Greg Cote

Hot Button: Marlins, NCAAs, playoff chases make list

1. MARLINS

Opening Day! Fish open new baseball season here Tuesday: Twenty-three years after Charlie Hough’s knuckleball christened a franchise, the 2016 Marlins debut here Tuesday vs. Detroit. Season’s too long and fans still hate Jeffrey Loria, but it’s Opening Day, so no complaining till next week!

2. COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Finally, the Final! Men’s NCAAs reach Monday crescendo: At last we’re down to Monday’s NCAA Tournament championship game in Houston after Saturday’s Villanova-Oklahoma and North Carolina-Syracuse Final Four. Quick aside to NCAA: About your March Madness, um, it’s now April.

4. HEAT

Jockeying for playoffs continues: With only six games left in the NBA regular season, we still don’t know where Miami will finish, who first playoff foe will be or if Heat will have home-court edge. What we do know: Meeting and beating LeBron James will make Miami’s season.

4. PANTHERS

NHL playoffs loom: Only four games remain in a continuing fight for the division title and to determine the first-round playoff opponent. One certainty, though: For only the fifth time in 22 franchise seasons, lil’ ol’ Florida will be in play to win Lord Stanley’s Cup.

5. TENNIS

It’s championship weekend in upset-strewn Miami Open: Upsets and illness in Key Biscayne left the men’s and women’s brackets in as much a shambles as my NCAA bracket as the final weekend neared. But, like a cockroach after Armageddon, top-ranked Novak Djokovic survived.

Read an updated, expanded Hot Button Top 10 every Sunday in Greg’s Random Evidence blog.

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