The NCAA basketball tournaments are, in my estimation, the greatest sporting events going. One of the things that adds to the excitement is that teams who previously didn't look like they were going to make the tournament can win their conference tourneys and, just like that, they've got an automatic bid. There are undoubtedly a number of fantasy hoops teams in H2H leagues that are in the "win and get in" portion of their season, as we enter the final week of regular season matchups. Congrats and good luck if you've already got a playoff spot locked up, and beware of those Cinderella teams that peak at the right time, sneak into the championship bracket at the last possible minute and ride the momentum to the league crown.
WEEKEND UPDATE: Need-to-know info from the past few days
• Gilbert Arenas will have an MRI on his left knee Monday, and could return to the court as soon as Wednesday if all goes well, according to the Washington Post. The crucial word is "could" in that scenario, however. Arenas said that he'll base his decision to come back not only on what he hears from doctors on Monday, but also will factor in "the scared part I have going on in the back of my head." What he's scared of is that another injury late in the current season could sideline him for most or all of the summer and would likely cost him millions of free-agent dollars. He has already said that he will opt out of the final year of his current contract and pursue a new deal, acting as his own representation. "If you were a general manager, would you pay someone max money if he's had three knee surgeries? I wouldn't. That's just business," Arenas said. "If I go out there, I can't be second-guessing. That's how you get hurt in the first place." Washington currently has a fairly stable grip on a playoff spot in the East, but Arenas didn't reference a potential playoff run in his recent interview, just that he's holding a "$100 million lottery ticket" that he can only lose by getting injured again. It's doubtful that Arenas will prolong his decision much longer once he has discussions about his MRI, so we should finally see his fate decided within the next few days.
Other injury Updates: Chris Bosh saw a gradual increase in his workload over the weekend and his knee has improved to the point that he's aiming for a Wednesday return to the Raptors' lineup, according to the Toronto Star. Rasho Nesterovic will head back to the bench once Bosh returns. … Shawn Marion has missed the past two games because of back spasms, and is day-to-day at this point. … Pau Gasol remains on an indefinite timetable with a sprained left ankle that was feeling "a little bit better" on Sunday. Lakers coach Phil Jackson said on Sunday, "We'd be happy if he gets back before the end of this next week." Ronny Turiaf gets a short-term boost in fantasy impact. … Ray Allen missed Saturday's game with a left heel injury but could return to the lineup on Monday, according to the Boston Globe. … David West will not play Monday because of his ankle sprain and is questionable for Wednesday's game as well, according to the Times Picayune. Melvin Ely and Julian Wright are seeing excess playing time in his stead. … Andrew Bogut did not practice much on Monday because of a deep left thigh bruise and is not likely to play on Tuesday. "As soon as I ran up and down the court a couple times, it was too much to handle," said Bogut on Monday. "There's no point playing [Tuesday] and being out another two or three weeks." … After missing five games with a right wrist injury, Yi Jianlian practiced with the Bucks on Monday and expects to be active on Tuesday. "It's getting better," Yi said. "There still a little bit of pain, but it's okay." There had been significant speculation that Yi was done for the season, with his focus being on 100 percent health for the Olympics in China this summer. Charlie Bell's value could take a hit with Yi back in the mix. … Udonis Haslem is closer to returning from a sprained ankle but won't play until "he's really 100 percent" according to Heat coach Pat Riley.
Lineup changes/position battles: Be careful not to read too much into Gordan Giricek's recent 18- and 23-point games for the Suns. He saw extended minutes thanks to the Suns leading both games by 31 points at the half, and has averaged 4.4 points in 11 minutes during his other five games with Phoenix. … Darius Songaila appears to have replaced Andray Blatche as the Wizards' injury sub of choice. He's started seven of the past eight games at either SF or C, averaging 11 points on 55 percent shooting, 4.6 boards and 1.4 steals in 29 minutes over that stretch. … Ronald Murray replaced Travis Diener as the Pacers' starting PG in their most recent game. Diener continues to struggle with his shooting (34 percent in March), while Murray has averaged 13.2 points and 1.7 steals over the past six games.
BARGAIN BIN: Top players available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues
Hakim Warrick (F – Memphis)
It's coming down to crunch time, so most league's FA lists have been picked pretty clean. That Warrick is the best of the bunch out there in the majority of leagues speaks to that. With that said, teams needing specific category help – as in points, field goal percentage and rebounds – should take a look at Warrick. He's started 14 of the past 15 games for the Grizzlies, averaging 17.8 points on 50 percent shooting and 8.4 boards during those games, and he should be looking at plenty of run the rest of the way.
MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values
Charlie Villanueva (F – Milwaukee) Yi Jianlian's injury has been a boon for Charlie V's fantasy value. Over the past six games, he's averaged 22.2 points, 1.3 threes, 9.3 boards, 0.7 steals and one block in 36 minutes per game.
Drew Gooden (PF – Chicago) Gooden has been validating his move to the starting lineup in place of Tyrus Thomas with strong play of late, averaging 14 points on 51 percent shooting, 9 boards, 2.4 assists, 0.9 steals and 2 blocks in 33 minutes over the past seven games.
Mickael Pietrus (GF – Golden State) Pietrus seems to agree with his stint as the Warriors' starting PF this time around. Over the past five games, all starts, he's averaged 13.2 points, 8.8 boards and 2 steals in 36 minutes per game.
Jameer Nelson (PG – Orlando) Nelson's production is peaking right now. He's had at least one steal and one three in each of the past seven games, averaging 12.3 points on 57 percent shooting, 1.7 threes, 6.3 assists versus just 1.4 turnovers and 1.4 steals in 27 minutes during that stretch.
Chris Kaman (C – LA Clippers) Kaman's season now looks at risk as he remains out with a sore back, and is out for "a while" according to Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy. "It doesn't make sense for us to take any risks with him," added Dunleavy. Josh Powell, at 6-foot-9 and 225 pounds, has been starting at center in Kaman's place.
Jose Calderon (PG – Toronto) Calderon has completed the trek all the way from being a top-15 contributor back to his reserve-level production. He hasn't reached double figures in scoring or assists in the past five games, averaging 5.4 points on 42 percent shooting, 0.2 threes, 6.6 assists and 1.6 steals in 25 minutes per game.
Mike Bibby (PG – Atlanta) Bibby's assists are up with the Hawks, but he's regressed in nearly every other area. Over the past 12 games, he's averaged 12.1 points on 38 percent shooting, 1.3 threes on 26 percent shooting, 2.5 turnovers and 1 steal in 35 minutes per game, while making 69 percent of his free throws.
Devin Harris (PG – New Jersey) While most of his numbers have stayed roughly the same, Harris' efficiency has taken a hit with the Nets. He shot 48 percent from the field and averaged 2.4 turnovers in Dallas, but has managed just 40 percent shooting and averaged 3 turnovers in his seven starts for New Jersey.
Yahoo! Friends and Family League Update
It's looking like first place will come down to how many points FBC-Jonathan Tom can pick up in FT% versus how many I can pick up in 3PTM, with a few extra in FG% potentially up for grabs. His current 18-game cushion in total games played could also be an X-factor as I'm plugging people in down the stretch. It's going to be a nail-biter. This week's transactions included Daequan Cook, Jared Dudley, Roger Mason, Ben Wallace, Paul Millsap, Erick Dampier, and Chucky Atkins, among others.