You can thank the refs for that last one.

Gonzaga got more rebounds, shot way better from behind the arc, and got to the free throw line just as much as UNC. But it didn’t matter, because Roy Williams and the Heels figured out how to shut down the Bulldog offense and do juuuust enough scoring of their own to bring home the title that eluded them last year.

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UNC will be in the hunt, like always, because its depth and talent is only rivaled by the very best in college basketball.
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Should he leave, perhaps for a school like Indiana, the AAC runs the risk of diluting the league identity for a non-football athletic department (that has considered bringing back football decades after ending its program) that might not be able to sustain success.

There is precedent for smaller, basketball-focused schools moving up in conferences and enjoying success while losing a big-time coach (VCU) or a program-defining talent (Davidson, Creighton). If Wichita State can sustain high-level basketball in a world where Marshall was coaching elsewhere 鈥?and it does have the resources to potentially do it 鈥?WSU could provide nice depth to an already decent basketball league.

History shows that picking them any lower than this is pretty foolish.

In 2010, Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga should have been awarded a perfect game — but umpire Jim Joyce missed the call. With two outs at the top of the ninth inning, a ground ball to the right side was going to be close, but it appeared to everyone that the Tigers had secured the perfect game for their pitcher.

However, the runner was called safe at first despite overwhelming evidence showing that he was out. This permanently kept Galarraga’s name out of the record books, while Joyce, knowing he botched the call, had an emotional return when he next umpired a Tigers game.

Jered Weaver Mens Jersey Butler put a nice cap on a somewhat enigmatic season by playing true to their seed and advancing to the Sweet 16 where they fell to eventual national champion North Carolina. Leading scorer Kelan Martin is back and should be one of the top contenders for Big East Player of the Year, and Chris Holtmann is also bringing in a wave of new talent with three four-star freshmen.

The annual mass exodus at Kentucky will be even more extreme than usual this year, as the Wildcats will have to replace a pair of senior contributors and (potentially) a sophomore starter in addition to their star freshmen. John Calipari will reload with three elite freshman big men to go along with new point guard Quade Green. UK is also in on a couple of the top unsigned players from the 2017 class, including top 10 players Mohamed Bamba and Kevin Knox.

History shows that picking them any lower than this is pretty foolish. Bill Self is losing the National Player of the Year in Frank Mason as well as freshman star Josh Jackson, but there are also a lot of smaller pieces from the 2016-17 Big 12 champions that are coming back. Mississippi State transfer Malik Newman, a former five-star recruit, should help cushion the blow of Mason’s departure.
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The Raiders wanted Los Angeles. They got Las Vegas instead.

PHOENIX –- The Raiders’ league-approved move to Las Vegas is connected to Los Angeles. The Raiders have always seemed connected to Los Angeles.
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When things got tight and messy between Al Davis’ Raiders and Oakland city leaders in the city where the Raiders toiled since 1960, Davis used Los Angeles as leverage. He even took them there, brought them back to Oakland and often threatened to do that dance all over again.

Get ready to hear the names of Mark Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers for a long time. The pair emerged this season as an offensive threat worthy of mention. Scheifele especially, who has 76 points in 73 games to lead the Jets offense as a 24-year-old.

Their supporting cast is quite talented, too, with the likes of Blake Wheeler, Dustin Byfuglien, Bryan Little, and Mathieu Perreault playing big parts in making the Jets offense the eighth-deadliest in the NHL this season.

Add some college hockey standouts in Andrew Copp and Kyle Connor to the mix, and Winnipeg’s offense has never been deeper in this incarnation of the franchise.

And they almost were, as the Jets rolled with Connor Hellebuyck and Michael Hutchinson for most of the season. Winnipeg’s goaltending was certainly their biggest weakness of the season, but head coach Paul Maurice finally seemed to realize that their goaltender of the future was not going to be Pavelec.

Game Rene Bourque Jersey Hellebuyck has shown flashes of greatness, and stability, while Hutchinson can live as a capable backup. It’s not perfect, but Hellebuyck especially is young and still developing. Not everyone can have a Matt Murray at the outset of their goaltending careers.

Colts sign RB Chris Rainey

The Steelers selected Rainey with the fifth pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, but released him over the offseason in the wake of multiple run-ins with the law. The final straw was an incident in which Rainey was arrested for allegedly slapping his girlfriend. The girlfriend has since denied that she was assaulted.

Ian Rapoport reports that he expects the sides to reach a “reasonable extension,” but there is no indication on what potential terms would be at this time. Deciding on terms will be complicated by the cash-strapped Falcons, who are expected to have salary cap issues in 2017. White held out the last time they tried to work on an extension, finally settling for a 6-year deal that made him the league’s fifth-highest paid wide receiver.

White is on pace for the worst season of his career. Offensive struggles paired with a series of injuries have created a scenario where it’s unlikely he’ll pass 400 yards receiving this season — a career first. His best game came in a Week 5 matchup against the New York Jets where he caught four passes for 45 yards, but fumbled the ball.

Discussion of extending White could be influenced by the season-ending injury to Julio Jones. Atlanta is in dire need of offensive consistency entering an offseason where Jones will be recovering and tight end Tony Gonzalez is almost certainly retiring.

There’s more to generating pressure than finishing sacks, but against a veteran quarterback it was important for the defense to hit him early and often — ultimately Manning was hit twice on Sunday night, and was not sacked once. Not completing this task is the biggest reason the team lost.

Joe Flacco got paid this offseason to the tune of $20 million per year, and has not lived up to the contract.

Elite Darian Thompson Jersey Still, the strength of this team is its defense. Carlos Dunlap is having a nice year with four sacks, and Vontaze Burfict has patrolled the middle of the field with great ability, making a team-leading 90 tackles. This team will sorely miss defensive tackle Geno Atkins, who is the best at his position in football. Atkins had six sacks before tearing his ACL in Miami.

Joe Flacco got paid this offseason to the tune of $20 million per year, and has not lived up to the contract. In fairness, the team traded away his favorite receiver in Anquan Boldin and the offensive line has allowed 25 sacks. Flacco has only completed 59.4 percent of his attempts and thrown just 10 touchdowns against nine interceptions.

Perhaps an even bigger problem though has been the usage of Ray Rice. One of the best backs in the league over the past five season, Rice has only 259 yards rushing and a brutal 2.7 yards per carry. Part of the problem might be that Rice has only gotten more than 15 carries once in a game, keeping him from getting a rhythm.

Defensively, Terrell Suggs is once again putting together a Pro Bowl campaign with nine sacks. On the other side of the field, newly-acquired Elvis Dumervil is also doing his part with 5.5 sacks. Overall, Baltimore ranks 10th in yards allowed per game at 339.5 and gives up only 21.5, also 10th.

Elite Brent Urban Jersey I took my hat off for Rob for 4 straight hours as his Saints put a hurtin on them boys from Big D. In Louisiana if you want to stick it to your old boss you usualy just put a spell on there floor-model terrariums but Ryan has always been a bit of a loose cannon doing things his own way and Sunday night his Saints D showed up big time.

Its almost tricky to tell where Robs more effective these days- on goal-line stands or daquiri stands. Alot of people say Rob looks like a pirate with gout, or that you shouldnt let him around anyone whose never been to prison, but Ive got a lot of time for Rob despite what his liver test results say.

Week 11 NFL preview: Ravens vs. Bears

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Ray Rice is falling apart. Joe Flacco is a gargantuan waste of money. Josh McCown is filling in for Jay Cutler. The Ravens and Bears face off in a match between two teams with vague and uninspiring playoff hopes! Matt Ufford and the crew preview the game and make their predictions.

s Joe Flacco and the 4-5 Baltimore Ravens travel to face the Josh McCown and the 5-4 Chicago Bears. The Bears are only a game behind the first-place Lions and beat the Rodgers-less Packers two weeks ago, so are still looking good in the playoff race. The same can’t be said of the Ravens. Joe Flacco signed a $120 million contract in the offseason and has rewarded his team with a quarterback rating lower than those of Mike Glennon and Christian Ponder.
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There are a few notable college coaches on this list, including Mike Reilly and the 2000 Chargers that went 1-15, or Dennis Erickson and the 2004 49ers that went 2-14, but they aren’t the most notable. There are still two coaches that can give Bradley, and any coach going through a rough first season, a reason to believe.

The Colts hired Jim Caldwell to replace Tony Dungy in 2009, and he didn’t miss a beat, leading Indianapolis back to the Super Bowl after a 14-2 season. Except, did he really have much to do with that? The Colts went 10-6 the next season and then when Peyton Manning missed all of 2011, fell to 2-14. Caldwell was fired and the team cleared the house for Andrew Luck, much in the way they did for Manning 15 years earlier.

Tom Flores won two Super Bowls with the Raiders (’80 in Oakland, ’83 in Los Angeles) but in 1992 he took over the Seattle Seahawks and went 2-14. He coached two more years in Seattle, going 6-10 in both, and didn’t coach again. He should have known better than to tempt fate with the Seahawks.

Chargers may have tampered in negotiations with Russell Okung, report says

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Just more than an hour after free agency opened Thursday, ESPN reported that the Chargers and left tackle Russell Okung had agreed to a 4-year, $53 million deal.

Mens Greg Lloyd Jersey That’s a quick deal, especially considering that Okung is representing himself, and as a potential free agent was not supposed to have any direct contact with interested teams until after the free agency period officially opened at 4 p.m. ET. A team that has direct contact with a player before that deadline is considered to be tampering.

The alleged victim did not initially press charges, but Armstead was indicted last week on three counts of sexual assault. If he is convicted of the second-degree felonies, he faces up to 20 years in prison. Armstead was dismissed from the Baylor team in 2015 following an unspecified violation of team rules.

Chatman was a redshirt freshman in 2013 and transferred to Sam Houston State a year later. It’s unclear if he faces the same charges as Armstead.

While the arrests are more than three years removed from the alleged incident, McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna said the two were taken into custody because of newly discovered evidence and continued investigation.

The Baylor football program has been rocked by the sexual assault scandal that has seen at least 19 players arrested since 2011. The alleged victim in the 2013 incident involving Chatman and Armstead is the plaintiff in a lawsuit against Baylor that claims at least 52 acts of rape involving some 31 players occurred between 2011 and 2014.

NFL executives no longer deserve the benefit of the doubt that their decisions are football-related.

Williams did have a scare with a neck injury in 2015, but he rebounded well in 2016. Ross has more durability concerns, though, and Davis is unable to work out at the moment because of an ankle injury.

Now that Williams has run and run well, there is no doubt he has reemerged as the best NFL prospect of the three, with only a little more than a month left the draft process.

So, how does he compare to those other Mike Williamses?

The Mike Williams from USC, who went No. 10 overall to the Lions in 2005, was monstrous at 6-5, 245 pounds, but not much else. The Mike Williams from Syracuse, who went in the fourth round to the Buccaneers in 2010, flashed early as a big playmaker with a nose for the end zone but couldn’t be consistent.

Of course this isn’t about football. It is about maintaining the status quo, or what NFL teams believe that to be. It is about not ruffling feathers, or at least the feathers NFL teams care about ruffling.

Still, it is a long offseason. It only takes one team rowing against the tide. And, again, even the Jay Cutlers were still looking for work, never mind a part-time starter fighting against a scarlet letter.

Now, the Bleacher Report explanation is much more plausible — and NFL executives no longer deserve the benefit of the doubt that their decisions are football-related.

They might be able to get away with them being money-related, except that there is nothing definitive about what Kaepernick wants to get paid. Then again … $18.5 million for Mike Glennon. To be a starter.


Source: Saints host QB Chase Daniel on free-agent visit

Elite Britton Colquitt Jersey METAIRIE, La. — The New Orleans Saints got a visit from an old friend Sunday, a source told ESPN’s Adam Caplan: free-agent quarterback Chase Daniel.

Elite Bishop Sankey Jersey Daniel, 30, spent four years backing up Drew Brees in New Orleans early in his career before moving on to higher-paying backup jobs with the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles.

The Saints have a veteran backup they like, Luke McCown, who is due $1.5 million in the final year of his contract. But they always valued Daniel, and he is five years younger than McCown.

The Red Sox’s pitching depth is already being tested. Veteran right-hander Clay Buchholz was dealt to the Philadelphia Phillies for minor league infielder Josh Tobias in December in order to create payroll flexibility, and lefty David Price has not yet made a spring training start because of elbow stiffness and is set to open the season on the disabled list. The Sox still have five major league starters (Rick Porcello, Chris Sale, Eduardo Rodriguez, Steven Wright and Pomeranz), but Triple-A option Henry Owens has slid on the depth chart during a horrendous spring in which he is overhauling his mechanics.

If Pomeranz is not ready to begin the season on time, veteran right-hander Kyle Kendrick likely would be first in line to take his spot. Kendrick hasn’t allowed a run in 15 consecutive spring training innings and has a 1.50 ERA in 18 innings overall.

Pomeranz is expected to be re-evaluated Monday. Farrell told reporters that it’s “too early to speculate” on whether Pomeranz will miss his next start.

The Red Sox acquired Pomeranz from the San Diego Padres last July for 19-year-old pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza. An investigation by Major League Baseball revealed that the Padres failed to disclose Pomeranz’s accurate medical information, but the Red Sox declined the chance to rescind the trade.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are losing at the perfect time

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At 0-6, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going nowhere and headed there really fast. They are on a collision course with a top-three pick in next year’s NFL Draft, precisely why losing big now could pay huge dividends shortly.

Thanks to this awful campaign, Tampa Bay could fire head coach Greg Schiano and draft a quarterback out of a loaded class likely to feature Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, UCLA’s Brett Hundley and others. Had the Buccaneers gone 9-7 or 8-8 this year, ownership almost certainly would have to stick with Schiano.

Either way, the team would not have been in a spot to pick a top-flight signal-caller. Now, the Bucs are on course to be in prime position.

“It means a lot to me, because I started here, and obviously I want to finish here. I’ve seen a lot of guys come and go, especially in my (draft) class. I’m the only one left in my class here. It means a lot. We won a Super Bowl here, and I’m looking forward to putting a fifth trophy in the case.”

A.J. Klein Jersey When the news that Pierre-Paul and the Giants had agreed on terms was first reported by Rapoport, Pierre-Paul denied that he was signing anything:

With 50 career sacks in seven seasons, Pierre-Paul has become the face of New York’s defense, even with superstars Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison and Janoris Jenkins entering the mix last season. After locking up those three guys to big deals last season, the Giants locked up Pierre-Paul on a long-term contract.