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All taxonomy terms: Golf
Path: /golf/top-20-golfers-2013-majors-no-13-bubba-watson

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.

<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

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


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)


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)


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?

<p> 2013 Fantasy Baseball Deep Sleepers</p>
Post date: Monday, March 25, 2013 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/louisville-cardinals-2013-spring-football-preview

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.

Related College Football Content

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<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

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

<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

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 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.

<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

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:




<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

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.

<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

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.

<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

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.


<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

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

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

<p> 2013 NCAA Tournament: March Madness Schedule for Sunday</p>
Post date: Sunday, March 24, 2013 - 09:00
Path: /college-basketball/wichita-state-upsets-gonzaga-first-no-1-upset-ncaa-tournament

Wichita State finally has its moment in the spotlight, and it might last a little longer.

The Shockers became the first team to dispatch a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament by defeating Mark Few's Gonzaga 76-70 in a game when Wichita rarely trailed.

As the top teams in the West region crumble, No. 8 Wichita State is suddenly the highest seeded team in its regional semifinal, with No. 12 Ole Miss and No. 13 La Salle facing off Sunday. One of those three teams will go to the Elite Eight.

For several years, Wichita State and its coach, Gregg Marshall, have been waiting for a postseason breakout. The Shockers advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2006 -- its only Tourney appearance between 1988 and 2012 -- but lost to a Final Four-bound George Mason team. Meanwhile, the sixth-year coach Marshall will head to his first Sweet 16 in his career after going 1-8 in the Tournament at Wichita State and Winthrop.

On Saturday, Gonzaga showed its close call with 16th-seeded Southern in the round of 64 was not a fluke. Against Gonzaga, Wichita State launched 14 of 26 three-point attempts, including five field goals beyond the arc in the final 6:06.

The Bulldogs, though, continue to have trouble advancing in the NCAA Tournament. The Zags are four years removed from their last Sweet 16 and haven’t reached an Elite Eight since 1999 under Dan Monson.

<p> Wichita State upsets Gonzaga for first No. 1 upset in NCAA Tournament</p>
Post date: Saturday, March 23, 2013 - 23:42
Path: /college-basketball/marquette-butler-wraps-best-game-2013-ncaa-tournament-so-far

Only Marquette could win a game this dramatic in this Tournament. Only Butler could make the final five seconds this heart-pounding.

Two days after Marquette’s Vander Blue ended a two-Tournament drought of game-winning and game-tying shots in the final 10 seconds with his layup against Davidson, Marquette again had a flair for the dramatic in a 74-72 win in the round of 32.

Butler and Marquette played the game of the Tournament so far, a game that was separated by four points or fewer for most of the second half. Butler, who used a steal of an inbounds play to beat Gonzaga earlier this season, had a chance to win despite trailing by four in the final four seconds thanks to another fortunate inbounds play that bounced of the hands of a Marquette player. The turnover set up an ill-fated Andrew Smith three-point attempt to seal Marquette's win.

The two teams traded scores for most of the day, but Marquette sealed the win for a remarkable run in Milwaukee. The only Big East team to reach the NCAA Tournament every year since expanded now has three consecutive Sweet 16s.

And Vander Blue, with 29 points against Butler and 16 against Davidson, may be the MVP of the opening weekend.

<p> Marquette-Butler wraps up best game of the 2013 NCAA Tournament so far</p>
Post date: Saturday, March 23, 2013 - 23:08
Path: /college-basketball/ram-kid-lost-tooth-distract-saturdays-lopsided-ncaa-tournament-games

A slow afternoon of NCAA Tournament games means we’re watching the sideshow.

Colorado State’s unofficial mascot won’t be making an appearance in the Sweet 16, as his Rams lost 82-56 to Louisville.

But, hey, what’s a mid-major without a great story to accompany it?

Justin Stank, 16, has been wearing Colorado State mascot gear since he was six months, the latest editions have been stitched together by his mother, writes the New York Times.

While he yawned during a late-night Colorado State rout of Missouri on Thursday, the lopsided loss to Louisville brought out the worst in the Rams’ superfan.

Photo from Card Chronicle

But what more could he say of Colorado State’s performance -- or rather Louisville’s domination. The Cardinals’ press continued to dismantled opponents as it has since the Big East Tournament. Colorado State shot better than 50 percent for most of the game (and finished shooting 46.3 percent) yet lost by 26. The culprit was 19 turnovers.

That’s not a fluke: Louisville’s last five opponents -- since the start of the Big East Tournament -- have averaged 21.4 turnovers.

Harvard has little reason to smile
Maybe that’s a good thing? At least for guard Siyani Chambers. The freshman took an elbow to the face and chipped a tooth. The best part? Chambers’ teammates picked up the pieces of tooth on the court.

Speaking of bruised egos, Harvard fell behind 17-2 to Arizona.

Photo from The Big Lead

Related: D.J. Stephens' monster block

Elsewhere in a game already decided...
Michigan State pulled away easily from Memphis in a 70-48 win, but try telling Derrick Nix and Keith Appling.

Even with Michigan State leading comfortably, Nix and Appling -- high school teammates at Detroit Pershing -- got into a bit of a disagreement during a timeout.

And back to basketball
Michigan answered any skepticism about their Final Four credentials with a dismantling of VCU. Where Glenn Robinson III and Tim Hardaway Jr. picked up the scoring slack from Trey Burke in the round of 64 against South Dakota State, Mitch McGary did the same in the 78-53 win over the Rams. McGary scored 21 points on 10-of-11 shooting while adding 14 rebounds.

And how’s this for an encouraging sign? Michigan is in the Sweet 16 without Trey Burke playing at his best. Burke was 2 of 12 from the field in the round of 64 and turned the ball over seven times in the win over VCU.

<p> Ram Kid, a lost tooth distract from Saturday's lopsided NCAA Tournament games</p>
Post date: Saturday, March 23, 2013 - 20:22
Path: /college-basketball/memphis-dj-stephens-enters-name-block-tournament-contention

Memphis' 6-foot-5 guard D.J. Stephens continued to audition for the NCAA Tournament highlight reel with this athletic block of Michigan State's Adreian Payne in the first half.

Stephens' four blocks in the first half, including on back-to-back Michigan State possessions, helped Memphis crawl back from a 13-point deficit to a three-point Michigan State lead at halftime.

Memphis coach Josh Pastner gets plenty of credit for recruiting McDonald's All-Americans, but Stephens was a true find. Pastner admits he lucked into landing a "no-star" recruit, who now may be his most valuable player.

And in another lucky break, viewers got Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery on the call for Memphis in the Tournament.

<p> Memphis' D.J. Stephens enters name in Block of the Tournament contention</p>
Post date: Saturday, March 23, 2013 - 15:56
Path: /college-basketball/2013-ncaa-tournament-march-madness-schedule-saturday

The NCAA Tournament has moved into the weekend where tickets to the Sweet 16 will be punched. Now that we’re into the Saturday 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 Saturday’s slate of games, including the TV schedule, the network, announcers, predictions and bits of knowledge for all eight games to start the weekend.

From Friday's action:
Florida Gulf Coast upsets Georgetown

Henderson carries Ole Miss

La Salle sets up unlikely matchup

All times p.m., Eastern

No. 5 VCU vs. No. 4 Michigan
Time and TV: 12:15, CBS
Site and region: Auburn Hills, Mich., South
Announcers: Verne Lundquist, Bill Raftery
What to watch: Every other No. 4 seed will catch a No. 12 in the round of 32, but Michigan catches a VCU team that defeated undermanned Akron 88-42. The Rams’ 46-point win was the biggest margin of victory for a team seeded third or lower until Syracuse defeated Montana by 47.
Game in a Tweet: VCU’s winning number for forcing turnovers is 15, a mark Michigan hit once this season.
Prediction: VCU

No. 6 Memphis vs. No. 3 Michigan State
Time and TV: 2:45, CBS
Site and region: Auburn Hills, Mich., Midwest
Announcers: Verne Lundquist, Bill Raftery
What to watch: Josh Pastner finally picked up his first NCAA Tournament win as Memphis’ coach. His prize? Michigan State, which suddenly has another big force in Derrick Nix (23 points, 15 rebounds in the round of 64 against Valparaiso).
Game in a Tweet: Tom Izzo is 10-2 in the round of 32.
Prediction: Michigan State

No. 8 Colorado State vs. No. 1 Louisville
Time and TV: 5:15, CBS
Site and region: Lexington, Ky., Midwest
Announcers: Ian Eagle, Jim Spanarkel
What to watch: Colorado State’s Dorian Green, limited with an ankle sprain late in the season, scored 26 points against Missouri. Now, he’ll face the Louisville press that had 20 steals against North Carolina A&T.
Game in a Tweet: Colorado State has five all-time Tourney wins, or one fewer than Louisville had last year.
Prediction: Louisville

No. 14 Harvard vs. No. 6 Arizona
Time and TV: 6:10, TNT
Site and region: Salt Lake City, West
Announcers: Spero Dedes, Doug Gottlieb
What to watch: Mark Lyons, a question mark entering the Tournament, scored 23 points in his round of 64 matchup against Belmont.
Game in a Tweet: Who says Harvard is a year away? Can Crimson match Cornell’s 2010 Sweet 16 from the Ivy?
Prediction: Arizona

No. 12 Oregon vs. No. 4 Saint Louis
Time and TV: 7:10, TBS
Site and region: San Jose, Midwest
Announcers: Brian Anderson, Dan Bonner
What to watch: Saint Louis’ Dwayne Evans will face off against defensive whiz Arsalan Kazemi (29 rebounds the last two games).
Game in a Tweet: The two teams trailed for a combined 2:13 in their wins Thursday.
Prediction: Saint Louis

No. 6 Butler vs. No. 3 Marquette
Time and TV: 7:45, CBS
Site and region: Lexington, Ky., East
Announcers: Ian Eagle, Jim Spanarkel
What to watch: Who gets hot from long range first? Butler started 0 of 13 from three-point range against Bucknell, Marquette started 1 of 12 from three against Davidson.
Game in a Tweet: Marquette is seeking to be one of five teams with a chance to play in the last three Sweet 16s.
Prediction: Butler

No. 9 Wichita State vs. No. 1 Gonzaga
Time and TV: 8:40, TNT
Site and region: Salt Lake City, West
Announcers: Spero Dedes, Doug Gottlieb
What to watch: Where did Wichita State’s Cleanthony Early come from? He scored 21 points against Pitt after scoring a total of 15 in the Missouri Valley Tournament. The same could be said of Malcolm Armstead who scored 50 combined in the MVC final and against Pitt.
Game in a Tweet: Of the 11 No. 1s with a single-digit scare vs. No. 16, only two lost their next game.
Prediction: Gonzaga

No. 12 Cal vs. No. 4 Syracuse
Time and TV: 9:40, TBS
Site and region: San Jose, East
Announcers: Brian Anderson, Dan Bonner
What to watch: Cal switched from a primarily man-to-man defense to a full-time zone to defeat UNLV. For its efforts, Cal draws Syracuse’s steadfast zone defense.
Game in a Tweet: Syracuse had 21 assists on 27 field goals in the Montana rout.
Prediction: Syracuse

<p> 2013 NCAA Tournament: March Madness Schedule for Saturday</p>
Post date: Saturday, March 23, 2013 - 09:30
All taxonomy terms: 2013 March Madness, College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/florida-gulf-coast-knocks-georgetown-biggest-upset-2013-tournament

Andy Enfield has already been living a Cinderella existence. For starters, he convinced a supermodel to go to a St. John's NIT game for a first date. Then he married said supermodel.

For at least a day or so, the former Amanda Marcum will be the second-most famous name in her marriage. Enfield turned Florida Gulf Coast into the story of the NCAA Tournament so far as the 15th-seeded Eagles upset Big East champion Georgetown 78-68.

There are Cinderella stories, and there’s Florida Gulf Coast. For starters:

♦ Florida Gulf Coast didn’t have its first student until 1997.
♦ When it’s campus opened in Fort Myers, the student body got up close and personal with wildlife: “There were a couple dorm rooms and that was it. You’d see wild animals — wild boar, bobcats, alligators — crossing the road. It was unbelievable," FGCU senior Eddie Murray told the Newark Star-Ledger.
♦ FGCU wasn’t even eligible for the NCAA Tournament until two seasons ago.

From an upset perspective, the wins for No. 15 seeds are starting to pile up.

After No. 2 seeds went undefeated in the first round from 2003-11, two lost in the round of 64 last season (Duke to Lehigh and Missouri to Norfolk State). Now, three No. 2 seeds have lost in two seasons.

Or in other words, three of the seven No. 15 wins in the first round have come in the last two tournaments.

As Florida Gulf Coast cheers, Georgetown looks for answers. The Big East regular season champion Hoyas have exited the Tournament in the first weekend in each of their last five trips to the Tournament since reaching the Final Four in 2007.

The teams that upset Georgetown: No. 10 seed Davidson in 2008, No. 14 Ohio in 2010, No. 11 VCU in 2011, No. 11 NC State in 2012 and now No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast.

This latest Georgetown loss wasn’t even close at times. The Hoyas missed 10 consecutive shots at one point in the second half and trailed by as much as 19 in the second. Only a late burst powered by Markel Starks’ free throws and back-to-back threes made it close late.

<p> Florida Gulf Coast knocks off Georgetown for biggest upset of 2013</p>
Post date: Friday, March 22, 2013 - 22:10
Path: /college-basketball/ole-miss-la-salle-sets-2013s-most-unlikely-ncaa-tournament-pairing

The Sweet 16 will feature either Ole Miss or La Salle.

Let that sink in a bit. Ole Miss and La Salle have been also-rans in their leagues for roughly a decade, and now one of them will reach the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament.

Just to be clear, the fact that Ole Miss is a No. 12 seed and La Salle is a No. 13 is probably the least strange part about this round of 32 matchup:

♦ Neither program made the NCAA Tournament from 2002 to this season. La Salle hadn’t been to the Tournament since 1992 and had won only one Tournament game since 1955.

♦ Ole Miss guard Marshall Henderson made one field goal in the first half, and the Rebels still defeated Wisconsin. La Salle hit only three field goals in the second half against Kansas State and still won.

♦ Both coaches entered the season under some pressure to reach the NCAA Tournament. The pressure was more on Ole Miss’ Andy Kennedy, who had the Rebels in the NIT in five of the previous six seasons. La Salle’s John Giannini had not won 20 games in a season at La Salle through his first seven seasons before winning 21 last season.

And both have an affinity for the Landshark gesture (gif from The Big Lead):


<p> Ole Miss-La Salle sets up 2013's most unlikely NCAA Tournament pairing</p>
Post date: Friday, March 22, 2013 - 18:18
Path: /college-basketball/henderson-keeps-ole-miss-advancing-ncaa-tournament-upset

The Marshall Henderson Experience continues.

College basketball’s most divisive player will be mandatory watching for at least one more game as the Oe Miss guard heated up in the second half in the Rebels’ 57-46.

Henderson struggled to make shots for most of the game, but the law of averages being what it is, Henderson scored 16 of his 19 points in the final 11 minutes. Henderson started 1 of 13 from the field, but starting midway through the second half, he hit five of his final eight shots, including a 30-footer.

Wisconsin entered the game  allowing opponents to make 3.9 three pointers per game and shot 29.2 percent from the field. Ole Miss didn’t even match that but still earned a comfortable win. The Rebels hit three three-pointers (all from Henderson) and shot 20 percent from beyond the arc.

During his post-game press conference, Henderson, as usual, departed from the sports cliches:

MARSHALL HENDERSON:  "Yeah, I was just waiting for that first three to go down.  Couple of you guys in here followed us throughout the entire year.  Y'all know I told you all along Coach Kennedy has told me I've got to be, what is it?"
COACH ANDY KENNEDY:  "Serial killer.  But we won't say that in this environment."

And then a moment of introspection on his early struggles:

"How does this happen?  I've shot like 20 hundred million shots in my day.  Now that I make the NCAA tournament, why does this happen? The only thing that was running through my head was the Pittsburgh game, Tray Woodall, he's done so much for that program.  I thought he shot 1 for 12, probably played his worst game.  I felt so bad for him after everything that he had done, that was kind of going through my head.  'Man, I'm a fluke.'"

As a side note, how much of an intriguing coaching candidate will Andy Kennedy be? The Ole Miss coach started the season on the hot seat after going to the NIT in five or six seasons, and now he’s led the Rebels to their fourth NCAA Tournament win in school history and first since 2001.

Will he be considered a product of Henderson’s play or will he be given credit for not letting Henderson’s antics derail the season? It’s worth noting Ole Miss held Wisconsin, a 42.5 percent shooting team, to 15 of 59 from the field. The Rebels’ underrated frontcourt of Murphy Holloway and Reginald Buckner combined for 19 points, 21 rebounds and six blocks.



<p> Henderson keeps Ole Miss advancing in NCAA Tournament upset</p>
Post date: Friday, March 22, 2013 - 15:47
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketballs-absolute-worst-coaching-tenures-1984-85

Sometimes a coach inherits a bad team or steps into a program where the university simply does not invest in basketball. In some cases, through recruiting, Xs and Os and inspiration, that coach can turn a bad team into a good or even great one.

The guys on this list are not those coaches. Here are the 20 worst coaching tenures in the six major conference since the NCAA Tournament expanded in 1985.

1. Dave Bliss, Baylor
Years: 1999-2003
Record: 61-57, 19-45 Big 12
Before his undoing at Baylor, Bliss took three teams to the NCAA Tournament (Oklahoma, SMU and New Mexico), but his downfall at Baylor remains one of college athletics biggest disgraces. One player, Carlton Dotson, pleaded guilty to murdering teammate Patrick Dennehy in 2003, and Bliss' actions in the aftermath did not help an already tragic situation. Bliss was found to have paid part of Dennehy’s tuition and that of another player (both NCAA violations), and then asked an assistant and players to lie to investigators about the payment, saying Dennehy had been dealing drugs. That, among other NCAA and recruiting violations put Baylor under harsh sanctions through 2010. On the court, Baylor had one winning season and never finished better than 6-10 in the Big 12.

2. Bob Wade, Maryland
Years: 1986-89
Record: 36-50, 7-35 ACC
Wade took over after the drug-related death of All-American Len Bias, who had just been drafted second overall by the Boston Celtics. With an academic scandal at the end of coach Lefty Driesell’s tenure as well, Wade did not take over in College Park under ideal circumstance when he was hired from the high school ranks from Baltimore Dunbar. After three seasons, including two where Maryland went 0-16 and 1-14 in the ACC, Wade resigned amid his own allegations of NCAA violations. He was replaced by Gary Williams, who resuscitated the program and won 461 games with the Terps.

3. Bob Staak, Wake Forest
Years: 1985-89
Record: 45-69, 8-48 ACC
Staak took over for Paul Tacy, who had reached the postseason in five consecutive years (three pre-expansion NCAAs, two NITs) before Staak arrived. The former Xavier coach and Connecticut player went 8-21 and winless in the ACC in his first season and never won more than three conference games during his four years at Wake. He resigned amid an NCAA inquiry into recruiting violations and was replaced by Dave Odom, who would lead the Demon Deacons to their most successful era in the 1990s and early 2000s.

4. Bill Foster, Northwestern
Years: 1986-93
Record: 54-141, 13-113 Big Ten
The only program from a major conference not to have reached the NCAA Tournament, Northwestern has had its share of futile coaching tenures. Foster’s, though, was the worst. The Wildcats finished in last place in six of his seven seasons, went 2-16 in the Big Ten five times and winless once. His successor, the late Ricky Byrdsong, reached the NIT in his first season with Northwestern. And interesting footnote: Foster also preceded Mike Krzyzewski at Duke.

5. Paul Graham, Washington State
Years: 1999-2003
Record: 31-79, 9-63 Pac-10
The Cougars aren’t known for their basketball success, but before Graham, Washington State built a solid program under Kelvin Sampson and reached the NIT under Kevin Eastman. After Graham, Dick Bennett and son Tony Bennett built Washington State into an NCAA Tournament team. A rash of play departures also didn’t help Graham’s short-lived tenure at Wazzu.

6. Jeff Bzdelik, Wake Forest
Years: 2010-present
Record: 34-60, 11-39 ACC
Bzdelik has coached in the NBA and took Air Force to the NCAA Tournament in 2006, so it’s a mystery why Bzdelik has had such meager results at a program that has been a consistent power in the ACC. The Demon Deacons have had their share of player departures, due to transfers and off-court issues, so those are possible reasons. That said, Bzdelik had more ACC wins in his third season (six) than he did in his first two combined (five).

7. Sidney Lowe, NC State
Years: 2006-11
Record: 86-78, 25-55 ACC
Hopes were high that Lowe, a former NC State player and longtime NBA assistant, would help the Wolfpack take the next step after an unspectacular run under Herb Sendek. As NC State learned, things weren’t so bad under Sendek, who reached the NCAA Tournament in each of his last five seasons in Raleigh. Lowe recruited well, but the results didn’t come on the court as NC State never won more than six ACC games in a season and finished ninth or lower each year. Successor Mark Gottfried, however, took advantage of the influx of talent under Lowe with a Sweet 16 appearance in his first season.

8. Melvin Watkins, Texas A&M
Years: 1998-2004
Record: 60-112, 21-75 Big 12
Watkins’ predecessor, Tony Barone, also was a candidate for this list, which says something about the Aggies’ basketball program in the ‘90s. Watkins, though, capped his tenure in College Station with a winless Big 12 season and a 7-21 overall record. The Aggies won 10 or fewer games three times in his six seasons. If there was a silver lining, Watkins did bring Acie Law and Antoine Wright to Texas A&M. Under Law and Gillispie, Texas A&M reached the NIT in 2005 and the Sweet 16 in 2007.

9. Brian Mahoney, St. John’s
Years: 1992-96
Record: 56-58, 29-43 Big East
After the departure of the program’s most successful coach, St. John’s promoted assistant Brian Mahoney to replace Lou Carnesecca, but Mahoney turned out to be the first coach in a line of four who weren’t able to restore St. John’s to the glory days. Mahoney reached the NCAA Tournament in his first season, but  reached only one NIT in the three seasons thereafter. Mahoney went 17-37 in the Big East.

10. Matt Doherty, North Carolina
Years: 2000-03
Record: 53-43, 23-25 ACC
Doherty played for Dean Smith at North Carolina and was a teammate of Michael Jordan’s. Those were better days for the Tar Heels. Doherty went 26-7 and 13-3 in the ACC in his first season taking over for Bill Guthridge, but he went 27-36 and 10-22 in conference the following two seasons. During his short-lived tenure, Doherty clashed with Guthridge and Smith by replacing longtime assistants and ran off players with his abrasive style. In North Carolina’s second attempt to pursue Roy Williams, the Tar Heels landed him to replace Doherty in 2003. With some of Doherty’s recruits, Williams won a national title in 2005.

11. Eddie Payne, Oregon State
Years: 1995-2000
Record: 50-90, 20-70 Pac-10
Since the retirement of Ralph Miller in 1989 until the hire of current coach Craig Robinson, none of the coaches in Corvallis had distinguished tenures. Payne’s best season was 7-11 in the Pac-10, but the Beavers went 3-15 in conference or worse in three of his five seasons.

12. Billy Gillispie, Kentucky
Years: 2007-09
Record: 40-27, 20-12 SEC
Hopes were high for Texas A&M’s Gillispie he took over for Tubby Smith, a national title coach who never wowed the Kentucky fan base. A first-round loss in the NCAA Tournament to Marquette followed by an NIT ended his tenure in Lexington after only two seasons.

13. Larry Shyatt, Clemson
Years: 1998-2003
Record: 70-84, 20-60 ACC
Shyatt took over after a successful run under Rick Barnes and was replaced by Oliver Purnell, who remade the Tigers into a postseason contender. In between, Shyatt had only two winning seasons and never finished better than 5-11 in the ACC.

14. Jerry Wainwright, DePaul
Years: 2005-10
Record: 59-80, 20-51 Big East
DePaul clearly was not ready to be competitive in the Big East and had long since fallen behind in recruiting the Chicago area. An Illinois native, Wainwright couldn’t help matters. He was fired midway through the 2009-10 season amid a stretch in which DePaul went 1-35 in Big East games.

15. Fred Hill, Rutgers
Years: 2006-10
Record: 47-77, 13-57 Big East
Like Jerry Wainwright and DePaul, Rutgers hoped Hill’s local ties would help revive a moribund Big East program. Hill signed McDonald's All-American Mike Rosario (who later transferred to Florida), but he never won more than five Big East games in four losing seasons at Rutgers. Hill caused further problems for his program when he got into a shouting match with the Pittsburgh baseball coach after a game between the two schools (Hill’s father is the Rutgers baseball coach). Hill disobeyed his athletic director by attending later games in the series, a development that played a role in his ouster.

16. Jeff Bzdelik, Colorado
Years: 2007-10
Record: 36-58, 10-38 Big 12
Bzdelik makes his second appearance on the list. Again, he won at Air Force and coached in the NBA, but he couldn’t manage a winning season at Colorado. Successor Tad Boyle, meanwhile, took over to lead the Buffaloes to back-to-back postseason appearances.

17. Todd Lickliter, Iowa
Years: 2007-10
Record: 38-57, 15-39
Perhaps a cautionary sign for Brad Stevens that the grass isn’t always greener. Lickliter left Butler after a Sweet 16 appearance for a failed tenure with the Hawkeyes. Iowa was a postseason regular under four coaches since the late ‘70s, but the Hawkeyes finished eighth or lower in the Big Ten each season under Lickliter.

18. Ricky Stokes, Virginia Tech
Years: 1999-2003
Record: 29-55, 10-38 Big East
The above record does not include Stokes’ first season when the Hokies were a member of the Atlantic 10, which was also his only winning season (16-15) in Blacksburg. Virginia Tech was already struggling before joining the Big East as a basketball member in 2000, so the Hokies’ first three seasons in the league were no big surprise.

19. Jay John, Oregon State
Record: 72-97, 28-69 Pac-10
Again, Oregon State has never been an easy basketball job since and hasn't been a consistent winner since the '80s. John led Oregon State to its first postseason appearance in 15 years when the Beavers went to the NIT in 2005. But four years later he also laid the groundwork for a 6-25 season in which the Beavers went winless in Pac-10 play. John did not finish that season, however, as he was fired after 18 games.

20. Darrin Horn, South Carolina
Years: 2008-12
Record: 60-63, 23-41 SEC
In his first season, Horn led South Carolina to its first SEC winning record in 11 years, but it was downhill from there. The Gamecocks' overall and conference record declined in each of Horn’s final three seasons, bottoming out at 10-21 overall and 2-14 in the SEC last season.

<p> College Basketball's Worst Coaching Tenures since 1984-85</p>
Post date: Friday, March 22, 2013 - 12:00
Path: /nascar/earnhardt-jr-consistent-will-wins-follow

1. Strong start, but when does Dale Earnhardt Jr. win?
Depending on how you judge these things, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is off to the most impressive start to a NASCAR Sprint Cup season in his career. The claim comes with Earnhardt, now second in the point standings, putting together his best average finish (5.0) after four races since he started full-time in 2000.

Or, you could say that it's just been a really consistent start for NASCAR's top-billed man that rivals the start he worked in 2004. That season, he won the Daytona 500 and the season's fourth race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in a start only derailed by a miserable day at Las Vegas in the season's third race.

Each, of course, has their merits. But only one — the incredibly consistent current campaign — matters now. It also begs the question we've asked of Earnhardt plenty in the last half decade: when he is going to win?

A trip to Auto Club Speedway for Earnhardt may provide that answer. It's a track that he both welcomes as a driver's venue and one where he's shown moderate past success. It doesn't hurt that four of the last nine races have been won by Hendrick Motorsports.

"You can run the bottom; you can run on the apron; you can run on the top. It’s a very fun racetrack to drive," Earnhardt said. "And so I’ve got a good attitude about it. I think Steve (Letarte, crew chief) is going to give me a good car. We ran good last year because Steve gave me a good car.”

Earnhardt was scored third last year when rain ended the race on lap 129, good for his fourth top 5 at ACS in 20 career starts.

"There are opportunities to pass when you run a guy down, you can change the line you’re running and get some clean air on your car," Earnhardt said. "You feel confident that if you do the right thing and drive the car well, that you can make a pass. I love that about that racetrack."

2. Toyota still waiting on the checkers to blow their way.
Another Sprint Cup entity hoping to break in to the win column Sunday is a bit larger than even Earnhardt. Toyota, winners of the last nine Nationwide Series races contested at ACS, has yet to find Victory Lane in a Sprint Cup car at the southern California speedway that stands closest to the Torrence, Calif.-based Toyota Racing Development facility where all TRD engines and other parts are manufactured for Toyota teams.

To do so Sunday, they'll have to break a five-race streak of wins held by the Chevrolet camp in NASCAR's top division. Helping the cause will be the addition of Matt Kenseth to the Toyota fold. The former Roush Fenway Racing Ford driver has three wins in Fontana. Kenseth, already a winner at Las Vegas two weeks ago, appeared on pace to grab another before Jeff Gordon's flat tire forced his exit at Bristol last week.

Kenseth will be pushed by his teammates at Joe Gibbs Racing. Denny Hamlin was running second last year until an ill-advised pit stop as rain closed in on the track dropped him back in the pack to finish 11th. Kyle Busch was also plenty strong a year ago at ACS, leading 80 of 129 completed laps before taking second to Tony Stewart.

“We’ve had really fast race cars everywhere we’ve gone so far. Fontana is another place where I’ve always fared well over the years, and I’m hoping we can finally get that victory we’ve been looking for this weekend," Busch said.

<p> Five storylines to follow as the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit heads to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.</p>
Post date: Friday, March 22, 2013 - 11:33
All taxonomy terms: Golf
Path: /golf/top-20-golfers-2013-majors-no-14-ian-poulter

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. 15: Ian Poulter

Born: Jan. 10, 1976, Stevenage, England | Career PGA Tour Wins: 2 (12 on the European Tour)  | 2012 Wins (Worldwide): 1 | 2012 Earnings (PGA Tour): $1,715,272 (45th) World Ranking: 11


Brandel Chamblee's Take

Prior to 2012, Poulter had played in 35 majors and managed only three top tens. But in 2012, he finished in the top ten in three of the four majors and did not miss a cut on either the PGA or European Tours. To cap his consistency, he won the WGC HSBC Champions for his 16th career worldwide win and once again proved that he has the perfect combination of flare and competitiveness, as he almost single-handedly compelled the Europeans to victory in the Ryder Cup. He is one of the most marketable players on the planet, for good reason.

Major Championship Résumé
Starts: 40
Wins: 0

2012 Performance:
Masters - 7
U.S. Open - T41
British Open - T9
PGA Championship - T3

Best Career Finishes: 
Masters - 7 (2012)
U.S. Open - T12 (2006)
British Open - 2 (2008)
PGA Championship - T3 (2012)
Top-10 Finishes: 6
Top-25 Finishes: 15
Missed Cuts: 6

—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.

<p> Athlon Counts Down the 20 Golfers to Watch for Majors Season</p>
Post date: Friday, March 22, 2013 - 11:05
All taxonomy terms: College Football, College Basketball, NFL, NBA, MLB
Path: /college-basketball/athlons-essential-11-links-day-march-18

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for March 22.

Bleacher Report gives us the 60 hottest fanbases of March Madness. I feel sorry for the eight schools that got left out.

• We've had our first moment of true madness: 14 seed Harvard over 3 seed New Mexico. Harvard's most famous hoops alum took to Twitter to celebrate.

• New Mexico's loss came after Marquette staved off a similar fate with a last-second layup against Davidson.

• In the SEC, there's always a football angle, even when the subject is basketball. Here are five SEC hoops stars who would excel on the gridiron. Speaking of basketball, here's a post that should be titled, "Man, the SEC sucks at hoops."

• The NCAA Tournament can result in some late start times. The Ram was apparently up past his bedtime.

This Onion post is almost too close to the truth to be funny. Almost.

Today, on Ow, My Balls: NCAA Edition.

• Weird injuries to baseball players is an always-amusing genre. Here are spring training's weirdest mishaps.

• Note to self: Never ask Phil Mickelson a dumb question. He may talk about it behind your back.

• Second note to self: Never date Jennifer Capriati and then break up with her.

• If anybody has an excuse to bemoan the physical nature of football, it's Earl Campbell, who's essentially disabled now. But he refuses to do so. Let's hope Roger Goodell is listening.

• New candidate for Dunk of the Year. Extra points for between the legs — and because the dude is 5-9.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

March 21

• Florida Gulf Coast plays Georgetown in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday. Given the upset that FGC coach Andy Enfield pulled when he married model Amanda Marcum, I'm going with the Eagles. That's her in the photo; you can find his picture in this article. Talk about a mismatch.

NCAA Tournament figures and their lookalikes. My favorite is probably Marshall Henderson and Sid from "Toy Story."

• In case you're feeling nostalgic, here's what many feel is the Greatest Game Ever Played: Duke-Kentucky, regional final, 1992, in its entirety.

• The final shot of that game naturally made this list: the 10 most memorable moments in tournament history.

• Oops. Papa Johns used a coach who lost in the first round of the NIT in its NCAA Tournament promotion.

• One last cheat sheet: 64 teams, 64 factoids about this year's tournament participants.

• King James is ruler of all he surveys, and we are merely his loyal subjects. Last night, the Heat trailed the Cavs by 27 when LeBron went to work. When he was finished, James had a triple-double and the Heat had their 24th consecutive win.

• Classy move: The Lakers took their team photo and left one seat open for their late owner.

• Note to Lou Piniella: Never start a sentence with the phrase "I don't want to say the word 'raped'..."  If you don't want to say that word, just don't say it.

Arnold Palmer is having a dinner date with Kate Upton. It's good to be The King.

• Many of us will spend the first day of the tournament pining for football. Here are 10 reasons why college football crushes its hoops counterpart.

• Not only did the Heat win their 24th straight, but a guy stormed the floor in the middle of the game to get close to his hero.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

March 20

• To get you ready for the impending Madness, here's a slideshow of cheerleaders from each No. 1 seed.

Here's how the NCAA Tournament would go if it were based on alumni salaries. Reminds me of the old cheer: "That's alright, that's okay, you'll be working for us someday."

• Words I never thought I'd write: Kentucky lost to Robert Morris in the first round of the NIT, resulting in a pretty cool court-storming. Afterwards, former Wildcat running back Derrick Locke called out Big Blue Nation for their fair weather-ness.

• Putting the Fightin' in Fightin' Illini: Former Illinois hoops player and current analyst Kendall Gill tried to beat up a colleague who criticized his analysis. Kendall, in case you're wondering, I think you're doing just fine.

Tom Brady's family photos are better than your family photos.

• That stupid celebrity diving show started last night, but it did result in these fabulous GIFs of Katherine Webb during rehearsals. Or, if that's not your thing, here's a strangely mesmerizing GIF of Louis Anderson's dive. His feet don't stay together; of course, maybe they can't.

The most important players in the SEC West this season.

Bill Walton photobombing Bill Walton. Not sure why this is so funny, but it is.

A Hooters ballgirl committed two errors in one inning and got booed. She's still on track to start in the Mets outfield, though.

• Chris Webber took to the telestrator to break down a guy and girl sharing ice cream. Well done.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

March 19

• It's official: Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are dating. They announced it on Facebook, posted pictures like this one, and then said, "Leave us alone." Good luck with that.

• Some of this year's NCAA Tournament apples didn't fall far from their trees. Tourney players with athletic pedigrees.

• Les Miles doing the Harlem Shake? Les Miles doing the Harlem Shake.

• The Miami Heat are making history. They earned their 23rd consecutive win in a epic throw-down with the Celtics and now own the second-longest winning streak in NBA history. Jason Whitlock says what they're doing, and the way they're doing it, is revolutionary.

• LeBron James dunked Jason Terry into the Stone Age. Naturally, somebody slapped a Jim Ross call on it.

• A game-deciding call went against the Bulls. Coach Tom Thibodeau was not pleased.

• You could own a piece of cinematic history: The house from "Rocky II" is for sale.

A Hawks cheerleader took a nasty spill and knocked herself out cold.

The NCAA suspended two controversial recruiting deregulation proposals.

• Today's Headline of the Day.

• Billionaires behaving badly: Donald Trump and Mark Cuban have been trolling each other on Twitter.

• If this doesn't get you excited for March Madness, nothing will: The 26 best buzzer-beaters of the season, all in one video.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

March 18

• Lolo Jones came out and admitted that her foray into bobsled is all about her desperation for Olympic gold. Apparently she's not satisfied with being one of Maxim's Sexiest Athletes on Instagram (pictured).

• Kentucky and Tennessee fans can skip to the next item. It's time for March Madness, and to get you ready, Athlon breaks down the Tournament by the numbers.

• One of the bittersweet things about the NCAA Tournament is that you fall in love with players who promptly disappear from your life. Here are 10 seniors worth following in this tournament who you'll probably never hear from again.

• Along those same lines, a guy you've never heard of can come along and destroy your bracket (anyone remember Weber State's Harold "The Show" Arcineaux?). Here are five relative unknowns who could make some noise and bust some brackets.

• This guy, you've heard of. Nobody can enrage quite like Ole Miss' Marshall Henderson. Here are 20 NSFW Henderson death threats and f-bombs via Twitter. Needless to say, Henderson is one of the four most hated players of this year's tournament.

• To get you ready for wall-to-wall Dickie V on the Worldwide Leader, here's the world's biggest hoops fan failing to realize he's on live TV but then recovering nicely.

The 10 Most Shocking Live TV Moments. The World Series earthquake is on the list.

The bizarre Elvis Dumervil Fax-gate saga. In related news, agent Marty Magid is looking for a job.

• Getty Images captured a nice series of still shots featuring Blake Griffin dunking while the Knicks stood around watching. What else are they going to do? Try to block it and end up on a poster?

• Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin got into it at Bristol. Attention, Sprint Cup drivers: More of this, please.


--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

<p> The best sports links from the NFL, college football and basketball, MLB, the NBA, NASCAR and the world of entertainment.</p>
Post date: Friday, March 22, 2013 - 10:44
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Baseball, MLB, Fantasy, News
Path: /mlb/2013-fantasy-baseball-sleepers-and-busts-relief-pitcher

Using Athlon Sports' Big Board as the barometer, here are some potential relief pitcher sleepers who get the ball late in games to keep an eye on, as well some possible busts to potentially be wary of. Keep in mind that the "bust" tag doesn't necessarily mean that player won't produce, it's more an indication of concern that he won't do so in relation to his position on the Big Board.

Note: Relief pitcher includes players who have RP eligibility, according to Yahoo!. The player's ranking on the Big Board (200 players ranked) is listed, if applicable. UR means player was not ranked among the top 200. Player rankings from 2012 referenced are from a Yahoo! league that uses the following pitching statistics: W-SO-SV-HLD-ERA-WHIP.

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

2013 Fantasy Baseball Relief Pitcher (RP) Sleepers

Ryan Cook, OAK, RP (UR)
Part of the trade that sent Trevor Cahill to Arizona in December 2011, Cook was a key cog of the A’s bullpen last season. He made 71 appearances, posting a 6-2 record, 2.09 ERA and 0.94 WHIP. For fantasy leagues that use holds, Cook should certainly merit your attention, as he collected 21 of them in 2012. He also is a good source for strikeouts (80 in 73 1/3 innings) and he has to be considered the closer-in-waiting should something happen, health-wise or performance-related, to incumbent Grant Balfour. And speaking of Balfour’s health, he underwent knee surgery in February and is just now getting back on the mound in spring training. Besides being a valuable setup guy, the opportunity could be there for Cook to get some save chances early in the season.

Kyuji Fujikawa, CHC, RP (UR)
The Cubs signed the Japanese lefthander to a two-year, $9.5 million contract to bring him over to the states. The 32-year-old pitched in Japan from 1999-2012 where he posted a 1.77 ERA in 562 games with 914 strikeouts in 692 1/3 innings. Even though he will have to make the adjustment to pitching in the U.S. and against major-league hitters, it should be just a matter of time before Fujikawa, and not incumbent closer Carlos Marmol, is finishing games for the Cubs. Marmol most likely will be traded at some point as the team continues its rebuilding process, and Fujikawa has plenty of experience in the closer role, as evidenced by his 220 career saves in Japan.

David Hernandez, ARI, RP (UR)
All you really need to know about Hernandez is that he struck out 98 batters in 68 1/3 innings last season. He picked up 25 holds and also collected four saves as the Diamondbacks’ setup man, posting a 2.50 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in the process. Even though the team added veteran closer Heath Bell in the offseason, Hernandez figures to get the call should incumbent J.J. Putz, who blew five saves last season, stumble or simply need a day off.

Glen Perkins, MIN, RP (UR)
A starter for the Twins in 2006, Perkins has successfully made the transition to the bullpen. First used primarily as a lefty specialist, Perkins worked his way up the bullpen ladder to setup man in 2011 and the first part of ’12 and then shared the closer duties with Jared Burton from late June on last season. Whether the closer-by-committee continues this season remains to be seen, but don’t be surprised if Perkins ends up with the gig on a full-time basis. All he did in the second half of last season was go 12-for-13 in save chances with a 1.93 ERA, 0.58 WHIP, while posting an 11.33 strikeout-to-walk ratio. If Perkins does end up with the closer job all to himself, he could be good for 30 or more saves at a ridiculously cheap price.

Vinnie Pestano, CLE, RP (UR)
Pestano is one of the more under-appreciated relievers in fantasy baseball, but that could change this season. He finished last season second in the majors in holds with 36 and has a total of 59 for the Indians over his last two campaigns. He’s a reliable source of strikeouts (76 in 70 innings) and doesn’t hurt you in the ERA (2.57) and WHIP (1.10) categories either. Most importantly of all, however, is that Pestano has a good chance of starting the season as Cleveland’s closer since incumbent Chris Perez has been sidelined by a shoulder strain. Perez said he expects to be ready by Opening Day, but if he’s not new manager Terry Francona won’t hesitate to hand the ball over to Pestano. You shouldn’t either for your fantasy team, even if you play in a league that doesn’t use holds.

2013 Fantasy Baseball Relief Pitcher (RP) Busts

Joel Hanrahan, BOS, RP (No. 180 overall)
Hanrahan has been one of the most effective closers the past two seasons, racking up 76 saves in 84 chances for the Pirates. This season, however, he will be changing not only teams, but also leagues, as he takes over the closer role in Boston. Hanrahan’s fly ball rate jumped quite a bit last season, as evidenced by the eight home runs he allowed compared to just one in 2011, and his new home park is not exactly known as being a pitcher’s haven. Fenway ranked third last season in the majors in terms of runs scored, while Pittsburgh’s PNC Park came in at no. 28, according to’s Park Factors. Unless the wheels come completely off, there’s no reason to not expect Hanrahan to save 30 or more games for the Red Sox this season. Just be willing to pay a potentially high price, say in terms of ERA and WHIP, for those saves if you do end up drafting him.

Jim Johnson, BAL, RP (No. 146 overall)
Johnson came out of nowhere last season to lead the league in saves (51) for a surprising Orioles team. Understandably, Johnson went from someone drafted well outside of the top 200 (if at all) in 2012 to a guy who sits comfortably inside of that range for this season. My skepticism related to Johnson’s current Big Board standing as the No. 11 RP has to do with his skill set and the team he pitches for. For one, Johnson is not a strikeout guy (41 in 68 2/3 innings), as he relies on his stuff to produce ground balls. As effective as he is with this strategy, there’s always some concern with guys who pitch more to contact than missing bats. There’s also the matter that Baltimore went 29-9 in one-run games last season, a situation that a closer like Johnson no doubt benefited greatly from. The chances of the Orioles repeating such a performance seem highly unlikely, which in and of itself could be a difference of around 10 saves, if not more. Remember, for a pitcher like Johnson saves are what primarily drive his value since he’s not going to collect a lot of strikeouts.

Craig Kimbrel, ATL, RP (No. 45 overall)
Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way – I am not saying that Kimbrel is a bust, as his stats (3-1, 42 SV, 1.01 ERA, 0.65 WHIP, 116 SO in 62 2/3 innings) speak for themselves (and rather loudly at that). What I am saying is be careful to not overpay for saves, which I think you run the risk of based on his top-50 overall standing on the Big Board. Jonathan Papelbon is the next reliever on the Big Board, and he comes in at No. 83. The difference between taking Kimbrel in the fifth round and Papelbon in the ninth is pretty substantial, don’t you think? While Kimbrel may be one of the top RPs available, is he really so valuable that he’s worth taking so early? Don’t forget that Jim Johnson and Fernando Rodney both finished with more saves than Kimbrel last season, while Jason Motte and Rafael Soriano had just as many. Even with the high number of strikeouts and an outstanding ERA and WHIP, it’s not like Kimbrel lapped the rest of the RP field in 2012. Also, Atlanta made a concerted effort last season to lessen Kimbrel’s workload as his appearances dropped by 16 games and his innings went down by nearly 15. What’s not to say that this trend doesn’t continue in 2013? After all, the Braves did add former Angels closer Jordan Walden to a bullpen that already has reliable options in Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty. I have no problem whatsoever with Kimbrel being the first RP drafted. I would just caution you on pulling the trigger too soon.

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: Closer Grid
2013 Fantasy Baseball Deep Sleepers
Fantasy Baseball Studs to Avoid in 2013
Fantasy Baseball 2013: Which Injured Players are Worth Drafting?

<p> 2013 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers and Busts: Relief Pitcher</p>
Post date: Friday, March 22, 2013 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/5-players-watch-sec-spring-practice

With spring practice underway across college football, most of interest will focus on quarterback battles or incoming freshmen that enrolled early to get a jumpstart on making an impact for 2013.

However, there’s always a handful of players – outside of the quarterback position – that fly under the radar that need to have a big spring practice for their team. Whether it’s a running back replacing a 1,000-yard rusher or a lineman stepping into a starting role for an all-conference player, there’s plenty of names that will be under the spotlight this spring.

Athlon continues its spring practice previews with a look at five under-the-radar players to watch in each conference during spring practice. 

5 Players to Watch in SEC Spring Practice

Paul Harris, WR, Tennessee
It’s always risky to bank on true freshmen to make an impact in their first season on campus, but Tennessee desperately needs Harris to deliver on his recruiting hype. With Justin Hunter, Cordarrelle Patterson and tight end Mychal Rivera departing, the cupboard is bare with proven receiving options on Rocky Top. Harris is getting a jumpstart on learning the offense, as he enrolled early and is participating in spring practice. He ranked as the No. 7 player in Maryland and was a four-star recruit by At 6-foot-4 and 195 pounds, Harris has the size to be an immediate factor in the redzone and should help Tennessee’s new quarterback (likely Justin Worley) ease into the starting lineup. Fellow freshman MarQuez North will join the fray in the fall, but Harris has a chance to impress and earn a starting spot this spring.

Related Content: 2013 Tennessee Spring Preview

Danielle Hunter/Jermauria Rasco, DE, LSU
We are going to cheat just a bit and list both of LSU’s starting defensive ends in this space. The Tigers were arguably the team hit the hardest by early departures to the NFL, as defensive ends Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo and tackle Bennie Logan were just three of 11 LSU players to forego their eligibility in Baton Rouge. With the defensive line replacing six players from last season’s unit, Hunter and Rasco are being counted on to fill the void left behind by the departed linemen. Neither player made a start last season, but they combined for 24 tackles and two tackles for a loss. The Tigers appear to be set at tackle with Anthony Johnson and Ego Ferguson stepping into the lineup. Now LSU needs to see two former top recruits (Hunter and Rasco) live up to their billing at defensive end.

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Henry Josey, RB, Missouri
Before a devastating knee injury, Josey was on his way to being one of college football’s top running backs. In 10 games in 2011, he rushed for 1,168 yards and nine touchdowns and was averaging a ridiculous 8.1 yards per carry. Considering the seriousness of Josey’s injury, there’s no guarantee he is able to return to full strength in 2013. However, the Texas native is participating in spring practice and worked hard rehabilitating his knee last season to get back on the field. Even if Josey doesn’t return to his 2011 form, he should still be a major contributor in Missouri’s backfield. And this spring should give the coaching staff a good idea of what can be expected from the junior in 2013.

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Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama
With the departure of three of the nation’s best blockers and a new coach, the line is a major area of focus for Nick Saban this spring. Considering the recruiting classes Saban has been able to reel in, there’s no shortage of talent waiting to step into the starting lineup. However, the Crimson Tide has to get all five starters on the same page, along with developing depth in case of injury to one of the new linemen. Kelly is expected to replace Barrett Jones at center this year, and the Ohio native has big shoes to fill. Not only was Jones an excellent player, but he also played a key role in terms of leadership on the offensive side. Kelly was impressive in a backup role last year, as he recorded playing time in 10 games. There will be a drop off from Jones to Kelly. However, if Kelly’s performance last season was any indication, the Crimson Tide’s offensive line isn’t going to take too much of a step back in 2013.

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Jonathan Williams, RB, Arkansas
Thanks to the departure of quarterback Tyler Wilson and running backs Dennis Johnson and Knile Davis, the Razorbacks are essentially starting from scratch on offense. Coordinator Jim Chaney has been successful at each of his stops, but Arkansas’ offense has a lot of work to do this preseason. With touted freshman Alex Collins arriving this summer, Williams needs to impress the coaching staff this spring to stake his claim for the No. 1 job. In his freshman campaign in 2012, Williams rushed for 231 yards on 45 attempts and caught eight passes for 208 yards and two scores. The Texas native averaged 5.1 yards per carry and rushed for 61 yards against South Carolina. Williams showed potential in limited work last season. And with Collins expected to push for the No. 1 spot on the depth chart, he needs to have a big spring to put some distance on the talented freshman.   

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SEC 2013 Spring Preview and Storylines to Watch

<p> 5 Players to Watch in SEC Spring Practice</p>
Post date: Friday, March 22, 2013 - 07:50
Path: /college-football/florida-state-seminoles-2013-spring-preview

With the departure of seven all-conference performers and six new assistant coaches, Florida State’s spring practice is all about getting everyone on the same page and acclimated with all of the new faces. Despite the turnover on the roster and coaching staff, the Seminoles are still one of the top-15 teams in the nation and will be Clemson’s biggest threat to an ACC title. The battle to replace EJ Manuel at quarterback will get most of the attention this spring, but Florida State must replace a handful of key contributors on defense, including defensive end Bjoern Werner and cornerback Xavier Rhodes. With all of the changes, there will be an adjustment period in Tallahassee. However, there’s still plenty of talent returning, which could keep Florida State in contention for 10 wins in 2013.

Florida State Seminoles 2013 Spring Preview

2012 Record: 12-2 (7-1)

Spring practice dates: March 20-April 13

Returning Starters: Offense – 6, Defense – 4

Returning Leaders:

Passing: Clint Trickett, 22 of 34, 272 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: Devonta Freeman, 111 car., 660 yards, 8 TDs
Receiving: Rashad Greene, 57 rec., 741 yards, 6 TDs
Tackles: Christian Jones, 95
Sacks: Demonte McAllister, 3.5
Interceptions: Tyler Hunter, 3

Redshirts to watch: QB Jameis Winston, WR Marvin Bracy, DE Chris Casher, DB Colin Blake, DT Justin Shanks, LB Ukeme Eligwe

Early Enrollees to Watch: LB Freddie Stevenson, DE Demarcus Walker

JUCO Transfers to Watch: DE Desmond Hollin

2013 Schedule

Sept. 2 at Pittsburgh
Sept. 14 Nevada
Sept. 21 Bethune-Cookman
Sept. 28 at Boston College
Oct. 5 Maryland
Oct. 19 at Clemson
Oct. 26 NC State
Nov. 2 Miami
Nov. 9 at Wake Forest
Nov. 16 Syracuse
Nov. 23 Idaho
Nov. 30 at Florida

Offensive Strength: Outside of quarterback, the Seminoles are set on offense. Running backs Devonta Freeman and James Wilder Jr. could be the ACC’s best one-two punch in 2013. Also, five players that caught 20 or more passes are back, and the offensive line returns four starters.

Offensive Weakness: It’s only one area, but it’s a big one: Quarterback. EJ Manuel expired his eligibility after the Orange Bowl, which leaves Jacob Coker, Clint Trickett, Jameis Winston and Sean Maguire to battle for the starting job.

Defensive Strength: The strength of Florida State’s defense last year was clearly the defensive line. With Bjoern Werner leaving early for the NFL and Everett Dawkins and Cornellius Carradine expiring their eligibility, the strength of the defense has shifted to the back seven. The Seminoles should have one of the ACC’s top linebacker and secondary units in 2013.

Defensive Weakness: It’s hard to call Florida State’s defensive line a weakness considering the talent this group possesses. However, the Seminoles will have a drop off in performance at this position with the departure of four key players from last season.

Spring Storylines Facing the Seminoles

1. Who starts at quarterback? The biggest question facing the Seminoles in spring practice is the battle to replace EJ Manuel under center. Although he had his moments of inconsistency, Manuel finished his career with 7,741 yards and 47 touchdowns. Four quarterbacks are vying to replace Manuel, but the battle is most likely between junior Clint Trickett and redshirt freshman Jameis Winston. Trickett has two starts under his belt and has 947 passing yards in his career. Winston was regarded as the No. 1 quarterback recruit in the 2012 signing class and spent last season learning the ropes as a redshirt. Winston is playing baseball this spring but is not expected to miss any practice time. Considering the talent at the skill positions, Florida State doesn’t need Trickett or Winston to be an All-ACC quarterback. If Winston is ready, he should be the Seminoles’ No. 1 quarterback for the season opener against Pittsburgh.

2. Shuffling on the offensive line? With four starters back, Florida State should have one of the ACC’s best offensive lines in 2013. However, there’s some uncertainty surrounding this group, as Menelik Watson departed early for the NFL and Daniel Glauser expired his eligibility, which completely vacated the depth at right tackle. So who steps into Watson’s starting spot? Junior Bobby Hart is expected to get a chance to claim the right tackle job, and he has 19 games of experience under his belt. If Hart is unable to claim that spot, center Bryan Stork could slide to right tackle. If Stork does slide to the outside, junior Austin Barron would claim the top spot at center. Other options to watch at right tackle will be sophomore Ruben Carter or junior Sterling Lovelady, along with incoming freshman Wilson Bell. The best scenario for Florida State is for Hart to claim the right tackle position, which would keep Stork at center. Depth could be an issue for the Seminoles on this unit, so keeping the five starting linemen healthy will be a priority.

3. Rebuilding the defensive line. Although Florida State must replace ends Bjoern Werner and Cornellius Carradine and tackles Everett Dawkins and Anthony McCloud, this unit could still rank among the best in the ACC. Sophomore Mario Edwards is a future star, and sophomore Giorgio Newberry and redshirt freshman Chris Casher were touted recruits coming out of high school. Incoming freshman Demarcus Walker and junior college recruit Desmond Hollin are expected to play a significant role in the rotation in 2013. The tackle position should be set with Timmy Jernigan and Demonte McAllister sliding into the starting lineup, along with the return of Jacobbi McDaniel from a redshirt year. Even with the talent stepping into the lineup, this unit will take a step back. However, if there’s little adjustment from Mark Stoops to Jeremy Pruitt as the coordinator, Florida State’s rush defense should once again rank in the top-10 nationally.

4. Shuffling in the secondary. The Seminoles only have one departure in the secondary, but it’s a big one. Cornerback Xavier Rhodes left early for the NFL after earning first-team All-ACC honors in 2013, and he is expected to be a first-round selection in April. Replacing Rhodes is no easy task, but Florida State has depth in the secondary. Lamarcus Joyner is expected to slide from safety to cornerback in spring practice, and he was a first-team All-ACC pick last year. With Joyner moving to corner, the Seminoles shouldn’t miss a beat in pass defense. The other corner spot has a handful of players competing for time, including Tyler Hunter, Ronald Darby, Nick Waisome, incoming freshman Jalen Ramsey and redshirt freshman Colin Blake. With Hunter, Darby and Waisome out for spring practice, Blake will have a head start on claiming the other corner spot. Regardless of who starts at the other corner spot, Florida State has plenty of options and should be stingy against the pass once again. Expect Terrence Brooks and Karlos Williams to get the starting nod at safety.

5. Replacing Dustin Hopkins at kicker. The departures on offense and defense will get most of the attention in the spring, but Florida State has a huge void to fill on special teams. Kicker Dustin Hopkins set the NCAA career scoring record for kickers and was a Groza Award finalist in 2012. Junior Drew Zloch and redshirt freshman Roberto Aguayo are the only kickers on the spring roster, with Aguayo the likely frontrunner. Hopkins was one of college football’s top kickers during his career at Florida State and will be missed. Will Aguayo ease concerns about Hopkins’ departure this spring? Or will the kicking battle continue into the fall?

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<p> Florida State Seminoles 2013 Spring Preview</p>
Post date: Friday, March 22, 2013 - 07:45