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Jamal Crawford out vs. Raptors After Toe Injury Diagnosed as Sprain

The Minnesota Timberwolves’ depth will be tested, as sixth man Jamal Crawford is out Saturday against the Toronto Raptors after he was diagnosed with a left great toe sprain. 
Crawford has been susceptible to injuries late in his career, missing at least 13 games twice from 2013 to 2015. He has turned things around over the last three seasons, including appearing in all 82 games a season ago. 
The 37-year-old Crawford has been the Timberwolves’ most prolific scorer off the bench with 9.5 points per game, though his three-point percentage has dropped from 36.0 percent last season to 33.5 percent. 
Crawford has been one of the NBA’s best reserve players throughout his career, winning the Sixth Man of the Year Award three times. 
Losing Crawford limits what head coach Tom Thibodeau is able to do with his rotation, but the roster’s top-end talent is such that they can withstand a brief absence from the volume-scoring vet.  @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Isaiah Thomas: Cavs Don't Trust Each Other, Celtics Tried Harder Defensively

The Cleveland Cavaliers’ defensive slide continued Saturday when they tied a franchise record by allowing 148 points in a loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder at Quicken Loans Arena, and Isaiah Thomas didn’t mince words regarding his team’s effort in the postgame locker room. 
“In Boston we were a much better defensive team,” Thomas said, according to Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz. “We tried harder. I don’t think we trust each other right now.”
This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.
Get the best sports content from the web and social in the new B/R app. Get the app to get the game.  @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Mike Vrabel Named Titans Head Coach After Mike Mularkey's Firing

The Tennessee Titans named former NFL linebacker and Houston Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel their new head coach Saturday.
According to Jim Wyatt of the Titans’ official website, Vrabel will be formally introduced as the team’s new head coach Monday.
Vrabel told Wyatt the following about the opportunity:
“This is an incredible opportunity and one I have been preparing for my entire football life. I want to thank [owner] Amy [Adams Strunk], [general manager] Jon [Robinson] and the entire Titans organization for putting their faith in me. I am excited to get to work and that work starts now. We want to build a culture around winning, competitiveness and toughness. Everything we do is going to be geared towards winning and being physical. We want to prepare our players so they know what to do, which will allow them to play fast and aggressive.”
Vrabel will replace Mike Mularkey, who was fired this week after leading Tennessee to a 9-7 record and a playoff berth.
The 2017 season was Vrabel’s first as a defensive coordinator after he spent the previous three years as Houston’s linebackers coach.
After leading the NFL in total defense in 2016, the Texans experienced a drop-off to 20th in 2017. Houston also ranked last in scoring defense at 27.2 points per game.
The absence of some top players on that side of the ball played a role in the regression, as defensive end J.J. Watt and linebacker Brian Cushing each missed double-digit games due to injury and suspension, respectively.
Also, former No. 1 cornerback A.J. Bouye signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars, which left Houston with a major void in its secondary.
Despite his team’s defensive struggles, Vrabel entered the offseason as a popular head coaching candidate. In addition to his four years with the Texans, he spent three seasons as a defensive assistant at Ohio State from 2011 through 2013.
Prior to that, he enjoyed a highly productive, 14-year NFL career as a linebacker with the Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs.
Vrabel registered 57 career sacks, including 48 during an eight-year stint in New England.
He was named to one Pro Bowl and one All-Pro First Team to go along with three Super Bowl wins.
Vrabel has never been a head coach, but he spent years learning under Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, which makes him a valuable commodity.
He will replace Mularkey, who went 20-21 in parts of three seasons and made the playoffs on one occasion. The Titans upset the Kansas City Chiefs 22-21 in the AFC Wild Card Round after overcoming a 21-3 deficit.
Tennessee went on to get blown out by the New England Patriots in the divisional round, 35-14, resulting in Mularkey’s departure.
The Titans’ offense figures to be built on running back Derrick Henry’s hard-running style and quarterback Marcus Mariota’s improvisational skills in 2018, while Vrabel will look to improve upon a defense that ranked 13th in yardage allowed and 17th in points allowed last season. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Alabama Parade 2018: Twitter Reaction, Photos, Videos, GIFs and More

The Alabama Crimson Tide football team celebrated its 2017-18 national championship Saturday with a parade culminating at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
The parade occurred 12 days after the Tide thrillingly defeated the Georgia Bulldogs 26-23 in overtime in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.
As seen in the following photo courtesy of ABC 33/40’s Stu McCann, Bama fans came out in force to support their team:

Before the parade started, video of the title game’s second half was played on a big screen outside Bryant-Denny Stadium.
As evidenced by this video from WVTM 13, fans were once again pumped the see the championship-clinching play in which quarterback Tua Tagovailoa hit wide receiver DeVonta Smith for a 41-yard touchdown:

The parade itself was highlighted by players, coaches and staff marching through the streets of Tuscaloosa and receiving nonstop ovations from the Alabama faithful.
Alabama Athletics provided video of team captains tossing miniature footballs to the crowd and carrying the championship trophy:

Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban and his wife, Terry, arrived in style, sitting on the back of a $130,000 Mercedes-Benz:

Saban has won six national championships as a head coach, including five during his time at Alabama.
That made him a featured part of the celebration once the parade reached the steps of Bryant-Denny Stadium.
It began with Alabama athletics director Greg Byrne saying: “We don’t have the best college football coach in the country. We’ve got the best coach in the country. Do we not?” according to Jon Cooper of Saturday Down South.
Saban then took the stage:

Per Marq Burnett of SEC Country, Saban said, “I could never, ever be prouder of a group for what they were able to accomplish this season.”
Never one to dwell on past accomplishments or to rest on his laurels, Saban added, “Let everybody know that we’re not finished yet,” according to Chandler Rome of the Anniston Star.
The festivities concluded in fitting fashion, as Saban joined his players in singing Queen’s “We Are the Champions” while confetti rained down:

Alabama has won the national championship in two of the past three years, and it will return plenty of key starters next season. Perhaps the biggest question will be whether Tagovailoa or Jalen Hurts will begin the season as starting quarterback.
None of that mattered Saturday, however, as the focus was solely on celebrating a season that featured a familiar conclusion. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Trae Young Scores 48 in No. 4 Oklahoma's Upset Loss in OT to Oklahoma State

For the second time in two games, the Oklahoma Sooners lost on the road to an unranked Big 12 team after the Oklahoma State Cowboys pulled off an 83-81 overtime upset Saturday at Gallagher-Iba Arena. 
Trae Young did everything in his power to get Oklahoma back in the win column following Tuesday’s loss to Kansas State. The freshman sensation was the only Sooner to score in double figures and had a career-high 48 points, including 34 in the second half and overtime. 
After leading by as many as 19 points in the first half, Oklahoma State needed a Kendall Smith three-pointer with nine seconds remaining to force overtime. 
Smith was excellent off the bench with 20 points for the Cowboys. Jeffrey Carroll had his third double-double of the season with 23 points—highlighted by the go-ahead free throws with 39 seconds remaining in overtime—and 13 rebounds. 
         
This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.
Get the best sports content from the web and social in the new B/R app. Get the app and get the game. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Daily Five: Big Ten's 5 Most Important Games Of 2018

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What are the five biggest Big Ten games you’ll care about – even if you don’t care about the Big Ten?


Daily Five: 5 Biggest Big Ten Games of 2018

Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews & @PeteFiutak

It’s all about the Big Ten East when it comes to the biggest of the big games. Of course the West matters, but the top games – at least in conference – involve Wisconsin dealing with the East. Nebraska, Iowa and Northwestern vs. the Badgers could all be on here at some point once the season gets rolling.

Where are the top non-conference games? Ohio State at TCU? Okay. Michigan at Notre Dame? Fine. But these five Big Ten games are all stronger and more important to how the 2018 college football world will shape up.

5. Michigan at Michigan State, Oct. 20

If Michigan State is really back to being good enough to shoot for big things, it should be 5-0 going into the road trip to Penn State. That’s big, but getting the Wolverines in East Lansing might be an elimination game.

Michigan will have already played at Notre Dame, dealt with Nebraska, and gone to Northwestern. It’s a tough start, and then comes the showdown against Wisconsin to add to the mix. Even with all of these nasty games, Michigan has to be good enough to be – at worst – 6-1 by the time they go to East Lansing. And no matter what, Jim Harbaugh really, really, REALLY can’t blow this.

Losing to Ohio State is one thing – that’s Ohio State; it’s one of the elite, national title programs going right now. But to lose on a regular basis to “little brother?” Oh no … that’s not okay. At least the Wolverines get a week off before …

4. Penn State at Michigan, Nov. 3

42-13. As rough as Michigan’s 2017 season was, at least it played tough in the losses to Wisconsin, Michigan State, Ohio State and South Carolina. There were chances to win all four of those games. Against Penn State? Nope. Before that, Michigan won the previous three games with the Nittany Lions.

This might be it for Penn State. It’ll already have played Ohio State and Michigan State, and while it gets Wisconsin the following week, this could be the moment when it takes down the East depending on what happens in the battles with the Buckeyes and Spartans.

3. Ohio State at Michigan State, Nov. 10

An always unpredictable and occasionally strange matchup, last year, Ohio State came off the Iowa debacle to throttle the Spartans 48-3. However, the year before, the awful MSU team pushed a CFP-bound Buckeye team hard in a 17-16 loss.

This year, Ohio State has to come to East Lansing after getting Nebraska the week before. The Buckeyes will have already dealt with Penn State, and they still have Michigan to go, but it’s not a stretch to stay they might need this to have any hopes of going to the College Football Playoff.

The Spartans will have already played Penn State and Michigan – they’ll know where they stand in the West race after this.

2. Ohio State at Penn State, Sept. 29

These two combined to play the best back-to-back games of anyone in the Big Ten, with Penn State beating the Buckeyes on a miracle blocked kick for a score in 2016, and Ohio State coming roaring back to win last year’s thriller late.

This year, as long as Ohio State gets by TCU on the road, it’ll be 4-0 and likely ranked in the top five when it makes the trip to State College.

As long as Penn State doesn’t whiff against Pitt or choke to Illinois on the road, it’l be 4-0 going into the showdown. It’ll follow it up with a week off to prepare for Michigan State.

1. Michigan at Ohio State, Nov. 24

2011. That was the last time Michigan got past Ohio State, and it was the only win since 2003, going 1-13 since then. But that doesn’t matter as much as Jim Harbaugh being 0-3 against one of the two teams has HAS to beat – Michigan State being the other.

With Wisconsin, at Michigan State and Penn State over the second half of the season, the pressure will be on if Michigan doesn’t come into this with at least a shot at the Big Ten West title. No, Harbaugh won’t get fired with another loss – it’s asking a lot to beat Ohio State in Columbus no matter what – but …

Harbaugh and Michigan have to beat Ohio State.

The Buckeyes should roll through seven of their first nine games. As long as they at least split the road games against Penn State and Michigan State, they should be just fine with the Wolverines come to town.

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@nfl Source: NCAA News

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Shaq's Son Shareef O'Neal Says He's Cavs Fan, but He'd Want to Play for Lakers

Highly touted high school basketball star Shareef O’Neal said Friday that his dream is to follow in the footsteps of his father, Shaquille O’Neal, and play for the Los Angeles Lakers.
The younger O’Neal told TMZ Sports that the Cleveland Cavaliers are his favorite team and LeBron James is his favorite player, but his preference is to get drafted by the Lakers.
O’Neal is a University of Arizona commit who is rated as a 4-star prospect by 247Sports.
The L.A. native is also ranked as the No. 32 overall prospect, No. 9 power forward and No. 3 player from the state of California in the Class of 2018.
O’Neal said the Lakers would be the ideal landing spot for him because his family lives in Los Angeles and would be able to see him play often.
Regardless of where he ends up, though, O’Neal said any team drafting him and giving him a chance to play would be a “blessing.”
O’Neal is a standout at Crossroads School in L.A., and he is currently the crown jewel of Arizona’s 2018 recruiting class.
If he does end up with the Lakers, he would have a huge legacy to live up to, as Shaq won three championships and three NBA Finals MVP awards in Los Angeles. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Chelsea Transfer News: Roma Won't Rule Out Edin Dzeko, Emerson Palmieri Rumours

Chelsea look to have received new hope in their pursuit of AS Roma duo Edin Dzeko and Emerson Palmieri after the club’s sporting director refused to rule out the prospect of his players leaving this month.
Monchi moved to the Stadio Olimpico after 16 years as Sevilla’s head of transfers, and Roma’s market figurehead said in a statement (h/t James Cambridge of the Daily Express):
“We have found ourselves forced to create some clarity here. For too many days Roma have been described in the papers as a club being dismantled. I even read we are selling players without their knowledge.
“It is a description that is very far away from the reality of the situation. We cannot be blamed for having many strong players in the squad who are of interest to many top clubs.
“If concrete offers arrive, it will be my duty as director of sport to evaluate them, just as my proposals are evaluated when I contact other directors of sport.”
Monchi’s response to rumours acknowledged there are players in the squad attracting offers before touching on the notion that any tempting bids will be considered.
Simon Johnson of the London Evening Standard reported the Blues are looking to seal a double deal worth £44 million, and ESPN’s Mark Ogden touted former Manchester City man Dzeko as a fine January recruit:

Monchi went on to say he’s making “three times as many calls” as he receives in regards to Roma’s transfer planning this month, adding “our objective is always the same, to strengthen the squad.”
Those words may suggest there are irons in the fire for the Giallorossi to make some signings they feel could be upgrades to the existing squad, and Goal’s Nizaar Kinsella suggested Emerson could be a risky investment:

The Brazilian-born full-back has barely featured this season as he approaches a return from the anterior cruciate ligament rupture he suffered in May.
The Evening Standard recently posted an overview of the left wing-back, whose agent Fernando Garcia recently described it as the player’s dream to work under Antonio Conte, per Johnson’s report:

Dzeko looks like the higher-priority recruit at present given Chelsea’s recent struggles in front of goal, with four goalless results preceding Saturday’s 4-0 rampage over Brighton & Hove Albion.
Kinsella also discussed the prospect of Chelsea misfit Michy Batshuayi moving to make room for Dzeko’s arrival, two-and-a-half years after he first left Manchester for Rome:

Emerson’s fitness uncertainty and the presence of the in-form Marcos Alonso raises some questions regarding Chelsea’s interest in his signature, while Dzeko has arguably hit his peak form in Italy.
Monchi’s comments suggest there could be a double deal to be had for the right price, giving the west London suitors some strong hope of adding new faces to their crop this winter. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Tom Brady Reportedly Suffered Hand Injury During Collision with Rex Burkhead

More details are coming to light about the nature of the hand injury New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady suffered prior to Sunday’s AFC Championship Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium.
During Saturday’s edition of Good Morning Football, NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported Brady was injured in a collision with running back Rex Burkhead during practice:      

 
This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.
Get the best sports content from the web and social in the new B/R app. Get the app and get the game. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Kemba Walker Trade Rumors: Knicks Reportedly Not in Contact with Hornets for PG

The New York Knicks have reportedly not held “substantive discussions” with the Charlotte Hornets about a trade for point guard Kemba Walker.
On Friday, Ian Begley of ESPN.com reported the Hornets are interested in trade talks with the Knicks, who have first-round picks and rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina among their assets, but that New York doesn’t appear ready to “meet Charlotte’s desired return,” which includes taking on a bad contract, per ESPN.com’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
    
This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.
Get the best sports content from the web and social in the new B/R app. Get the app and get the game. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Nacho Monreal Subbed Off with Injury vs. Crystal Palace

Arsenal full-back Nacho Monreal was subbed off with a knock in the first half of the Gunners’ Premier League clash against Crystal Palace on Saturday.
He scored the opener and then set up the second and third as Arsenal went 4-0 ahead inside 22 minutes at the Emirates Stadium.
But Monreal then looked to be struggling after a knock around the half-hour mark and was swiftly withdrawn, per Arsenal’s Twitter account:

The 31-year-old Spaniard is one of manager Arsene Wenger’s top depth options along the back four, capable of playing both as a full-back or in the heart of the defence. Monreal may not be an automatic starter, but he’s the type of versatile option any team would love to have on the books.
Wenger demonstrated his tactical versatility in the 2016-17 season, and Monreal played a big role in that, as he was able to slide forward and feature in the 3-4-2-1 formation the team used toward the end of the campaign.
While he’s not the flashiest full-back, Monreal is a dependable option who can defend and attack. He’s not a great crosser, but he makes up for it with tremendous range and a work rate younger players should observe.
Losing Monreal hurts, although the Gunners have depth at left-back and should be fine moving forward. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Lakers Became 1st Team Since 1963-64 to Win a Game Shooting Below 20% from FT

Fact: The Los Angeles Lakers on Friday became the first NBA team since 1963-64 to win a game despite shooting below 20 percent from the free-throw line.

Bleacher Report will be bringing sports fans the most interesting and engaging Cold Hard Facts of the day, presented by Coors Light.
Source: Bleacher Report @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Dana White Declines to Say Whether Conor McGregor Will Lose UFC Title Belt

UFC President Dana White did not say whether Conor McGregor would be stripped of the lightweight championship. 
Per ESPN.com’s Brett Okamoto, White told reporters at TD Garden on Friday that the winner of the fight between Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223 on April 7 in Brooklyn, New York, would be the “undisputed” UFC lightweight champion.                 
However, White never brought up taking away the title from McGregor. 
“I have no update [on McGregor],” White said. “The winner of this fight will be the champion.”
                                
This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.
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  @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Lakers Beat Pacers Despite Shooting 14 Percent from Free-Throw Line

The Los Angeles Lakers set an interesting NBA record during their 99-86 win over the Indiana Pacers on Friday night.
Per ESPN Stats & Info, they had the worst free-throw percentage ever (14.3) in a game by a team with at least 10 attempts:

Jordan Clarkson made both of the Lakers’ free throws in the win, going 2-of-3. The rest of the team combined to go 0-of-11, with no player having more than three attempts.
After hearing about Los Angeles’ woes from the stripe, Clarkson appeared stunned.
“Oh s–t,” he said, per ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk. “For real? Dang, that’s crazy. We got to fix that. We got to [work] in the gym.”
The Lakers played Friday night without Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram or Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Though even with that group, they have been the worst free-throw shooting team in the NBA this season at 68.8 percent. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Australian Open 2018: Saturday Results, Highlights, Scores Recap from Melbourne

Roger Federer made light work of Richard Gasquet on Saturday, as the Swiss moved into Round 4 of the Australian Open with a 6-2, 7-5, 6-4 triumph.
The defending champion, on the hunt for his 20th Grand Slam title, was far too good in a match between the two brilliant technicians. Novak Djokovic also joined Federer in the last 16 with a straight-sets win over Albert Ramos Vinolas.
There was a shock earlier in the day, as fourth seed Alexander Zverev lost his way late on against Hyeon Chung to fall in a five-set encounter.
Meanwhile, in the women’s bracket, world No. 1 Simona Halep was involved in an epic as she saved three match points against Lauren Davis to win 4-6, 6-4, 15-13. Later on, Angelique Kerber was a comfortable victor over Maria Sharapova.
Here are the standout results from Saturday’s play in Melbourne and a look back at some of the many highlights from another exciting day at the Australian Open.
           
Selected Results
Men’s Draw
(2) Roger Federer bt. (29) Richard Gasquet, 6-2, 7-5, 6-4
Hyeon Chung bt (4) Alexander Zverev, 5-7, 7-6 (3), 2-6, 6-3, 6-0
(5) Dominic Thiem bt. (26) Adrian Mannarino, 6-4, 6-2, 7-5
(14) Novak Djokvic bt. (21) Albert Ramos Vinolas, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3
         
Women’s Draw
(1) Simona Halep bt. Lauren Davis, 4-6, 6-4, 15-13
(6) Karolina Pliskova bt. (29) Lucie Safarova, 7-6 (6), 7-5
(8) Caroline Garcia bt. Aliaksandra Sasnovich, 6-3, 5-7, 6-2
(21) Angelique Kerber bt. Maria Sharapova, 6-1, 6-3
        
For the results in full, visit the competition website.
        
Saturday Recap
Those with seats for the Rod Laver Arena on Saturday evening were in for a treat, as Federer and Gasquet are two of the most natural talents in the sport.
As we can see courtesy of Eurosport UK, the match got off to a magnificent start:

But of the two, Federer best meshes his ability with consistency and focus, traits that gave him the edge early in the match. 
It took the champion just 27 minutes to get through the first set. In the second, Gasquet did establish himself and started to get his trademark backhand firing. Still, when Federer was 6-5 up at the end of the stanza, the Frenchman wilted under pressure, blasting a forehand long on set point.

With a two-set advantage, the shackles were off Federer, and another early break in the third tightened his grip on the clash.
Gasquet did fight back and earned his first break of the match to get the contest back on serve. Yet Federer had more gears to go through, and with the match there for the taking at 5-4, he clinched it with a frantic final point.
Zverev, meanwhile, had a Saturday to forget, as he squandered a 2-1 overall lead against the unseeded Chung. The fourth seed won just three games in the final two sets and dished out a bagel in the decider.
Per Ben Rothenberg of the New York Times, the German has a longstanding issue when it comes to longer matches:

In the women’s bracket, Halep had to dig deep to make it through to the last 16, as she batted away three match points to get the better of Davis.
After two even opening sets, the pair continued to battle late in the decider, with Davis responding to a couple of breaks to keep herself in contention.
Then, in the 22nd game of a remarkable final set, the American had her chance to grab an upset, as Halep was 0-40 down on serve and facing a trio of match points.

But the underdog was unable to get the job done, as the Romanian clawed her way back to deuce and eventually won the game.
In the end, after manufacturing a break to go 14-13 ahead, Halep did serve this one out at the fourth time of asking, capping off three hours and 45 minutes of epic tennis.
Needless to say, she was feeling the effects, per the tournament Twitter account:

The most eagerly anticipated match of the day came between Kerber and Sharapova, as the two ex-champions squared off early in the tournament.
But it was the former who proved to be the dominant force, as she continued her rapid start to 2018. At the moment, Kerber appears to be reaching the same standards that saw her win this competition two years ago. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Thibaut Courtois to Miss Chelsea vs. Brighton with Ankle Injury

Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois will miss the team’s clash with Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday in the Premier League due to an ankle problem.
News of the issue came via Kristof Terreur of Het Laatste Nieuws, although it was noted the injury is not a serious one: 

Chelsea later confirmed their XI for the clash on the south coast on their Twitter account, with Willy Caballero taking the Belgian’s place:

It’s a big blow for the Blues in the short-term, as they will also be without the suspended duo of Pedro and Alvaro Morata at the Amex Stadium.
Courtois has been a key man in Antonio Conte’s Chelsea side, offering a commanding presence at the base of the team.
Blues supporters would have been delighted to see him return to form under the guidance of the Italian coach. Courtois had a difficult 2015-16 season, suffering with an injury and never really finding his best form in a tough term for Chelsea.
However, since the start of the 2016-17 season, Courtois has been back at his imperious best. The Belgian shone for Atletico Madrid during three campaigns on loan and was a pillar of consistency when Chelsea won the league in his first campaign as a starter in 2014-15.
He’s undoubtedly one of the best stoppers in the world at this point in time. And while the Blues have an able deputy in former Manchester City ‘keeper Caballero, Chelsea will miss the 25-year-old.
Courtois is authoritative when coming off his line, is improving in his distribution and uses his rangy build to stunning effect at times, getting his hands to shots that he has no right to save.
Conte’s side have looked much more secure with Courtois underpinning the team, and he’ll be missed against a battling Brighton side.   @nfl Source: Superfan News

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2018 Big Ten Football Weekly Schedule, Analysis & Top Games Rankings

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Breaking down and analyzing the 2018 Big Ten football schedule and top games, ranking the games each week.


Contact @ColFootballNews

2018 Big Ten Weekly Team Schedules & Analysis

COMING

2018 Big Ten, Ten Best Non-Conference Games

1. Ohio State at TCU, Sept. 15
2. Michigan at Notre Dame, Sept. 1
3. Texas at Maryland, Sept. 1
4. Iowa State at Iowa, Sept. 8
5. Notre Dame at Northwestern
, Nov. 3
6. Michigan State at Arizona State, Sept. 8
7. Penn State at Pitt, Sept. 8
8. Missouri at Purdue, Sept. 15
9. Colorado at Nebraska. Sept. 8
10. Fresno State at Minnesota, Sept. 8

2018 Big Ten, Ten Best Conference Games

1. Michigan at Ohio State, Nov. 24
2. Ohio State at Penn State, Sept. 29
3. Ohio State at Michigan State, Nov. 10
4. Penn State at Michigan, Nov. 3
5. Michigan at Michigan State
, Oct. 20
6. Michigan State at Penn State, Oct. 13
7. Wisconsin at Penn State, Nov. 10
8. Wisconsin at Michigan, Oct. 13
9. Wisconsin at Iowa, Sept. 22
10. Nebraska at Wisconsin, Oct. 6

2018 Big Ten Weekly Schedule

Games each week ranked in order from most interesting to the least.

Thursday, August 30

Northwestern at Purdue
New Mexico State at Minnesota

Friday, August 31

WKU at Wisconsin
Utah State at Michigan State

Saturday, Sept. 1

Michigan at Notre Dame
Texas at Maryland
Appalachian State at Penn State
Oregon State at Ohio State
Northern Illinois at Iowa
Indiana at FIU
Akron at Nebraska
Kent State at Illinois
Texas State at Rutgers

Saturday, Sept. 8

Iowa State at Iowa
Michigan State at Arizona State
Penn State at Pitt
Colorado at Nebraska
Fresno State at Minnesota
Duke at Northwestern
Virginia at Indiana
Rutgers at Ohio State
Western Michigan at Michigan
New Mexico at Wisconsin
Eastern Michigan at Purdue
Maryland at Bowling Green
Western Illinois at Illinois

Saturday, Sept. 15

Ohio State at TCU
Missouri at Purdue
USF at Illinois
Troy at Nebraska
BYU at Wisconsin
Temple at Maryland
SMU at Michigan
Rutgers at Kansas
Miami University at Minnesota
Akron at Northwestern
Ball State at Indiana
Kent State at Penn State
Northern Iowa at Iowa

Friday, Sept. 21

Penn State at Illinois

Saturday, Sept. 22

Wisconsin at Iowa
Nebraska at Michigan
Michigan State at Indiana
Boston College at Purdue
Minnesota at Maryland
Tulane at Ohio State
Buffalo at Rutgers

Saturday, Sept. 29

Ohio State at Penn State
Michigan at Northwestern
Purdue at Nebraska
Indiana at Rutgers
Central Michigan at Michigan State

Saturday, Oct. 6

Nebraska at Wisconsin
Northwestern at Michigan State
Iowa at Minnesota
Indiana at Ohio State
Maryland at Michigan
Illinois at Rutgers

Saturday, Oct. 13

Michigan State at Penn State
Wisconsin at Michigan
Nebraska at Northwestern
Minnesota at Ohio State
Iowa at Indiana
Purdue at Illinois
Rutgers at Maryland

Saturday, Oct. 20

Michigan at Michigan State
Ohio State at Purdue
Penn State at Indiana
Maryland at Iowa
Minnesota at Nebraska
Illinois at Wisconsin
Northwestern at Rutgers

Friday, Oct. 26

Indiana at Minnesota

Saturday, Oct. 27

Wisconsin at Northwestern
Iowa at Penn State
Purdue at Michigan State
Illinois at Maryland

Saturday, Nov. 3

Penn State at Michigan
Notre Dame at Northwestern
Nebraska at Ohio State
Iowa at Purdue
Michigan State at Maryland
Minnesota at Illinois
Rutgers at Wisconsin

Saturday, Nov. 10

Ohio State at Michigan State
Wisconsin at Penn State
Northwestern at Iowa
Purdue at Minnesota
Illinois at Nebraska
Maryland at Indiana
Michigan at Rutgers

Saturday, Nov. 17

Michigan State at Nebraska
Wisconsin at Purdue
Ohio State at Maryland
Northwestern at Minnesota
Iowa at Illinois
Indiana at Michigan
Penn State at Rutgers

Friday, Nov. 23

Nebraska at Iowa

Saturday, Nov. 24

Michigan at Ohio State
Minnesota at Wisconsin
Purdue at Indiana
Maryland at Penn State
Illinois at Northwestern
Rutgers at Michigan State

Saturday, Dec. 1

Big Ten Championship (in Indianapolis)

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Georgia Bulldogs 2018 Football Schedule & Analysis

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Breaking down and analyzing the 2018 Georgia Bulldogs football schedule.


Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews & @PeteFiutak

2018 Georgia Bulldogs Football Schedule Analysis

– The Bulldogs get to ease into the season with Austin Peay, get Middle Tennessee at home a few weeks later. The SEC regular season ends for the Bulldogs on November 10th with UMass and Georgia Tech coming to Athens to close out the regular season. The non-conference games to start the season are sandwiched around a road trip to South Carolina to kick off the East slate.

– Along with that date in Columbia against the Gamecocks, the only other three true road dates are at Missouri, Kentucky, and LSU. That’s not awful, except for the interdivisional date against the Tigers.

That’s rough, and the annual date with Auburn to close out the SEC season isn’t going to be easy, either. However, even though going to LSU is brutal, there’s no Alabama on the slate.

– As always, of course, the Florida game is in Jacksonville, but the Tennessee date is in Athens. The East schedule isn’t all that awful if the Dawgs can get past South Carolina and Missouri on the road to kick things off. However, there’s no home game after October 6th to November 10th.

2018 Georgia Bulldogs Football Schedule

Sept. 1 Austin Peay

Sept. 8 at South Carolina

Sept. 15 Middle Tennessee

Sept. 22 at Missouri

Sept. 29 Tennessee

Oct. 6 Vanderbilt

Oct. 13 at LSU

Oct. 20 OPEN DATE

Oct. 27 vs. Florida (in Jacksonville)

Nov. 3 at Kentucky

Nov. 10 Auburn

Nov. 17 UMass

Nov. 24 Georgia Tech

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Florida Gators 2018 Football Schedule & Analysis

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Breaking down and analyzing the 2018 Florida Gators football schedule.


Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews & @PeteFiutak

2018 Florida Gators Football Schedule Analysis

– The Dan Mullen era starts out with a scrimmage against Charleston Southern, and it’s followed up by the annual – at least it had better be for Mullen – win over Kentucky. Throw in the Colorado State game, and it’s three straight home games to kick things off.

The SEC part of the fun ends for the Gators on November 10th, with Idaho and the Florida State games to close out the regular season campaign – the date with the Noles is in Tallahassee.

– The team goes almost a month without a home game, starting at Vanderbilt and going through the Should-Still-Be-Called-Cocktail Party against Georgia in Jacksonville. That includes the Tennessee game, too. Even stranger, the LSU game on October 6th is at home, but that’s the only home game for seven weeks.

– The LSU game is always a problem when it comes to interdivisional play, but there’s no Alabama to face, and there’s no Auburn. But there’s a funky irony game when Mullen has to go back to Starkville for the date with Mississippi State to end the September run.

2018 Florida Gators Football Schedule

Sept. 1 Charleston Southern

Sept. 8 Kentucky

Sept. 15 Colorado State

Sept. 22 at Tennessee

Sept. 29 at Mississippi State

Oct. 6 LSU

Oct. 13 at Vanderbilt

Oct. 20 OPEN DATE

Oct. 27 vs. Georgia (in Jacksonville)

Nov. 3 Missouri

Nov. 10 South Carolina

Nov. 17 Idaho

Nov. 24 at Florida State

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Arkansas Razorbacks 2018 Football Schedule & Analysis

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Breaking down and analyzing the 2018 Arkansas Razorbacks football schedule.


Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews & @PeteFiutak

2018 Arkansas Razorbacks Football Schedule Analysis

– The Chad Morris era started out relatively light and breezy, getting Eastern Illinois and North Texas around a road trip to Colorado State. Those aren’t total layups, and the offense will have to show up, but combine that and the date with Tulsa, and the program isn’t exactly going out of its way to play interesting non-conference matchups.

– The SEC season starts out at Auburn, and then the Texas A&M game is in AT&T Stadium, and then it’s Alabama – yikes. On the plus side, the Hogs get a ridiculous five straight SEC home games and don’t have a true road game – counting Little Rock as a home game, too – between September 22nd and November 17th.

– As always, Arkansas plays Missouri in interdivisional play, but this year it’s in Columbia to end the regular season. The other game against the East? At home against Vanderbilt. There’s no Georgia, Florida or Tennessee, and from the West, again, Alabama is a home game as is the date with LSU. Combine that with the non-conference slate without a game against a Power Five team, and there can’t be any complaints.

2018 Arkansas Razorbacks Football Schedule

Sept. 1 Eastern Illinois

Sept. 8 at Colorado State

Sept. 15 North Texas

Sept. 22 at Auburn

Sept. 29 vs. Texas A&M (in Arlington)

Oct. 6 Alabama

Oct. 13 Ole Miss

Oct. 20 Tulsa

Oct. 27 Vanderbilt

Nov. 3 OPEN DATE

Nov. 10 LSU

Nov. 17 at Mississippi State

Nov. 24 at Missouri

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Rodney Hood Trade Rumors: Multiple Teams Interested in Utah Swingman

The Utah Jazz have reportedly grown amenable to trading Rodney Hood in advance of the trade deadline at 3 p.m. ET on Feb. 8.                  
According to the New York Times’ Marc Stein, “there is a growing belief in league personnel circles” that the Jazz could deal Hood “with multiple teams expressing interest.”
ESPN.com’s Zach Lowe confirmed Utah has explored moving Hood before the deadline. 
Hood, 25, entered Friday night’s game against the New York Knicks averaging a career-high 16.7 points on 49.9 percent shooting from the field and 38.6 percent shooting from three. 
He’s currently in the final year of his rookie contact and will be due a $3.4 million qualifying offer this summer. Assuming that offer is tendered, Hood will become a restricted free agent. At that point, the Jazz could match any offer sheet Hood signs and keep him long-term or opt to let him walk. 
But if the Jazz want to avoid the drama and high costs that could accompany Hood’s free agency, getting some return now—perhaps in the form of expiring contracts and future draft picks—could be a way for the front office to get a head start on what’s sure to be a hectic offseason.  @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Derrius Guice 1st Athlete to Sign with Agency Representing Kendrick Lamar

Former LSU Tigers running back Derrius Guice confirmed Friday he is signing on as Top Dawg Entertainment’s first athlete after declaring for the 2018 NFL draft. 
“They were the first guys who came to me, just like LSU was the first school to offer me a scholarship,” Guice told ESPN.com’s Darren Rovell. “I didn’t forget that.”
Top Dawg Entertainment, which started as a record label, represents Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q and SZA, among others. 
This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.
Get the best sports content from the web and social in the new B/R app. Get the app to get the game.  @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Cavaliers Trade Rumors: Cleveland Pursuing DeAndre Jordan, Lou Williams Deals

The Cleveland Cavaliers are pursuing a trade for Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan ahead of the NBA’s Feb. 8 trade deadline, according to the New York Times’ Marc Stein. 
Furthermore, Stein reported the Cavaliers have “registered trade interest” in Clippers guard Lou Williams and have included center Tristan Thompson and swingman J.R. Smith in “various trade proposals.” 
Sam Amick of USA Today reported a deal for Jordan is not expected to be completed in the near future.
Stein also confirmed the Cavaliers have looked at acquiring Sacramento Kings point guard George Hill to stabilize their backcourt. 
Yahoo Sports’ Shams Charania first reported Friday that Cleveland was “expressing interest” in a possible trade for Hill. 
According to NBA.com’s David Aldridge, the Cavaliers “definitely” inquired about Williams but noted “talks so far have stalled” because the Clippers have asked for the Brooklyn Nets’ unprotected 2018 first-round pick in return. 
Aldridge also reported the Clippers and Williams—who is scheduled to become a free agent in July—remain engaged in discussions regarding a contract extension: 

Williams, 31, is currently in the midst of a career year. Through his first 43 appearances with the Clippers, the microwave scorer extraordinaire is averaging 23.2 points on 45.0 percent shooting from the field and  41.2 percent from three. 
As for Jordan, reports have long suggested the Cavaliers won’t be able to acquire him without parting ways with the Nets pick. 
On Jan. 6, the Plain Dealer’s Terry Pluto wrote the Clippers “would strongly consider” moving the big man if the Cavaliers included the likely lottery selection but cautioned “the Cavs don’t plan to trade that pick.”
However, it would be hard to fault Cleveland if that stance has changed of late. 
The Cavaliers are 3-8 over their past 11 games dating back to Christmas Day, and “several prominent players” acknowledged the team’s fragile state when they “expressed doubt that the problems—an aging roster, defensively challenged personnel and a glut of redundant role players—could simply be worked out through patience and a chance to coalesce when fully healthy,” according to ESPN.com’s Dave McMenamin.
The Milwaukee Bucks are also reportedly “keenly interested” in acquiring Jordan, according to the Racine Journal Times’ Gery Woelfel, but they are no longer considered the front-runners to land him. 
Jordan, 29, is in the final guaranteed year of his contract and owns a 15 percent trade kicker if dealt. He will be able to test free agency over the summer if he declines a $24.1 million player option for the 2018-19 campaign.  @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Auburn Tigers 2018 Football Schedule & Analysis

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Breaking down and analyzing the 2018 Auburn Tigers football schedule.


Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews & @PeteFiutak

2018 Auburn Tigers Football Schedule Analysis

– Auburn didn’t have a whole lot of fun it its last two games of last year in Atlanta – losing the SEC Championship to Georgia and to UCF in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. And now it’s starting out the 2018 season back in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium against Washington. However, there’s a good paycheck game against Alabama State the week after to get ready for the SEC season.

The other non-conference games against Southern Miss and Liberty won’t be an issue. Best of all, though, after that date with the Huskies to kick things off, the next four games – and five of the next six – are at home.

– It’s Tiger on Tiger action to start up the SEC slate, hosting LSU on September 15th, followed up by another West battle against Arkansas. Texas A&M has to come to Jordan-Hare, but in the division, the dates against Mississippi State and Ole Miss are on the road. Worst of all, so is the Iron Bowl against Alabama.

– As if the start against UW and the finish against the Tide wasn’t bad enough, the Tigers have to deal with the annual date vs. Georgia from the East in a rough road game in mid-November. The other interdivisional date is against Tennessee in mid-October, but that’s at home.

2018 Auburn Tigers Football Schedule

Sept. 1 vs. Washington (in Atlanta)

Sept. 8 Alabama State

Sept. 15 LSU

Sept. 22 Arkansas

Sept. 29 Southern Miss

Oct. 6 at Mississippi State

Oct. 13 Tennessee

Oct. 20 at Ole Miss

Oct. 27 OPEN DATE

Nov. 3 Texas A&M

Nov. 10 at Georgia

Nov. 17 Liberty

Nov. 24 at Alabama

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Kentucky Wildcats 2018 Football Schedule & Analysis

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Breaking down and analyzing the 2018 Kentucky Wildcats football schedule.


Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews & @PeteFiutak

2018 Kentucky Wildcats Football Schedule Analysis

– Central Michigan isn’t going to be a true scrimmage to get ready for the big start to the SEC season. If UK wants to break its long, long losing streak to Florida, it’s going to have to be great on September 8th with the trip to Gainesville.

It would’ve been nice to have the Murray State game before that – one more week to tune-up would’ve been nice – but nope. On the plus side, four of the first five games are at home, but …

– The Cats don’t get two home games in a row the rest of the way. They get a nice week off after going to Texas A&M, but they have to make trips to Missouri, Tennessee, and Louisville. Georgia has to come to Lexington, and so does South Carolina. Overall, it’s about as favorable an SEC slate as anyone could ask for, especially because …

– Kentucky doesn’t face Alabama, Auburn or LSU. Dealing with Texas A&M on the road will be a battle, but the annual interdivisional tie-in with Ole Miss is becoming a bigger break than ever.

2018 Kentucky Wildcats Football Schedule

Sept. 1 Central Michigan

Sept. 8 at Florida

Sept. 15 Murray State

Sept. 22 Mississippi State

Sept. 29 South Carolina

Oct. 6 at Texas A&M

Oct. 13 OPEN DATE

Oct. 20 Vanderbilt

Oct. 27 at Missouri

Nov. 3 Georgia

Nov. 10 at Tennessee

Nov. 17 Middle Tennessee

Nov. 24 at Louisville

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DeMarcus Cousins Doesn't Think Pelicans Will Trade Him Before Deadline

New Orleans Pelicans center DeMarcus Cousins said Friday that he doesn’t believe the Pels will move him prior to the Feb. 8 trade deadline, according to Marc J. Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated.
Cousins is in the final year of his contract and can become an unrestricted free agent during the offseason.
Cousins was named an All-Star starter Thursday and has now been named to the All-Star Game in each of the past four seasons.
As one half of a dynamic frontcourt duo with Anthony Davis, Cousins is averaging 25.3 points, 12.7 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.6 blocks and 1.6 steals per game this season.
Cousins is in the midst of his first full campaign with the Pelicans as they acquired him from the Sacramento Kings prior to last season’s trade deadline.
With Cousins and Davis leading the way, the Pels are tied with the Los Angeles Clippers for seventh in the Western Conference with a record of 23-21, which gives them a half-game lead over the ninth-place Denver Nuggets.
On Wednesday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on The Dan Le Batard Show (h/t Jake Madison of LockedOnPelicans.com) that New Orleans wants to re-sign Cousins during the offseason.
Boogie currently has the Pelicans on track to make their first playoff appearance since 2014-15. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Tony Ferguson Says Conor McGregor Fight Was Offered; 'Notorious' Turned It Down

Tony Ferguson told reporters Friday that a lightweight title fight with Conor McGregor was on the table, but The Notorious ultimately turned down UFC’s offer.
“They offered me Conor and Conor didn’t want to fight,” Ferguson said, according to ESPN.com’s Arash Markazi. 
Instead, Ferguson will square off against Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223 in April. 
      
This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.
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LSU Tigers 2018 Football Schedule & Analysis

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Breaking down and analyzing the 2018 LSU Tigers football schedule.


Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews & @PeteFiutak

2018 LSU Tigers Football Schedule Analysis

– Miami. In AT&T Stadium in Arlington. That’s it. That’s the big moment that will set the tone for the LSU season with so many big, tough games to go. Beat the Hurricanes, and the Tigers will be 4-0 in non-conference games – SE Louisiana, Louisiana Tech and Rice are the other three games – and with hope for a big season, Lose, and uh oh, because …

– The SEC season starts out at Auburn. There might be some big games at home, but sneaking out with a road win would be nice considering five of the next six games are in Baton Rouge. The Tigers get Alabama at home along with Ole Miss and Mississippi State from the West. Considering what’s coming in November with road games at Arkansas and Texas A&M, owning Death Valley is a must, especially because …

– The Tigers not only get Alabama at home, but they also face Georgia. The problem? They have to play Georgia in the first place, along with Florida from the East. Missing Vanderbilt, Missouri and Kentucky doesn’t help – LSU has to beat both teams from the other division, or else be perfect against the West.

2018 LSU Tigers Football Schedule

Sept. 1 vs. Miami (at Arlington)

Sept. 8 SE Louisiana

Sept. 15 at Auburn

Sept. 22 Louisiana Tech

Sept. 29 Ole Miss

Oct. 6 at Florida

Oct. 13 Georgia

Oct. 20 Mississippi State

Oct. 27 OPEN DATE

Nov. 3 Alabama

Nov. 10 at Arkansas

Nov. 17 Rice

Nov. 24 at Texas A&M

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Cavaliers Trade Rumors: George Hill Reportedly Drawing Interest from Cleveland

The Cleveland Cavaliers are reportedly “expressing interest” in a trade for Sacramento Kings point guard George Hill, according to Yahoo Sports’ Shams Charania.
Charania added the Cavaliers are “pursuing Hill to potentially slide into a dual-guard role, starting at either backcourt position or playing as a reserve.”
Hill signed a three-year, $57 million deal with the Kings in free agency, but those numbers are slightly misleading. While the 31-year-old is owed $20 million this season and $19 million for the 2018-19 campaign, his $18 million salary for the 2019-20 season is only guaranteed for $1 million. 
Still, the financial logistics of working out a trade for Hill won’t be easy for Cleveland. 
The defending Eastern Conference champions are currently over the salary cap and have exceeded the luxury tax threshold, which means they’ll have to match salaries in order to acquire the veteran floor general. 
In his first season with the Kings, Hill is averaging 10.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 0.9 steals per game while shooting 46.2 percent from the field and 45.6 percent from three. 
However, those numbers are primed to take a hit after head coach Dave Joerger told reporters Monday he will sit two veterans for each game moving forward in an effort to get his youngsters as much playing time as possible.  @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Jurgen Locadia Completes Brighton Record Transfer from PSV on 4-Year Contract

Brighton & Hove Albion have confirmed they have signed striker Jurgen Locadia from PSV Eindhoven for a club-record fee: 

The 24-year-old has signed a deal that will keep him at the club until 2022, although the club have not yet disclosed the transfer fee.
 
This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available. 
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Tom Brady's Hand Injury Alters Odds, Point Spread for Jaguars vs. Patriots Game

With questions surrounding New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s hand injury, there has been significant movement in the line of Sunday’s AFC Championship Game between the Pats and Jacksonville Jaguars. 
According to OddsShark, the Patriots opened as 9.5-point favorites.
Per Jon Campbell of OddsShark, the Pats are now 7.5- or seven-point favorites at sportsbooks, and one even pulled the game off the board.
OddsShark also tweeted that Bovada reported the Patriots will only be three-point favorites if Brady doesn’t play Sunday.
 
This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.
 
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Daily Five: SEC's 5 Most Important Games

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What are the five biggest games you’ll care about on the SEC 2018 football schedule – even if you don’t care about the SEC?


Daily Five: SEC’s Most Important Games of 2018

Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews & @PeteFiutak

5. LSU vs. Miami (in Arlington), Sept. 1

It’s one of those games and one of those moments that both programs really, really need. A loss for either side almost certainly means elimination from an real College Football Playoff talk.

Miami closed last year on a three-game losing streak. Lose, and it’ll make the rise under Mark Richt look like a bit of a mirage – at least so far.

LSU has to go to Auburn two weeks later, and has a whole lot of tough games left to deal with.

4. Clemson at Texas A&M, Sept. 8

Hey, Jimbo. Welcome to life at Texas A&M.

The contract will be brought up over and over and over agin, and the pressure will be there from the start to make the Aggies a big player in the SEC West right away. However, on a national scale, they have to deal with one of the top three teams in the country.

On the plus side, beat Clemson, and all of a sudden the season becomes something fun, and the SEC opener at Alabama a few games later will take on a whole other level of hype.

3. LSU at Auburn, Sept. 15

Yeah, the Auburn-Georgia game on November 10th should probably be here, or a little lower, and Georgia-LSU and Florida-Georgia are big deals, but let’s just assume that the Dawgs are going to dominate the East. The West games are going to be a bit bigger.

LSU was able to rally back to beat Auburn last season in one of the best games of 2017, but this time around, it’s the SEC opener for both with the pressure on to start hot.

LSU still has to deal with Georgia and Florida – along with the the showdowns against Alabama and the rest of the West. Auburn has it a whole lot easier for a while, but it goes to Georgia late in the year before traveling over to Tuscaloosa. AU had better take advantage of the home game, or else.

2. Alabama at LSU, Nov. 3

Will LSU ever beat Alabama again? The Tigers will have already have played Auburn, gone to Florida, and dealt with Georgia before getting a week off to face the defending national champs. With road games at Arkansas and Texas A&M still to go, this could be one of those watershed moments in the Ed Orgeron era.

And one of the more dangerous games for the Crimson Tide.

Alabama gets a week off, too, and the rest of the schedule is relatively light and breezy – there isn’t another true road game against a team that went bowling last season. This is by far the toughest game for the Tide to this point of the season until …

1. Auburn at Alabama, Nov. 24

In most years, this is simply an established great rivalry moment that everyone knows is good, but there’s probably a more important game on the SEC slate.

But not this year.

If Alabama beats LSU, barring some insane upset, the Crimson Tide will be 11-0 at this point and might have the West all wrapped up. At worst, they’re going to be 10-1.

Auburn has to start out against Washington, gets LSU at home early on, and has to go to Georgia. It should be good enough to get here at 10-1, but it might just be good enough to still be alive for the SEC West title in late November.

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@nfl Source: NCAA News

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Rudy Gobert to Be Activated vs. Knicks After Knee Injury

The Utah Jazz announced that center Rudy Gobert will return from a knee injury to play against the New York Knicks on Friday.
Gobert has missed Utah’s past 15 games due to a sprained PCL in his left knee, as well as a bone bruise in his tibia.
         
This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.
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Daily Cavalcade: Mike Locksley The Alabama Offensive Coordinator. Now Win It All Again.

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Nick Saban promoted from within making Mike Locksley the offensive coordinator. Great … now win another national title.


Daily Cavalcade of Whimsy

Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews & @PeteFiutak

Sorry if this take sucks, it’s not my fault …

I won three games as a head coach and all I got was this lousy offensive coordinator job.

Those who can’t, teach, and those who have issues as a head coach become the Alabama offensive coordinator.

Brian Daboll decided that being an NFL offensive coordinator was going to be more fun than being yelled at by Nick Saban, but the Crimson Tide offense should go on without a problem with the promotion of Mike Locksley as the offensive coordinator.

It’s the right move – especially considering Florida State wanted him – and there should be a good continuity to what the Tide like to do. And the best part for Saban is that if this works, there’s little chance this becomes a stepping-stone to a head coaching gig for his OC.

Locksley might be in the right job for a while. Finally, the revolving door of a job might be settled for more than ten minutes.

Lane Kiffin had a few coaching issues of his own before taking on the Alabama offensive coordinator job, and Steve Sarkisian had his problems before joining the fun. But that’s nothing compared to Locksley’s era at New Mexico.

The program went from good to 2-26 in the two-plus years from 2009 to 2011 under Locksley. Start from there, and continue to check the boxes.

There was a controversy with a secretary who claimed she was allegedly told she was too old for the job. That went away, but this all went down right about the same time as Locksley got suspended for punching an assistant in the face. Throw in another murky issue involving Locksley’s car being driven by a minor who got pulled over for a DWI and … he was 2-26.

Add in his time as an interim head man at Maryland, and his career record? 3-31.

But Locksley has been through far worse. Forget the New Mexico issues; he suffered the horror of losing his son just before the 2017 season started.

After dealing with personal and professional adversity at a massive magnitude, you think he’ll have a problem with the pressure of being Saban’s main offensive coordinator? Whatever.

Locksley’s a peerless recruiter – the guy got five-star talents to Illinois under Ron Zook – a master motivator, and above all else, a really, really smart and talented offensive mind.

He immediately locked into the Maryland offensive coordinator job after the New Mexico problems, was hired on as an assistant at Alabama two years ago, and now he’s the main man running the loaded offense.

He’s got the best backfield in college football to work with, another great O line, amazing receivers, and he’s already dealt with the Saban stare for a year. And now, he has to get used to the pressure of being in a slight bit of a no-win situation.

Win the national title, and Nick Saban throws another one on the pile and is praised for being the greatest head coach of all-time. Don’t win the national title – or if the offense sputters and struggles in any way – and it’s all on the offensive coordinator.

Just ask Kiffin and Sarkisian what that’s like.

Josh Gattis will come over from Penn State to handle the receivers, Locksley will help bring in more talent, and the Crimson Tide attack will keep on rolling.

Now win another national championship.

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@nfl Source: NCAA News

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D'Angelo Russell Cleared to Return from Knee Injury vs. Heat

After missing 31 games with a knee injury, D’Angelo Russell will return to the Brooklyn Nets for Friday’s game against the Miami Heat. 
Per Anthony Puccio of SB Nation, Russell is available for the Nets.   
Puccio added that Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson didn’t specifically mention a minutes restriction for Russell, but did talk about “integrating” the point guard back into things. 
      
This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.
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Kemba Walker Would Be 'Devastated' If Hornets Traded Him Amid Rumors

Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker made it clear Friday that he has no interest in getting traded.
According to Dan Feldman of Pro Basketball Talk, Walker said, “I would definitely be devastated if I was to get traded.” 
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Friday that the Hornets have made Walker available in trade discussions.
       
This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.
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Kemba Walker Trade Rumors: Hornets Making Star PG Available in Talks

The Charlotte Hornets figure to be sellers at the trade deadline, and point guard Kemba Walker is reportedly being made available to teams in need of backcourt help.
Per ESPN.com’s Adrian Wojnarowski, in an effort to free up money, the Hornets are “encouraging teams to make offers and appear eager to discuss attaching Walker to a larger trade where another team takes on one of the Hornets’ several far less desirable contracts.”
         
This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.
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Baker Mayfield Says He'll 'Play Anywhere That Gives Me a Chance'

Never one to hide his intense competitive spirit, Baker Mayfield has no problem playing for any NFL team that will take a chance on him.  
The Heisman Trophy winner from Oklahoma addressed his future on Twitter, noting he will “will go anywhere and strive to uplift a franchise and win ball games.”

This was in response to a live Instagram video featuring Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills, who played college football at Oklahoma from 2010-12, and Mayfield commented with the hashtag #GetMeToMiami.
       
This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.
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Mississippi State Bulldogs 2018 Football Schedule & Analysis

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Breaking down and analyzing the 2018 Mississippi State Bulldogs football schedule.


Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews & @PeteFiutak

2018 Mississippi State Bulldogs Football Schedule Analysis

– The Joe Moorhead era gets an easy start with Stephen F. Austin before diving into a road game at Kansas State that will make or break the non-conference part of the fun. The other two non-SEC games? Louisiana and Louisiana Tech. Beat the Wildcats in Manhattan; have a nice 4-0 base to work around.

– The SEC schedule starts out with the two dates against the East: at Kentucky and Florida. There’s no Georgia to deal with – that’s the only thing that matters. Going to Lexington might not be a breeze, but that means there’s a nice stretch of three homes games in four weeks before getting a week off. However, that last home date is against Auburn.

– The Bulldog off week comes at a perfect time. It gets a break right in the middle of the season, and just before having to go to LSU. But that’s the problem – the LSU date is on the road, as as is the Alabama game a few weeks later.

Texas A&M and Arkansas have to come to Starkville, but five days after dealing with the Hogs is the Egg Bowl against Ole Miss in Oxford.

2018 Mississippi State Bulldogs Football Schedule

Sept. 1 Stephen F. Austin

Sept. 8 at Kansas State

Sept. 15 Louisiana-Lafayette

Sept. 22 at Kentucky

Sept. 29 Florida

Oct. 6 Auburn

Oct. 13 OPEN DATE

Oct. 20 at LSU

Oct. 27 Texas A&M

Nov. 3 Louisiana Tech

Nov. 10 at Alabama

Nov. 17 Arkansas

Nov. 22 at Ole Miss

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@nfl Source: NCAA News

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Kevin Love Needs More Touches When Cavaliers Offense Struggles, Tyronn Lue Says

Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue wants to see Kevin Love get the ball more when the offense is struggling to score points.   
Speaking after Thursday’s 104-103 victory over the Orlando Magic, in which the Cavs’ nearly blew a 20-point lead, Lue noted the importance of being able to use Love in the post, per ESPN.com’s Dave McMenamin:
“I know Kevin is playing the 5 and sometimes he has 5s guarding him, but we still got to be able to get him touches and involve him in the game. I thought tonight he was great defensively, but we didn’t use him as much as we should have. But he still played through the game, and I thought he was great. But even in those offensive lulls, we got to still post him against 5s and just see what he can do down there.”
      
This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.
Get the best sports content from the web and social in the new B/R app. Get the app and get the game. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Edin Dzeko's Agent Shuts Down Chelsea Talk, Says Striker Wants to Stay at Roma

Edin Dzeko wants to stay at Roma rather than join Chelsea, according to his agent Irfan Redzepagic.
He spoke to Roma Giallorossa (h/t Football Italia) and dismissed speculation linking his client with the Blues:
“No, I don’t know anything about this. I have no information to that effect. Dzeko is already a Roma player, you know that.
“Look, every time we talk about Dzeko the names of clubs like Chelsea, Chinese clubs, Mexican clubs come up. These are just rumours. The truth is that Dzeko wants to stay at Roma.”
Sky Sports’ Kaveh Solhekol reported on the Blues’ interest in Dzeko:

On Chelsea, Redzepagic added: “Have I spoken to [Antonio] Conte or Chelsea? My role means I can’t reveal certain transfer market dynamics. I understand the question, but I have a very specific role. All I can say is that Conte likes Dzeko. But then who doesn’t like Edin?”
Sports journalists Paul Brown and Mootaz Chehade believes the Bosnian would be a strong addition at Stamford Bridge:

The 31-year-old scored 72 goals in 189 appearances for Manchester City, where he contributed to two Premier League titles, the FA Cup and the League Cup.
Though he netted just six in his final season with the Sky Blues and 10 in his first campaign with Roma, Dzeko has enjoyed a renaissance in the Italian capital and last year bagged 39 goals in all competitions, including 29 Serie A strikes to earn the title of capocannoniere.
This season, Dzeko has scored 12 goals and laid on four assists in all competitions.
With Alvaro Morata struggling of late and Conte appearing to have little trust in Michy Batshuayi, who has started just two Premier League matches this season, adding another option up front would be useful for Chelsea.
As a relatively short-term option, the Blues could do far worse than Dzeko given his Premier League experience and his prolific goalscoring record of late.
However, it seems Chelsea will need to look elsewhere to add to their firepower.   @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Schalke Confirm Leon Goretzka Will Join Bayern Munich in the Summer

Schalke 04 sporting director Christian Heidel on Friday announced that midfielder Leon Goretzka will join Bayern Munich on a free transfer when his contract expires at the Veltins-Arena in the summer.
Heidel revealed the news via Schalke’s official Twitter account:

He added that Goretzka, 22, has completed a medical with the German champions and signed a contract, as Schalke’s Twitter account relayed:
“We were very sorry to hear this. [Bayern CEO] Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told us yesterday that Leon has completed a medical. We are losing a very very good player. He has signed a contract with Bayern from the 1st July 2018.
“We did everything we could to try and keep him. In summer he and his agent reached an agreement, but he wanted time to develop. We can cope with this situation, it wasn’t a complete surprise. We are prepared for this.”

The Germany international has long been linked with Bayern, but Metro’s Coral Barry also reported Goretzka was a target for Arsenal, Barcelona, Manchester United and Liverpool.
It is little surprise, especially given his contract situation, that a number of Europe’s top clubs were pursuing him, as he is a high-quality player.
An accomplished box-to-box midfielder, Goretzka boasts a composure and authority that belies his relative youth.
Per Squawka, he contributes in defence and attack and should be a fine addition to an impressive Bayern squad:

It is a big blow for Schalke that he has opted to depart, especially as they will receive no fee for him.
Goretzka joined the club from VfL Bochum for between €3 million and €4 million in 2013 and has made 101 appearances for Schalke in the Bundesliga. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Australian Open 2018: Friday Results, Highlights, Scores Recap from Melbourne

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal took 110 minutes to beat Bosnia’s Damir Dzumhur 6-1, 6-3, 6-1 in the third round of the 2018 Australian Open on Friday in Melbourne.  
Men’s third seed Grigor Dimitrov also booked his spot in the fourth round as he downed Andrey Rublev in four sets, while Great Britain’s Kyle Edmund beat Nikoloz Basilashvili 7-6 (0), 3-6, 4-6, 6-0, 7-5.
In the women’s draw fourth seed Elina Svitolina brushed aside 15-year-old Marta Kostyuk in just under an hour, and Belgium’s Elise Mertens beat Alize Cornet 7-5, 6-4.
Read on for a closer look at the Day 5 action. 
           
Selected Results
Men’s Draw
(1) Rafael Nadal bt. (28) Damir Dzumhur: 6-1, 6-3, 6-1
(3) Grigor Dimitrov bt. (30) Andrey Rublev: 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 
Kyle Edmund bt. Nikoloz Basilashvili: 7-6 (0), 3-6, 4-6, 6-0, 7-5
            
Women’s Draw
(4) Elina Svitolina bt. Marta Kostyuk: 6-2, 6-2
Carla Suarez Navarro bt. Kaia Kanepi: 3-6, 6-1, 6-3
 
Full results can be found at the Australian Open’s official website.
 
              
Friday Recap 
Nadal blew Dzumhur away in an opening set that lasted just 22 minutes. Two breaks of serve saw the Spaniard 5-0 ahead in a flash, and although Dzumhur did finally get a hold on the board, he could do nothing to stop Nadal serving out to go a set ahead.
Another break from the top seed saw him 2-0 ahead at the start of the second set, but Dzumhur managed to draw level at 2-2 with a break of his own, sealing it with a fine backhand passing shot after pulling Nadal to the net.
It was an excellent response from the Bosnian as he proved he could cause problems for his auspicious opponent but Nadal regained the initiative immediately as he broke straight back.
The second set was a much more competitive affair than the first had been as Nadal’s level dropped slightly and Dzumhur upped his game.
However, proof of Nadal’s superiority showed in his ability to continue to win games with percentage play, and he broke again to seal the second set.
The 16-time Grand Slam winner then took 10 minutes to hold his serve in the first game of the third set before again breaking Dzumhur at the first time of asking for a 2-0 lead, a brilliant pick-up earning him the crucial lead after a delicate drop-shot.
From there the match was effectively over and, after another break, Nadal served for the match and sealed the win with an ace on his third match point, per Eurosport UK:

Teenager Kostyuk had caught the eye in becoming the youngest player since 1997 to reach the third round of a Grand Slam, but she caused Svitolina few problems in their clash on the Rod Laver Arena.
The two Ukrainian players competed for just 59 minutes before the world No. 4 booked her spot in the fourth round.

Svitolina’s first-serve percentage of 71 compared to Kostyuk’s paltry 37 proved the difference as the 23-year-old claimed five breaks of serve in the match.
Per BBC Sport, Kostyuk took an admirable attitude to her defeat after an impressive tournament: “[I learned] a lot. How much do you have to pay Svitolina to have a one-hour lesson? I got it for free.” @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Jose Mourinho Open to Cristiano Ronaldo Return Amid Real Madrid Exit Rumours

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has reportedly given the green light for Cristiano Ronaldo to return to Old Trafford after recent reports indicated the Portuguese superstar is unhappy at Real Madrid. 
According to La Sexta’s Jose Luis Sanchez (via AS), United have undertaken an economic study on the viability of re-signing Ronaldo, who will turn 33 next month, and have established that, despite a potential €400 million outlay on transfer fee and wages, the “media impact and marketing potential” would make it a worthwhile deal.
Per Manu Sainz of AS, Ronaldo wants to leave Real as he feels “betrayed” after not being offered the new contract he was promised following the UEFA Champions League victory back in June, and his preference is to return to United.
His current deal at the Santiago Bernabeu still runs to 2021, so United would have to shell out a huge transfer fee to persuade Real to sell Ronaldo, potentially around €200 million, per AS.

In 2017-18 Ronaldo has finally shown signs he may be on the wane after a decade of almost unrelenting brilliance.
He has netted just four times in La Liga this season as Real have dropped 19 points back from table-topping Barcelona.
However, given Ronaldo made his name at United and helped them win three Premier League titles and a UEFA Champions League during his six seasons at the club, most Red Devils fans would likely welcome him back with open arms.
Mourinho is the key man who needs to be convinced, though, and it seems he is open to reuniting with Ronaldo.
The pair enjoyed success together during Mourinho’s Real tenure from 2010 to 2013 as they won a La Liga title, a Copa del Rey and a Spanish Super Cup, but they did not enjoy the best of relationships.
Per the report in AS, “the passage of time has smoothed over any differences,” which will be crucial if Ronaldo is to make a dramatic return to United and work under Mourinho again.   @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Chelsea Reportedly Target Roma's Edin Dzeko After Andy Carroll Injury

Chelsea are reportedly eyeing a move for Roma striker Edin Dzeko after former £20 million target Andy Carroll was ruled out for four weeks with an ankle injury. 
According to MailOnline’s Simon Jones and Matt Maltby, in their search for a new back-up striker to replace Michy Batshuayi, Chelsea are now planning a £40 million move for Dzeko, 31, and his Roma team-mate Emerson Palmieri, who plays at left-back.
Per Jones and Maltby, Roma’s preference would be to not let Dzeko go, but Chelsea are prepared to offer them Batshuayi on loan as part of the deal.
However, the Serie A outfit are reportedly holding out for more money, per Sky Italy (via Sky Sports’ Kaveh Solhekol):

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has never shown much faith in Batshuayi, who joined the Blues in the summer of 2016.
The Belgian forward has been granted just three Premier League starts in his time at Stamford Bridge, and it seems clear he is headed for the exit.
Alvaro Morata is the first-choice No. 9 at Chelsea, but there is little cover for him, and the west London outfit have been linked with a number of targets who could bolster their striking ranks.
West Ham United’s Carroll looked to be the Blues’ first choice before he picked up an injury, while Stoke City’s Peter Crouch, Tottenham Hotspur’s Fernando Llorente and Crystal Palace’s Christian Benteke have also been linked, per Jones and Maltby.
Dzeko is surely the best of the strikers on Chelsea’s radar. He netted 29 goals and provided nine assists in the Italian top flight last term and has returned nine goals and three assists in 2017-18.
He also has the physicality Chelsea seem to be looking for and boasts previous Premier League experience having spent five seasons at Manchester City between 2011 and 2016. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Chelsea: Preview, Live Stream and TV Info

Premier League champions Chelsea travel to Brighton & Hove Albion in the Premier League on Saturday, with the Blues desperate for points after slipping down to fourth in the table.
Chelsea coach Antonio Conte has overseen three consecutive league draws, and the Stamford Bridge outfit appear short of ideas.
It has been a credible introduction to life in the top flight for the Seagulls, who have 23 points from 23 matches.
Brighton could climb as high as 10th with a shock victory, which would in turn dent Chelsea’s chances of a top-four finish.
Here is how you can watch the action:
             
Date: Saturday, Jan. 20.
Time: 12:30 p.m. (GMT)/7:30 a.m. (ET)
TV: Sky Sports Premier League (UK), NBCSN (U.S)
Stream: Sky Go, NBC Sports Live, fuboTV
            
Preview

The post-festive calendar has been an underwhelming period for Conte and his champions.
The departure of striker Diego Costa to Atletico Madrid has made the Blues a less potent team, with the Spaniard’s aggression sorely missed.
Eden Hazard has also failed to sparkle with consistency. He has only two assists to his name to add to the six goals he has scored in the Premier League this term, and as a unit.

Hazard has been substituted multiple times by Conte this term, but the manager said he is not concerned if the Belgian disapproves, according to Simon Stone of BBC Sport.
Conte said:
“It is not important. I decide. I am the coach. My first task is to do the best for the team and the club, not to make every player happy.
[…]
“Every press conference there is always this question about whether I’m worried about making my players happy. No. I’m worried to win, otherwise we would risk finishing 20th in the table.”

Brighton have impressed fans with their endeavour since promotion from the EFL Championship and are well positioned before the run-in.
The Seagulls have won five and drawn eight, and they have been a difficult side to beat in England’s top division.
Chelsea need to start winning on a regular basis once again, and a 2-0 victory against Brighton last December points to a comfortable game at the American Express Community Stadium on Saturday.
However, the Blues have failed to win in six of their past 11 encounters in all competitions, giving Brighton a modicum of hope as the big guns arrive in town. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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UFC Heavyweight Champ Stipe Miocic Balances Life as Fighter and First Responder

The heavyweight champion of the world is making coffee for everyone.
The fire station in Valley View, Ohio, is a lot like other places: The kitchen is the central gathering place. Firefighters and visitors shuffle in one by one and seat themselves around the rectangular, church-social table that fills the center of the room. There’s not much space between the table and the counters, so the background noise of the morning is the scrape of folding chairs along the linoleum floor as people scoot forward to let someone by, followed by the quick response of, “Nah, man, you’re fine, you’re fine.”
It’s a Monday morning in October, and Greater Cleveland is getting cold. The champ reaches out to each person in turn, lifting the cup from their hands—how do you take it?—before gently returning it full. Careful! It’s hot!
Everyone settles in to recap their weekends. The banter moves from golf to TV shows to even, for a few bracing moments, the Browns. Stipe Miocic is not the UFC heavyweight champion at this table. He’s a firefighter and a paramedic with the Village of Valley View Fire Department, and this is his happy place.
“I’m obsessed with golf now,” he says to everyone and no one. “I want to get a simulator. I bet I could build one. How does that work?”
At 6’4″, he’s tall, but not so tall that he casts a shadow over the assemblage. He frequently breaks into a wide grin that’s part Woody Harrelson and part James Bond villain on Christmas morning. People describe Miocic with a few staple phrases. “Meat and potatoes.” “Soft-spoken.” “Classic Midwesterner.” At this table, these are not familiar descriptors. Here, he’s boisterous, gentle, funny, stubborn, boyish. It’s hard to find the guy who, in the public eye, can’t seem to avoid his own cliche.
Under a navy blue fleece emblazoned with the department’s logo, he is obviously in shape, but again, not in an eye-popping way. The cauliflower ear and the lumpy terrain of his face—a good deal rougher in person than on TV—are the only clear tells of a professional athlete.
That is, until you shake his hand.

The thing is gnarled and hard as raw bone. It’s instantly clear you are touching a weapon. The hands that just sugared everyone’s coffee are the same that knocked out Fabricio Werdum, Mark Hunt, Alistair Overeem, Junior dos Santos and nine other professional fighters across a 17-2 pro career. Those are the hands that jab, feint, parry and fool opponents until they can lace through with thudding power, growing almost sentient at the first sign of weakness or blood. Those are the hands of the baddest man on the planet, as the UFC heavyweight champion is commonly known. Those are the hands that on January 20 will duel with those of Francis Ngannou, the Cameroonian-French phenom with a barreling hype train and his own ghastly highlight reel. If Miocic can win—which he’s not favored to do—he’ll set the UFC record for heavyweight title defenses.
As it happens, those hands are the same ones that restart stopped hearts, splint broken bones, insert IV needles, administer drugs from aspirin to morphine and comfort vulnerable people on the worst days of their lives. As a first responder, Miocic takes part in many of the roughly 800 calls that Valley View takes each year. He has saved lives and he has lost them, many times over.

“I love what I do because I go train, then I come here and it’s a total 180,” he says. “It’s calm, collected. We talk about fighting, but we also talk about work, about life, what we’re having for dinner. It breaks me off from fighting, and it keeps me grounded. These guys check me a lot. I don’t act like I’m better than anyone, but they keep me grounded.”
He’s been a firefighter for nine years now, starting well before it became clear he could make a real run in MMA. Since then, the champ has found fame and fortune in the cage. According to public records, in 2017 Miocic, 35, earned $690,000 for one fight, a win over dos Santos. In 2016, he took in a reported $930,000 combined for three victories. Miocic doesn’t even know how much he made last year as a part-time paramedic, splitting about 10 shifts a month between Valley View and nearby Oakwood. It wasn’t a lot, especially compared with his fight purses. The average full-time firefighter earns about $52,000 per year, according to national estimates.
More than a few pro MMA fighters, even at the UFC level, are forced to work second or third jobs, making ends meet as instructors, bouncers or something unrelated to fighting. Sometimes MMA is the side job. Miocic doesn’t have this problem anymore. Still, he continues on at the firehouse.
There is more than one reason why, but the first one is the clearest. 
“I like being there for a person that needs you,” Miocic said. “No matter if they’re just a little bit sick or if they’re in full [cardiac] arrest or something. Doing the best you can to get them stable and get them to the hospital … The whole fireman aspect, helping people any time, day or night, I just love it. I love every second of it, just knowing there’s a chance I could help someone.”                                 
The Locker Room
Growing up in the Cleveland area, the grandson of Croatian immigrants, Miocic gravitated to athletics. Gifted with size, strength, speed and an incredible work ethic, Miocic excelled at more or less every sport he tried. He was a good wrestler, but baseball was his first calling. He went on to play for Cleveland State, even garnering some Major League interest. (He also wrestled at Cleveland State and became a Golden Gloves boxing champion before taking up MMA.) 
Still, Miocic realized a career in pro sports was not exactly the surest bet. Understanding his own propensity for action, he considered joining the Coast Guard. Ultimately, friends pointed him toward firefighting.
“I can’t be behind a desk,” Miocic says. “I hate dressing up. … But I just love helping people. I want to help. I want to give back. Without that, I wouldn’t have any purpose.”
Breaking bones one day and putting them back together on another may seem incongruous to some.And in a way, it most certainly is. But for Miocic, firefighting and cagefighting hold plenty of similarities. When it comes to being a first responder, Miocic doesn’t need the money. What he does seem to need is its social infrastructure. The firehouse is not similar to a locker room. It is a locker room, only with different gear and objectives. In this setting, Miocic can be himself. It is, and always has been, his native environment. The firehouse, then, may be a kind of hedge against the inevitable day when he’ll no longer be a pro athlete.
“I always have to be having fun, busting balls,” Miocic says. “People don’t understand.”
As he holds court in the kitchen, it becomes clear that Miocic has two modes: very serious, which is the side that comes out when he’s working, and very unserious, which is literally all the rest of the time. When he’s in his element, Unserious Stipe has a well-earned reputation as a prankster. But he’s more than that. He’s a bona fide storyteller.
Setting a scene with sweeps of those lethal hands, Miocic relays the tale of a Cleveland Indians game, where, during his full-throated efforts to secure a few baseballs for a nearby kid, he annoyed a well-dressed woman in a plum seat nearby and very well may have terrified a batboy, who was concerned about breaking team rules by tossing balls into the stands. As Miocic tells the story, each character has a different voice, even a different posture. No one is denigrated (much). He gets the baseballs for the kid. The room is in stitches.

Then there are the paramedic’s war stories. 
“I had a call once, it was this 80-year-old guy who had cut his leg with a chainsaw,” Miocic says. “It was like this 12-inch cut. You couldn’t see the bone, but only because of all the blood and tissue in it. And he was just walking around on it, like, ‘Meh, it hurts a little bit,’ like, ‘Hey, this sucks.’
“But he was walking around. He was just so tough. Then I went to get an IV needle and get him going on that, and he was like, ‘Oh no, that’s gonna hurt!’ I was like, Is he for real right now? We patched it up. But that guy was an animal.”
Anyone familiar with first responder culture understands the dark humor and raucous storytelling that are traded there like currency. It’s a kind of release, a critical step in processing the stress and emotion of the job. Miocic is good at this, and it’s not hard to see that this quality, as much as or even more than being good at his job or being a UFC champion, is what endears him to his firehouse colleagues.
On this Monday morning, the hijinks reach another level when Miocic’s favorite comedic partner, station chief Ken Papesh, enters the kitchen.
The two greet each other with an exaggerated bro hug, milking the moment for laughs. Papesh is young for a fire chief and fairly new in the role. His thick build could make him nearly as imposing a figure as Miocic if not for his shock of blonde hair and steady grin. Like Miocic, Papesh likes to keep things light if he can help it. At the same time, he’s fairly thoughtful when the time is right, playing the straight man and counterweight to Miocic’s clowning.
When asked what a paramedic’s job typically entails, Miocic searches for the words.
“We’re just like an escort, or a chauffeur,” he says. “But in a healthy way, I guess you could say. Making sure that when they get to the hospital, we’ve already established that process of healing them, and they know what’s going on and they have more access to more things.”
Then he pauses, having realized two things simultaneously: that he has probably not offered an ideal description, and that he now has a chance to antagonize Papesh, who has quietly slipped into the next room. 
“Kenny!” Miocic calls out. “That’s a good explanation, right? We’re like an escort. Paramedics. Right? We’re like an escort?” 
“No, we are not like an escort,” Papesh says from the other room. “Not at all.”
“I mean like a chauffeur,” Miocic said. “Paramedics are like a chauffeur.”
Papesh walks back toward the kitchen.
“Our job,” he says, “is to stabilize someone and transport them to the appropriate facility.”
“OK, that’s exactly what I said. A healthier version of an escort.”
“A healthier version of an escort.”
“You know what I’m saying. I just say it in different words.”
You can see that Miocic, Papesh and everyone else in the room take energy from all of this, just as one might from a workout.
“The firehouse is a brotherhood,” Papesh says. “You are the only person who’s allowed to continually beat and pick on your brother. And that’s the way it is here. Nobody outside is allowed to mess with us, but inside, it’s constant. … When he got back from beating Roy Nelson [in 2013], the next shift he was here, he was mopping floors.”
Even so, when the alarm sounds, Miocic locks into the job, colleagues say. When a task is at hand, he is all business.
“He and I were together on some pretty sick patients, and he was spot-on the whole time,” Papesh says. “We like to goof off, and people might take that for not knowing how to do your job, but it’s the exact opposite. When it’s time to do your job, it’s time. I think you can see that in his fighting, too.”
Comfort Zones
The champ has achieved a solid level of fame, particularly in Cleveland, but so far it hasn’t reached the kind of tipping point that would make his second job untenable. You get the feeling Miocic would be miserable if he couldn’t go on calls anymore or go out to eat with his friends.
Miocic is always willing to sign something, take a picture or chat, but you can see him start to squirm and then glaze over, like a young boy getting his cheeks pinched in church, when the attention reaches a certain level or becomes excessively formal.
His fellow firefighters get that.
“We take advantage of ensuring that he gets recognized when it’s appropriate,” Papesh says. “We were out in the community doing a training, and I had just gotten promoted, and he kept calling me ‘Chief.’ I was just not there yet with that. So I was like, ‘Dude, knock it off.’ And he wouldn’t knock it off. So when we went into this big main area, I go, ‘Hey, everybody, the champ’s here! The champion of the UFC is here! Come get your pictures!’ At the hospital, he gets recognized too. And he gets so uncomfortable. That’s the best part.”
Some UFC brass and fans may wish Miocic would bring his fun-loving side out into the open, would bring Very Unserious Stipe to the press conference instead of his sterner doppelganger. Miocic is regularly described in the media as “soft-spoken.” Miocic is not soft-spoken. It’s more that, when the cameras roll and press conference begins, he just isn’t having fun and kind of shuts down. There is not always a lot of yarn-spinning in that setting, despite how naturally that comes to him. Hello, Serious Stipe. Out comes that reluctance, dutifully answering questions but stashing the fun and humor for when he’s safely back in the treehouse.
“I hate them so much,” Miocic says of news conferences and the like. “I like training and hanging out at home.”

Miocic is frequently held up as a kind of athletic embodiment of his hometown. That’s a double-sided coin.
On one side, many Clevelanders see themselves in Miocic’s work ethic and his tendency to have to travel a longer road than others. That’s a fair assessment. After all, he had to pile up an 8-2 UFC record (five of those wins were knockouts) before receiving a title fight in the comparatively thin heavyweight division. Once he had the shot, he promptly flattened the favored Werdum in less than three minutes.

That was May 14, 2016, 36 days before LeBron James and the Cavaliers ended Cleveland’s half-century drought of major sports championships. Miocic led the victory parade. The native son has become not only a symbol of the city but also a good-luck charm to those Clevelanders who follow sports, which is pretty much all of them.
“He’s one of us,” says Papesh, also a Cleveland native. “He’s the perfect person to carry forth what Cleveland is. Hardworking, don’t get anything for free, nothing’s handed to you. How many times did he have to fight to get a title shot? How many times did he have to prove himself? It’s what Cleveland is, and I think Cleveland has latched on.”
Miocic is unabashed about his preference for those places and faces that are familiar to him. He likes his privacy. The flip side of that tight-knit social fabric is the risk of becoming insular, even mistrustful. Cleveland has been described by its own citizens as having that quality. If Miocic embodies the city, he carries that gene as well.
There is not an introverted bone in Miocic’s body, but there seems to be a sense of wariness when it comes to promoting himself and his own fights, and that instinct could be self-defeating.
It might be part of why Miocic, for all his knockouts and championships and organic likability, perpetually seems to take a back seat to his opponents. That is certainly the case in the run-up to his bout with Ngannou.

At a recent media event to promote their fight, which was chronicled by the Los Angeles Times, Ngannou, a charismatic 31-year-old with God’s own left hook and a compelling backstory of his own, said Miocic “will try to survive, but whatever he’s going to try, I will touch him and connect, and you know what happens when I connect.”
UFC President Dana White claimed Ngannou’s punching power is equivalent to 96 horsepower, that his punch is “more powerful than a 12-pound sledgehammer being swung from full force overhead” and like getting “hit by a Ford Escort going as fast as it can.” A bit of a stretch, most likely, but splashy all the same.
Miocic responded to it all with the verbal equivalent of yawns.
“This is what I signed up for,” Miocic said at the event. “Why would I be intimidated by another man?”

The calm is admirable, and Miocic acknowledges that he “loves” being the underdog, as oddsmakers have him against Ngannou. But in a world where much of the responsibility for selling fights rests on the fighters themselves—and that’s according to White himself—Miocic is not always a compelling salesman. It may not be that fans view Miocic as the inferior fighter. They just lend their attention to that which works the hardest to capture it.
Miocic steadfastly insists he doesn’t care about such things, but those things may have something to do with his circuitous path to the title and what have been, by his own estimation, relatively paltry paydays in the past.

If the public heard a Miocic tale or two along the lines of what visitors hear in the firehouse, any perception that he is uninteresting would vaporize pretty quickly. Now, following productive new contract progress with the UFC, perhaps Miocic and UFC owners WME-IMG will invest more energy in the champ. For now, it’s an open question. 
‘A Very, Very Good Coach’

Monday morning is now Monday evening, and it’s time to train. Strong Style is a sprawling mixed martial arts training facility in a light-industrial commercial zone not far outside Cleveland. Naturally, a huge image of Miocic decorates its front facade.
Inside, a kids’ class has just let out, and a stream of youngsters scurry around, snatching up clothing and gear. Jessica Eye, the other Strong Style fighter currently under UFC contract, patrols the floor, surveying the scene and hobnobbing with visitors.
In the fitness area, set apart from the huge grappling mat and sparring cage, Miocic’s wife, Ryan, hops on the treadmill. Stipe and Ryan met at a firehouse. It was six years ago, and Ryan was introduced to the then-up-and-coming Miocic by her brother, also a firefighter at the Oakwood station.
Across the gym, a bystander spots Miocic, who is standing off to the side of the gym’s large central mat with his head coach, Marcus Marinelli. 
“Oh, man! Stipe!” says the man. “Can I get a picture?”
“Yeah, of course,” Miocic responds with perfect equanimity, as if he had been asked to pass the salt.
“He doesn’t care about being recognized,” Ryan says, slightly winded as the treadmill gets rolling in earnest. “He’s so normal. He doesn’t realize that when he talks to people, they might be in awe. That’s why people relate to him and like him so much. I think he means everything to [Cleveland residents]. He’s their Rocky Balboa. He’s different from other athletes.”

Trained as a hospice nurse, she also understands what Miocic derives from his work as a paramedic. 
“It’s a totally different gratification [than fighting],” she says. “He wins a fight and it is gratifying because you train hard, you work hard, and you want to win. But a first responder is totally different. People look at you in times of desperation. The feeling you get from helping people in that time of their lives is such a high.”
Here, Miocic helps set an atmosphere much like the one at the firehouse. When it’s time to go to work, a mask drops and Miocic dials in. But up until that moment, it’s all fun and games. And as with the firehouse, it serves a purpose.
“In my amateur days, I think it was like my fourth or fifth fight, there was a guy everybody was saying, ‘Oh, he’s gonna beat your ass,'” Miocic recalls. “And we’re backstage and Marc was screaming at me about everything I had to do and stuff. And I look at him and go, ‘Are you done?’ And he keeps yelling so I go over there and boop. I booped his nose. Then I say, ‘We trained our d–ks off for this, and there’s nothing more we can do. We’re either going to win or we’re going to lose, but stop. You’re making me nervous.'”
Leaning back in his office chair, Marinelli offers a counter.
“He’s a very large child,” Marinelli says with a grin. “He wore a tutu to sparring once. He came in here once wearing a bunny suit. But there are two sides to Stipe. There’s his humor. He’s always good-natured. We’re all very close. But there’s a side of him that’s pure killer.”

With his wife, training partners and coaches around, Strong Style represents another home base for Miocic. It’s an atmosphere he likes to take with him. Ryan never misses a fight in person. Firehouse buddies sometimes travel to events too. 
“Every fight, I go,” Ryan said. “He would feel weird if he walked out and didn’t see me.”
Now Miocic, Marinelli and a sparring partner are in the cage at Strong Style.
“Counter,” barks Marinelli. “Try to counter everything. Every shot. Pop! Pop!”
Miocic does it, sweat rising on his shoulders and soaking his tank top. In October, no one knew for sure that Miocic would face Ngannou next. But no one seems concerned either way. As it is when he goes on a call and his training snaps into place, he is all business inside Strong Style’s cage.
“Stipe is very, very intelligent, in a lot of ways,” Marinelli says. “He watches opponents and sees their tendencies almost immediately. He’ll walk past another fighter here in the gym and say, ‘You’re holding your left hand too low’ without breaking his stride, and he’ll be right. He gets it. … At some point, he’s going to be a very, very good coach.”
Only those behind the proverbial curtain, it seems, are fully privy to the real Miocic, the first responder and life of the party, making coffee in the firehouse kitchen, hanging out with people who aren’t asking him to fight so hard.
“If I couldn’t help people, life would be boring,” Miocic says. “I’d have no purpose. Just because, when I go out to dinner with my friends, I buy dinner for everybody. They don’t look at me as the UFC heavyweight champ. They look at me as the big, dumb, big-headed kid they hang out with.
“I’m not dumb, though.”
Scott Harris covers MMA and other sports for Bleacher Report. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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How a 98-Win MLB Team Has Plummeted to 100-Loss Candidate in 2 Years

The sinking ship metaphors are too easy and too cruel for Pittsburgh Pirates fans. Yet, it must be written: In the span of two short years, the Bucs have gone from a team that won 98 games to one that might lose 100. 
It’s a plunge that makes Davy Jones’ locker look like the shallow end of the community pool.
On Jan. 13, the Pirates traded ace Gerrit Cole to the Houston Astros. Two days later, they sent outfielder Andrew McCutchen to the San Francisco Giants. Presto change-o, a weakly whipping white flag replaced their black skull-and-crossbones banner.
Subsequently, two-time All-Star and super-utilityman Josh Harrison released a statement saying “perhaps it would be better for all involved” if he were also dealt, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. 
No shocker there. As Harrison added in his statement, “I want to win, I want to contend, I want to win championships in 2018, 2019 and beyond.” The opportunity to do that in Pittsburgh is sunk.
It didn’t have to be this way. In 2013, the Pirates snapped an ignoble streak of 20 consecutive losing seasons and finished 94-68. They beat the Cincinnati Reds in the National League Wild Card Game before losing three games to two to the St. Louis Cardinals in the division series. They were a squad on the rise.

In 2014, Pittsburgh finished 88-74 and snagged another wild-card spot but lost to the San Francisco Giants and postseason buzzsaw Madison Bumgarner in the do-or-die contest.
Then, in 2015, the Pirates peaked at 98-64 before falling again in the NL Wild Card Game, this time to the Chicago Cubs.
Three postseason forays, three dispiriting exits.
That’s when the wind began to gust away from Pittsburgh’s sails. An 83-loss 2016 was followed by an 87-loss 2017. Only the lowly Reds kept the Pirates from the division cellar in the latter go-around.
A number of factors were responsible for the decline. 
McCutchen, a five-time All-Star and the NL MVP in 2013, endured a steep statistical dive in 2016. Infielder Jung Ho Kang looked like part of the team’s future after coming over from Korea in 2015, but a drunk-driving arrest and subsequent prison sentence in his home country derailed that plan. 
In April 2017, Starling Marte was suspended 80 games for a positive performance-enhancing drug test.
Some of that isn’t the Pirates’ fault. Good players fade. Others make poor choices. 

On the other hand, ownership has been stingy, as Sports Illustrated’s Jon Tayler spelled out:
“Keep in mind that [principal owner Bob] Nutting is a billionaire who owns a newspaper conglomerate and is the chairman of a ski resort in Pennsylvania. Keep in mind that, before the 2017 season, Forbes valued the Pirates as being worth $1.25 billion. Keep in mind that the Pirates are revenue sharing recipients, and that their $109 million payroll in 2017 was 25th in the league, some $50 million below the MLB average.”
Nutting could have spent more. He could have opened his wallet and built around the largely homegrown, championship-caliber core that emerged beginning in 2013. Instead, the Pirates are initiating a fire sale.
“It’s refreshing to come to an environment where the team is willing to continually put resources into the club and continue to move forward and try to provide the best possible product for its fans,” Cole said after being traded to the Astros, per Elizabeth Bloom of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Take that as you will.
Pittsburgh got some interesting players back in the Cole and McCutchen deals, including a couple who could help in the big leagues in 2018. They also punted on any hope of contention in the near term.
According to FanGraphs’ calculation, McCutchen and Cole were worth a combined 6.8 WAR. Add Harrison and we’re up to 9.4.
That shoves an 87-loss club perilously close to 100 losses, even if you believe in oft-injured outfield prospect Austin Meadows or 26-year-old right-hander Jameson Taillon (4.44 ERA in 2017).
If you want to take the temperature of the Pirates fanbase, look no further than a Change.org petition aimed at forcing Nutting to sell the team. As of this writing, the petition had vaulted past 48,000 signatures.
“Pittsburgh is a baseball town that is being destroyed by a greedy owner,” the petition reads. “There are so many loyal fans who truly care and support this team through thick and thin. We deserve better.”

Baseball’s economics are tricky. Winning windows close as quickly as they open. McCutchen, in particular, was an obvious trade candidate in his final year of controllability. Sometimes, even local heroes have to go.
At the same time, the grievances against Nutting have merit. Pirates fans aren’t wrong to be sharpening their pitchforks on the shores of the Allegheny River.
It’s possible 98 wins could become 100 defeats in the span of two years. It’s possible the Bucs pulled the plug too quickly and didn’t expend enough effort to build around their once-enviable core. 
The sinking ship metaphors are too easy. That said—glug, glug, glug.
                
All statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs.  @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Missouri Tigers 2018 Football Schedule & Analysis

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Breaking down and analyzing the 2018 Missouri Tigers football schedule.


Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews & @PeteFiutak

2018 Missouri Tigers Football Schedule Analysis

– The Tigers need the relatively easy games against UT Martin and Wyoming to start considering what’s coming next. It’s not even that Mizzou is playing three of its next four games on the road after the date with the Cowboys; it’s the entire four game stretch.

How’s this for fun? At Purdue, Georgia, a week off, and then at South Carolina and at Alabama. Good luck.

– While several of the down SEC East teams of 2017 will be better, there aren’t any games in November against anyone who went bowling. Florida, Vanderbilt and Tennessee won’t be easy with the dates with the Gators and Vols on the road, and it all closes out against Arkansas.

– Going to Alabama stinks, especially on the road, but there’s no Auburn or LSU to face from the West. However, before November kicks in, playing Memphis and Kentucky at home won’t be layups.

2018 Missouri Tigers Football Schedule

Sept. 1 UT Martin

Sept. 8 Wyoming

Sept. 15 at Purdue

Sept. 22 Georgia

Sept. 29 OPEN DATE

Oct. 6 at South Carolina

Oct. 13 at Alabama

Oct. 20 Memphis

Oct. 27 Kentucky

Nov. 3 at Florida

Nov. 10 Vanderbilt

Nov. 17 at Tennessee

Nov. 24 Arkansas

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@nfl Source: NCAA News

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Rockets Beat Timberwolves Despite James Harden's Struggles; Jimmy Butler Nets 23

The Houston Rockets received a poor shooting performance from their offensive leader and were without key pieces of their rotation Thursday. But they still had little trouble dispatching the Minnesota Timberwolves with a 116-98 victory at the Toyota Center.
James Harden, who was previously out with a hamstring injury, went just 3-of-15 from the field in his first game since Dec. 31. However, Eric Gordon (30 points), Chris Paul (19 points, nine assists, six rebounds and three steals) and Clint Capela (20 points and five rebounds) picked up the slack in the first of four matchups this season between the Western Conference rivals.
Houston prevailed without Trevor Ariza and Gerald Green, who were both suspended for entering the Los Angeles Clippers’ locker room after Monday’s loss, per Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Minnesota sits in the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference and will need to beat teams like the second-seeded Rockets come playoff time. But they didn’t have enough firepower Thursday despite solid performances from Jimmy Butler (23 points) and Karl-Anthony Towns (22 points and 16 rebounds).
                       
This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.
Get the best sports content from the web and social in the new B/R app. Get the app and get the game. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Tennessee Volunteers 2018 Football Schedule & Analysis

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Breaking down and analyzing the 2018 Tennessee Volunteers football schedule.


Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews & @PeteFiutak

2018 Tennessee Volunteers Football Schedule Analysis

– The Jeremy Pruitt era starts out hot with a showdown against West Virginia and quarterback Will Grier – he made his name for his performance against the Vols back when he was at Florida. The program isn’t exactly extending itself in non-conference play the rest of the way, dealing with East Tennessee State, UTEP and Charlotte.

– The SEC season kicks in full force with the Florida battle right away, followed up by the road games at Georgia and Auburn, and then comes the Alabama date. There might be a week off before the Auburn trip, but even so, starting out anything but 0-4 in conference play would be great.

– Tennessee always gets the horrible break of having to play Alabama every year in interdivisional play, and it gets no help with that trip to Auburn.

However, November eases up in a big way, with home games against Charlotte, Kentucky and Missouri before going to Vanderbilt. The Vols leave the state of Tennessee just once after October 13th.

2018 Tennessee Volunteers Schedule

Sept. 1 vs. West Virginia (in Charlotte)

Sept. 8 East Tennessee State

Sept. 15 UTEP

Sept. 22 Florida

Sept. 29 at Georgia

Oct. 6 OPEN DATE

Oct. 13 at Auburn

Oct. 20 Alabama

Oct. 27 at South Carolina

Nov. 3 UNC-Charlotte

Nov. 10 Kentucky

Nov. 17 Missouri

Nov. 24 at Vanderbilt

Dec. 1 SEC Championship

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@nfl Source: NCAA News

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2018 NBA All-Star Game: Who Will LeBron James, Steph Curry Draft as Starters?

Friendships or business? Winning or entertainment?
Those are just some of the questions for LeBron James and Stephen Curry to ponder as team captains of the NBA’s revamped All-Star Game. With conference affiliations ditched in favor of a pickup-style roster selection, the on-court architects will shape the 2018 clash set to take place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Feb. 18.
James, the leading vote-getter overall, holds the first selection. Team LeBron and Team Stephen will choose from the other eight starters announced Thursday on TNT: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kyrie Irving, DeMar DeRozan, Joel Embiid, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.
Once those players come off the board, Curry and James will divvy up the reserves, which will be unveiled Jan. 23. The actual draft will not be televised, with the league instead releasing the complete rosters Jan. 25 on TNT at 7 p.m. ET.
“It would be more fun if we had that kind of draft,” commissioner Adam Silver told NBA TV. “On the other hand, I recognize that in picking a team to perform in the here and now, it’s a little different than drafting. There was a sense from the players that it put them in an impossible position, where they’re picking one player over another—in part, not because they necessarily think that player is better than another player, maybe because they have a personal relationship with the player.”
Since the commish concedes a transparent draft is the most entertaining draft, we’re here to publicly run through our mock version of what’s ahead. This isn’t a prediction of what will happen, but rather how we’d handle it from the captains’ perspective—weighing everything from basketball fit and production to relationships, wow factors and any other pertinent components.
In the spirit of positionless playground hoops, we’re drafting under the assumption that these starting lineups can be filled with any combination of backcourt and frontcourt players.Begin Slideshow @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Joel Embiid, 76ers Earn 89-80 Win vs. Celtics in Kyrie Irving's Absence

A week ago, the Philadelphia 76ers blew a 22-point lead and fell to the Boston Celtics in London. 
On Thursday night, they exacted their revenge with an 89-80 win at TD Garden to avoid a season series sweep at the hands of their Atlantic Division foes. 
The 80 points were a season-low for the Celtics (34-12), and it would have been easy to point to Kyrie Irving’s absence (left shoulder soreness) as the reason for their scoring woes. 
Instead, the loss represented more of the same for a squad that entered the night ranked 29th in offensive rating (98.5) dating back to the start of the new year. 
           
The Sixers (21-20) were short-handed as well with JJ Redick out because of a small cortical crack in his left leg, but they found sustainable offense from a host of contributors. 
Chief among them was Joel Embiid. 
In 35 minutes, the newly minted All-Star starter posted 26 points (10-of-19 shooting), 16 rebounds and six assists as he made light work of seemingly every big body the Celtics threw his way one game after Boston surrendered 45 points and 16 boards to New Orleans Pelicans power forward Anthony Davis. 
Needless to say, that was a welcome return to form for Embiid after he averaged 13.0 points on 30.3 percent shooting in his first two appearances against the Celtics earlier this season. 
Embiid and backup point guard T.J. McConnell were especially clutch in the third quarter—a period that has plagued the Sixers all season—when they combined for 19 points to give Philadelphia an 18-point cushion entering the final frame. 

McConnell totaled 15 points and three steals as he finished in double figures for the third straight game. 
The Sixers also played the Celtics even in a clash of high-profile rookies as Ben Simmons stuffed the stat sheet with eight points, seven rebounds and four assists while Jayson Tatum was limited to 11 points on 4-of-11 shooting. 

Tatum’s inability to catch fire sans Irving was bad enough, but compounding matters was the fact Boston compiled 13 assists compared to 19 turnovers. 
For a team that had been averaging 14.1 giveaways a night, that sloppiness wasn’t encouraging. 
With or without Irving, the Celtics will attempt to snap their two-game losing skid Sunday when they host the Orlando Magic. 
The Sixers, meanwhile, will aim for a third straight win Saturday when Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks pay a visit to Wells Fargo Center.  @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Hulk Hogan's Daughter Brooke Thinks He'd Win If He Ran for U.S. Senate

Brooke Hogan has no doubt her father, WWE Hall of Famer Hulk Hogan, would win a seat in the United States Senate if he were to run. 
Speaking to TMZ Sports, Brooke said “it’s not a bad idea” if her father were to enter the political sphere before adding she doesn’t think he will make that kind of career move. 
“I don’t know if [he wants] that amount of work,” she said. 
 
This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.
Get the best sports content from the web and social in the new B/R app. Get the app and get the game. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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UFC 220 Miocic vs. Ngannou: Betting Preview, Odds, Trends, Card Analysis

It takes a special kind of fighter to enter the Octagon as a solid favorite against a defending champion in the UFC, but that is the case for Francis Ngannou (11-1) as he prepares to take on heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic (17-2) in the main event at UFC 220 this Saturday at TD Garden in Boston.
Ngannou is listed as a -175 betting favorite (bet $175 to win $100) against Miocic at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.
The 31-year-old, who was born in Cameroon and later moved to France, has been one of the promotion’s biggest surprises since making his UFC debut on December 19, 2015. Ngannou is a perfect 6-0 in the organization, finishing all six of his opponents so far (five knockouts and one submission).
In fact, only one of his career bouts has gone the distance, which was his lone loss by unanimous decision a little more than four years ago. His devastating first-round KO of Alistair Overeem at UFC 218 on December 2 was named Knockout of the Year and earned him this title shot just seven weeks later.

 
Meanwhile, Miocic is riding a five-fight winning streak, with all of the bouts ending via TKO, including four in the first round. The 35-year-old has defended his title belt twice since upsetting Fabricio Werdum for the championship in Werdum’s home country of Brazil.
Miocic is a +145 underdog (bet $100 to win $145), and the last time he was in this role came against Werdum when he was going for the title. His only two losses came versus Junior Dos Santos, which he later avenged in his last fight, and Stefan Struve.
In the co-main event, light heavyweight champ Daniel Cormier (19-1, 1 no-contest) will also be putting his title on the line, though he is a big favorite at -330 facing Swiss fighter Volkan Oezdemir (11-1). Cormier’s last bout at UFC 214 was originally a third-round KO loss to Jon Jones but was overturned to a NC after his opponent tested positive for a banned substance. Jones remains the only man to ever defeat Cormier.
 
Like Miocic, Oezdemir (+270) has won five in a row, with the last two ending in impressive fashion. Both opponents lost in less than a minute in the first round, with the latter coming against Jimi Manuwa and resulting in a Performance of the Night bonus. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Where, When to Catch Team LeBron vs. Team Steph 2018 NBA All-Star Draft Results

LeBron James and Stephen Curry will go back to the playground days of drafting teams as captains following Thursday’s reveal of the NBA All-Star starters. 
James and Curry were the top All-Star vote-getters in the Eastern and Western Conference, respectively, and will serve as the two captains in the game’s new format. Rather than pitting the two conferences against each other as in past seasons, the two captains will pick their rosters from the available group of starters and reserves.
According to an official release on NBA.com, the results of that draft will be revealed on Thursday, Jan. 25 on TNT’s NBA Tip-Off at 7 p.m. ET. NBA coaches will pick the reserves, and the captains’ selections will be revealed on Tuesday, Jan. 23 on TNT’s NBA Tip-Off at 7 p.m. ET.
While James and Curry still don’t know the full list of players from whom they will choose, they do know the eight who were selected as starters alongside them.
Per Thursday’s broadcast of NBA Tip-Off on TNT, James was joined by Kyrie Irving, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid and DeMar DeRozan as starters from the East. In the West, Curry was joined by James Harden, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.
According to the NBA.com release, fan voting accounted for 50 percent of the tally for the starter selections, while media and players determined 25 percent each.
In theory, James and Curry in a room together picking teams from the best players in the NBA would seemingly generate plenty of public interest, especially if Curry found himself choosing between teammates in Durant, Klay Thompson or Draymond Green while James was deciding whether he was going to select former teammate Irving.
However, the draft will not be televised.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said he thought publicly airing the draft would create “a sense from the players that it put them in an impossible position” while appearing on NBA TV. His full comments can be seen on The Starters’ Twitter account:

Despite Silver’s concerns, one of the captains thought the draft should be televised.
“We’re all grown men,” James said, per Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. “It doesn’t stop your paycheck from coming. It won’t stop you from playing time when the season starts. Trying to win. Listen, just trying to win in the All-Star Game. You want to get the best player, the best caliber of player. You’re going to have some type of faithfulness, obviously, to your teammates. But also you want to compete.”
Fans instead will have to settle for simply seeing the results of the draft on Jan. 25 and putting forth their own guesses over how the order of the selections unfolded. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Tyler Hilinski's Death Officially Ruled a Suicide by Coroner

The death of Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski has officially been ruled a suicide. 
Per Stefanie Loh of the Seattle Times, the Whitman County Coroner issued an official statement about Hilinski’s death after concluding its investigation:

            
This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.    
  @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Tom Brady Misses Practice with Hand Injury Ahead of AFC Championship Game

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady did not participate in Thursday’s practice after injuring his hand during Wednesday’s practice session. 
Brady was seen out on the field during the part of the session available to media but was listed by the team as a non-participant. As noted by Mike Reiss of ESPN.com, Brady was wearing a glove on his throwing hand—something that is not standard practice for the MVP favorite.
      
This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.
 
Get the best sports content from the web and social in the new B/R app. Get the app and get the game. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Randy Fichtner Named Steelers Offensive Coordinator, QB Coach

The Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t waste much time replacing offensive coordinator Todd Haley, promoting quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner to the position, according to Teresa Varley of Steelers.com. 
He will also remain the team’s quarterbacks coach.
“I want to thank Coach (Mike) Tomlin and Art Rooney II for giving me this opportunity to be the offensive coordinator for this organization,” he said. “We have a tremendous roster, and it will be my charge to continue putting our offensive players in position to succeed and score points. We have the nucleus to be successful, and I am thrilled about the chance to lead the offense as we have already started preparing for the 2018 season.”
        
This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.
Get the best sports content from the web and social in the new B/R app. Get the app and get the game. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Matt Ryan Contract Extension Is Falcons' Top Priority, Thomas Dimitroff Says

With Matt Ryan entering the final year of his contract in 2018, the Atlanta Falcons hope to lock up their star quarterback this offseason. 
Per Kelsey Conway of the Falcons official site, general manager Thomas Dimitroff said re-signing Ryan is the team’s top priority.   
      
This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.
Get the best sports content from the web and social in the new B/R app. Get the app and get the game. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Steve Sarkisian Will Return as Falcons OC Amid Criticism

Steve Sarkisian will return for his second season as offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons in 2018.
Per the Falcons’ official Twitter account, head coach Dan Quinn announced Sarkisian would return and defended his offensive coordinator from the criticism he received after Saturday’s NFC Divisional Round loss against the Philadelphia Eagles. 
“Placing blame on one person would be wrong in this instance… if this was about one person, that decision would’ve already been made,” Quinn said. 
Following a 15-10 loss to the Eagles, Quinn explained the final offensive play call, with quarterback Matt Ryan rolling to his right on a designed pass to go to Julio Jones on fourth-and-goal from the two-yard line with 1:05 remaining. 
“As a former defensive coordinator, I recognize that’s a play people do deploy,” Quinn told reporters. “We were looking for that opportunity, that matchup on that specific play. So that’s what thought was going to be the best play call for that time.”
Jones fell down on the play, leading Ryan to hold the ball until his receiver could recover. His pass ultimately landed incomplete to end Atlanta’s season. 
The Falcons hired Sarkisian to take over after Kyle Shanahan was named head coach of the San Francisco 49ers last February. 
Atlanta led the NFL with 33.8 points per game, and Ryan was named NFL MVP in 2016 under Shanahan. The offense suffered a steep drop in performance with Sarkisian in charge, finishing 15th overall with 22.1 points per game. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Daily Cavalcade: Clemson, There Will Be No Excuse This Season

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With the returning talent, the incoming prospects, and with a tremendous schedule, there’s no excuse: it’ll be CFP or bust.


Daily Cavalcade of Whimsy

Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews & @PeteFiutak

Sorry if this take sucks, it’s not my fault …

I can’t hear you. I have too much talent in my ears.

Sorry, Clemson. You’re stuck with being amazing.

Clemson, you’re now in the Alabama and Ohio State category – either you win the national championship, or your season is a failure. That’s not necessarily a fun place to be, but boo hoo.

Ask Buckeye fans how successful they think their season was. Urban Meyer might have though it was great with a Big Ten championship and a blowout Cotton Bowl win over USC – and it was. However, try talking to a Buckeye fan right now who still feels jilted over missing out on playing in the CFP.

Alabama had an amazing 2016 season by just about every standard. It won the SEC title, got to the national title game, and put together one of the best campaigns of all-time.

But as radio host Ryan Fowler on Tide 102.9 in Tuscaloosa, yelled to me on the Mercedes-Benz Stadium field as the confetti was flying, “I don’t have to do a year of funeral shows anymore!”

And for Clemson fans who saw the top of the mountain, yeah, 2017 will be remembered for how it ended as much as it was for winning another ACC Championship and being the CFP No. 1 seed. It’s always going to be stale, just like it was for Buckeye fans after the Tigers applied an atomic wedgie in the Fiesta Bowl the previous season.

Now, take those expectations from a fan base that went to three straight ACC Championships and College Football Playoffs, and turn the knob to 11.

There is no excuse for the 2018 Clemson Tigers to not, at least, get to the national championship for the third time in four years.

All four starters return to an NFL-caliber defensive line, and eight starters are back on a D that’ll be guaranteed to finish in the top five overall.

Clelin Ferrell, Dexter Lawrence, Christian Wilkins and Austin Bryant – seriously, this is a pro front four full of future multi-millionaires. And there’s more where they came from on the depth chart.

Star OT Mitch Hyatt is back, almost all of the rushing production returns, and the quarterback situation is Deondre Francois-situation-proof, with Kelly Bryant established, Hunter Johnson waiting in the wings after coming in as last year’s star recruit, and Trevor Lawrence about to enter the picture with a bigger upside than both of them.

But with all of that talent, the real key is the schedule. Released on Wednesday, the ACC slate and overall schedule works out just well enough to roll through.

There aren’t back-to-back home games until the very end, but if this team really is national title-good, it rips through Jimbo Fisher’s Texas A&M team early on. It get by Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and Boston College on the road, and has few issues with NC State or Louisville at home.

The two big concerns? The Florida State game is in Tallahassee, but Clemson will almost certainly be favored. A loss probably won’t be crippling – even if the Tigers go 11-1, they might 2017 Alabama up and get in no matter what.

South Carolina is the other concern. The Tigers might have destroyed the Muschamps last year, but this is always a dangerous game, and the Gamecocks should be better.

Talent, schedule, depth, coaching, experience … and outsized expectations.

Yup, you’re part of the college football royalty now, Clemson. Try to enjoy the ride along the way.

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@nfl Source: NCAA News

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Report: Emmanuel Sanders Won't Be Prosecuted for Felony Sexual Assault

A grand jury in Texas will not pursue a felony sexual assault case against Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, according to TMZ Sports.
Per TMZ, the grand jury “‘failed to find a bill of indictment’ … meaning they felt there was not enough evidence to prove his guilt.”
And according to TMZ, Sanders was accused of sexual assault in Harris County, Texas, which was classified as a potential second-degree felony. It’s unknown when the alleged assault took place, however.
“We are aware of the media report involving Emmanuel Sanders and are looking into it,” the Broncos said in a statement (h/t Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post).
Mike Klis of 9News noted the Broncos’ statement suggested they were unaware of the news until TMZ’s report. 
As Jhabvala noted, Sanders still could face punishment if the NFL finds he violated the league’s Personal Conduct Policy. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Florida Atlantic QB Jason Driskel Won't Play Final Season. Who's Next?

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FAU QB Jason Driskel Won’t Play His Final Season

Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews & @PeteFiutak

Lane Kiffin had to deal with harder things in his first season.

FAU starting quarterback Jason Driskel will retire from football just as the team is about to do even more.

He had one more year remaining after completing 67% of his passes for 2,247 yards and 15 touchdowns with four picks, and he ran for 427 yards and eight scores as he led the Owls to an 11-win season and the Conference USA championship.

So who gets the honor of handing the ball off to Devin Singletary 300 times?

6-3, 210-pound junior Daniel Parr will get the first look after serving as the main backup last year. He can run a little bit – taking off for 26 yards and two scores – and throwing for 588 yards and four scores with two picks in mop-up duty.

However, the wild card is De’Andre Johnson, the controversial transfer from Florida State who didn’t quite get his footing in his first year in Boca Raton.

He saw a little bit of work, running for 31 yards and completing two of three passes with a pick, but he has the talent and the upside to add a whole other dimension to the Owl attack. He was good enough to have been considered a future starter for FSU – but he has to beat out Parr.

Also in the equation is Oklahoma transfer Chris Robison, a baller of an all-around quarterback who fits exactly what Kiffin likes in quarterbacks – accuracy, mobility, and an edge.

There’s also a better-than-decent chance another option is signed on in February, but there’s already a solid logjam up top.

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@nfl Source: NCAA News

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Uriah Hall Details Near-Death Experience Following Terrifying Weigh-Cut

Uriah Hall broke his silence regarding his near-death experience following a brutal weight cut that left him hospitalized in a live stream to his fans Wednesday (h/t Fancy Combat).
Warning: Video contains NSFW content.

The dynamic striker said, “It was probably the most dramatic experience I ever had. I mean, I was in and out of it. I was conscious, but I was unconscious. I knew it was happening, but I was fighting over it. I was punching.” Hall continued, “I think I had a mini-seizure and at the same time a slight heart attack. My kidneys were just not good.”
How close was Hall to his demise? “The doctor even said even if I had made weight, I probably would have died the next day cuz my body wasn’t having it,” said Hall.
Hall said he has been following doctors orders and is improving.
“As much as I neglected my safety and my health, which was the dumbest thing to do, I will never do that again.” @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Philadelphia 76ers vs. Boston Celtics: Odds, Analysis, NBA Betting Pick

The Boston Celtics (34-11) are hoping they will have leading scorer Kyrie Irving in the lineup on Thursday when they host the Philadelphia 76ers (20-20) as home favorites. The Celtics are coming off a 116-113 overtime loss to the New Orleans Pelicans as 5.5-point home chalk on Tuesday despite Irving’s team-high 27 points, and he missed practice Wednesday due to shoulder soreness.
 
Point spread: The Celtics opened as six-point favorites; the total is at 211, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark (line updates and matchup report).
NBA betting pick, via OddsShark computer: 108.4-103.6, Celtics (NBA picks on every game).
Check out the OddsShark podcast on iTunes or at OddsShark.libsyn.com for more odds info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news.
         
Why the 76ers can cover the spread
The 76ers have won five of their last six games both straight up and against the spread, with the lone loss during that stretch coming against Boston in London a week ago. Philadelphia blew a 22-point lead, though, and did a lot of things right in that setback before bouncing back with a 117-111 win over the Toronto Raptors as two-point home underdogs on Monday.
The 76ers led the Raptors by 21 points in that game too but managed to hold on and pull off the victory that time.
            
Why the Celtics can cover the spread
The Celtics had won seven in a row (going 5-2 ATS) prior to losing to the Pelicans, and they have won 14 of the past 15 meetings (10-5 ATS) with Philadelphia. They have covered the spread in the last three games between the teams, with all of them decided by double digits.
While Irving and Marcus Smart (illness) are both listed as questionable on the injury report, if they play, they should be suiting up with the goal of another easy win so they do not have to log heavy minutes. The duo combined for 54 minutes in the last meeting.
      
Smart betting pick
Boston owns the 76ers and should not have any problem winning and covering again in this spot. The Celtics are 7-2 SU and 6-2-1 ATS following a loss this season, and the only real concern is Irving’s health at this point.
Philadelphia continues to struggle as one of the worst defensive teams in the Eastern Conference, and that deficiency could well cost the team a shot at the postseason. Bet Boston with confidence.
        
NBA betting trends
Philadelphia is 5-1 ATS in its last six games.
The total has gone over in four of Philadelphia’s last five games.
Boston is 10-5 ATS in its last 15 games against Philadelphia.
      
All NBA odds and betting trends courtesy of Bleacher Report’s official odds partner, OddsShark. All quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line-movement updates and the OddsShark YouTube page for picks and analysis, or download the free odds tracker app. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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2018 NBA All-Star Game: Kevin Hart, Fergie and Pharrell Williams to Headline

The NBA announced entertainment plans Thursday for the 2018 NBA All-Star Game, which will be held at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Feb. 18 and broadcast nationally on TNT.
Hip hop singer Fergie will sing the United States national anthem, and rock band Barenaked Ladies will perform the Canadian national anthem. Comedian Kevin Hart will headline the player introductions, with Pharrell Williams’ N.E.R.D set to perform at halftime.
                 
This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.
Get the best sports content from the web and social in the new B/R app. Get the app and get the game. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Josh Allen to Browns, Josh Rosen to Giants in 1st Mel Kiper 2018 NFL Mock Draft

Quarterbacks dominated the top of ESPN NFL draft guru Mel Kiper Jr.’s first 2018 NFL mock draft, which was released Thursday.
While most expect the quarterback-needy Cleveland Browns to select a signal-caller No. 1 overall, Kiper threw something of a curveball by giving them Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen rather than USC’s Sam Darnold. 
Kiper projected a quarterback to the New York Giants at No. 2 as well, giving them UCLA’s Josh Rosen as a potential replacement for veteran Eli Manning.
      
This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.
Get the best sports content from the web and social in the new B/R app. Get the app and get the game. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Stephen Curry Says He'd Tell Kids to Throw the Ball at a Player with 0.1 Seconds

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry defended his decision to inbound the ball off Chicago Bulls guard David Nwaba’s back at the end of the first quarter in Golden State’s 119-112 win over the Bulls on Wednesday.
As seen in the following video courtesy of ESPN, Curry tossed the ball off Nwaba’s back with 0.1 seconds remaining after Nwaba completed a dunk:

A fan on Twitter suggested Curry was setting a bad example for kids with the play, but the two-time NBA MVP disagreed:

Curry enjoyed another big game for the first-place Warriors on Wednesday with 30 points, nine rebounds and four assists.
     
This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.
 
Get the best sports content from the web and social in the new B/R app. Get the app and get the game. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Jaguars vs. Vikings: The Super Bowl We Don't Want but Probably Deserve

Jaguars vs. Vikings sounds like an early-October London game with a 9:30 a.m. ET kickoff (6:30 a.m. on the West Coast!) that you didn’t even know was on the schedule until noon, when you realize you forgot to add Kyle Rudolph to your fantasy lineup. 
Blake Bortles vs. Case Keenum sounds like a Thursday Night Football quarterback showdown scheduled against baseball’s ALCS, a snoozer that ends in a 22-13 final score thanks to seven field goals. Who won? Who cares!
When you walk into a bar with the satellite package and 100 televisions on Sunday afternoon, Jaguars-Vikings should be the game that’s on in the back corner of the dining area, watched only by a dude in a faded Maurice Jones-Drew jersey whose girlfriend never looks up from her smartphone.
But it could also be the matchup in Super Bowl XLII in two weeks.
How, oh how, did we fall so far from grace?
Now, before anyone panics, a couple of fellows named Tom Brady and Bill Belichick still stand between us and the End of Days, not to mention the pesky Philadelphia Eagles and their fanbase, which has somehow managed to grow even more unhinged over the last five days.
Football Outsiders projects just a 14.6 percent chance of a Vikings-Jaguars Super Bowl, a figure that jibes with the Vegas moneylines (Vikings a slight favorite, Jaguars a heavy-but-not-prohibitive underdog) but, on a subconscious level, feels too high. Our brains shriek at us that the likelihood of a Vikings-Jaguars Super Bowl should be roughly 0.0000000000003 percent, roughly the same as being struck by lightning twice after cashing our fifth straight winning Powerball ticket.
That’s because our primitive brains evolved to predict migration patterns on the African plains millennia ago, making them short-circuit when coping with the pace of modern life. Just as social media and the 24-7 news cycle cause severe anxiety, the possibility of a Jaguars-Vikings Super Bowl causes dislocation and dissonance: Human minds just aren’t evolutionarily equipped for both of these teams to be good at the same time.
The NFL itself might not be equipped for a showdown between the 15th-ranked (Minneapolis-St. Paul) and 42nd-ranked (Jacksonville) television markets in the nation, as determined by Nielsen. The Vikings and Jaguars home markets combined (2,431,320 TV homes) are smaller than the Eagles home market (2,869,580). Unlike smaller-market teams like the Steelers or Packers, the Vikings and Jaguars have tiny national fan footprints.
You may have heard somewhere that NFL ratings are down: Last weekend’s divisional round playoff games, for example, drew the smallest television audience since 2009, despite three dramatic games and a traditional Patriots beating. Some will insist the cause is political—some want very, very badly for it to be political—but besides an overall change in national viewing habits, the NFL’s biggest problem this season has been disappointing years by popular teams and injuries to Aaron Rodgers-level must-watch superstars.

So here’s what we have left to work with, from a sizzle standpoint:

The Patriots, the most polarizing team in American professional sports. That makes them great for box office, though they have been in the spotlight for so long that we’ve resorted to investigative docudramas that make Tom Brady sound like Lego Batman just to keep the narrative fresh.

The Eagles, who lost fresh-faced superstar Carson Wentz weeks ago, but bring a huge media market and a legendarily rabid fanbase to the table. The Eagles are also the NFL’s most overtly political team, which might hurt ratings among the demographic that falls asleep watching MeTV but could also give the Super Bowl both broader attention and a countercultural cache. With Eagles fans currently purchasing the entire global supply of dog masks, they could turn the Super Bowl into Woodstock for furries.

The Vikings, an excellent football team populated by guys you can’t imagine starring in an auto insurance commercial.

The Jaguars. The Jaguars.

The hardcore pigskin junkies in the audience are probably shouting objections by now. What about Defensive Player of the Year candidates Harrison Smith and Calais Campbell? What about potential matchups between Adam Thielen and Jalen Ramsey as well as Stefon Diggs and A.J. Bouye? Finally, a Super Bowl about tactics, defensive fronts, blocking schemes and zzzzzzzz…
The Super Bowl isn’t for the fanatics who study internet GIFs of off-tackle runs on Wednesday mornings. It’s for casual fans to host parties and cheer for touchdowns, local rock jocks to dare listeners to eat live crickets in exchange for tickets and the corner supermarket to offer buy-one-get-one-free jars of salsa. An entire cottage industry has grown around the Super Bowl as a holiday. Vikings-Jaguars would make this the NFL’s year without a Santa Claus.
Attempts to find a narrative angle for Jaguars-Vikings would result in endless retellings of Thielen’s come-from-nowhere tale, straight-faced attempts at a Bortles redemption arc and ill-fitting efforts to cast Keenum as the next Kurt Warner, milking the Vikings’ home-field advantage for all it’s worth (plenty from a football standpoint, little from a storytelling standpoint), and an effort to recast the “Sacksonville” defense as the new Legion of Boom or 1985 Bears that leaves you feeling the same way about “Sacksonville” as you do about “Dilly Dilly!” When all else fails, we’ll just replay the Diggs touchdown over and over until kickoff.
A Vikings-Jaguars Super Bowl sounds like karmic punishment upon the NFL for its many sins, from farcical officiating, blithe franchise relocations and the endless recycling of boring coaches to turning Deflategate into an impeachment trial and playing both sides toward the middle when it comes to player protests.
The NFL doesn’t deserve a transcendent Brady versus the charismatically woke Eagles after treating both Brady and player protests with grudging ambivalence. After sliding the Rams and Chargers around the map like Risk pieces and dangling the Jaguars in front of London fans for years, the league deserves two weeks of trying to build interest around Yannick Ngakoue.

And yes, this may be our culture’s punishment for allowing Bon Jovi to reach the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, letting the Star Wars franchise lapse into a deconstructionist self-critique, blending politics with reality television and kvetching for years about how boring Thursday Night Football games are.
But a Jaguars-Vikings Super Bowl may also be the reboot the Super Bowl needs.
The Jaguars would stand testament to the fact that a team could go 3-13 for years, do everything just right and compete immediately for a championship. The Vikings would offer proof that a third-choice quarterback can reach the Super Bowl on a well-run team. Every last-place finisher and quarterback-starved franchise would have renewed hope. With defense and perseverance, anything is indeed possible.
That hope won’t dazzle the casual audience this year. But the NFL’s current model—building everything around quarterbacks who either get injured or get labeled as disappointments after their second interceptions—isn’t doing much for brand loyalty, either.
Maybe the NFL needs to market its product as it really is rather than reclaim a level of cultural dominance that no longer exists. Maybe, as fans, we will be happier if we learn to love the Jaguars-Vikings games we always get instead of the Brady-Manning matchups we used to wait for. Those Thursday night and Sunday morning games can feel like potential Super Bowl previews again.
Or perhaps the Patriots whup the Jaguars as expected Sunday, and we spend the Super Bowl dancing around Brady like he’s the maypole for the eighth time while Belichick snaps at us for daring to show enthusiasm for the grim business of manufacturing football championships.
Come to think of it, some new faces in the Super Bowl might be refreshing.
    
Mike Tanier covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. He is also a co-author of Football Outsiders Almanac and teaches a football analytics course for Sports Management Worldwide. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeTanier. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Juventus Chief on Emre Can Pursuit: 'We Will Try All We Can to Get the Player'

Juventus will go all out in their attempts to sign midfielder Emre Can from Liverpool, according to general director Giuseppe Marotta. 
Can, 24, is out of contract with Liverpool at the end of the 2017-18 season, and Marotta has revealed Juve are eager to sign him up in the summer, per Sky Sport Italia (via Sky Sports):
“Emre Can is a player whose contract is running down, so it allows us to approach him for negotiations and that is the course we have taken. I can’t say if he could sign a new contract with Liverpool, but I can say we will try all we can to get the player. Obviously, we have to respect what the player wants.”
Germany international Can is now allowed to speak to foreign clubs and sign a pre-contract agreement as he has entered the last six months of his deal with Liverpool.
Juventus have long been linked with the former Bayer Leverkusen player and, until recently, it seemed inevitable he would join the Italian champions at the end of the season.
Per Danny Gallagher of Sky Sports, though, he recently insisted he has no deal yet with Juve and said he is still open to the idea of signing a new contract with Liverpool.
Can highlighted his importance to Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool squad on Sunday as the Reds beat Manchester city 4-3.

The German produced a fantastic display from the centre of midfield as he contributed to both defence and attack.
Liverpool are lacking in central midfielders who can provide defensive solidity in the middle of the park.
Can is not a traditional defensive midfielder, but he is more than capable of interrupting opposition attacks and providing protection for the back line, much more so than, say, Jordan Henderson.
Liverpool will be desperate to keep hold of Can past the summer, but it is clear Juve are trying their hardest to convince him to move to Turin.  @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Jose Mourinho Wants Rid of Matteo Darmian Amid AC Milan, Valencia Rumours

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is reportedly eager to cut his squad to 22 players, and full-back Matteo Darmian is one the club are open to selling in the January transfer window. 
According to Miguel Delaney of The Independent, AC Milan and Valencia are both interested in signing the Italy international, while United could use him as part of a move for Juventus’ Alex Sandro in the summer if they fail to offload him in January.
Per Onda Cero (via the Daily Star’s Owen Fulda), United will demand around £13 million for Darmian, a similar figure to what they paid to sign him. 
Darmian, 28, moved to United from Torino in July 2015—when Louis van Gaal was in charge at Old Trafford—but has only been a back-up since Mourinho took charge in May 2016.
He can play either as a right-back and left-back, or as a wing-back on either flank, so it is little surprise he is attracting interest. He has won 36 Italy caps.
But, as noted by Delaney, he has never really settled at United. 

Antonio Valencia is effectively immovable as United’s first-choice right-back given he is one of the best players in the position in the Premier League.
Meanwhile, Mourinho has yet to settle on a regular starting left-back, with Ashley Young, Luke Shaw, Daley Blind and Darmian all filling the position in 2017-18.
The Italian has been the least used of the full-backs in the current campaign, staring just four times in the Premier League and UEFA Champions League.
And, with Cameron Borthwick-Jackson having recently returned from his loan spell at Leeds United, Darmian’s opportunities could now become even more limited.
It is little surprise that United are open to Darmian departing in the current transfer window, and the player himself would surely be open to a switch to Milan or Valencia, where he should get a lot more game time. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Liverpool Reportedly Reject Loan Bid from Sevilla for Daniel Sturridge

Liverpool have reportedly rejected an approach from Sevilla to take out-of-favour striker Daniel Sturridge on loan until the end of the season, despite the Spanish club offering to pay all of his wages. 
According to MailOnline’s Dominic King, the Reds are open to Sturridge leaving if the club “receive a suitable package,” but technical director Michael Edwards turned down Sevilla’s offer to cover the Englishman’s £150,000-per-week wages and also rejected an offer from Inter Milan. 
Per King, the forward, 28, is “desperate to start playing again” as he looks to secure a place in the England squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and Sevilla were prepared to guarantee him weekly action.
He has not enjoyed a consistent run in the Liverpool first team since the 2013-14 campaign.
Under manager Jurgen Klopp he is now no more than a back-up at Anfield, with Roberto Firmino the undisputed first-choice No. 9.

Sturridge has started just five times in the Premier League so far this season and has not appeared for Liverpool since an 18-minute cameo off the bench in their 7-0 defeat of Spartak Moscow back in December in the UEFA Champions League. 
In all likelihood the Merseyside outfit are hoping to move him on in a permanent deal during the current transfer window.
However, according to James Pearce in the Liverpool Echo, Liverpool want £30 million for the England international. 
Given his history of fitness woes and the fact he has not shown his best form since a 21-goal Premier League season back in 2013-14, it is unlikely many clubs will be prepared to take such a big risk on him.
Sturridge has, in the past, proved to be a clinical striker who can regularly score key goals.
In the past four English top-flight seasons, though, he has registered a combined return of just 17 goals.
Such a record arguably does not warrant a £30 million transfer fee and Sturridge may have to persuade Liverpool to let him leave on loan if he wants to secure a move away from Anfield in January.  @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Illinois Loses Two Of Its Quarterbacks. And The Illini QB Is … ?

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Illinois Loses Jeff George Jr. and Chayce Crouch. Now What?

Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews & @PeteFiutak

Lovie Smith isn’t having any quarterback luck.

If you thought trying to win a Super Bowl with Rex Grossman was hard, this is at a whole other level.

The quarterback situation was supposed to be fantastic last season. Virginia Tech transfer Dwayne Lawson was going to take the Big Ten by storm, and … grades were an issue. He wasn’t a part of the fun.

So it was a revolving door at quarterback in an attempt to give everyone a chance to groom for the future. On the plus side, everything was set up for a good quarterback battle this spring between three experienced options with the hopes that one would mature into the gig.

That all changed in a hurry.

Chayce Crouch had the size to be a tight end or a big, tough quarterback. He connected on just under 50% of his passes last year for 443 yards and a touchdown with a pick, and ran for a touchdown.

With another year of eligibility remaining, he chose to retire from football.

And then there’s Jeff George Jr. The Lord, apparently, has plans for him, and they don’t include being the quarterback at the University of Illinois.

The son of former NFL guy Jeff George completed 52% of his passes for 1,273 yards and seven touchdowns with ten picks last season. Now he’s transferring to try cranking up his career somewhere else.

Cam Thomas, come on down.

The slippery-smooth 6-2, 190-pounder ran for 233 yards and a score as a freshman, but throwing the football was a whole different story, completing just 42% of his passes for 375 yards with no touchdowns and five picks.

Even with all of the issues, he has plenty of upside and was expected to take over the gig in the spring battle. However, to go along with new-recruit M.J. Rivers, going after a transfer is a must – Tennessee’s Quinten Dormady would almost certainly be the No. 1 guy right away – signing a few more freshmen will be a priority.

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@nfl Source: NCAA News

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Carmelo Anthony: Having Fun Again After Accepting Role with Thunder

Carmelo Anthony is apparently enjoying himself as a second or third option on the Oklahoma City Thunder alongside Russell Westbrook and Paul George.
“Once you accept something, regardless of what it is, I think you become comfortable with it,” he said Wednesday, per Royce Young of ESPN.com. “You start putting your all into it, you start working on that role and on that acceptance, and it becomes fun. I think right now, after accepting that role, I think early in December, the game is starting to become fun again for me, fun for us as a team. Any time you get to making shots and winning basketball games it makes it that much more fun.”
Making shots is exactly what he did Wednesday during a commanding 114-90 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers at Chesapeake Energy Arena. He led all scorers with 27 points on 10-of-15 shooting from the field and was anything but a role player in the winning effort, considering only Westbrook (8-of-22 for 19 points) attempted more shots from the field.
Still, this season has been an adjustment for Anthony, considering he is a 10-time All-Star and six-time member of an All-NBA team largely because of his scoring ability.
He led the league in scoring in 2012-13 and averaged more than 20 points a night in each of his 14 seasons with the Denver Nuggets and New York Knicks since he entered the league as the No. 3 overall pick in the 2003 draft. The last time Anthony averaged fewer than 18.3 shots per game was his second season in the league.
As of the start of play Wednesday, the Syracuse product was averaging 17.4 points and 15.7 shots per game, which would both be career-low marks.
Young noted part of the adjustment has been using Anthony as more of a catch-and-shoot player instead of an isolated attacker, considering Westbrook has the ball so much. “It has been an adjustment that has proven uncomfortable for Anthony at times, but started to click for him in December following the Thunder’s trip back to New York, where he addressed the team about accepting roles,” Young wrote.
The acceptance has worked, seeing as how the Thunder are 17-8 since Dec. 1. They will have the opportunity to test the approach against one of the league’s best on Saturday with a showdown with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Daily Five: ACC's 5 Most Important Games Of 2018

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With the release of the 2018 ACC football schedule, what are the five biggest games you’ll care about – even if you don’t care about the ACC?


Daily Five: ACC’s Most Important Games of 2018

Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews & @PeteFiutak

2018 ACC Schedules
Atlantic 
Boston College | Clemson | Florida State
Louisville | NC State | Syracuse | Wake Forest

Coastal Duke | Georgia Tech | Miami
North CarolinaPitt | Virginia | Virginia Tech

5. Florida State at Miami, Oct. 6

Forgetting for a moment that this all-timer of an amazing rivalry is just starting to heat back up again to the level it was back when these two ruled the world, it’s going to be a watershed moment for the ACC season.

If comes right after the big first month and just as everyone settles in for conference play. For Florida State, if it gets by Virginia Tech in the opener, and as long as there isn’t a whiff on the road at Louisville, it should kick off the Willie Taggart era 5-0 before making that trip to the Hard Rock.

Miami starts out against LSU and has a few landmines to step aside over the first month, but it might also be 5-0 if all goes well. For the Canes, with four of the next five games on the road, they’d better win this.

4. Louisville at Clemson, Nov. 3

No one’s going to think the Lamar-less Louisville team will challenge for the ACC title – this is more about whether or not the Cardinals can somehow catch the Tigers napping.

Clemson – if all goes according to plan – should be amazing. However, it doesn’t get two home games in a row until the end of the season – alternating home and away dates almost the entire way. This is going to be one of those dog days moments, coming off a showdown against NC State, and then the ACC Game of the Year at Florida State.

Louisville? It should be ready to rock, with two weeks off to great ready for the home game against Wake Forest, and then comes this. If the Cardinals happen to beat FSU in late September, this game could become very, very interesting.

3. Miami vs. LSU (Arlington, TX), Sept. 2

As always, there are some nice non-conference games and some great ACC vs. SEC showdowns. But this one will be the marquee matchup of the opening weekend.

Louisville and Alabama play the night before in Orlando, and Clemson deals with Jimbo Fisher and his Texas A&M team the week after, but this is the opener. This is the tone-setter for two teams that can’t afford a loss to kick things off.

Win, and Miami is almost certainly going to be 5-0 going into the Florida State battle. Lose, and all of a sudden, that date at Toledo looks scary and North Carolina might not be a sure-thing.

The last time these two played? LSU 40, Miami 3 in your 2005 Peach Bowl. The last four times these two played – going back to 1969 – have all been BRUTAL blowouts. The Tigers won 20-0 in ’69, and Miami won 30-0 in ’68 and 44-3 in 1988.

2. Miami at Virginia Tech, Nov. 17

With some due respect given to the rest of the Coastal, the winner of this is almost certainly going to play for the ACC title.

Miami took down the Hokies in a 28-10 statement last season, and then went on to rock Notre Dame’s world. This time around, Virginia Tech should come into this on a roll – if all goes well.

The opener against FSU will be a problem, but five of the next eight games are at home, and six of the nine games after the Noles are against teams that didn’t go bowling last season. Coming off the road date with Pitt, the Hokies are in Blacksburg for the final two games.

Not only is Miami ending a brutal run of four road games in five dates with this; it’s coming off a week of getting cut-blocked at Georgia Tech.

1. Clemson at Florida State, Oct. 27

Florida State can afford a misfire against Virginia Tech or Miami along the way, or even at Louisville, but it needs to enter October 27th with no more than one loss. Do that, and this is almost certainly for the Atlantic title and a spot in the ACC Championship- – even with a whole lot of work left to do.

The season will have a series of big test moments for new head coach Willie Taggart, but this will be the big one. This will probably be against the No. 2 – at worst – team in the country.

This is it for Clemson. As long as it doesn’t choke along the way at Texas A&M or on the road against a Wake Forest, or at home against a Louisville, there’s no one on the schedule who should be less than a ten-point dog to this group.

But coming off the NC State game, and with Louisville ahead, this is the sandwich of all ACC sandwiches. However, win this, and book the tickets to Charlotte for a shot at a fourth straight ACC Championship.

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@nfl Source: NCAA News

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Virginia Tech Hokies 2018 Football Schedule & Analysis

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Breaking down and analyzing the 2018 Virginia Tech Hokies football schedule.


Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews & @PeteFiutak

2018 Virginia Tech Hokies Football Schedule Analysis

– It’s all about a hot start. The Hokies kick things off with a huge Monday night date in the ACC opener at Florida State, but then comes the break with William & Mary and East Carolina at home. Going on the road to face Old Dominion and Duke isn’t a bad way to end September. The best part? This might be the rough stretch as long as they beat …

– Notre Dame. Win that in South Bend to kick off October, and it’s as smooth as the sailing can reasonably get. Five of the last seven games are at home, including the key Coastal showdown against Miami as part of a run of home games in four of the last five dates.

– Yeah, the overall schedule is about as favorable as it gets – at least when it comes to home games – but that trip to Florida State to kick things off is a killer. However, there’s no Clemson to deal with from the Atlantic, and there’s no NC State or Louisville, either.

2018 Virginia Tech Hokies Football Schedule

Sept. 3 at Florida State

Sept. 8 William & Mary

Sept. 15 East Carolina

Sept. 22 at Old Dominion

Sept. 29 at Duke

Oct. 6 Notre Dame

Oct. 13 at North Carolina

Oct. 20 OPEN DATE

Oct. 25 Georgia Tech

Nov. 3 Boston College

Nov. 10 at Pitt

Nov. 17 Miami

Nov. 23 Virginia

Dec. 1 ACC Championship

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@nfl Source: NCAA News

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Rockets Reportedly Upset Clippers Not Punished for Actions in Monday's Game

The Houston Rockets are reportedly not pleased members of the Los Angeles Clippers dodged disciplinary action stemming from their heated clash Monday night at Staples Center.
According to ESPN.com’s Tim MacMahon, the Rockets are “shocked and disappointed” the NBA opted against punishing forward Blake Griffin and guard Austin Rivers for their conduct.
On Wednesday, the league announced Rockets forward Trevor Ariza and guard Gerald Green had both been suspended two games for their parts in a “hostile, verbal altercation” that occurred when they stormed into the Clippers locker room.
Following Houston’s 113-102 loss, Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni pointed to Griffin as the source of his ire and accused the Clippers power forward of intentionally making contact with him on the sideline during the fourth quarter.
The two also engaged in an expletive-laden shouting match that featured D’Antoni shouting “F–k you” at Griffin, according to ESPN.com’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
“Well, after he said what he said, I said the same thing back,” Griffin told reporters, per MacMahon.
Griffin also engaged in a verbal spat with Ariza that was preceded by Rivers’ smack talk from the bench:

Citing team sources, MacMahon reported, “Rivers continued the profane trash talk after the game, yelling loudly enough in the Clippers’ locker room for Ariza to hear him from the hallway, where players commonly congregate and visiting teams frequently put food and equipment.”
Those events reportedly led Ariza to make his way toward the Clippers’ locker room, accompanied by Green, Chris Paul and James Harden.
However, Paul and Harden were not disciplined for their roles in the postgame saga after they were “increasingly described as working to slow down Ariza’s anger,” per Wojnarowski.
The Clippers and Rockets will meet again Feb. 28 at Staples Center. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Kris Dunn Suffers Possible Concussion, Chipped Teeth vs. Warriors

Chicago Bulls guard Kris Dunn suffered a head injury during Wednesday’s 119-112 loss to the Golden State Warriors.
According to Nick Friedell of ESPN.com, Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg said Dunn chipped multiple teeth and was being evaluated for a concussion. Dunn landed face-first when falling after a dunk in transition.
Injuries were a concern for Dunn in the preseason when he suffered a dislocated finger and missed time. Missing additional game action with this setback would cut into his opportunity to put his rookie season in the rearview mirror and accelerate his development at the NBA level.
The Minnesota Timberwolves selected him with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2016 draft, but he disappointed last season with just 3.8 points and 2.4 assists per game behind 37.7 percent shooting from the field and 28.8 percent shooting from three-point range.
Minnesota traded him as part of the package to land Jimmy Butler, and he has responded with 13.6 points, 6.4 assists and 4.6 rebounds a night (entering play Wednesday) in his first season in the Windy City.
The Bulls will likely turn toward the combination of Jerian Grant and David Nwaba at the point guard spot while Dunn is out, although Justin Holiday can also handle the ball if needed.
This is a rebuilding season for Chicago, but it could use Dunn back and healthy so he can further state his case as the point guard of the future for the franchise. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Mike Locksley Reportedly Will Be Named Alabama OC

Alabama is expected to promote Mike Locksley to offensive coordinator, according to Charlie Potter of 247Sports.
The coach was previously the co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach, but Brian Daboll was in charge of the offense and had play-calling duties. Last week, Daboll was named offensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills.
 
        
This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.
Get the best sports content from the web and social in the new B/R app. Get the app and get the game.    @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Miami Hurricanes 2018 Football Schedule & Analysis

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Breaking down and analyzing the 2018 Miami Hurricanes football schedule.


Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews & @PeteFiutak

2018 Miami Hurricanes Football Schedule Analysis

– It’s not going to be boring. The Hurricanes have to go to AT&T Stadium to deal with LSU in a possible make-or-break moment for both teams, and then it’s relatively smooth sailing for a while.

Four of the next five games are at home, with the lone road game at Toledo. Even with the showdown against Florida State to deal with, Miami had better be hot because …

– Four of the next five games are on the  road. There’s a week off to chill out, it’s not going to be easy, especially with the final away date at Virginia Tech. If that doesn’t decide the Coastal, it’ll still be a big deal.

– At least the Hurricanes don’t have to face Clemson from the Atlantic. They get Florida State – as always – and going to Boston College on a Friday night isn’t all that bad considering it’s coming off the two week break.

2018 Miami Hurricanes Football Schedule

Sept. 2 LSU (in Arlington)

Sept. 8 Savannah State

Sept. 15 at Toledo

Sept. 22 FIU

Sept. 27 North Carolina

Oct. 6 Florida State

Oct. 13 at Virginia

Oct. 20 OPEN DATE

Oct. 26 at Boston College

Nov. 3 Duke

Nov. 10 at Georgia Tech

Nov. 17 at Virginia Tech

Nov. 24 Pitt

Dec. 1 ACC Championship

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@nfl Source: NCAA News

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Michael Carter-Williams, Tim Frazier Ejected After Wizards-Hornets Altercation

The Charlotte Hornets defeated the Washington Wizards, 133-109, Wednesday, but not before there was a near brawl and multiple ejections.
According to Tom Haberstroh of Bleacher Report Magazine, Washington’s Tim Frazier and Charlotte’s Michael Carter-Williams were both assessed double technicals and ejected. Washington’s Jason Smith was also involved in the altercation that happened late in the fourth quarter after the outcome was already in hand:

             
This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.
Get the best sports content from the web and social in the new B/R app. Get the app and get the game. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 2018 Football Schedule & Analysis

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Breaking down and analyzing the 2018 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets football schedule


Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews & @PeteFiutak

2018 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Football Schedule Analysis

– There’s an interesting mix of nasty and easy in September. Yeah, the Yellow Jackets get to tune up against Alcorn State, but then they go off to USF and Pitt. Yeah, they get Bowling Green, but they also host Clemson. Get out of the month 4-1, and everything will be fantastic.

– There are only three games in October, but they’re all a part of a run of three road games in four dates. Worse yet, the away dates are Louisville, Virginia Tech and North Carolina. Winning at least two of those could be a must, because …

– A home game against Miami could be the key to the Coastal season. It’s followed up by Virginia, which could be a desperately-needed win with a road trip to Georgia to close things out. On the plus side, the team doesn’t leave the state after November 3rd.

2018 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Football Schedule

Sept. 1 Alcorn State

Sept. 8 at USF

Sept. 15 at Pitt

Sept. 22 Clemson

Sept. 29 Bowling Green

Oct. 5 at Louisville

Oct. 13 Duke

Oct. 20 OPEN DATE

Oct. 25 at Virginia Tech

Nov. 3 at North Carolina

Nov. 10 Miami

Nov. 17 Virginia

Nov. 24 at Georgia

Dec. 1 ACC Championship

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@nfl Source: NCAA News

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Adam Butler Responds to Jalen Ramsey's Super Bowl Guarantee

New England Patriots defensive tackle Adam Butler has taken exception to Jalen Ramsey’s comments guaranteeing the Jacksonville Jaguars will win the Super Bowl.
“If you’re going to make a statement like that, you better be able to back it up,” Butler said, via ESPN’s Rich Cimini.
After returning home to EverBank Field following Sunday’s win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Divisional Round, Ramsey made sure the world knew who he predicted to leave U.S. Bank Stadium on Feb. 4 with a Lombardi Trophy.
“I ain’t got too much to say, but make sure you all bring that same energy out next week and the week after,” Ramsey told the crowd, via ESPN’s Michael DiRocco. “We are going to the Super Bowl, and we are going to win that b—h. We are going to win that b—h.”
Butler also noted Ramsey’s comments seemed to indicate the Jaguars are looking past the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. 
Now in his second NFL season, Ramsey has developed a reputation as one of the league’s best trash talkers. During a Week 9 game against the Cincinnati Bengals, wide receiver A.J. Green put him a choke hold after the Jaguars’ cornerback shoved him to the ground. 
“I told him almost every play that he was weak,” Ramsey told reporters about what led to the altercation with Green. “That he was soft. That was straight facts. He just couldn’t handle the truth. It was facts. I told him that his time was almost up.”
Ramsey has been able to get away with all of that talk by backing it up on the field. He set career highs with 17 passes defensed and four interceptions during the regular season, and Pro Football Focus rated him as the NFL’s second-best cornerback with a 92.2 overall grade.  @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Layshia Clarendon Alleges She Was Sexually Assaulted While Attending Cal

Atlanta Dream star Layshia Clarendon has filed a civil lawsuit alleging an employee of the University of California athletic department sexually assaulted her, espnW.com’s Kate Fagan reported Wednesday.
Clarendon played four seasons for the Golden Bears between 2009 and 2013. In the suit, she said Mohamed Muqtar assaulted her during her freshman year. Muqtar is Cal’s assistant athletic director for student services.
Clarendon posted a series of tweets after Fagan’s report was published:

According to the lawsuit, Clarendon alleges Muqtar would meet with student-athletes away from the Cal campus. In one instance, Muqtar invited Clarendon to his apartment, where she says he assaulted her in his bathroom.
Fagan also reported a former instructor at Cal had spoken to members of the school’s athletic department about allegations of inappropriate behavior by Muqtar that had been leveled against him by other student-athletes.
The university told the instructor the school’s hands were tied until the students formally reported the details of Muqtar’s behavior. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Duke Blue Devils 2018 Football Schedule & Analysis

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Breaking down and analyzing the 2018 Duke Blue Devils football schedule


Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews & @PeteFiutak

2018 Duke Blue Devils Football Schedule Analysis

– It could be a sneaky-tough start if Army and Northwestern are as good as they were in 2017, and if Baylor is back to being close to the team – at least on the field – the ripped through the Big 12. Being at least 3-1 is a must with Virginia Tech after to close out September.

– As if kicking off the ACC with the Hokies wasn’t hard enough, the Blue Devils have to go on the road for three conference games in the next four, finishing it up at Miami. Oh, but there’s more – they have to go to Clemson a few weeks later.

– Duke might have to deal with Clemson from the Atlantic, but it misses Florida State, Louisville and NC State. Wake Forest will be solid again, but all things considered, it’s not a bad interdivisional date to close out the schedule.

2018 Duke Blue Devils Football Schedule

Sept. 1 Army

Sept. 8 at Northwestern

Sept. 15 at Baylor

Sept. 22 NC Central

Sept. 29 Virginia Tech

Oct. 6 OPEN DATE

Oct. 13 at Georgia Tech

Oct. 20 Virginia

Oct. 27 at Pitt

Nov. 3 at Miami

Nov. 10 North Carolina

Nov. 17 at Clemson

Nov. 24 Wake Forest

Dec. 1 ACC Championship

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@nfl Source: NCAA News

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FA Cup 2018 Results: Qualified Teams, Updated Schedule After 3rd-Round Replay

Eden Hazard scored the winning penalty in a shootout to see Chelsea past Championship side Norwich City and into the fourth round of the 2018 FA Cup on Wednesday night.
Chelsea had been pushed into a replay by the Canaries and still needed penalties after a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge. The night also saw League One outfit Wigan Athletic thrash Premier League representatives Bournemouth, while Swansea City beat Championship leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers
Here are the results for Wednesday’s replays:

Swansea City 2-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Wigan Athletic 3-0 Bournemouth
Chelsea 1-1 Norwich City (Chelsea won 5-3 on penalties)
 
Here’s the updated schedule for Round 4, per the competition’s official website:
Friday, January 26

Sheffield Wednesday vs. Reading, 7:45 p.m. GMT/2:45 p.m. ET.

Yeovil Town vs. Manchester United, 7:55 p.m. GMT/2:55 p.m. ET.
            
Saturday, January 27

Peterborough United vs. Leicester City, 12:30 p.m. GMT/7:30 a.m. ET.
Huddersfield Town vs. Birmingham City, 3 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET.

Notts County vs. Swansea City, 3 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET.
Milton Keynes Dons vs. Coventry City, 3 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET.

Millwall vs. Rochdale, 3 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET.
Southampton vs. Watford, 3 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET.
Wigan vs. West Ham United, 3 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET.
Hull City vs. Nottingham Forest, 3 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET.
Sheffield United vs. Preston North End, 3 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET.
Newport County vs. Tottenham Hotspur, 5:30 p.m. GMT/12:30 p.m. ET.
Liverpool vs. West Bromwich Albion, 7:45 p.m. GMT/2:45 p.m. ET.
 
Sunday, January 28

Chelsea vs. Newcastle United, 1:30 p.m. GMT/8:30 a.m. ET.
Cardiff City vs. Manchester City, 4 p.m. GMT/11 a.m. ET.
 
Chelsea lacked the final ball too often during a goalless first half against the Canaries at Stamford Bridge. It didn’t help striker Michy Batshuayi struggled to stay onside.
However, the Belgium international was celebrating when he finished smartly after racing clear to meet a pass from Kenedy. It meant a rare distinction for Batshuayi, per OptaJoe:

Batshuayi’s finish also ended a prolonged scoring drought for last season’s beaten finalists, a barren run detailed by WhoScored.com:

The assist from Kenedy was merely the flourish for what was a bright and inventive performance from the off. He raided the flank with pace, tied markers in knots with his skill and created chances with a typical flair.
Chelsea appeared to be edging into the next round until Jamal Lewis’ powerful header drew Norwich level in the 93rd minute.
There was controversy during the extra period, when Willian was felled in the box, but no penalty was given, even after the intervention of VAR. BBC Match of the Day’s Alan Shearer had this to say about the trialled review system:

Chelsea were also left to rue Pedro being sent off for a second bookable offence. The 10 men became nine when Alvaro Morata was sent off after reacting angrily following a booking for diving.
It was left to Hazard to be Chelsea’s hero, with his conversion the pivotal spot-kick thanks to Willy Caballero saving from Nelson Oliveira earlier.
Jordan Ayew had Swansea ahead against Premier League hopefuls Wolves. The Championship leaders were level in the second half after substitute Diogo Jota found the net.
Sadly for Wolves, they couldn’t hold the lead, as Wilfried Bony put Swansea back in front less than three minutes later. The big striker prodded in from close range.

It was hard to tell Wigan played in League One compared to Bournemouth’s Premier League status, based on how easily the Latics tore through the Cherries at the DW Stadium. Goals from Sam Morsy, Dan Burn and Callum Elder were enough to send 2013’s winners through.
OptaJoe noted how a win over Bournemouth is a great omen for Wigan:

The Latics could be set for another memorable cup run, having also reached the semi-final in 2014. However, Chelsea will be the most relieved to still be in the draw after being given an almighty scare by lower-league opposition. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Chris Paul, James Harden, Trevor Ariza Deny Clippers Locker Room Feud Reports

Trevor Ariza, James Harden and Chris Paul all spoke out Wednesday and said reports circulating regarding their altercation in the Los Angeles Clippers locker room Monday evening are largely false.
“Only problem that I have is all the buzz that you guys [reporters] created,” Ariza said at practice, according to SportsTalk 790’s Ben DuBose. “You guys had a lot of different stories about what happened. None of ’em were true. Everybody is entitled to their own opinion. The people that were there know exactly what happened. They know what exactly did not happen.” 
Harden—who reportedly stormed into the Clippers’ locker room with Ariza, Paul and Gerald Green, per ESPN.com’s Adrian Wojnarowski—echoed his teammate’s sentiment. 
“You got reports. I don’t know who, but just saying different stories or different opinions or what not,” Harden said, per DuBose. “Ninety-nine percent of them are false. We’ll just leave it at that.” 
Paul, meanwhile, expressed a sense of astonishment with the way the news spread. 
“Never ceases to amaze me. Some of them were real funny. Everybody gotta speculate, right? Everybody gotta have a story. It’s over, it’s in the past. We’re moving on. Y’all know. Y’all was in there.” 

This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.
Get the best sports content from the web and social in the new B/R app. Get the app to get the game.    @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Tom Brady Limited at Practice After Suffering Injury to Throwing Hand

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was limited at practice Wednesday with a right hand injury, the Patriots announced. 
New England plays the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday.
With the exception of ACL and MCL tears that forced him to miss the final 15 games of the 2008 season, Brady has rarely missed snaps—much less full games. 
In fact, Brady hasn’t missed a regular-season contest due to injury—he was absent for four games in 2016 due to his Deflategate suspension—since he suffered the gruesome knee injury last decade. 
That said, he has been a mainstay on New England’s injury report during that 10-season stretch with various bumps and bruises—the most recent of which was an Achilles ailment that popped up in advance of Week 12. 
However, minor injury speed bumps haven’t slowed Brady at all. He finished the year with an NFL-best 4,577 passing yards to go along with 32 touchdowns to just eight interceptions. He also completed 66.3 percent of his passes.
Since Brady’s injury appears to be relatively minor, he’ll likely available to play against Jacksonville. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Florida State Seminoles 2018 Football Schedule & Analysis

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Breaking down and analyzing the 2018 Florida State Seminoles football schedule


Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews & @PeteFiutak

2018 Florida State Seminoles Football Schedule Analysis

– The Willie Taggart era isn’t exactly starting out with a light breeze, dealing with Virginia Tech on a Monday night to kick things off. However, five days later comes the light scrimmage against Samford to get ready for the ACC opener against Syracuse.

– Along with dealing with the Hokies, in interdivisional play, the Noles have their annual date against Miami – and it’s on the road. The Hurricane showdown is coming at the end of a run of three games in four weeks, and it’s the week after going to Louisville. It’s not a positive that the week off comes after the Miami game and before Wake Forest, however …

– The Clemson game is in Tallahassee. The November road games at NC State and Notre Dame are dangerous, but getting the Tigers at home might be the key to the season. Florida is making the trip to the Doak for Dan Mullen’s debut in the rivalry.

2018 Florida State Seminoles Football Schedule

Sept. 3 Virginia Tech

Sept. 8 Samford

Sept. 15 at Syracuse

Sept. 22 Northern Illinois

Sept. 29 at Louisville

Oct. 6 at Miami

Oct. 13 OPEN DATE

Oct. 20 Wake Forest

Oct. 27 Clemson

Nov. 3 at NC State

Nov. 10 at Notre Dame

Nov. 17 Boston College

Nov. 24 Florida

Dec. 1 ACC Championship

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@nfl Source: NCAA News

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Drake, Raptors Announce Charity Plans for 6 'Welcome Toronto' Games

The Toronto Raptors and rapper Drake announced a partnership Wednesday to hold six “Welcome Toronto” home games during the 2017-18 NBA season to benefit Canada Basketball and the local community.
Toronto will wear its new uniforms inspired by OVO Sound, Drake’s record label, for all six contests at the Air Canada Centre starting with a Jan. 26 tilt against the Utah Jazz. The program will also donate $2 million to Canada Basketball and $1 million to repair basketball courts in the area.  
As a whole, Welcome Toronto was created to “celebrate the future of art, culture and basketball” in Canada’s most populous city. Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri discussed the positive impact the organization’s relationship with Drake has made in recent seasons.
“Over the past four years, the Raptors’ relationship with Drake has always ultimately been about celebrating this city and the people that make it unique,” he said. “We have something very special happening in Toronto and Drake is a big part of that. We’re looking forward to this opportunity to continue working together to inspire and support young people, to showcase this great city around the world and to grow the game of basketball.”

The press release also included comments from Drake, who was born and raised in Toronto and has established himself as a serious sports fan over the years.
“As this team and Toronto continues to grow, we have seen how much we can do together,” he said. “Welcome Toronto is about celebrating our team and our city, but also working together to give back to the community and creating a place where the youth of our city can come together to play. These same courts could also potentially shape the next generation of Canadian basketball superstars.”
Here’s a look at the full list of Welcome Toronto dates and opponents:
Jan. 26: Utah Jazz
Jan. 28: Los Angeles Lakers
Feb. 2: Portland Trail Blazers
March: 9: Houston Rockets
March 23: Brooklyn Nets
April 6: Indiana Pacers
Those games later in the season could carry a lot of weight. The Raptors are 29-13 and 3.5 games behind the Boston Celtics for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Pitt Panthers 2018 Football Schedule & Analysis

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Breaking down and analyzing the 2018 Pitt Panthers football schedule


Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews & @PeteFiutak

2018 Pitt Panthers Football Schedule
Analysis

– The Panthers get the first three games at home, including the showdown against Penn State and the ACC opener against Georgia Tech. Going 3-0 is a must with just three home games remaining.

–  Want the biggest break in the book? Pitt misses Clemson, Florida State, Louisville and NC State from the Atlantic. It also gets Coastal showdown against Virginia Tech at home. However …

– Six of the last nine games are on the road, including two rough runs of three road games in four weeks, with a home date vs. Duke in the middle. Having to go to UCF won’t be easy, going to Notre Dame won’t be fun, and closing at Miami? After last year? Uh-oh.

2018 Pitt Panthers Football Schedule

Sept. 1 Albany

Sept. 8 Penn State

Sept. 15 Georgia Tech

Sept. 22 at North Carolina

Sept. 29 at UCF

Oct. 6 Syracuse

Oct. 13 at Notre Dame

Oct. 20 OPEN DATE

Oct. 27 Duke

Nov. 2 at Virginia

Nov. 10 Virginia Tech

Nov. 17 at Wake Forest

Nov. 24 at Miami

Dec. 1 ACC Championship

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Landon Collins Responds to Racist Videos from Alabama Student Harley Barber

New York Giants safety Landon Collins has responded on Twitter to videos posted on Instagram showing a University of Alabama student using racial epithets.

Per Carol Robinson of AL.com (warning link contains offensive language), Alabama officials are investigating the videos featuring Harley Barber, who said she was in the Alpha Phi sorority.  
Robinson wrote one of the videos shows Barber at a sink saying, “We do not waste water…because of the poor people in Syria. We don’t waste water. I love how I act like I love black people because I (expletive) hate (n-word) so that’s really interesting but I just saved the (expletive) (n-word) by shutting that water off.”
Linda Kahangi, executive director of Alpha Phi International Fraternity, issued a statement to Robinson noting that Barber is no longer a member of the organization:
“Alpha Phi is a diverse, values-based organization and condemns the language and opinions in these videos. They are offensive and hateful to both our own members and to other members of the Greek and campus community. The Beta Mu chapter leadership and supporting alumnae moved quickly to address the offense, and Ms. Barber is no longer a member of Alpha Phi.”
 
This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.
  @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Derrick Rose Expects to Return from Leg Injury in Cavaliers' Game vs. Magic

Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Derrick Rose is aiming to return to the court for Thursday’s game against the Orlando Magic, Cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon reported Wednesday. 
Rose’s availability will hinge largely on how his left ankle feels—the same ankle that has kept him out of action since Cleveland’s 124-119 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Nov. 7.
     
This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.
     
Get the best sports content from the web and social in the new B/R app. Get the app and get the game. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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CFP Selection Committee: Ronnie Lott & The New Members

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The College Football Playoff Selection Committee

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Rob Mullens taking over as the committee chair.

The College Football Playoff committee is undergoing a few changes with six new members and a new chairman.

Texas Tech athletic director completes his time as the chair on February 1st. and now Oregon AD Rob Mullens will take over

“College football plays a vital role in intercollegiate athletics, and it is an honor to continue to serve on the CFP Selection Committee,” said Mullens. “I look forward to partnering with the other committee members and the staff to build on the strong foundation which has been created in the first four years of the CFP.”

Along with the change up top, Paola Boivin, Joe Castiglione, Ken Hatfield, Ronnie Lott, Todd Stansbury and Scott Stricklin were added to the selection committee by the Committee, beginning a three-year term this spring.

From the College Football Playoff press release … 
An award-winning sports columnist, Paola Boivin worked for The Arizona Republic for more than 20 years prior to taking a job in the sports journalism program at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Before joining the Republic in 1994, she was a columnist for the Los Angeles Daily News. Boivin is a graduate of the University of Illinois.

Boivin won numerous awards from the Associated Press Sports Editors and National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. She also served as president of the Association for Women in Sports Media (AWSM). In November 2017, Boivin was the first female journalist to be named to the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame.

Joe Castiglione is the University of Oklahoma’s Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Programs and Director of Athletics. Since his appointment in 1998, Oklahoma athletics has captured 17 national championships and 79 conference titles, while setting records for GPA and graduation rate. A graduate of the University of Maryland, Castiglione spent 17 years at the University of Missouri, serving five of those years as the director of athletics (1993-98).

Castiglione has served three terms as the chair of the Big 12 Board of Athletics Directors. He was awarded the Bobby Dodd Award for Athletics Director of the Year in 2004 and was named National Athletics Director of the Year by the Sports Business Journal in 2009. He was also voted by both his peers and the media as the nation’s top athletics director in a Sports Illustrated poll conducted in 2017. He is a former chair of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee.

Prior to his retirement in 2005, former head coach Ken Hatfield guided three different Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) programs to Top 20 seasons. Throughout his career, Hatfield won four conference championships and led his teams to ten bowl games, posting a career record of 168-140-4.  Hatfield is retired.

Awarded the American Football Coaches Association’s (AFCA) Amos Alonzo Stagg Award in 2015, Hatfield was most recently the head coach at Rice University (1994-2005). Prior to his tenure at Rice, he was the head coach at the U.S. Air Force Academy (1979-83), the University of Arkansas (1984-89) and Clemson University (1990-93). A graduate of Arkansas, he was an All-Southwest Conference defensive back on the 1964 national championship team.

A consensus All-American at the University of Southern California, Ronnie Lott played professional football for 14 seasons before retiring in 1995. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000. An eight-time first-team All-Pro selection and 10-time Pro-Bowl defensive back, Lott played on four Super Bowl-winning teams. He is now a businessman in the San Francisco Bay area.

During his time at Southern California, Lott helped the Trojans claim a national title in 1978, followed by appearances in back-to-back Rose Bowl Games. Named to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2002, Lott graduated from Southern California in 1981 – the same year he was selected in the first round of the NFL draft.

Todd Stansbury was named director of athletics at the Georgia Institute of Technology in September 2016. A football student-athlete at Georgia Tech from 1980 to 1984, Stansbury served as the program’s assistant athletic director for academics from 1988 to 1995.

Prior to his return to Georgia Tech, Stansbury served as the athletics director for two FBS programs – Oregon State University (2015-16) and the University of Central Florida (2012-15). From 2003 to 2012, Stansbury was the executive associate athletic director at Oregon State.

Scott Stricklin is the director of athletics at the University of Florida. He previously served six years in the same role at his alma mater, Mississippi State University. During his time at Mississippi State, Stricklin oversaw record fundraising and helped the department achieve its highest-ever Learfield Director’s Cup finish. He was named Under Armour’s Athletics Director of the Year in 2016.

In addition to Florida and Mississippi State, Stricklin has worked in athletics departments at four other FBS institutions – the University of Kentucky (2003-08), Baylor University (1999-2003), Tulane University (1998) and Auburn University (1993-98).

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Report: Todd Haley Will Not Return as Steelers OC After Playoff Loss to Jaguars

Todd Haley’s tenure as offensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers has reportedly come to an end following Sunday’s 45-42 playoff loss against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Steelers are allowing Haley to leave now that his contract with the team has come to an end. 
Despite that the offense scored 42 points, Haley’s play-calling during Pittsburgh’s divisional round playoff game against the Jaguars left a lot to be desired. 
Trailing 14-0 in the first quarter, the Steelers ran a toss sweep with running back Le’Veon Bell on 4th-and-1 that Jacksonville stopped to force a turnover on downs. 
Down by seven in the third quarter and facing another 4th-and-1, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw a pass down the field to JuJu Smith-Schuster that Jaguars cornerback A.J. Bouye broke up. 
Haley’s relationship with Roethlisberger has also come into question. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported last month that Roethlisberger was trying to get other members of the Steelers’ coaching staff to act as a buffer between himself and Haley during games. 
The Steelers hired Haley to run their offense in 2012. They have finished in the top 10 in scoring in each of the past four seasons.  @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Anthony Davis Trade Rumors: 'No Truth' to Reports Linking Star to Celtics

There is reportedly no truth to the rumors that link New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis to the Boston Celtics.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said Wednesday on The Dan Le Batard Show (h/t Jake Madison of lockedonpelicans.com) that Davis “wants to make it work” in New Orleans.
Wojnarowski also said it would take a “drastic change” for the Pels to trade Davis and that they want to re-sign center DeMarcus Cousins as well.
          
This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.
Get the best sports content from the web and social in the new B/R app. Get the app and get the game. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Lane Kiffin & Florida Atlantic Hire Charlie Weis Jr. As Offensive Coordinator

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Charlie Weis Jr. Hired By Lane Kiffin

Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews & @PeteFiutak

Will there be a decided schematic advantage?

With Kendal Briles moving to Houston to be Major Applewhite’s offensive coordinator, Florida Atlantic head coach Lane Kiffin will hire 24-year-old Charlie Weis Jr. to be his new offensive coordinator.

Not only will he be the youngest offensive coordinator in college football, but as the son of the former Notre Dame and Kansas head coach, in name alone he adds to the hype factor for the FAU program – as if Kiffin doesn’t do that enough.

Before being hired by FAU, Weis Jr. was an assistant for the Atlanta Falcons after working under Kiffin as an assistant at Alabama. While he might be young, he’s been groomed for the gig, working around his father and some of the top coaching minds in football, starting at Florida and on through getting the promotion to an OC gig.

Florida Atlantic finished ninth in the nation last season in total offense with 6,977 total yards, averaging close to 500 yards per game. The Owls return six starters including star RB Devin Singletary and QB Jason Driskel.

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@nfl Source: NCAA News

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Rajon Rondo: Ray Allen Will Be Invited to 2008 Celtics Reunion

New Orleans Pelicans point guard Rajon Rondo said Tuesday that all players from the 2008 Boston Celtics championship team will be invited to their reunion vacation during the summer.
According to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe, Rondo confirmed there will be no exceptions, meaning guard Ray Allen will be invited as well.
Many of Allen’s former Celtics teammates took exception with his decision to leave Boston and sign with the rival Miami Heat in 2012, which has left Allen on shaky footing with the 2008 championship alumni.
 
This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.
 
Get the best sports content from the web and social in the new B/R app. Get the app and get the game. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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North Carolina Improves to 59-0 at Home All Time Against Clemson

Fact: With an 87-79 victory on Tuesday night, the North Carolina Tar Heels remained perfect at home against the Clemson Tigers, improving to 59-0 all time against the ACC foe.

Bleacher Report will be bringing sports fans the most interesting and engaging Cold Hard Facts of the day, presented by Coors Light.
Source: Carolina Basketball @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Liverpool Transfer News: Reds Lose Leon Goretzka Hope in Latest Rumours

Liverpool are reportedly ready to give up in their chase for Schalke midfielder Leon Goretzka, as the Reds believe he’s set to join Bayern Munich.
According to James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo, there has been contact between the Merseyside club and the player’s camp.
“However, the Reds have been given little encouragement and barring a late change of heart they expect Goretzka to join Bayern Munich,” it’s added. “Goretzka, who has also been linked with Manchester United, is expected to confirm his choice of club over the coming days.”
Goretzka’s contract at Schalke is set to expire at the end of the season, meaning he would be free to discuss a deal with the Reds with a view to a free transfer in the summer.
While a number of sides have been linked with the 22-year-old, it appears Bayern are likely to get their man.
Liam Canning praised the German champions for their work in the window:

As relayed by Pearce, Bayern executive board chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has said there is interest in Goretzka on their part.
“You only have an agreement when the contract is signed and the player passed the medical tests,” he said. “We are not that far yet. Now the player has to decide, I heard the decision will be made within the next days so before the end of January.”
Rummenigge added that it would be “very nice” if he was to opt to sign for Bayern. However, as noted by ESPN’s Mark Lovell, the deal is some way from completion yet:

Signing Goretzka would be a coup even for a club as big as Munich, as he is one of the most exciting talents in European football.
The Schalke man can do a little bit of everything. He’s a major presence in midfield in terms of his physicality, and he constantly looks to get involved in the action; the 22-year-old contests every ball and is strong in the tackle.

Crucially, he makes his presence felt further forward as well. Goretzka carries the ball with intent in midfield and is composed enough to make smart decisions when opportunities do open up. Given the way Liverpool operate, he would’ve been a fine signing.
Journalist Ben D’Arcy isn’t too enthused by the prospect of him joining Bayern, as it’ll potentially dilute the competitiveness of the division:

From Goretzka’s perspective, the chance to join Bayern must be appealing, as they have long dominated the Bundesliga and are consistently fighting it out for the UEFA Champions League. Alongside Joshua Kimmich, Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng and Thomas Muller, he’ll be a key part of a German core.
Liverpool will be disappointed to miss out on a wonderful talent available for free. However, with their midfield looking in excellent order at the moment and Naby Keita set to arrive in the summer, supporters won’t be too disappointed. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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How Monaco's Thomas Lemar Has Become One of Europe's Most Wanted Stars

Suppose you were cherry-picking the best attributes from Europe’s top attacking players to create the ultimate forward, which elements would you take from each player? Kylian Mbappe’s pace? Harry Kane’s finishing? Luis Suarez’s cunning? From Lionel Messi…well, from Messi you’d just take the whole package and be done with it, but for the purposes of this exercise, let’s say his dribbling. As for the left foot, how about Thomas Lemar?
Exhibit A: the exquisite cross with which Lemar set up Bernardo Silva to score in Monaco’s 3-0 win at Nancy last season, the ball plucked from Stade Marcel Picot’s greasy synthetic surface and tossed onto Silva’s head with all the finesse of a Roger Federer half-volley.
Exhibit B: his first goal for France, in last August’s 4-0 win over the Netherlands, a sumptuous first-time hit from 20 yards—laces, impeccable body shape—that zinged into Jasper Cillessen’s top-left corner.
Exhibit C: the free-kicks. A pair of inch-perfect efforts against Lorient, a glorious, arcing 30-yarder at former club Stade Malherbe Caen. And plenty more, you suspect, where they came from.
Lemar’s set-piece technique is reminiscent of Juan Mata’s. Both players flatten their left foot into a right-angle as they strike the ball to ensure maximal surface-area contact, and with it, maximal control. “His left foot is amazing,” Lemar’s former Caen team-mate Alaeddine Yahia told beIN Sports (via Ligue1.com) after he scored against his old club in March 2016. “It’s like a hand.”
That hand-like foot, allied to Lemar’s other gifts, has opened the door for the 22-year-old midfielder to leave Monaco in a transfer expected to be worth around £90 million, with Liverpool and Arsenal fronting the queue of clubs vying for his signature. But the last time Lemar held the shirt of a new club in his hands and smiled for the cameras, the fee was a great deal lower and the circumstances very different indeed.

Philippe Tranchant watched Lemar play football for the first time during a trip to Guadeloupe in November 2008, and he knew within minutes he had found a special talent.
“I first saw him play on a terribly bumpy pitch, because the pitches in Guadeloupe are catastrophic,” Tranchant told Bleacher Report. “He dribbled past everyone and put a shot right in the top corner. He was a head shorter than everyone else on the pitch, but he was the only thing you saw. He had all the fundamentals. In terms of technique, he was already exceptional at 13.”
Tranchant was the technical director of Caen’s youth training centre, and within two years he had Lemar under his orders. The shy, delicately built teenager left his home and family over 4,000 miles away in the Caribbean to begin a new life on the Normandy coast.
“It was difficult for him, he admitted that to me after a few months,” says Tranchant. “He didn’t even say anything to his parents. He kept everything to himself. The climate in Normandy is a long way away from the climate in Monaco, let alone Guadeloupe. The food wasn’t the same. The schooling was a bit tougher than what he was used to in Guadeloupe. So in every area it was difficult.”
Tranchant immediately moved Lemar up an age group, and by 16 he was playing in the club’s reserve team and turning out for France at under-17 level. But his integration into Caen’s first XI proved problematic.
He was handed his professional debut in August 2013, and his maiden season culminated in Caen securing promotion to Ligue 1. Yet, when the following campaign kicked off, he found himself kicking his heels on the bench. Caen’s coach, Patrice Garande, had doubts about Lemar’s robustness and preferred to align N’Golo Kante and Julien Feret in the attacking midfield roles in his 4-1-4-1 system, leaving the 18-year-old to make do with substitute cameos.

When Lemar made his full Ligue 1 debut, in a home game against Lorient in October 2014, his head began to pound and his heart started to beat unnaturally quickly, forcing him to come off in the 41st minute. He was found to have suffered an attack of tachycardia, which Tranchant attributed to stress. He would make only five further starts that season, lining up at kick-off alongside Kante—his future France team-mate—on just a handful of occasions.
“He was a very young player, with a very slight physique, who wasn’t at the physical level he’s at today,” says journalist Guillaume Laine, who covered Lemar’s time at Caen for regional newspaper Ouest-France. “Garande and the directors at Caen thought they needed to take their time with him and not burn him out.”
Garande is believed to have promised Lemar more playing time in the 2015-16 season, but the relationship between player and club had broken down. He had already attracted Monaco’s attention, and after he impressed for France’s under-20s as they won the Toulon Tournament in the summer of 2015, the principality club made their move. He signed from Caen for a fee of just €4 million.
Surprise Champions League quarter-finalists in the spring of 2015, Monaco were a team in transition, and Lemar arrived amid a flurry of incoming and outgoing transfers at the club’s La Turbie training centre.
“There were no expectations because they’d paid less than €5 million for him,” says Mathieu Faure, who has reported on Lemar’s time at Monaco for Nice-Matin and So Foot. “He didn’t play very much at Caen and he wasn’t in the first team very often. There was a sense that he struggled to play lots of games in succession.”

Although Lemar scored five goals in his first Ligue 1 campaign at Monaco, injuries disrupted his adaptation, and with coach Leonardo Jardim struggling to accommodate both him and Bernardo Silva in his starting XI, he was bumped around from position to position and taken in and out of the team.
As recently as the beginning of last season, Lemar wasn’t sure of his place in the side. When Monaco travelled to Wembley to play their opening Champions League group game against Tottenham in September 2016, he started on the bench, having missed their two previous games with an ankle injury.
 
His luck turned in the fifth minute, when Nabil Dirar injured his calf and had to go off. Lemar went on in his place and scored a 31st-minute goal that proved to be the winner in a 2-1 victory, lashing a shot high into the net past France captain Hugo Lloris from close range. “It was clearly a significant match, because if I hadn’t played in that match, I might not have gone on to become a first-team player,” Lemar told So Foot earlier this season.
That same month, Jardim settled upon the 4-4-2 formation that enabled him to field Lemar and Silva in positions where they could vent their attacking instincts: Lemar on the left of midfield, Silva on the right. It was a key staging post on the road that would lead to the French title and a place in the Champions League semi-finals.
With Benjamin Mendy (now at Manchester City along with Silva) motoring past him from left-back, Lemar had the freedom to float into the central areas where he feels most at home. He registered 14 goals and 17 assists in all competitions, finishing the season with five France caps to his name and a new status as one of the most sought-after players in Europe.
His redeployment as a No. 10 by Jardim this season has made him an even more central figure. Fleet of both thought and foot, Lemar cites Xavi, Andres Iniesta and David Silva as his idols and says he derives greater pleasure from creating goals than scoring them. “Setting up a goal is a unique feeling,” he told So Foot. “Much stronger than scoring.”
Lemar is naturally reserved and notoriously suspicious of the media. He has an Instagram account, but describes himself as a reluctant user of social networking sites. “He doesn’t like putting himself in the spotlight,” says Faure. “He doesn’t go out much. He’s a simple person who uses his free time to rest up because he knows his body is a tool of work.” Tranchant says he lives in a “football bubble.”
Lemar’s quiet demeanour masks a fierce determination, forged amid the wrench of leaving his family at such a young age, the frustrations of his delayed take-off at Caen and the mixed returns of his first season at Monaco. Now, in a World Cup year and with Europe’s elite clubs circling, the stratosphere beckons.
“Technically and tactically, he’s above 90 percent of other players,” says Tranchant. “I think Thomas could play for any high-level club, and as the level gets higher, the higher he’ll raise his level. That’s the mark of the great players.”
                  
All quotes and information obtained firsthand unless otherwise indicated.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @tomwfootball @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Australian Open 2018 Schedule: Replay TV Coverage, Live Stream for Wednesday

Rafael Nadal was given a stern test by Leonardo Mayer at the Australian Open on Wednesday, although he still emerged as a straight-sets victor in Melbourne.
Nadal edged all three sets to earn a 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(4) triumph, with his opponent playing some wonderful tennis. Nadal, the top seed and world No. 1, seemed to relish this rigorous examination of his game so early in the tournament.
Elsewhere, there was plenty of drama in the women’s bracket, as second seed Caroline Wozniacki produced a thrilling comeback to win her match. Additionally, Elina Svitolina and Jelena Ostapenko—seeded fourth and seventh, respectively—also needed three sets to progress.
It was a fascinating day’s play down under. Here are the details on where to catch the action and a recap of Wednesday’s highlights.
       
TV Info: Eurosport 1 (UK) and ESPN2 (U.S.) Live Stream: Eurosport Player (UK), Tennis Channel Everywhere (U.S.), WatchESPN (U.S.)Wednesday Replay: Eurosport 1 from 1:30 p.m. (GMT), Tennis Channel from 12 p.m. (ET)
      
Wednesday Recap

A straight sets win for Nadal at this stage of any competition is often routine, but Mayer made the Spaniard work hard throughout.
In the first two sets, a solitary break of serve was enough for the 16-time Grand Slam champion, although Mayer always posed a threat with some big serving and strong groundstrokes. 
The determination of the man from Argentina was epitomised late in the third set, when he broke as Nadal served for the match. However, the Spaniard was able to recover and eventually wrapped it up with a tiebreak.
As we can see courtesy of Eurosport UK, Nadal was extremely respectful of his opponent:

“Leonardo is a player with big potential, he hits the ball so strong,” said Nadal after the win, per BBC Sport. “He is a very dangerous opponent. This tournament is my favourite of the year, so I want to stay here as long as possible.”
Those in search of drama on Wednesday found it in the women’s matches, though, and the showdown between Wozniacki and Jana Fett will surely be a contender for one of the matches of the year.

After losing the opening set, the second seed appeared to have recovered, as she levelled the contest up with ease. However, she stumbled out of the blocks in the decider and was staring at an early exit at 5-1 down.
But from nowhere the Dane was able to pull out a remarkable run of games. She saved two match points and went on to win six games in a row, putting her into Round 3 in the most extraordinary of circumstances.
She posted the following on her Twitter account:

Journalist Nick McCarvel hailed Wozniacki’s effort as one of the great comebacks and relayed her post-match emotions:

There was also a scare for French Open champion Ostapenko, as she was involved in a rollercoaster of a clash with Ying-Ying Duan.

Ostapenko appeared on course for a professional win before her opponent rallied with some brilliant play in the second set. In the end, the seventh seed was able to regroup and win through in three sets, although she’ll be expecting to improve in Round 3.
Tennis journalist Reem Abulleil paid tribute to her play on the crucial points in this match:

Elsewhere, Svitolina took a while to get going against Katerina Siniakova. She was well below par in the first set, although losing it appeared to jolt the Ukrainian into life, as she dropped just three more games to turn things around.
Other notable wins on Wednesday came from Marin Cilic, as his serve was too hot to handle for Joao Sousa. Home hope Nick Kyrgios is also into Round 3, as he won three tight sets to get the better of Viktor Troicki.   @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Kwang-Song Han's Agent Discusses Reported Liverpool and Tottenham Interest

The agent for Cagliari forward Kwang-Song Han has dismissed suggestions Tottenham Hotspur have made a move for the player, although he said Liverpool have shown an interest in him in the past.
Han is on loan at Serie B club Perugia and has impressed plenty by netting seven goals and grabbing three assists already this term.
Speaking about his client to Lucas Sposito of Sport Witness, Sandro Stemperini cooled talk of an approach from Spurs, but he noted there is plenty of interest from across the continent in the 19-year-old.
“Officially, I do not have a call from Tottenham,” he said. “There are several officials, from Germany… it’s normal that several clubs ask about him. Because he is a youngster who is playing very well, who here in Italy is being followed by Juventus, an important club. It’s normal for everyone to talk to me. But officially, from Tottenham, I do not have a call.”
It was reported by Tuttomercatoweb (h/t Sport Witness) that Spurs were ready to intensify their interest in the teenager as a “prelude to a real offer.”
Han moved to Cagliari in 2015 and made his first appearance for the club in April 2017; he became the first North Korean player to score in the Italian top flight in his second outing. Prior to the move, he spent his youth career at TecnoFutbol.

Speaking about the early days of Han’s playing career, Stemperini said that there was interest from Liverpool before he made the switch to Serie A.
“Liverpool were seriously interested,” he told Sposito. “After he moved to Cagliari, already in an Italian club, they did not come back, no. Now I know nothing about it.”
In his home nation, there is said to be massive hope for Han. According to Robert Cottingham of the MailOnline, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un “wants North Korea to become a genuine force in world football and Han is central to the dictator’s plans.”
Stylistically, Han is easy on the eye, as he’s technically proficient, has a sharp change of pace and is always seeking to be positive in possession.
The forward is evidently a major talent and appears to have caught the eye of some of European football’s biggest clubs. Still, he has plenty to learn yet, as evidenced by his loan move, and it is surely still too soon to think about him moving to a massive club.   @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Arsenal 'Held to Ransom' by Henrikh Mkhitaryan in Latest Transfer Rumours

Arsenal are reportedly being “held to ransom” by Manchester United midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan ahead of a potential January transfer.
According to John Cross of the Daily Mirror, the Gunners are considering a swap deal involving Mkhitaryan and Alexis Sanchez, with both players said to be valued at around £35 million by their respective clubs.
However, it’s suggested the Armenian is making matters complicated, along with his agent Mino Raiola.
“Mkhitaryan has got three-and-a-half years left on his £150,000-a-week contract, wants a pay rise to go to Arsenal and will also want a ‘golden handshake’ to leave United,” the report continued. “Raiola wants a big agent commission—more than £5 million—and it is believed he will use the opportunity to try and renegotiate future terms for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, another of his clients.”

Cross added that while Arsenal wanted Mkhitaryan plus cash before selling Sanchez, the club are finding it tough to bargain with United. That’s because Sanchez’s contract at the Emirates Stadium is set to expire at he end of the season.
According to Duncan Castles of the Daily Record, the 28-year-old wants to become the biggest earner at the Emirates Stadium:
As we can see here, Raiola told The Times that Mkhitaryan’s move to Arsenal is necessary if Sanchez is to go the other way:

The United man has found himself on the fringes at Old Trafford for the majority of the season despite a blistering beginning to the campaign.
Mkhitaryan has showcased plenty of class, though. At his best, he brings so much to an attacking setup, as he’s able to dribble, pass and score goals. Under Jose Mourinho at United, his assets in the final third have never really been showcased on a consistent basis.
With the likes of Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial, Juan Mata and Marcus Rashford ahead of Mkhitaryan in the pecking order, a midseason move feels like a sensible step.
Journalist Colin Millar believes Sanchez and Mkhitaryan would each benefit from the swap deal:

Arguably, Arsenal are losing out in this trade, though, as in Sanchez they have a proven Premier League superstar.

The Chilean has lit up English football since arriving in 2014, giving the Gunners vibrancy in the final third. Sanchez’s productivity in attack has been crucial for Arsene Wenger’s side, and losing him to a longstanding rival would be a blow to the London club.
Samuel Leon Powell couldn’t resist a dig at the Gunners:

Mkhitaryan would potentially thrive under Wenger, as the Frenchman’s football is based on intricate attacking play. The Armenian would be handed more freedom to influence matches, and that would be to his benefit in the long run.
Finding a replacement for Sanchez in January would be an impossible task for Arsenal, especially for a fee of £35 million. Mkhitaryan, provided he performs to his best, will go some way towards filling that void. However, Arsenal supporters will want to see further investments made in the playing staff.   @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Australian Open 2018: Wednesday Results, Highlights, Scores Recap from Melbourne

Top seed Rafael Nadal continued his serene progress at the Australian Open on Wednesday, as he marched into Round 3 with a 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (4) win over Leonardo Mayer.
After dropping just three games in his first match of the tournament, the Spaniard was made to work a little harder by Mayer in Round 2. But eventually, Nadal had too much class for his opponent and sealed the win and a meeting with Damir Dzumhur in the next round.
Earlier in the day in the men’s draw, Marin Cilic also progressed with minimal fuss. In the women’s bracket, Caroline Wozniacki and Elina Svitolina, seeded second and fourth, respectively, had to fight back from a set down to progress, with the former producing an incredible effort.
Here are the latest results from Melbourne and a look back at some of the early highlights from another day down under.
       
Selected Results
Men’s Draw
(1) Rafael Nadal bt. Leonardo Mayer, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (4)
(6) Marin Cilic bt. Joao Sousa, 6-1, 7-5, 6-2
(15) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga bt. Denis Shapovalov, 3-6, 6-3, 1-6, 7-6 (4), 7-5
        
Women’s Draw
(2) Caroline Wozniacki bt. Jana Fett, 3-6, 6-2, 7-5
(4) Elina Svitolina bt. Katerina Siniakova, 4-6, 6-2, 6-1
(7) Jelena Ostapenko bt. Ying-Ying Duan, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4
Kateryna Bondarenko bt. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 6-2, 6-3
      
Wednesday Recap
Nadal was imperious in his opening-round win over Victor Estrella Burgos and continued to show sharp form on Wednesday on the Rod Laver Arena.
He broke in the fourth game of the opener, spinning a forehand down the line and consolidating in the next game. From there he was in total control of the set and eventually went on to secure it comfortably. 
Here’s the moment the Spaniard wrapped up the opener, per Eurosport UK:

The top seed was on it from the off in the second stanza, too, as he broke with a delicious dipping forehand and held serve to move 2-0 up.
Mayer may have crumbled at this point, although the man from Argentina showcased great determination to cling on for the rest of the set. However, he was always playing catchup, and a succession of holds saw Nadal take a two-set lead.
Record’s Jose Morgado was enjoying seeing the Spaniard tested:

The final set followed a similar theme, and when Nadal broke to set up a chance to serve for the match, the contest appeared over. However, Mayer dug deep in the next game and was able to secure his first break of the contest to keep his chances alive.
It meant a tiebreak was needed in the third. In it, Nadal produced some stunning shots to open up an early advantage. When the first match point came about, the top seed seized it.
Elsewhere, there were no issues for Cilic as he booked a Round 3 spot; the Croatian dominated the contest with his serve.
In the women’s bracket, Wozniacki was made to work hard in her showdown with Fett, as she launched an incredible comeback in the final set to win through.

After the players shared the first two sets, Fett surged into a 5-1 lead in the final stanza, putting her one game away from a huge victory. However, Wozniacki strung together an extraordinary run of six games and saved two match points in the process.
As we can see here, the Dane was mightily relieved when she finally did make it through:

Per Ben Rothenberg of the New York Times, the underdog crumbled after missing out on match point:

Svitolina’s comeback wasn’t quite so spectacular, as she clicked into gear brilliantly after losing the opening set 6-4. She dropped just three games in the remaining two sets.
The win for the Ukrainian sets up a showdown with her compatriot Marta Kostyuk, who is just 15 years old. When asked about the focus on the youngster, Svitolina said “maybe it means less pressure on me,” per the WTA Insider Twitter account.   @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Leganes vs. Real Madrid: 2018 Spanish Copa del Rey Leg 1 Live Stream, TV Info

Real Madrid face a tricky away day at Leganes on Thursday, as the pair meet in the first leg of the quarter-finals of the 2018 Copa del Rey.
Los Blancos beat Numancia in the round of 16, and given their woeful performance in La Liga, the cup could offer them their best route to silverware.
Leganes have been steady in the top flight of Spanish football, comfortably clear of the relegation dogfight in mid-table.
Here is how you can watch the opening leg of the tie:
            
Date: Thursday, Jan. 18
Time: 8:30 p.m. (GMT)/ 3:30 p.m. (ET)
TV: beIN Sports (U.S.)
Stream: beIN CONNECT, fuboTV
                  
Preview
The long-term tenure of Real manager Zinedine Zidane remains questionable after a poor start to the campaign.
Real travel to the outskirts of the capital city for their first-leg encounter against the Cucumber Growers, as the Spanish cup reaches its crucial rounds.
The hosts’ Estadio Municipal de Butarque ground remains one of the smallest in top-flight European football, and an intimate crowd will hope to add weight to the cause.

Real progressed 5-2 on aggregate as they dumped Numancia out, but their next opponent will be more resilient than their recent challengers from the Segunda Division.
Zidane’s men have failed to sparkle this season, and the 19-point gap to La Liga leaders Barcelona tells its own tale.
The club have stopped scoring goals in the prolific manner of previous years, and the time will soon come for president Florentino Perez to act.
However, the cup offers the giants respite and allows Zidane to continue the blooding of fresh talent.

Lucas Vazquez scored twice in the second leg against Numancia at the Bernabeu Stadium in the previous round, proving Real have depth to tap into.
Leganes have won three of their last six in all competitions, and they will know the time is right to hit Real where it hurts.
The first leg is vital in the minnows’ hopes of progressing, and they will desire a weakened side to face them.
It is likely Cristiano Ronaldo will be given the night off if Zidane follows his usual selection script for the cup, giving the hosts a slim chance of a dramatic shock. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Washington State QB Tyler Hilinski Found Dead In An Apparent Suicide

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Wazzu QB Tyler Hilinski Dead At 21

Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews

According to Spokesman.com, Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski was found dead outside of his apartment on Tuesday from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Hilinski was expected to be the starter in place of Luke Falk, after starting in the bowl loss to Michigan State and rallying the team back in a win over Boise State earlier in the season.

Hilinski was just 21-year-old.

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@nfl Source: NCAA News

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Paul Pierce: Celtics' Guilt at Trading Isaiah Thomas Behind Efforts to Honor Him

After Isaiah Thomas didn’t play during the Cavaliers’ first trip to Boston on Jan. 3, the Celtics chose to push back his video tribute to the next matchup between these teams on Feb. 11.
This didn’t sit well with Paul Pierce, who was scheduled to have his No. 34 jersey retired that day.
“Danny tried to sell me on it, but I told him, ‘He had a shot, Danny, and he punked you on it. He pretty much dictated everything,'” Pierce explained, per Jackie MacMullan and Chris Forsberg of ESPN. “They let it happen because they felt sorry how (the trade to Cleveland) went down. It’s guilt. That’s what it is.”
Thomas had spent three years with the Celtics, earning two All-Star appearances while leading the team to the Eastern Conference Finals last year. However, he was traded in the offseason in a package that landed Kyrie Irving.
     
This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.
Get the best sports content from the web and social in the new B/R app. Get the app and get the game. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Washington State QB Tyler Hilinski Dies at Age 21

Washington State Cougars quarterback Tyler Hilinski was found dead after apparently killing himself, police in Pullman, Washington, announced Tuesday.
The Seattle Times’ Stefanie Loh shared a statement about Hilinski’s death from the Pullman Police Department:

Tyler’s younger brother Ryan tweeted, “Please keep my family in your prayers tonight.”
Hilinski, 21, appeared in 11 games for Washington State in two years. He threw for 1,149 yards and seven touchdowns with seven interceptions.
He started his first career game with the Cougars in their 42-17 Holiday Bowl defeat to the Michigan State Spartans. He was 39-of-50 for 272 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
Hilinski’s best game came in Washington State’s 58-37 loss to the Arizona Wildcats last October. He had 509 yards through the air on 45-of-61 passing.
With Luke Falk graduating, Hilinski was among the early favorites to take over as Washington State’s starting quarterback in 2018. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Anthony Davis Brilliant as Pelicans Shock Kyrie Irving, Celtics in Overtime

If the last three games are a sign of the future, it’s time to start including Anthony Davis in the MVP conversation. 
Davis had his third straight brilliant game, posting 45 points and 16 rebounds to lead the New Orleans Pelicans to a 116-113 overtime win over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday.
The Pelicans have won their last three contests, the last two coming on the road in New York and Boston. Davis has scored 129 points and grabbed 42 rebounds in that span, and he’s scored at least 30 points in each of his last four games. He became the second player (James Harden) this season with two straight games of 40 points or more.
Jrue Holiday also added 23 points and seven assists, while DeMarcus Cousins had a 19-point, 15-rebound double-double. 
    
This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.
Get the best sports content from the web and social in the new B/R app. Get the app and get the game. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Roman Reigns Linked to Steroid Distribution Ring by Accused Dealer

A gym owner implicated Roman Reigns in a steroid distribution ring that resulted in an investigation by the DEA.
Richard Rodriguez, who ran Iron Addicts Gym in Miami, also named two other celebrities, including movie star Mark Wahlberg. Documentary filmmaker Jon Bravo shared a clip of an interview with Rodriguez (h/t Caylon Knox of WrestlingNewsSource.com).

According to the Miami Herald’s Alex Harris, the DEA raided Iron Addicts Gym and arrested Rodriguez in February 2017. The agency said Rodriguez was part of a distribution chain that imported goods from China, manufactured illegal steroids in Arizona and then distributed them from Miami.
WWE suspended Reigns for 30 days in June 2016 as the result of a wellness violation.
The Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Dave Meltzer (h/t Wrestling Inc’s Raj Giri) reported Reigns had tested positive for Adderall. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. Interested in Becoming Minority Owner of Carolina Panthers

Retired NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. is interested in becoming a minority owner of the Carolina Panthers but is not currently involved in an ownership group making a bid on the franchise at this time.
Felix Sabates told the Charlotte Observer last week his group included two unnamed race car drivers.
“(Felix) did not ask me to be involved,” Earnhardt told Jenna Fryer of the Associated Press. “I did call Marcus (Smith, the CEO of Speedway Motorsports) and I said, ‘Hey, Marcus, if you guys are in the middle of it and you think it’s a good business deal, I definitely have some interest.’ But I am not one of the guys that Felix is talking about.”
     
This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.
     
Get the best sports content from the web and social in the new B/R app. Get the app and get the game. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Report: JJ Redick's Leg Injury Isn't Considered Serious; Won't Miss Much Time

Philadelphia 76ers swingman JJ Redick is expected to miss a “only a short window of time” after suffering a left leg injury against the Toronto Raptors on Monday afternoon, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Losing Redick for a significant amount of time would be a concern for the 76ers considering they brought him aboard this offseason to provide veteran leadership—as well as scoring from the wing—on a team filled with promising young stars.
He is averaging 17.3 points and 3.3 assists per game in his first season with Philadelphia, shooting 44.8 percent from the field and 40.5 percent from three.
Redick has been a consistent scoring force throughout his NBA career, averaging double-digit point totals every season since 2010-11. His marksmanship from deep is especially valuable for Philadelphia when opposing defenses focus too much attention on Joel Embiid on the blocks or Ben Simmons handling the ball.
Look for the Sixers to give more playing time to the combination of Robert Covington, Jerryd Bayless, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Justin Anderson on the wing if Redick is forced to miss additional time.
Redick’s shooting opens up Philadelphia’s offense in a major way. He’s averaging the second-most points on the team, which means Covington, Simmons and Dario Saric will have to pick up some of his scoring slack while he’s sidelined. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Colin Kaepernick Announces He'll Donate Final $100K of $1M Pledge on Wednesday

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is set to make the final donation of his $1 million pledge. 
He said on Twitter Tuesday that he will announce the details of the last $100,000 on Wednesday:

Kaepernick has been tracking his donations on his personal website since September of 2016.
“I will donate one million dollars plus all the proceeds of my jersey sales from the 2016 season to organizations working in oppressed communities, 100k a month for 10 months,” he wrote on the site.
The site also details exactly where his money has gone, from beds for single mothers and their children in Georgia to suits for those seeking jobs in New York City to Meals on Wheels across the country. Much of the money is going to underprivileged people in inner cities around the United States and the rest of the world.
Kaepernick has become a controversial figure in the NFL as the first person to kneel during the national anthem as a protest against racial injustice, leading the way for others to replicate the action. He went unsigned during the 2017 season and has filed a collusion lawsuit against the league.
However, his off-field contributions remain valuable for a lot of people benefiting from the money he earned as a player.
Even without playing, he was named the NFL Players Association’s Week 1 Community MVP. He was also honored as GQ’s Citizen of the Year.
While there are many athletes willing to give their time and money to the community, Kaepernick has gone above and beyond with this pledge. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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FA Cup 2018 Results and Final Scores from Tuesday's 3rd-Round Replays

West Ham United survived a huge scare in the FA Cup third round as they needed extra-time to beat League One Shrewsbury Town at the London Stadium on Tuesday.
Elsewhere Leicester City ended League One Fleetwood Town’s FA Cup dreams with Kelechi Iheanacho scoring twice for the Foxes at the King Power Stadium.
The game was also notable as Iheanacho’s second goal was the first to be given by VAR in English football.
There were also wins for Sheffield Wednesday, Reading and Cardiff City who will face Premier League leaders Manchester City in the fourth round.
Here’s a look at all Tuesday’s FA Cup third-round replay results.
            
Tuesday’s Results
Leicester City 2-0 Fleetwood Town
Mansfield 1-4 Cardiff City
Sheffield Wednesday 2-0 Carlisle United
West Ham United 1-0 Shrewsbury (aet)
Reading 3-0 Stevenage
        
Tuesday Recap
West Ham boss David Moyes made plenty of changes to his team for the visit of Shrewsbury, but there was still plenty of experience with Joe Hart, Manuel Lanzini and Andre Ayew all starting.
However, the Hammers created very little throughout, and the visitors had the best chance of the game just after the hour mark, per sports journalist Tom Allnutt:

Moyes sent on Marko Arnautovic and Mark Moble in search of a winner but could not find a breakthrough as Shrewsbury forced extra-time.
The Telegraph’s Matt Law said Hammers’ fans were not impressed:

With penalties looming, West Ham finally made the breakthrough as Reece Burke fired home his first-ever Hammers goal with a sweet strike that went in off the crossbar.
It’s still a fairly embarrassing result for West Ham, but nonetheless they are safely through to the fourth round where they will face either Bournemouth or Wigan Athletic, who replay on Wednesday.
Leicester found it tough going against League One Fleetwood despite naming a lineup featuring Riyad Mahrez, Iheanacho, Adrien Silva and Islam Slimani.
Yet the Foxes struggled to create any clear-cut chances initially with the visitors forcing goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic into a couple of good saves.
Football commentator Arlo White illustrated how Leicester were toiling in front of goal:

The hosts finally broke the deadlock just before half-time as Slimani sent a ball over the top for Iheanacho, and he took a touch before racing through on goal and finishing clinically.
Opta showed how the striker has a good record in the FA Cup:

Iheanacho then had a goal chalked off in the second half, after the ball had gone out of play in the buildup, before grabbing his second to make the tie safe.
The striker was slipped in by Mahrez and finished calmly, and although it was originally given as offside, the goal was eventually given after referee Jon Moss consulted with the VAR.
Henry Winter at The Times said the technology worked perfectly:

Leicester will now head to League One Peterborough United in the fourth round.
Meanwhile, Cardiff will host Manchester City next after they saw off Mansfield Town. The hosts did, however, welcome a special guest for the tie, as shown by the club’s chief executive officer Carolyn Radford:

The visitors went ahead through Bruno Ecuele Manga, but their lead lasted just a minute before Hayden White crossed for Danny Rose to fire home.
However, the Championship side took control after the break as two goals from Junior Hoilett and an Anthony Pilkington strike secured a comfortable win.
Sheffield Wednesday booked their spot in the fourth round with victory over Carlisle United. 
Marco Matias opened the scoring after just 28 minutes, as shown by Match of the Day:

Striker Atdhe Nuhiu then added the second after the break, firing low into the bottom corner. Sports journalist George Smith was impressed with the finish:

Wednesday will now play Reading in the fourth round after they beat League Two Stevenage at the Madejski Stadium, thanks to Jon Dadi Bodvarsson’s hat-trick.
The two teams lined up in similar colours, which made for a kit clash, per sports reporter Ian Baker:

Both teams struggled in a poor first half, but the hosts did manage to break the deadlock just after the half-hour mark as Bodvarsson volleyed home at the far post.
The Icelander then all but secured victory just minutes before half-time with a diving header that went in off the post.
Commentator Chris Wise was impressed with his effort but not the game itself:

Meanwhile, Reading confirmed they had changed their kit at the break:

The evening then got even better for Bodvarsson as he tapped home his third for his first hat-trick in English football. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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American Athletic Conference Roundup: Final Rankings, Top Players, Coaches, Games

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The final look at the 2017 American Athletic Conference season, with the final rankings by opinions and top seasons, top players, coaches and games. 


American Athletic Conference Roundup: Final Rankings, Top Players, Coaches, Games

Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews

American Athletic Conference Final Analysis

The UCF season made the conference a national big thing each and every week. It was supposed to by USF’s year, and it was great, but that team up the road was just a wee bit better.

Memphis was able to beat UCLA and put up huge numbers, and Navy had a great bowl game against Virginia, but again, it was UCF, USF, and Memphis who made this a big year.

SMU was able to rise up, Temple bounced back after a rough start, and Houston and Tulane were fine. However, the bottom of the league dragged down everyone else with horrible seasons from UConn, Cincinnati, Tulsa and East Carolina.

And now the conference is undergoing a few key changes with Scott Frost off to Nebraska and Sonny Dykes taking over at SMU, but for the most part, the stability is there going into 2018.

There might not be another 2017 UCF, but the league should be better at the bottom.

American Athletic Conference Final Rankings (by opinion)

1. UCF
2. Memphis
3. USF
4. Houston
5. Navy
6. SMU
7. Temple
8. Tulane
9. Cincinnati
10. Connecticut
11. Tulsa
12. East Carolina

American Athletic Conference Final Rankings (by season & merit)

1. UCF
2. Memphis
3. Navy
4. USF
5. Houston
6. Temple
7. SMU
8. Tulane
9. East Carolina
10. Cincinnati
11. Connecticut
12. Tulsa

American Athletic Conference Coaching Rankings

1. Scott Frost, UCF
2. Mike Norvell, Memphis
3. Charlie Strong, USF
4. Geoff Collins, Temple
5. Ken Niumatalolo, Navy
6. Chad Morris, SMU
7. Willie Fritz, Tulane
8. Major Applewhite, Houston
9. Scottie Montgomery, East Carolina
10. Randy Edsall, Connecticut
11. Luke Fickell, Cincinnati
12. Philip Montgomery, Tulsa

American Athletic Conference Top Ten Players

1. QB McKenzie Milton, Soph. UCF
2. QB Riley Ferguson, Sr. Memphis
3. WR Anthony Miller, Sr. Memphis
4. DT Ed Oliver, Soph. Houston
5. DE Justin Lawler, Sr. SMU
6. QB Quinton Flowers, Sr. USF
7. LB Shaquem Griffin, Sr. UCF
8. QB/RB Malcolm Perry, Soph. Navy
9. LB Genard Avery, Jr. Memphis
10. WR Trey Quinn, Jr. SMU

American Athletic Conference Ten Best Games

1. UCF 62, Memphis 55 OT, (AAC championship), Dec. 2
2. UCF 49, USF 42, Nov. 24
3. Memphis 48, UCLA 45, Sept. 16
4. Army 14, Navy 13, Dec. 9
5. East Carolina 41, UConn 38, Sept. 24
6. UCF 34, Auburn 27, (Peach Bowl), Jan. 1
7. SMU 43, Navy 40, Nov. 11
8. Toledo 54, Tulsa 51, Sept. 16
9. Tulane 41, SMU 38, Nov. 25
10. Navy 48, Air Force 45, Oct. 7

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CHAN 2018: Tuesday Scores, Results, Standings and Updated Schedule

The fourth day of action at the 2018 African Nations Championship in Morocco was largely one to forget as just a single goal was scored in the two opening Group D clashes on Tuesday.
Junior Makiesse’s 73rd-minute penalty was enough to see Congo to a 1-0 victory over Cameroon at the Stade Adrar in Agadir.
But neither Angola nor Burkina Faso could find the net in the day’s early clash, and they had to settle for a point each after a goalless draw.
As a result, Congo have the early lead in the standings, but there is still much to play for in the second and third rounds of matches in the group.
Here are the group standings after the opening results (visit the competition’s official website for the full group standings and fixtures):
     
Group D
Congo—3pts.
Angola—1
Burkina Faso—1 
Cameroon—0
     
Here is the schedule for Wednesday’s fixtures in Group A:
Morocco vs. Guinea, 4:30 p.m. GMT/11:30 a.m. ET
Sudan vs. Mauritania, 7:30 p.m. GMT/2:30 p.m. ET
      
Cameroon had the better of the chances in the first half of their clash against Congo but were unable to take an early lead.
Patrick Moukoko had arguably the best opportunity to put his side ahead but could only head straight at the goalkeeper with moments to go before half-time.
The Indomitable Lions continued to edge the possession after the break, but it was Congo in the end who broke the deadlock when Makiesse converted from the spot following a contentious penalty award, per BBC Sport’s Nick Cavell:

In Tuesday’s opening fixture, Angola and Burkina Faso both had their chances, but neither could find the net to earn all three points.
Midfielder Paty failed to hit the target with a fine headed opportunity in the first half before Youssouf Kabore squandered a gilt-edged chance for the Stallions nine minutes from time, failing to hit the target having beaten the goalkeeper.
Wednesday’s action will see hosts Morocco and Sudan looking to build on their opening victories and potentially earn a knockout spot when they face Guinea and Mauritania, respectively. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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DeMar DeRozan Fined $15,000 for Criticizing Officials After Warriors Game

Toronto Raptors shooting guard DeMar DeRozan was fined $15,000 by the NBA on Tuesday for saying it felt like the Raptors were “playing 5-on-8” during their 125-123 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Saturday at the Air Canada Centre.
Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer passed along word of the punishment for “public criticism of the officiating.”
“It’s frustrating being out there feeling you playing 5-on-8,” DeRozan told reporters after the game. “Some of those calls were terrible. Period.”
                 
This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.
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Conference USA Roundup: Final Rankings, Top Players, Coaches, Games

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The final look at the 2017 Conference USA season, with the final rankings by opinions and top seasons, top players, coaches and games. 


Conference USA Roundup: Final Rankings, Top Players, Coaches, Games

Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews

Conference USA Final Analysis

What more could you possibly want if you care about Conference USA football?

The two big name head coaches couldn’t have better, with Butch Davis turning around FIU right away, and Lane Kiffin making Florida Atlantic amazing.

North Texas came up with a quietly terrific season, Marshall was back to being good, Southern Miss was solid, and Louisiana Tech and Middle Tennessee were fine. And then there was UAB – no one saw that coming, with one of the best stories of the college football season.

There were problems – Charlotte, Rice and UTEP might have been the three worst teams in the country – and it was a shame that UTSA didn’t get to a bowl game despite being eligible, but overall, it was a terrific year for the league.

Conference USA Final Rankings (by opinion)

1. Florida Atlantic
2. North Texas
3. FIU
4. Southern Miss
5. UAB
6. Louisiana Tech
7. UTSA
8. Marshall
9. Middle Tennessee
10. WKU
11. Old Dominion
12. Charlotte
13. Rice
14. UTEP

Conference USA Final Rankings (by season & merit)

1.Florida Atlantic
2. North Texas
3, UAB
4. Southern Miss
5. Marshall
6. FIU
7. Louisiana Tech
8. Middle Tennessee
9. UTSA
10. WKU
11. Old Dominion
12. Charlotte
13. Rice
14. UTEP

Conference USA Coaching Rankings

1. Lane Kiffin, Florida Atlantic
2. Bill Clark, UAB
3. Butch Davis, FIU
4. Seth Littrell, North Texas
5. Doc Holliday, Marshall
6. Frank Wilson, UTSA
7. Jay Hopson, Southern Miss
8. Rick Stockstill, Middle Tennessee
9. Skip Holtz, Louisiana Tech
10. Mike Sanford, WKU
11. Bobby Wilder, Old Dominion
12. Brad Lambert, Charlotte
13. David Bailiff, Rice (fired)
14. Sean Kugler/Mike Price, UTEP (fired)

Conference USA Top Ten Players

1. RB Devin Singletary, Soph. FAU
2. RB Ito Smith, Sr. Southern Miss
3. LB Azeez Al-Shaair, Jr. FAU
4. CB Darious Williams, Sr. UAB
5. WR Korey Robertson, Jr. Southern Miss
6. QB Mike White, Sr. WKU
7. RB Jeffery Wilson, Sr. North Texas
8. DE Brian Womac, Sr. Rice
9. LB Emmanuel Ellerbee, Sr. Rice
10. OG Will Hernandez, Sr. UTEP

Conference USA Ten Best Games

1. Southern Miss 34, Louisiana Tech 27 OT, Oct. 21
2. Louisiana Tech 23, WKU 22, Sept. 16
3. North Texas 46, UAB 43, Sept. 24
4. WKU 41, Middle Tennessee 38, Nov. 17
5. UAB 25, Middle Tennessee 23, Oct. 14
6. North Texas 52, Army 49, Nov. 18
7. WKU 35, Old Dominion 31, Oct. 20
8. North Texas 45, Old Dominion 38, Oct. 28
9. Southern Miss 28, Marshall 27, Nov. 25
10. Buffalo 34, Florida Atlantic 31, Sept. 24

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Josh Harrison Trade Rumors: Pirates IF Wants Move After Andrew McCutchen Deal

Pittsburgh Pirates utility man Josh Harrison would like to be traded if the team is going to go through a rebuilding process.
In a statement issued to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Harrison cited comments made by Pirates general manager Neal Huntington as his rationale for wanting to be dealt:
“My passion for Pittsburgh, what it has MEANT to me, what it MEANS to me, can never be questioned. I love this city, I love the fans, I love my teammates. Saying that, the GM is on record as saying, ‘When we get back to postseason-caliber baseball, we would love our fans to come back out.’ If indeed the team does not expect to contend this year or next, perhaps it would be better for all involved, that I also am traded. I want what is best for the organization that gave me a chance to be a Big Leaguer.”
Harrison’s comments come after the Pirates traded starting pitcher Gerrit Cole to the Houston Astros on Saturday and sent outfielder Andrew McCutchen to the San Francisco Giants on Monday. 
Harrison has one guaranteed year remaining on the four-year deal he signed in 2015, though it also includes two team options worth a combined $22 million, per Spotrac.
After making three straight playoff appearances from 2013 to 2015, the Pirates have gone 153-170 over the past two seasons. McCutchen was entering the final season of his contract in 2018, and Cole had two more years of team control.
Harrison hit a career-high 16 home runs in 2017 despite missing 34 games, the final 26 of the season due to a broken hand. The 30-year-old has played every position except catcher, first base and center field in his seven-year MLB career. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Super Bowl 2018 Ticket Prices Reportedly Range from $950 to $5,000

Ticket prices for Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis could cost buyers anywhere from $950 to $5,000, according to Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports. 
As Robinson wrote: “Those are the ‘zero markup’ prices, mind you. The secondary market could be much higher, potentially astronomical if the [Minnesota] Vikings beat the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC title game on Sunday. How high could they go? Multiply the face value of tickets by four, five or six times their printed price. Or more.”
            
This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.
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Mike Tomlin Rumors: Steelers Ownership Partners to Lobby for Team to Fire HC

Following the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 45-42 playoff loss against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, a portion of the team’s ownership partners will push for head coach Mike Tomlin to be fired. 
Per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, a group of the Steelers’ fan-owned limited equity partners plan to lobby owner Art Rooney into firing Tomlin. 
 
This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.
Get the best sports content from the web and social in the new B/R app. Get the app and get the game. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Ben Roethlisberger on Todd Haley: 'There's Always Issues in a Competitive Field'

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger downplayed potential issues with offensive coordinator Todd Haley on Tuesday, two days after Pittsburgh’s playoff loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
According to NFL Network’s Aditi Kinkhabwala, Roethlisberger said he met with Haley on Monday and described the situation in a tweet: “There’s always issues in a competitive field … you might butt heads at times, it doesn’t mean you have any personal problems.” 
      
This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.
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Pac-12 Conference Roundup: Final Rankings, Top Players, Coaches, Games

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The final look at the 2017 Pac-12 season, with the final rankings by opinions and top seasons, top players, coaches and games. 


Pac-12 Roundup: Final Rankings, Top Players, Coaches, Games

Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews

Pac-12 Final Analysis

The Pac-12 wasn’t all that close to getting into the College Football Playoff, the top teams were beaten up in a few key non-conference games, and the bowl season was a complete and total disaster. Other than that, everything went great.

The conference might have lost a few star quarterbacks, but there’s a whole lot of hope going forward with the excitement of new coaches at UCLA, Arizona, Oregon State and Arizona State – and to a certain extent, at Oregon – and with stars like Khalil Tate and Bryce Love back. However, the teams need to come up with bigger wins in the non-conference schedule, and the league can’t be an afterthought on a national scale again.

The whole #Pac12AfterDark might be fun, but it also shows the problem. It was a fun conference season in a lot of ways, but it was easily the No. 5 conference among the Power Five.

Pac-12 Final Rankings (by opinion)

1. USC
2. Stanford
3. Washington
4. Washington State
5. Utah
6. Arizona State
7. Arizona
8. UCLA
9. Oregon
10. Colorado
11. California
12. Oregon State

Pac-12 Final Rankings (by season & merit)

1. USC
2. Washington
3. Washington State
4. Stanford
5. Arizona State
6. Oregon
7. Utah
8. Arizona
9. UCLA
10. California
11. Colorado
12. Oregon State

Pac-12 Coaching Rankings

1. Clay Helton, USC
2. David Shaw, Stanford
3. Todd Graham, Arizona State (fired)
4. Justin Wilcox, California
5. Chris Petersen, Washington
6. Mike Leach, Washington State
7. Rich Rodriguez, Arizona (fired)
8. Kyle Whittingham, Utah
9. Mike MacIntyre, Colorado
10. Willie Taggart, Oregon (left for FSU)
11. Jim Mora Jr., UCLA (fired)
12. Gary Andersen, Oregon State (fired)

Pac-12 Top Ten Players

1. RB Bryce Love, Jr. Stanford
2. QB Sam Darnold, Soph. USC
3. QB Josh Rosen, Jr. UCLA
4. QB Khalil Tate, Soph, Arizona
5. DT Hercules Mata’afa, Jr. WSU
6. RB Ronald Jones II, Jr. USC
7. DE Rasheem Green, Jr. USC
8. LB Christian Sam, Jr. Arizona State
9. DT Harrison Phillips, Sr. Stanford
10. OG Cody O’Connell, Sr. Washington State

Pac-12 Ten Best Games

1. UCLA 45, Texas A&M 44, Sept. 3
2. TCU 39, Stanford 37 (Alamo Bowl), Dec. 28
3. Washington 33, Utah 30, Nov. 18
4. Washington State 47, Boise State 44, Sept. 9
5. Memphis 48, UCLA 45, Sept. 16
6. USC 27, Texas 24, Sept. 16
7. Arizona 45, California 44, Oct. 21
8. UCLA 44, Arizona State 37, Nov. 11
9. Stanford 15, Oregon State 14, Oct. 26
10. Arizona State 37, Oregon 35, Sept. 23

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Daily Five: Bryce Love Not Going Pro? The Top 5 Returning Running Backs

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Bryce Love coming back to Stanford for another season. Who are the top five returning running backs for 2018? 


Daily Five: Bryce Love, and Top 5 Returning Running Backs

Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews & @PeteFiutak

San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny is gone after leading the nation with 2,248 yards and 23 touchdowns, Tulsa’s D’Angelo Brewer, Hawaii’s Diocemy Saint Juste. Colorado’s Phillip Lindsay and Oregon’s Royce Freeman are finished, and USC’s Ronald Jones is leaving early. However, four of the top five leading running backs from last year return, and the fifth is going to be a terror.

It’ll be a fantastic year for running backs – and this doesn’t even include Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins, Washington’s Myles Gaskin, or any of the Alabama or Georgia stars.

The top five returning running backs – based on total 2017 rushing yards …

5. Justice Hill, Jr. Oklahoma State

Sort of the forgotten superstar in the Cowboy offense last year, now he’ll be one of the Big 12’s and nation’s biggest rushing stars – even at just 5-10 and 185 pounds.

Hill was a solid receiver with 31 catches for 190 yard and a score, but he was at his best as the perfect complement to Mason Rudolph and the passing game, running for 1,467 yards and 15 touchdowns. He had to grind it out at times, but he was terrific around the goal line.

4. AJ Dillon, Soph. Boston College

A big reason why Boston College was able to turn its season around, Dillon exploded as a true freshman to finish with 1,589 yards and 14 touchdowns on a brutal 300 carries.

The 6-0, 240-pounder isn’t a receiver in any way, but he was able to handle the ball 23 times or more in nine of the last ten games including a 39-carry, 272-yard, four-score day in the win over Louisville.

3. Devin Singletary, Jr. Florida Atlantic

Lane Kiffin is back. Singletary is back. Look out, Conference USA.

The offense that dominated on the ground throughout last season gets the main man back, with the 5-9, 200-pound Singletary building off his 1,016-yard, 12 touchdown freshman season with 1,920 yards and a ridiculous 32 rushing scores and a receiving touchdown.

Darting, quick, and tough, he hit the 100-yard mark in each of his last 12 games after being held to 68 yards in the loss to Wisconsin. He’ll be a threat for 2,000 yards as he’ll join UCF’s McKenzie Milton as the Heisman cause célèbre of the Group of Five crowd.

2. Jonathan Taylor, Soph. Wisconsin

He walked among the gods when it came to setting records for the most yards by a true freshman, tearing off 1,977 with 13 touchdowns. He had a fumbling problem – especially at inopportune times in the red zone – which cut down his touchdown numbers with just one in the last five games and two in the last seven, but the yards …

He got dinged against Illinois, and the coaching staff flat-out forgot to give him the ball against Ohio State, but he ended up running for 100 yards or more in ten of the last 13 games with three 200-yard performances.

The scary part? All five starters are back on the Badger offensive front.

1. Bryce Love, Sr. Stanford

From a football perspective, there’s no reason for Love to return for another year. His stock isn’t going to get any higher with more tread off the tires, and everyone with a brain knows what he can do when he’s 100% healthy.

But now we might just get to see what he can do when he’s at least healthier for a full season.

The Heisman finalist ran for 2,118 yards and 19 touchdowns despite missing the Oregon State game and being limited in several other second half contests with a high-ankle sprain that just wouldn’t go away. The ultimate home run hitter, he averaged over eight yards per carry, and now, behind a killer line, he should be a lock for another 2,000-yard season …

If he can stay healthy.

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FIFA 18 Ultimate Team: Kevin De Bruyne, N'Golo Kante, Luka Modric Named in TOTY

Real Madrid’s Luka Modric, Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne and Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante have been named in the three-man midfield in FIFA 18’s Team of the Year. 
EA Sports FIFA confirmed the selections on its Twitter feed on Tuesday, with the trio joining the attacking line of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Kane:

 

This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available. 

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Jacksonville Jaguars vs. New England Patriots: Odds, Analysis, NFL Betting Pick

The Jacksonville Jaguars hope to pull off a second straight road upset this postseason and get to their first-ever Super Bowl when they visit the New England Patriots in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game as big road underdogs at online betting sites.
The Super Bowl champion Patriots are playing in their seventh consecutive conference title game and hosting their third in four years, going 3-3 in their previous six appearances dating back to the 2011 season.
               
NFL point spread: The Patriots opened as 9.5-point favorites; the total was 46 early in the week, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark. (Line updates and matchup report)
NFL betting pick, via OddsShark computer: 29.9-16.2 Patriots (NFL picks on every game)
Check out the OddsShark podcast on iTunes or at OddsShark.libsyn.com for more odds info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news.
                      
Why the Jaguars can cover the spread
Jacksonville may not have the postseason experience or quarterback play of New England, but this team has just about everything else needed to get to the Super Bowl.
The Jaguars have arguably more defensive talent than any of the four teams left in the playoff field, including the Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC.
They also have a strong running back in rookie Leonard Fournette, who rolled over the Pittsburgh Steelers with 290 rushing yards on 53 carries and five touchdowns in two wins this season, including last week’s 45-42 victory in the divisional round.
                  
Why the Patriots can cover the spread
The Patriots have won each of the past seven meetings with Jacksonville straight up, going 5-2 against the spread in those games.
They are also a remarkable 10-1 ATS on the NFL point spreads in their last 11 games overall and riding a seven-game home winning streak in the postseason.
If those betting trends were not enough, they will have future Hall of Famer Tom Brady under center in one of the biggest positional mismatches in conference championship game history opposite Blake Bortles of the Jaguars.
It is almost unthinkable to imagine Bortles possibly getting the best of Brady at Gillette Stadium with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.
               
Smart pick
Jacksonville matched up extremely well with Pittsburgh, which is why the team won both meetings fairly easily. That will not be the case with a New England squad led by two of the all-time greats in Brady and head coach Bill Belichick.
The Patriots are easily the best team remaining of the four playing for two spots in the Super Bowl. The Jaguars have been a fun story, but they will be overmatched in this spot, so look for Brady and the Patriots to flex their muscles en route to another double-digit playoff win.
                  
NFL betting trends
The Jaguars are 0-7 SU and 2-5 ATS in their last seven games against the Patriots.
The total has gone under in three of the Jaguars’ last four games against the Patriots.
The Patriots are 10-1 ATS in their last 11 games.
               
All NFL odds and betting trends courtesy of Bleacher Report’s official odds partner, OddsShark. All quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line-movement updates and the OddsShark YouTube page for picks and analysis, or download the free odds tracker app. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Warriors Showered with Cold Water After Win; Kevin Durant Yelled to Call LeBron

Following a 118-108 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday, the Golden State Warriors were treated to cold showers in the visitors’ locker room at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
According to ESPN.com’s Chris Haynes, Warriors players could be heard screaming due to the lack of hot water.
Kevin Durant jokingly called for LeBron James to fix the situation, yelling, “Man, they got to do something in ‘The Q.’ Somebody call Bron!”
            
This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.
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Cavaliers Rumors: Multiple Players Doubt They Can Fix Problems and Win NBA Title

Multiple Cleveland Cavaliers players are reportedly doubtful they will be able to work out their issues and win an NBA championship this season. 
According to ESPN.com’s Dave McMenamin, “several prominent players” told ESPN, Cleveland.com and The Athletic on the condition of anonymity that patience may not be enough to get the Cavs back to being title contenders.
            
This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.
Get the best sports content from the web and social in the new B/R app. Get the app and get the game. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Australian Open 2018 Results: Winners, Scores, Stats from Tuesday's Bracket

Roger Federer started the defence of his Australian Open crown on Tuesday with a routine win over Aljaz Bedene. 
The Swiss, chasing his 20th Grand Slam title, was assured throughout against a game opponent, eventually winning 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 to set up a Round 2 showdown with Jan-Lennard Struff.
Elsewhere in the bracket, there were wins for Alexander Zverev, Stanislas Wawrinka and also for Novak Djokovic on his return to Grand Slam competition.
In the women’s draw, top seed Simona Halep had no issues in her showdown with Destanee Aiava, coming through in straight sets to progress. Garbine Muguruza showed why so many consider her among the favourites for glory, as she picked up a comfortable win over Jessika Ponchet. 
Read on for the key results from Melbourne and a closer look at a jam-packed day at the Australian Open.
        
Selected Results
Men’s Draw
(2) Roger Federer bt. Aljaz Bedene, 6-3 6-4 6-3
(4) Alexander Zverev bt. Thomas Fabbiano, 6-1 7-6(5) 7-5
(9) Stanislas Wawrinka bt. Ricardas Berankis, 6-3 6-4 2-6 7-6(2)
(13) Sam Querrey bt. Feliciano Lopez, 6-3 6-4 6-2
(14) Novak Djokovic bt. Donald Young, 6-1 6-2 6-4
           
Women’s Draw
(1) Simona Halep bt. Destanee Aiava, 7-6(5) 6-1
(3) Garbine Muguruza bt. Jessika Ponchet, 6-4 6-3
(6) Karolina Pliskova bt. Veronica Cepede Royg, 6-3 6-4
(8) Caroline Garcia bt. Carina Witthoft, 7-5 6-3
(9) Johanna Konta bt. Madison Brengle, 6-3 6-1
      
For the results in full visit the competition website.
      
Tuesday Recap
Federer was always going to be the star attraction on Tuesday, and he delivered for those who flocked to see him in action.
As these numbers from ESPN Stats & Info show, the 19-time Grand Slam champion has never been toppled at the first hurdle in Australia:
The 36-year-old has looked imperious in the buildup to the competition and was quickly into his groove out on court. Bedene appeared emboldened by the challenge of facing the Swiss, although he didn’t have enough class to really trouble Federer in the first stanza.
In the second Federer did get a little sloppy and allowed his opponent to build some momentum. The second seed was also a little profligate at clutch moments, as Bedene saved three set points. However, Federer did eventually move two sets in front and two breaks in the third gave him a comfortable win.
As we can see courtesy of Eurosport UK, there was an amusing moment shared by the two players at the start of the last set:
Djokovic’s performance was also going to attract attention on Tuesday, as the Serbian has not been in Grand Slam action since last summer at Wimbledon.
There were no major signs of rustiness from Djokovic, a six-time champion in Australia, in his showdown with Young, as he dropped just seven games on his way into Round 2. There were some flashes of dazzling class from the 30-year-old:
In the women’s draw, Halep, the top seed and world No. 1, faced a potentially testing opener against Australian Aiava.
The Aussie stuck around in the first set, but after losing the tiebreak she dropped her intensity in the second. From that point, Halep was dominant and didn’t appear to be in any danger.
The one worry for the Romanian here was when she rolled her ankle at the start of the second set, as relayed by Live Tennis:
Per the WTA Insider Twitter account, Halep admitted she’s unsure how severe the problem is at this point:
Muguruza sailed through her match with Ponchet with minimal fuss, showcasing the intensity and authority that has already yielded a couple of Grand Slam titles in her career.
The were a couple of standout results elsewhere in the draw, including the surprise elimination of 11th seed Kristina Mladenovic at the hands of world no. 104 Ana Bogdan. Petra Kvitova, a two-time Grand Slam champion, is also out after losing 6-3, 4-6, 10-8 in a thriller against Andrea Petkovic. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Theo Walcott Reportedly Close to Leaving Arsenal in £20m Everton Transfer

Everton are reportedly close to completing the signing of Theo Walcott from Arsenal in a £20 million deal. 
The news was relayed by Paul Joyce of The Times on Tuesday:

Walcott has fallen out of favour at the Emirates Stadium and has yet to start a Premier League game this season for the Gunners.
As noted by Andy Hunter of the Guardian, Everton manager Sam Allardyce confirmed his interest in the player last week, and the Toffees are said to be confident of getting a deal completed for the England international this week. Southampton were also noted as an interested party.
Everton have been lifeless in attack in recent weeks, and in their 4-0 loss to Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday they failed to offer anything in the final third.
These numbers from Sky Sports’ Matt Cheetham summed up just how poor Everton have been in an attacking sense as of late:

Walcott seems like a sensible option with that in mind, as the forward can bring goals, creativity and searing pace to any side when at his best.
However, we’ve seen little of that this season, as Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has opted to use other attackers ahead of the 28-year-old. Alexandre Lacazette, Olivier Giroud, Alexis Sanchez, Alex Iwobi and Danny Welbeck have all pushed ahead of Walcott.

As a result, a move for Walcott is necessary in January, especially if he is to ignite any slender hopes of forcing his way into contention for England’s squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Should the transfer go through, Walcott will at least be getting regular minutes and would be a vital part of Allardyce’s Everton attack. Per football writer Paul Brown, while the forward has struggled this season, last term he showed he can still put the ball in the back of the net:

There are reasons why Walcott has fallen down the pecking order at Arsenal, though, with his fluctuating form being the main one.
While his pace always poses a threat to opposition defences, he’s yet to fully nail down a regular position in his career, moving between the flank to the centre-forward position during his time at Arsenal. 

There are areas of his game where he falls short. Walcott can make poor decisions when trying to knit moves together, and his final ball can leave something to be desired. For all of Everton’s woes, journalist Joe Strange isn’t convinced it’s the right move:

Walcott has produced some moments to remember in his 12 years at the club. However, the player, his manager and the supporters will all accept it’s time for a change of scenery for the player.
The forward will look at how a move to Liverpool has recharged his former Arsenal team-mate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and will be hopeful a switch to Merseyside can do the same for his fortunes. At Goodison Park, he will at least get a chance to remind the football world what he’s capable of. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Emre Can Insists He Could Sign New Liverpool Contract Amid Juventus Rumours

Liverpool midfielder Emre Can has insisted he’s yet to make a decision over his future amid continued links to Juventus. 
The German’s contract with the Reds is to expire at the end of the campaign, meaning Can is free to discuss terms with potential suitors outside of the Premier League with a view to a free transfer in the summer.
It was reported by Sky in Italy (h/t Sky Sports) recently that Can had agreed a deal with Juventus, but he has said nothing is final yet.
“My agent is looking after everything, but I am here until the summer,” he said, per Sky Sports. “I haven’t signed anything (with Juventus) or anyone. I am talking with everyone, of course I am talking with Liverpool. Why not? I still have a contract here. It is an amazing club. What can I say? My agent does the rest.”
The 24-year-old has split opinion in the Liverpool fanbase this season, as some good displays have been followed by passive ones.
Football writer Ben Webb commented on the performance turned in by Can in the 4-3 win over Manchester City on Sunday, suggesting the club should be doing all they can to keep the player around:

All the attributes are there for Can to go on to become one of the finest midfield players in European football once he’s fully matured.

Can has the physicality to cope with the robust Premier League, can drive forward with the ball and has the composure in possession to make an impact in the final third. He also showed against City he has the energy to play a key part in a pressing team.
There’s no doubt he’s improved under the guidance of manager Jurgen Klopp, and Bayern Munich US’ Cristian Nyari suggested he’s now a crucial player for the Reds:

However, the fact he has less than half a season to run on his contract is indicative of a footballer not totally content with life at Anfield.
Juventus are a tempting proposition. The Bianconeri have dominated Italian football for many years and regularly contend for the UEFA Champions League.
As noted below by the SPORTbible account, Juventus have a habit of picking up footballers on free transfers:

Still, the project at Anfield is an exciting one. Not only are Liverpool playing some thrilling attacking football, they appear the most likely challengers to Manchester City at the summit of the Premier League table in the long term.
It would make sense if Can wanted to remain a part of this setup, as the Reds are a side with momentum at their backs. If Liverpool can eventually get him tied down despite admiring glances from Turin, it would be a major boost. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Chelsea vs. Norwich City: FA Cup 2018 Preview, Live Stream, TV Info

An FA Cup fourth-round spot is on the line as Chelsea play host to Norwich City in a third-round replay on Wednesday, having drawn 0-0 at Carrow Road earlier in January.
One of the final fourth-round places will be decided at Stamford Bridge as Championship hopefuls Norwich look to stage an upset against their top-tier foes.
The Blues are without a win in their last four outings but haven’t lost in 10, while the Canaries recently ended a torrid patch of form and have gone their last five without defeat.
The winner of this meeting will face Newcastle United at home in the fourth round, offering more incentive to the two teams in their effort to advance.
Read on for a preview of the midweek cup encounter, complete with all the essential live-stream and TV information.
            
Date: Wednesday, January 17
Time: 7:45 p.m. GMT/2:45 p.m. ET
Venue: Stamford Bridge, London
Live Stream: BBC iPlayer (UK), Fox Sports Soccer 2GO (U.S.)
TV Info: BBC One (UK), Fox Sports 1 (U.S.)
           
Preview
The Premier League title race was given something of a new lease of life on Sunday after Liverpool beat leaders Manchester City 4-3, keeping the gulf separating Chelsea from the Citizens at 15 points.
The Blues sit fourth and still face a monumental challenge in defending their crown, meaning cup competition could well take priority for Antonio Conte’s side, although BT Sport Score referred to their disappointing run of late:

A 2-2 draw against Arsenal in their first game of 2018 kicked off a streak of four draws for Chelsea, whose most recent result came in the form of a scoreless draw at home to Leicester City.
BBC commentator John Motson recently broke down some of the team’s shortcomings following that stalemate against the Foxes, noting the struggles of Alvaro Morata and Eden Hazard in particular:

Norwich, meanwhile, make the trip to west London having beaten Bristol City 1-0 on Saturday and conceding only once in their last five outings in all competitions, including their clean sheet against Conte’s side.
James Maddison, scored the match-winner at Ashton Gate over the weekend, and Norwich fans will again be looking to him as their inspiration against Premier League opposition:
 

One figure who could make an appearance for Chelsea is newly signed Ross Barkley, whom Conte recently suggested could prove his fitness enough to feature, per the club’s official Twitter account:

Chelsea have been on a difficult run of late, but a winner must be decided on Wednesday, and the hosts will be confident in their ability to ensure it’s done inside 90 minutes.
Conte’s first-team ranks have struggled against their top-flight peers of late, but underdogs Norwich have nothing to lose as they hope to down the Premier League champions and stage a shock in the capital. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Blake Griffin, Clippers Spoil Chris Paul's LA Return in Win vs. Rockets

Chris Paul enjoyed plenty of success during six straight playoff trips with the Los Angeles Clippers, but he was on the other bench and the losing end of a tension-filled battle in Staples Center on Monday that will be remembered for more than the basketball.
Behind impressive performances from Blake Griffin (29 points, 10 rebounds and six assists) and Lou Williams (31 points and nine assists), the Clippers prevailed against Paul’s Houston Rockets, 113-102, pushing their winning streak to five and moving into a tie with the Denver Nuggets for the Nos. 7 and 8 seeds in the Western Conference in the process.
Paul finished with 19 points, seven assists and six rebounds in his first game against Los Angeles since it traded him, but he couldn’t provide enough firepower to overcome the absence of James Harden, who was out with a hamstring injury.
However, there was apparently some firepower after the game:

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, “Houston Rockets’ players James Harden, Trevor Ariza and Gerald Green pushed into Clippers locker room post-game looking to confront Austin Rivers, league sources tell ESPN. Security escorted Rockets out before anything turned physical.”
Ariza was ejected during the game for yelling at Rivers and the Clippers bench. Griffin was also ejected when he came over and became involved in the situation.
In terms of the actual basketball, Paul has seamlessly stepped into the role of primary option since Harden’s injury and averaged 26.0 points, 9.6 assists and 7.4 rebounds a night in the previous five games while helping the Rockets tread water in the race for a No. 1 seed without their MVP candidate.
It’s not much of a surprise considering he is a nine-time All-Star, eight-time member of an All-NBA team and nine-time member of an All-Defensive team as one of the best point guards of his generation, and the Clippers paid homage to his individual brilliance with a video tribute:

Nostalgia turned into hostility after the ball was tipped, especially when Paul appeared to have some choice language for Griffin:

The tension didn’t dissipate in the fourth quarter when Griffin’s and-1 over Paul on the blocks prompted jawing between the two teams, including Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni.

The back-and-forth was notable given Paul’s place in recent Clippers history, but he also demonstrated some of his memorable skill during the action by consistently making Milos Teodosic look helpless in the open court:

He spearheaded a balanced attack for the visitors, with all five starters scoring in double figures, including 19 points from Eric Gordon and 17 from Ariza, but it didn’t match the effort from a shorthanded Clippers team playing without DeAndre Jordan, Danilo Gallinari, Austin Rivers and Patrick Beverley.
According to Lawrence Murray of ESPN.com, Jordan missed a game with injury for the first time in his career Saturday because of a sprained ankle, meaning others had to shoulder the load alongside Griffin.
Wesley Johnson played the role of rim protector with the big man absent:

It was Williams who bolstered his case for a spot in the All-Star Game with a dominant performance. He scored 16 points in the first half and then served as a go-to option for stretches in the fourth quarter with the game hanging in the balance.
He drilled four shots from beyond the arc, forcing Houston’s wings to push up and opening driving lanes down the stretch. It wasn’t just Williams who opened the looks, as Teodosic connected on four triples as well.
Williams wasn’t alone in taking advantage of the openings in the lane, considering Griffin poured in 13 points in the third quarter alone as Los Angeles seized control. Houston didn’t have a consistent answer for him in the post, and he responded with his highest-scoring output since he tallied 33 points on Nov. 25 against the Sacramento Kings.
Griffin and Co. will look to extend their winning streak Wednesday against the Denver Nuggets, while Paul’s Rockets turn their attention to a Thursday matchup with the Minnesota Timberwolves. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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WWE Raw Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from January 15

Do not fire Braun Strowman.
You will not like Braun Strowman when he is mad.
This is an important lesson learned by Raw general manager Kurt Angle Monday night as he dismissed The Monster Among Men, only to watch in horror as the big man unleashed hell across the broadcast, even tipping over a massive tractor-trailer.
Strowman’s warpath was only one element of the night’s broadcast, which also featured several marquee bouts, including Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor and Asuka vs. Nia Jax.
Controversial finishes, character development and storyline advancement dominated the headlines and continued the red brand’s steady and engrossing march toward the Royal Rumble on January 28.
Relive all that went down, and find out how each segment graded out and what they mean for the characters and rivalries involved with this recap of the January 15 episode.Begin Slideshow @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Carmelo Anthony Says He's 'Done with the Refs' After Thunder Win vs. Kings

Oklahoma City Thunder star Carmelo Anthony said after Monday’s 95-88 win over the Sacramento Kings he’s “done” with NBA referees.
“I’m done with the refs,” Anthony said, per ESPN.com’s Royce Young. “No disrespect, but I’m done with those guys.”
     
This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.
     
Get the best sports content from the web and social in the new B/R app. Get the app and get the game. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Paige Officially Ruled Out for 2018 WWE Royal Rumble Due to Neck Injury

A neck injury will prevent Paige from competing in the first-ever women’s Royal Rumble match at the 2018 Royal Rumble on Jan. 28, WWE announced Monday.
Paige hasn’t wrestled since competing in a six-woman tag team match at a Dec. 27 house show. Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s Al Castle shared a photo of a WWE medic tending to the two-time Divas champion:

     
This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.
     
Get the best sports content from the web and social in the new B/R app. Get the app and get the game. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Report: Curtis Granderson, Blue Jays Agree to 1-Year, $5M Contract

Veteran outfielder Curtis Granderson agreed to a one-year deal worth $5 million with Toronto Blue Jays, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
The deal also reportedly includes incentives.
Max Wildstein of Sporting News provided his thoughts on the deal:

Granderson, 36, split his 2017 season between the New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers, hitting .212 with a .775 OPS, 26 homers and 64 RBI. It was his 10th season in the last 11 with 20 or more home runs.
He was traded to the Dodgers in August and offered a mixed bag in his 36 regular-season games with the team, hitting just .161 but belting seven homers and recording 12 RBI.
Given L.A.’s depth in the outfield, however, the team ultimately decided against re-signing Granderson.
While the veteran outfielder isn’t going to hit for a high average or get on base at an efficient clip, he still provides plenty of pop at the plate and a veteran presence in the clubhouse. Granderson’s reached the postseason seven times, so his experience will be valued in Toronto.
If nothing else, Granderson offers the Blue Jays a platoon outfielder who can step into the lineup against right-handed pitchers. But given his consistent power, he’ll likely see plenty of action this season. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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Sean Payton Says Saints Replay Monitors in Coaching Booth vs. Vikings Were out

New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton lost two bad challenges in the second half of his team’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings Sunday, but he says it wasn’t necessarily his fault.
“Our monitor was down,” he explained Monday, per Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com. “Our booth was the only booth that didn’t have a feed to it. So, you just got to go with your gut, and fortunately, it wasn’t an issue with the timeouts.”
If the Saints’ replay monitor was the only one malfunctioning at U.S. Bank Stadium, it may have been a significant disadvantage in the eventual 29-24 loss.
 
 
This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.
Get the best sports content from the web and social in the new B/R app. Get the app and get the game. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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QB Quinten Dormady Announces He'll Transfer from Tennessee

Quinten Dormady announced Monday he plans to transfer from the University of Tennessee:

Dormady has played three years for the Volunteers, throwing for 1,282 yards and seven touchdowns in 13 games.
He indicated he plans to graduate from UT, leaving him one more year of collegiate eligibility elsewhere.
         
This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.     
Get the best sports content from the web and social in the new B/R app. Get the app and get the game. @nfl Source: Superfan News

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