COLLEGE BASKETBALL HEATING UP TOWARD CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT TIME

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The most amazing thing about Tuesday night’s college basketball action, even more incredible than Duke’s comeback from a 23-point deficit, was that everyone watching on television got the identical picture of doom for “the Commonwealth’s” two top-25 teams.

A television camera affixed to the top of the goal at Kentucky’s Rupp Arena showed everyone how LSU center Kavell Bigby-Williams scored the game-winning tip-in to beat the No. 5 Wildcats by knocking the ball into the goal as it rested on the rim from teammate Skylar Mays’ original attempt at the decisive basket. Bigby-Williams’ goal was not a legal play, but neither was it reviewable under NCAA basketball’s instant-replay rules. Continue Reading By Mike DeCourcy

Welcome to Volume II of The Bilas Index, the most dependable and trusted metric of hoop quality and capability in the known universe. Every conceivable bit of basketball information has been input into the gray matter inside The Bilastrator’s skull, and the output is simply magnificent and not subject to question or reasonable debate. The Bilas Index is the final word on all things basketball, and anyone with a functioning brain knows it. To be clear, The Bilas Index is not some weekly poll voted on by media, coaches or fans. It is not subject to current whim or which way the wind might be blowing. It is a clear-eyed evaluation of the 68 best teams in the country, irrespective of home wins, road wins, quads, calves or pecs. This gift from on high is not parsed by a group of well-fed and well-compensated college administrators pretending to be basketball-literate. It is culled from the most savvy and informed mind the game has ever known, and therefore, it is the most powerful basketball evaluation tool ever invented. Continue Reading By Jay Bilas

It’s easy to labor in obscurity in Buies Creek, North Carolina — until your game starts being connected to college hoops icons. Folks, meet Chris Clemons.

Campbell’s star scorer, the 5-9 guard from Raleigh had a season-high 48 points Wednesday to give him 2,978 for his career, moving him past Kansas star Danny Manning (2,951) and Cincinnati Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson (2,973) into ninth place in men’s Division I career scoring. The Camels defeated visiting Hampton, 87-84, in Buies Creek.
Rick Barnes will take you to his favorite lunch spot, but not until this tour ends. Continue Reading By Bob Hille

He’s the head coach of the No. 1-ranked Tennessee Volunteers, but he also might as well be a Knoxville Chamber of Commerce rep as he weaves past a statue of Pat Summitt, steers down Phillip Fulmer Way and rolls toward Tee Martin Drive in a super-sized SUV that hogs the streets of Tennessee’s campus during the school’s winter break.

“You gotta see this,” he says as he ignores the GPS directions to the restaurant, and charts his own course.

Barnes speaks of Knoxville as if he’s a proud, longtime resident of this growing city. Continue Reading By Myron Medcalf

Wednesday was not a great night for many bubble teams, although NC State picked up a decent win.

Auburn and Lipscomb are among a handful of bubble teams that lost a chance to help themselves.

Seton Hall defeated Georgetown 90-75 in a game featuring two teams on the bubble and has done a better job of defending its home floor lately. This is the third straight win at home for the Pirates. Things are about to get tougher because three of their next four are on the road. Georgetown’s slim chances just got a lot slimmer. Here’s how the rest of bubble teams in action Wednesday fared:Continue Reading By 

Photo: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Cal basketball team may have blown its best opportunity to produce a conference win in 2018-19 with a 75-67 overtime loss to UCLA Wednesday night. The defeat was the 13th straight for the Golden Bears, one which dropped them to 5-19 on the season and 0-12 in the much-maligned Pac-12.

It’s also a defeat which allows us to ask the question: Is Cal the worst power conference team in the history of college basketball?

On the surface this seems like a hyperbolic overreaction to something happening in the present. Do a little digging, however, and Wyking Jones’ team is putting together a pretty compelling case. Continue Reading By Mike Rutherford

By the end of this week, there will be just one month until Selection Sunday—the day that will determine the postseason fate for so many March hopefuls. With three-quarters of the regular season already in the books, we have a good idea of who this year’s top contenders are and who the favorites are in each conference race and tournament. But even if we think we know how things will play out in this final month, there’s bound to be at least one or two major surprises in store. Between now and March 17, will happen that few will see coming? We asked our staff to each make one bold prediction for the days leading up to (and including) Selection Sunday. Continue Reading By THE SI STAFF

Duke forward Zion Williamson dunks in a game against St. John's.

Duke forward Zion Williamson dunks in a game against St. John’s. PHOTO: ROB KINNAN/REUTERS

If you follow college basketball only casually until the NCAA tournament begins, there’s a good chance that the only thing you know about the 2018-19 season is the existence of a very large Duke freshman named Zion. But with the regular season winding down, fans are starting to wonder whether their teams will attract an invitation to March Madness.

Figuring out how your team rates will be different this year. RPI, the metric the NCAA has used since 1981 to gauge the strength of teams, has been replaced by a new, more sophisticated measure called NET. Continue Reading By Laine Higgins

 

 

NBA TRADE DEADLINE IS GONE TEAMS MUST PULL IT TOGETHER

 

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION

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Los Angeles Lakers guard Josh Hart had a PRP injection to treat tendinitis in his right knee today. Hart will be re-evaluated after the All-Star break.

Atlanta Hawks guard Jeremy Lin is finalizing a contract buyout, clearing the way for him to sign with the Toronto Raptors.

Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Mark Lasry has reportedly been fined $25,000 for violating the NBA‘s tampering rule for comments on Anthony Davis, according to Malika Andrews of ESPN.

Nik Stauskas was briefly with the Cavs, who acquired him from the Portland Trail Blazers in a deal for forward Rodney Hood. He never appeared in a game before Cleveland sent him two days later to the Houston Rockets, who promptly traded Stauskas at the deadline to Indiana. The Pacers then waived him, allowing the rebuilding Cavs to pick him up.

The New York Knicks used an image of rookie center Mitchell Robinson playing alongside the Golden State Warriors‘ Kevin Durant in a pitch to season-ticket holders, then deleted the picture to avoid the perception that the organization had an ulterior motive in including Durant, who will be a 2019 free agent, in the pitch. From Ian Begley

Here’s our breakdown of the 2019 NBA buyout market:

Veterans who have been bought out or released and are free agents:

Note: Players marked with an asterisk were injured at the time of their release. Players marked with a double asterisk remain on waivers.

Veterans who have been bought out or released and joined new teams:

Other candidates to be bought out or released:

From NBA Rumors

NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE

The Cleveland Browns have signed running back Kareem Hunt just months after he was released by the Kansas City Chiefs for his involvement in a video that showed him shoving and kicking a woman in a Cleveland hotel in February 2018.

Daniel Jones is one of the top quarterback prospects in the 2019 draft class. Experts say he’s 6′ 5″, 220 lbs, he’s accurate, he’s shown an ability to read defenses and manipulate coverage with his eyes, and he’s resilient.

Jerry Jones still wants head coach Jason Garrett to succeed at all costs. Dallas is actually well-fixed on cap space and could fit a new deal under the ceiling without wreaking too much havoc.

Patrick Mahomes had the greatest season in this history of fantasy football quarterbacks.  Mahomes, who finished with 50 touchdown passes and a record-breaking 417.08 fantasy points, also ranked among the top five quarterbacks 43.8 percent of the time.

Kansas City Chiefs and NFL MVP QB Patrick Mahomes are getting oddmakers’ respect. The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook opened odds to win Super Bowl LIV in early January. The Chiefs had the second-best odds at 7-1, with the Rams as the favorite at 6-1. However, in the weeks since, Kansas City has shifted to the 6-1 favorite there and at multiple other Las Vegas sportsbooks.

The Eagles want to maximize their return for Nick Foles. GM Howie Roseman has options? Franchise Foles then trade him, or let him go. Foles future should be a top priority.

Andy Reid expressed the biggest difference between Steve Spagnuolo and Sutton—this is actually one of the things that sets Spagnuolo apart if we’re to go off of how he coached with the Giants a few years ago, his second stint with the Giants—is when he does bring pressure, he keeps two safeties deep a lot of the times, which is unusual.

Andrew Luck Comeback Player of the Year Luck was also a top-five fantasy quarterback in 31.3 percent of his starts. His shoulder injury is a non topic anymore for the Indianapolis Colts.

Former NFL referee Red Cashion, known for his vociferous calls of “First down,” has died. He was 87. NFL Referees Association executive director Scott Green called Cashion “the kind of man everyone wanted to emulate both on and off the field, and he gave so much of his time to all of us.”

Quarterback Baker Mayfield said Wednesday night that the hype about 2019 is warranted, and the team’s new coordinators both said they chose to come to Cleveland because of the Browns’ situation.

Pro Football Focus put out it’s top 101 players from 2018. BY PFF ANALYSIS TEAM

 

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

The Orioles have agreed to a minor league contract with outfielder Eric Young Jr.

The Rays have agreed to a minor league contract with right-hander Tyler Cloyd.

The Athletics have signed veteran catcher Nick Hundley to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

FolBy 

MLB should consider a lottery in their proposal to change the amateur draft. It’s no secret that the draft needs to be fixed, and maybe this is the way to spice things up a little more.

While many fans have focused on the fates of its current players of late, nearly all of them mourned the passing of Frank Robinson who died last week at the age of 83. Frank Robinson was one of the absolute best to ever play the game and was also the league’s first African-American manager. We at MLB Daily Dish send our heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, and fans. The world lost a giant.

Ramón Laureano deserves more attention.

The Marlins finally parted ways with their star catcher J.T. Realmuto as they traded him to the Phillies in a deal that was highlighted by flamethrowing pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez. The Phillies were late entrants into the Realmuto sweepstakes, but they closed the deal and the National League playoff race next year continues to look very, very interesting.

Bryce Harper is still a free agent, but the star outfielder has recently met with the Giants about possibly signing with them.

The Hartford Yard Goats are turning themselves into the Screaming Goat meme for one night only. Get your tickets now, folks.

The Nationals brought back Jeremy Hellickson to a one-year deal.

Beloved veteran outfielder Curtis Granderson will look to play another season in the big leagues, as he’s inked a minor-league deal with the Marlins and will try to win a job this spring. If he does end up making Miami’s roster, it’ll be interesting to see if he’s flipped to a contender down the stretch for a third straight year; he seems to be somewhat of a good luck charm, as he’s played on nine playoff teams in 15 seasons, including three that have advanced to the World Series.

Yankees’ Zach Britton has changed his name … to Zack Britton, you know for those of you who were about to make your fantasy picks and be like, “Wait, is this the same guy? Is this a typo?”

Our Andersen Pickard broke down the offseason moves in the NL West, which have been few and far between with just about a week before pitchers and catchers report.

These names will soon be known all around the National League. Check out these young stars who will be heading to a baseball broadcast near you.

Andersen Pickard continued his look at the first half of this offseason (with the second half seemingly looking like it will extend into the last week of spring training) with a look at how well the NL Central has done for itself so far.

Peter Alonso could be in for a big rookie year.

Nolan Arenado and the Rockies made history as they agreed on a one year, $26 million contract to avoid arbitration. That $26 million is a most given to an arbitration eligible player and frankly, Arenado deserves it.

More bad news for Orioles fans: It doesn’t look good for Chris Davis.

The Padres have made a bit of a surprise entrance to the top of the free-agent market, as they are showing interest in some of the top names including Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. San Diego may not look the part of a contender right now, but they have one of the league’s best farm systems and could become good in a hurry.

The Angels owe it to Mike Trout to at least make an effort to be better.

Is Isiah Kiner-Falefa the future of roster management?

The Diamondbacks are taking a chance on reliever Greg Holland after signing the three-time All-Star closer to a one-year, $3.5 million deal.

A modest proposal: the Twins should sign Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel. Just bear with us here.

Do free agents lose value when they remain on the market deep into the offseason? We took a look at the data, and let’s just say it usually helps them to sign sooner than later.

What if Bryce Harper ditched the commitment and signed a one-year deal somewhere?

Our Stephen Tolbert took an in-depth look at how the qualifying offer system has affected players’ value in free agency.

 NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE

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Sporting News

 The NHL’s Feb. 25th trade deadline just two weeks away, general managers are evaluating their rosters to determine which players to move and which ones to pursue.

My NHL Trade Rumors Lyle Richardson writes the Penguins GM Jim Rutherford‘s been among the busiest in this season’s trade market. In addition to swapping Carl Hagelin for Tanner Pearson, he sent Daniel Sprong to Anaheim for Marcus Pettersson followed by Derek Grant to the Ducks for Joseph Blandisi, traded Jamie Oleksiak back to Dallas for a draft pick, and shipped Derick Brassard, Riley Sheahan and two draft picks to the Panthers for Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann.

Sergei Bobrovsky the two-time Vezina Trophy winner is struggling through his contract year. Most teams are waiting for the off-season the  Panthers could try to acquire him before the trade deadline.

The Senators are attempting to re-sign 27-year-old Matt Duchene and Mark Stone. If Duchene isn’t signed he could be shopped for an offensive skilled center.

American center Jack Hughes, an unbelievable playmaker with hockey in his blood and jaw-dropping skill, is the expected No. 1 pick this summer in Vancouver. Hughes is listed at 5-10, smaller in stature than recent first-overall predecessors.

Major League Soccer

Wayne Rooney,Alejandro Agag

12 UP

 ​Wayne Rooney the ​DC United forward was arrested and charged with public intoxication last month at Washington’s Dulles Airport. He was released that same day and paid a $25 fine.

​Cleveland Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam decided to take ownership of the Columbus Crew, ensuring that the long-time ​MLS franchise will remain in Ohio for the near future.

FC Cincinnati‘s revealed its Adidas home jersey, or kit as it’s called in soccer circles. The jersey is a primarily blue top with blue shorts and socks. Each separate piece has elements of orange, most noticeably on the jersey top with its vertical orange striping and orange trim along the sleeves and neck.

The Fire could have a free-wheeling attack in 2019, with Aleksandar KataiPrzemysław FrankowskiDjordje MihailovicNemanja Nikolic and Bastian Schweinsteiger, but they’ll need Dax McCarty energy and grit in the middle to get the most out of them.

 

SPORTS NEWS ROUND-UP

Minnesota Timberwolves v New Orleans Pelicans

Photo: ESPN.com

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION

Oklahoma City Thunder overcame a 26-point deficit to beat the Houston Rockets 117-112.

James Harden extended his own historic run, dropping 42 points against the Thunder, eclipsing 30 points for the 29th straight game — two shy of Chamberlain for the second-longest streak in NBA history, but far behind Chamberlain’s record run of 65 games.

Kyrie Irving underwent an MRI this morning at New England Baptist Hospital and has been diagnosed with a strained right knee. His status is day-to-day.

The Indiana Pacers announced Sunday they have signed free agent guard Wesley Matthews to a contract. Matthews appeared in 45 games and made 44 starts for the Dallas Mavericks and New York Knicks this season while averaging 12.8 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game.

Salah Mejri has re-signed with the Mavericks, tweets Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Mejri was waived Thursday to open a roster spot so the team could complete a deal that sent Harrison Barnes to the Kings.

Los Angeles Lakers president Magic Johnson said the New Orleans Pelicans operated in bad faith during negotiations with his team over a deal for superstar Anthony Davis. However, he said he isn’t dwelling on the trade deadline failure and wants his players to shift their focus forward as well.

Magic Johnson plans to hug it out with the Los Angeles Lakers to help them cope with the fallout from the NBA trade deadline. “It’s a part of business, it’s a part of being a professional athlete,” he said Saturday. “I’m going to hug ’em and tell them that we got to come together and our goal is still in reach, which is to make the playoffs.”

After 10 days of team-wide uncertainty during their widely reported pursuit of disgruntled New Orleans superstar Anthony Davis, Rob Pelinka said he believes the Lakers will bounce back strongly. Pelinka already saw signs of it Thursday night, when Los Angeles beat Boston on Rajon Rondo’s dramatic winning basket just a few hours after the deadline passed and Davis remained with the Pelicans.

Kyle Kuzma dropped an impressive 23 points in the first quarter on Sunday afternoon at Philadelphia. The performance was most points scored in a single quarter by any Lakers player since Kobe Bryant dropped 23 in the fourth quarter against the Jazz back in 2016 — which was also Bryant’s final NBA game.

Anthony Davis is showing he can still produce great numbers. He only needed 25 minutes to score 32 points in his first game for New Orleans since requesting a trade nearly two weeks ago. Davis also had nine rebounds and three blocks in a 122-117 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night.

The Philadelphia 76ers made several moves prior to Thursday’s trade deadline. In the biggest deal, they sent Landry Shamet, Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala and four draft picks to the Los Angeles Clippers for Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic and Mike Scott.

Sunday afternoon report from Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, the Hornets have claimed veteran point guard Shelvin Mack off waivers from the Atlanta Hawks.

The Knicks interest in Kevin Durant is obvious. Their intent to go after him this offseason was solidified when they rid themselves of Kristaps Porzingis’ contract at the trade deadline. The rumors are certainly alive and well. Per Brad Rowland of Uproxx, the team ‘coincidentally’ used a picture where he is defending Mitchell Robinson in a season-ticket renewal promotion.

Otto Porter said Wizards management held a private meeting with him before the trade deadline and assured him that he would remain with the team, tweets Fred Katz of The Athletic.

The Raptors have agreed to a new multi-year contract with Chris Boucher, promoting him from his current two-way deal with the team, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. 

 

NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE

During an appearance on Good Morning America, host and one-time Brady Super Bowl antagonist Michael Strahan said that he is in the camp that sees Brady as the “G.O.A.T.,” but Brady said it’s not a moniker he’ll be embracing anytime soon.

Brian Flores officially hired 16 assistant coaches to join him in his mission to turn around the Miami Dolphins, including Jim Caldwell as his assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach.

The NFL combine ahead of the 2019 draft is only three weeks away. In the meantime here is Mel Kiper Jr. first mock draft, which came out on Jan. 17.

Adam Gase’s new coaching staff with the New York Jets contains enough potential family drama. he full staff, announced Friday by the Jets, includes longtime NFL assistant Joe Vitt, Gase’s father-in-law, and Blake Williams, the son of defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.

NBC Sports veteran Bob Costas revealed he was removed from the network’s coverage due to comments he made about the NFL’s concussion problems.

The Raiders are negotiating with Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum officials to allow the NFL franchise to play its home games at the venue during the 2019 season.

The MMQB’s Albert Breer broke down the key dates on Murray’s calendar in Thursday’s Game Plan, with key benchmarks arriving soon in both his budding MLB and NFL careers. So what does Murray’s near future hold? Check out his schedule via Breer below.

February 15: A’s position players are due to report for spring training in Mesa, Ariz. Oakland gave Murray a $4.66 million signing bonus under an agreement that would allow him to play one last season of college football, then report to spring training for 2019. So if he doesn’t report next week, that’s a pretty big deal.

February 27-March 2: Quarterbacks go through their four days at the scouting combine in Indianapolis. Murray has been invited. Will he be there?

March 13: Oklahoma pro day. Like the combine and everything else, this one is in direct conflict with spring training.

March 14-April 19: In-house visits with teams, and private workouts. The workouts can actually spill into draft week, while the deadline for NFL teams to fly prospects into their facilities is a week before the draft.

March 20: A’s open their season in Tokyo against Seattle. As for their affiliates, the Triple-A Las Vegas Aviators, Double-A Midland RockHounds and Single-A Stockton Ports and Beloit Snappers all open up on April 4.

April 26-28: The NFL draft takes place Nashville.

Murray declared for the NFL draft on Jan. 14. He was the No. 9 pick in the MLB draft in June 2018.

 

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

The Giants have emerged as a serious contender for Bryce Harper in the past week, but USA Today’s Bob Nightengale writes that the club has “no desire” to make Harper an offer approaching the 10-year, $300 million deal he reportedly rejected from the Nationals in September.

Chicago White Sox reportedly made a $175 million offer to Machado earlier this offseason. The offer is still on the table.

Free-agent left-hander Dallas Keuchel asked for a six- to seven-year contract worth $25MM to $30MM per annum at the beginning of the offseason but has yet to sign a contract. Entering the offseason, MLBTR predicted an $82MM guarantee for the 32-year-old Keuchel.

A’s star third baseman Matt Chapman will be slowed by ongoing rehab this spring, but don’t count him out from the club’s March 20 regular-season opener against the Mariners in Tokyo.

Athletics righty James Kaprielian suffered a setback in his shoulder and will undergo an MRI.

Reliever Alex Wilson had interest from 10 or 11 different clubs, different minor league options Before the Indians signed him.

Any of the following Wil MyersManuel MargotHunter RenfroeFranchy CorderoFranmil Reyes and Travis Jankowski are all in the mix for a spot in the Padres outfield.

Brett Lawrie is mounting a comeback with the organization that got him started. The former first-round Draft pick announced via Instagram on Saturday that he’d signed with the Brewers. Lawrie, 29, hasn’t played organized baseball since the White Sox released him in March 2017.

The Royals announced on Saturday that they signed veteran right-hander Homer Bailey to a Minor League contract. Bailey, the seventh-overall pick in the 2004 MLB Draft, pitched his entire career with the Reds before Cincinnati dealt him to the Dodgers in December for salary relief as part of a seven-player deal.

The Nationals signed free-agent starter Jeremy Hellickson to a one-year deal on Friday. Hellickson will earn $1.3 million in 2019, with up to $4 million in incentives.

One of the opening day questions for the DBacks will be if they can carry three catchers which they have in each of the past two seasons under this regime. Right now it would look like Carson KellyAlex Avila, and  John Ryan Murphy.

 

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE

The Anaheim Ducks fired coach Randy Carlyle. Bob Murray, the team’s general manager, will serve as interim coach for the remainder of the season.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed their young superstar to a huge contract, inking a five-year extension with Auston Matthews. The deal will carry an annual average value of $11.634MM, and be paid almost entirely in signing bonuses. Leafs have acquired defenseman Jake Muzzin from the Los Angeles Kings. Going the other way is a package of forward prospect Carl Grundstrom, defense prospect Sean Durzi, and the Leafs’ 2019 first-round pick.

Pittsburgh Penguins sent Brassard, Riley Sheahan, a 2019 second-round pick (PIT), and two 2019 fourth-round picks (PIT & MIN) to the Florida Panthers in exchange for Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann.

The Chicago Blackhawks have put defenseman Luc Snuggerud on unconditional waivers for the purpose of contract termination.

 

NCAA FOOTBALL

JENNA WEST from Sports Illustrated reports Clemson still doesn’t know how three players failed drug tests ahead of the Cotton Bowl in late December, according to The Post and Courier.

The program is continuing to appeal the suspensions of defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, offensive lineman Zach Giella and tight end Brandon Galloway, who tested positive for the banned substance ostarine before Clemson’s CFP semifinal game win over Notre Dame. The three Tigers players also missed Clemson’s 44–16 national championship victory over Alabama.

Clemson’s defensive coordinator Brent Venables at that lofty level. Venables earned $2.2 million last season. He received a new contract last July that pays him $11.6 million over six seasons. Tony Elliott and Jeff Scott are now in the million-dollar club.

Miami football is back! As Manny Diaz walked behind one of Miami’s returning players into a recruiting dinner last month, the player spoke up to no one in particular. “I feel like I transferred to a new school,” he said. Behind him, Diaz smiled. “That’s kind of what I wanted to hear,” Miami’s new head coach said.

 

NCAA BASKETBALL

Duke is investigating a sexual assault allegation made against a former player, according to ESPN’s Myron Medcalf. Former Duke student Meredith Watson claimed she was raped by a member of the basketball team in 1999, per her attorney’s statement. Watson also claimed Virginia Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax raped her during her time as a student.

On Saturday afternoon, the NCAA tournament selection committee continued its tradition (born way back in 2017) of offering the world an early glimpse at the top 16 seeds in the NCAA tournament if the season ended that day. One of this year’s more intriguing subplots among bracket prognosticators is just how much the NET rankings, which the NCAA introduced this season to replace the widely panned RPI, will impact the committee’s choices.

The Big Ten is ranked as the No. 1 conference on kenpom.com, a far cry from the fifth-place finish it had after a down 2017–18.

The Kansas Jayhawks have won 14 straight Big 12 regular season crowns, but road struggles have them sitting back in fourth with five weeks to go. Kansas State Wildcats cruised to the conference lead, punctuated by Tuesday’s home win over KU.

Indiana Hoosiers with a 13-11 record this season, and 4-9 in the Big Ten, and despite wins over three teams listed in the selection committee’s initial top 16, Indiana’s only realistic path to the field of 68 now probably runs through a Big Ten tournament title the Hoosiers have never won.

 

SKIING

 Lindsey Vonn walked off with her career haul of medals in her right hand, the gold, silver and bronze clinking together almost weighing her down. Whatever it was, the sound was a reminder of what Vonn has come to symbolize an athlete who battled back from one major injury after another throughout her career to win more ski races than any other woman.

 

DUKE NOT VOLS TOP SEED IN FIRST 16 SEED RANKINGS

Duke, not Vols, top overall seed in initial NCAA rankings

FILE – In this Jan. 23, 2019, file photo, Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes watches the action in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn. The Volunteers don’t have a single top-100 recruit on their roster, yet they’re ranked No. 1 and have a school-record 17 straight victories for the longest active winning streak of any Division I team. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

 

Tennessee has been ranked No. 1 in The Associated Press poll the past three weeks, has one loss this season and owns Division I’s longest winning streak.

It wasn’t enough for the NCAA Division I Basketball Committee to give the Volunteers the top overall seed in its initial rankings. The committee revealed its preliminary rankings on Saturday and it was Duke, not the Vols, earning the No. 1 overall seed. Continue Reading By JOHN MARSHALL

Duke v Virginia

si.com

In Duke’s last game against Virginia, coach Mike Krzyzewski’s squad shot 2-of-14 on three-pointers and relied on its talent to beat the Cavaliers’ stifling defense. Instead of repeating that performance Saturday, the Blue Devils took a page out of UMBC’s “make every shot” playbook, shooting 57.8% and 13-for-21 on threes in an 81-71 win. Continue Reading By JOE WILKINSON

Villanova Wildcats forward Saddiq Bey (15) and Marquette Golden Eagles guard Markus Howard (0) reach for a loose ball during the second half at Fiserv Forum.

Villanova Wildcats forward Saddiq Bey (15) and Marquette Golden Eagles guard Markus Howard (0) reach for a loose ball during the second half at Fiserv Forum. (Photo: Jeff Hanisch, USA TODAY Sports)

Saturday’s unveiling of the top 16 seeds by the NCAA tournament selection committee provided a glimpse into the future. But the day’s game slate also served as a reminder that there’s still plenty of basketball to be played in the next five weeks up until Selection Sunday.

In a battle between two forecasted No. 1 seeds, Duke once again out-dueled Virginia. The Blue Devils started the day as the top overall seed, per the committee’s assessment, and ended the day with an even stronger profile. The Cavaliers, meanwhile, only suffered their second loss of the season, but this one was a much more convincing loss and on their home court. Continue Reading By 

Louisville Cardinals forward Dwayne Sutton (24) fights for a ball against Florida State Seminoles guard MJ Walker (23) during the first half at Donald L. Tucker Center in Tallahassee, Florida, on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019.

Louisville Cardinals forward Dwayne Sutton (24) fights for a ball against Florida State Seminoles guard MJ Walker (23) during the first half at Donald L. Tucker Center in Tallahassee, Florida, on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. (Photo: Melina Myers, USA TODAY Sports)

It’s always tough to win on the road in the ACC.

No. 24 Florida State (18-5, 6-4 ACC) outlasted No. 17 Louisville (17-7, 8-3 ACC) 80-75 in an overtime battle of ranked teams in front of a Tucker Civic Center crowd of 11,675 Saturday afternoon.

“That one was tough to swallow,” Louisville coach Chris Mack said. “Felt like for the better part of the game we did what we needed to do to put ourselves in position to win.”

Louisville had won seven of its last eight games entering Saturday. The Cardinals fall to 4-2 on the road in ACC play.

The Cardinals let a 10-point second-half lead slip away and the Seminoles tied the game at 65 at the end of regulation.

FSU didn’t waste time in overtime.

The Seminoles scored the first eight points of the period to surge in front, 73-65. It was their first advantage since 23-22 in the first half. Continue Reading By , Louisville Courier Journal

A slow first half from Quinndary Weatherspoon and the Bulldogs gave Kentucky enough momentum and margin for a 71-67 victory (Photo: Steve Robertson, 247Sports)

The best second half of Mississippi State’s season wasn’t good enough to complete a comeback as Kentucky escaped Humphrey Coliseum with a 71-67 victory. The #5-ranked Wildcats left 20-3, a game out of the SEC lead at 9-1, and with a tenth-straight victory.

Ben Howland’s Bulldogs dropped to 16-7, 4-6 with the week’s second close call. If not in overtime as Wednesday’s setback to LSU, this was by another four-point margin. And maybe, more frustrating given the game’s contrasting periods. Down 40-25 at halftime and seemingly out the Bulldogs slashed that deficit to a point with plenty remaining time to complete the comeback.

They couldn’t. “If we come out the first half like we did the second half I feel we win the game,” guard Nick Weatherspoon said. His coach didn’t disagree about the key to winning…or avoiding defeat.

“It’s not digging a hole in the first half,” said Howland. “Go down 15 points to maybe the hottest team in the country, that put a very low probability. And I thought we gave ourselves a great chance.” Continue Reading By DAVID H. MURRAY 

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