Greg Cote

Marlins open, Madness closes to lead Heat, horses, tennis in week's Hot Button Top 5

pportal@elnuevoherald.com

1. MARLINS: Fish open 25th season with road trip: Play ball! Miami plays six straight away starting on Monday at Washington before opening at home April 11. This could be the year unpopular owner Jeffrey Loria finally sells the team. Which pretty much already makes it a successful season.

2. NCAA TOURNAMENT: Finally! Monday finale crowns champ: The season started with 351 teams from which 68 made the men's NCAA Tournament. Then it was down to 32, then 16 to eight to four and now to the final two and the long-awaited crescendo of March (into April) Madness.

3. HEAT: Playoffs loom as Miami winds down season: Heat is down to six games left as it angles for likely first-round playoff series vs. Celtics or Cavs. Miami's long climb back could be symbolized Sunday if it beats Denver here. Would be Heat's first time over .500 since record was 1-0.

4. HORSE RACING: Gulfstream hosts 66th Florida Derby: Gunnevera was betting favorite on Saturday to affirm its status as a Kentucky Derby frontrunner. By the way, it was nice to see horse racing the star at Gulfstream again for at least a day instead of the casino, poker, restaurants, etc.

5. TENNIS: Miami Open finishes with major Sunday men's final: Masters golf starts in four days and the Panthers officially were eliminated from NHL playoff contention, but our 5 spot swivels to the heavyweight men's title match the Miami Open dreamed of: Rafael Nadal vs. Roger Federer.

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