Sports Briefs: 03-02-21

  • Fans stand as the North Carolina basketball team enters the court for their game against Florida State on Saturday, February 27, 2021, in Chapel Hill, N.C. (Robert Willett/The News & Observer via AP)

NIT moves 2021 event to Texas, interrupting an 83-year NY run

DALLAS — The NIT is moving the entire 2021 event to Texas, taking the semifinals and championship game out of New York’s Madison Square Garden for the first time in the 83-year history of college basketball’s oldest postseason tournament.

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The pandemic is also reducing the field to 16 teams from the usual 32, and all games are set for the Dallas area. The two venues are the University of North Texas in Denton and an arena in Frisco that is home to a G League team affiliated with the Dallas Mavericks.

First-round games will be played March 17-20, with the quarterfinals March 25. The semifinals are set for March 27, followed by the championship game the next day. Specific arenas for each round weren’t announced Monday.

The field will be announced after the NCAA Tournament is set March 14.

The NIT champion has been crowned in New York every year since the tournament started in 1938. Earlier rounds normally are held at the venues of designated home teams.

Last year’s cancellation because of COVID-19 was the first in the event’s history. The Texas Longhorns won the most recent NIT in 2019.

Cardinals agree to terms with free agent edge rusher JJ Watt

TEMPE, Ariz. — J.J. Watt has agreed to a two-year contract with the Arizona Cardinals, showing that the franchise will be aggressive once again in their push to snap a five-year playoff drought.

The team announced the deal with the free-agent edge rusher on Monday. Watt was released last month by the Houston Texans, for whom he won three NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards.

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A person familiar with the contract told The Associated Press that the total package is worth $31 million. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team did not reveal any terms.

A five-time All-Pro, Watt — who turns 32 in three weeks — has been one of the NFL’s best players for a decade, but asked out in Houston, which is undergoing a roster upheaval. Watt joins another former Texans star, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, in Arizona. Hopkins was acquired by the Cardinals in a one-sided trade a year ago.

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