Matz combined.

          • Dude

            wasn’t tanaka the villain in a james bond movie?

    • DJ Eberle

      Tanaka isn’t injured?

      • Uh, he’s been pitching with a tear for two years…

        • DJ Eberle

          Yeah for two years and he’s pitched really well. It’s nothing new.

  • jgclancy

    I ran to the store for some half & half for my coffee—gotta have half & half. There were a “gaggle of goons” all decked out in Mets gear waiting for their private bus to take themto Shea..Yes–it’s Shea to me now and forever. It was sight to behold. All the different shirts & jerseys with varying icon names…….hope they have a last and I am envious they can get the food courts there.
    Go A’s!!!!

    • Junoir Blaber

      It’s cool to be a Mets fan again Clancy! Didn’t ya know!

  • DJ, you had Atlanta right but you got the sport wrong. It’s that Braves that are relevant today. The Hawks are only relevant on April Fool’s Day and February 30th.

    • Dude

      the hawks were only relevant in the ’90’s when dominique and spud webb were in the dunk contest, and only on that day. no one cares about the hawks.

      • AngryWard

        What difference does it make if the Hawks make the playoffs. How did they fare their previous nine trips?

        • Dude

          better than their trips to nyc nightclubs. it doesn’t matter what the hawks do, no one will ever care

  • Buddy Diaz

    Is it a bad omen when the Yankees best pitcher gets rocked the way he did. Next up CC throwing 85mph and Michael Pineda who always throws down the middle.

    I know the season is one day in but I’m definitely in panic mode with the pitching staff. Can we go back to spring training again?

    • AngryWard

      Yanks always start slow. don’t panic yet. Save that panic for July, when you’ll need it.

      • Dude

        the yankee season is just a year long audition to see who can hit and who they can package for vets in a trade.

  • Cheesybruin

    The Mets are on pace to go 162-0.

    • AngryWard

      This is not fake news.

      • jgclancy

        They are in 1st Place officially

  • AngryWard

    Russell Westbrook will win the MVP, but you saying that OKC is a real threat in the West is a huge stretch, and I’m being kind. They fall well behind the likes of Golden State, San Antonio and Houston and maybe Utah, when it comes to being a threat. I think Memphis is more of a threat. Tanaka winning the CY is laughable.

    • Dude

      ward did you even know what the nba was before two years ago?

      • AngryWard

        I can pick Larry Smith and Artis Gilmore and Dan Issel out of a lineup, if that’s what you’re getting at, Dude. Do you really want to be an NBA snob? Is that what it’s come to? It’s a gateway to the lowest of the low… Rugby Snob.

        • GrindingAx

          Lol…Just lol…

        • Dude

          snobbery? no not at all, Just never heard you once talk about the nba until your dub’s won it all. now your an expert on the western conference. fishy

          • AngryWard

            There’s just no way I can let DJ go on and on and on about LeBron and Westbrook and not comment. If you ever want to examine my “long-suffering sports fan” credentials, be my guest.

    • DJ Eberle

      If Rick Porcello can win a CY Young, so can Tanaka.

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