This past week, we have heard “The Notorious One” Conor McGregor’s name mentioned in various news media articles and his name has been tied to several rumors in the world of MMA. The media hype began last month when UFC President Dana White announced that at UFC 223 Tony Ferguson would be facing Khabib Nurmagomedov for the UFC lightweight title.
White Gets the Party Started
White stated during the press conference, “it’s not for the interim title, that fight will be for the title” meaning that Conor McGregor would be strict of the UFC lightweight title due to the fact he wanted to take time off from MMA and the fact that the UFC needed to continue with business as usual.
Dana White has stood firm in his belief that the world of MMA may never see McGregor step back inside the octagon due to the overwhelming amount of money he has made over the last 2 years. White has stated time and time again that McGregor made life-changing money for his boxing match with Floyd Mayweather and he does not believe that McGregor will make a return to the UFC.
Many people believed and are under the assumption that Floyd Mayweather is attempting to make a UFC debut and that is the fight that Conor McGregor would be shooting for with the hopes of another huge payday for the Irishman. Dana White also nixed that idea stating that Floyd Mayweather was not in active negotiations to compete in the UFC however he did state that “anything is possible”. For anyone that knows Dana White or has followed him in the media over the years, knows that this means Mayweather is most likely on his way to the UFC.
McGregor And his Social Media
McGregor took the social media on Thursday in response to Dana White questioning whether he would ever fight again. McGregor stated “I am fighting again. Period. I am the best at this. I put my name forward to step in at UFC 222 to face Frankie Edgar when Max Holloway pulled out, but I was told there wasn’t enough time to generate the money that the UFC would need. I was excited about bouncing in last minute and taking out the final featherweight, without all the rest of the stuff that comes with this game. Please respect the insane amount of work outside the fight game that I have put in. On top of the fighting. I am here. It is on them to come and get me. Because I am here. Yours sincerely, The Champ”.
In most situations, the general public and the media would like to blame the UFC and president Dana White but the reality here is that McGregor has not fought since November 2016, when he beat Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 for the UFC lightweight championship. Since that point in time, McGregor has held the lightweight division hostage while not making any attempts to return to the octagon.
The UFC has 2 high-caliber lightweights that are going to battle it out at UFC 223 in Brooklyn, New York. This fight will truly determine who is the top lightweight in the UFC. For the UFC, this is the best and most competitive fight that they could put on at this point in time in the lightweight division.
But what happens with McGregor? He claims that he wants to return to the octagon but is he willing to accept the fight with someone other than Floyd Mayweather? There are really only 2 options for the UFC and McGregor.
Option A is the UFC will pit McGregor against the winner of Ferguson and Nurmagomedov. This would be a huge money maker as the winner of this fight will be considered the top lightweight the world and a fight against McGregor would be the money fight for either of these 2 guys.
Option B is the UFC puts on Conor McGregor versus Nate Diaz III. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that this fight is eventually going to happen but do they do it now or do they wait until the end of the year to feature what would be probably the biggest event UFC history!
Whichever option UFC and McGregor decide to go with, there is no doubt that a ton of money will be made. Conor McGregor has formed himself into a marketing machine and whether you like him or hate him, he creates a hype unlike any other and is a proven asset UFC. There is not another single fighter out there that creates the pay-per-view buys, sponsorships and media hype like “The Notorious One” does!
For that reason and that reason alone, it is very likely that we will see “The Notorious One” Conor McGregor back in the cage before long and possibly 2 times before the end of the year of 2018.
The San Antonio Spurs have been without their perennial All-Star Forward Kawhi Leonard for the better part of the year and it appears that there is no sign of return in sight. Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich stated on Wednesday afternoon that he would be surprised if Leonard played again the season. Popovich stated that he has never seen anything like this, where a player has missed this much time for what is not considered to be a serious injury. Leonard has the same injury as San Antonio Guard Tony Parker, only Parker’s injury was much worse yet only caused him to miss about 26 games this year.
Parker’s injury was considered much worse and required surgery to basically put the tendon back together. Parker return to the Spurs on November 25 and has had no lingering effects. He is averaging 8.5 points per game and shows no signs of the injury. Parker has always been known as a hard-nosed, gritty player, that will do whatever necessary to get back on the court. He has played injured and done whatever was needed to rehab his surgery and get him back on the court as soon as possible! Parker without a doubt has the respect of teammates management and fans alike due to his tenacity and drive to get back in the Spurs uniform.
Tendon Been the Issue
Leonard has been nursing a quad tendon injury that originally sidelined him last year in the NBA Playoffs. Leonard has missed every game this year, with the exception of 9 games. Leonard originally was expected to start the season without any lingering effects from last year’s injury however that has been far from the case. Leonard missed all of September, October and November to start the season. It seemed that in each month coach Popovich became increasingly frustrated with the fact that Leonard was not getting any better, and was not healing as expected.
Finally, on December 12 Leonard return from injury and stepped on the court for the 1st time in a Spurs uniform since last year in the playoffs. Leonard look good in his return, averaging 16.2 points per game, 4.7 rebounds per game, 2.3 assist per game and 2 steals per game. On January 2, in a game against the New York Knicks, Leonard posted a season-high 25 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals and the excitement around the San Antonio organization in regards to having Leonard back in the lineup was very high!
Leonard Had Injury Reoccur
Two weeks later, the Spurs put Leonard back out on injury rehab for the same right quad tendinopathy. The Spurs have Leonard listed out indefinitely and have not given a timetable on his return. Watch any ESPN interview or media publication with anyone in management from the San Antonio Spurs in reference to the Leonard situation and you will sense a bit of frustration.
Reports now coming out of ESPN are claiming that Leonard has actually already been cleared medically to return to the San Antonio Spurs choosing to remain sidelined. Leonard recently traveled to New York consulting with a specialist and to basically get a 2nd opinion on the injury. Leonard worked out for doctors at the NBA headquarters in Manhattan. Results from the 2nd opinion in his work out at NBA headquarters has not been made public and it is not known.
One thing is for certain, the San Antonio Spurs could certainly use Leonard in the lineup as they are preparing for the 2nd half of the NBA season. The Spurs are currently in 3rd place with a 35-24 record and are just 10 games out of the top spot in the Western Conference. The Spurs have robbed Peter to pay Paul of sorts in moving players around to compensate for Leonard’s absence.
The longer Leonard sits on the sidelines, after being cleared medically, could possibly drive a wedge between the organization and the All-Star franchise player.Leonard signed a 5 year contract worth $94.3 million with an average salary of around $18.8 million back in 2015. Leonard still has 2 years left on that contract however he does have a 2019 player option that could get him out early.
San Antonio Spurs management and fans alike would hate to think that Leonard is sort of milking the injury or possibly not putting forth enough effort to efficiently help with the rehab but it’s only natural to be suspicious after a star player is cleared medically, but still unable to play due to his personal preference. The best thing that can happen for both sides is Leonard heals up and returns from injury by the end of the regular season so he can at least help in the postseason.
The NFL Combine will take place from Tuesday, February 27 through Monday, March 5 and many of the top recruits in college football will participate with their shot to impress many of the pro scouts, with the hopes of becoming a top draft pick. Each year players around the college football world participate in the NFL scouting combine, looking to improve their spot in the NFL draft.
The difference is being drafted number 1-5 and being drafted number 15-20 is about $20 million so naturally every player wants to move up in that top 5 in the 2018 NFL draft. By this time each professional team as an overall list of who they are considering and what players they will be watching out for.
With that being said, there are always those players that really impress the scouts during the combine and improve their ranking from being a 2nd or 3rd round player to a potential 1st round selection in the NFL draft. In this article, take a look at a few players that could move into the 1st round with an impressive NFL Combine performance.
James Washington – Wide Receiver – Oklahoma State
James Washington has set major records throughout his collegiate career and has been one of the most exciting wide receivers to play at Oklahoma State. He is an amazing route runner and has shown throughout his entire career that he is extremely hard to cover.
The main issue with Washington is his size. Depending upon who is measuring him, he comes in a 5 foot 10 or 5 foot 11 and that is fairly small for an NFL wide receiver. Most teams in the NFL are looking for that tall 6 foot plus WR that can go up and get the ball in the end zone.
Washington may not have the size for what he does have is the game IQ and the route running capability to make him a dangerous wide receiver. Washington’s entire draft selection will come down to his 40 yard dash time.
If he runs under a 4.50, he could very well end up in the middle of the 1st round but if his speed doesn’t measure up, he could fall down to the 2nd round or even possibly to the 3rd round!
Calvin Ridley – Wide Receiver – Alabama
Depending upon what draft board or mock draft that you look at depends upon where you think Calvin Ridley will end up. Most everyone has the Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver getting drafted in the 1st round but that could depend on what he runs in the 40 yard dash, similar to what we saw Washington.
Ridley is a little bit different than Washington in the fact that he is 6 foot 1 but the problem with Calvin Ridley is the only weighs about 190 pounds. If this guy comes out and smoke we are dash, he could very well go in the top 10 but if he bombs the yard dash and comes in at under 200 pounds, teams may pass on him due to his lack of size and speed.
Ronald Jones II – Running Back – USC
Ronald Jones is currently listed on most draft charts as the number 3 running back in this year’s draft. Even with a complete fallout, Saquon Barkley is going to be the 1st running back chosen in the draft.
Many people feel that Derrius Guice, from LSU, will end up being the number 2 running back chosen but that’s all going to depend on how Ronald Jones does in the NFL combine. Jones is an underrated prospect that has game breaking speed and the power to break tackles.
If he can put that together with a great combine, he may be able to catapult himself into a lower 1st round pick.
Christian Kirk – Wide Receiver – Texas A&M
One of the most interesting players in this year’s draft is Texas A&M wide receiver Christian Kirk. Many experts in the industry agree that it’s very hard to determine where Christian Kirk will fall in this year’s draft.
Some boards have them coming in in the 3rd round, and others I’ve seen him getting selected as high as a low 1st round pick. The true determination will come at the combine when he runs the 40 yard dash.
Kirk has been known as one of the fastest wide receivers in the NCAA and if he can carry over his talent and speed, into the NFL combine and put up bullet works in the 40, he could very easily be chosen in the 1st round due to the mere fact that teams want speed!
In a time where a franchise quarterback is a necessity in the NFL, the cost to secure one with a reliable history is even more of a necessity and can be an expensive one. In the last 12 months, we have seen quarterbacks in the NFL lock up monster contracts with enormous guaranteed money. Even quarterbacks that aren’t exactly what we would normally call elite, are getting contracts that are setting records!
Earlier this month, we saw Jimmy Garoppolo, who was traded from the New England Patriots to the San Francisco 49’ers last year, sign a $137.5 million dollar contract that averages $27.5 million dollars per year with $48.7 million dollars guaranteed, which locks him up until 2023! That is a big contract for the best QB’s in the league but for one that went 5-0 in the NFL last year and who has been a backup QB for the majority of his career, is astronomical.
That being said, the Niner’s felt Garoppolo can lead the Kyle Shanahan offense. With winning the final 5 games of the year, the Niner’s feel they finally have a franchise QB that can lead this team back to the playoffs and potentially much more! There are some high profile players available this year on the QB scene.
Brees in New Orleans
Drew Brees is a free agent but chances are he will resign with the New Orleans Saints. Brees has been the face of the organization for many years now and they have built an offense around Brees without having a plan B in place.
It wouldn’t make any sense for the Saints to allow him to walk away and it is just a matter of time before the lock him up.
Cousins on the Move
That leaves the question of what team will win the battle for the 2nd best option on the free agency list, Washington Redskins QB Kirk Cousins. The Redskins agreed to a tenure with former Kansas City Chiefs QB Alex Smith and that leaves Cousins one of the most sought after players in recent years.
There are several teams that are eagerly awaiting the March 14 date to open up the trade period in the NFL but what some haven’t considered is the fact that the Redskins could legitimately hit Cousins with the franchise tag for the third straight year. The Redskins don’t have the best options at backup and there is no telling what they may do in this situation. The designation period opens up today, February 20, and ends on March 6 at 4pm.
During this period, the Redskins will need to make a decision on placing the franchise tag on Cousins or moving on in a different direction. If they Skins place the franchise tag on Cousins, he would make $34,478,784, which would make him the highest paid quarterback in the NFL. Cousins would make on average $13 million more than Garoppolo, who is currently the highest paid in the league at $27.5 million per year. Would the Redskins be willing to pay that much money for one year, for a backup quarterback?
If that happens, the NFLPA is certain to be standing by waiting to file a grievance on behalf of Cousins to allow him to play football as a starting quarterback. Most likely, Cousins would win the battle if it came down to it but for $34.5 million dollars, Cousins very well may take the money and see how it plays it out again next year.
It remains to be seen but there are plenty of hawks flying around in the air waiting on the decision. The New York Jets recently stated that they are willing to pay whatever it takes to sign Cousins but are the key pieces in place for Cousins to be successful in New York?
The Cleveland Browns are always in the market and they have two of the first 4 draft picks in this year’s NFL draft. The Browns have gone 1-31 and are coming off a winless season. They are desperate for a franchise QB and with the ability to put some players around him in this year’s draft, the Browns have to be considered one of the favorites to land Cousins, but does he want to play in Cleveland?
John Elway has said that he absolutely will not go another year without a franchise quarterback. Elway and the Denver Broncos struggled last year at the quarterback position having Brock Osweiler, Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch all start at various times in the year at the QB position. There is much talk that the Broncos will pick up a QB in the draft but the expectations are high that they will look for a quarterback for an immediate impact. Denver is another team that is in the top 3 for landing Cousins and with the pieces already in place for immediate success, Cousins could take less money to play in the Mile High.
The Arizona Cardinals are an outside chance to to land the high profile QB. They will be losing Carson Palmer and are the only team in the NFL currently without a QB on their active current roster. The issue with the Cardinals is they may not have the funds to afford the hefty price tag that would come along with Cousins.
Some other experts have targeted the Minnesota Vikings for a potential landing spot for Cousins but that wouldn’t make any sense beings they already have three quarterbacks that are all free agents. It would make no sense for Minnesota to sign a new QB when they can just resign one of the QB’s that already know this offense.
Late last week, much of the talk around the PGA heading into the Genesis Open was surrounding the comments made by Bubba Watson leading up to the golf tournament, as he stated he would withdraw from the tournament in order to play at the NBA All-Star celebrity game if he was not allowed to participate in both. Watson joked with many of the experts in the industry and several high profile journalists, claiming that he had every intention to withdraw from the tournament, if it came down to it.
No one really took the threats serious as sponsorship money would overrule the need to play in a celebrity basketball game, especially if he was in contention to possibly win the golf tournament. Watson had not had the best of years so far this year but he has always played really well at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California. Sponsors invest millions of dollars each year on various golfers to make sure that their business is exposed at these tournaments and had the Genesis Open officials requested that Watson not participate in the basketball event due to risk of injury, that would of left him making the decision of either not playing or withdrawing from the golf tournament.
Watson played golf on Thursday and Friday and had a very good start to the tournament. He was within a striking distance of the leaders at the top of the pack in the golf tournament and shot a one under par on Friday, to put him in seven spots back of the leaders. Knowing that he had already made the cut and wouldn’t play his 3rd round of golf until late on Saturday, the option presented itself for Watson to travel and participate in the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game on Friday Night.
Trip to Staples Center
Luckily for Watson, the trip to the Staples Center, where the NBA All-Star game was being played, was only 17 miles away or a 30 minute trip West to Pacific Palisades, California, where he was participating in the Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club. The Celebrity All-Star game consist of former NBA players, popular musicians, world known actors and several well-known people involved with celebrity status.
Watson played alongside the likes of multi platinum album selling recording artist Justin Bieber, Academy award-winning actor Jamie Foxx, former NBA All-Star Tracy McGrady, Quavo, Dascha Polanco from Orange is the New Black, Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nick Cannon, Jerry Ferrara, Caleb McLaughlin, Kris Wu and many more!
During the game, Watson played on Team Clippers and ended up scoring 2 points, pulled down 3 rebounds and have 1 assist. Watson was ordered from his wife, former WNBA player Angie Watson, to stay out of the paint only take open shots from the outside. Watson ignored his wife’s request and attempted to drive to the basket late in the 2nd quarter. Watson was rejected hard by former NBA player Tracy McGrady, who blocked Watson’s shot out of bounds. Quavo was the leading scorer in the NBA Celebrity game with 19 points.
Watson returned to the sport he knows and plays well on Saturday and the competitiveness must of been running through his veins as he shot a 6 under par, 65, to take a one-stroke lead at the Genesis open, heading into the final round on Sunday. Watson rolled through Sunday on his way to his 1st win of the year, his 3rd overall Genesis Open win and his 10th PGA Tour victory. This was the 1st win Bubba Watson had recorded on tour and 1st top 5 in nearly 2 years. A former #4 golfer in the world according to the Official World Golf Rankings, Watson had dropped all the way to #118. With the win at the Genesis open, Watson moved up to #40 and now will turn his focus towards the Masters.
Watson sort of needed a jumpstart in golf and this may have been exactly what the doctor ordered for Bubba. Watson had not finished in the top 25 since August 2017, and in the 3 prior PGA golf tournaments that Watson had played in during 2018, he had finished 35th at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, 40th at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, and missed the cut at the Career Builders Challenge.
Watson has said in the past that he has had some health issues that had gradually deteriorated and on several occasions he had considered retirement. With those issues in the past and a win under his belt, it appears that we may now have a rejuvenated Bubba Watson and a contender for the Masters.
Watson won the Masters back in 2014 and in 2012 but last year failed to make the cut. Watson is not scheduled to partake in this week’s Honda classic and it is unknown when he will return but it’s safe to say will play at least one or two more tournaments prior to the Masters.
The MLB’s Spring Training is in full speed and the list of free agents is getting smaller each week. This week, we saw the San Diego Padres sign former Kansas City Royals 1B ERic Hosmer to a earth shattering guaranteed 8 year, $144 million dollar contract! The list is getting smaller but the reality is the signing’s are slow with many teams expected to save salary in attempts to sign some of the big available players that will come available next year such as Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson, Bryce Harper, Charlie Blackmon, Dallas Keuchel and Adam Jones, just to name a few.
This was expected to be a very slow and steady free agency market due to the fact that many teams already have their eyes on a few of these players and want to make sure they can afford them and don’t want to tie up much salary with signing other players.
That being said, there are still some very big names that can certainly help some teams out this year in attempts to win a World Series. In this article, we will look at the top 10 free agents that are still available on the market.
JD Martinez was picked up by the Arizona Diamondbacks towards the end of last year to help them in the postseason. Martinez has been one of the most consistent home run hitters over the last 3 years, hitting 105 homers in the last 3 years. He is definitely a big bat for any lineup but it is abundantly clear that teams are avoiding signing him due to the cost he will bring.
Jake Arrieta –
The Chicago Cubs have made it abundantly clear that they would not resign Arrieta and many other teams are shying away from Arrieta now with the season less than two months from starting. Arrieta is a former Cy Young award winner and is looking for a deal that will bring him more than 1 year. There are a total of 6 teams that have shown interest but none have made a move to offer a contract more than 1 year.
Mike Moustakas –
Hosmer’s former teammate Mike Moustakas is one of the top third basemen’s that are available this year and there are some teams that are very close to signing him. Many feel that the New York Yankees will make a push for Moustakas and his 38 home runs could add on to the completely powerful Yankee Lineup. Moustakas is just 29 years old and still has several good years left in his tank.
Alex Cobb –
Cobb and the rest of the free agent pitchers on this list really took a backseat to many teams awaiting the decision on Yu Darvish. With Darvish signing last week, it now clears the way for some teams to start signing some of these other pitchers like Cobb. Cobb is a 30 year old right handed pitcher and has received a qualifying offer from the Tampa Bay Rays but he has not accepted to offer. If another team makes an offer and he accepts their offer, they would have to give the Rays a draft pick. That could drastically restrict Cobb and force him to resign with the Rays.
Logan Morrison –
The former Tampa Bay first basemen is waiting to sign with a ball club but the phone is ringing off the hook and time is running out on his shot to get on with a team during spring training. Morrison is tagged to be heading to Boston but if they sign him, it will be after JD Martinez signs with a team. The Red Sox have their eye on both Morrison and Martinez but they much prefer to sign Martinez.
Lynn rejected St. Louis Cardinal’s qualifying offer in November and became a free agent. He was slated to make $17.4 million dollars and the Cards basically refused to sign him or keep him for that much money. Lynn was 11-8 last year with a 3.43 ERA. The fact is that Lynn may believe that his price tag is worth more in his own eyes than teams around the league believe his price tag should be.
The reality is any of these free agents could sign even before we are able to hit submit on publishing this article. The market is closing fast on some of these free agents and as we said earlier – the amount of talent coming out next year will affect the amount of money that some of these guys will get paid in their contract.
With the NCAA conference tournaments just weeks away and potential NCAA bids on the line, teams have began focusing on playing harder and staying focused down the stretch. This past Saturday, we witnessed some serious upsets in College Basketball and many that could some serious ramifications on the tournament seeding.
There were 12 games on Saturday that consisted of at least one ranked team and in 5 of those games, the unranked or lower ranked team pulled off the upset win! Let’s take a look at how Upset Saturday played out for some of the teams in the NCAA Tournament hunt!
Baylor Just Keeps Winning, Beat #7 Texas Tech!
The Baylor Bears are one of the hottest teams in the country right now and absolutely no one wants to see this team pop up on their brackets! On Saturday, they extended their winning streak to 5 games, by beating the #7 team in the nation, Texas Tech, by the score 59-57. Baylor is beating top notch teams, such as Texas Tech, Texas, Kansas and OK State during this stretch of games and have some bigger tests in the near future.
Over the next two weeks, they will take on West Virginia, TCU, Oklahoma and Kansas State, all of which will pose a threat against the Bears potential NCAA Tournament big. The Bears are just 17-10 on the season but are playing their best basketball right now, when it counts.
As for the Red Raiders, they are 22-5 overall and still reign supreme in the BIG 12. They have won 7 of their last 8 games and simply put, they ran into a better team on Saturday afternoon. They have some stout competition standing in front of them as they will play OK State, Kansas, West Virginia and TCU over the next 2 weeks.
Gamecocks Beat #10 Auburn
One of the biggest shockers of the day was South Carolina defeating the #10 Auburn Tigers. This game was never really close and all though Auburn made a slight comeback, it wasn’t enough as the Gamecocks won 84-75 over the Tigers.
South Carolina jumped out to an early lead and led at halftime by 21 points, 46-25, and they never looked back. Auburn outscored South Carolina 50-38 in the second half but that wasn’t enough as the Auburn Tigers dropped the game and potentially just moved out of the Top 10.
Razorbacks Prove They Should Be Ranked!
The Arkansas Razorbacks have one of the best records in college basketball and better than many of their opponents, including Saturday’s opponent, the #21 Texas A&M Aggies. The Razorbacks came into the game without being ranked at 18-8, while the Aggies were 17-9 and ranked #21 in the nation.
That should all change this week coming up due to the fact that Arkansas defeated Texas A&M by the score of 94-75. Jaylen Barford led the Razorbacks with 21 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists and now they find themselves 19-8 overall and have moved up to 3rd in the SEC. The Razorbacks have 4 games left in the season and are still mathematically able to win the SEC regular season title.
Texas Longhorns Upset Trae Young and #23 Oklahoma Sooners
The Oklahoma Sooners were once talked about being one the top teams in college basketball with Freshman Trae Young running the point guard position. They started out their season 12-1 and but have since gone 4-9 to bring their record to 16-10 and are now in danger of missing the NCAA Tournament.
On Saturday, the #23 Sooners hosted the Texas Longhorns and lost their 5th game in a row. The Sooners shot just 30.8% from the floor, which included Young going 7 for 20, and as a team, they posted their lowing scoring output of the year at 66 points. The Longhorns won the game 77-66. The Sooners will now have a quick turnaround and take on the Kansas Jayhawks on Monday Night.
Georgia Upends #18 Tennessee
The Georgia Bulldogs may not have the best record in the SEC but they have a lot of heart and these guys are going to play spoiler to some teams down the stretch. One of those teams was the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday. Tennessee was ranked 18th in the nation and traveled to Bulldog country looking to show that their man-pressure defense was the dominant force in the game.
That would not be the case though as the Georgia Bulldogs took the lead early in the game and never looked back! Georgia has now beat Florida and Tennessee in back to back games after losing 6 of 7. It is unlikely they will make the NCAA Tournament but they have 4 games left in the regular season and could end the season 19-11 and on the bubble. Tennessee on the other hand has lost 2 out of their last 3 games and could potentially fall out of the top 25 this week. They have 4 winnable games on the horizon so they have time to turn the ship around but they can’t have more games like they did against Georgia!
Michigan State Pulls Off Come From Behind Win!
It appeared to look like the biggest shocker of the day would come in the Northwestern vs. Michigan State game. The Northwestern Wildcats hosted the #2 team in the nation on Saturday, Michigan State Spartans, and were up by 22 points at halftime. The Spartans looked out of the game and it appeared as if it would take a miracle to happen for them to make a comeback……
A miracle or a defensive stand that would only allow their opponents to score 11 points in the second half. The Spartans were completely dominating in the second half and played pressure defense the Northwestern simply could not handle. The #2 Spartans came from behind and won the game 65-60 off a near triple double by Cassius Winston. Winston posted 17 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists in the game.
Villanova Tops Xavier
In what most people were calling the game of the year in the BIG EAST, the Villanova Wildcats traveled to take on the Xavier Musketeers and were looking to end their span of games were they lost 2 out of 3 games. The Wildcats on paper dismantled the Musketeers but watching the game, it was much closer and actually a very entertaining game.
The final score was Villanova 95 Xavier 79 but with under 4 minutes in the game, the Musketeers had got within 2 points, a single possession, with a chance to win the game. But the Wildcats were truly the better team and continued to play Villanova basketball by shooting 3’s and playing uptempo style of play. Villanova shot 11 three pointers in the first half and are now just a half game behind Xavier in the BIG EAST.
On Monday, the most recent AP Top 25 was released and the Virginia Cavaliers have moved into the top spot as the best team in the country. This is the first time the Cavs have been #1 in over 35 years and they will be looking to continue the momentum heading into March Madness.
The Cavaliers have been winning games thanks to their #1 overall defense that is restricting teams to a very low 52.7 points per game. They have held teams with very powerful offenses such as the #1 offense in the NCAA, Duke Blue Devils, to only scoring only 63 points and the 24th ranked offense in the NCAA, North Carolina Tar Heels, to only scoring 49 points.
Bennett Teaching Defense
With teams struggling to score points on the Cavaliers, they are going to be very tough down the stretch. They are 24-2 overall and have 4 games left in the regular season against weaker teams in the ACC, such as Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Louisville. They could very easily run the schedule of games and finish the regular season 28-2, which would guarantee them a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. That being said, they did lose to Virginia Tech in overtime last week and if they lost another game between now and the end of the year, they may very easily fall out of the top spot.
The Michigan State Spartans come in this week at #2 and they are catching some steam at the perfect time. They have won 9 games straight and are winning games over some of the toughest teams in the BIG 10. Last week, they defeated the Purdue Boilermakers and have 3 games left against teams that they should easily win. They are 25-3 overall and if they win out and finish the year at 28-3, they would earn a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
The Villanova Wildcats fell from #1 to #3 due to a home loss against St. Johns last week and will probably drop again this Monday due to losing on Wednesday Night against Providence. The Wildcats have the 3rd ranked offense in D-1. They have won 8 out of the last 10 games and with being 23-3 right now, they still could get a #1 seed in the tournament but that remains to be seen how far they fall in the polls.
Coming in 4th this week in the AP Poll are the Xavier Musketeers. Xavier is one of the most underrated teams in the country and have built up their record to 23-3 overall. Their three losses come against an at the time undefeated Arizona State, #1 Villanova and a tough Providence team. They are led by one of the top players in the nation in Trevon Bluiett and if teams overlook them, they will end up on the wrong side of a lose. They should move up this week to #3 after Villanova lost this week and that should lock them up for a current #1 seed in the tournament.
The Cincinnati Bearcats round out the top 5 and are a deep threat this year in the big dance. They have the #2 defense in the NCAA and have an offense that can support them in games if they get in a shootout. Cincinnati is on a 16 game win streak and are practically destroying every team that they face. The closest a team has come to being competitive against the Bearcats in the last 10 games was the Connecticut Huskies, who still lost by 8 points. In the 9 other games that they won, they beat their opponents by an average of 21 points per game!
Big Ten Boilermakers
The Purdue Boilermakers have dropped two games straight, which has caused them to fall to 6th in the AP Poll. Was in first place in the BIG 10 on Wednesday of last week but after dropping back to back games to Ohio State and Michigan State, the Boilermakers have fallen to 6th in the AP Poll. The Boilermakers are still a very tough team and their size makes them a very tough style to matchup against. Both Ohio St and Michigan St matchup really well against the Boilermakers but the rest of the BIG 10 and many other teams in the NCAA will struggle trying to get inside on two players over 7 foot.
Making a surprise appearance at #7 this year is the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Most experts didn’t rank the Red Raiders in the top 7 of the BIG 12, moreless no one had them ranked 7th in the AP Poll. They are 22-4 on the year and are in first place in the BIG 12 conference. They are riding a 7 game win streak and are winning games with a tough defense. They have the 7th ranked defense in the NCAA and have the talent to post some big points if they get into a shootout!
The rest of the AP Top 25 as of Monday, February 12, 2018 are as follows:
Last week on Thursday, during the NBA trade deadline day, experts thought the Cleveland Cavaliers were completely dismantling the team and questioned why the team was shipping players out and bringing in a younger core of players. The Cavaliers were by far the busiest team during the trade deadline but as we have seen since last week, the moves may have been the right move!
The Cleveland Cavaliers appear to have found a new gear and are playing with a little extra motivation, which has brought back hope and optimism to Cleveland, Ohio! The Cavaliers are undefeated, winning all of their games since the trade deadline and one of the most eye catching stats of that trend is the teams that they are beating, are high caliber teams that are playoff bound.
The Cavaliers are coming in off a 120-112 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder are in 5th place in the Western Conference and are heading to the playoffs with the combination of Paul George, Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony. Last Sunday, the Cavs beat up on one of the Eastern Conference top teams, the Boston Celtics. The Cavs won the game 121-99 completely ignoring Boston’s top defense on their way to a scoring explosion. The win itself was impressive but the fact that they did it on Paul Pierce day is even more impressive! On Friday, the Cavaliers beat up on the Atlanta Hawks, winning the game 123-107.
One of the most ironic parts of the win streak, which is actually at 4 games if you count the game prior to the trade deadline, is the last 3 games were all on the road, where they have struggled over the past 2 months. They have gone 14-15, one game under .500 this year, on the road so the wins are even more eye opening and impressive.
Those wins just aren’t close wins either, in the 3 games since the trade deadline the Cavaliers have won by a combined 46 points or 15.33 points per game. The Cavaliers are averaging 110.2 points per game over the course of the season but in the last 4 game winning streak, the Cavaliers are averaging 126 points per game.
The Cavaliers have now gone from 5th place in the Eastern Conference playoff race to 3rd place, just 6 games back of the first place Toronto Raptors. Their first half of the season is over and they have 26 games left in the second half to improve their position in the Eastern Conference.
The new players that the Cleveland Cavaliers added aren’t really setting the world on fire in the stat line but what they have done is bring a rejuvenated sense of excitement to the overall team. In Tuesday Night’s game with the Thunder, Lebron James was 2 rebounds and 2 assists away from a triple double, posting 37 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists. George Hill got the start for the Cavaliers and scored 7 points, while Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood, and Larry Nance all scored 13 or 14 points each off the bench.
In the game against the Celtics, Hill scored 12 points in the start, while Clarkson scored 17, Hood scored 15 and Nance put up 5 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists. Clarkson and Hood have both scored in double digit figures in both games this year as a Cavalier and have immediately served as some depth off the Cavaliers bench.
With the Cavaliers playing much better basketball post trade deadline, it leaves the NBA world wondering if this is what the Cleveland Cavaliers needed to get over the hump and back to the promised land of winning a NBA Title. This is most likely LeBron James last year in Cleveland, as he will become a free agent at the end of the year and it is anticipated that he will sign a very large contract, potentially with the LA Lakers.
There is always the possibility that he could resign with the Cavaliers but experts close to the situation say that it is very unlikely. Prior to the trades being made, it is said that James met with Cleveland Cavaliers General Manager Koby Altman about the potential trades and talks went well. These type of conversations have become rare in Cleveland with James agent Rich Paul handling most conversations between his client and the organization.
James stated prior to the trade deadline that he would not get involved in any trade talks because he is a player and didn’t want to be involved in trade deadline issues. With that subject changing, this may be a sign that the muddy waters are starting to clear up between James and the organization, which could result in talks between the two for keeping King James in Cleveland.
NFL fans around the country have not seen Johnny Manziel in a NFL uniform since 2015, when he played for the Cleveland Browns. Manziel was one of the most exciting football players in the league and had a huge following among the younger crowd. Manziel departed the NFL and entered the world of partying, crime and depression, and many felt that his NFL career was over.
Each year since his departure, it seems that there is a “Johnny Manziel to the….” rumor spread around prior to the start of the preseason but nothing has ever come to fruition but that could change this year if Manziel has anything to do with it. Manziel has been in the press lately but not for bad things, most of the media that Manziel is receiving is all positive.
Manziel appeared on Good Morning America on Monday and talked about his past issues with alcohol usage and depression and spoke of how he self-medicated to treat his personal issues. Manziel stated that he has major issues with depression and sort of used the alcohol to treat his depression. He attributed his release from the NFL on the alcohol induced intoxication and his self medicating.
Manziel was the first freshman to ever win the Heisman Trophy and the Johnny Manziel hype began very early in his college years. The hype led to Manziel overthinking things and gave him a sense of entitlement, which he felt led to a downward spiral. Manziel stated that he only cared about “What Johnny Manziel wanted” and what made him happy. He stated that he thought he was happy while drinking alcohol but the reality was his was miserable inside.
Manziel stated that he has since completely stopped drinking alcohol and the only type of medication he is currently taking is prescribed by a doctor and is for treating his recently diagnosed Bipolar Disorder.
So what does that mean for the future of Johnny Manziel? The Canadian Football League Hamilton Tiger-Cats have reached out and offered a contract to play in the CFL but the two sides have not been able to come to an agreement. That won’t stop Manziel’s dream of making a return and playing in the NFL. The former 1st round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns is hopeful that a NFL team will invite him to preseason camp and give him one more chance that he can make the most of.
Manziel was also seen on “Pardon My Take” and explained that the CFL is on the table but he would not rush into anything. He stated that he wanted to make sure “Everything is a fit, I feel like that’s the biggest thing right now.”
There was some Instagram rumors circulating that Manziel could be heading to the Baltimore Ravens, as a potential backup to Joe Flacco. The rumors were most likely fueled earlier this week when Baltimore Ravens Defensive Backs Tony Jefferson and Marlon Humphrey started a Instagram conversation about the subject. Jefferson posted a image of him wearing a Johnny Manziel Texas A&M jersey and holding up the Johnny Manziel trademark money sign with his hands.
Jefferson posted “Comeback$zn #watch S/O @jmanziel2” which created a response from Humphrey, who said “Tell him to come to the Ravens”. There are numerous responses, some good and some bad, but there is no question that the post spiked some excitement among Baltimore fans.
With that being said, the likelihood of Manziel playing for the Baltimore Ravens are far fetched. Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti said in January 2017 that he would no longer take anyone accused of domestic violence on the team. Bisciotti was a big part in the Ray Rice domestic assault incident and stated “Domestic Abuse?? Not taking them”.
If Bisciotti sticks by his own policy, it would eliminate Manziel from playing on the Ravens due to the fact that he was indicted on misdemeanor assault charges, due to his ex-girlfriend Colleen Crowley issued a sworn statement that he attacked her in January 2016. He agreed to complete anger management courses and completed the classes as part of a dismissal agreement to have the charges dropped.
Manziel to the Ravens would make a bit of sense due to the fact that Ryan Mallett, Ravens backup qb, will be a free agent this year after backing up Joe Flacco the past two years. Flacco has also taken a ton of criticism over the past few years for his unreliability. If Bisciotti was to reconsider his stance on domestic violence topic, which is highly unlikely, Manziel could find his way back in a NFL uniform but it remains to be seen if that will happen. One thing to keep in mind, Manziel was never technically found guilty of domestic violence so the loophole is set for a Johnny Manziel return to the NFL.