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Path: /nascar/7-amazing-nascar-stats-week
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This weekend provides a rare off day on the jam-packed NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule, but that doesn’t mean analysis will stop. After five races, there is a litany of story-telling statistics in a series that continues to one-up itself, to the delight of news desks everywhere.

Secondary to all the controversial opinions, fighting and crashing, the most popular driver in the sport is the one sitting atop the NASCAR mountain. Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads the point standings, which, as you will read below, is well deserved.

For PEER and other metrics with which you may be unfamiliar, I refer you to my glossary of terms on MotorsportsAnalytics.com.


4.4 and 2.3   Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his No. 88 team lead full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competitors in average finish (4.4) and finish deviation (2.3).

What does this mean? Earnhardt is the most consistent driver in the series right now — a zero deviation would mean the same finish over and over — while bringing home tremendous results. Junior Nation should be rejoicing, because that isn’t just the sort of thing that gets a driver to the Chase; what Earnhardt and his Steve Letarte-led race team are doing are habits of potential champions.


+54.2%  Earnhardt’s finishes are an increase of 54.2 percent over his average running position with 10 percent of a race to go.

That plus-54.2 percent position retainment difference is another habit of a title contender. That increase is worth about 26 positions — think of that as 26 extra points — earned in the waning laps of each race. On fresh tires, Earnhardt navigated through a firestorm of activity last Sunday at Auto Club Speedway, driving from 13th to second in the final 20 laps for his most lucrative home-stretch run of the season.


100%  Four teams in the Cup Series have finished in the top half of fields in all five races for a relevance percentage of 100.

“Relevance” is finishing in the top half of fields (21st or better in the Cup Series). This is important because hitting the 80 percent mark through the 26-race regular season all but lands a team one of the 10 automatic Chase spots. Of the four driver-team combinations currently with perfect relevance percentages, two of them aren’t surprises (Earnhardt and the No. 88 team and Greg Biffle with his No. 16 team) and two sort of are (Paul Menard and the No. 27 team and rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and the new-look No. 17 team). It is no coincidence that all four teams are currently inside the top 12 of the point standings at this juncture.


41  The No. 16 team with Greg Biffle has gone 41 races without registering a DNF (Did Not Finish, a status frequently used in NASCAR box scores to indicate why a driver finished so poorly).

In today’s NASCAR, with Chase implications attached to every position gained or lost, consistency matters. That starts with finishing races, which is something Biffle and crew chief Matt Puccia have done in their sleep over the last year. Their most recent DNF was an engine failure in the 2011 season finale at Homestead, so credit the Roush Yates engine department for holding strong behind one of Ford’s best entries. Biffle himself deserves a tip of the cap for being able to avoid accidents well enough to go 76 races without an accident-related DNF.
 

Teaser:
<p> David Smith reveals seven NASCAR stats about Dale Earnhardt Jr., Greg Biffle, Casey Mears and AJ Allmendinger in the Sprint Cup Series.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - 17:16
All taxonomy terms: Pac 12, UCLA Bruins, College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/ucla-fired-howland-who-are-possible-coaching-replacements
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UCLA is in the market for a new coach after the legendary program fired Ben Howland on March 25.

Finding the right fit won’t be easy, and the job isn’t for the timid.

UCLA fired a coach who went to three consecutive Final Fours from 2006-08 and won the Pac-12 regular season title this season. But the program has fallen from the national elite since ’08. The Bruins missed the NCAA Tournament in two of the last four years and failed to reach the second weekend on each of the last three trips. Player transfers, recruiting classes that didn’t pan out and in-team turmoil all played a role in Howland’s ouster.

Candidates may be lining up for UCLA, but here are a few Athlon Sports think could be a good fit for the Bruins.

POTENTIAL CANDIDATES FOR UCLA
Tad Boyle, Colorado
Boyle revived Colorado basketball step-by-step from an NIT in 2011, a surprise Pac-12 tournament title in 2012 and a secure NCAA at-large bid in 2013. The three-year run marked the first back-to-back Tourney appearances since 1963 and first time the Buffaloes reached the postseason in three consecutive seasons. That’s despite losing a player like Alec Burks. Boyle can win on the major conference level, but he also laid the groundwork at low-major Northern Colorado.

Mike Brown, former Los Angeles Lakers coach
Brown was fired early in the season with the Lakers and has no college coaching experience. Working in the NBA with LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, though, would give him something to sell on the recruiting trail.

Mick Cronin, Cincinnati
Cronin rebuilt the Bearcats after the end of the Bob Huggins era, leading Cincinnati to three consecutive NCAA Tournaments. He’s spent his career at Cincinnati, Murray State and Louisville, so he might be an odd fit out of the tri-state area. And if anyone’s looking for an exciting up-tempo brand of basketball, Cronin might not fit the bill.

Billy Donovan, Florida
Florida hung onto its two-time national championship coach despite two Kentucky coaching searches and got Donovan back a week after he took the Orlando Magic job. It might take a special opening to pry Donovan away from Florida. UCLA, perhaps?

Mark Gottfried, NC State
Gottfried can recruit, and he’s a former UCLA assistant. His name is being floated around for the Bruins, but the let down this season at NC State will be tough to sell.

Fred Hoiberg, Iowa State
He’ll get attention in the coaching carousel as long as he’s leading Iowa State to the Tournament. But his nickname isn’t The Mayor for nothing. Iowa State gave Hoiberg his first college coaching job. If the Ames native and Iowa State alum leaves after three years, the Cyclones would be devastated.

Gregg Marshall, Wichita State
After 15 seasons at Winthrop and Wichita State, maybe it’s surprising Marshall hasn’t moved to one of the major conferences yet. After three consecutive seasons of 27 or more wins, back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances at Wichita State and a Sweet 16 berth, now may be the time to jump.

Lorenzo Romar, Washington
His tenure at Washington has been up-and-down, but the Huskies have played in the NCAA Tournament six times in 10 seasons under his watch. He can recruit at a high level, and his teams are usually fast-paced. Of interest to UCLA, he was an assistant on the last Bruins team to win a national title in 1995.

Shaka Smart, VCU
The 35-year-old will be a hot name in the coaching carousel again after the 2011 Final Four and a seamless transition to the Atlantic 10. All indications are Smart is happy at VCU. After all, he turned down Illinois last season.

Brad Stevens, Butler
Stevens is even more entrenched at Butler than Smart at VCU. He’s an Indiana native who has shown little interest in moving to a new job. Also working in Butler’s favor: The job keeps getting better. The former Horizon League power will be in the Big East along with Georgetown, Villanova, Marquette, Xavier and Creighton in the coming years.

Buzz Williams, Marquette
After reaching the Sweet 16 in three consecutive seasons, Williams will be a hot commodity in the carousel. The Golden Eagles have been among the best teams in the Big East despite losing Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom, and Williams has proven he can unearth talent on the recruiting trail. He turned down opportunities last season to stay with the program that rolled the dice on him five years ago.

Jay Wright, Villanova
It may be an odd sight to see Wright leave Villanova, where he’s coached since 2001. But the program has leveled off a bit since reaching the Final Four in 2009. In the last four seasons, Villanova has reached the Tournament three times and failed to reach the Sweet 16 in each trip.

Teaser:
<p> After UCLA fired Ben Howland, which coaches around the country are possible candidates?</p>
Post date: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - 15:58
All taxonomy terms: Golf
Path: /golf/top-20-golfers-2013-majors-no-12-jason-dufner
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They’re the cream of the major championship crop, circa 2013 — the Athlon Major Championship Dream Team. Leading up to The Masters, we'll be unveiling Athlon Sports’ 20 players to watch for majors season, with commentary on each from the Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee.

No. 12: Jason Dufner

Born: March 24, 1977, Cleveland, Ohio | Career PGA Tour Wins: | 2012 Wins (Worldwide): 2 | 2012 Earnings (PGA Tour): $4,869,304 (4th) World Ranking: 18

 

Brandel Chamblee's Take

Dufner made the fewest bogeys per round on the PGA tour in 2012 and at the end of the year had the longest made cut streak at 21 events. He has become one of the most consistent players in the world through the bag, and his all-around rank of third is evidence that he doesn’t have any weaknesses. At almost 36, he is a late bloomer, but the promise he showed in 2011 was fulfilled in 2012, and he shows no signs of slowing down.

Major Championship Résumé
Starts: 15
Wins: 0

2012 Performance:
Masters - T24
U.S. Open - T4
British Open - T31
PGA Championship - T27

Best Career Finishes: 
Masters - T24 (2012)
U.S. Open - T4 (2012)
British Open - T31 (2012)
PGA Championship - 2 (2011)
Top-10 Finishes: 3
Top-25 Finishes: 4
Missed Cuts: 5

—Brandel Chamblee is lead analyst for the Golf Channel. Be sure to follow him @ChambleeBrandel on Twitter.


Athlon's 2013 Golf annual provides in-depth previews of this year's four majors, including the top 20 players to watch this season. One of these elite players, reigning FedExCup champion Brandt Snedeker, also takes you tee to green with full-swing instruction and short game essentials. BUY IT NOW.

Teaser:
<p> Athlon Counts Down the 20 Golfers to Watch for Majors Season</p>
Post date: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - 12:02
Path: /college-basketball/ncaa-tournaments-all-time-biggest-upsets-and-closest-calls
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While none of the 112 No. 16 seeds has won a game in the NCAA Tournament (more on that below), six No. 15 seeds have shocked No. 2s since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985. And two of them took place during this year's March Madness. Here's our look at the biggest upsets and closest calls from college basketball's NCAA Tournament. 

THE BIGGEST UPSETS: No. 2 vs. No. 15 (7-109)

Florida Gulf Coast 78, Georgetown 68 (2013)

The dunk-fest that is Florida Gulf Coast is partly why Sunday's second (or third, officially) round action was the highest-rated in 20 years. Andy Enfield — and his famous wife Amanda Marcum — led the Eagles to an improbable upset over the second-seeded Hoyas. Atlantic Sun Player of the Year Sherwood Brown scored 24 points as FGCU outplayed the regular season Big East champs from start to finish. And just to prove that it wasn't a fluke, Brown and the Eagles ran the seventh-seeded San Diego State Aztecs out of the building 81-71 to become the first 15-seed to ever make it to the Sweet 16. Gulf Coast's high-flying alley-oops were the top story of the first weekend of play in 2013 — and Enfield got a paltry $10,000 bonus for making the Sweet 16. Fans can bet he will be getting a big raise in the off-season.

Norfolk State 86, Missouri 84 (2012)

The Missouri Tigers were a chic pick to make it to the Final Four in 2012 after winning the Big 12 tournament. But Mizzou failed to make it out of the first round despite shooting 52.7% from the floor and making 13 three-pointers. It wasn’t enough to top the MEAC tournament champs from pulling off the monumental upset. Kyle O’Quinn led the Spartans with 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting and 14 rebounds. A big reason the guard-heavy Tigers got beat? Norfolk State dominated the glass 35-23 in the two-point victory.

Lehigh 75, Duke 70 (2012)

The Mountain Hawks entered the tournament as Patriot League champions, led by superstar guard C.J. McCollum. The junior finished with 30 points, six rebounds and six assists in the startling upset of the powerhouse Blue Devils. Making the upset even more improbable was where the shocker took place: Greensboro, N.C. Duke missed 20 of its 26 three point shot attempts in the five point loss.

Hampton 58, Iowa St 57 (2001)

The Pirates of Hampton became only the fourth 15-seed to win in the first round when Tarvis Williams made a four-foot jumper with less than seven seconds left in the game. The Cyclones’ Jamaal Tinsley went the length of the floor and missed a point-blank lay-up to give Hampton the historic win. One of college basketball’s most memorable images is Hampton head coach Steve Merfeld sprinting around the court and being hoisted into the air, legs flailing wildly, by backup David Johnson.

Coppin St 78, South Carolina 65 (1997)

The Eagles of Coppin State entered their first-round tilt against South Carolina as a 30-point underdog. After Coppin State took the lead with just over six minutes left, the Gamecocks crumbled. For a team that, to this day, has not reached the second round of the tournament since 1973 — much less the Final Four — the loss to Ron “Fang” Mitchell’s upstart Eagles was especially painful.

Santa Clara 64, Arizona 61 (1993)

A Canadian freshman point guard by the name of Steve Nash knocked down six of eight free throws down the stretch to key the Broncos’ upset win over the Wildcats. Arizona, featuring a roster littered with future NBA players — Reggie Geary, Damon Stoudamire, Chris Mills and Khalid Reeves — put together a 25–0 run that spanned the end of the first half and the opening minutes of the second half. The Broncos answered with their own 19–7 run, and Pete Eisenrich’s jump shot gave them the lead late in the game before Stoudamire missed a three at the buzzer. Nash would go on to win two WCC Player of the Year awards.

Richmond 73, Syracuse 69 (1991)

The Spiders, led by 18 points and six assists from Curtis Blair, pulled off the first upset by a No. 15 seed in NCAA Tournament history. Billy Owens and the Syracuse zone were ineffective, as Richmond never trailed during the game. A Michael Edwards 3-point attempt that would have tied the game fell short with four seconds remaining, and 12-year coach Dick Tarrant had his signature moment as the Spiders’ head man.

 

THE CLOSEST CALLS 

It’s been well-documented that a No. 16 seed has never beaten a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but there have been some extremely close calls. Did you know that five teams have nearly pulled-off what might be considered the biggest obstacle in mainstream sports?

Here are five 1 vs. 16 games decided by four points or less.

Purdue 73, Western Carolina 71 (1996)

The Southern Conference champs, coached by first-year head man Phil Hopkins, employed a zone defense that stymied Purdue for most of the game. The Catamounts actually had two chances to put themselves in a category all their own, but both the potential game-winning 3-pointer by Joel Fleming and the possible game-tying Joe Stafford 15-footer hit off of the back of the rim in the final seconds. Ironically, this Boiler team had to forfeit 18 of its 26 wins, including this game, the most recent near-miss by a 16 seed. Another interesting sidenote: Hopkins’ top assistant at the time, Thad Matta, is now the head coach at Ohio State.

Michigan St 75, Murray St 71 (OT, 1990)

The Ohio Valley champions, led by sophomore center Ronald “Popeye” Jones, pushed the vaunted Spartans to overtime by drilling a 3-point basket at the end of regulation. Jones’ game-high 37 points and 11 rebounds were not enough to slow MSU’s Steve Smith, who posted a team-high 22 points, including six of his team’s 10 overtime points. With 26 seconds left, Jones missed an interior shot and the Spartans snatched the rebound and held on to win the only 1-vs.-16 matchup ever to go to overtime.

Oklahoma 72, ETSU 71 (1989)

In the first of four straight trips to the NCAA Tournament for ETSU, the Buccaneers’ starting lineup featured three sophomores and two freshmen. Point guard Keith “Mister” Jennings, a 5'7" dynamo, led the Bucs to a 17-point lead over OU. The Sooners’ defense led the comeback, and after Jennings fouled out, Oklahoma found itself with the ball and a one-point lead shooting a one-and-one with four seconds left. Oklahoma’s Mookie Blaylock missed the front end, giving ETSU one final heave at the buzzer. The half-court air ball fell short, and Oklahoma escaped the historic upset.

Georgetown 50, Princeton 49 (1989)

In Pete Carril’s 22nd season as the Princeton head coach, the Tigers nearly pulled off one of the biggest upsets in tournament history. With Princeton trailing by one with eight seconds left, Georgetown center Alonzo Mourning blocked two Princeton shots — one by Bob Scrabis and the other by Kit Mueller — to preserve the Hoya victory. To this day, Princeton fans still claim Mueller was fouled.

Michigan 59, Fairleigh Dickinson 55 (1985)

Head coach Tom Green spent 26 seasons leading Fairleigh Dickinson, but it was in his second year when he almost made his biggest mark. Despite losing four players to fouls, the Knights took the top-seeded Wolverines to the wire. Two late Roy Tarpley free throws sealed the win for the Maize and Blue. Villanova, the lowest-seeded team ever to win the title, proceeded to beat Michigan in the second round by the exact same score — 59–55 — en route to its famous upset of Georgetown in the finals.

Teaser:
<p> While none of the 116 No. 16 seeds has won a game in the NCAA Tournament, seven No. 15 seeds have shocked No. 2s since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985.&nbsp;</p>
Post date: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /mlb/2013-baseball-preview-houston-astros
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The American League West is arguably the toughest division in baseball, which isn’t great news for an Astros team making its move into the division while trying to rebuild following the two worst seasons in franchise history. Coming off a club-record 107 losses in their final year in the National League in 2012 and 106 losses in 2011 — the Astros enter the AL with new uniforms, a new logo and a new manager in Bo Porter. The club is committed to staying the course of rebuilding through the draft and player development, which means playoff contention is likely years down the road. That’s especially true in the AL West, where the Los Angeles Angels, Texas Rangers and Oakland A’s are all built to contend, while the up-and-coming Mariners are no pushovers. Enter the Astros, who will play each of these teams 18 or 19 times while they try to give young players looks at several positions all over the diamond. Astros owner Jim Crane and general manager Jeff Luhnow, entering their second seasons with the club, are committed to youth and don’t plan to start spending major money in free agency until the team’s youngsters start coming of age. Baseball fans in Houston, who will get to see a different set of teams come through Minute Maid Park this year, can only hope the team grows up sooner than expected because life as the punching bag in the AL West won’t be fun.

Rotation 
The first three arms in the rotation are set, with righthanders Bud Norris, Lucas Harrell and Jordan Lyles. Norris will need to rebound following a 7–13 campaign in which he battled various injuries and went three months without getting a win. Harrell was one of the biggest bright spots for the Astros last year, coming out of nowhere to go 11–11 with a 3.76 ERA while making a team-high 32 starts as a rookie. He led the team in wins and innings pitched and went at least five innings in all but one of his starts. Lyles pitched all last year at 21 years old and struggled through a 5–12 season, though he threw a shutout in his final appearance. The Astros hope this is the year the promising youngster finally puts it all together and becomes a mainstay in the rotation. The final two spots in the rotation are up for grabs among a group of arms that includes lefthander Erik Bedard, a non-roster player, veteran Edgar Gonzalez and newcomers John Ely, Alex White and Philip Humber, who threw a perfect game with the White Sox in 2012. The odds are now that Humber and Bedard will break camp as starters.

Bullpen
The Astros’ youth shows in their bullpen, which was made up of fresh faces after Brandon Lyon and Brett Myers were traded last July. The team gave the closer job to Wilton Lopez to finish the season, but he was dealt to Colorado in December. Houston signed veteran Jose Veras — who will be on his sixth team in five seasons — to handle the closing duties, not that there figure to be too many chances to save games. The Astros also plan to give Josh Fields, taken with the No. 1 overall pick in the Rule 5 Draft, a chance to pitch late in games too. Among those returning to the bullpen this year are righthanders Hector Ambriz and Rhiner Cruz and lefties Wesley Wright and Xavier Cedeno.

Middle Infield
The middle of the infield, perhaps the Astros’ biggest area of strength last season, may now be only half full after the trade of shortstop Jed Lowrie. All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve returns for his second full season. Tyler Greene, who seemed to always be on the cusp of a breakout season with St. Louis, takes over at short. Altuve, the 5'5" dynamo, hit .290 with seven homers, 37 RBIs and 33 steals last year, getting plenty of time at the top of the lineup. At 22, he was the second-youngest member of the NL All-Star team after Bryce Harper and led the Astros with 147 games played, including 142 starts at second. Greene hit .246 in 39 games with Houston after managing just .218 in 77 games with the Cardinals. His speed is his greatest asset offensively. The two middle infielders will bat 1-2, perhaps even rotating until the offense finds a groove.

Corners
Brett Wallace got most of the time at first base last year following the July 4 trade of Carlos Lee and will enter the season as the favorite to hold onto the job this year. That’s assuming veteran Carlos Pena, who signed with the club in December, gets most of his at-bats at designated hitter. If Wallace can keep hitting for power, though, the position will be his. The Astros enter the season at third base with Matt Dominguez, who has a great glove and has hit well in a limited look. Then there’s Rule 5 pick-up Nate Freiman, who hit .298 with 31 doubles, 24 homers and 105 RBIs in 137 games with Double-A San Antonio (Padres) in 2012. Chris Carter, acquired from Oakland, is penciled in the outfield, but is more suited to first base. Stay tuned.

Outfield
The competition for spots in the Astros outfield has been a free-for-all this spring. The only player assured of a spot somewhere in the outfield is Justin Maxwell, who slugged 18 homers and 53 RBIs last year as the club’s biggest power threat. Maxwell played all over the outfield a year ago, and where he winds up in 2013 may have more to do with which players lock down the other spots. J.D. Martinez will get another long look after a disappointing 2012 that saw his season end prematurely because of hand surgery. The Astros liked what they saw last year from Fernando Martinez, who along with Maxwell hit some of the longest homers in the majors. If his knees hold up, the former Mets top prospect could win a starting job, or at least platoon. Carter has impressed with his bat and will find his way into the lineup somewhere, most likely in left field, leaving the Martinezes to share right. Brandon Barnes proved he could play center field at a high level, though his bat remains a question mark.

Catching
Former first-round pick Jason Castro returned in 2012 after missing all of the previous season following ACL surgery and played well offensively. His knee forced him to the DL at one point, but he wound up hitting .257 with six homers and 29 RBIs, including a .281 average and five homers and 17 RBIs in his final 160 at-bats. Castro is the starter entering the season, but he’s going to have to improve his defense. He let too many balls scoot past him last year, which put his pitchers in tough spots. Castro has enough talent and smarts to be a solid everyday catcher.

DH/Bench
Moving to the American League for 2013, the Astros were forced to find their first full-time designated hitter and wound up signing Pena to a one-year deal. He hit 19 home runs with 61 RBIs last year for Tampa Bay, but he doesn’t hit for much average anymore. Houston could also give Wallace some time at DH, but Pena figures to get most of the at-bats. The bench is thin with Marwin Gonzalez backing up in the middle of the infield and Carlos Corporan at catcher. Whichever player from the outfield mix of Fernando Martinez, J.D. Martinez and Barnes doesn’t win a starting job will likely be asked to come off the bench.

Management
This will be the first season as manager for the 40-year-old Porter, who was hired after spending last year as the third base coach of the Nationals. He’s hired a diverse and experienced staff to help him along, but until the team puts better players on the field, it’s going to be challenging to deliver wins.

Final Analysis
The Astros will be young and should play hard, but it’s difficult finding a scenario in which they won’t finish in the cellar of the AL West. They’re light years behind the veteran teams in Texas and Anaheim, and Oakland has proven it’s going to contend in the division for years. Perhaps the Astros can look at the A’s as hope that they can reach the playoffs sooner than expected, but they’re in the middle of a long-term rebuilding project and will continue to take lumps at the big-league level.

Lineup
SS     Tyler Greene (R)     
Combined to hit .230 with the Cardinals and Astros last year and showed some good power numbers.
2B     Jose Altuve (R)    
Named team MVP after breakout season during which he hit .290 with seven homers, 33 steals and 37 RBIs.
DH     Carlos Pena (L)    
The Astros signed him to be their first full-time DH with hopes he can hit for average again.
LF    Chris Carter (R)
Hit just .148 after Aug. 31 for the A’s last season, essentially forced to sit out the team’s late surge. Could be an adventure in the outfield.
1B     Brett Wallace (L)     
Finally began to show the power stroke the Astros wanted, hitting nine homers in 229 at-bats.
CF     Justin Maxwell (R)    
Played in a career-high 124 games; led the team with 18 homers and was second with 53 RBIs.
C     Jason Castro (L)    
Bounced back from injury that cost him 2011 season to hit .257, including .281 in his final 61 games.
RF     Fernando Martinez (L)    
Martinez doesn’t run well anymore, but he showed last year he has plenty of power in his bat.
3B     Matt Dominguez (R)    
He’s a polished defensive player at the hot corner who showed promise with the bat to end last year.

Bench
OF     J.D. Martinez (R)    
He couldn’t duplicate his promising half season of a year earlier, but still led team with 55 RBIs. He will platoon with Fernando Martinez in right field.
C     Carlos Corporan (S)    
Veteran did a nice job with the Astros, hitting .269 in 78 at-bats with four homers and 13 RBIs.
SS     Marwin Gonzalez (S)    
He’s about as good as they come defensively at short, but can his bat keep him in majors?
OF     Rick Ankiel (L)    
The athletic outfielder will make at least two throws this season that you cannot believe you saw.

Rotation
RH     Bud Norris    
The Astros’ “ace” is a combined 22–34 with a 4.41 ERA over the last three seasons.
RH     Lucas Harrell    
Was named Astros Pitcher of the Year after going 11–11 with a 3.76 ERA in team-high 32 starts as a rookie.
RH     Jordan Lyles    
As a 21-year-old in 2012, he set career highs in innings, starts, strikeouts, quality starts and wins in going 5–12.
RH     Philip Humber     
Native Texan returns home to pitch for Astros after going 5–5 with a 6.44 ERA — and a perfect game — last year for White Sox.
LH    Erik Bedard
Was a no-so-inspiring 7-14 with a 5.01 ERA in 24 starts for Pittsburgh last season.

Bullpen
RH     Jose Veras (Closer)     
5–4 with a 3.63 ERA in 72 games for Brewers in 2012, averaging 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings.
LH     Wesley Wright    
Appeared in a career-high 77 games last year, which led the club; held lefties to a .198 average.
LH     Xavier Cedeno    
Lefty bounced between minors and majors, but didn’t allow a run in 16 of his final 17 games with the Astros.
RH     Hector Ambriz     
Signed as a minor league free agent in June, he did nice work, appearing in 18 games for the Astros.
RH     Rhiner Cruz    
He throws harder than just about anyone on the staff, but he needs to refine control from 2012 rookie season.
RH     Josh Fields    
The No. 1 overall pick in Rule 5 draft, Fields went 4–3 with 2.01 ERA with 78 strikeouts in minors.

Teaser:
<p> Coming off a club-record 107 losses in their final year in the National League in 2012 and 106 losses in 2011 — the Astros enter the AL with new uniforms, a new logo and a new manager in Bo Porter.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - 10:00
Path: /college-basketball/ncaa-tournament-ranking-teams-sweet-16
Body:

The first weekend of the NCAA Tournament has caused us to rethink some things, specifically all those brackets with Gonzaga, New Mexico and Georgetown making deep runs.

We’ve learned a little bit -- we know where Florida Gulf Coast actually is, apart from, you know, the Gulf Coast of Florida. We know La Salle is actually pretty good, despite being one of the last teams in the field.

But some things remain the same in our reassessment of the final 16 teams in the field. Louisville, the No. 1 overall seed to start the Tournament, is looking every bit the favorite as is preseason No. 1 Indiana.

Here’s our reevaluation of the Sweet 16.

SWEET 16 POWER RANKINGS
1. Louisville (Midwest)
Opponent: Oregon
Coach: Rick Pitino (10-0 in the Sweet 16, 6-4 in the Elite Eight)
Good news: The Cardinals’ press has hit its stride, with opponents averaging 21.4 turnovers since the start of the Big East Tournament. If that’s not enough, the Cards’ offense is doing just fine, too. Russ Smith scored 50 combined points in the first weekend while Louisville as a team shot 56.9 percent against North Carolina A&T and Colorado State.
Bad news: Louisville’s regional includes a red-hot Oregon team and either Michigan State or Duke.
Breakout: Montrezl Harris, who was released from his letter of intent at Virginia Tech less than a year ago, has been integral in the postseason. After scoring 20 against Syracuse in the Big East title game, Harris scored 19 points in 36 minutes in the first weekend.

Related: Midwest Region Preview

2. Indiana (East)
Opponent: Syracuse
Coach: Tom Crean (1-1 in the Sweet 16, 1-0 in the Elite Eight)
Good news: Indiana demolished James Madison as it should have. The Hoosiers showed good resilience in a matchup against Temple where the Owls’ tempo forced IU to prove it could win a game without scoring 60 points -- the Hoosiers had been 0-3 when scoring less than 60 this year. Khalif Wyatt scored 31 on Indiana, but the rest of the team scored 21 on 9-of-38 shooting.
Bad news: Jordan Hulls played only 19 minutes against Temple due to a shoulder injury. The Hoosiers don’t have the greatest depth, so this will be worth watching.
Breakout: It was against overmatched James Madison, but freshman point guard Yogi Ferrell’s surprising scoring output (16 points) was good to see for an aspiring national champion.

Related: East Regional Preview

3. Michigan (South)
Opponent: Kansas
Coach: John Beilein (1-1 in the Sweet 16, 0-1 in the Elite Eight)
Good news: The Wolverines, who stumbled late in the season, won their first weekend games by a combined 40 points. Michigan had little trouble with Nate Wolters and even less against VCU’s defense.
Bad news: Trey Burke had seven assists in each game, but he went 2 of 12 from the field against South Dakota State and had seven turnovers against VCU.
Breakout: Freshman Mitch McGary gave Michigan a much-needed physical presence, especially with an upcoming matchup against Jeff Withey. McGary had 21 points and 14 rebounds against VCU.

Related: South Region Preview

4. Ohio State (West)
Opponent: Arizona
Coach: Thad Matta (3-2 in the Sweet 16, 2-1 in the Elite Eight)
Good news: The seas parted for the Ohio State to have easiest path to the Final Four, at least as far as the seeds are concerned. Arizona is the top team left in the West, and the Wildcats were shaky for most of the season. After that, it’s either Wichita State or La Salle.
Bad news: There’s no shame in going down to the wire with Iowa State. Aaron Craft missed the front end of two one-and-ones and turned the ball over twice late to put the Cyclones back into the game, but he atoned for it with his game-winning shot.
Breakout: Sam Thompson scored 20 points and 10 rebounds against Iona, but LaQuinton Ross’ 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting against Iowa State may be more encouraging. And Craft’s 18 points was his fourth-highest scoring total of the season.

Related: West Region Preview

5. Michigan State (Midwest)
Opponent: Duke
Coach: Tom Izzo (7-3 in the Sweet 16, 6-1 in the Elite Eight)
Good news: Michigan State cruised past Valparaiso and then made easier work of Memphis. Adreian Payne was at his best against Memphis with 14 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks. Michigan State’s passing down low and rebounding stood out against the Tigers.
Bad news: The Spartans’ 17 turnovers against Valpo and 18 against Memphis was alarming for a team with Final Four aspirations.
Breakout: Michigan State gets a two-fer here: Derrick Nix took advantage of a size advantage to score 23 points with 15 rebounds against Valpo, and freshman guard Gary Harris scored a season-high 23 against Memphis.

6. Duke (Midwest)
Opponent: Michigan State
Coach: Mike Krzyzewski (12-8 in the Sweet 16, 11-1 in the Elite Eight)
Good news: Doug McDermott scored 21 points against Duke, but it wasn’t easy, especially in the second half. The Creighton star went 4 of 16 from the field.  It was an uneven effort against Creighton offensively, but the Blue Devils had the scoring depth to counter the Bluejays.
Bad news: Ryan Kelly scoring eight points against Albany and then scored one point while fighting through foul trouble against Creighton. It will be tough to get through Michigan State and Louisville/Oregon without Kelly at full speed.
Breakout: Rasheed Suliamon filled the gaps on the scoresheet against Creighton with 21 points, but Tyler Thornton was nearly as important with eight points and six rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench Sunday.

7. Florida (South)
Opponent: Florida Gulf Coast
Coach: Billy Donovan (5-1 in the Sweet 16, 3-2 in the Elite Eight)
Good news: The Gators defeated their first weekend opponents by a a combined 46 points, but the first was a No. 14 seed and the second was a No. 11 who fired its coach the next day. Worth noting, the last team Tubby Smith defeated was UCLA, which also fired its coach. Why is Florida this low? The Gators beat up on lesser teams all season. The first weekend was not totally unexpected.
Bad news: Florida let Minnesota chip away at a 21-point lead in the second half, which is a concerned for a team that failed to win close games all season.
Breakout: Mike Rosario has been frustrating to watch at times, but he carried Florida against Minnesota with 25 points on 8-of-12 shooting, including 6-of-9 from three-point range.

8. Oregon (Midwest)
Opponent: Louisville
Coach: Dana Altman (first Sweet 16)
Good news: Oregon defeated Oklahoma State and Saint Louis with all-around efforts in both games. The Ducks crushed both opponents on the boards, thanks to the play of Arsalan Kazemi while holding the Cowboys and Billikens to a combined 8 of 38 three-point shooting.
Bad news: Oregon didn’t have the resume of a No. 12 seed, but it didn’t have the resume of the top three teams in its region (Louisville, Duke and Michigan State), either. Will the Ducks fall to earth?
Breakout: Damyean Dotson was one of the top freshmen in the Pac-12, but he’s been at his best in the postseason. He went scoreless in a loss at Utah on March 9, but since then he’s averaging 16.8 points per game since then. He scored 17 against Oklahoma State and 23 against Saint Louis.

9. Miami (East)
Opponent: Marquette
Coach: Jim Larranaga (1-0 in the Sweet 16, 1-0 in the Elite Eight)
Good news: Between Larranaga’s dancing and Julian Gamble’s photobombing, Miami seems to be enjoying itself in the Tournament. The Hurricanes defeated Pacific 78-49 and survived Illinois 63-59 in the round of 32. Shane Larkin played the role of star as usual.
Bad news: Illinois kept itself in the game with 15 offensive rebounds against the Canes.
Breakout: Rion Brown has been able to offer a spark off the bench all season, adding his third 20-point game of the season with 21 against the Illini.

10. Syracuse (East)
Opponent: Indiana
Coach: Jim Boeheim (5-11 in the Sweet 16, 3-2 in the Elite Eight)
Good news: Syracuse trounced Montana for the biggest victory for a team seeded third or lower in the NCAA Tournament (47 points). In the second game, Syracuse held Cal’s best players, Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs, to a combined 13 points.
Bad news: The second game was a little more spotty. Syracuse struggled to put away Cal despite the struggles of Crabbe and Cobbs. The Orange went 26 of 41 from the free throw line and went for 12 minutes without a field goal at one point.
Breakout: Baye Moussa Keita flourished in his matchup the the Cal frontcourt, scoring 11 points with seven rebounds. Most of Keita’s work came at the free throw line where the big man went 7 of 10.

11. Kansas (South)
Opponent: Michigan
Coach: Bill Self (7-2 in the Sweet 16, 2-5 in the Elite Eight)
Good news: Kansas responded to its close call with 16th-seeded Western Kentucky to defeat North Carolina 70-58 in a game that was not in question by halftime. Jeff Withey has led the way with a combined 33 points, 22 rebounds and give blocks.
Bad news: Ben McLemore was 0 for 9 against North Carolina and spent most of the second half on the bench. He’s 0 for 8 from three-point range in two Tournament games. The Jayhawks finished the weekend with five total three-pointers.
Breakout: Travis Releford filled the gaps left by McLemore, scoring 22 points against North Carolina with eight rebounds.

12. Arizona (West)
Opponent: Ohio State
Coach: Sean Miller (2-1 in the Sweet 16, 0-2 in the Elite Eight)
Good news: A popular upset pick in the round of 64, Arizona cruised past 11th-seeded Belmont and 14th-seeded Harvard.
Bad news: Do we know a whole lot about Arizona? The Wildcats were rarely challenged over the weekend, which can be a good thing. Arizona will be put to the test against Ohio State.
Breakout: A major question entering the postseason was the play of Mark Lyons. He’s playing like the seasoned Tournament veteran he is with 27 points against Harvard and 23 against Belmont

13. Marquette (East)
Opponent: Miami
Coach: Buzz Williams (0-2 in the Sweet 16)
Good news: Vander Blue is emerging as one of the stars of this Tournament. He delivered the game-winner against Davidson and then scored 29 against Butler.
Bad news: Is Marquette living on borrowed time? The Golden Eagles defeated Davidson on a Wildcats meltdown, and Butler had its chances to beat Marquette thanks to a late turnover. Marquette has 14 assists to 24 turnovers in the Tourney so far.
Breakout: Arizona State transfer Trent Lockett had his best game since February with 13 points against Butler. He contributed 36 and 38 minutes off the bench in the first weekend.

14. Wichita State (West)
Opponent: La Salle
Coach: Gregg Marshall (first Sweet 16)
Good news: Talk about resilience. Wichita State trailed 49-41 and had two key players in foul trouble in the second half against Gonzaga, but came back to win 76-70. The reason was hot three-point shooting, but also defense in the first two games of the Tournament. Wichita State held Gonzaga and Pittsburgh to a combined 40 of 113 (35.4 percent) from the field and 9 of 49 from three-point range (18.4 percent).
Bad news: Wichita State had to play well to win, for sure, but how much did Gonzaga cough up an upset? The Shockers trailed by eight with less than 12 minutes to go. Wichita State’s 14 of 28 three-point shooting against Gonzaga was out of character (but, then again, so was the 2-of-20 performance against Pitt).
Breakout: Ron Baker, a redshirt freshman who missed a big chunk of the regular season with a foot injury, played 33 minutes and surprised Gonzaga with four three-pointers and 16 total points.

15. La Salle (West)
Opponent: Wichita State
Coach: John Giannini (first Sweet 16)
Good news: Ramon Galloway is one of the stars of the Tournament, scoring 24 points on Ole Miss, 19 on Kansas State and 21 on Boise State.
Bad news: La Salle played one bad half of basketball in three games, shooting 3 of 18 in the second half against Kansas State. Otherwise, La Salle shot 56.3 percent from the field.
Breakout: Known for its guard play, La Salle got a major lift from a forward. Jerrell Wright was one of the key players of the upset of Kansas State with 21 points and eight rebounds. He was extremely efficient, making all six shots from the field and 9 of 10 free throws.

16. Florida Gulf Coast (South)
Opponent: Florida
Coach: Andy Enfield (first Sweet 16 appearance)
Good news: Florida Gulf Coast. In the Sweet 16. Everything about this story is good news. This is no fluke, either. FGCU led by as much as 19 against Georgetown in the second half and went on a 17-0 run against San Diego State late in the second half to seal the win.
Bad news: The secret’s out. We don’t know how Florida Gulf Coast is going to react if a good defensive team like Florida limits the alley oop/dunk game.
Breakout: The whole team is a breakout, but let’s highlight Florida Gulf Coast’s defense: The Eagles forced 14 Georgetown turnovers and 17 San Diego State turnovers, both above those team’s season averages.

Teaser:
<p> Louisville is looking every bit the part of a title contender, other top teams not so much</p>
Post date: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/big-ten-football-2013-schedule-analysis
Body:

The start of the 2013 college football season is still months away, but it’s never too early to start thinking about preseason predictions and some of the top games to watch in each conference.

Scheduling has been a hot topic in the Big Ten recently, as the conference is expected to move to a nine-game slate in the future. Maryland and Rutgers are slated to join the Big Ten in 2014, and an increased conference schedule is coming (likely) in 2016.

But for 2013, the Big Ten is at 12 teams and the usual eight-game slate. Ohio State is a heavy favorite to win the conference title, but Wisconsin, Michigan, Nebraska, Northwestern and Michigan State could all be top-25 teams in most preseason polls.

Athlon continues its spring coverage with Big Ten schedule analysis for 2013:

Leaders Division

Illinois

Aug. 31 Southern Illinois
Sept. 7 Cincinnati
Sept. 14 Washington
Sept. 21 Bye Week
Sept. 28 Miami (Ohio)
Oct. 5 at Nebraska
Oct. 12 Bye Week
Oct. 19 Wisconsin
Oct. 26 Michigan State
Nov. 2 at Penn State
Nov. 9 at Indiana
Nov. 16 Ohio State
Nov. 23 at Purdue
Nov. 30 Northwestern

* While all four non-conference games will be at home for Illinois, three of the four won’t be easy. Cincinnati and Washington might both be favored over the struggling Illini while Miami (Ohio) is always a tricky out for Big Ten teams. Two non-conference losses to start the year could doom Tim Beckman’s second year.

* Big Ten play starts for Illinois with arguably four of the top six teams in the league. The consistency of powerhouse divisional rivals like Wisconsin and Penn State is what Illinois aspires to and these two outscored the Illini 66-21 a year ago. Playing Michigan State and Nebraska (as well as Northwestern) in crossover play is about as brutal as it gets.

* Illinois will play six of its first seven games at home and three of its last five on the road.

* Despite a home game with Ohio State mixed in, the final month of the season is where Beckman’s team can make some headway. Indiana, Purdue and Northwestern could be competitive games and will be huge barometer tests for a coach finishing his second season on the job.
 

Indiana

Aug. 29 Indiana State (Thur.)
Sept. 7 Navy
Sept. 14 Bowling Green
Sept. 21 Missouri
Sept. 28 Bye Week
Oct. 5 Penn State
Oct. 12 at Michigan State
Oct. 19 at Michigan
Oct. 26 Bye Week
Nov. 2 Minnesota
Nov. 9 Illinois
Nov. 16 at Wisconsin
Nov. 23 at Ohio State
Nov. 30 Purdue

* Making headway early in the year will be key for Kevin Wilson and his growing Hoosiers. A non-conference slate could feature three straight wins to start and will build up to the key swing game with Missouri. A home win over an SEC team would be a landmark victory for IU and it could mean a bowl game.

* Indiana has a nasty month of October to navigate between off weekends. The three-game stretch features Penn State and two road trips North to Michigan sandwiched between the two bye weeks — which is the only welcome sight during the second month of the year.

* The final month offers some intriguing opportunities — Minnesota, Illinois, Purdue — and two huge "prove it" games with Wisconsin and Ohio State. If Wilson can beat the bad teams, Indiana could easily earn a postseason berth.

* Forget about buying road tickets to support your Hoosiers in 2013. It might be the toughest road schedule in the history of the Big Ten, as Indiana will visit Michigan and Michigan State in crossover play as well as Ohio State and Wisconsin in the division. Best of luck to Mr. Wilson and company.
 

Ohio State

Aug. 31 Buffalo
Sept. 7 San Diego State
Sept. 14 at Cal
Sept. 21 Florida A&M
Sept. 28 Wisconsin
Oct. 5 at Northwestern
Oct. 12 Bye Week
Oct. 19 Iowa
Oct. 26 Penn State
Nov. 2 at Purdue
Nov. 9 Bye Week
Nov. 16 at Illinois
Nov. 23 Indiana
Nov. 30 at Michigan

* The non-conference slate should offer little to challenge Ohio State other than a long road trip to Cal. The Bears' new coaching staff and stadium will likely be fired up for Ohio State but do they have the players to compete with the Buckeyes? Doubtful.

* There is no break early in the year, however, as Ohio State will play six straight to start including two key Big Ten matchups to begin conference play. Wisconsin at home and at Northwestern will set the tone for the Big Ten season prior to the first off week.

* Located between the bye weeks in October is an intriguing three-game stretch. Iowa at home doesn’t figure to be too difficult but hosting Penn State will be exciting. And visiting Ross-Ade Stadium in Purdue likely causes nightmares for Bucknuts everywhere. Ohio State has lost two in a row in West Lafeyette, Ind.

* The final month of the season figures to be warm up for the best rivalry in college football. Despite the history with Purdue, Ohio State will be a heavy favorite in its first three November games before having to travel North to take on Michigan.

* For a team that figures to be among the top five in the preseason polls, this is a very manageable schedule.


Penn State

Aug. 31 Syracuse
Sept. 7 Eastern Michigan
Sept. 14 UCF
Sept. 21 Kent State
Sept. 28 Bye Week
Oct. 5 at Indiana
Oct. 12 Michigan
Oct. 19 Bye Week
Oct. 26 at Ohio State
Nov. 2 Illinois
Nov. 9 at Minnesota
Nov. 16 Purdue
Nov. 23 Nebraska
Nov. 30 at Wisconsin

* Four fairly easy non-conference games will help Bill O’Brien break in a new quarterback and new linebacking corps. Yes, Syracuse has been tricky of late but it also is replacing its star quarterback and head coach. A 4-0 start is very possible before the first bye week of the year separates the Big Ten slate from the non-conference tilts.

* The second bye week is perfectly situated between what should be the two toughest games of the year. Following a visit from Michigan in mid-October, Penn State will get two weeks to prepare for a brutal road trip to Ohio State.

* The Nittany Lions will get a breather following their trip to Columbus. Penn State will face Illinois, Minnesota and Purdue in three consecutive weeks, which should allow O’Brien to seal a second straight winning season.

* Any wins in the season’s final two weekends would be an extra bonus. This team will be dramatically better at season’s end than at the beginning and finishing with both Big Red’s will be tough. However, a win in either of those two could give PSU as many as eight or even nine wins.
 

Purdue

Aug. 31 at Cincinnati
Sept. 7 Indiana State
Sept. 14 Notre Dame
Sept. 21 at Wisconsin
Sept. 28 Northern Illinois
Oct. 5 Bye Week
Oct. 12 Nebraska
Oct. 19 at Michigan State
Oct. 26 Bye Week
Nov. 2 Ohio State
Nov. 9 Iowa
Nov. 16 at Penn State
Nov. 23 Illinois
Nov. 30 at Indiana

* No team in the league has a tougher start to the season than Purdue — both in and out of the Big Ten. In non-conference play, the Boilermakers will play two BCS bowl teams in Northern Illinois and Notre Dame while having to visit Big East co-champ Cincinnati in Week 1. A 1-3 non-con record isn’t far-fetched for new coach Darrell Hazell.

* Mixed in with the tough non-conference slate is a road trip to Wisconsin followed by a home game with Nebraska and a road trip to Michigan State. Those are the first seven for Purdue and 1-6 isn’t out of the question. At least this team will get a breather following the first seven with the second bye week of the season. Well, before Ohio State comes to town.

* The second half provides some easier tests but isn’t much better than the first. Ohio State, Iowa and Illinois will visit West Lafayette while Purdue will visit Penn State and Indiana over the final five weeks. Yes, Purdue has been good against OSU at home of late, but it will be a huge underdog this time around. This a nasty schedule, perhaps the league’s toughest, and Purdue will be favored in no more than five games (Indiana State, Northern Illinois, Iowa, Illinois, at Indiana) and more likely just three.
 

Wisconsin

Aug. 31 UMass
Sept. 7 Tennessee Tech
Sept. 14 at Arizona State
Sept. 21 Purdue
Sept. 28 at Ohio State
Oct. 5 Bye Week
Oct. 12 Northwestern
Oct. 19 at Illinois
Oct. 26 Bye Week
Nov. 2 at Iowa
Nov. 9 BYU
Nov. 16 Indiana
Nov. 23 at Minnesota
Nov. 30 Penn State

* The early season slate is highlighted by a long road trip to the desert to battle Arizona State. The rebuilt secondary will be put to the test by a deep and talented returning Sun Devils offense led by star quarterback Taylor Kelly and offensive whiz Todd Graham. Expect the Devils to be looking for revenge from their 20-19 loss in Madison in 2010.

* Wisconsin begins Big Ten play in a big way with two divisional games before the end of September. This includes a road trip to Ohio State that will be an early Leaders Division elimination game. The welcomed bye week falls following the first five weeks of the year.

* The heart of the schedule isn’t all that daunting for the Badgers. Northwestern at home and a road trip to Illinois are manageable games located between the bye weeks. A road trip to rival Iowa is always a tough test for UW and fans on both sides are happy to get this contest back on the schedule. Wisconsin will play these five Big Ten games between Week 7 and 13: Northwestern, at Illinois, at Iowa, Indiana and at Minnesota.

* A November 9 visit from BYU is oddly placed for Wisconsin. Traditionally, UW plays its first four games against non-conference play so fans might be thrown for a loop when a non-conference opponent comes to town in Week 11. And BYU is a good one at that.

* The home game against Penn State to end the season will likely determine the Leaders Division pecking order behind Ohio State. It could easily be the difference between a New Year’s Day bowl for new coach Gary Andersen or a third-place trip to San Antonio.

* Wisconsin will miss Nebraska, Michigan and Michigan State in crossover play.
 

Legends Division

Iowa

Aug. 31 Northern Illinois
Sept. 7 Missouri State
Sept. 14 at Iowa State
Sept. 21 Western Michigan
Sept. 28 at Minnesota
Oct. 5 Michigan State
Oct. 12 Bye Week
Oct. 19 at Ohio State
Oct. 26 Northwestern
Nov. 2 Wisconsin
Nov. 9 at Purdue
Nov. 16 Bye Week
Nov. 23 Michigan
Nov. 29 at Nebraska

* For a team that will be hovering right around the six-win mark, the non-conference schedule isn’t going to be favorable for getting to a bowl game. Iowa opens with Northern Illinois, a team it beat 18-17 in Chicago last season. The Huskies played in the Orange Bowl last season, and despite some losses on defense, could be favored to win in the opener.

* If the Hawkeyes lose the opener against Northern Illinois, it will only add to the pressure facing this team on Sept. 14 at Iowa State. Iowa has lost the last two meetings to the Cyclones, including a 9-6 game in Iowa City last year. The Hawkeyes have not lost three in a row in this series since 2000-02.

* Will Iowa retain the Floyd of Rosedale? The Hawkeyes beat Minnesota 31-13 last season but lost the last two matchups against the Golden Gophers in Minneapolis. With Iowa and Minnesota expected to be picked near the bottom of the conference, this game could decide who avoids the cellar in the Legends Division.

* Iowa didn’t get any breaks from the schedule-makers, as it has a brutal crossover schedule. The Hawkeyes play at Ohio State and host Wisconsin – arguably the top two teams from the Leaders Division. Iowa also has to play on the road against Purdue, which isn’t a guaranteed win.

* Even if Iowa manages to sweep its non-conference schedule, it will need an upset win somewhere along the way to get bowl eligible. Where could that upset come? How about an Oct. 5 matchup against Michigan State? The Hawkeyes knocked off the Spartans 19-16 in overtime at East Lansing last season. Considering the returning personnel for both teams, Michigan State should be favored. However, Iowa usually thrives when it is under the radar. Will that theory hold true after a disappointing 4-8 season? 

 

Michigan

Aug. 31 Central Michigan
Sept. 7 Notre Dame
Sept. 14 Akron
Sept. 21 at Connecticut
Sept. 28 Bye Week
Oct. 5 Minnesota
Oct. 12 at Penn State
Oct. 19 Indiana
Oct. 26 Bye Week
Nov. 2 at Michigan State
Nov. 9 Nebraska
Nov. 16 at Northwestern
Nov. 23 at Iowa
Nov. 30 Ohio State

* The Wolverines meet Connecticut for only the second time in school history on Sept. 21. Michigan defeated the Huskies 30-10 in 2010 but travel to Storrs for this matchup. Connecticut will be picked near the bottom of the Big East and has to rebuild a defense that ranked in the top 10 nationally in fewest yards allowed.

* The Michigan-Notre Dame matchup is one of the most intriguing early non-conference games of the 2013 season. The last four games in this series have been decided by a touchdown or less, with the Wolverines owning a 3-1 edge during that span. While Michigan isn’t expected to be a national title contender in 2013, a win over Notre Dame could set up a 7-0 mark for the Wolverines going into the Nov. 2 game at Michigan State.

* Michigan’s Oct. 12 date at Penn State will be the first meeting between these two programs since 2010. After winning nine consecutive matchups, the Wolverines have lost three in a row to the Nittany Lions. Penn State is breaking in a new quarterback and must restock its defensive line and linebacking corps, but it will give Michigan all it can handle in Happy Valley.

* Can Michigan regain control in its in-state rivalry with Michigan State? The Wolverines won 12-10 in Ann Arbor last year, which snapped a four-game losing streak to the Spartans. Prior to Michigan State’s winning streak, Michigan won 10 out of the last 12 meetings from 1996-2007.

* Michigan is facing one of the toughest November schedules of any team in the nation. The Wolverines play their top three challengers in the Legends Division and host rival Ohio State. Needless to say, if Michigan wins the division title – it will have earned it.

* Could the Nov. 23 game against Iowa be a trap game? Michigan has lost its last two meetings in Iowa City and three out of its last four against the Hawkeyes. Coming off a road game against Northwestern and with a home date against Ohio State looming one week later, the Wolverines have to be careful not to overlook Iowa.


Michigan State

Aug. 30 Western Michigan
Sept. 7 South Florida
Sept. 14 Youngstown State
Sept. 21 at Notre Dame
Sept. 28 Bye Week
Oct. 5 at Iowa
Oct. 12 Indiana
Oct. 19 Purdue
Oct. 26 at Illinois
Nov. 2 Michigan
Nov. 9 Bye Week
Nov. 16 at Nebraska
Nov. 23 at Northwestern
Nov. 30 Minnesota

* The Spartans couldn’t ask for a better schedule to start the 2013 season. With a offense that struggled mightily in 2010, along with a question mark at quarterback, matchups against Western Michigan, South Florida and Youngstown State should give Michigan State plenty of time to work out the kinks before a road trip to Notre Dame on Sept. 21. Speaking of the early-season road contest in South Bend…

* Michigan State has lost three out of its last four against Notre Dame, with the only win coming in 2010 on a trick play in overtime. The Spartans will be an underdog against the Fighting Irish, but this should be a good test for Michigan State’s offense against the Notre Dame defense.

* Regardless of what happens in the Sept. 21 date against Notre Dame, Michigan State has a favorable road in Big Ten play. The Spartans play Iowa, Indiana, Purdue and Illinois in October – all teams that will likely be picked near the bottom of their division. Although Michigan State lost to Iowa last season, there’s a good chance the Spartans are 7-1 going into November.

* If the Spartans want to be a factor in the Legends Division, they have to beat in-state rival Michigan on Nov. 2. The Wolverines snapped a four-game losing streak in this series last year, but Michigan State has won two in a row in East Lansing.

* Both of Michigan State’s bye weeks just happen to hit at the right time in 2013. The Spartans have an off date on Sept. 28 before the start of Big Ten play and also on Nov. 9 after playing Michigan. The second bye week is crucial, as the Spartans play at Nebraska and Northwestern the following two weekends.

* Even if Michigan State beats Michigan on Nov. 2, the Spartans still have to navigate two road dates late in the year: at Nebraska and at Northwestern. The Cornhuskers have won both matchups between these two teams as Big Ten foes, while the Wildcats knocked off Michigan State 23-20 in East Lansing last year.


Minnesota

Aug. 29 UNLV
Sept. 7 at New Mexico State
Sept. 14 Western Illinois
Sept. 21 San Jose State
Sept. 28 Iowa
Oct. 5 at Michigan
Oct. 12 Bye Week
Oct. 19 at Northwestern
Oct. 26 Nebraska
Nov. 2 at Indiana
Nov. 9 Penn State
Nov. 16 Bye Week
Nov. 23 Wisconsin
Nov. 30 at Michigan State

* Jerry Kill’s team showed progress last year, improving from 3-9 to a 6-7 mark with a bowl loss against Texas Tech. Although Minnesota was a better team in 2012 than it was in '11, a favorable non-conference schedule was a huge factor in getting to the postseason. The Golden Gophers have a similar setup in 2013, as UNLV, New Mexico State, Western Illinois and San Jose State are all winnable games. The Spartans are the best team out of that group but will be breaking in a new coach.

* If Minnesota wants to go bowling, it has to start the season 5-0. Big Ten play opens with a favorable home game in the battle for Floyd of Rosedale against Iowa. The Hawkeyes won 31-13 in Iowa City last year, but Minnesota won the two previous games in the series.

* It’s a good thing Minnesota opens with Iowa, as it won’t catch a break the rest of October. The Golden Gophers play arguably the three best teams from the Legends Division in October, starting with Michigan on Oct. 5, Northwestern on Oct. 19 and then Nebraska on Oct. 26. If Minnesota starts 5-0, it’s possible it will be 5-3 by the time they play Indiana on Nov. 2.

* Assuming Minnesota is 5-3 before the Nov. 2 road date against Indiana, finding one more win in conference play isn’t going to be easy. The Hoosiers are a much-improved team, while the Golden Gophers will be underdogs in games against Penn State, Wisconsin and Michigan State. It’s certainly not impossible, but Minnesota will have a tough task just getting to six victories.

* Minnesota has not defeated Wisconsin since 2003. The Badgers have won nine in a row against the Golden Gophers, with the last three matchups decided by 15 points or more.


Nebraska

Aug. 31 Wyoming
Sept. 7 Southern Miss
Sept. 14 UCLA
Sept. 21 South Dakota State
Sept. 28 Bye Week
Oct. 5 Illinois
Oct. 12 at Purdue
Oct. 19 Bye Week
Oct. 26 at Minnesota
Nov. 2 Northwestern
Nov. 9 at Michigan
Nov. 16 Michigan State
Nov. 23 at Penn State
Nov. 29 Iowa

* Nebraska should score three easy wins in non-conference play with Wyoming, Southern Miss and South Dakota State. The Cowboys will be the toughest matchup from that trio, especially with the return of quarterback Brett Smith. However, Wyoming has to rebuild its offensive line and front seven on defense.

* The Cornhuskers’ toughest non-conference matchup should come against UCLA on Sept. 14. The Bruins defeated Nebraska 36-30 last season, which was the 11th meeting between these two teams in their program history. UCLA returns quarterback Brett Hundley but must replace running back Johnathan Franklin. Even with Franklin leaving, UCLA’s offense will be a difficult matchup for Nebraska’s rebuilt defense.

* If Nebraska can get by UCLA, there’s a good chance the Cornhuskers will be 7-0 heading into the final month of the season. However, there’s also a downside to the scheduling, as Nebraska plays its three toughest challengers in the Legends Division in November and has a road date at Penn State on Nov. 23. Ouch.

* Expect another close game when Northwestern and Nebraska meet on Nov. 2. The only two matchups these two teams have played as Big Ten foes have been decided by three points or less. And with both teams possessing some of the league’s top offensive playmakers, there should be no shortage of points on Nov. 2.

* Is the Nov. 9 matchup at Michigan the biggest game for Nebraska’s 2013 season? With Northwestern and Michigan State visiting Lincoln, there’s a good chance the Cornhuskers sweep both of those games. If Nebraska can win in Ann Arbor – which is no easy task considering the Wolverines beat the Cornhuskers 45-17 at Michigan in 2011 – the division title could be wrapped up, regardless of what happens in the final two games.

* Nebraska has won its only two meetings as a member of the Big Ten against Penn State. The Cornhuskers defeated the Nittany Lions 17-14 in Happy Valley in 2011 and won 32-23 in Lincoln last season.
 

Northwestern

Aug. 31 at California
Sept. 7 Syracuse
Sept. 14 Western Michigan
Sept. 21 Maine
Sept. 28 Bye Week
Oct.  5 Ohio State
Oct. 12 at Wisconsin
Oct. 19 Minnesota
Oct. 26 at Iowa
Nov. 2 at Nebraska
Nov. 9 Bye Week
Nov. 16 Michigan
Nov. 23 Michigan State
Nov. 30 at Illinois

* Non-conference games against California and Syracuse aren’t guaranteed wins, but Northwestern is catching both teams at the right time. The Wildcats travel to Berkeley for the first game of the season, but the Golden Bears are breaking in a new coaching staff and quarterback. And the same can be said for Syracuse, as it looks to find its footing under new coach Scott Shafer. Neither game will be a blowout victory for the Wildcats, but Northwestern should start the year with a 2-0 mark.

* The first bye week of 2013 comes at a good time for Northwestern. After a likely 4-0 start from non-conference action, Northwestern kicks off Big Ten play with a home date against Ohio State. The Wildcats have lost 28 out of the last 29 matchups to the Buckeyes. The only win came in 2004, with Northwestern pulling out a 33-27 victory in Evanston, Ill. Ohio State is expected to be one of the top five teams in most preseason polls this summer. Can Northwestern open Big Ten play with an upset? It’s certainly not out of the question.

* As if the Big Ten opener against Ohio State wasn’t tough enough, Northwestern travels to Wisconsin for its second conference contest. The Wildcats have not defeated the Badgers in Madison since 2000, but have split with UW in the last four meetings overall.

* After the brutal start to Big Ten play, Northwestern catches a break with Minnesota and Iowa to close out October. The Wildcats can’t afford to overlook anyone, but Iowa and Minnesota will be picked near the bottom of the conference. Expect Northwestern to have a 6-2 record heading into November.

* Even with the difficult start to the conference schedule, Northwestern still has a chance to make some noise in the division. With home games against Michigan and Michigan State, the Wildcats can win both contests and have an opportunity to get back into the division title mix. However, those two games won’t be the only thing that decides Northwestern’s title hopes, as a road game on Nov. 2 at Nebraska will be difficult. Three losses could win the Big Ten Legends Division. However, the Wildcats would feel a lot more comfortable if they finished conference play at 6-2.
 

Writeups compiled by Braden Gall (@BradenGall) and Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)

 

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Teaser:
<p> Big Ten Football 2013 Schedule Analysis</p>
Post date: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - 07:20
Path: /college-basketball/2013-ncaa-tournament-east-region-sweet-16-preview
Body:

EAST
Washington, D.C.

Top Dog — Indiana (1)
The Hoosiers are headed to their second straight Sweet 16. But IU has not advanced to the Elite Eight since 2002, when Indiana was an unlikely national runner-up to Maryland. After cruising past James Madison, 83–62, the Hoosiers earned a hard fought victory over Temple, 58–52. Victor Oladipo hit a top-of-the-key three — on a kick-out swing pass from Cody Zeller — with 14 seconds to play to take a four-point lead Indiana would not relinquish, as the Hoosiers capped their come-from-behind win over the Owls on a 10–0 run. Now IU prepares for a Sweet 16 showdown with Syracuse in a rematch of the 1987 national title game.

Underdog – Syracuse (4)
Coach Jim Boeheim is making his 16th trip to the Sweet 16, with his signature 2-3 zone defense leading the charge yet again. The Orange suffocated Montana, 81–34, to get the party started. Syracuse then outlasted California, 66–60, in front of a partisan San Jose crowd, holding the Bears to just 4-of-21 shooting (19.0 percent) from 3-point range. The triumph over Cal marked Boeheim’s 50th career NCAA Tournament win.

Player to Watch – Shane Larkin, Miami (2)
Barry Larkin’s son has been a catalyst for the Canes all season, earning ACC Player of the Year honors along the way. After advancing to the school’s second Sweet 16, Miami will continue to lean on Larkin on the second weekend of the Tournament. In a Sweet 16-clinching 63–59 win over Illinois, Larkin capped a 17-point night with a clutch go-ahead 3-pointer.

The Quote
“I know everybody on our team — we weren’t ready to go home. We had two close games. We had a lot of those this year. What we went through earlier this year prepared us for this weekend.” — Marquette guard Vander Blue, who scored 29 points on 9-of-15 shooting in a 74–72 victory over Butler and 16 points in a 59–58 win over Davidson.

Sweet 16 Previews:
Midwest Region
West Region
South Region
East Region

 

Teaser:
<p> 2013 NCAA Tournament: East Region Sweet 16 Preview, including the Indiana Hoosiers, Miami Hurricanes, Marquette Golden Eagles, Syracuse Orange, Victor Oladipo, Cody Zeller, Shane Larkin, Jim Boeheim and Vander Blue.</p>
Post date: Monday, March 25, 2013 - 17:01
Path: /college-basketball/2013-ncaa-tournament-south-region-sweet-16-preview
Body:

SOUTH
North Texas

Top Dog — Kansas (1)
Coach Bill Self earned his 300th career win with a 70–58 victory over North Carolina — and former Kansas coach Roy Williams. The Jayhawks struggled to pull off a 64–57 win over No. 16 seed Western Kentucky in the Round of 64. KU’s leading scorer this season, redshirt freshman shooting guard Ben McLemore has disappeared during the Tournament, with just 13 total points on 2-of-14 shooting from the field and 0-of-8 from 3-point range over two games. Senior big man Jeff Withey has picked up the slack, however, averaging 16.5 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks per game over the Tournament’s first weekend.

Underdog – Florida Gulf Coast (15)
Andy Enfield was a cult hero heading into the Tournament because he is a self-made millionaire with a supermodel wife. Now the Eagles coach is leading the greatest Cinderella story in Big Dance history. FGCU upset No. 2 seed Georgetown, 78–68, before taking down San Diego State, 81–71, to become the first No. 15 seed to advance to the Sweet 16.

Player to Watch – Trey Burke, Michigan (4)
The National Player of the Year candidate got off to a rocky start, scoring just six points on 2-of-12 shooting in a 71–56 win over South Dakota State. But Burke bounced back with 18 points, seven assists and two steals in a 78–53 statement win over VCU to advance to Michigan’s first Sweet 16 since 1994. Burke will need to bring his A-game in order for U-M to earn a trip to the Final Four for the first time since the Fab Five in 1993.

The Quote
“The one thing that coach talked to me before I transferred here (from Rutgers), he said ‘You’re putting yourself in big moments and big games.’ … I really took full advantage of it tonight and I told myself, ‘If I’m open, I’m going to knock down the shot.’” — Florida guard Mike Rosario, who scored 25 points on 8-of-12 shooting in a 78–64 win over Minnesota.

Sweet 16 Previews:
Midwest Region
West Region
South Region
East Region

 

Teaser:
<p> 2013 NCAA Tournament: South Region Sweet 16 Preview, including the Kansas Jayhawks, Florida Gulf Coast Eagles, Michigan Wolverines, Florida Gators, Trey Burke, Andy Enfield, Ben McLemore and Jeff Withey.</p>
Post date: Monday, March 25, 2013 - 16:55
Path: /college-basketball/2013-ncaa-tournament-west-region-sweet-16-preview
Body:

WEST
Los Angeles

Top Dog — Ohio State (2)
The Buckeyes were the only top-four seed in the West Region to advance to the Sweet 16 in Los Angeles. And it wasn’t easy. Ohio State edged No. 10 seed Iowa State 78–75 on an Aaron Craft 3-pointer with 0.5 seconds remaining. The Buckeyes, who led by 13 points at one point of the second half, fell behind on two separate occasions with less than four minutes to play. While it was tougher than most OSU fans would have liked, beating Iowa State could be a good omen: The last three single-digit seeds to defeat the Cyclones in the NCAA Tournament went on to win the national title — 2012 Kentucky, 2005 North Carolina and 2000 Michigan State.

Underdog – La Salle (13)
According to the official seed list released by the NCAA, La Salle was the second-to-last at-large team to make the field of 68. Now, the Explorers are two wins away from the Final Four. Led by Ramon Galloway, a transfer from South Carolina, La Salle defeated Boise State, Kansas State and Ole Miss in a magical five-day stretch. Galloway averaged 21.3 points and converted 22-of-41 from 3-point range in La Salle’s three wins.

Player to Watch – Mark Lyons, Arizona (6)
Lyons, a senior point guard at Arizona, will become the first player to play in the Sweet 16 in consecutive seasons for two different teams. Lyons played his first three seasons at Xavier, which advanced to the Sweet 16  in 2010 and ’12, then enrolled at Arizona as a post-graduate transfer for his final season of eligibility. He scored 23 points in Arizona’s 81–64 win over Belmont then followed up with 27 in a 74–51 in over Harvard.

The Quote
“You know what I asked them? ‘On Oct. 15, down eight with eight minutes to go, would you take it for the right to go to Los Angeles in the Sweet 16?’ And they did it from there.” — Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall, on what he told his team when they fell behind No. 1 seed Gonzaga by eight points in the second half.

Sweet 16 Previews:
Midwest Region
West Region
South Region
East Region

 

Teaser:
<p> 2013 NCAA Tournament: West Region Sweet 16 Preview, including the Ohio State Buckeyes, Arizona Wildcats, Wichita State Shockers, La Salle Explorers, Aaron Craft and Mark Lyons.</p>
Post date: Monday, March 25, 2013 - 16:46
Path: /college-basketball/2013-ncaa-tournament-midwest-region-sweet-16-preview
Body:

MIDWEST
Indianapolis

Top Dog — Louisville (1)
Louisville is playing like the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Cardinals advanced to the Sweet 16 with a surprisingly easy 82–56 win over a very good Colorado State team. Shooting guard Russ Smith, never known to be the most efficient player on the Cards’ roster, scored 27 points on only 15 shots to lead the way for Rick Pitino’s club. In its two wins, Louisville is shooting a combined 56.9 percent from the floor and has forced an average of 20.5 turnovers. That’s a formula for success at any level of basketball.

Underdog – Oregon (12)
It flew a bit under the radar, but No. 12 seed Oregon recorded one of the most impressive wins of the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament, rolling past Saint Louis 74–57 on Saturday. The Ducks, grossly underseeded by the Selection Committee, knocked off the No. 5 and No. 4 seeds by a combined 30 points. Oregon is led by a pair of senior forwards, E.J. Singler (younger brother of former Duke star Kyle Singler) and Rice transfer Arsalan Kazemi. The Ducks are outstanding on the defensive end of the court and are a very good rebounding team. They do, however, struggle from the 3-point line, ranking 298th in the nation at 27.5 percent.

Coaching Showdown to Watch: Izzo vs. Coach K
Two of the great NCAA Tournament coaches of all time — Michigan State’s Tom Izzo and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski will meet in the Sweet 16 in Indianapolis. Duke, the No. 2 seed, is a slight favorite over the No. 3-seeded Spartans. Izzo is 1–7 all-time vs. Coach K, but the one victory came in the 2005 Sweet 16. These teams last met in November 2011 at Madison Square Garden. Duke won 74–69.

The Quote
“I don’t want to put the pressure on Rick and his guys, but they’re special. They need a little luck like everybody does to win it all, but that’s as impressive team as I‘ve been against, certainly.” — Colorado State coach Larry Eustachy, after his team lost to Louisville.

Sweet 16 Previews:
Midwest Region
West Region
South Region
East Region

 

Teaser:
<p> 2013 NCAA Tournament: Midwest Region Sweet 16 Preview, including the Louisville Cardinals, Oregon Ducks, Michigan State Spartans, Duke Blue Devils, Rick Pitino, Tom Izzo and Coach K.</p>
Post date: Monday, March 25, 2013 - 16:38
Path: /college-basketball/10-biggest-disappointments-ncaa-tournament
Body:

There was plenty of action on the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament. Florida Gulf Coast became the first No. 15 seed Cinderella to make the Sweet 16 of the Big Dance. Wichita State “shocked” No. 1 seed Gonzaga to become just the fifth No. 9 seed to advance to the Sweet 16 since 1985. Buzzer-beaters and pep bands, coeds and coaches, commercials and cheerleaders — all the usual March Madness was in full effect. But there were also a few letdowns in the Rounds of 64 and 32.

1. Overreaction to Aaron Craft charge call
The Zapruder film was replayed in super-slow-mo fewer times than Craft’s controversial, momentum-shifting charge taken with 1:41 left and Ohio State trailing Iowa State by one. The call wiped out a made basket and free-throw attempt by Will Clyburn and gave the Buckeyes the ball. Craft eventually nailed a game-winning 3 with 0.5 seconds to play. But all anyone wanted to talk about was the charge call.

2. Over-hyped, over-seeded mid-major “powers”
Gonzaga (No. 1 seed), New Mexico (No. 3) and Saint Louis (No. 4) entered the NCAA Tournament with a combined 89–16 record as the champions of the West Coast, Mountain West and Atlantic 10 Conferences, respectively. Then the Zags, Lobos and Billikens lived up to their untrustworthy nicknames and soft resumes, belly-flopping on the biggest stage in college basketball.

3. UCLA, especially Shabazz Muhammad
Ben Howland was kicked to the curb after the underachieving Bruins were bounced from the Tourney with their usual lackluster showing. But the bigger news was that of Muhammad’s reported age bouncing from 19 to 20 years old, thanks to the slip of the tongue from an apparent snake-oil salesman father. UCLA’s dumpster fire season caused so much stress, every Bruin fan this side of Bill Walton likely aged in Shabazz years, too.

4. Ben McLemore’s disappearing act
Ray Allen comparisons and talk of going No. 1 overall in the 2013 NBA Draft had McLemore sitting pretty prior to the start of the Big Dance. But a combined 2-of-14 shooting effort, including 0-of-8 from 3-point range, has the Jesus Shuttlesworth fantasy cooling off. McLemore has scored just 13 points over two NCAA Tournament games, missing layups, mishandling alley-oops and bricking wide open corner threes.

5. Scootie Randall’s shooting vs. Indiana
Temple’s second leading scorer was 0-of-12 from the field and 0-of-6 from 3-point range in a 58–52 loss to Indiana. The Owls’ go-to guy, Khalif Wyatt, dropped 31 points but got no help from his partner-in-crime. Randall joined Connecticut’s Khalid El-Amin as second player to shoot 0-of-12 or worse in an NCAA Tourney game since 1985.

6. Lack of Dick Vitale announcing
After all these years, college basketball fans are forced to wait one more week before they are graced with the voice of Dick Vitale. In his 34-year career, Vitale has yet to work the Final Four. Needless to say, fans of international TV are ready for Dickey V. He still won't be a PTPer, but he'll be at the Big Dance, baby.
 
7. Davidson late-game meltdown vs. Marquette
Steph Curry was not walking through that door for Davidson in the Round of 64 against Marquette. The No. 14-seed Wildcats were outscored 13–5 over the last 1:33 of a 59–58 loss to the No. 3-seed Golden Eagles, including a game-winning drive to the rim by Vander Blue.

8. Marshall Henderson meltdown vs. La Salle
Everyone’s favorite villain in college hoops left the court with birds a’ blazin’ — flipping off the crowd with a double-barreled effort at the Sprint Center in Kansas City following Ole Miss’ 76–74 loss to La Salle. That seems so tame for Marshall, yet such an appropriate ending for the Rebel.

9. Lame TruTV, Wichita State Shocker jokes
What channel is TruTV, anyway? There’s a team called the Shockers? Insert lame joke. Really? This is Twitter comedy at its worst.

10. Wardrobe of Amanda Marcum Enfield
The wife of Florida Gulf Coast coach Andy Enfield isn’t even wearing a bikini. What? But at least FGCU isn’t playing Wichita State. Or Brent Musburger isn't calling games.
 

Teaser:
<p> 10 Biggest Disappointments in NCAA Tournament, including the overreaction to the Aaron Craft charge call, over-hyped mid-major powers exiting early, Shabazz Muhammad's false age, Ben McLemore's disappearing act, Marshall Henderson's meltdown and Andy Enfield's wife.</p>
Post date: Monday, March 25, 2013 - 16:00
All taxonomy terms: Tiger Woods, Golf
Path: /golf/11-amazing-stats-tiger-woods-win-bay-hill
Body:

Yep, Tiger Woods is back. In fact, he's just had one of the better days of a career that's had more shining moments than a decade's worth of NCAA Tournaments. Here's a rundown of Tiger's weekend, by the numbers. And I think we can officially retire that stupid question (Is he back?) once and for all.

8 Tiger's win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational was his eighth in the event, tying Sam Snead's record for the most wins in a single event (Snead won at Greensboro eight times). Snead was 52 when he won his eighth Greensboro; Tiger is 37.

1 Woods returns to the No. 1 slot in the Official World Golf Ranking, passing Rory McIlroy and assuming the top spot for the first time since Oct. 30, 2010.

624 This week marks the 624th week of his career that Woods has spent as the No. 1 golfer in the world. That's 12 years. Four-time major winner Ernie Els has spent 19 weeks at No. 1. Phil Mickelson, zero.

6 The win is Woods' sixth in his last 19 stroke-play events.

43 Tiger has gone into Sunday with an outright lead 45 times, and he's won 43 of those tournaments, including this one. If he's had at least a share of the third-round lead, he's now 52-for-56.

+3.89 Tiger led the field at Bay Hill with +3.89 Strokes Gained Putting Per Round. His previous career best for a single tournament was +2.34. If he's putting that well at Augusta, it's over before it starts.

77 Woods has 77 wins at the age of 37 years, two months, 24 days. Sam Snead, whose 82 career wins Woods is chasing, earned his 77th win at the age of 45 years, three months, 10 days.

27 Tiger has now won 27 percent (77 of 284) of his starts on the PGA Tour.

7 Tiger's eight wins at Bay Hill are more than former World No. 1 players Lee Westwood and Tom Lehman have for their PGA Tour careers combined (seven). Throw in Colin Montgomerie, who was shut out on the PGA Tour, and it still holds. (h/t Paul Azinger)

2009 Woods has now won back-to-back starts for the first time since 2009  (Buick Open, Bridgestone Invitational).

18 Entering The Masters, Woods' major drought now stands at 18 consecutive majors (four which Woods did not enter). That drought is in mortal danger.

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Monday, March 25, 2013 - 14:31
Path: /nascar/logano-hamlin-rivalry-manifested-last-lap-wreck-stewart-fighting-mad
Body:

For 15 years, Fontana has played the role of weird aunt in the NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule. You know the one. It’s who you have to suck it up and speak with every reunion even though the hug creeps you out, she believes aliens live on the street corner and “didn’t you just do the cutest thing you don’t remember when you were four.” Extended conversation makes you sleepy … or suicidal.

That, in a nutshell, is what watching every race scheduled at this two-mile oval has been like. (The fact Jimmie Johnson, criticized for his cookie-cutter personality on camera, is the all-time winner here speaks volumes.) But Sunday, in the midst of NCAA basketball’s showcase weekend, stock cars created a miracle all their own. For perhaps the first time in an L.A. market dominated by movie stars, an unscripted Hollywood race car finish became the talk of the town. Suddenly, a track that lost one of its two dates on the schedule becomes — dare I say it? — a “must see event” in 2014, one that puts someone like Tom Cruise back in attendance and not just some “D” level star from a movie you never heard of dropping the green flag.

If NASCAR’s Gen-6 car can make the weird aunt normal and relevant in the midst of another sport’s heyday, then the potential is there for sustained success. Let’s go “Through the Gears” on how it got to this point …


FIRST GEAR: NASCAR rivalries make or break this sport.
Denny Hamlin. Joey Logano. A finish so impressive, we need to watch it again. For a first-timer, that ending is exciting enough. But anyone who watches a lick of NASCAR racing will tell you their heart was pounding, regardless of who they root for, long before the white flag. Knowing the two went at it at Bristol, sparking a soap opera week of light shoving, Twitter tantrums and unaccepted apologies, the last 10 minutes came paired with a strong sense of anticipation. You just knew something was going to happen, with drama down the stretch providing that “hook” which takes a fan’s interest another level.

The spark of those rivalries (what drives that other March Madness) is what had been missing from NASCAR in recent years. Sure, we’ve had Brad Keselowski, the reigning champ and his “I don’t get no respect!” routine, but his main adversary (Johnson) won’t even turn on the jets to respond until September. The sport needed an ending with this type of spark, a reminder its A-list stars won’t always “go through the motions” when they’re sitting with a good points day in the spring.

As for where we go from here? Clearly, Logano has been listening to everyone from Keselowski to the media who say he needs to stand up for himself. But while any wreck can turn tragic, there’s a major difference between speeds at Bristol or Martinsville and Fontana, where 200-plus mph is not uncommon. Sure, Penske Racing’s newbie was doing all it took, fighting for victory just like he should. But there was a point, in the midst of Turns 3 and 4, where the game changed and Logano made a choice. Hamlin, on the top line, had fresher tires and the angle off the turn — and was in position to take the checkers (or finish second to Kyle Busch). At that point, Logano could have backed off; a wreck did neither one any good. But he didn’t, causing the incident and the comments afterwards make it sound like the action was clearly intentional. “Now we’re even,” he said on the radio before following up with a “that’s what he gets” to a crowd of reporters while Hamlin was being loaded up in an ambulance.

Yes, I know we have to remember the guy is only 22 years old. Unfortunately, after three-plus years in the Cup Series and paired with one of the sport’s most prestigious owners, Logano doesn’t get the luxury of being immature. What would have happened there if Hamlin was seriously hurt … or worse? (He was kept overnight, for hospitalization complaining of back pain.) Nationwide Series driver Michael Annett is out for 6-8 weeks after being injured at these types of speeds; you can’t just “assume” the cars will be safe.

I see a classic case of overreaction here. A young driver reeling from comments he’s too passive and feeling he needs to make up for it immediately in one full swoop. Problem is, it doesn’t work like that. Earning respect is a gradual thing, and judging by Tony Stewart’s comments after the checkered flag — championed by many peers on Twitter — Logano just isn’t quite there.

“It’s time he learns a lesson,” Stewart said. “He’s run his mouth long enough … he’s nothing but a little rich kid that’s never had to work in his life. He’s going to learn what us working guys who had to work our way up (know about)how it works.”


SECOND GEAR: Smoke is blowing Smoke, well, everywhere.
Those comments from Stewart, a three-time champ, came 10 minutes after an interview peppered with enough profanity to spice up anyone’s Sunday. Somewhere in between the bleeps was a simple message for Logano: I’m going to tear you in two.

But the car owner, more than anything, is just frustrated. As we spoke about last week, his slow start is even slower than usual and a block by Logano on the final restart robbed the No. 14 car of its momentum. That left him drifting outside the top 20, on a day where a top-5 result could have kept him from digging a deeper hole. Now he sits 22nd in the point standings, 37 markers behind 10th-place Hamlin and with some tracks ahead (Martinsville, Texas) where he’s not a surefire favorite.

With that said, seeing the Stewart of old, the rogue entertainer who once got fined regularly for “telling it like it is,” was a refreshing sight to see — even if his thought process was irrational. I seem to remember a Chase wreck at Talladega last fall caused in part by a Stewart block. Wasn’t Logano doing the same thing, making a whatever-it-takes move to win the race? It’s hard to be disrespectful on a restart that late in a race when you’re running for first place.
 

Teaser:
<p> Reaction from the wild events at Auto Club Speedway. From a last-lap wreck to a post-race fight, the Auto Club 400 was classic NASCAR.</p>
Post date: Monday, March 25, 2013 - 12:35
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketballs-10-best-dunkers-2013
Body:

Part of what makes basketball such a fan-friendly sport is the high-flying, eye-popping feats of athleticism witnessed regularly on the hardcourt. And the dunk is the single most exciting, electric and jaw-dropping play in the sport. And as March Madness 2013 wraps up its first weekend, we thought we would provide the fans with our choices for the best dunkers in college hoops today.

Some of whom could be playing deep into the tourney this month.

1. Markel Brown, G, Oklahoma State (6-3, 190, Jr.)
What makes Brown so electric is his ability to build a highlight reel as just a 6-foot-3 guard. He can elevate and make defenders look silly. Depsite an early exit against Oregon in the first round of the Big Dance, Brown has still given fans in Stillwater plenty to cheer about. In fact, my favorite Brown throwdown is one against Mizzou that was so fierce he got a technical four and was ejected from the game.
.


2. Victor Oladipo, G, Indiana (6-5, 214, Jr.)
Few players showed as much improvement this season as Oladipo. And his unreal athletic abitlity is part of what has made him a National Player of the Year candidate. He has played huge in huge games and this play against Ohio State, in which he comes out of nowhere to throw it down, was downright sick.


3. Rodney Williams, F, Minnesota (6-7, 200, Sr.)
The senior has long been a fixture above the rim in The Barn at Minnesota. So here is a compilation of high-flying throwdowns from one of the nation's best athletes.


4. D.J. Stephens, G/F, Memphis (6-5, 188, Sr.)
Memphis has had a tremendous tradition of elite athletes who play above the rim over the last decade or so. And Mr. Stephens is this year's torch-bearer in that respect. This one in particularly was impressive because it came in the biggest game of the conference season for the Tigers.


5. Sam Thompson, F, Ohio State (6-7, 200, So.)
The Ohio State Buckeye might be one of the freakiest athletes in all of the nation. His dunking ability has been on full display since getting to Columbus two years ago and it could be a key piece to a deep Tournament run for Thad Matta's team.


6. Kyisean Reed, F, Utah State (6-6, 215, Sr.)
Reed is one of the darkhorses to watch in the 2013 Dunk Contest in Atlanta come Tournament end. He is a underrated player because of where he plays, but his ability to throw down with the best isn't underrated at all.


7. C.J. Fair, F, Syracuse (608, 25, Jr.)
Cuse has loads of lengthy, rangy athletes who can play above the rim and Fair is certainly among them. This particular dunk against National Player of the Year candidate Otto Porter of Georgetown was especially impressive.


8. Doug Anderson, F, Detroit (6-6, 212, Jr.)
Because he plays at a small school, many don't know about Anderson. Be he clearly has uncanny ability to star in a dunk contest — or just a regular season game.


9. Cody Zeller, C, Indiana (6-10, 240)
Zeller makes his living around the rim and has a long highlight reel of impressive dunks, many coming on forceful put backs. We'll simply call this one against Michigan at home Exhibit A.


10. Deuce Bello, G, Baylor (6-4, 187, So.)
For a guard, Bello has extreme hops. He is more of an honorable mention since he wasn't a huge part of his team this season, playing just over 11 minutes a game. But his historic prep career at Westchester Country Day (N.C.) more than served as a showcase for his dunking ability. This video has a slow start but delivers the goods and is worth checking out.

Best of the Rest:

Andre Roberson, Colorado
Chris Evans, Kent State
Ronald Roberts, St. Joseph's
Shaquille Johnson, Auburn
C.J. Leslie, NC State
Roman Galloway, La Salle
Vander Blue, Marquette
Nick Johnson or Gabe York, Arizona
Dezmine Wells, Maryland

Teaser:
<p> College Basketball's 10 Best Dunkers of 2013</p>
Post date: Monday, March 25, 2013 - 11:10
All taxonomy terms: Golf
Path: /golf/top-20-golfers-2013-majors-no-13-bubba-watson
Body:

They’re the cream of the major championship crop, circa 2013 — the Athlon Major Championship Dream Team. Leading up to The Masters, we'll be unveiling Athlon Sports’ 20 players to watch for majors season, with commentary on each from the Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee.

No. 13: Bubba Watson

Born: Nov. 5, 1978, Bagdad, Fla. | Career PGA Tour Wins: | 2012 Wins (Worldwide): 1 | 2012 Earnings (PGA Tour): $4,644,997 (5th) World Ranking: 13

 

Brandel Chamblee's Take

Bubba hit the shot of the year and perhaps of the millennium in 2012 in the playoff at The Masters, proving that his shotmaking abilities, combined with his length off of the tee, make him a threat every time he tees it up. Still, he is unpredictable because he struggles with his wedge and putter. But because of his talents with every other club, he only needs to be average around and on the greens.

Major Championship Résumé
Starts: 20
Wins: 1

2012 Performance:
Masters - Won
U.S. Open - Cut
British Open - T23
PGA Championship - T11

Best Career Finishes: 
Masters - 1 (2012)
U.S. Open - T5 (2007)
British Open - T23 (2012)
PGA Championship - 2 (2010)
Top-10 Finishes: 3
Top-25 Finishes: 7
Missed Cuts: 7

—Brandel Chamblee is lead analyst for the Golf Channel. Be sure to follow him @ChambleeBrandel on Twitter.


Athlon's 2013 Golf annual provides in-depth previews of this year's four majors, including the top 20 players to watch this season. One of these elite players, reigning FedExCup champion Brandt Snedeker, also takes you tee to green with full-swing instruction and short game essentials. BUY IT NOW.

Teaser:
<p> Athlon Counts Down the 20 Golfers to Watch for Majors Season</p>
Post date: Monday, March 25, 2013 - 11:04
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Baseball, MLB, Fantasy, News
Path: /mlb/2013-fantasy-baseball-deep-sleepers
Body:

Mike Trout went from largely undrafted prior to the start of the 2012 season to the AL Rookie of the Year and one of the top players in all of fantasy baseball. Trout wasn’t the only player to come out of nowhere and be a valuable fantasy contributor. National League Rookie of the Year Bryce Harper, National League Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey, Toronto first baseman Edwin Encarnacion and Atlanta pitcher Kris Medlen are just some of the others who broke out in big ways in 2012.

While it’s almost impossible to predict who the next Trout or Medlen in 2013 will be, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other players outside of Athlon Sports’ Big Board that won’t finish among the top 200 players in fantasy baseball by season’s end. Here are some names at each position that you should be able to get later in your draft or even once the season starts that could prove to be very valuable to your fantasy team.

Note: Players are listed at the position(s) they are currently eligible, according to Yahoo!. Be sure to check your league’s eligibility requirements as they may differ in terms of status prior to Opening Day and as the season progresses.

Fantasy Baseball Positional Rankings: Big Board | C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | DH | SP | RP

2013 Fantasy Baseball Deep Sleepers

Catcher:

Late-Round Target
Jesus Montero, SEA, C

Nothing about Montero’s 2012 numbers (.260-15-62) particularly jump out, but don’t forget he’s still just 23 and this was his first full major-league season. What he did, however, was show signs of progress and growth in the second half (.278-7-34 in 241 AB after the All-Star break compared to .245-8-28 in 274 AB) of last season, especially in regards to cutting down on strikeouts (67 in first half, 32 in second). Don’t forget the fences at Safeco Field were brought in from four-to17 feet in left and left-center, something that should benefit a right-handed hitter like Montero.
Other candidates: Jonathan Lucroy (MIL, C); Brian McCann (ATL, C), Salvador Perez (KC, C)

For Even Deeper Leagues
Rob Brantly, MIA, C

Outside of Giancarlo Stanton, there don’t figure to be many impact fantasy producers on the Marlins’ roster this season, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be any pleasant surprises either. Take Brantly for example, a left-handed hitting catcher who in a very small sample size last season (31 G, 100 AB), showed he can make contact (.290 average, only 16 SO) and hit for a little power (8 2B, 3 HR).
Others worth considering: Welington Castillo (CHC, C), Yasmani Grandal* (SD, C), John Jaso (OAK, C), Devin Mesoraco (CIN, C), Jordan Pacheco (COL, C/1B/3B)

*Grandal will have to serve a 50-game suspension for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

First Base:

Late-Round Target
Brandon Belt, SF, 1B

A highly touted prospect who tore up the minors, Belt has struggled to find his swing in the majors. That could change this season, however, as a strong finish last season (.329-3-23 from August on) has carried over to the spring. Belt has already slugged seven home runs in spring training, and most importantly, he’s scheduled to be the Giants’ regular first baseman. Not saying he’s going to bust out for 30 home runs or anything like that, but don’t be surprised if he ends up among the top 20 first baseman in fantasy by season’s end. Buy now, especially if you are in a keeper league. You can thank me later.
Other candidates: Yonder Alonso (SD, 1B), Michael Cuddyer (COL, 1B/OF), Chris Davis (BAL, 1B/OF), Corey Hart (MIL, 1B/OF), Adam LaRoche (WAS, 1B), Kendrys Morales, (SEA, 1B), Justin Morneau (MIN, 1B)

For Even Deeper Leagues
Brandon Moss, OAK, 1B/OF

Moss slugged 21 home runs in just 84 games last season with the A’s. He probably won’t mash 40 over a full season, but if he gets the at-bats he may be the cheapest source of 30 home runs or more out there. Besides the power, he managed a .291 batting average in 2012, although that’s likely to go down some considering the 90 strikeouts versus only 26 walks. Still, the power potential alone makes Moss worth keeping an eye on.
Others worth considering: Mike Carp (BOS, 1B/OF), Matt Carpenter (STL, 1B/3B/OF), Chris Carter (HOU, 1B), Tyler Colvin (COL, 1B/OF), Garrett Jones (PIT, 1B/OF), Mitch Moreland (TEX, 1B), Logan Morrison (MIA, 1B/OF), Daniel Murphy (NYM, 1B/2B)

Second Base:

Late-Round Target
Jurickson Profar, TEX, 2B/SS

Even if Profar doesn’t make the Rangers’ Opening Day roster, it’s simply a matter of when and not if for the game’s top prospect. The 20-year-old should get his chance at some point this season, and it’s highly likely that once he does come up he will stay. A .276 hitter in three minor-league seasons, Profar did collect his first career home run among three hits in 17 at-bats with the Rangers at the end of last season. The fact the Rangers reportedly discussed trading All-Star shortstop Elvis Andrus during the offseason to make room for Profar should be all you need to know about their expectations for the young infielder. If you have the room, there’s no reason to draft or pick him up and stash for later. It’s a move that will require patience, but could pay off handsomely in the end.
Other candidates: Dustin Ackley (SEA, 1B/2B), Emilio Bonifacio (TOR, 2B/OF), Daniel Murphy (NYM, 1B/2B), Marco Scutaro (SF, 2B/3B/SS), Kyle Seager (SEA, 2B/3B), Michael Young (PHI, 1B/2B/3B)

For Even Deeper Leagues
Maicer Izturis, TOR, 2B/3B/SS

Izturis can play all over the infield, so his versatility alone makes him an interesting option. A .273 career hitter, he appears to be the frontrunner to be the Blue Jays’ starting second baseman. Being a part of a lineup that includes Jose Reyes, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Brett Lawire among others, could result in under-the-radar production in several categories for Izturis, something extremely valuable in a middle infielder.
Others worth considering: Darwin Barney (CHC, 2B), Gordon Beckham (CHW, 2B), Jeff Keppinger (CHW, 1B/2B/3B), Chris Nelson (COL, 2B/3B), Cliff Pennington (ARI, 2B/SS), Josh Rutledge (COL, 2B/SS), Donovan Solano (MIA, 2B/3B/OF)

Third Base:

Late-Round Target
Lonnie Chisenhall, CLE, 3B

The Indians are hoping this is the season Chisenhall finally puts it together at the plate. After hitting seven home runs in 212 at-bats in his first big-league action in 2011, the young left-handed hitter was expected to establish himself at the hot corner last season. Instead, he managed to hit just five home runs in only 142 at-bats, as he made just 28 starts in the field. This season, the Indians are giving the third base job to Chisenhall from the outset and he has responded with a strong spring, including four home runs so far. If he gets off to a hot start at the plate once the season starts, Chisenhall could be in store for a solid season as a member of a revamped Indians lineup.
Other candidates: Trevor Plouffe (MIN, 3B/OF), Marco Scutaro (SF, 2B/3B/SS), Kyle Seager (SEA, 2B/3B), Kevin Youkilis (NYY, 3B), Michael Young (PHI, 1B/2B/3B)

For Even Deeper Leagues
Jedd Gyorko, SD, 3B

Considered a long shot to make the Padres’ Opening Day roster from the outset of spring training, Gyorko’s chances of securing a spot have increased greatly thanks to Chase Headley’s thumb injury. What’s not clear, however, is where will Gyorko play – at third, which is his more natural position, or will he stay at second where the Padres had him playing prior to Headley’s injury. Either way, it looks like Gyorko has a good chance of contributing to a fantasy lineup this season, as the 24-year-old hit a total of 30 home runs with a .311 average between Double- and Triple-A last season. He’s already hit three home runs in spring training, so if anything, his power potential alone makes him an intriguing option, especially should he add second-base eligibility.
Others worth considering: Alberto Callaspo (LAA, 3B), Matt Carpenter (STL, 1B/3B/OF), Luis Cruz (LAD, 3B/SS), Maicer Izturis (TOR, 2B/3B/SS), Jeff Keppinger (CHW, 1B/2B/3B), Chris Nelson (COL, 2B/3B), Eduardo Nunez (NYY, 3B/SS), Jordan Pacheco (COL, C/1B/3B)

Shortstop:

Late-Round Target
Alexei Ramirez, CHW, SS

Prior to last season, Ramirez averaged 17 home runs a season from 2008-11. That number dropped to just nine in 2012, but the encouraging sign is that he still managed 73 RBIs, which is right around his previous four-season average of 71.2. Ramirez doesn’t strike out a lot (77 in 593 at-bats in 2012) and stole 20 bases last season. He may not be flashy, but if he can somehow find his power stroke again, you are looking at a shortstop that could potentially go 20-20, a feat that only three others reached in 2012.
Other candidates: Stephen Drew (BOS, SS), Jed Lowrie (OAK, SS), Jhonny Peralta (DET, SS), Marco Scutaro (SF, 2B/3B/SS), Jean Segura (MIL, SS), Andrelton Simmons (ATL, SS)

For Even Deeper Leagues
Zack Cozart, CIN, SS

In his first full season in the majors, Cozart hit 15 home runs and 33 doubles in 600 plate appearances. Since he doesn’t run at all (four stolen bases), Cozart needs to provide power and some run production to be worth a roster spot, although his .246 batting average will probably improve with more experience. Still, when you are talking deep sleepers, what’s more intriguing than a shortstop who could potentially hit 20 or more home runs and around 40 doubles?
Others worth considering: Pedro Ciraco (BOS, 2B/3B/SS), Yunel Escobar (TB, SS), Dee Gordon (LAD, SS), Maicer Izturis (TOR, 2B/3B/SS), Eduardo Nunez (NYY, 3B/SS), Cliff Pennington (ARI, 2B/SS), Josh Rutledge (COL, 2B/SS), Ruben Tejada (NYM, SS)

Outfield:

Late-Round Target
Starling Marte, PIT, OF

Everyone knows about Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen, but Marte may make a name for himself this season as well. The 24-year-old outfielder made his debut last July and provided a glimpse of the potential across-the-board contributions he can offer when he posted a .257-5-17 line with 12 stolen bases in less than 200 plate appearances. Penciled in as the Pirates’ starting left fielder, Marte could provide a 15-20 type of season, and that appears to be his floor, not ceiling.
Other candidates: Michael Brantley (CLE, OF), Michael Cuddyer (COL, 1B/OF), Chris Davis (BAL, 1B/OF), Nick Markakis (BAL, OF), Cameron Maybin (SD, OF), Michael Morse (SEA, OF), Josh Reddick (OAK, OF), Nolan Reimold (BAL, OF), Cody Ross (ARI, OF), Denard Span (WAS, OF)

For Even Deeper Leagues
Andy Dirks, DET, OF

Even though he bruised his knee running into the wall earlier this week, Dirks should be the Tigers’ Opening Day left fielder, a job he earned after hitting .322 with eight home runs in just 314 at-bats last season. Detroit’s sure to score lots of runs, so as long as Dirks can get on base, he should be able to contribute in that category as well as offer a little bit of power and possibly some speed, while not serving as a batting average drain either. Depending on your options, he may worth a look as you fill out your outfield or bench.
Others worth considering: Emilio Bonifacio (TOR, 2B/OF), Domonic Brown, (PHI, OF), Mike Carp (BOS, 1B/OF), Matt Carpenter (STL, 1B/3B/OF), Tyler Colvin (COL, 1B/OF), Rajai Davis (TOR, OF), Lucas Duda (NYM, OF), Garrett Jones (PIT, 1B/OF), Justin Maxwell (HOU, OF), Nate McLouth (BAL, OF), Logan Morrison (MIA, 1B/OF), Brandon Moss (OAK, 1B/OF), Wil Myers (TB, OF), Justin Ruggiano (MIA, OF)

Starting Pitcher:

Late-Round Target
Jason Hammel, BAL, SP

Hammel was having a solid season for the Orioles until a troublesome right knee resulted in surgery in July. He returned for two starts in September in which he gave up just two earned runs in 8 2/3 innings. For the season, he went 8-6 with a 3.43 ERA and 113 strikeouts in 118 innings. He is expected to be the Orioles’ ace in 2013 and should be a valuable contributor in a fantasy rotation, even if it’s not as an every-start option.
Other candidates: Clay Buchholz (BOS, SP), Alex Cobb (TB, SP), Ryan Dempster (BOS, SP), Ross Detwiler (WAS, SP), Jaime Garcia (STL, SP), A.J. Griffin (OAK, SP), Matt Harrison (TEX, SP), Edwin Jackson (CHC, SP), Paul Maholm (ATL, SP), Justin Masterson (CLE, SP), Wade Miley (ARI, SP), Chris Tillman (BAL, SP), Edinson Volquez (SD, SP)

For Even Deeper Leagues
Hisashi Iwakuma, SEA, RP/SP

Following a fairly strong showing in his first season in the U.S., the Marines re-signed Iwakuma to a two-year deal. The Japanese righty is slated to be Seattle’s No. 2 starter behind ace Felix Hernandez after he went 8-4 with a 2.50 ERA in 15 second-half starts. Even if you aren’t willing to put him out there time he takes the mound, Iwakuma should get strong consideration as a spot-starter, especially when he’s pitching at home. Iwakuma posted a 6-3 record in 17 games (10 starts) at Safeco Field with a 2.49 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 67 strikeouts in 76 innings.
Others worth considering: Trevor Bauer (CLE, SP), Chad Billingsley (LAD, SP), Scott Diamond (MIN, SP), Dillon Gee (NYM, SP), Joe Kelly (STL, SP/RP), Mike Leake (CIN, SP), Zach McAllister (CLE, SP), Shelby Miller (STL, RP), Bud Norris (HOU, SP), Rick Porcello (DET, SP), Erasmo Ramirez (SEA, SP/RP), Julio Teheran (ATL, SP), Jacob Turner (MIA, SP), Jason Vargas (LAA, SP), Travis Wood (CHC, SP)

Relief Pitcher:

Late-Round Target
Ernesto Frieri, LAA, RP

Traded to the Angels early last season, Frieri was without a doubt the team’s best reliever in 2012. In 56 appearances he surrendered a total of 26 hits in 54 1/3 innings with 80 strikeouts. Despite 26 walks, he still managed a 0.96 WHIP and 2.32 ERA for the Angels with 23 saves in 26 chances. The team added closer Ryan Madson in the offseason, but he is coming off of Tommy John surgery last April and is not expected to be ready by Opening Day. Frieri will handle closing duties to start the season and it’s possible that he may not give them up once Madson returns. At worst, he should be a productive setup guy, especially in fantasy leagues that use holds.
Other candidates: Carlos Marmol (CHC, RP), Bobby Parnell (NYM, RP), Glen Perkins (MIN, RP), Addison Reed (CWS, RP), Bruce Rondon (DET, RP), Drew Storen (WAS, RP), Jose Veras (HOU, RP)

For Even Deeper Leagues
Jake McGee, TB, RP

Fernando Rodney is entrenched as the Rays’ closer and Joel Peralta figures to handle setup duties, but that does not mean there is not a late-inning role for McGee. Clocked with the fastest average fastball of any left-handed American League reliever in 2012, McGee struck out 73 in 55 1/3 innings, while walking just 11 in his 69 appearances. With power stuff and the ability to miss bats, McGee would probably get the call before Peralta to close things out should something happen to Rodney. Or McGee could simply take either the closer’s gig or setup job away from either of them based on performance.
Others worth considering: Andrew Bailey (BOS, RP), Sean Doolittle (OAK, RP), Kyuji Fujikawa (CHC, RP), Kelvin Herrera (KC, RP), Mark Melancon (PIT, RP), Trevor Rosenthal (STL, RP), Sergio Santos (TOR, RP)

Related Content:
2013 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Big Board
2013 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers and Busts: Infield
2013 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers and Busts: Outfield
2013 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers and Busts: Starting Pitcher
2013 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers and Busts: Relief Pitcher
2013 Fantasy Baseball: Closer Grid
Fantasy Baseball Studs to Avoid in 2013
Fantasy Baseball 2013: Which Injured Players are Worth Drafting?

Teaser:
<p> 2013 Fantasy Baseball Deep Sleepers</p>
Post date: Monday, March 25, 2013 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/louisville-cardinals-2013-spring-football-preview
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Everything seemed to bounce Louisville’s way in 2012, as the Cardinals managed to survive two late-season conference losses to win the Big East, and coach Charlie Strong turned down lucrative opportunities in the SEC to stay with the Cardinals. What can Louisville do for an encore? In their final season in the Big East, the Cardinals are on the shortlist of national title contenders. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is one of the best in the nation and has the Big East’s top receiving corps at his disposal. The defense returns nine starters from a unit that allowed just 340.3 yards per game last season. Assuming Louisville can plug its losses on the offensive line, the Cardinals have the schedule to make a run at a 12-0 record.  

Louisville Cardinals 2013 Spring Preview

2012 Record: 11-2 (5-2)

Spring practice dates: March 20-April 13

Returning Starters: Offense – 5, Defense – 9

Returning Leaders:

Passing: Teddy Bridgewater, 287 of 419, 3,718 yards, 27 TDs, 8 INTs
Rushing: Senorise Perry, 136 car., 705 yards, 11 TDs
Receiving: Damian Copeland, 50 rec., 628 yards, 2 TDs
Tackles: Preston Brown, 109
Sacks: Lorenzo Mauldin, 4.5
Interceptions: Terell Floyd, 3

Redshirts to watch: LB Lamar Atkins, OL Sid Anvoots, OL Joe Manley, LB Nick Dawson, CB Devontre Parnell, QB Will Gardner

Early Enrollees to watch: DT Finesse Middleton, QB Brett Nelson

JUCO Transfers to watch: QB Brett Nelson

2013 Schedule

Aug. 31 Ohio
Sept. 7 Eastern Kentucky
Sept. 14 at Kentucky
Sept. 21 FIU
Sept. 28 Bye Week
Oct. 5 at Temple
Oct. 10 Rutgers
Oct. 18 UCF
Oct. 26 at South Florida
Nov. 2 Bye Week
Nov. 8 at Connecticut
Nov. 16 Houston
Nov. 23 Memphis
Nov. 30 Bye Week
Dec. 5 at Cincinnati

Offensive Strength: The Cardinals are led by one of the top quarterbacks in the nation in junior Teddy Bridgewater, and the receiving corps is deep with options, including first-team All-Big East selection DeVante Parker.

Offensive Weakness: Coordinator Shawn Watson has two big concerns this spring: Offensive line and running back. Louisville must replace its top two linemen from last year, while running back Senorise Perry is coming off a torn ACL.

Defensive Strength: With nearly everyone returning, the Cardinals should have one of the Big East’s top defenses in 2013. The front seven is in great shape, led by linebacker Preston Brown and defensive end Marcus Smith.

Defensive Weakness: The secondary ranked 16th nationally against the pass last season, but cornerback Adrian Bushell expired his eligibility after the Sugar Bowl, which leaves a significant question mark at one corner spot.

Spring Storylines Facing the Cardinals

1. Sorting out the running backs. Even though Jeremy Wright left Louisville after the Sugar Bowl win against Florida, the Cardinals’ backfield is in relatively good shape. Senorise Perry rushed for 705 yards and 11 touchdowns before tearing an ACL, and Dominique Brown redshirted last season after rushing for 533 yards in 2011. There’s not a ton of depth at this position, and Perry is expected to sit out spring practice as he continues to recover from his knee injury. Sophomore Corvin Lamb has played sparingly in his first two years on campus but is expected to get an opportunity to work his way into the rotation this spring. With Perry on the sidelines, this is a big spring for Battle and Lamb to solidify their spots in the rotation.  

2. Finding replacements on the offensive line. Keeping quarterback Teddy Bridgewater away from defensive linemen is the top priority for Louisville in 2013. Bridgewater was banged up at the end of 2012, and any shot the Cardinals have of playing for a national title will depend on the health of their junior signal-caller. Considering the line allowed 2.4 sacks a game last season and must replace its two best players – center Mario Benavides and left tackle Alex Kupper – there’s plenty of concern about this unit going into spring practice. John Miller and Jake Smith should anchor the guard spots, while Kamron Joyer and Mike Romano (out until the fall) will battle to start at center. Junior Jamon Brown returns to right tackle after starting all 13 games last year. Massive sophomore Abraham Garcia (6-foot-6, 345 pounds) is the early frontrunner to replace Kupper at left tackle, and his development will be crucial, especially since he is tasked with protecting Bridgewater’s blindside.

3. Replacing Adrian Bushell at cornerback. The Cardinals have nearly everyone coming back on defense, but cornerback Adrian Bushell expired his eligibility after the Sugar Bowl. The Texas native played only two years at Louisville but made a huge impact on the secondary and was picked as a back-to-back first-team All-Big East selection. The Cardinals have experience returning at the cornerback spot, so there should be a relatively smooth transition for the secondary. Terell Floyd will man one corner spot, after starting 10 games last season and recording three interceptions. Replacing Bushell is expected to be junior Andrew Johnson or redshirt freshman Devontre Parnell. Johnson played in 12 games and recorded 26 tackles for Louisville last season. Losing Bushell is a huge blow, but the Cardinals should be able to withstand his departure, provided Johnson or Parnell emerges as a solid starter. And helping the cornerbacks ease their transition will be All-Big East safeties Calvin Pryor and Hakeem Smith. 

4. Fixing the special teams. Louisville’s special teams struggled mightily at times last season, so expect this unit to receive plenty of attention in the spring. The Cardinals ranked 119th nationally in net punting (38.1 yards per punt) and finished near the bottom of college football in punt and kickoff returns. Kicker John Wallace made 16 of his 21 attempts last year, so field goals aren’t a concern. However, finding answers for a struggling return game, along with improving their net punting will be a priority for coach Charlie Strong.


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Teaser:
<p> Louisville Cardinals 2013 Spring Football Preview</p>
Post date: Monday, March 25, 2013 - 07:00
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-50-quarterbacks-bcs-era
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Greatness is defined in so many different ways. Statistical production, individual awards, team success, longevity, supporting cast, raw talent and athletic ability all factor heavily in determining overall greatness. Sometimes, you simply know greatness when you see it.

So all factors were considered when trying to determine who the greatest quarterbacks of the BCS era have been. Here are the Top 50 signal callers since the BCS was implemented in 1998:

* - active, ** - not all seasons played in BCS era

1. Vince Young, Texas (2003-05)
Stats: 6,040 yds, 44 TD, 10 INT, 62.8%, 3,127 yds, 37 TD
The Texas quarterback was the most unstoppable single force of the BCS era. Just ask Kansas. He earned Rose Bowl MVP honors following his ridiculous performance against Michigan to finish his sophomore season. It was a sign of things to come as he was named Big 12 Player of the Year in 2005. His offense averaged more than 50 points per game, he was a consensus All-American, led the Big 12 in passing efficiency, won the Davey O'Brien, Manning and Maxwell awards while finishing second in the Heisman ballot. His smooth running skills led to an all-time Big 12 career record 6.8 yards per carry. And no one will ever forget his second Rose Bowl MVP performance against USC in the greatest game of the BCS era, returning the national championship to Austin.

2. Tim Tebow, Florida (2006-09)
Stats: 9,285 yds, 88 TD, 16 INT, 66.4%, 2,947 yds, 57 TD
The top two quarterbacks are a cut above the rest as Tebow is the only player who can challenge Young for top honors. Four years of huge statistics makes him the all-time SEC leader in total yards, total touchdowns, rushing touchdowns and passing efficiency (170.8). He won the Heisman Trophy in 2007 as well as the Davey O'Brien and Maxwell Award. He won the SEC Player of the Year, Manning and Maxwell Awards the following year in which he led Florida to its second national title in three years. He fell one game shy in 2009 of playing in — and likely winning — three national titles in four years. His speech following the loss to Ole Miss in '08 has been immortalized in Gator football lore.

3. Matt Leinart, USC (2003-05)
Stats: 10,693 yds, 99 TD, 23 INT, 64.8%, 9 rush TD
Leinart won two national titles in three years starting at powerhouse USC under Pete Carroll. He finished in the top six of Heisman voting in all three seasons, winning the award in 2004, finishing sixth in 2003 and third in 2005. He also earned AP Player of the Year, Manning, Walter Camp, Unitas and consensus All-American honors during his remarkable Heisman campaign of 2004. He capped the season with arguably the second-best performance by a quarterback in a national title game by dissecting Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl.

4. Andrew Luck, Stanford (2009-11)
Stats: 9,430 yds, 82 TD, 22 INT, 67.0%, 957 yds, 7 TD
The best quarterback prospect in over two decades broke all kinds of rookie NFL records in his first trip through the professional ranks. This merely lends credence to his remarkable college career. Few players have meant more to their school in history than Luck meant to Stanford. He led his program to its first BCS bowl win and set every school passing record en route. The two-time Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year finished second in the Heisman twice (2010, '11) and won the Unitas, Walter Camp and Maxwell awards in 2011. He is the Pac-12's all-time leader in completion percentage, yards per play (8.5) and passing efficiency (162.8). He was 27-4 in his last 31 starts and has an architecture degree from Stanford.

5. Robert Griffin III, Baylor (2008-11)
Stats: 10,366 yds, 78 TD, 17 INT, 67.1%, 2,254 yds, 33 TD
Right alongside Luck will always be RG3 as the duo will be forever linked in football history. Griffin III beat out the Cardinal signal caller to win the 2011 Heisman Trophy while leading Baylor to back-to-back bowl games. He led the NCAA in passing efficiency (189.5), was a consensus All-American and won the Davey O'Brien and Manning awards to go with his stiff-armed trophy. In fact, Griffin III is just one of the few players to have meant more to their school than Luck. His impact on Baylor Bears football is immeasurable and could continue for decades. Had he been healthy for his entire career — he missed nine games in 2009 — his numbers might have been the best the BCS era has ever seen.

6. Michael Vick, Virginia Tech (1999-00)
Stats: 3,299 yds, 21 TD, 11 INT, 1,299 yds, 17 TD
Johnny Manziel might be the only redshirt freshman to ever match Vick's impact on the game in just one season. The Hokies signal caller revolutionized the quarterback position in one year as he led Virginia Tech to its only BCS title game appearance with unprecedented foot speed and arm strength. He dropped jaws and popped eyes every step of the way, including a furious second-half comeback in the Sugar Bowl against eventual champion Florida State. He finished third and sixth in the Heisman voting both years he played, and had he stayed three full seasons under center, he could have pushed Young or Tebow for top billing simply based on never-before-seen athleticism.

7. AJ McCarron, Alabama (2010-12)*
Stats: 5,956 yds, 49 TD, 8 INT, 66.7%, 3 rush TD
McCarron could leave Alabama as the most successful college quarterback in the history of the game. He already has three BCS National Championships — two as a starter — as he enters his final season for the Crimson Tide. He earned BCS title game MVP honors as a sophomore before leading the nation in passing efficiency last fall (175.3) with 30 touchdowns and just three interceptions. His offensive system will never allow him to post elite numbers and he has been surrounded by first-round draft picks his entire career, so he may never get the recognition he deserves. Also, shouldn't he get some credit for Katherine Webb?

8. Chris Weinke, Florida State (1997-00)
Stats: 9,839 yds, 79 TD, 32 INT, 58.7%, 2 rush TD
There was little left unaccomplished in Weinkie's college career. He led his stacked Florida State squad to an undefeated BCS national title in 1999 over Virginia Tech before returning to win the Heisman as well as the Sammy Baugh, Johnny Unitas and Davey O'Brien awards the next season. His team lost one game over that span — the 2000 BCS title game against Oklahoma. He is still the ACC's all-time leader in yards per pass attempt (8.9).

9. Sam Bradford, Oklahoma (2007-09)
Stats: 8,403 yds, 88 TD, 16 INT, 67.6%, 5 rush TD
It didn't take long for the three-star recruit to establish himself as one of Oklahoma's best of all-time. He set a school record for yards in a half in the first half of his career and broke another school record for consecutive completions the next game (22). By season's end, Bradford owned the NCAA's all-time freshman passing touchdown record with 36. He also won the Big 12 championship. The following season, Bradford led the Sooners to the BCS title game against Florida and beat out Tebow and Colt McCoy for the Heisman Trophy. He won Sammy Baugh and Davey O'Brien honors as well. Bradford owns the NCAA record for career quarterback efficiency at 175.6 making him the most efficient quarterback in the history of the game. He also owns the NCAA mark for yards per play as well (8.7) and 86 of his 88 total touchdown passes came in just two seasons.

10. Kellen Moore, Boise State (2008-11)
Stats: 14,667 yds, 142 TD, 28 INT, 69.8%, 3 rush TD
The underachiever from Boise State has numbers that most quarterbacks dream about. He is the all-time winningest quarterback in college football history with an unreal 50-3 record and left school with more touchdowns passes than anyone in history (since broken). He completed nearly 70 percent of his passes, won two WAC Player of the Year awards and three conference championships. He set most school passing records as a sophomore as he led his team to a 14-0 perfect season and a Fiesta Bowl win over TCU. His overall lack of competition and raw talent keeps him from being higher on the list.

11. Russell Wilson, NC State/Wisconsin (2008-11)
Stats: 11,720 yds, 109 TD, 30 INT, 60.9%, 1,421 yds, 23 TD
Not many players own school records for two different programs but Wilson excelled in both the ACC and Big Ten. He posted the single greatest season by a Wisconsin quarterback in history en route to a league crown and near national title berth. He owns the NCAA record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass (38) and the single-season mark for passing efficiency at 191.8. His NFL rookie season with the Seahawks only solidifies his standing as one of the game's greatest players.

12. Colt McCoy, Texas (2006-09)
Stats: 13,253 yds, 112 TD, 45 INT, 70.3%, 1,571 yds, 20 TD
Few players got more out of their abilities than McCoy. He was a consensus All-American and won the Big 12 Player of the Year while finishing second in the Heisman in 2008. He won the Walter Camp, Davey O'Brien and finished third in the Heisman voting in 2009. He left school with more wins than any quarterback in history (since broken), led his team to the national title game and owns the NCAA single-season record for completion percentage (76.7)

13. Pat White, West Virginia (2005-08)
Stats: 6,049 yds, 56 TD, 23 INT, 64.8%, 4,480 yds, 47 TD
He left school as the NCAA's all-time leading rusher as a quarterback and was a stalwart in Morgantown for four years. He earned Big East Player of the Year honors twice and is the only player in NCAA history to start and win four bowl games. He finished sixth and seventh in the Heisman voting in 2006 and '07 and has a Big East-record 103 total touchdowns.

14. Colin Kaepernick, Nevada (2007-10)
Stats: 10,098 yds, 82 TD, 24 INT, 58.2%, 4,112 yds, 59 TD
No player was more dynamic both passing and rushing than Kaepernick. He is one of four player in the 6,000-4,000 club and accounted for 141 total touchdowns. The two-time WAC Player of the Year is the league's all-time leader in yards per carry (6.9) and touchdowns (60). He finished eighth in the Heisman voting in 2010 and led the 49ers to the Super Bowl as just a second-year NFL player. He was simply impossible to stop in Reno.

15. Drew Brees, Purdue (1997-00)
Stats: 11,517 yds, 88 TD, 45 INT, 61.2%, 925 yds, 14 TD
The two-time Big Ten Player of the Year led Purdue back to the Rose Bowl and finished among the top four in Heisman voting twice (1999, 2000). He owns the NCAA record for passes attempted in a game with 83 tosses against Wisconsin in 1998 and is the Big Ten's all-time leader in completions (1,003), passing yards, passing touchdowns, total yards and total touchdowns.

16. Cam Newton, Florida/Auburn (2008, 2010)
Stats: 2,908 yds, 30 TD, 7 INT, 65.4%, 1,586 yds, 24 TD
Newton's career is an intriguing one that could have been one of the greatest of all-time had he played more than just one season at Auburn. He was essentially kicked out of school, intertwined with a recruiting scandal and left early for the NFL. Yet, his one season in 2010 was one of the best in history. He single-handedly carried Auburn to a BCS title, won the Heisman Trophy as well as Davey O'Brien, Archie Manning, Maxwell, Walter Camp and AP Player of the Year honors. His one season on The Plains was one of the greatest single seasons in BCS history, but its difficult to make the case that his career belongs in the top 10.

17. Josh Heupel, Oklahoma (1999-00)
Stats: 7,242 yds, 53 TD, 30 INT, 63.8%, 43 yds, 12 TD
He isn't the most talented quarterback to play in Norman but he might have the best understanding of the position. He won the AP Player of the Year, Big 12 Player of the Year, was a consensus All-American, earned the Walter Camp Trophy, finished second in the Heisman and led the NCAA in completion percent (64.7) in 2000. And he led Oklahoma to arguably the biggest win in the history of the program over Florida State in the BCS championship game in 2000.

18. Ken Dorsey, Miami (1999-02)
Stats: 9,565 yds, 86 TD, 28 INT, 57.9%, 2 rush TD
Dorsey was a two-time Big East Player of the Year, finishing third and fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting. He led a loaded Miami roster to back-to-back BCS championship games, winning one with ease over Nebraska. He also is the conference's all-time passing touchdowns leader. Many think he was more caretaker than playmaker, but leading his team to two BCS title games takes plenty of talent. And his performance in the first half against the Huskers was legendary.

19. Chris Leak, Florida (2003-06)
Stats: 11,213 yds, 88 TD, 42 INT, 61.4%, 137 yds, 13 TD
Leak is second all-time in SEC history for passing yards and is the all-time leader in completions (895). He earned BCS Championship Game MVP honors after dismantling the Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2006 title game. He gets knocked for lacking elite talent and for padding stats with a stacked roster at a powerful program, but he should get credit for posting most of those numbers under Ron Zook.

20. Philip Rivers, NC State (2000-03)
Stats: 13,484 yds, 95 TD, 34 INT, 63.5%, 98 yds, 17 TD
The most productive passer in ACC history, Rivers owns the ACC record for completions (1,087), attempts (1,711), passing yards, passing touchdowns, total yards and total touchdowns. He won ACC Player of the Year honors in 2003 and finished seventh in the Heisman balloting. He also is a member of the historic 2004 NFL Draft class that includes fellow quarterbacks Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger.

21. Andy Dalton, TCU (2007-10)
Stats: 10,314 yds, 71 TD, 30 INT, 61.7%, 1,611 yds, 22 TD
The two-time Mountain West Player of the Year is the most successful, most talented and most productive quarterback to play at TCU since Davey O'Brien roamed the Ft. Worth campus in the 1930s. He eventually led the Frogs to an unblemished record and Rose Bowl championship over Wisconsin. He also has led Cincinnati to the playoffs in both of his professional seasons.

22. Eli Manning, Ole Miss (2000-03)
Stats: 10,119 yds, 81 TD, 35 INT, 60.8%, 5 rush TD
The third and final Manning to play quarterback in the SEC elevated Ole Miss to its highest levels of success during the BCS era. He claimed the Unitas and Maxwell awards, along with SEC Player of the Year honors and finished third in the Heisman Trophy balloting in 2003. He is Ole Miss' all-time leading passer and is seventh in SEC history in passing yards. He is clearly one of this generation's greatest talents.

23. Case Keenum, Houston (2007-11)
Stats: 19,217 yds, 155 TD, 46 INT, 69.4%, 897 yds, 23 TD
It's hard to argue with Keenum's level of production. He is the NCAA's all-time passing leader in completions (1,546), passing yards, passing touchdowns, total yards, total touchdowns and is second all-time in attempts (2,229). He won the Sammy Baugh Trophy twice and earned C-USA Player of the Year honors. He never won enough games against big enough competition to get Houston to a BCS bowl or earn himself national notoriety like Moore.

24. Brad Smith, Missouri (2002-05)
Stats: 8,799 yds, 56 TD, 33 INT, 56.3%, 4,289 yds, 45 TD
Smith is one of four players in the 6,000-4,000 club after becoming the first player to accomplish the feat back in 2005. He is arguably the most dynamic playmaker in the history of the program and was nearly unstoppable in the backfield. His 799 rushing attempts are fifth all-time in Big 12 history and his 4,289 yards rushing are fourth in league history.

25. Ben Roethlisberger, Miami-OH (2001-03)
Stats: 10,829 yds, 84 TD, 34 INT, 65.5% 246 yds, 7 TD
Big Ben began his legacy as a whirling dervish, play-extending improv artist while in the MAC at Miami, Ohio. He won the Player of the Year award in the league and finished ninth in the 2003 Heisman ballot. Going on to win two Super Bowls indicates his talents were far superior than his statistical resume.

26. Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State (2008-11)
Stats: 9,260 yds, 75 TD, 27 INT, 69.5%, 1 rush TD
The Pokes quarterback set all the important school passing records in 2011 and then returned to Stillwater in 2012 and set them all over again. He led Oklahoma State to its first-ever Big 12 title and first-ever BCS bowl win. His 69.5-percent completion rate is third all-time in Big 12 history.

27. Matt Ryan, Boston College (2004-07)
Stats: 9,313 yds, 56 TD, 37 INT, 60.0%, 39 yds, 11 TD
Ryan did more for Boston College than any player since Doug Flutie. He won the ACC Player of the Year and led the Eagles to the ACC title game. He was seventh in the Heisman ballot and won the Johnny Unitas and Archie Manning Awards before beginning his elite career in the NFL. From a raw talent standpoint, few players on this list are better quarterbacks than Matty-Ice.

28. Eric Crouch, Nebraska (1998-01)
Stats: 4,481 yds, 29 TD, 25 INT, 51.5%, 3,434 yds, 59 TD
The Nebraska signal caller continued the long run of elite running quarterbacks in Lincoln with a Heisman Trophy season that ended with a trip to the BCS title game against Miami. The two-time Big 12 Player of the Year also claimed Davey O'Brien and Walter Camp honors and led the Big 12 in rushing touchdowns three consecutive seasons.

29. Troy Smith, Ohio State (2003-06)
Stats: 5,720 yds, 54 TD, 13 INT, 62.7%, 1,168 yds, 14 TD
Smith won the AP Player of the Year, Davey O'Brien, Walter Camp awards and the Heisman Trophy in 2006 en route to a perfect season and BCS championship game berth against Florida. The consensus All-American was the first Buckeyes quarterback to go 3-0 against Michigan since the 1930s.

30. Aaron Murray, Georgia* (2010-present)
Stats: 10,091 yds, 95 TD, 32 INT, 61.5%, 202 yds, 9 TD
The debate between Murray and David Greene is a good one. Murray has already blown past his touchdown totals and will easily pass his win total and passing yards. He could easily rewrite the SEC passing record books and simply needs to finish a season in Atlanta with a win to entrench his legacy in Dawgs lore.

31. David Greene, Georgia (2001-04)
Stats: 11,528 yds, 72 TD, 32 INT, 59.0%, 5 rush TD
Left as NCAA's winningest QB (42). Led UGA back to an SEC title and is the SEC's all-time leading passer.

32. Joe Hamilton, Georgia Tech** (1996-99)
Stats: 8,882 yds, 65 TD, 39 INT, 61.7%, 1,758 yds, 18 TD
O'Brien winner, finished second in Heisman, a consensus All-American and No. 2 all-time in ACC total yards.

33. Collin Klein, Kansas State (2009-2012)
Stats: 4,724 yds, 30 TD, 15 INT, 61.3%, 2,485 yds, 56 TD
Finished third in Heisman, led Kansas State to a Big 12 title and is 13th all-time in NCAA in rushing TD.

34. Antwaan Randle El, Indiana (1998-01)
Stats: 7,469 yds, 42 TD, 37 INT, 49.8%, 3,895 yds, 44 TD
Fourth all-time in Big Ten in total TD and fifth in total yards. Big Ten P.O.Y finished sixth in 2001 Heisman voting.

35. Aaron Rodgers, Cal (2003-04)
Stats: 5,469 yds, 43 TD, 13, 63.8%, INT, 336 yds, 8 TD
Led Cal back to relevance, finished ninth in Heisman and led NCAA in comp. percent and yards-per-attempt in '04 (66.1).

36. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M* (2011-present)
Stats: 3,706 yds, 26 TD, 9 INT, 68.0%, 1,410 yds, 21 TD
Will only work his way up this list after unprecedented redshirt freshman season — and living life like it.

37. Dan LeFevour, Central Michigan (2006-09)
Stats: 12,905 yds, 102 TD, 36 INT, 66.4%, 2,948 yds, 47 TD;
MAC record for comp., att., total yards (NCAA No. 4), total TD (NCAA No. 2) and won two MAC P.O.Y. awards.

38. Chase Daniel, Missouri (2005-08)
Stats: 12,515 yds, 101 TD, 41 INT, 68.0%, 971 yds, 10 TD
Heisman finalist is fourth all-time in Big 12 passing and total yards, passing and total TD.

39. Todd Reesing, Kansas (2006-09)
Stats: 11,194 yds, 90 TD, 33 INT, 63.8%, 646 yds, 15 TD
Most important QB in Jayhawks history owns every major school passing record and won a BCS bowl.

40. Chad Pennington, Marshall (1997-99)**
Stats: 11,446 yds, 107 TD, 30 INT, 63.6%, 61 yds, 4 TD
Finished fifth in Heisman, won Sammy Baugh Award and is the MAC's all-time leader in TD passes.

41. Geno Smith, West Virginia
Stats: 11,662 yds, 98 TD, 21 INT, 342 yds, 4 TD

42. Jason White, Oklahoma
Stats: 7,922 yds, 81 TD, 24 INT, 2 rush TD

43. Joey Harrington, Oregon
Stats:6,289 yds, 53 TD, 21 INT, 211 yds, 17 TD

44. Alex Smith, Utah
Stats: 5,203 yds, 47 TD, 8 INT, 1,072 yds, 15 TD

45. Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech
Stats: 7,017 yds, 44 TD, 20 INT, 2,196 yds, 23 TD

46. Graham Harrell, Texas Tech
Stats: 15,793 yds, 134 TD, 34 INT, 12 rush TD

47. Braxton Miller, Ohio State*
Stats: 3,198 yds, 28 TD, 10 INT, 1,986 yds, 20 TD

48. Matt Barkley, USC
Stats: 12,327 yds, 116 TD, 48 INT, 6 rush TD

49. Tajh Boyd, Clemson*
Stats: 8,053 yds, 73 TD, 28 INT, 765 yds, 16 TD

50. Brian Johnson, Utah
Stats: 7,853 yds, 57 TD, 27 INT, 848 yds, 12 TD

The Next 25:

51. Carson Palmer, USC: 11,668 yds, 72 TD, 49 INT, 9 rush TD
52. Brian Brohm, Louisville: 10,775 yds, 71 TD, 24 INT, 44 yds, 9 TD
53. Paul Smith, Tulsa: 10,924 yds, 83 TD, 35 INT, 666 yds, 28 TD
54. Taylor Martinez, Nebraska: 6,591 yds, 46 TD, 27 INT, 2,858 yds, 31 TD*
55. Zac Robinson, Oklahoma State: 8,317 yds, 66 TD, 31 INT, 1,858 yds, 22 TD
56. Rex Grossman, Florida: 9,164 yds, 77 TD, 36 INT, 6 rush TD
57. Colt Brennan, Hawaii: 14,193 yds, 131 TD, 42 INT, 547 yds, 15 TD
58. Greg McElroy, Alabama: 5,691 yds, 39 TD, 10 INT, 71 yds, 2 TD
59. Matthew Stafford, Georgia: 7,731 yds, 51 TD, 33 INT, 213 yds, 6 TD
60. Denard Robinson, Michigan: 6,250 yds, 49 TD, 39 INT, 4,495 yds, 42 TD
61. Landry Jones, Oklahoma: 16,646 yds, 123 TD, 52 INT, 3 rush TD
62. Timmy Chang, Hawaii: 17,072 yds, 117 TD, 80 INT, 6 rush TD
63. Tom Brady, Michigan: 4,982 yds, 31 TD, 19 INT, 3 rush TD**
64. Darron Thomas, Oregon: 5,910 yds, 66 TD, 17 INT, 719 yds, 9 TD
65. Michael Bishop, Kansas State: 4,401 yds, 36 TD, 13 INT, 1,314 yds, 23 TD**
66. Kevin Kolb, Houston: 12,964 yds, 85 TD, 31 INT, 751 yds, 21 TD
67. Daunte Culpepper, UCF: 9,341 yds, 72 TD, 32 INT, 1,003 yds, 19 TD**
68. Michael Robinson, Penn State: 3,531 yds, 23 TD, 21 INT, 1,637 yds, 20 TD, 52 rec., 629 yds, 3TD
69. Jason Campbell, Auburn: 7,299 yds, 45 TD, 24 INT, 307 yds, 9 TD
70. Jay Cutler, Vanderbilt: 8,697 yds, 59 TD, 36 INT, 1,256 yds, 17 TD
71. Byron Leftwich, Marshall: 11,903 yds, 89 TD, 28 INT, 181 yds, 6 TD
72. Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State: 6,177 yds, 57 TD, 26 INT, 2,164 yds, 17 TD
73. Kirk Cousins, Michigan State: 9,131 yds, 66 TD, 30 INT, 1 rush TD
74. Jake Locker, Washington: 7,639 yds, 53 TD, 35 INT, 1,939 yds, 29 TD
75. Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech: 12,423 yds, 95 TD, 40 INT, 5 rush TD

Teaser:
<p> College Football's Top 50 Quarterbacks of the BCS Era</p>
Post date: Monday, March 25, 2013 - 07:00
Path: /college-basketball/amazing-stats-first-weekend-ncaa-tournament
Body:

After 52 NCAA Tournament games since Tuesday, the field is down to 16. And what a wild week it was.

When the next weekend starts, the players from Gonzaga -- and New Mexico and Georgetown and VCU and more -- will want what Florida Gulf Coast has.

The Sweet 16 will start with a bizarre field -- Sure, Michigan State-Duke, Indiana-Syracuse, Kansas-Michigan and Arizona-Ohio State are typical matchups. But who would have tabbed Wichita State-La Salle as a game for a trip to the Elite Eight. And never mind Florida-Florida Gulf Coast as a game for a regional final and a contest for the top team in the Sunshine State.

Here’s a look at the key numbers from the first week of Tournament games and a look at the Sweet 16.

4. Big Ten teams in the Sweet 16
The perception of the Big Ten being the top conference carried over into the postseason where four Big Ten teams (Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State) advanced to the second weekend, more than any other conference. Only one of the league’s seven bids to the Tournament lost in its first game (Wisconsin). On the negative side, the SEC still has bragging rights over the Big Ten as two SEC teams were responsible for knocking out Big Ten teams with Florida defeating Minnesota and Ole Miss defeating the Badgers.

Here’s the final conference tally for the multi-bid conferences:

Conference Record Sweet 16 teams
ACC 5-2 Duke, Miami
Atlantic 10 7-4 La Salle
Big 12 3-4 Kansas
Big East 6-5 Louisville, Marquette, Syracuse
Big Ten 10-3 Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State
Missouri Valley 2-2 Wichita State
Mountain West 2-5 None
Pac-12 5-3 Arizona, Oregon
SEC 3-2 Florida
Sun Belt 0-2 None
West Coast 1-2 None

And just for fun, here are the records for notable leagues' eventual lineups:

Conference Record Sweet 16 teams
ACC 9-4 Duke, Louisville, Miami, Syracuse
Atlantic 10 5-2 La Salle
Big East/Conference TBA 2-3 None
Big East/Catholic 7 4-3 Marquette

10. Dunks for Florida Gulf Coast on the way to the Sweet 16
Florida Gulf Coast is more than just the best Cinderella story in the Tournament. The Eagles are one of the most fun teams to watch. In becoming the first No. 15 seed to win two in a row to reach the Sweet 16, Florida Gulf Coast introduced the country to its exciting brand of play. The up-tempo game relying on lobs and an alley oops produced 10 total dunks -- five against Georgetown and five more against San Diego State. That’s only part of the story: Each game featured five FGCU players scoring in double figures. And in the win over San Diego State, point guard Brett Comer had an amazing 14 assists to three turnovers.

4. Coaches making their first appearance in the Sweet 16
The Sweet 16 has some of the usual suspects -- Duke, Florida, Kansas, Michigan State and Syracuse -- plus rebuilt national powers Arizona and Indiana. But a key storyline are the Sweet 16 first-timers from a coaching standpoint. Along with the fast rise by Florida Gulf Coast’s Andy Enfield, there’s Oregon’s Dana Altman, who is making his first Sweet 16 appearance in his 24-year career. La Salle’s John Giannini, meanwhile, is one-for-one in reaching the regional semifinal in his first NCAA appearance. That said, Giannini had to wait 16 seasons for his first Tournament. Wichita State's Gregg Marshall is also making his first Sweet 16 apperance after eight trips to the Tourney with Winthrop and the Shockers.

21.4. Turnovers per game for Louisville opponents in the postseason
Louisville already had one of Rick Pitino’s better defensive teams, but the Cardinals’ press has turned it up a notch in the postseason. North Carolina A&T had 27 turnovers against the Cards, and Colorado State added 20 in the round of 32. Louisville’s opponents in the Big East and NCAA Tournaments are averaging 21.4 turnovers per game, compared to 18.5 turnovers during the regular season. And if that’s not enough, suddenly Russ Smith and Peyton Siva have returned to their early season form on the offensive end. Louisville is shooting 56.9 percent in the Tournament.

3. Combined margin of victory for Marquette on the way to the Sweet 16.
Marquette coach Buzz Williams doesn’t want to be Mr. Tactician, but he may be Mr. Drama. Marquette is the only Sweet 16 team whose first weekend games both came down to the final shot, with Vander Blue’s layup sealing a 59-58 win over Davidson and Andrew Smith’s missed three-pointer for Butler ending a 74-72 Marquette win. This is nothing new. The last eight games for the Golden Eagles have been decided by eight points or less. Marquette has gone 6-2 in those games.

58. Fewest points in a win for Indiana this season
The Hoosiers spent most of the season leading the nation in offensive efficiency, but they found a good time to prove they can grind out a lower scoring game. After failing to score 60 points in two losses to Wisconsin and another to Ohio State, Indiana won a game when it failed to hit the 60-point mark with a 58-52 win over Temple in the round of 32.

4. Consecutive Sweet 16s for Ohio State
The Buckeyes have the longest streak of reaching the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament by reaching the Sweet 16 in four consecutive years. This trip was dicey, though, as Ohio State coughed up a 13-point lead late in the round of 32 against Iowa State. A fortunate charge call on the Cyclones’ Will Clyburn and Aaron Craft’s three-point shot with less than a second left gave Ohio State a 78-75 win. Elsewhere, Florida, Kansas and Marquette all have Sweet 16 streaks of three consecutive seasons.

0. Times before 2013 Michigan and Michigan State appeared in the same Sweet 16
Hard to believe as it may be, Michigan and Michigan State have never appeared in the Sweet 16 in the same season. The Wolverines are making their first Sweet 16 since 1994 for their 13th trip in school history to the regional semifinals. Michigan State is in its 17th regional semifinal.

1. Point for Duke’s Ryan Kelly against Creighton
Ryan Kelly made a case for being Duke’s most indispensable player over the last two seasons, but Duke didn’t him to be on his game to advance to the Sweet 16. The forward struggled against Creighton, going 0 for 5 from the field for one point on a free throw. It’s been an about-face for Kelly, who shocked Miami for 36 points on March 3 and followed that with 18 against Virginia Tech. Kelly has been in single-figures in four games since then with exactly eight against North Carolina, Maryland and Albany.

24. Three-pointers against Gonzaga in the NCAA Tournament
No. 16 seed Southern hinted that Gonzaga may be vulnerable from the three-point line, by shooting 10 of 23 from three (compared to 8 of 23 from inside the arc). Wichita State fully exploited the weakness by hitting 14 of 28 in the 76-70 upset of the top-seeded Bulldogs. A key question for Gonzaga’s Tournament let down: Where did this three-point vulnerability come from? The Zags gave up 6.3 threes per game entering the Tournament.

0-3. Roy Williams’ record against Kansas
The North Carolina coach is winless in three tries against his old school with each matchup coming in the NCAA Tournament. Sunday’s 70-58 loss was the first when Williams’ North Carolina was the lowest seeded team (the Tar Heels were a No. 8 seed, Kansas was a No. 1). In 2012, North Carolina was a No. 1 when it lost 80-67 to No. 2 Kansas in the Elite Eight. In 2008, both were No. 1 seeds when the Tar Heels lost 84-66 in the Final Four.

45. Rebounds for Oregon’s Arsalan Kazemi in the last three games
Oregon was under-seeded as a No. 12, but few could have predicted the Ducks to roll over Oklahoma State and Saint Louis. A major reason for the Ducks’ success has been the defensive presence of forward Arsalan Kazemi. The 6-foot-7 Iranian has 45 rebounds in his last three games, going back to the Pac-12 title game against UCLA (12). Kazemi had 16 boards against Oklahoma State and 17 against Saint Louis. Keep in mind: Kazemi played the last three seasons at Rice before transferring to Oregon.

71. Combined scoring margin in VCU’s Tournament games
It’s hard to imagine a more shocking turnaround for many Tournament teams, as VCU’s two games were decided by a combined 71 points. VCU overwhelmed a shorthanded Akron team 88-42 and then lost 78-53 to Michigan.

3. NCAA Tournament wins for La Salle, more than the last 58 years combined
A history refresher on La Salle: The Explorers won the 1954 NCAA title and played for another in 1955 with Hall of Fame center Tom Gola. Before that, La Salle won the NIT in 1952 when the NIT was on par with the NCAAs. Since then, La Salle fell into the obscurity, going 2-9 in the NCAA Tournament before defeating Boise State in the First Four on Wednesday, Kansas State in the round of 64 and Ole Miss in the round of 32 to reach the regional semifinal.

5. Career losses to a double-digit seed for John Thompson III at Georgetown
John Thompson III put himself in exclusive company with Bob Knight and Jim Boeheim, but not for the kind of distinction Thompson would like to hold. With a loss to No. 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast, Thompson tied Knight and Boeheim with his fifth loss to a team seeded five spots lower in the NCAA Tournament, according to Patrick Stevens at D1scource.com. The difference, of course, is that Thompson has coached in nine Tournaments (seven at Georgetown, two at Princeton) while Knight coached in 28 Tourneys and Boeheim is at 30 and counting. Since the 2007 Final Four, Georgetown has been eliminated by No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast, No. 11 NC State in 2012, No. 11 VCU in 2011, No. 14 Ohio in 2010, and No. 10 Davidson in 2008. Is that a reflection on Thompson or bad luck? To sum up: That's a loss to Stephen Curry, a Final Four-bound VCU and a Florida Gulf Coast team that turned around to upset San Diego State.

6. NCAA Tournament appearances for Belmont’s Rick Byrd without a win, nearing a record
Belmont has reached the NCAA Tournament is six of the last eight seasons, a notable accomplishment for a program that elevated leagues this season from the Atlantic Sun to the Ohio Valley and was in the NAIA as recently as 1996. But Byrd is 0-6 in the NCAA Tournament, tying DePaul’s Oliver Purnell for the second-most appearances without a win, notes CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander. North Carolina A&T’s Don Corbett and Louisiana-Monroe’s Mike Vining hold the record of most appearances without a Tournament win at 0-7 each.
 

Teaser:
<p> Amazing Stats from the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament</p>
Post date: Monday, March 25, 2013 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: 2013 March Madness, College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/florida-gulf-coast-will-bring-dunk-city-sweet-16
Body:

The athletic director is a little annoyed CBS’s score graphic lists his school as “Florida G.C.” One scoreboard mistakenly listed the team as “Florida Golf Coast.” The New York Times issued a correction for a piece that called the school “Gulf Coast College.” San Diego State coach Steve Fisher accidentally called his opponent "Florida State" -- in a postgame press conference. And that doesn’t account for dozens of hastily typed acronyms.

Now every college basketball fan knows Florida Gulf Coast. Or better yet, Dunk City.

Florida Gulf Coast, a school that admitted its first student in 1997 and gained Division I status less than two years ago, is headed to the Sweet 16 after defeating Georgetown and San Diego State.

With the turnover among top teams this season, the question for most of the season was “Is this the year a No. 16 team will finally beat a No. 1?” That answer is no. Instead, this is the first season a No. 15 seed would win two in a row to reach the Sweet 16.

Now, the best story in the 2013 NCAA Tournament will face its in-state two-time national champion, Florida, for a chance at the Elite Eight.

It’s not so much that FGCU made this look easy -- the Eagles led Georgetown by 19 at one point Friday and then went on a 17-0 run against San Diego State on Sunday -- the Eagles made it look fun.

Here are the highlights from Dunk City:

 

 

 

Teaser:
<p> Florida Gulf Coast will bring Dunk City to the Sweet 16</p>
Post date: Sunday, March 24, 2013 - 21:36
Path: /nascar/wreck-fight-highlight-nascar-thriller-auto-club-speedway
Body:

A frenetic final 20 laps in the Auto Club 400 concluded in a last-lap crash involving rivals Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano, a surprise winner in Kyle Busch, and a fight on pit road between Logano and Tony Stewart. And it all happened at the most unlikely of venues: Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

The two-mile oval in Southern California has historically been known for its single-file, strung-out style of racing where aerodynamics and downforce — not tight-quarters beating and banging — are key. That all changed on Sunday.

A bevy of late-race three- and four-wide racing hit its crescendo on a restart with 11 laps to go. Race leader Logano threw a block on Stewart as the field took the green flag, killing the latter’s momentum and costing him valuable positions. That opened the door for Kyle Busch, who shot to the lead in the high groove.

As Busch built a cushion up front, the fight for second between Logano, Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards and Dale Earnhardt Jr. intensified. The quintet sparred for three laps before Logano and Hamlin prevailed. They chased down the leader and overtook him in a physical fight in the tri-oval with five laps remaining.

The former teammates, whose rivalry has made headlines since Daytona and reached a new high in Bristol when Hamlin spun Logano, sparking a post-race confrontation and a war of words, ran nose-to-tail until the final lap, when Hamlin made his move as the white flagged wave.

Hamlin loosened Logano up in the tri-oval and powered by on the outside. However, Logano was far from done. He dove to the inside in Turn 1 and pulled alongside on the backstretch. As Logano’s car got loose in Turn 3, he washed up the racetrack, making contact with the No. 11 of Hamlin. That allowed a stalking Kyle Busch to skate by near the wall, charging to the lead as Logano and Hamlin wrecked.

Logano bounced off the wall but righted the ship for a third-place finish. Hamlin cut hard to the inside of the track and crashed head-on into a concrete wall devoid of energy-absorbing SAFER Barriers. Hamlin exited his car but quickly collapsed to the pavement as track safety personnel attended to him. He was airlifted to a local hospital complaining of back pain for what Joe Gibbs Racing officials called “precautionary reasons.”

“They forgot about me. I knew they were gonna,” Busch said of the two leaders as they parried for the win. “When they went to the bottom side of (Turns) 3 and 4, I thought, ‘Oh man, this golden — I got enough (momentum) up here to make this happen.’ Lo and behold, I put my foot to it and drove around the outside of them before they were crashing … or maybe as they were crashing, I’m not sure.”

The victory was Busch’s first of the season and 25th of his career.

Earnhardt Jr., Logano, Edwards and Kurt Busch rounded out the top 5. Hamlin was credited with a 25th-place finish. Earnhardt assumed the lead in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings after former leader, Brad Keselowski, limped to a 23rd-place showing.
 

Teaser:
<p> Kyle Busch wins a thriller at Auto Club Speedway, as a last-lap wreck and post-race fight spice up NASCAR's Auto Club 400.</p>
Post date: Sunday, March 24, 2013 - 21:11
Path: /college-basketball/oladipo-leads-indianas-late-charge-beat-temple-ncaa-tournament
Body:

The Big Ten has four teams in the Sweet 16 (so far), but Dayton has made two of the league’s best sweat.

A couple hours after Ohio State’s Aaron Craft hit his game-winning three-pointer against Iowa State, Indiana got its own three-point dagger from Victor Oladipo in a 58-52 win to advance the Hoosiers to their second consecutive regional semifinal.

If Indiana continues to advance, Hoosiers fans will have good reason to remember this game:

♦ Indiana scored the final 10 points of the game and held Temple scoreless starting with a Christian Watford block of Anthony Lee. After the block, Temple miss four consecutive three-pointers; the final three didn’t even hit the rim.

♦ Oladipo spent most of the second half guarding Temple’s Khalif Wyatt with mixed results as Wyatt scored 31 points. Oladipo, however, drew a foul on Wyatt to send Indiana’s guard to free throw line late. Oladipo made one of his two shots for a 53-52 lead.

♦ Indiana, one of the nation’s best offensive teams all season, won its first game in which it failed to score 60 points, a gritty effort for a team that lost to Wisconsin twice and Ohio State while scoring in the 50s.

♦ Jordan Hulls fought through a shoulder injury, and even if he wasn’t terribly effective (five points in 19 minutes), Indiana was much better with him on the court.

Ending the season in the Sweet 16 (against Syracuse) won't be enough for this Indiana team, but the Hoosiers have made a notable return to the postseason spotlight by reaching the regional semifinal in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1993-94 under Bob Knight.

Teaser:
<p> Oladipo leads Indiana's late charge to beat Temple in NCAA Tournament</p>
Post date: Sunday, March 24, 2013 - 17:52
Path: /college-basketball/aaron-craft-ohio-state-breaks-iowa-states-heart-buzzer-beater
Body:

When Ohio State’s Sweet 16 bid came down to the last shot, there was seemingly no way Aaron Craft wouldn’t be the one take it.

Craft gave the 2013 NCAA Tournament its first game-winning three-pointer in the final second when the Buckeyes point guard hung onto the ball for the final shot with less than a second remaining to defeat Iowa State 78-75.

Craft’s composed three-pointer atoned for his shaky play down the stretch which turned a 13-point Ohio State in the final 6:07 into a nailbiter. One of the most sound players in the country, Craft had a meltdown in the final minutes missing a layup, turning the ball over twice and missing the front end of two one-and-ones.

Yet Craft gave Ohio State a go-ahead score on a three-point play, tied the game at 75 on a free throw and then passed on getting the ball to Ohio State’s best offensive player, Desahaun Thomas, to take the game-winner himself.

Meanwhile, the close calls continued for Iowa State.

On Feb. 25, the Cyclones lost 108-96 in overtime to Kansas thanks in part to questionable calls at the end of regulation.

Against Ohio State, officials called a charge on Will Clyburn, negating a layup that would have given Iowa State a three-point lead with 1:41 left. Replays indicated Craft’s feet were not on the ground when Clyburn drove to the basket for a layup, meaning the offensive player could not be called for a charge.

 

Teaser:
<p> Aaron Craft, Ohio State breaks Iowa State's heart with buzzer-beater</p>
Post date: Sunday, March 24, 2013 - 15:15
Path: /college-basketball/2013-ncaa-tournament-march-madness-schedule-sunday
Body:

The NCAA Tournament has moved into the weekend where tickets to the Sweet 16 will be punched. Now that we’re into the Sunday's slate of games, hopefully you don't have to sneak away from work to catch the action.

Here’s everything you need to know for Sunday’s  games, including the TV schedule, the network, announcers, predictions and bits of knowledge for all eight games to finish off the weekend.

From Friday and Saturday's action:
D.J. Stephens' block of the tournament

Florida Gulf Coast upsets Georgetown

Henderson carries Ole Miss

La Salle sets up unlikely matchup

SUNDAY NCAA TOURNAMENT VIEWERS GUIDE
All times p.m., Eastern

No. 10 Iowa State vs. No. 2 Ohio State
Time and TV: 12:15, CBS
Site and region: Dayton, Ohio, West
Announcers: Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg
What to watch: Both teams feature matchup problems. Deshaun Thomas for Ohio State and Georges Niang for Iowa State are 6-foot-7 forwards who can stretch the floor with their ability to shoot from the perimeter. Niang scored 19 points on 9-of-13 shooting against Notre Dame. Thomas scored 24 points against Iona, including 3 of 3 from beyond the arc.
Game in a Tweet: Ohio State has the longest active streak of reaching the Sweet 16 (three in a row).
Prediction: Ohio State

No. 9 Temple vs. No. 1 Indiana
Time and TV: 2:45, CBS
Site and region: Dayton, Ohio, West
Announcers: Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg
What to watch: Khalif Wyatt, one of the most underrated players in this field, gave us a great round of 64 storyline. With his thumb on his non-shooting hand wrapped up after a painful injury, Wyatt scored 31 points with five assists and three steals -- while reaching the free-throw 10 times for the sixth consecutive game.
Game in a Tweet: Yogi Ferrell led Indiana in scoring for the first time this season with 16 against James Madison.
Prediction: Indiana

No. 8 North Carolina vs. No. 1 Kansas
Time and TV: 5:15, CBS
Site and region: Kansas City, South
Announcers: Marv Albert, Steve Kerr
What to watch: Sloppy Kansas needed a standout game from Jeff Withey to overcome 17 turnovers, 0 of 6 three-point shooting to defeat No. 16 seed Western Kentucky.
Game in a Tweet: Roy Williams is 0-2 against his old team with both losses in the NCAA Tournament.
Prediction: Kansas

No. 11 Minnesota vs. No. 3 Florida
Time and TV: 6:10, TNT
Site and region: Austin, Texas, South
Announcers: Tim Brando, Mike Gminski
What to watch: Andre Hollins is coming alive in the postseason again for Minnesota. He had 28 points, nine rebounds and five assists against UCLA. Is he ready for a matchup against Florida’s defensive stopper Scottie Wilbekin?
Game in a Tweet: Tubby Smith is 14-10 against Billy Donovan but has lost his last seven in the matchup.
Prediction: Florida

No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast vs. No. 7 San Diego State
Time and TV:
7:10, TBS
Site and region: Philadelphia, South
Announcers: Kevin Harlan, Len Elmore and Reggie Miller
What to watch: San Diego State is the last hope for the Mountain West in the Sweet 16 with Colorado State, New Mexico and Boise State all losing this season. The Mountain West has four Sweet 16 teams in conference history (San Diego State in 2012, BYU in 2011, UNLV in 2007 and Utah in 2005).
Game in a Tweet: No. 15 seeds have lost by 1, 9, 11, 12, 13 and 34 in the second round.
Prediction: San Diego State

No. 13 La Salle vs. No. 12 Ole Miss
Time and TV: 7:40, truTV
Site and region: Kansas City, West
Announcers: Marv Albert, Steve Kerr
What to watch: Who’s hot and who’s cold: La Salle was 18 of 31 from the field in the first half against Kansas State and 3 of 18 in the second. Marshall Henderson started 1 of 13 against Wisconsin, finished 5 of 8.
Game in a Tweet: Ole Miss seeking second regional semifinal in history, La Salle seeking first since 1955.
Prediction: La Salle

No. 7 Illinois vs. No. 2 Miami
Time and TV: 8:40, TNT
Site and region: Austin, Texas, East
Announcers: Tim Brando, Mike Gminski
What to watch: Illinois will ride the Brandon Paul roller coaster to the end. The guard went 3 of 12 from the floor against Colorado but sealed game with a three-pointer and near-perfect free throw shooting late.
Game in a Tweet: Miami sophomore Shane Larkin matched Pacific as a team in assists (nine) Friday.
Prediction: Miami

No. 7 Creighton vs. No. 2 Duke
Time and TV: 9:40, TBS
Site and region: Philadelphia, Midwest
Announcers: Kevin Harlan, Len Elmore and Reggie Miller
What to watch: Seth Curry is averaging 20.3 points in four postseason game (ACC and NCAA tournaments). Creighton has trouble guarding just about everyone, how will Bluejays handle Duke’s guard?
Game in a Tweet: Your Player of the Year frontrunners from December (Doug McDermott, Mason Plumlee) meet in March.
Prediction: Duke

Teaser:
<p> 2013 NCAA Tournament: March Madness Schedule for Sunday</p>
Post date: Sunday, March 24, 2013 - 09:00

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