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Alabama has arguably the most storied tradition in college football. It recently won its 15th national championship, and there is no fan base in the nation more rabid about its program than the Crimson Tide. Decades of winning, hundreds of NFL players and two of the greatest coaches to ever patrol the sidelines are just a few of the bullet points on the resume.

But how would John Hannah match up against the vaunted front seven of 2011 led by Dont'a Hightower and Courtney Upshaw? Could Johnny Musso spin and twist his way to victory against Mount Cody and the 2009 championship squad? The fact of the matter is that no one will ever know for sure, so trying to rank the best teams in Alabama history is virtually impossible. But we're going to try.

1. 2009 (14-0, 8-0)
Head Coach: Nick Saban
The 14-0 record is the best record in Alabama history, and the '09 depth chart is probably the most talented collection of players ever assembled in the history of the Capstone. This team already features 13 first- or second-round draft picks (10 in the first) and could add to that total this spring with names like Barrett Jones and Chance Warmack. The backfield featured a Heisman winner and a Heisman finalist in Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson, while Julio Jones is quickly showing the NFL that he is one of the most physically gifted wideouts in all of football. A Butkus winner in Rolando McClain and star nose guard Terrence Cody led a defense that also included a young Mark Barron, Hightower and Upshaw. This team rolled through the SEC, upset Tim Tebow in Atlanta behind heady play from boy genius Greg McElroy at quarterback and then crushed Texas in the national title game. To top it all off, Javier Arenas, who starred at cornerback, gave Bama a huge weapon on special teams as well, earning SEC Special Teamer of the Year honors. Few teams ever assembled on any campus have ever been as complete as the 2009 BCS National and SEC champions.

2. 1979 (12-0, 6-0)
Head Coach: Bear Bryant
The 1979 National and SEC champs were never ranked lower than No. 2 in the polls and finished the season unbeaten under legendary head coach Bear Bryant. This defense pitched an amazing five shutouts on the season, holding Baylor, Wichita State, Florida, LSU and Miami to a total of zero points. After a dominating Sugar Bowl performance against future SEC rival Arkansas (then of the SWC), Bryant claimed his sixth and final national title for Bama. All-America blockers Dwight Stephenson and Jim Bunch led a vaunted rushing attack spearheaded by Major Ogilvie, while fellow All-American Don McNeal led the stingy defense. The coaching staff included Sylvester Croom, Mal Moore, Ken Donahue and Bill Oliver.

3. 2011 (12-1, 7-1)
Head Coach: Nick Saban
From a statistical perspective, few teams in the history of college football have ever been as stingy as the 2011 Alabama defense. Saban's defense led the nation in scoring, total, rushing and passing defense, setting a modern college football record — the BCS era — with just 8.2 points allowed per game. It then avenged its only loss on the season to LSU by simply crushing the Tigers in their backyard in the BCS title game. LSU totaled 92 yards of offense, five first downs and are the only team in BCS history to be shut out in the championship game. Doak Walker winner Trent Richardson and Outland Trophy winner Barrett Jones steamrolled opposing defenses while a young AJ McCarron blossomed in the season finale. With four first-round picks and counting off this roster, Saban's '11 squad sits behind his '09 team simply because of the 9-6 overtime loss to LSU at home late in the season. This is the only BCS champion not to win its conference.

4. 1961 (11-0, 7-0)
Head Coach: Bear Bryant
In just his fourth season at Alabama, Bryant gave fans a glimpse of what life would be like with the Bear on the sidelines. Led by quarterback Pat Trammell and two-way stars Lee Roy Jordan and Billy Neighbors, Alabama rolled through the '61 campaign with relative ease. It shut out six opponents on the season, including five straight to end the regular season. After a 10-3 bowl win over Arkansas, Bryant claimed the consensus national championship and the first of his six titles. This team outscored opponents 297-25 on the season and never allowed more than seven points in any game (NC State scored 7).

5. 1992 (13-0, 8-0)
Head Coach: Gene Stallings
In his third season as the head man, Gene Stallings constructed one of the best Alabama teams of all-time. His team won all 13 games and held 10 of those opponents to 11 points or less. His tenacious defense was led by star defensive backs George Teague and Antonio Langham — both of whom intercepted six passes that season. After a thrilling win in the first-ever SEC championship game against Florida that featured a game-winning interception returned for a touchdown by Langham, the Tide earned the right to face No. 1-ranked Miami and their Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Geno Torretta. Alabama was a heavy underdog but rolled to an impressive 34-13 win. Quarterback Jay Barker and special teams dynamo David Palmer starred on offense, while All-Americans John Copeland and Eric Curry formed one of the nastiest defensive end duos in Crimson Tide history.

6. 2012 (13-1, 7-1)
Head Coach: Nick Saban
An extension of Saban's previous two national title winners, Alabama's third title-winning team in four years posted a dominating performance against Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship game. An all-world offensive line stocked with NFL talent and yet another stellar defense led the Tide to its 15th championship with elite defense, a power running game and incredibly efficient play from quarterback A.J. McCarron. Like the 2011 team, this squad led the nation in total and scoring defense, while McCarron was second nationally in passing efficiency (30 TD, 3 INT). It was technically McCarron's third national title ring as he was a redshirt on the '09 team. This team wasn't as dominant as Saban's previous two title-winners, losing to Texas A&M and beating LSU and Georgia in nail-biters en route to the SEC title. And, of course, this team gave us Katherine Webb.

7. 1966 (11-0, 6-0)
Head Coach: Bear Bryant
Led by four first-team All-Americans in defensive tackle Richard Cole, defensive back Bobby Johns, offensive tackle Cecil Dowdy and split end Ray Perkins, Alabama came up just shy of winning the national title. Had there been a playoff, Bama would have earned the right to play either No. 1 Notre Dame or No. 2 Michigan State — who tied 10-10 in their legendary regular-season matchup. Starting quarterback Ken Stabler and Bama outscored their opponents 144-7 over the final five games. In fact, this team allowed 37 points on the season and was one of the most dominant defenses in Alabama history. The '66 squad is arguably the best team not to win a national championship at Alabama.

8. 1978 (11-1, 6-0)
Head Coach: Bear Bryant
The Tide began the season as the No. 1 team in the nation until USC's Charles White rushed for 199 yards and the Trojans forced six turnovers to defeat Alabama 24-14 in Week 3 at Legion Field. The famous performance by White would be the last loss before Bryant and the Tide claimed 28 straight wins over the next two-plus seasons. Following the USC loss, All-Americans Marty Lyons and Barry Krauss led the defensive effort that fueled eight consecutive wins and a right to face Joe Paterno's No. 1-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions in the Sugar Bowl. Running back Major Ogilvie led the Tide rushing attack to 208 yards (compared to PSU's 19) and a hard-fought 14-7 win that featured a legendary goal-line stand. The former Tide tailback claims that "it was, by far, the hardest hitting game I've participated in [and] there's not even a close second." It would be the first of back-to-back national titles for Bama.

9. 1934 (10-0, 7-0)
Head Coach: Frank Thomas
Thomas, in his third season as the head coach, led Alabama to a national championship in just its second season of SEC play. Thomas claimed it was his best team during his tenure at the Capstone, and in an era when points were tough to come by, his '34 squad averaged 31.4 per game. Hall of Fame wideout Don Hutson was one of three All-Americans, joining tailback Dixie Howell and tackle Bill Lee. The 29-13 performance against Stanford in the Rose Bowl solidified this team as one of the greatest in Crimson Tide history.

10. 1973 (11-1, 8-0)
Head Coach: Bear Bryant
Bryant and the Tide rolled through the regular season with an unblemished 11-0 record. Three first-team All-Americans — offensive tackle Buddy Brown, split end Wayne Wheeler and linebacker Woodrow Lowe — led a star-studded lineup into the Sugar Bowl against Notre Dame. It was the first ever meeting between the two most powerful brands in college football, and it went the way of the Irish. In an epic showdown in New Orleans, Notre Dame outlasted Alabama 24-23 in a game that actually lived up to the pre-game hype. Despite losing "The Game" and Notre Dame finishing No. 1 in the AP poll, Alabama still claimed a national championship.

11. 1971 (11-1, 7-0)
This John Hannah-led squad came up just shy of a national title after debuting the wishbone and losing to No. 1 Nebraska in the Orange Bowl.

12. 1964 (10-1, 8-0)
An undefeated regular season ended with a national title, but a loss to Texas in the Orange Bowl.

13. 1965 (9-1-1, 6-1-1)
Ended the season No. 4 in the polls before beating Nebraska and jumping both Arkansas and Michigan State. A truly back-door national title.

14. 1977 (11-1, 7-0)
A seven-point road loss to Nebraska is the only thing that kept this team from winning three straight National Championships ('78, '79).

15. 2008 (12-2, 8-0)
This team rolled through the regular season unbeaten before losing to Tim Tebow and Florida in the SEC title game.

The best of the rest:

1974: 11-1
1994: 12-1
1991: 11-1
1989: 10-2
1963: 10-1

 

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Teaser:
<p> Top 15 Alabama Football Teams of All-Time</p>
Post date: Friday, March 15, 2013 - 08:00
Path: /college-football/vanderbilt-commodores-2013-spring-football-preview
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James Franklin has taken Vanderbilt where few thought it was possible for the program to go — to the middle of the pack in the SEC. After showing significant improvement in Franklin’s first season — the Dores won six games in 2011, two more than the previous two years combined — the program took an even bigger step forward in 2012. The Commodores went 9–4 overall and 5–3 in the SEC. The nine wins were the most since 1915, and the winning record in the league was the school’s first since 1982. Vanderbilt ended the season on a seven-game winning streak, with five of the seven victories coming by 14 points or more. There was nothing fluky about Vanderbilt’s breakthrough season — the Commodores ranked fifth in the league in total defense and a respectable eighth in total offense.  And while there are a few key personnel losses on both sides of the ball, there is more than enough returning talent to keep the Commodores relevant in the nation’s most difficult conference.

Vanderbilt Commodores 2013 Spring Preview

2012 Record: 9-4 (5-3)

Spring practice dates: March 15-April 13

Returning Starters: Offense – 7, Defense – 6

Returning Leaders:

Passing: Austyn Carta-Samuels, 14 of 25, 208 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: Brian Kimbrow, 66 car., 413 yards, 3 TDs
Receiving: Jordan Matthews, 94 rec., 1,323 yards, 8 TDs
Tackles: Kenny Ladler, 90
Sacks: Kyle Woestmann, 6
Interceptions: Kenny Ladler and Andre Hal, 2

Redshirts to Watch: CB Brandon Banks, DT Ladarius Banks, P Colby Cooke, OL Barrett Gouger, OL Andrew Jelks, CB Torren McGaster, DE Stephen Weatherly, QB Patton Robinette

Early Enrollees to Watch: OL Sean Dowling, QB Johnny McCrary

JUCO Transfers to watch: TE Brandon Vandenburg

2013 Schedule

Aug. 29 Ole Miss
Sept. 7 Austin Peay
Sept. 14 at South Carolina
Sept. 21 at UMass
Sept. 28 UAB
Oct. 5 Missouri
Oct. 19 Georgia
Oct. 26 at Texas A&M
Nov. 2 Bye Week
Nov. 9 at Florida
Nov. 16 Kentucky
Nov. 23 at Tennessee
Nov. 30 Wake Forest

Offensive Strength: Vanderbilt boasts the SEC’s best pair of starting wide receivers in Jordan Matthews and Chris Boyd. Matthews earned first-team all-conference honors as a junior after catching a league-best 94 passes for 1,323 yards and eight touchdowns. Boyd’s numbers weren’t as gaudy (50 catches for 774 yards), but he has tremendous hands and is considered a legitimate NFL prospect.

Offensive Weakness: Vanderbilt is unproven at the quarterback position after losing Jordan Rodgers to graduation. Austyn Carta-Samuels, who started for two seasons at Wyoming, is the favorite, though redshirt freshman Patton Robinette will get a long look.

Defensive Strength: The Commodores feature three defensive ends who could play for any team in the league — a statement that can’t often be made with conviction. Senior Walker May is a bit undersized (6-5, 250) but has been a consistent playmaker for the past two seasons. Junior Kyle Woestmann was perhaps the best player on the defense in the latter half of the season, with six sacks and 9.5 tackles for a loss in the final seven games. And sophomore Caleb Azubuike recorded 4.5 sacks as a true freshman.

Defensive Weakness: Vanderbilt lacks depth at defensive tackle, with only three players returning who logged meaningful snaps at the position in 2012. To build some depth, the staff moved highly touted offensive lineman Adam Butler, a redshirt freshman, to defensive tackle in the spring, and also is looking at moving Azubuike inside on passing downs.

Spring Storylines Facing the Commodores

1. Replacing Jordan Rodgers. After a slow start, Jordan Rodgers enjoyed an outstanding senior season running the Vanderbilt offense. The biggest issue in the offseason is identifying Rodgers’ successor. Austyn Carta-Samuels, a two year-starter at Wyoming and the 2009 Mountain West Freshman of the Year, is the favorite. Carta-Samuels is a dual-threat who threw for 3,655 yards and rushed for 578 in his two seasons at Wyoming. He started one game last year for Vanderbilt, throwing for 195 yards in an easy win over Presbyterian. Carta-Samuels will be challenged by Patton Robinette, a redshirt freshman from East Tennessee who was once committed to North Carolina. Josh Grady, who was moved from quarterback to wide receiver last spring, is back at quarterback (for now). True freshmen Johnny McCrary and Chad Kanoff are long shots to play right away.

2. Sorting out the running back situation. Zac Stacy finished his career as the school’s all-time leading rusher. The Commodores will replace his production with a three-man committee — senior Wesley Tate and sophomores Jerron Seymour and Brian Kimbrow. Tate emerged as a consistent No. 2 back last year after spending the 2011 season at wide receiver. He had 10 carries or more five times in the last eight games and scored one touchdown in six of the last seven games. He has decent size and good speed but did not have a run longer than 25 yards in 2012. Kimbrow, a highly touted recruit, was the Commodores’ second-leading rusher as true freshman, though more than half of his 413 yards came against Presbyterian and UMass. He has tremendous speed but lacks the size to be an every-down back. Seymour sat out last season as a redshirt while recovering from an injury. He was Stacy’s primary backup as a true freshman in 2011. Don’t be surprised if Seymour leads Vanderbilt in rushing next fall.

3. Finding a No. 2 cornerback. The Commodores have received strong play from the cornerback position in Bob Shoop’s two seasons as the defensive coordinator. Andre Hal, a second-team All-SEC pick in 2012, is back for his second season as the starter, but Vanderbilt must find a replacement for Trey Wilson. Steven Clarke, the primary nickel back last fall, and redshirt freshmen Torren McGaster and Brandon Banks are the top candidates. Shoop loves to bring pressure, so it’s important that he is comfortable leaving his cornerbacks in man coverage.

4. Colby Cooke’s leg. One of the underrated aspects of Vanderbilt’s breakthrough season was the play of the kicking specialists. Placekicker Carey Spear rebounded from a disappointing sophomore season to convert 20-of-24 as a junior, and punter Richard Kent was consistently strong all season long. Spear is back for one more season, but Kent, a three-year starter, must be replaced. Colby Cooke, the successor, has a big leg but has yet to prove himself in a game. The Commodores need him to be solid in 2012. 


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Teaser:
<p> Vanderbilt Commodores 2013 Spring Football Preview</p>
Post date: Friday, March 15, 2013 - 07:45
All taxonomy terms: NFL, NBA, MLB, NASCAR
Path: /nfl/20-athletes-who-retired-then-unretired
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Turns out, Tony Gonzalez is not retiring after all. Arguably the greatest tight end in history is returning to the Atlanta Falcons for the 2013 season, his 17th year in the NFL — despite previously being “95 percent” sure that 2012 would be his last season.

“I’m happy to say that after speaking with my family, I’m coming back,” Gonzalez said in a series of tweets on Tuesday.

“The lure of being on such a great team and organization, along with unbelievable fan support was too good to pass up.

“We have a great shot to get to the Super Bowl, RISE UP ATLANTA!”

Gonzo is the latest — but not the only and surely not the last — high-profile athlete to have one foot out the door before pivoting back to the pros for another run. These are the top 10 athletes to “unretire,” in order of the success they had upon their respective returns.

1. Michael Jordan
Retired: 1993, 1998, 2003
Unretired: 1995, 2001


“I’m back.”

His Airness uttered the most famous comeback line ever in 1995, when Jordan returned to the NBA following the first of three retirements. After playing minor league baseball in the Chicago White Sox organization, MJ jumped back onto the court to lead the Chicago Bulls to three more NBA championships and the greatest single-season record (72–10) in history.

Jordan walked away from the game again after hitting the championship-clinching final shot in the 1998 NBA Finals. But MJ couldn’t stay away, so he unretired again in 2001, playing two seasons with the Washington Wizards before finally retiring — for the final time? — as a 40-year-old.

“One day you may look up and see me playing a game at 50,” Jordan said during his infamous Hall of Fame induction speech in 2009. “Don’t laugh.”

2. George Foreman
Retired: 1977, 1997
Unretired: 1987


Following a life-altering, near-death experience in a loss to Jimmy Young in Puerto Rico, Foreman took a decade off before making an historic comeback at 38 years old. The former champ more than held his own, going a full 12 rounds with Evander Holyfield as a 42-year-old in 1991 and becoming the oldest heavyweight champion in history after knocking out Michael Moorer as a 45-year, 299-day-old 250-plus-pounder in 1994.

3. Brett Favre
Retired: 2006 (kind of), 2008 (sort of), 2009 (maybe), 2011 (definitely)
Unretired: 2007, 2008, 2009


The undisputed king of the fake retirement, Favre became synonymous with indecisiveness to the point where Super Bowl commercials mocked his inability to make up his mind. Favre’s emotional final press conference as a Packer in 2008 was followed by a change of heart and a trade to the Jets. A sex scandal and retirement later, Favre was off to play for the Vikings, where he had one of his best seasons ever as a 40-year-old before being knocked out of the game for good.


4. Floyd Mayweather
Retired: 2006, 2008
Unretired: 2007, 2009


“Money” Mayweather returned to the ring in 2007 for a cool $25 million to fight Oscar De La Hoya — in a fight that set a new record for most pay-per-view purchases in boxing history, as 2.4 million households paid the price. Then, in 2008, Mayweather canceled a lucrative rematch with De La Hoya and “decided to permanently retire from boxing.” Floyd’s fought four times since, making an estimated $100-million-plus over that stretch. Imagine how much cash Mayweather could bag if he fought Manny Pacquiao?

5. Randall Cunningham
Retired: 1995, 2001
Unretired: 1997


One of the most exciting dual-threat quarterbacks of all-time, Cunningham retired as the scrambling Tecmo Bowl legend “QB Eagles,” then returned to post arguably his finest season in the NFL — throwing for 3,704 yards, 34 TDs and a 106.0 passer rating for the 15–1 Vikings in 1998.

6. Roger Clemens
Retired: 2003, 2006, 2007
Unretired: 2004, 2007, 2012


Just last season, a 50-year-old Rocket was pitching in the Independent League for the Sugar Land Skeeters, sparking speculation that the seven-time Cy Young Award winner would pitch again for MLB’s Houston Astros. Clemens was the ace of the short season, arriving in midseason form — at midseason — in his early-to-mid-40s for both the Astros and New York Yankees.

7. Mario Lemieux
Retired: 1997, 2006
Unretired: 2000


Super Mario retired due to back problems and a Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosis before throwing his hat back on the ice in December 2000. Following a 44-month retirement, Lemieux joined Gordie Howe and Guy Lafeur as the third Hall of Famer to play after being inducted. Lemieux won a gold medal as the captain of Team Canada at both the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and 2004 World Cup of Hockey.

8. Mark Martin
Retired: 2006
Unretired: 2009


True, the ageless wonder never left the NASCAR track. But Martin did take a last lap in 2006, his supposed final season running a full-time schedule. Three years later, Martin was a five-time winner and Cup runner-up while racing full 36-race slate for the top team in the business, Hendrick Motorsports. Martin only ran 24 races last season and there is speculation that this will be the 54-year-old’s final race to the finish. But after a third-place finish at this year’s Daytona 500, it’s hard to believe Martin is going to park his car.

9. Pele
Retired: 1972, 1977
Unretired: 1975


A living legend, Pele stopped playing full-time for his Brazilian club Santos in 1972. The three-time World Cup champion came out of his quasi-retirement to play for the New York Cosmos in 1975, however, instantly becoming the face of the upstart NASL. Fittingly, Pele went out in style in an exhibition match between Santos and Cosmos on ABC’s Wide World of Sports in 1977.

10. Sugar Ray Leonard
Retired: 1982, 1987, 1991, 1997
Unretired: 1984, 1988, 1991, 1996


A detached retina started a string of retirement-comebacks for Sugar Ray, who won the WBC middleweight title belt from Marvin Hagler in 1987 to highlight his many moves in and out of the ring. His last few bouts had mixed results, as he defeated Roberto Duran to take a 2–1 career lead over the Panamanian in 1989, then lost to Terry Norris in 1991 and suffered a TKO to Hector Camacho as a 40-year-old in 1997.

11. Deion Sanders
Retired: 2000, 2005
Unretired: 2004


At 37 years old, Prime Time returned to the gridiron to team up with good buddies Ray Lewis and Ed Reed as a member of the Baltimore Ravens. Once the fastest man in the NFL, Deion wore No. 37 to remind opponents just how old he was. In two seasons, Sanders hauled in five INTs for 144 yards and his ninth career pick-six.

12. Ricky Williams
Retired: 2004, 2011
Unretired: 2005


After leading the NFL in carries in back-to-back seasons and failing a few drug tests, Ricky went up in smoke — retiring from football after earning both an NFL rushing title and Heisman Trophy. Williams served a suspension, studied yoga and played a little ball in Canada before returning to the league, where he posted an 1,100-yard, 11-TD season in 2009 but never regained his All-Pro pre-retirement form.

13. Ryne Sandberg
Retired: 1994, 1997
Unretired: 1996


After struggling to stay healthy and hitting a combined 14 home runs during the 1993 and 1994 seasons, Sandberg hung up his spikes and sat out the 1995 season. The 1984 NL MVP returned in 1996, however, hitting 25 HRs and 92 RBIs as a 36-year-old in 1996 and taking one last trot around the bases in 1997 before retiring — for good this time.

14. Magic Johnson
Retired: 1991, 1996
Unretired: 1996


After retiring from the NBA due to HIV in 1991, Magic was named MVP of the 1992 NBA All-Star Game and won a gold medal as a member of the Dream Team at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. But he didn’t officially return to the NBA until 1996, when Johnson played 32 games, primarily as a power forward, averaging career lows in points (14.6 ppg), rebounds (5.7 rpg) and assists (6.9 apg).

15. Justine Henin
Retired: 2008, 2011
Unretired: 2010


A seven-time Grand Slam champion, Henin retired while ranked No. 1 in the world and set to return to the French Open, where she was the three-time defending champion heading into the 2008 event. She returned to the courts in 2010, but a brutal elbow injury suffered at Wimbledon derailed the comeback attempt and ended a brilliant career.

16. Lance Armstrong
Retired: 2005, 2011
Unretired: 2009


The seven-time Tour de France winner — results that have since been voided due to a steroid scandal that finally caught up with the yellow-bellied yellow jersey-wearing cyclist and cancer survivor — probably wishes he hadn’t come back in 2009. After finishing third and 23rd in the 2009 and 2010 Tours de France, Armstrong peddled away from the sport in 2011 but ultimately couldn’t outrace his past.

17. Reggie White
Retired: 1999, 2001
Unretired: 2000


The Minister of Defense played 13 consecutive Pro Bowl seasons with the Eagles and Packers before retiring following the 1998 season. The 2000’s were not as kind to the gentle giant, as White managed a career-low 5.5 sacks — just the third single-digit sack total of his NFL career — during his solo season with the Panthers.

18. Bjorn Borg
Retired: 1983, 1993
Unretired: 1991


The 11-time Grand Slam winner grew his hair out long like the old days and grabbed a wooden racket nearly a full decade after leaving the courts. But the Swede was ill-prepared for the comeback, failing to win a single set in his first nine matches back.

19. Bob Cousy
Retired: 1963, 1970
Unretired: 1970


The Houdini of the Hardwood spiked ticket sales in Cincinnati as a 41-year-old player-coach, suiting up for seven games at the end of the 1970 season — averaging an un-Cousy-like 0.7 points and 1.4 assists while sharing the court with legends such as Oscar Robertson and Jerry Lucas.

20. Muhammad Ali
Retired: 1979, 1981
Unretired: 1980


Two of Ali’s five career losses came during a comeback effort that, in hindsight, may have contributed to the current physical state of the boxing icon who famously could “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” during his prime. Back-to-back losses to Larry Holmes and Trevor Berbick proved disastrous in both the short and long term for Ali.

Teaser:
<p> 20 Athletes Who Retired Then Unretired, including Michael Jordan, Brett Favre, George Foreman, Roger Clemens, Muhammad Ali, Floyd Mayweather, Mark Martin, Sugar Ray Leonard, Deion Sanders, Reggie White, Ryne Sandberg, Randall Cunningham, Mario Lemieux, Lance Armstrong, Bob Cousy, Bjorn Borg, Pele, Ricky Williams, Magic Johnson and Justine Hennin.</p>
Post date: Thursday, March 14, 2013 - 17:45
Path: /college-basketball/40-twitter-accounts-every-march-madness-fan-should-follow
Body:

College basketball can be a tough sport to follow, even for die-hard fans. Nearly 350 teams, more than 30 conferences, games everyday of the week make college hoops a great sport, but also difficult to get a comprehensive handle on.

But there’s also recruiting gurus and a new wave a statistic-loving experts who can make college basketball fandom an exhaustive affair.

If you’re on Twitter, here are the 40-plus folks to follow who can offer numbers, news, insight and humor.

THE MARCH MUST-FOLLOW

March Madness TV @MarchMadnessTV
Quiet during the regular season, CBS' account for March Madness ramps it up around the conference tournaments and into the NCAA Tournament. Want to know immediately who's in the field, where to watch the key games and best action and other factoids? This is a must-follow.

 

 

THE BIG NAMES

Andy Katz @ESPNAndyKatz
If you follow college basketball, you probably know ESPN.com’s lead reporter on the sport already. His feed is a one-stop shop for news, comments and retweets of the college basketball media from ESPN and elsewhere.

 

 

Seth Davis @SethDavisHoops
You can’t escape him on television as basketball season takes over on CBS on Saturday. He’ll Tweet his SI.com Hoop Thoughts, views he’s gleaned scouts on key players and his own opinions. He’s a big name for sure, but he takes questions from Twitter every week in Twenty for Tuesday.

 

Jay Bilas @JayBilas
ESPN’s best color and in-studio basketball analyst is also one of the most interesting voices on Twitter. His insight is valuable and witty, but perhaps his best quality is his unfiltered take on the NCAA. He also has a follower-to-following ratio in excess of 400,000-to-0.

 

The CBSSports.com team
Jeff Borzello @JeffBorzello
Jeff Goodman @GoodmanCBS
Matt Norlander @MattNorlander
Gary Parrish @GaryParrishCBS

Want a lesson in newsroom chemistry? The CBSSports.com college basketball team is it. Parrish is an ace columnist. Goodman seems to know every roster and assistant from North Carolina to North Carolina A&T. Borzello is the recruiting expert. Norlander curates the blog and the podcast. The banter and non-basketball Tweets, though, make them worth following as a group as they poke at Goodman’s obsessiveness, Parrish’s fashion choices, Norlander’s affinity for tempo-free stats.

 

The Bracket Experts
Joe Lunardi @ESPNLunardi
Jerry Palm @jppalmCBS

Face it: You probably have a handful of questions about your team. 1. Is my team in the NCAA Tournament or on the bubble? 2. Where is my team seeded? 3. What if X beats Y and Y beats Z? Lunardi and Palm have your answers. And they seem to take the constant questions and occasional criticism in stride.

 

 

Michael DeCourcy @tsnmike
Let’s step away from this ESPN/CBS dominance for a bit with DeCourcy, a staple from The Sporting News and now the Big Ten Network. He’ll be kind, critical but also unafraid to challenge the prevailing wisdom.

 

Pat Forde @YahooForde
Forde offers in-game notes and opinion on the most prominent teams. Cue the Kentucky fans: He’s from Louisville but gives both teams a fair shake.

 

Dick Vitale @DickieV
We’ve poked fun at Vitale, but the ESPN institution has taken to Twitter well. His enthusiasm for being on the road at college basketball’s best sites translates to social media, too. We’ll sum it up this way: If you like Vitale on air, you’ll like him on Twitter even in CAPS LOCK.

Luke Winn @lukewinn
Sports Illustrated’s top basketball writer puts out must-read power rankings throughout the season. @AndyGlockner and @RobDauster are also key follows from the SI team for nationwide info. Winn's work is rich in data, charts and visual aids. For example:

 

The rest of the ESPN team
Dana O’Neil @ESPNDanaONeil
Jason King @JasonKingESPN
Eamonn Brennan @eamonnbrennan
Myron Medcalf @MedcalfByESPN
Fran Fraschilla @franfraschilla
Jimmy Dykes @JimmyDykesLive

No one has more boots on the ground than ESPN, especially covering college basketball full-time. From the great feature writers (O’Neil and King) to the blog network (Brennan and Medcalf) and the on-air guys (Fraschilla and Dykes), you won’t starve for information.

 

GOING DEEPER

USA Today Voices
Eric Prisbell @EricPrisbell
Nicole Auerbach @NicoleAuerbach
Dan Wolken @DanWolken

USA Today recently expanded its online sports coverage. Prisbell reports and investigates, which means he may report some things you’ll hate to hear about your team and love to hear about your rivals. Auerbach covers the nationwide blog and curates a chat with Prisbell. Wolken is by trade a college football writer, but the former Memphis newspaper columnist has some biting basketball takes, too.

 

Ken Pomeroy @kenpomeroy
Remember when baseball statistics like OPS and BABIP and WAR started making the rounds? Tempo-free basketball stats are kind of like that. Ken Pomeroy and his ilk wants to be able to compare an up-tempo team like North Carolina to a low-tempo team like Wisconsin on an even playing field. You’ll have to visit his site and pay the subscription to get all the advanced stats, but Pomeroy brings a quirky sense of humor to Twitter.

 

The Recruiting Gurus
Eric Bossi @ebosshoops
Jerry Meyer @jerrymeyer247
Brian Snow @BSnowScout
Dave Telep @DaveTelep

Want to know who’s next up for your team or what coach is watching what recruit? Basketball recruiting hasn’t blown up quite like football on national signing day, but veteran recruiting reporters Eric Bossi, Jerry Meyer, Brian Snow and Dave Telep know their way around the AAU circuit.

 

The Independent Voices
Rush the Court @rushthecourt
Michael Rogner @RunTheFloor

Looking for a different take away from the big multimedia companies, try these two blogs to shuffle things up. Both gather links from around the web, create their own content and analysis and share opinions, especially live on game day.

 

The Coaches
Chris Mack @CoachChrisMack
Eric Reveno @CoachReveno

Admit it: Most coach Twitter accounts are boring, especially if he’s not the coach of your favorite team. Many accounts aren’t even run by the coach himself. We applaud Xavier coach Chris Mack and Portland coach Eric Reveno for sharing the coach experience with their followers. Both have occasionally self-deprecating senses of humor, especially when it comes to parenting and travel. But they also take on more heady issues. Reveno, in particular, Tweets about the tough job of a coach and offers suggestions to the NCAA.

 

Check Your Local Listings
Most of these on the list are national names. We couldn’t possibly go through the long list of great beat writers and local columnists out there. Some of our favorites for top teams this year including @RickBozich and @ericcrawford for Louisville, @JerryTipton and @kysportsradio for Kentucky, @insidethehall and @indystar_hutch for Indiana and @ACCSports, @DavidTeelatDP and @bylinerp for all things Duke, North Carolina and ACC.

Teaser:
<p> Twitter accounts every college basketball fan should follow</p>
Post date: Thursday, March 14, 2013 - 14:30
Path: /college-basketball/daily-march-madness-tracker-big-east-tournament-wont-disappoint
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Caution employers: Work productivity may be down Thursday and Friday this week and next.

The wild ride continues as college basketball conference tournaments enter their most dramatic phase. Four games in one day in major conferences, championships in the one-bid leagues.

Athlon Sports will keep you up to date on the major news for the NCAA Tournament from the day’s games and what to watch in the day ahead.

Conference tournament previews:
ACC | Atlantic 10 | Big 12 | Big East | Big TenMountain West | Pac-12 | SEC


MARCH 14 DAILY MARCH MADNESS TRACKER

Villanova keeps climbing
The Wildcats were pretty safe after defeating Georgetown in the final week of the regular season, but Villanova now has a chance to move up the bracket after advancing in the Big East Tournament. The Wildcats pulled away from an undermanned St. John’s team 66-53 and will face Louisville today. Nova’s frontcourt of Mouphtaou Yarou and JayVaughn Pinkston pounded St. John’s for a combined 30 points and 16 rebounds. The Wildcats were characteristically effective from the line, shooting 19 of 23. File that number away.

Cincinnati pulls out of funk
After having to sweat in an overtime win over USF at home, Cincinnati defeated Providence 61-44 in a game that could have been problematic for the Bearcats. Cincinnati won’t have to beat Georgetown to get into the field. The Bearcats will just try to show any signs they can advance.

Syracuse stalls, then roars back
The Orange started its game against Seton Hall on Saturday looking as sluggish as it had for most of the last few months. Syracuse trailed by nine midway through the first half but finished with a 75-63 win. Most encouraging was the play of James Southerland and Brandon Triche. Southerland bounced back from an 0-for-8 performance against Georgetown to score 20. Triche broke out of his slump from the last few weeks to score 17.

Should UCLA fear Arizona State?
Arizona State lost an eight-point lead in the final 1:04 of regulation against a Stanford team that made attempted (and made) one field goal all game. The Sun Devils eventually won 89-88 in overtime to keep their slim NCAA hopes alive. Why should a team that nearly coughed up a win over the ninth-seeded team be a threat to the No. 1 seed in the Pac-12? Well, freshman Jahii Carson was unstoppable with 34 points. And UCLA hasn’t shown it can be trusted tto avoid a let down.

UNLV makes most of its break
Disappointing UNLV ended the season with a loss to Fresno State at home. The Rebels will advance on their homecourt by defeating Air Force 72-56, but UNLV caught a break. Air Force’s leading scorer Michael Lyons left with a knee injury. Still, the Rebels should be pleased with the win, especially with the play of Anthony Bennett. In February, he was one of the top freshmen in the country, but he scored in double figures only once since Feb. 16. Against Air Force, he was 10 of 14 from the field for 23 points with seven rebounds.

In the one-bid conference tourneys...
Bucknell clinched the Patriot League’s bid by defeating Lafayette in the title game. The Bison have a legit forward in Mike Muscala and gave Missouri fits earlier this season. No top four seed will want to meet Bucknell in the round of 64. ... Both of the top two seeds in the MEAC lost their first games in the conference tournament -- Norfolk State to eighth-seeded Bethune-Cookman and North Carolina Central to seventh-seeded North Carolina A&T. You’ll recognize Norfolk State: The Spartans upset No. 2 seed Missouri in the NCAA Tournament last season. The MEAC frontrunners went a combined 31-1 in league this season.

Related: Top Buzzer Beaters for 2012-13 (so far)

KEY THURSDAY GAMES
All times Eastern


Note: The first rounds of the Atlantic 10, ACC and Big Ten begin Thursday while the SEC moves into the second round.

Big 12 quarterfinals
Oklahoma vs. Iowa State (12:30 p.m., ESPN2)
Oklahoma State vs. Baylor (9:30 p.m., Big 12 Network)

Iowa State is lingering on the bubble, but the Cyclones might feel pretty good if they can defeat Oklahoma for their second win over a top-50 team in eight days. The Sooners would have good reason to worry about their seed with a loss Thursday. They’ve already lost to Texas and TCU since the end of February ... Baylor will need to make a deep run to reach the NCAA Tournament, but back-to-back wins over Kansas and Oklahoma State will allow us to dream.

Big East quarterfinals
Cincinnati vs. Georgetown (noon, ESPN)
Syracuse vs. Pittsburgh (2 p.m., ESPN)
Villanova vs. Louisville (7 p.m., ESPN)
Notre Dame vs. Marquette (9 p.m., ESPN)

As indicated above, the bubble work may be done for Cincinnati and Villanova. This is simply going to be great basketball in the final Big East Tournament as we know it. Three future conferences will be represented Thursday with the future Big East in name only (Georgetown, Marquette), the conference-to-be named (Cincinnati) and the ACC (Syracuse, Pitt, Louisville, Notre Dame).

Big Ten first round
Illinois vs. Minnesota (noon, Big Ten Network)
Unless Michigan loses to Penn State for the second time in two weeks, the first day of the Big Ten Tournament will be most notable for the 8-9 game. Both Illinois and Minnesota this season defeated Indiana, whom the winner will draw in the next round. Minnesota was in a funk in the last week of the season. The Gophers need Trevor Mbakwe, Rodney Williams and Andre Hollins to heat up to have a chance to win the postseason. Illinois lost its final two regular season games, too, but if Brandon Paul catches fire, no one will want to face the Illini.

Mountain West semifinals
UNLV vs. Colorado State (10:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network)
Colorado State took care of business against Fresno State even without starting point guard Dorian Green. UNLV may be the luckiest team in the postseason -- the Rebels are playing on their home court and faced Air Force without their best player and are likely to face Colorado State without its point guard.

Pac-12 quarterfinals
Arizona State vs. UCLA (3 p.m., Pac-12 Networks)
Arizona vs. Colorado (5:30 p.m., Pac-12 Networks)

UCLA isn’t far removed from losing to Washington State on the road, and the Bruins must face a team that gave them fits in the regular season. The Sun Devils dominated inside in an 18-point win back in January, and UCLA needed it star freshmen to combine for 64 points to defeat Arizona State in overtime at home.

Related: All 2013 postseason college basketball coverage

BY THE NUMBERS
NCAA TOURNAMENT PROJECTED LOCKS (50)
ACC (4): Duke, Miami, NC State, North Carolina
Atlantic 10 (4): Butler, Saint Louis, Temple, VCU
Atlantic Sun (1): Florida Gulf Coast*
Big 12 (4): Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State
Big East (8): Cincinnati, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Villanova
Big South (1): Liberty*
Big Ten (6): Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin
Colonial (1): James Madison*
Horizon (1): Valparaiso*
Ivy (1): Harvard*
Missouri Valley (1): Creighton*
Mountain West (4): Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV
Northeast (1): LIU Brooklyn*
Ohio Valley (1): Belmont*
Patriot (1): Bucknell*
Pac-12 (5): Arizona, Cal, Colorado, Oregon, UCLA
SEC (2): Florida, Missouri
Southern (1): Davidson*
Summit (1): South Dakota State*
Sun Belt (1): Western Kentucky*
West Coast (1): Gonzaga
*clinched NCAA Tournament bid

ONE-BID LEAGUES (9)
America East, Big Sky, Big West, MAAC, MAC, MEAC, Southland, SWAC, WAC
Note: Conference USA likely will be a one-bid league if Memphis wins its conference tournament.

THE BUBBLE: 17 teams for nine spots
Alabama
Arizona State
Baylor
Boise State
Iowa
Iowa State
Kentucky
La Salle
Memphis
Middle Tennessee
Minnesota
Ole Miss
Tennessee
Saint Mary’s
Wichita State
UMass
Virginia

Teaser:
<p> Daily March Madness Tracker: Big East Tournament won't disappoint</p>
Post date: Thursday, March 14, 2013 - 12:30
Path: /college-football/lsu-tigers-2013-spring-football-preview
Body:

Reloading or rebuilding? That's the big question in Baton Rouge this spring. With a 34-6 record from 2010-12, LSU has been one of college football’s top programs in recent years. However, the Tigers will be hard pressed to win 10 or more games in 2013, as the team returns only 10 starters from last season. Coach Les Miles has recruited plenty of talent to Baton Rouge, but LSU will be young on defense and needs quarterback Zach Mettenberger to take a big step in his development. With road games against Georgia, Ole Miss and Alabama in 2013, getting to 9-3 with a revamped starting lineup should be considered a good season for LSU.

LSU Tigers 2013 Spring Preview

2012 Record: 10-3 (6-2)

Spring practice dates: March 14-April 20

Returning Starters: Offense – 7, Defense – 3

Returning Leaders:

Passing: Zach Mettenberger, 207 of 352, 2,609 yards, 12 TDs, 7 INTs
Rushing: Jeremy Hill, 142 car., 755 yards, 12 TDs
Receiving: Jarvis Landry, 56 rec., 573 yards, 5 TDs
Tackles: Lamin Barrow, 104
Sacks: Micah Eugene, 3.5
Interceptions: Craig Loston, 3

Redshirts to Watch: OL Derek Edinburgh, OL Jerald Hawkins, LB Lorenzo Phillips

Early Enrollees to Watch: WR John Diarse, OL Fehoko Fanaika, QB Anthony Jennings, WR Avery Johnson, DT Christian LaCouture, OL Ethan Pocic, QB Hayden Rettig

JUCO Transfers to Watch: OL Fehoko Fanaika, WR Quantavius Leslie, TE Logan Stokes

2013 Schedule

Aug. 31 TCU (Arlington)
Sept. 7 UAB
Sept. 14 Kent State
Sept. 21 Auburn
Sept. 28 at Georgia
Oct. 5 at Mississippi State
Oct. 12 Florida
Oct. 19 at Ole Miss
Oct. 26 Furman
Nov. 2 Bye Week
Nov. 9 at Alabama
Nov. 16 Bye Week
Nov. 23 Texas A&M
Nov. 30 Arkansas

Offensive Strength: Even though Michael Ford and Spencer Ware left Baton Rouge for the NFL, the Tigers are set in the backfield. Jeremy Hill should be one of the SEC’s top running backs in 2013, while Alfred Blue and Kenny Hilliard return after combining for 734 yards in 2012.

Offensive Weakness: With the departure of Josh Dworaczyk, Chris Faulk and center P.J. Lonergan, LSU’s offensive line is a concern going into spring practice. There are options returning to fill the voids, but the Tigers need to mix and match to find the right lineup.

Defensive Strength: Despite some losses, the back seven of LSU’s defense should be solid. Lamin Barrow will slide to middle linebacker to replace Kevin Minter, while Jalen Mills and Jalen Collins is a solid duo at cornerback.

Defensive Weakness: Churning out top defensive linemen isn’t an issue at LSU, but that notion will be put to the test this spring. The Tigers must replace six key players in last season’s rotation.

Spring Storylines Facing the Tigers

1. Can Zach Mettenberger take the next step? As expected, Mettenberger’s first season as LSU’s starting quarterback had its share of ups and downs. He threw for 298 yards and one touchdown against Alabama on Nov. 3 but threw just five passing scores in SEC play. With a strong rushing attack and one of the SEC’s top defenses, Mettenberger wasn’t asked to carry the team. However, with LSU losing significant contributors on both sides of the ball, the passing attack has to step up in 2013. New offensive coordinator Cam Cameron has a wealth of experience and should help Mettenberger continue to refine his game this spring, along with developing more consistency in SEC games.

2. Finding the right mix on the offensive line. Although the line is a weakness going into spring practice, the coaching staff has to be optimistic about the returning talent. Guard La’el Collins was an honorable mention All-SEC selection last season and will slide to left tackle this spring. Josh Williford missed most of 2012 due to a concussion but is expected to replace Collins at left guard. Sophomores Elliott Porter, Trai Turner and Vadal Alexander will likely fill out the remaining spots on the line. Junior college recruit Fehoko Fanaika and redshirt freshmen Derek Edinburgh and Jerald Hawkins will have an opportunity to work their way into the mix if any of the projected starters struggle this spring.

3. Rebuilding the defensive line. Developing talent on the defensive line hasn’t been an issue for LSU, but line coach Brick Haley and coordinator John Chavis will have their hands full this spring. The Tigers must replace six key players from last season’s unit, including dynamic ends Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo. Tackles Bennie Logan and Josh Downs will also be missed. There’s very little in the way of proven experience at end returning, as junior Jermauria Rasco and sophomore Danielle Hunter are expected to start spring practice as the top options. Rasco and Hunter combined for 22 tackles last season. The situation at tackle is slightly better, as Anthony Johnson and Ego Ferguson are poised to have a breakout year. Incoming freshmen Tashawn Bower, Maquedius Bain, Greg Gilmore, Frank Herron, Christian LaCouture, Lewis Neal and Michael Patterson will provide depth and should see plenty of snaps with the way LSU likes to rotate its defensive linemen.

4. Filling the holes on the back seven. The defensive line wasn’t the only area of LSU’s defense that will need to be overhauled. The situation in the back seven is just as desperate, as the Tigers must replace first-team All-SEC linebacker Kevin Minter, cornerback Tharold Simon and safety Eric Reid. Lamin Barrow is expected to slide into middle linebacker to replace Minter, and the Tigers will look for Kwon Alexander, Lamar Louis, Deion Jones and Ronnie Feist to improve in their second year on campus. Tahj Jones is a player to watch after making just one appearance last season and recording four tackles and one sack in the Chick-fil-A Bowl against Clemson. Losing Reid and Simon is a big loss in the secondary, but LSU has pieces to build around in cornerbacks Jalen Mills and Jalen Collins, while Craig Loston, Corey Thompson, Micah Eugene and Ronald Martin is a solid foundation at secondary. There’s plenty of talent in the back seven, but LSU needs to blend all of the new faces into the starting lineup this spring.

Related College Football Content

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SEC 2013 Spring Storylines to Watch

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat for 2013

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Ranking All 125 College Football Coaching Jobs for 2013
Texas A&M Aggies 2013 Spring Preview
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Florida Gators 2013 Spring Preview
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Teaser:
<p> LSU Tigers 2013 Spring Football Preview</p>
Post date: Thursday, March 14, 2013 - 12:20
All taxonomy terms: Golf
Path: /golf/top-20-golfers-2013-majors-no-20-zach-johnson
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They’re the cream of the major championship crop, circa 2013 — the Athlon Major Championship Dream Team. Leading up to The Masters, we'll be unveiling Athlon Sports’ 20 players to watch for majors season, with commentary on each from the Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee.

No. 20: Zach Johnson

 

Born: Feb. 24, 1976, Cedar Rapids, Iowa   | Career PGA Tour Wins: 9 | 2012 Wins (Worldwide): 2 | 2012 Earnings (PGA Tour): $4,504,244 (6th)  World Ranking: 26

 

Brandel Chamblee's Take

Since topping the 2003 class of the Web.com Tour (then known as the Nationwide Tour), Johnson has been one of the most consistent money-winners on the PGA Tour. In 2004, he won in just his ninth start as a rookie, and after his third multiple win season in 2012 he now has nine career wins, one of which was the 2007 Masters. In an era that is biased towards length off the tee, Zach’s success has been based on accuracy, one of the best putting strokes in the game and a tenacity that is matched by few in the world of golf. His strong grip and flat swing give him a low ball flight that makes him a threat in windy conditions but perhaps explains why, on the harder surfaces of majors, his top 10 percentage doesn’t match up to his numbers in regular tour events.

Major Championship Résumé
Starts: 35
Wins: 1

2012 Performance:
Masters - T32
U.S. Open - T41
British Open - T9
PGA Championship - 70

Best Career Finishes: 
Masters - 1 (2007)
U.S. Open - T30 (2011)
British Open - T9 (2012)
PGA Championship - T3 (2010)
Top-10 Finishes: 4
Top-25 Finishes: 8
Missed Cuts: 13

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

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Thursday, March 14, 2013 - 12:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Baseball, MLB, Fantasy, News
Path: /mlb/2013-fantasy-baseball-rankings-outfield
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Opening Day is less than three weeks away, meaning the fantasy baseball season is quickly approaching. Drafts are going across the country, and probably the globe, and Athlon Sports' annual Baseball Preview magazine is available on newsstands everywhere.

Besides providing our comprehensive Fantasy Baseball Big Board, we also have our positional rankings, courtesy of Bruce Herman, straight from our magazine for you to peruse, utilize and scrutinize as we get ever so closer to hear those beloved words, "Play ball!"

Rankings Key
A: FRANCHISE PLAYER — You need one to compete, two to win, three to dominate.
B: CAREER YEAR — Veteran with a strong possibility of delivering his best season.
C: SLEEPER — Could be a great acquisition at a price or draft slot below his true value.
D: ROADBLOCKED — Rank has been lowered because there is no current opportunity to play regularly.
E: DECLINER — Expect moderately to significantly worse stats than in 2012.
F: INJURY RISK — Has had a recent injury that could affect performance.
G: INVESTOR’S SPECIAL — Top prospect whose immediate impact may be minimal.

Batting stats are expressed AVG-HR-RBI-R-SB

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

Athlon Sports' 2013 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Outfield

TIER 1
1. Ryan Braun, Brewers (A)
Five full seasons, five fantasy categories — that’s potentially 25 top-10 National League rankings for Braun, and he’s delivered on 18. As a 2008-12 composite, he’s the only top-three finisher in four of those stats, and he’s eighth in the other (stolen bases). No clue if he’s clean or dirty, but his name instantly elevates the level of testosterone around a draft table.

2. Matt Kemp, Dodgers (A,F)
Kemp is Braun-y in every way except health; there’s a chance he won’t be 100 percent for Opening Day after having shoulder surgery in October. He figures to go .300-30-100-100 at a minimum, but he’s now more of 20-SB guy than his 30-to-40 of yore.

3. Mike Trout, Angels (A,E)
A case can be made that Trout’s season was the most explosive the hobby has ever known. There’s never been another to match his .326-30-83-129-49 line. An unsustainable .383 BAbip and plain ol’ probabilistic gravity say he won’t do it again. Even so, if his RBI total wasn’t moderated by leading off (as a point of comparison, he batted with 138 fewer runners on base than Miguel Cabrera), he’d be roto’s No. 1 overall property.

TIER 2
4. Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies (A)
There is a smattering of other players who outshine him column-by-column, but Gonzalez’s fusion of the five is nearly unique. Across all positions, only Braun can equal his three-year norm of .313-27-98-97-22.

5. Jason Heyward, Braves (A,B)
June 1 became a line of demarcation for Heyward — the day he found his way back to the path of superstardom. In 108 games from that date forward, he went .284-21-59-69-12. It will be onward and upward from there for the 23-year-old.

6. Andrew McCutchen, Pirates (A)
McCutchen was as big a fantasy fish as Trout for long portions of 2012. If he can address the streakiness (such as home run droughts of 25 and 20 games), he’s a similar player. Even after sagging to .247 in his last 46 games, his 68-point batting average hike (from .259 to .327) was the largest of NL qualifiers.

7. Josh Hamilton, Angels (A)
There will be stretches when Hamilton looks like a $25 million player and others when he’s returning a quarter on the dollar. A quarter, in fact, is exactly what fraction of games he sat out the last four seasons. The two sides to his coin: His Ruthian 1.305 OPS of mid-May disintegrated to a Shin-Soo Chooian .815 in his final 114 games; he’s homered once per 17.3 PAs in Arlington, but at barely half that rate in Anaheim; he’s the only man since 1974 to drive in one of every five ducks he’s had on the pond (min. 400 ducks), yet 14 players own more RBIs since his debut.

8. Justin Upton, Braves
Up(and down)ton has seen his HR/RBI totals pogo from 26/86 to 17/69 to 31/88 to 17/67 the past four years. A trade to Atlanta presents him with not only a change of scenery, but the opportunity to play with his brother, B.J. A lot of GMs think he’s on the verge of blowing up. Was stifled by a sore thumb for much of 2012.

9. Yoenis Cespedes, Athletics
Cespedes just kept getting better and better as he adjusted to the league and culture. Bearing in mind that he’s 27, he’s closer to the top of the mountain than most second-year big-leaguers. A CarGo-type season is not off the table.

10. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays (F)
Last year was destabilized by a wrist injury and a .215 BAbip (third-lowest in the AL, min. 150 PAs). But between Sept. 26, 2009, and July 2, 2012, Bautista hit 37 more home runs than anyone else in baseball. That’s like cramming an extra Albert Pujols campaign into two and a half seasons.

11. Bryce Harper, Nationals
Is Harper going to be a great player? That’s a clown question, bro. The three-ring circus enveloping his debut proved justified, as his 2012 performance was among the best ever by a teen. While there are still potholes to be dodged along the road to Cooperstown, he’s already evaded one: Facing the first adversity of his life — a 41-game, .194-hitting skid — he sloughed it off to bat .338 after Aug. 27.

12. Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox (F)
After he bordered on being the preeminent fantasy chattel in 2011, Ellsbury’s durability now must be called into question. He’s averaged .302-16-71-104-53 in his three full seasons, but two of the last three have been near-washouts — playing in only 18 games in 2010 and just 74 games last season.

13. Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins
The slugger formerly known as Mike Stanton, Pujols and A-Rod are the only active players to have slugged .600 or higher in a season of 400 or more at-bats before turning 23. He’s gifted enough to be that type of hitter year-in/year-out, but Miami’s offseason divestiture leaves him naked in the lineup and none too thrilled about it.

14. Austin Jackson, Tigers (B)
Impressively declining SO/BB ratios from 3.6 to 3.2 to 2.0, coupled with converse-trending HR/SB relationships from 0.1 to 0.5 to 1.3, indicate that Jackson is evolving into a mid-order hitter. Though he’s stuck leading off, that’s generally good news for roto purposes.

15. Jay Bruce, Reds (B)
Bruce is the first player in baseball lore to hit 20 homers as a rookie then boost his total each of the next four seasons — all the way to 34 last year. Wouldn’t bet against a fifth.

16. Shin-Soo Choo, Reds
Historically effective anywhere in the first six spots of the order, Choo is now a leadoff man. He’s a true five-category resource, though not a true impact force in any. His singular blemish is a puzzlingly steady regression against lefty pitching (.199-2-13 in 2012), and the Reds — with Jay Bruce and Joey Votto batting close behind — are going to see plenty.

17. Curtis Granderson, Yankees (E)
Because The Stadium yields a 51 percent higher homer rate to lefties than righties, Granderson has been seduced into one-dimensionality. It’s been a huge dimension — 10 more homers (84) than any other player the last two years. Take heed, though, of his .191 AVG last August through the postseason, and his sudden swipe swoon from 25 to 10. Granderson got hit by a pitch in his very first spring training at-bat, fracturing his forearm. He is not expected back in the Yankees' lineup until late May at the earliest.

18. Adam Jones, Orioles (E)
Jones crossed the 100-run and 30-homer thresholds for the first time. A stubborn lack of intimacy with the strike zone hardly inspires confidence for consistency, exposing him to famines such as his last 58 plate appearances (including postseason): six singles, a double, no walks.

19. Alex Rios, White Sox
Another swing-at-everything type subject to tempestuous fluctuations. OPS has been .850-plus three times, but .703-minus in three. Had the largest AVG increase of qualifiers from 2011 (.227) to 2012 (.304), but it’s hard to know if that was a light bulb in his head or a flash in the pan.

20. Alex Gordon, Royals
Underwent an utterly predictable reversion from .303-23-87-101-17 to .294-14-72-93-10. Should float between those extremes — closer to the lower one — for the foreseeable future.

21. Matt Holliday, Cardinals (E,F)
Aggregately, Holliday has been a top-10 fantasy hitter over the past eight years. He’s still playing at a borderline Tier-1 level, but wear-and-tear (including tell-tale back problems) has made him smell like a player who may not age seamlessly.

22. Michael Bourn, Indians
Has slowed a half-step, making 40-to-45 steals — the foundation of his fantasy value — more realistic than his previous three-year norm of 58. Typically mirrors the league batting average and scores 90-ish runs.

23. Desmond Jennings, Rays (B)
Jennings stole 31 bases and scored 85 runs despite neither hitting (.246 AVG) nor walking (46) and batting atop a sketchy lineup. Five more hits a month make him something like .300-20-60-100-40. It could happen.

24. Andre Ethier, Dodgers
Streakiness and ticky-tack injuries confine him to the 20-homer/70-run/80-RBI plane. Ironically, six of his seven AVGs have held steady between .284 and .308.

25. Hunter Pence, Giants
Quizzically coupled his highest RBI total (104) with his lowest OPS (.743). Career-long difficulties at AT&T Park and evaporating stolen base totals have knocked him down several pegs.

TIER 3
26. Dexter Fowler, Rockies
The improvement came from getting into hitters’ counts 74.0 percent of the time — fourth-best in the game. Mitigating against more: a .390 BAbip that was the highest of all qualifiers. Fowler’s .300-13-53-72 is at the upper edge of his capabilities, but his 12 SBs could become 20.

27. Carlos Gomez, Brewers
There’s been so much oscillating exhilaration and frustration about Gomez over the past six years, it’s easy to forget that he’s still a pup. At 26, he finally put some big-dog bite in his stats with 19 homers and 37 steals.

28. Carl Crawford, Dodgers (F)
There are so many ways to look at this two-year epic fail, it’s probably best to look only for a palpable bargain. We’d set the over/unders at a .285 AVG, 75 runs, 65 RBI, 12 homers and 22 steals, and if we can’t get him at a price commensurate to that, we’d walk away from the table.

29. B.J. Upton, Braves
Despite a career-high 28 homers, his 2012 OBP rested nearly 90 points lower than his 2007-08 levels. That scarcely portends an offensive epiphany, and he won’t run as much in Atlanta, but at least he’s dropping into the middle of the order.

30. Ichiro Suzuki, Yankees
If Ichiro hits .300 and steals 30 bases, he’d join a 39-and-over club currently populated by only Rickey Henderson and Kenny Lofton. That’s on the optimistic side, but the right field fence — and a surprise 15 home runs — is well within his reach.

31. Ben Revere, Phillies
He’s that second cat Neo notices in “The Matrix.” The first one was Juan Pierre.

32. Michael Saunders, Mariners
Post-hyper (by three years) who’s in for a string of 20-20 seasons, though is limited by his approach. Owns fourth-lowest AVG (.220) of active players with 1,000 plate appearances — one slot below Livan Hernandez.

33. Carlos Beltran, Cardinals (E)
The soon-to-be 36-year-old Beltran’s dimensions are contracting. The power (32 HRs, 97 RBIs) is usually the last to go.

34. Shane Victorino, Red Sox
Barely moves the needle on a roster one way or another, except in the stolen base category. Duplicating his career-best 39 of 2012 is asking a lot.

35. Jon Jay, Cardinals
There is no Jay-walking for this free swinger, but there was some unexpected Jay-running in 2012, as he stole 19 bases in only 117 games. He’s going to hit .300 forever, so the thefts make the lack of power palatable.

36. Starling Marte, Pirates (C)
There have probably been more prospect washouts with a profile like Marte’s — big minor league stats, searing speed, power that so far exists only in the imagination, bull-in-a-china-shop approach, a touch of immaturity — than any other type. A player with his tools, though — you gotta give him a chance.

37. Nelson Cruz, Rangers
He finally played a full season, and the results (.260-24-90-86-8) were respectable, if underwhelming relative to some transient rampages we’ve seen from him.

38. Melky Cabrera, Blue Jays (E)
Anyone’s guess what’s left now that Cabrera’s gone from Mr. T to Mr. Low T. Let’s throw out last year’s enhanced edition, start with his 2009-2011 average of .282-12-66-73-12, and goose it up a little for Rogers Centre.

39. Nick Markakis, Orioles
His power potential evidently just a rumor, Markakis might now be a leadoff man, where the run-scoring and run-producing should be a wash. Has batted between .284 and .306 in all seven seasons.

40. Angel Pagan, Giants
30-year-old career-year’ers (.288-8-56-95-29) rarely repeat. Pagan has a better chance than most because he passes the eyeball test for genuine improvement and still can run like crazy.

TIER 4
41. Denard Span, Nationals
42. Carlos Quentin, Padres (F)
43. Norichika Aoki, Brewers (E)
44. Chris Davis, Orioles
45. Brett Gardner, Yankees
46. Cameron Maybin, Padres
47. Lorenzo Cain, Royals (B,C)
48. Josh Willingham, Twins (E)
49. Michael Cuddyer, Rockies
50. Dayan Viciedo, White Sox
51. Jason Kubel, Diamondbacks (E,F)
52. Josh Reddick, Athletics (E)
53. Torii Hunter, Tigers (E)
54. David Murphy, Rangers (B)
55. Ryan Ludwick, Reds (E)
56. Jayson Werth, Nationals
57. Nick Swisher, Indians
58. Alfonso Soriano, Cubs (E)
59. Michael Brantley, Mariners
60. Colby Rasmus, Blue Jays
61. Cody Ross, Diamondbacks
62. Adam Eaton, Diamondbacks (C,D,G)
63. Juan Pierre, Marlins
64. Coco Crisp, Athletics
65. Alejandro de Aza, White Sox

TIER 5
66. Wil Myers, Rays
67. Drew Stubbs, Indians
68. Chris Young, Athletics
69. Matt Joyce, Rays
70. Peter Bourjos, Angels
71. Lucas Duda, Mets (C,F)
72. Jeff Francoeur, Royals
73. Nolan Reimold, Orioles (B,C,F)
74. Justin Maxwell, Astros
75. Chris Parmelee, Twins (C)
76. Craig Gentry, Rangers
77. Will Venable, Padres
78. Oscar Taveras, Cardinals (D,G)
79. Andy Dirks, Tigers
80. Darin Mastroianni, Twins

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2013 Fantasy Baseball Deep Sleepers
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Teaser:
<p> 2013 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Outfield</p>
Post date: Thursday, March 14, 2013 - 11:35
Path: /college-football/missouri-tigers-2013-spring-football-preview
Body:

Missouri's first trip through the vaunted SEC left Tigers fans disappointed for the first time in years. Gary Pinkel built this program into a Big 12 powerhouse and it appears he will have to start over again in the most powerful league in the nation. The good news is this team returns a lot of offensive talent and the entire program should be better prepared to battle against SEC defenses. But it all starts with spring practice.

Missouri Tigers 2013 Spring Preview

2012 Record: 5-7 (2-6)

Spring practice dates: March 12-April 20

Returning Starters: Offense – 7, Defense – 6

Returning Leaders:

Passing: James Franklin, 139-of-234, 1,562 yards, 10 TDs, 7 INTs
Rushing: Marcus Murphy, 46 car., 251 yards, 1 TDs
Receiving: Marcus Lucas, 46 rec., 509 yards, 3 TDs
Tackles: Andrew Wilson, 80
Sacks: Michael Sam, 4.5
Interceptions: Four tied with 1

Redshirts to Watch: QB Maty Mauk, LB Michael Scherer, OT Jordan Williams, WR Levi Copelin, LB Donavin Newsome, RB Morgan Steward, DL Markus Golden, S Chaston War, LB Torey Boozer, DL Evan Winston, DL Harold Brantley

Early Enrollees to Watch: QB Trent Hosick, QB Eddie Printz

JUCO Transfer to Watch: DB Duron Singleton 

2013 Schedule

Aug. 31 Murray State
Sept. 7 Toledo
Sept. 14 Bye Week
Sept. 21 at Indiana
Sept. 28 Arkansas State
Oct. 5 at Vanderbilt
Oct. 12 at Georgia
Oct. 19 Florida
Oct. 26 South Carolina
Nov. 1 Tennessee
Nov. 9 at Kentucky
Nov. 16 Bye Week
Nov. 23 at Ole Miss
Nov. 30 Texas A&M

Offensive Strength: The passing game. James Franklin returns under center, ideally healthier than he has been in over a year, as does a deep and talented receiving corps.

Offensive Weakness: Running back. This position has been an issue for Pinkel of late and Kendial Lawrence has departed. Questions remain about Henry Josey and his ability to carry the load after missing 2012 with a knee injury.

Defensive Strength: Secondary. Three of the top four returning tacklers, including EJ Gaines, will play in the defensive backfield this season.

Defensive Weakness: The front seven. Sheldon Richardson, Zaviar Gooden, Brad Madison and Will Ebner have all departed leaving Pinkel looking for star power up front.

Spring Storylines Facing Mizzou:

1. Rebuild the defensive line. Losing Richardson and Jimmy Burge from the heart of the defensive line will hurt while the absence of Madison on the outside will be felt as well. Returning starter Matt Hoch will spearhead this group but Pinkel needs to provide a supporting cast. Lucas Vincent and Marvin Foster have some experience and redshirt freshman Harold Brantley (6-3, 300) has garnered a lot of attention this offseason. Michael Sam, the team's leading sack man a year ago, is back as is Kony Ealy, Shane Ray and Markus Golden. Organizing this depth chart to compete with the massive SEC offensive lines will be imperative this spring.

2. Replace Gooden and Ebner at linebacker. Andrew Wilson returns after leading the team in tackles a year ago, but the leadership and athletic ability of the departing duo at linebacker will be tough to replace. Donovan Bonner will need to take the next step in his development while Pinkel searches for contributors at this position. In the SEC, this is a position of elite speed, versatility and physicality. Mizzou needs to find those type of players this spring.

3. Keep the stars healthy. Both quarterback James Franklin and running back Henry Josey have dealt with major injuries throughout their careers. Keeping these two key offensive components healthy will be a big step in the right direction for an offense that was uncharacteristically unproductive a year ago. This goes for the offensive line as well. Justin Britt, Mitch Morse and Taylor Chappell all dealt with injuries a year ago. This group of players, along with new offensive coordinator Josh Henson, will be charged with improving the 96th-rated offense from a year ago.

4. Can Josey be a feature tailback? Of those injured offensive players, Josey might be the biggest question mark. The undersized (5-10, 190) running back shredded his knee late in the 2011 season and it cost him the entire 2012 campaign. He had rushed for nearly 1,200 yards before getting hurt and it is unknown if he can handle the workload of an SEC workhorse back. Ideally, Pinkel will be able to take it easy on his star running back this spring while developing names like Marcus Murphy, Russell Hansbrough and Morgan Steward. Building the depth chart at this position has to be an area of focus this spring.

5. Organize the O-Line. Replacing Elvis Fisher, Jack Meiners and Travis Ruth will be key, but since all three had injury issues in 2012, plenty of backups got playing time. The offensive line is tied directly to success in the SEC, so organizing the depth chart and keeping bodies healthy will be important this spring. Morse, Chappell and Britt should all be penciled in as starters while sophomores Evan Boehm and Brad McNulty continue to develop. This group, should it stay healthy, could be a much improved area of the team in 2013.

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Teaser:
<p> Missouri Tigers 2013 Spring Football Preview</p>
Post date: Thursday, March 14, 2013 - 11:30
Path: /college-basketball/2013-acc-tournament-preview
Body:

March Madness is just getting started as the college basketball season shifts to the conference tournaments. Titles will be won, NCAA Tournament spots will be clinched or lost all over the country. Here’s what to watch in the Big 12.

ACC TOURNAMENT
Starts: Thursday
Final: Sunday in Greensboro, N.C. (ESPN)
First-round games:
No. 8 Boston College vs. No. 9 Georgia Tech
No. 5 NC State vs. No. 12 Virginia Tech
No. 7 Maryland vs. No. 10 Wake Forest
No. 6 Florida State vs. No. 11 Clemson

Byes to the quarterfinals:
No. 1 Miami
No. 2 Duke
No. 3 North Carolina
No. 4 Virginia

Full Bracket: (.pdf)

Other conference tournament previews:
Atlantic 10 | Big 12 | Big East | Big TenMountain West | Pac-12 | SEC

THE FAVORITE: Duke
The Blue Devils did not win the ACC regular-season title, but Duke looks like the best team in the league at this point of the season. Ryan Kelly’s return to the lineup has made the Blue Devils much more difficult to guard, and the senior forward also adds a presence on defense. Duke is 18-0 with Kelly in the lineup, holding opponents to 37.9 shooting in games with Kelly. Duke’s opponents shot 45 percent with Kelly out.

DARK HORSE: Florida State
Florida State has been a disappointment this season, but this is still a talented team with some strong veteran leadership. The Seminoles evened their league record at 9–9 by beating Virginia and NC State in the final week of the season. The Seminoles aren’t the defensive team they’ve been in the past, but Michael Snaer is one of the nation’s best in crunch time. Snaer has hit six game-winning shots in the last two seasons.

ATHLON’S PICK: Miami
Don’t forget about the Hurricanes, the 2013 ACC regular-season champs. Just two weeks ago, Miami lost at Duke by only three points even though starting center Reggie Johnson failed to score a point. The ‘Canes snapped out of a late-season funk by defeating Clemson 62-49 thanks to 23 points and 12 rebounds from Kenny Kadji and a late burst from Shane Larkin. When Miami has all its pieces working, the Hurricanes are a Final Four threat.

Related: Top Buzzer Beaters for 2012-13 (so far)

NCAA TOURNAMENT LOCKS:
Duke, Miami, NC State, North Carolina

BUBBLE TEAM:
Virginia
The Cavaliers’ NCAA tournament case is one of the strangest for bubble teams. The Cavs are 4-2 against the top 50, including wins over Duke, North Carolina and NC State, plus Wisconsin on the road. Virginia also lost to three Colonial teams, including Old Dominion (5-25). Virginia’s late-season losses to Boston College and Florida State means the Cavs probably need to beat NC State and Miami in the ACC Tournament -- at least -- to be in the field.

Related: All 2013 postseason college basketball coverage

Teaser:
<p> 2013 ACC Tournament Preview</p>
Post date: Thursday, March 14, 2013 - 09:55
Path: /college-basketball/2013-big-ten-conference-tournament-preview
Body:

March Madness is just getting started as the college basketball season shifts to the conference tournaments. Titles will be won, NCAA Tournament spots will be clinched or lost all over the country. Here’s what to watch in the Big Ten.

BIG TEN CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT
Starts: Thursday
Final: Sunday in Chicago (CBS)
First-round games (All Thursday):
No. 8 Illinois vs. No. 9 Minnesota
No. 5 Michigan vs. No. 12 Penn State
No. 7 Purdue vs. No. 10 Nebraska
No. 6 Iowa vs. No. 11 Northwestern

Byes to the quarterfinals
No. 1. Indiana
No. 2 Ohio State
No. 3 Michigan State
No. 4 Wisconsin

Full Bracket: (.pdf)

Other conference tournament previews:
ACC | Atlantic 10 | Big 12 | Big East | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC


THE FAVORITE: Indiana
The Hoosiers captured the outright Big Ten title in thrilling fashion, rallying to beat Michigan in Ann Arbor on the final day of the regular season. Indiana spent most of the season as the most efficient offensive team in the country. The Hoosiers still lead the nation with 1.15 points per possession, but they’ve struggled late in the season. Indiana shot less than 40 percent against Iowa and Ohio State and needed time to wake up in a 72-71 win over Michigan. The Hoosiers are averaging less than a point per possession in the last three games.

DARK HORSE: Illinois
Illinois is capable of making a surprising run to the Big Ten title if it shoots the ball well from the perimeter. Illinois won the Maui Invitational to start the season, defeating Butler in the final after cruising past USC and Chaminade. Tournament time worked well for first-year Illini coach John Groce, who won two MAC Tourneys in four years at Ohio.

ATHLON’S PICK: Michigan State
There are so many good teams in this league. All things being equal, you can never go wrong picking a Tom Izzo-coached team to win in March. The Big Ten could have a Final-Four caliber field, and a neutral court could be a great equalizer among the league's top five. If Keith Appling is playing at a high level, Michigan State will win plenty of postseason games.

Related: Top Buzzer Beaters for 2012-13 (so far)

NCAA TOURNAMENT LOCKS:
Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin

BUBBLE TEAMS:
Minnesota
The Gophers faded down the stretch after defeating Indiana on Feb. 26. Minnesota lost at Nebraska and at Purdue to fall to the ninth seed in the Big Ten Tournament. That may end up being a blessing. By drawing No. 8 seed Illinois, Minnesota won’t have a bad loss to diminish their Tournament hopes. With a top-25 RPI, Minnesota would have one of the highest ratings to be left out of the NCAA Tournament, but how much would you trust a team that lost three in a row before the Tourney? That is, if Minnesota loses to Illinois. The Gophers split the season series against Illinois and potential second-round opponent Indiana this season.

Iowa
With a strength of schedule ranked outside of the top 100 and an RPI outside of the top 75, Iowa doesn’t have an NCAA resume despite being the No. 6 seed in the Big Ten. Defeating Michigan State in the quarters and Ohio State in the semis might set up a compelling case for the Hawkeyes.

Related: All 2013 postseason college basketball coverage

Teaser:
<p> 2013 Big Ten Conference Tournament Preview</p>
Post date: Thursday, March 14, 2013 - 09:50
Path: /college-basketball/2013-atlantic-10-conference-tournament
Body:

March Madness is just getting started as the college basketball season shifts to the conference tournaments. Titles will be won, NCAA Tournament spots will be clinched or lost all over the country. Here’s what to watch in the Atlantic 10.

ATLANTIC 10 CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT
Starts: Thursday
Final: Sunday in Brooklyn (CBS)
First-round games (All Thursday):
No. 8 Richmond vs. No. 9 Charlotte
No. 5 Butler vs. No. 12 Dayton
No. 7 Xavier vs. No. 10 St. Joseph’s
No. 6 Massachusetts vs. No. 11 George Washington

Byes to the quarterfinals
No. 1 Saint Louis
No. 2 VCU
No. 3 Temple
No. 4 La Salle

Full Bracket: (.pdf)

Other conference tournament previews:
ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC


THE FAVORITE: Saint Louis
The Billikens finished the season on a tear, winning 12 of their last 13. Along the way, Saint Louis comfortably defeated the second seed (VCU) and fourth (La Salle) seed in the field and defeated the fifth seed (Butler) on the road. Dwayne Evans has been the key, averaging 16.5 points and 8.9 rebounds in the final 13 games.

DARK HORSE: Xavier
A big roll of the dice to pick Xavier to win in a tournament setting. The Musketeers have the players (Semaj Christon, Travis Taylor) and have defeated good teams (Memphis on Feb. 26 and top-seeded Saint Louis on March 6). But Xavier also hasn’t won consecutive games since defeating Duquesne and Fordham, two of the bottom three teams in the A-10, in early February. During Xavier’s late stretch, the Musketeers let games slip away against VCU, UMass and Butler. They’ll have to figure out how to play more consistently in a hurry.

ATHLON’S PICK: VCU
The Rams’ swarming defense will be tough to break in a tournament setting. Be sure to track the turnover numbers. The Rams are undefeated when forcing 15 or more turnovers and winless when forcing fewer than 15.

Related: Top Buzzer Beaters for 2012-13 (so far)

NCAA TOURNAMENT LOCKS:
Butler, Saint Louis, VCU

BUBBLE TEAMS:
Temple
After winning its final seven games, Temple is a virtual lock for the NCAA Tournament. The Owls lost to Duquesne, St. Bonaventure and Canisius early this season, but may have played their way in with a win over VCU in the regular season finale. The worst case scenario would be a loss to No. 11 George Washington in the A-10 Tournament opener, but the Colonials would first have to upset UMass. Even if that happens, it’s tough to see Temple missing the field unless there’s a numbers crunch for at-large bids.

La Salle
It’s been a while since we’ve heard much from La Salle, the No. 4 seed in the A-10 Tournament. Since defeating Butler and VCU in back-to-back games in January, the Explorers are 0-3 against the top three seeds in the A-10. Meanwhile, La Salle’s RPI and strength of schedule took a hit with four games against teams that didn’t even make the A-10 field. The Explorers’ RPI and strength of schedule numbers are marginal, so La Salle will rest easier if the Explorers defeat No. 5 seed Butler in the quarterfinals. If La Salle faces No. 12 seed Dayton and loses, the situation will be dicey.

Related: All 2013 postseason college basketball coverage

Teaser:
<p> 2013 Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament</p>
Post date: Thursday, March 14, 2013 - 09:40
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-transfers-watch-2013
Body:

Transfers are a big part of any college football season, and 2013 is no exception. There’s a handful of talented quarterbacks making the move to a new school, including Jake Heaps at Kansas, Tom Savage at Pittsburgh and Jameill Showers at UTEP. While that trio of programs is unlikely to win a national championship in 2013, landing a player with the caliber of Heaps or Savage should provide a boost for the offense.

Outside of the quarterback position, South Florida defensive end Aaron Lynch could be the top impact transfer for 2013. While running back also has a few names to watch, including Texas A&M's Brandon Williams and TCU’s Aaron Green.

Here’s a look at some of the key transfers to watch for 2013, as well as an early list for 2014:

College Football's Top Transfers to Watch for 2013

Quarterbacks

Top Impact Transfers:

Jake Heaps, Kansas (from BYU)
Heaps was the No. 1 quarterback in the 2010 signing class and started 16 games during his two seasons at BYU. As a freshman, he threw for 2,316 yards and 15 touchdowns but failed to build on those numbers in 2011, as he was benched in favor of Riley Nelson. There’s no question Heaps should be an upgrade over Kansas’ quarterbacks from last season (Dayne Crist and Michael Cummings), but it’s unrealistic to expect him to contend for All-Big 12 honors. The Jayhawks also need to upgrade the weapons around Heaps for him to succeed in 2013.

Tom Savage, Pittsburgh (from Rutgers)
It’s been a while since Savage’s name has popped up on the college football radar. From 2009-10, Savage threw for 2,732 yards and 16 touchdowns at Rutgers but left for Arizona after the 2010 season. With Rich Rodriguez’s arrival in Tucson, Savage wasn’t going to play much in the spread offense, which prompted a transfer to Pittsburgh. The 6-foot-5 passer hasn’t played in two years but was one of the nation’s top quarterbacks coming out of high school. Considering coach Paul Chryst’s background on developing quarterbacks, if Savage can hold off redshirt freshman Chad Voytik, he could have a solid senior year in Pittsburgh’s ACC debut.

Jesse Scroggins, Arizona (from USC)
Scroggins didn’t transfer directly from Arizona to USC, as he spent 2012 at El Camino College. However, considering Scroggins’ background and time at USC, he’s worth a mention in this section. The California native was considered a top-10 quarterback in the 2010 signing class but failed to throw a pass in his two seasons with the Trojans. Scroggins threw for 1,148 yards in eight games during junior college play last season and is expected to challenge for Arizona’s starting job in fall practice.

Jameill Showers, UTEP (from Texas A&M)
With Johnny Manziel entrenched as Texas A&M’s No. 1 quarterback, it was clear Showers wasn’t going to get much playing time in 2013. New UTEP coach Sean Kugler landed his biggest recruit of the offseason by getting Showers to play in El Paso, which should give the Miners a chance to push for a winning record in 2013. Showers was impressive during limited work in his career, completing 31 of 49 throws for 359 yards and two scores. The junior has yet to make his first career start, but all signs point to Showers being one of Conference USA’s top quarterbacks in 2013.

Pete Thomas, NC State (from Colorado State)
With Mike Glennon expiring his eligibility after the Music City Bowl, Thomas has a chance to start for NC State in 2013. The California native threw for 4,269 yards and 18 touchdowns in two years with the Rams, completing better than 63 percent of his passes. Moving to the ACC is a step up in competition, but a solid receiving corps and a pair of solid running backs in Tony Creecy and Shadrach Thornton should give Thomas plenty of help. The junior will battle sophomore Manny Stocker for the top spot on the depth chart this spring.

The Next Tier

Drew Allen, ? (from Oklahoma)
Allen plans to graduate this summer and transfer to a FBS school for his final season of eligibility.

Brock Berglund, North Texas (from Kansas)
Ranked as one of the top-15 dual-threat quarterbacks coming out of high school but has yet to play a down of college football.

Taylor Graham, Hawaii (from Ohio State)
Son of former NFL quarterback Kent Graham could be the answer for Hawaii’s woeful offense.

Taylor Reed, Arkansas (from Memphis)
Threw for 1,690 yards and 10 touchdowns as a true freshman for Memphis in 2011. Expected to be in the mix to start but is likely behind Brandon Allen and Brandon Mitchell on the depth chart.

DaMarcus Smith, Western Kentucky (from UCF)
Ranked as a four-star recruit coming out of high school and will have an opportunity to start for new coach Bobby Petrino this spring.

Ricardo Young, Maryland (from New Mexico)
Young is on his third school after making previous stops at Virginia Tech and New Mexico. Will work as Maryland’s No. 1 quarterback this spring but C.J. Brown is expected to reclaim the starting job once he returns from a torn ACL.

Scotty Young, Louisiana Tech (from Texas Tech)
Former Texas Gatorade Player of the Year should be a good fit in Louisiana Tech’s spread offense.

Others to Watch:

Allan Bridgford, ? (from California)
Tim Byerly, Georgia Tech (from MTSU)
Daxx Garman, Oklahoma State (from Arizona)
Nick Isham, Arizona (from Louisiana Tech)

 

Running Backs

Top Impact Transfers

Tra Carson, Texas A&M (from Oregon)
In his only season with the Ducks, Carson showed promise in limited work, rushing for 254 yards and one touchdown on 45 carries. However, with a crowded backfield in Oregon, transferring to Texas A&M should allow the Texas native a chance to play more in 2013. Carson is a power back at 6-foot and 227 pounds, likely giving him an opportunity to be Texas A&M’s No. 1 back around the goal line.

Aaron Green, TCU (from Nebraska)
After finishing eighth in the Big 12 in rushing offense last season, the Horned Frogs are counting on Green to provide the ground attack with an instant boost. The San Antonio native played one season at Nebraska and rushed for 105 yards and two touchdowns. Green ranked as a top-15 prospect by ESPN in the 2011 signing class and is expected to battle Waymon James and B.J. Catalon for the starting spot this fall. Even if Green doesn’t earn the No. 1 spot, he should see plenty of opportunities for carries.   

Josh Quezada, Fresno State (from BYU)
With Robbie Rouse expiring his eligibility after the Hawaii Bowl, Fresno State’s search for a new No. 1 back will begin this spring. Quezada is the likely frontrunner to replace Rouse, as he rushed for 803 yards and six touchdowns from 2010-11 at BYU. His best performance came against New Mexico in 2010, rushing for 107 yards and one touchdown on 15 attempts. Assuming Quezada picks up where he left off at BYU, with Derek Carr returning at quarterback, Fresno State should have one of college football’s top offenses in 2013.

Brandon Williams, Texas A&M (from Oklahoma)
With the arrival of Williams and Carson to a backfield that already features Ben Malena and sophomore Trey Williams, Texas A&M quietly has one of the nation’s deepest running back corps. Williams was a five-star recruit by Rivals.com out of high school and rushed for 219 yards on 46 attempts as a freshman with Oklahoma in 2011. With a handful of talented running backs, it will be hard for one player to rush for 1,000 yards at Texas A&M this year. Expect Williams to see plenty of opportunities with the Aggies in 2013, and his arrival only adds more firepower to a loaded offense.

The Next Tier:

Ronnie Daniels, San Diego State (from Texas Tech)
Rushed for 44 yards on nine attempts with the Red Raiders in 2011. Should be a solid complement back to starter Adam Muema.

Daniel Jenkins, Washington State (from Arizona)
Only rushed for 495 yards in three seasons with Arizona but should help improve a Washington State rushing attack that managed just 29.1 yards per game in 2012.

Jeremy Wright, ? (from Louisville)
Decided to transfer after junior year with 824 rushing yards and 10 scores. Since he graduated in December, Wright could transfer to another FBS program and play in 2013.

Others to Watch:

Jakhari Gore, FIU (from LSU)
Reggie Pegram, North Texas (from Purdue)
Adonis Smith, UNLV (from Northwestern)

 

Wide Receivers

Top Impact Transfers

Robert Clark, Louisville (from Florida)
With DeVante Parker, Damian Copeland and Eli Rogers returning for Louisville in 2013, Clark may not make a huge impact for the Cardinals this season. The Florida transfer spent two years in Gainesville and caught only seven passes for 69 yards and one touchdown. Clark may not be a game-changer this season, but he should add depth to one of the nation’s top-15 receiving corps.

Deon Long, Maryland (from New Mexico)
Just like Jesse Scroggins, Long didn’t go directly from New Mexico to Maryland, as he made a stop at Iowa Western Community College and led the NJCAA with 100 receptions in 2012. If Long can translate his production from the JUCO ranks to the FBS level, Maryland should have one of the ACC’s top receiver duos with Stefon Diggs and Long.

Justin McCay, Kansas (from Oklahoma)
McCay was labeled a four-star recruit by Rivals.com but never made an impact during his first two years at Oklahoma. The Missouri native was a valuable pickup for Kansas, as the Jayhawks are incredibly thin at receiver. Andrew Turzilli is the top returning receiver with just 17 catches, and the Jayhawks lack a No. 1 go-to threat. If McCay lives up his recruiting hype, he should be new quarterback Jake Heaps’ favorite target in 2013.

Ja’Juan Story, TCU (from Florida)
With Josh Boyce and Skye Dawson departing, TCU’s receiving corps will be searching for new go-to targets in 2013. Brandon Carter and LaDarius Brown are likely the top two options, but Story should figure prominently into the passing attack. The Florida native redshirted in his only season with the Gators but ranked as a Top 150 recruit by ESPN in 2011. At 6-foot-4 and 208 pounds, Story has the size and speed to be a significant contributor in TCU’s receiving corps this year.

Darius White, Missouri (from Texas)
White was one of the nation’s top high school prospects in 2010 but caught only six passes during his first two years in Austin. The Texas native is listed behind L’Damian Washington and Jaleel Clark on Missouri’s pre-spring depth chart, so he has some ground to make up in preseason workouts. The Tigers expect a big year from sophomore Dorial Green-Beckham and Marcus Lucas returns after catching 46 passes in 2012, so White is likely relegated to being a No. 3 or No. 4 target this year.

The Next Tier

Josh Doctson, TCU (from Wyoming)
Caught 35 passes for 393 yards and five touchdowns as a true freshman at Wyoming in 2011.

Ricky Johnson, Louisiana-Lafayette (from Tulsa)
Caught 44 passes in three years at Tulsa. Will be an instant contributor for one of the Sun Belt’s top teams in 2013.

Shawney Kersey, Marshall (from Penn State)
Intriguing talent but only caught 12 passes for 154 yards in three seasons with Penn State. Should thrive at Marshall, especially with All-C-USA quarterback Rakeem Cato back for 2013.

Matt Milton, Louisville (from Tennessee)
Big target (6-foot-5) will help Louisville in the red zone but caught only one pass in two years at Tennessee.

Devon Smith, Marshall (from Penn State)
At 5-foot-7, 147 pounds, Smith isn’t the biggest receiver, but his speed and quickness will be tough to keep off of the field at Marshall. In three seasons with Penn State, Smith caught 56 passes for 795 yards and three scores.

Others to Watch

Quinta Funderburk, Syracuse (from Arkansas)
Marcus Grant, Boston College (from Iowa)
Maudrecus Humphrey, UAB (from Arkansas)
Vince Sanders, North Texas (from Baylor)
Darius Terrell, North Texas (from Texas)
Kane Whitehurst, South Carolina (from Arkansas)
Peyton Williams, Texas Tech (from Colorado)

 

Tight Ends

Top Impact Transfers

Gerald Christian, Louisville (from Florida)
Even though Christian caught only four passes for 72 yards and one score during his Florida career, he could be a breakout performer for Louisville in 2013. The Cardinals don’t target the tight ends frequently, but Nate Nord and Ryan Hubbell combined for 27 catches last year. Christian was a four-star prospect by Rivals.com out of high school and his athletic ability could be a nightmare matchup for opposing Big East defenses in 2013.

Zeke Pike, Louisville (from Auburn)
Don’t adjust your vision: This is the same Zeke Pike that committed to Auburn as a quarterback. However, Pike never played a down with the Tigers and transferred to Louisville where Charlie Strong and Shawn Watson decided to move him to tight end. Pike probably won’t play a ton with Gerald Christian also in the mix, but he will be an interesting story to watch over the next few years.

Others to Watch

Daniel Adams, Maryland (from New Mexico)
Manasseh Garner, Pittsburgh (from Wisconsin)


Offensive Linemen

Top Impact Transfers

Brian Bobek, Minnesota (from Ohio State)
Bobek ranked as a four-star recruit by Rivals.com coming out of high school and will figure into the Minnesota offensive line mix this spring. The junior did not make a start at Ohio State and even if he doesn’t start, he is likely to see time as a valuable swing option at guard or center.

Max Garcia, Florida (from Maryland)
With the departure of tackle Xavier Nixon and guard James Wilson, the Gators will have a revamped offensive line in 2013. Garcia started 12 games for Maryland in 2011 and played in two contests in 2010. Expect the junior to start at tackle or guard for Florida this season.

Tyler Moore, Florida (from Nebraska)
As mentioned a couple of times in the transfer article, Moore wasn’t a direct transfer from Nebraska to Florida. However, as a four-star recruit, he’s too high profile not to mention in this space. Moore played in nine games in 2011 at Nebraska, which included starts in the first four contests. The sophomore is expected to push for playing time at tackle this spring.

Matt Patchan, Boston College (from Florida)
With Boston College losing both starting tackles, Patchan’s arrival couldn’t come at a better time. The Tampa native missed the 2010 and 2012 seasons due to injury but played in 12 contests in 2011. Patchan made eight starts during his career and should be familiar with Boston College coach Steve Addazio, as he played under him at Florida. Patchan doesn’t have to be an all-conference performer but just having him available will help Boston College’s line ease the transition into a new offense, along with replacing two starters from last season.

The Next Tier

Thomas O’Reilly, Georgia Tech (from Auburn)
O’Reilly was rated as a top-10 guard by ESPN coming out of high school and could push for a starting job with the Yellow Jackets looking to replace Omoregie Uzzi.

Jordan Prestwood, UCF (from Notre Dame)
Prestwood was a top-150 recruit by ESPN in the 2011 signing class and signed with Florida State. However, he transferred to Notre Dame before the 2011 season and never played a down with the Fighting Irish. Prestwood will have three years of eligibility remaining with UCF.

Others to Watch

Travis Bodenstein, Arkansas State (from Kansas)
James Elliott, South Alabama (from Kentucky)
Mitch Hall, Missouri (from Ole Miss)
David Keller, Oregon State (from Fresno State)
Johnathon Ragoo, FAU (from Minnesota)

 

Defensive Linemen

Top Impact Transfers

Aaron Lynch, South Florida (from Notre Dame)
Lynch was well on his way to being one of the nation’s best defensive ends when he decided to transfer from Notre Dame before the 2012 season. In one year in South Bend, Lynch recorded 33 tackles, seven tackles for a loss and 5.5 sacks. With another offseason to work in the weight room, the sophomore is due to have a monster season. Lynch could be one of the Big East’s top defenders in 2013 and should be a preseason first-team all-conference selection.

The Next Tier

Darious Cummings, Florida (from Florida State/JUCO)
Cummings is another player that transferred from a four-year school with a short stop in the JUCO ranks. He recorded 26 tackles and three sacks in 10 games at East Mississippi Community College.

Chris Davenport, Tulane (from LSU)
Davenport never lived up to his recruiting hype at LSU but could be a key addition for Tulane’s struggling defense.

Rashad Frazier, Ohio State (from Purdue)
Frazier never played at Purdue and is unlikely to see major snaps for Ohio State in 2013.

Lonnie Gosha, Troy (from Arkansas)
Gosha could be a key pick up for Troy’s defensive line, as he played in four games as a freshman at Arkansas in 2011.

Donald Hopkins, Texas State (from Houston)
Hopkins was a top-20 defensive tackle in the 2012 signing class at Houston but transferred before playing a down. He will team with TCU transfer D.J. Yendrey to give the Bobcats some much-needed depth on their line.

C.J. James, Akron (from Colorado State)
Steady performer in three years with the Rams who recorded five sacks in 2011. James could be in the mix for All-MAC honors in 2013.

Shawn Oakman, Baylor (from Penn State)
With Gary Mason Jr. and Nick Johnson departing, coordinator Phil Bennett is counting on Oakman to have an impact in 2013. The Pennsylvania native did not play in one season at Penn State but was picked as one of the top 200 recruits in the nation by Rivals.com in 2011.

Zeke Riser, Texas (from Houston)
Won’t make a huge impact at Texas but should be a key piece of the rotation after recording 38 tackles and three sacks at Houston in 2012.

D.J. Yendrey, Texas State (from TCU)
Yendrey was an honorable mention All-Mountain West selection in back-to-back seasons but was dismissed from TCU before the start of the 2012 season. If he can knock off the rust quickly, Yendrey could be an All-Sun Belt performer in 2013.

Others to Watch

Nermin Derlic, Georgia State (from Kentucky)
David Durham, Pittsburgh (from Ohio State)
Kingsley Ike, Texas State (from Purdue)
Willie Mobley, New Mexico State (from Arizona)
Matt Ramondo, New Mexico State (from Michigan State)
John Raymon, Syracuse (from Iowa)
Robert Singletary, UTSA (from Baylor)

 

Linebackers

Top Impact Transfers

Kellen Jones, Clemson (from Oklahoma)
With coordinator Brent Venables returning for his second season at Clemson, the Tigers expect to show more improvement on defense in 2013. Jones could be a key piece to the puzzle, as he played under Venables at Oklahoma and recorded 10 tackles in 12 games as a freshman. Even if Jones doesn’t start, he will likely play a lot of snaps for Clemson in 2013.

Jeff Luc, Cincinnati (from Florida State)
Luc never had a chance to live up to his recruiting hype at Florida State, playing in 19 games with 23 tackles. Cincinnati is a good landing spot for the Florida native, as he isn’t pressured to nail down a starting spot with Greg Blair and Nick Temple returning to anchor the linebacking corps.

Mike Orakpo, Texas State (from Colorado State)
Before his dismissal at Colorado State, Orakpo was one of the Mountain West’s top linebackers. Expect the junior to emerge as one of Texas State’s top defenders in 2013.  

Trevon Randle, Houston (from LSU)
Randle has yet to play a down of college ball but will be counted on by new Houston defensive coordinator David Gibbs to replace departing standouts Phillip Steward and Everett Daniels.

Graham Stewart, Connecticut (from Florida)
Stewart was considered the No. 1 player in Connecticut in the 2011 signing class and played in 12 games with the Gators in his freshman season. After sitting out 2012, Stewart’s play will be crucial to replacing Sio Moore and Jory Johnson.

Others to Watch

Trajuan Briggs, New Mexico (from California)
C.J. Mizell, Akron (from Washington State)

 

Defensive Backs

Vernon Davis, West Virginia (from Miami)
After finishing 118th nationally in pass defense last year, West Virginia will take all of the secondary help it can find. Davis – a former three-star recruit – should have a chance to work his way into some playing time this spring.

Travell Dixon, Washington (from Alabama)
Dixon spent last spring at Alabama but transferred in August to Washington. The Miami native was a first-team NJCAA All-American in 2011 and could be a major factor as the Huskies look to replace cornerback Desmond Trufant.

David Jenkins, TCU (from LSU)
In an offensive-minded conference like the Big 12, TCU can never have enough depth in the secondary. Jenkins was a four-star recruit coming out of high school but never played a down at LSU. Look for the sophomore to see some playing time for the Horned Frogs this year.

Cortez Johnson, Oklahoma (from Arizona)
Johnson followed Mike Stoops from Arizona to Oklahoma after recording 16 tackles in eight appearances in 2011. The Louisiana native is expected to factor into the starting mix, as the Sooners must replace cornerback Demontre Hurst and safeties Tony Jefferson and Javon Harris this spring.

Marlon Pollard, Arizona State (from Eastern Michigan)
Pollard has earned some frequent-flyer miles in his career, as he started at UCLA and transferred to Eastern Michigan. In 2011, Pollard recorded 54 stops with the Eagles but was injured early in 2012. The senior should help an Arizona State secondary that must replace cornerback Deveron Carr and safety Keelan Johnson.

Jonathan Rose, Nebraska (from Auburn)
The addition of Rose should only strengthen Nebraska’s secondary, which is the best unit on the defense. The former Auburn cornerback played in nine games in 2011 and recorded two tackles. Rose played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl as a high school senior and finished in the top five for Alabama Mr. Football voting.

Sheldon Royster, Rutgers (from South Carolina)
Royster was considered one of the top 200 high school players in the class of 2011, and with Rutgers losing Duron Harmon, look for the sophomore to factor into the mix this spring.

Others to Watch

Lloyd Carrington, Arizona State (from Pittsburgh)
Zach Dancel, Maryland (from New Mexico)
Zed Evans, North Texas (from Louisville)
Bennett Okutcha, UTSA (from Oklahoma)
Drew Reilly, BYU (from Colorado State)
Michael Wadsworth, BYU (from Hawaii)


Special Teams Transfers to Watch

K Kip Smith, Oklahoma State (from UCLA)
P Alex Wulfreck, Notre Dame (from Wake Forest)


Early Transfers to Watch for 2014

QB Anthony Alford, Ole Miss (from Southern Miss)
QB Jacoby Brissett, NC State (from Florida)
QB Gunner Kiel, ? (from Notre Dame)
RB Mike Blakely, ? (from Auburn)
RB Braylon Heard, ? (from Nebraska)
WR Travares Copeland, NC State (from West Virginia)
OL Christian Westerman, Arizona State (from Auburn)
DT Chase Rome, ? (from Nebraska)
LB A.J. Hilliard, Texas A&M (from TCU)


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College Football's Top 5 Running Backs on the Rise for 2013

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College Football's Top 10 Spring Storylines to Watch for 2013

Teaser:
<p> College Football's Top Transfers to Watch for 2013</p>
Post date: Thursday, March 14, 2013 - 07:25
Path: /mlb/10-mlb-records-primed-be-broken-2013
Body:

The boys of summer are back in action and with them come the history and tradition of those before them. Names like Gehrig, Ford, Jackson and Schmidt echo through the stadiums of Major League Baseball, each a founder, each a legend in their own right. But sometimes, even the marks of legends are made to be broken. Here are 10 records that could be broken in 2013, allowing for a new generation of names to join those before them.

All-time runs and doubles record for the New York Yankees

Current Holder: Babe Ruth (runs), Lou Gehrig (doubles)

On Deck: Derek Jeter

Jeter may not be the player he once was, but there’s no doubt he’s one of the greatest to ever step on a major-league diamond. For proof of this, look no further than the shortstop’s presence in the Yankees’ record books. Already the all-time leader in games played, hits and stolen bases, Jeter has a chance to add two more to his resume this season. Jeter needs just 92 runs to pass Hall of Famers and baseball legends Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth for the top spot in Yankee history. Even more impressive, the Yankees’ runs scored record would move Jeter into the top 10 all-time in baseball history. Even though Jeter could be slowed in his return from the broken ankle he sustained in the playoffs last season, he’s scored fewer than 92 runs just three times in 17 full seasons in pinstripes. 

Another all-time Yankee mark a little closer on the horizon for Jeter is the doubles record. Lou Gehrig is the current franchise leader with 534 career doubles, which also places him 34th on the all-time list in baseball history. The man known as “The Iron Horse” amassed 5,060 total bases in his Hall of Fame career, which ranks him 17th all-time. The legend dipped below 31 doubles just twice during his time as the Yankees’ first baseman. Jeter needs just 11 more two-baggers to surpass Gehrig’s total, a mark he should surpass before the All-Star break, provided he’s healthy.

 

All-time strikeouts record for New York Yankees pitchers

Current Holder: Whitey Ford

On Deck: Andy Pettitte

Pinstripe legend Edward “Whitey” Ford spent 16 years in the majors, starting and ending his career with the Yankees. By the time he retired in 1967, a total 1,956 batters had made the humbling walk back to the dugout after striking out. The 46-year-old record could have had a chance to stand even longer had Ford not taken two years off to serve in the Korean War after his rookie season.

Like Ford, Andy Pettitte has been a crafty pitcher throughout his career. Entering his 18th season in the majors and 15th with the Yankees, Pettitte needs just 65 more punch outs to be claim the franchise’s all-time strikeout mark. Considering he was able to notch 69 strikeouts in just 12 games last season, this is one record ready to be broken. Depending on his health, Pettitte could also surpass Ford for the games started record. If he can make 31 starts this season, that record will also be his for the taking. Ford made 438 starts in his Hall of Fame career.

 

All-time WHIP mark in MLB history

Current Holder: Addie Joss

On Deck: Mariano Rivera

If you’re scratching your head on this one, that’s okay. Addie Joss was a pitcher for the Cleveland Bronchos (another way of spelling Broncos) from 1902 until 1910. During that span, he was among the greatest pitchers in the American League, never posting an ERA higher than 2.77 or a WHIP of more than 1.11. If you’re still scratching your head, WHIP is a relatively new stat that has gained in popularity with the introduction and adoption of sabermetrics that adds the number of walks and hits allowed by a pitcher and divide the total by innings pitched. Joss’ career WHIP of 0.9678 has stood for more than 100 years,  but one final solid season from Mariano Rivera could change this.

Last season, which was cut short after he tore his ACL in May, Rivera posted his worst WHIP since 2007, and even then it was a microscopic 0.960. From 2008-11, Rivera’s WHIP was 0.905 or lower. In theory, if Rivera can simply repeat 2012’s performance in the category, he should move past Joss in the history books, providing today’s fan with a name they know. Another all-time list that Rivera should continue to climb this season is total games pitched. Should Rivera make another 60 appearances in 2013, which is about his average for a full season, the surefire future Hall of Famer will pass current Cooperstown members Hoyt Wilhelm and Dennis Eckersley for fourth place on the all-time games pitched list.

 

All-time hits and doubles record for the Philadelphia Phillies

Current Holders: Mike Schmidt (hits), Ed Delahanty (doubles)

On Deck: Jimmy Rollins

Mike Schmidt, the and three-time NL MVP and 12-time All-Star racked up 2,234 hits over his 18-year Hall of Fame career with the Phillies. The third basemen impressively totaled less than 129 hits in a season just five times. Schmidt is no doubt the greatest player to don a Phillies uniform, but Jimmy Rollins could grab the franchise hits record from him this season. Rollins needs 211 hits for the mark, which might be a stretch given he’s averaged 155 over the last two seasons. That said, Rollins did post 212 hits in 2007, a year in which he amassed 716 at-bats. On the other hand, the Phillies’ all-time doubles record is considerably closer, as Rollins needs just 22 more to surpass Hall of Famer “Big” Ed Delahanty’s total of 442.

 

All-time home run and total bases records for the Chicago White Sox

Current Holder: Frank Thomas

On Deck: Paul Konerko

It’s hard to believe it’s only been five seasons since Frank Thomas last swung the bat. The two-time AL MVP and four-time Silver Slugger somehow never led the league in home runs, but he did leave his mark with the White Sox. During his 16 years with the team, Thomas cleared the fence 448 times and amassed 3,949 total bases. Both records could be broken this season.

Paul Konerko needs only 34 more home runs to pass Thomas on the White Sox all-time list. Though he hasn’t topped that number since 2010, he’s still managed to bash 57 dingers over the past two seasons combined. That includes 26 in 2012, despite having the second-fewest at-bats since the 2004 season. If he can stay in the lineup, there’s no reason the White Sox won’t be crowning a new home run king in 2013. Konerko also needs just 172 total bases to pass Thomas in that category as well.

 

All-time double plays turned as left fielder record in MLB history

Current Holder: Bibb Falk

On Deck: Alfonso Soriano

Falk spent his first nine seasons with the Chicago White Sox before finishing his 12-year career with the Cleveland Indians from 1929-31. While he never held any batting titles, Falk was known for his defense. The left fielder turned a record nine double plays in 1927 and led American League players at the position in games played four times. That extra time on the field culminated with a record 34 double plays turned from left field.

Alfonso Soriano is better known for his bat, but his arm has been a source of pain for base runners. Soriano has posted 28 of his own double plays from left field and needs just seven more to take the all-time record from Falk. The 14-year veteran turned six last season and nine in 2006, so the numbers he needs for the record could be there if he gets the opportunity this season.

 

All-time strikeouts by a batter record in MLB history

Current Holder: Reggie Jackson

On Deck: Jim Thome

Jackson might have been known for turning it on during the postseason, one of the reasons why he will forever be known as “Mr. October,” but among his many accolades, this one is often forgotten. In Jackson’s 21-season career, the slugger posted 11 campaigns with more strikeouts than hits. His worst season came in 1968, his second year as a professional. Jackson amassed 171 strikeouts compared to 138 hits. Still, the combination of speed, power and playoff prowess more than made up for his 2,597 career strikeouts.

He has yet to sign on with a team for the upcoming season, but Jim Thome still believes he can help a club should they call. The veteran is reportedly staying in top condition with the hope he hasn’t swung at his last pitch. If he does get the call, it won’t take long for him to be crowned baseball’s all-time leader in strikeouts by a hitter. If he whiffs just 50 more times, the “honor” will be all his. Given his recent ratios, Thome will need around 150 at-bats to claim this throne. If Thome doesn’t play this season, both Alex Rodriguez and Adam Dunn are less than 600 strikeouts away from passing Jackson for the top spot on the list. After notching 222 punch outs in 2012 alone, Dunn appears to be the leader in the clubhouse over Rodriguez, whose season debut will be delayed as he recovers from offseason hip surgery.

 

Other Franchise Records That Could Be Broken in 2013...

All-time saves record for the Cleveland Indians

Current Holder: Bob Wickman

On Deck: Chris Perez

Like many closers, Bob Wickman started his career in 1992 with the New York Yankees as a starting pitcher. He made the transition to closer for the Milwaukee Brewers in 1997, recording 25 saves. It wasn’t until 2001 that Wickman solidified his job as closer for the Cleveland, one which he would keep until 2006. Though he hovered around the 30-save mark for most of his career, his best season with the Indians came in 2005 when he recorded a career-high 45 saves. His franchise total of 139 saves has been the benchmark since 2006.

Right-hander Chris Perez will be looking to surpass Wickman in just his fourth season as the Indians’ closer. Powered by back-to-back seasons of 36 or more saves, Perez is just 41 shy of breaking Wickman’s record, which would be a career-best for him. A shoulder strain currently has his Opening Day prospects in limbo, but with the offseason acquisitions of Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher, Drew Stubbs and Mark Reynolds, Perez could see the most save opportunities of his career in 2013.

 

All-Time Stolen Base record for the Texas Rangers

Current Holder: Elliot “Bump” Wills

On Deck: Ian Kinsler

From 1977-82, second baseman Bump Wills was among the top ten American League base-stealers in all but one season. For the Rangers, Wills stole less than 28 bases just once in his five-year tenure. Though Wills still holds the teams’ single-season record with 52 swipes in 1978, his career record of 161 stolen bases is in jeopardy of being broken this season.

Current second baseman Ian Kinsler needs just five more steals to become the Rangers’ all-time thief. Kinsler has already posted five seasons with at least 21 steals, even if it will take him a little more than seven seasons to unseat Wills. It may not matter, however, since teammate Elvis Andrus isn’t too far behind with 123 stolen bases in just four seasons. Andrus, who had a season-best 37 stolen bases in 2011, is probably the bigger threat to Wills’ franchise single-season record of 52 as well.

 

All-Time saves record for the Milwaukee Brewers

Current Holder: Dan Plesac

On Deck: John Axford

It’s hard to believe, but Dan Plesac recorded at least one save in all but two of his 18 seasons as a pitcher. The three-time All-Star started his career with the Brewers in 1986, sticking with the team until after the 1992 season. Out of 178 save opportunities, Plesac was able to seal the deal 133 times, a franchise record which has stood for 20 years.

As good as Plesac was at converting opportunities, John Axford has been better. Out of 120 opportunities, Axford has shut the door 106 times. His success rate has him just 28 saves away from Plesac’s record, all with just three full seasons as the Brewers’ closer under his belt. Considering Axford totaled 35 saves last year, this should be a record broken and piled on for years to come.

 

All-time wins and strikeouts record for the Colorado Rockies

Current Holders: Aaron Cook (wins), Ubaldo Jimenez (strikeouts)

On Deck: Jeff Francis

The Rockies have been around for just 20 seasons and haven’t exactly developed a reputation for pitching, so it shouldn’t come as that much of a surprise that the franchise leader in wins is just 72. That total belongs to Aaron Cook, who accumulated these over nine seasons with the Rockies. He has started more than 30 games just twice in his entire career, both of those seasons coming in Colorado. His peak came during the 2008-09 seasons, which saw Cook post a combined 27-15 record. Current Rockies pitcher Jeff Francis needs just 12 more wins this season to surpass Cook in the franchise record books. The problem is that since injuring his shoulder in 2009, Francis hasn’t been the same pitcher. He’s only averaged around five innings per start, an issue that has kept him out of action for all of 2009 and from winning six or fewer games his last four seasons. However, a new manager (Walt Weiss) and a pitching coach (Bo McLaughlan) who believe in Francis could help put this record within reach. He did win a total of 44 games from 2005-07 after all.

Francis also is just 95 strikeouts shy of breaking Ubaldo Jimenez’s club record of 773. Jimenez, who was shipped to Cleveland at the trade deadline in 2011, was in many ways the anti-Cook, posting three-straight seasons of 30-plus starts from 2008-10. Though he only was with the team for less than five full seasons, it was still all the time Jimenez needed to set the current club record for strikeouts. Francis should be able to surpass Jimenez in the category, as he’s posted five seasons with 91 or more punch outs. From 2005-07, Francis averaged nearly 137 strikeouts for the Rockies.

 

All-time home runs record for the  Tampa Bay Rays

Current Holder: Carlos Pena

On Deck: Evan Longoria

The Tampa Bay franchise has only been in existence for 15 seasons, so the current home run leader is Carlos Pena with 163. He collected those in five seasons, including a career-high 46 in 2007. Third baseman Evan Longoria will be looking to take the lead from Pena in his sixth season in Tampa Bay. “Longo” needs 34 home runs to surpass Pena, but it’s his health and not his skill that will likely be the determining factor if this is the season he accomplishes the feat. Longoria has played just 207 total games the last two seasons, but did manage to hit 48 bombs during that period. Whether it’s this season or early in 2014, the franchise home run mark will eventually be Longoria’s, and considering he’s signed through 2023, there’s a good chance it will remain his when his career in Tampa Bay is over.

—By Adrian Mojica

Teaser:
<p> The baseball record books could be rewritten this season</p>
Post date: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 - 17:00
Path: /nascar/fantasy-nascar-picks-food-city-500-bristol-motor-speedway
Body:

The 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit rolls on to one of its most anticipated stops of spring for the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. To help guide you through the 2013 Fantasy NASCAR season, Athlon Sports contributor Dustin Long will be offering his best predictions for each race. And because Yahoo's Fantasy Auto Racing game is arguably the most popular, he’ll break down the picks according to its NASCAR driver classes — A-List, B-List, C-List.

So, without further ado, Dustin's fantasy predictions for Bristol, ranked according to each driver's likelihood of taking the checkered flag — or at least finishing toward the front:


A-List
1. Jimmie Johnson
Hottest driver on the circuit. Johnson has an average running position of 4.2, best in the season’s first three races, and has the best average finishing position (3.0) in the series. Also, he has four consecutive top 10s at Bristol, most among active drivers.

2. Brad Keselowski
Not too far behind Johnson in the fast start category (average finish of 3.7) and heads to a track in Bristol where he’s won two of the last three races.

3. Matt Kenseth
Has led a series-high 128 laps this season with 86 of those coming in the Daytona 500. His 25th-place finish in the Bristol night race in August broke a string of six consecutive top-10 finishes there. He’s led in each of the last three Bristol races.

4. Denny Hamlin
Won the Bristol night race in August, leading 70 laps. Has two top-10 finishes in his last three starts there.

5. Kasey Kahne
Has best average start this season (4.0) on the circuit. Has three top-10 finishes in last five races at Bristol and led 42 laps there in the night race.

6. Clint Bowyer
Scored a pair of top-10 finishes last year at Bristol. Best finish so far this season is a sixth at Phoenix.

7. Jeff Gordon
Has been passed 44 more times under green than he’s passed this season and has an average start of 5.7 but average finish of 18.0 in 2013. Has not a had a top-10 finish in the spring Bristol race in the past three years.

8. Tony Stewart
Has not finished better than 14th in his last five Bristol races. Seems to be typical Tony where he starts the season slow (his best finish so far is an eighth at Phoenix).

9. Kevin Harvick
Harvick has an average running position of 16.6 in the first three races of this season. Has one top-10 finish in last eight races at Bristol.
 

Teaser:
<p> Dustin Long ranks each driver on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit for this weekend's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 - 12:56
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Baseball, MLB, Fantasy, News
Path: /mlb/2013-fantasy-baseball-rankings-shortstop
Body:

Opening Day is less than three weeks away, meaning the fantasy baseball season is quickly approaching. Drafts are going across the country, and probably the globe, and Athlon Sports' annual Baseball Preview magazine is available on newsstands everywhere.

Besides providing our comprehensive Fantasy Baseball Big Board, we also have our positional rankings, courtesy of Bruce Herman, straight from our magazine for you to peruse, utilize and scrutinize as we get ever so closer to hear those beloved words, "Play ball!"

Rankings Key
A: FRANCHISE PLAYER — You need one to compete, two to win, three to dominate.
B: CAREER YEAR — Veteran with a strong possibility of delivering his best season.
C: SLEEPER — Could be a great acquisition at a price or draft slot below his true value.
D: ROADBLOCKED — Rank has been lowered because there is no current opportunity to play regularly.
E: DECLINER — Expect moderately to significantly worse stats than in 2012.
F: INJURY RISK — Has had a recent injury that could affect performance.
G: INVESTOR’S SPECIAL — Top prospect whose immediate impact may be minimal.

Batting stats are expressed AVG-HR-RBI-R-SB

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

Athlon Sports' 2013 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Shortstop

TIER 1
1. Jose Reyes, Blue Jays (A)
Reyes avoided multi-week injuries for the first time since 2008, and despite his 50-point AVG dip to .287, he seemed to be a little stronger and more selective. The relocation to Rogers Centre and a heartier supporting cast will only help, so — beyond the fact that he’s a 40-, not 60-base thief at this stage — there’s every reason to believe this can be a vintage year.

2. Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies (A,F)
Unless any red flags are unfurled in spring, Tulo should be past the obstinate groin injury that is the only reason we’re rating him below Reyes. He was in such a class of his own between April 2009 and May 2012 (when he shut it down), that his .923 OPS as a shortstop was followed distantly on the list by .861, .779, .774 and .763.

TIER 2
3. Starlin Castro, Cubs
Castro led the league in outs made (again), errors (again) and caught stealing (“improved” from 10th). Despite his Cub in a china shop approach to the game, he’s the only player since A-Rod to amass 500 hits before his 23rd birthday, and he’s potentially a .300-30-100-100-30 player. Advice for keeper leagues: Draft him, take two Dramamines and call me in 2015.

4. Hanley Ramirez, Dodgers
Whether it be increasing body mass or increasing bank account, Ramirez resembles the player he was from 2006-10 only in bursts. Nevertheless, he went 20-20 again and remains the solitary player with 150 homers and 200 steals the last seven years. Unfortunately, Ramirez sustained a thumb injury on March 19 in the championship game of the World Baseball Classic while playing for the Dominican Republic. Ramirez will undergo surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb, which is expected to sideline him for eight weeks, meaning he will be out until at least the latter part of May.

5. Elvis Andrus, Rangers
Among active players, only A-Rod and Miguel Cabrera had more hits by their age-23 seasons than Andrus, and just Carl Crawford and Reyes stole more bases. Had but five of the latter after last year’s All-Star break for some reason.

6. Ian Desmond, Nationals
Commensurate with a swap to uniform No. 20 as a tribute to Frank Robinson, Desmond went from a two-year OPS of .677 to a Silver Slugger-worthy and MLB shortstop-leading .845. Too much of a wild swinger to assume that this is perennially attainable, but he’s clearly taken a stride.

7. Alexei Ramirez, White Sox
If Reyes and Tulo are the supermodel shortstops, Ramirez is the cutie next door with the winning personality. In at least four of his five seasons, his ranges have been .269-to-.290 for AVG, 15-to-21 for HRs, 70-to-77 for RBIs, 65-to-83 for runs and 13-to-20 for SBs. More of a go-to guy than a go-get guy.

8. Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians
No. 1 RBI and No. 2 HR operative among AL shortstops the past two years. Regressed a notch in 2012 as concerns about fitness hinted that he may be trending all Jhonny Peralta on us. Good player who, though just 27, has maxed out at “good.”

9. Jimmy Rollins, Phillies (E)
Rollins is on the cusp of being the 10th player in history with 200 homers and 400 steals, and last season he was the oldest (33) shortstop ever with 20 of one and 30 of the other. Weak hitter for average, and common sense augurs against a rerun of 2012.

10. Alcides Escobar, Royals
At Kauffman Stadium, you’d think Elvis was in the building. Escobar is a similar player to Andrus, busting out with a .293 AVG and 35 SBs. He’s two years older, though, and may never develop an authentic mastery of the strike zone.

TIER 3
11. J.J. Hardy, Orioles
One of the top four power-oriented shortstops. Has batted better than .270 twice in eight seasons, and has thieved one base in four years.

12. Derek Jeter, Yankees (E,F)
Buzzkill alert. No 39-year-old shortstop has ever hit 10 homers, and none has whacked .300 since the 1940s. Jeter’s done a lot of stuff others haven’t, but prudence and ankle surgery must drive the probabilities.

13. Erick Aybar, Angels
A target for the steal-starved — fifth at the position since 2010. Run-scoring inhibited by low slots in batting order.

14. Jean Segura, Brewers (C)
23-year-old neophyte who’s being rushed a little. Hit .198 in his first 23 games, then .329 in his last 22. Liable to scuffle with the bat for awhile, but has a shot to steal 25 or more sacks.

15. Stephen Drew, Red Sox
A three-year-average stretch of .277-16-64-82 (2008-10) remains a siren song, but we’re pretty sure that ship has sailed. Nothing’s real sure where a Drew is involved.

16. Jed Lowrie, Astros
17. Zack Cozart, Reds
18. Jhonny Peralta, Tigers
19. Andrelton Simmons, Braves (C)
20. Eduardo Nunez, Yankees (B,C,D)

TIER 4
21. Yunel Escobar, Rays
22. Everth Cabrera, Padres
23. Rafael Furcal, Cardinals (F)
24. Brandon Crawford, Giants
25. Hiroyuki Nakajima, Athletics
26. Jurickson Profar, Rangers (D,G)
27. Cliff Pennington, Athletics
28. Adeiny Hechavarria, Marlins
29. Ruben Tejada, Mets
30. Dee Gordon, Dodgers (D,G)

TIER 5
31. Mike Aviles, Indians (E)
32. Clint Barmes, Pirates
33. Brendan Ryan, Mariners
34. Pedro Florimon, Twins
35. Marwin Gonzalez, Astros
36. Didi Gregorius, Diamondbacks (G)
37. Pete Kozma, Cardinals
38. Hak-Ju Lee, Rays (G)
39. Alex Gonzalez, Milwaukee (F)
40. Ronny Cedeno, St. Louis Cardinals

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
2013 Fantasy Baseball Deep Sleepers
Fantasy Baseball Studs to Avoid in 2013

Teaser:
<p> 2013 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Shortstop</p>
Post date: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 - 12:07
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Baseball, MLB, Fantasy, News
Path: /mlb/2013-fantasy-baseball-rankings-designated-hitter
Body:

Opening Day is less than three weeks away, meaning the fantasy baseball season is quickly approaching. Drafts are going across the country, and probably the globe, and Athlon Sports' annual Baseball Preview magazine is available on newsstands everywhere.

Besides providing our comprehensive Fantasy Baseball Big Board, we also have our positional rankings, courtesy of Bruce Herman, straight from our magazine for you to peruse, utilize and scrutinize as we get ever so closer to hear those beloved words, "Play ball!"

Rankings Key
A: FRANCHISE PLAYER — You need one to compete, two to win, three to dominate.
B: CAREER YEAR — Veteran with a strong possibility of delivering his best season.
C: SLEEPER — Could be a great acquisition at a price or draft slot below his true value.
D: ROADBLOCKED — Rank has been lowered because there is no current opportunity to play regularly.
E: DECLINER — Expect moderately to significantly worse stats than in 2012.
F: INJURY RISK — Has had a recent injury that could affect performance.
G: INVESTOR’S SPECIAL — Top prospect whose immediate impact may be minimal.

Batting stats are expressed AVG-HR-RBI-R-SB

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

Athlon Sports' 2013 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Designated Hitter

TIER 1
1. Billy Butler, Royals
Butler has done a superb job of transitioning into a home run hitter without compromising high batting averages. His .313-29-107 triple crown components were matched by only Miguel Cabrera, Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder. Eighty-two players scored more runs, because he can be timed by the Mayan Calendar.

2. Victor Martinez, Tigers (F)
After forfeiting 2012 to a knee, catching days are probably over. Martinez’s bat is magical, however — batting title- and RBI crown-contention magical. Gives away a dozen or so homers to Butler, but everything else is comparable.

TIER 2
3. David Ortiz, Red Sox (F)
So who’s your Papi? The one who floundered at .244 from 2008 through April 2010, or the one who’s hit .303 since? Either way, the power has never flagged. Missed most of the second half with an Achilles injury, and his age (37) and girth make such things a recurrent risk.

4. Adam Dunn, White Sox
A .204 AVG and 222 SOs get you the Comeback Player of the Year Award? No secret here: Dunn is a love-hate fantasy player who, since 2004, has been out-homered by one player (Albert Pujols) and out-batting-averaged by — count ’em — 951.

5. Mark Trumbo, Angels (E)
Dunn lite. Circles 30 homers, but because he got into hitter’s counts only 25.2 percent of time (the majors’ lowest rate by a cavernous margin), saw his AVG dive 102 points after mid-May.

TIER 3
6. Lance Berkman, Rangers (F)
Remains very dangerous, but lack of conditioning makes him even more susceptible to injury than your run-of-the-mill 37-year-old.

7. Carlos Pena, Astros
Another all-or-nothing type who’s beginning to age out of “all.” Pena’s .234 AVG is easily the lowest in history for a first baseman with 5,000 plate appearances. Playing in Houston makes 25 HRs doable.

8. Adam Lind, Blue Jays
Went .305-35-114-93 in 2009, but has been so lost since then that he was temporarily minorized in 2012. Hit .296 with moderate power when he got back.

9. Jason Bay, Mariners (F)
Similar descent as Lind’s, but with even deeper valleys. Fresh start and closer left field target in modified Safeco give him a fighting chance to figure it out.

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
2013 Fantasy Baseball Deep Sleepers
Fantasy Baseball Studs to Avoid in 2013

Teaser:
<p> Clone of 2013 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Designated Hitter</p>
Post date: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 - 12:00
Path: /college-basketball/2013-pac-12-conference-tournament-preview
Body:

March Madness is just getting started as the college basketball season shifts to the conference tournaments. Titles will be won, NCAA Tournament spots will be clinched or lost all over the country. Here’s what to watch in the Pac-12.

PAC-12 CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT
Starts: March 13
Final: March 16 in Las Vegas (ESPN)
No. 8 Stanford vs. No. 9 Arizona State
No. 5 Colorado vs. No. 12 Oregon State
No. 7 USC vs. No. 10 Utah
No. 6 Washington vs. No. 11 Washington State

First-round byes:
No. 1 UCLA
No. 2 Cal
No. 3 Oregon
No. 4 Arizona

Full Bracket: (.pdf)

Other conference tournament previews:
Big 12 | Big East
| Mountain West | SEC

THE FAVORITE: UCLA
It hasn’t been the smoothest ride, but UCLA captured the outright Pac-12 title with a 13–5 record. The Bruins have a ton of talent, even if it hasn’t been the most cohesive group in the league. UCLA won the league outright, but the Bruins were hardly immune from the inconsistency throughout the league. In only the final week, the Bruins sleep walked through a loss to Washington. Facing a hungry Stanford or Arizona State team in the quarterfinals could be problematic.

DARK HORSE: USC
The Trojans played well after Bob Cantu took over for Kevin O’Neill on an interim basis in late January. In the 7-7 stretch under Cantu, USC has wins over UCLA and Stanford on the road and Washington and Arizona at home. The key is the play of Eric Wise. The senior went 9 of 12 in an upset of Arizona on Feb. 27 but went 4 of 16 with 14 points combined in back-to-back losses to the Washington schools to end the regular season.

ATHLON’S PICK: Cal
The Golden Bears ended the season on a down note — a home loss to rival Stanford — but had previously won seven straight games. Pac-12 player of the year Allen Crabbe is capable of carrying his team to the title. Fellow guard Justin Cobbs finished the season on a hot streak, but he must cut his turnovers.

Related: Top Buzzer Beaters for 2012-13 (so far)

NCAA TOURNAMENT LOCKS:
Arizona, Cal, Colorado, Oregon, UCLA

BUBBLE TEAMS:
Arizona State/Stanford: The five teams projected to be in the bracket for the Pac-12 appear to be pretty safe even if Cal, Colorado and Oregon lose their conference tournament openers. Arizona State and Stanford are marginal bubble teams, who will eliminate the other when they face each other in the first round. Things could get interesting if the Arizona State-Stanford winner knocks off No. 1 seed UCLA in the quarterfinal.

Related: All 2013 postseason college basketball coverage

Teaser:
<p> 2013 Pac-12 Conference Tournament Preview</p>
Post date: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 - 11:20
Path: /college-basketball/2013-big-12-conference-tournament-preview
Body:

March Madness is just getting started as the college basketball season shifts to the conference tournaments. Titles will be won, NCAA Tournament spots will be clinched or lost all over the country. Here’s what to watch in the Big 12.

BIG 12 CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT
Starts: March 13
Final: March 16 in Kansas City (ESPN)
First-round games:
No. 8 West Virginia vs. No. 9 Texas Tech (Wednesday)
No. 7 Texas vs. No. 10 TCU (Wednesday)
No. 4 Oklahoma vs. No. 5 Iowa State (Thursday)
No. 1 Kansas vs. West Virginia/Texas Tech (Thursday)
No. 2 Kansas State vs. Texas/TCU (Thursday)
No. 3 Oklahoma State vs. No. 6 Baylor (Thursday)

Full Bracket: (.pdf)

Other conference tournament previews:
Big East | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC


THE FAVORITE: Kansas
Kansas has stubbed its toe on several occasions this season, but Bill Self’s club still managed to grab a share of the Big 12 title for the ninth straight season. Point guard will be worth watching as it has been all season. Elijah Johnson has scored 29 total points in three games since his 39-point outburst against Iowa State.

DARK HORSE: Baylor
Despite its 9–9 Big 12 record, Baylor might have the league’s most talented roster. The Bears showed what they are capable of on Saturday, rolling past Kansas 81–58 in the season-finale in Waco. We could see Pierre Jackson, Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson reach the final... or just as easily lose to Oklahoma State in a rout.

ATHLON’S PICK: Kansas
Oklahoma State and Kansas State are both very good, but Kansas is a veteran team — the Jayhawks start four seniors — that will be playing for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The exception in the KU starting lineup may be the best freshman in the country in Ben McLemore.

Related: Top Buzzer Beaters for 2012-13 (so far)

NCAA TOURNAMENT LOCKS:
Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State

BUBBLE TEAMS:
Oklahoma
The Sooners were close to lock status back in mid-February, but it might be warranted to worry about OU. The Sooners lost on Feb. 27 at Texas in overtime and then joined Kansas as the only Big 12 teams to lose to TCU. A loss to Iowa State won’t knock the Sooners out, but two wins over Iowa State in the final weeks of the season would be a compelling case if OU ends up on the bubble.

Iowa State
The Cyclones picked up a resume-boosting win by defeating Oklahoma State on March 6. Like Oklahoma, Iowa State may be a Tournament team no matter what happens in its quarterfinal game against the Sooners, but the winner Thursday should feel secure while the loser will have to hope it doesn’t get caught in a number crunch.

Baylor
It was easy to give up on Baylor after the Bears lost to Texas on March 4 to fall below .500 in the league. Scott Drew’s team still needs to win a few games in the Big 12 Tournament to get into the field, but Baylor’s 81-58 win over Kansas on Saturday reinforced this team has the talent to make a run.

Related: All 2013 postseason college basketball coverage

Teaser:
<p> Can Kansas claim another Big 12 Tournament title? Will Oklahoma or Iowa State pick up a crucial win?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 - 11:15
Path: /college-basketball/2013-sec-tournament-preview
Body:

March Madness is just getting started as the college basketball season shifts to the conference tournaments. Titles will be won, NCAA Tournament spots will be clinched or lost all over the country. Here’s what to watch in the SEC.

SEC TOURNAMENT
Starts: Thursday
Final: Sunday in Nashville, Tenn. (ABC)
Early round games
No. 12 South Carolina vs. No. 13 Mississippi State (Wednesday)
No. 11 Texas A&M vs. No. 14 Auburn (Wednesday)
No. 8 Georgia vs. No. 9 LSU (Thursday)
No. 5 Tennessee vs. South Carolina/Mississippi State (Thursday)
No. 7 Arkansas vs. No. 10 Vanderbilt (Thursday)
No. 6 Missouri vs. Texas A&M/Auburn

Byes to the quarterfinals:
No. 1 Florida
No. 2 Kentucky
No. 3 Ole Miss
No. 4 Alabama

Full Bracket: (.pdf)

Other conference tournament previews:
Big 12 | Big East | Mountain West | Pac-12


THE FAVORITE: Florida
Florida stumbled down the stretch on the road in league play, but the Gators were clearly the best team in the league all season long. Florida will need to prove it can win away from Gainesville (the Gators went 7-6 on the road) and win close games (the Gators were 0-5 in games decided by single digits). Plan your brackets accordingly.

DARK HORSE: Tennessee
Any team with Jordan McRae, Trae Golden and Jarnell Stokes is capable of winning four games in four days. The Vols have won eight of nine, and probably need to win two more to secure an at-large invite to the NCAA Tournament. A talented team that went 8-1 down the stretch and needs to win games? Seems like a good mix.

ATHLON’S PICK: Florida
It’s always dangerous to pick against Kentucky — which will have the majority of the fan support — at the SEC Tournament, but the Wildcats simply have not been able to win consistently enough to trust them in the SEC Tournament. Florida has the talent and could re-focus in time to win its first SEC Tourney since 2007.

Related: Top Buzzer Beaters for 2012-13 (so far)

NCAA TOURNAMENT LOCKS:
Florida, Missouri

BUBBLE TEAMS:
Kentucky
The Wildcats may have the strongest case of any of the five bubble teams in the SEC. Kentucky was in the field before Nerlens Noel got hurt and defeated Missouri and Florida at home in close games after Noel’s injury. But Kentucky also lost by 30 to Tennessee in Knoxville, plus on the road to Arkansas and Georgia. Avoid a loss to Vanderbilt or Arkansas in the first game, and John Calipari will feel more confident about defending his title.

Tennessee
The Volunteers surged at the end of the season with only one loss after Feb. 6. The run included wins at home over Kentucky, Florida and Missouri, but Georgia continued to be the Achilles’ heel for the Vols. Lucky for Cuonzo Martin, Tennessee won’t see the Bulldogs unless it’s in a conference title game. A bad loss to either South Carolina or Mississippi State might knock Tennessee out. A win over Alabama in the quarterfinals might be enough to keep the Vols in.

Ole Miss
The Rebels earned a bye to the quarterfinals, where they’ll hope to meet Missouri again. The Tigers will likely head to the NCAA Tournament with a strong non-conference resume, but they’re seeded sixth in the SEC. If Ole Miss draws Missouri, the Rebels will have a chance to prove their signature win of the season wasn’t a product of playing the Tigers in Oxford without Laurence Bowers.

Alabama
Losing to LSU and needing a miracle halfcourt shot to beat Georgia is not a great way to get into the field, especially for a Crimson Tide team with losses to Auburn, Tulane, Mercer and Dayton on the resume. It’s tough to see this team reaching the field without wins over Tennessee in the quarters and Florida in the semis, at least.

Arkansas
At home, Arkansas is a sure-bet tournament team. Away from Fayetteville, the Hogs are beatable by everyone but Auburn. We list Arkansas as a bubble team because of the Razorbacks’ potential when they’re on their games. That said, it may be automatic bid or bust.

Related: All 2013 postseason college basketball coverage

Teaser:
<p> 2013 SEC Tournament Preview</p>
Post date: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Baseball, MLB, Fantasy, News
Path: /mlb/2013-fantasy-baseball-rankings-big-board
Body:

Spring training is in full swing. The World Baseball Classic is halfway done. But most importantly of all, Opening Day is less than three weeks away.

This also means that the fantasy baseball season is close at hand. Draft time is drawing near and rankings can be found all over the Internet. Athlon Sports' 26th annual MLB Baseball Preview annual is on newsstands now, which includes complete fantasy positional rankings.

In addition, Athlon also has constructed the truest and most comprehensive 2013 Fantasy Baseball Big Board available online. The updated 2013 Big Board features the rankings of these trusted and respected sites:
CBSSports.com, ESPN.com, FF Toolbox.com (FFTB), FOXSports.com, KFFL.com, MLB.com, Razzball.com (RAZZ), RotoChamp (RC), USAToday.com (USA) and Yahoo! Sports (Y!) averaged into one consensus top 200.

Ryan Braun grabs the top spot on the updated Big Board, but he's not an uanimous No. 1 across the board. Braun was ranked No. 1 by five different sites with AL Rookie of the Year Mike Trout picking up four No. 1 votes and Triple Crown winner and AL MVP Miguel Cabrera receiving the other one. Trout probably would have ended up no lower than third overall had it not been for KFFL.com's somewhat curious No. 26 ranking of the young Angels' outfielder.

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

2013 Consensus Fantasy Baseball Big Board:

Rk Player Team Pos CBS ESPN FFTB FOX KFFL MLB RAZZ RC USA Y!
1 Ryan Braun MIL OF 1 1 2 1 1 3 2 2 1 2
2 Miguel Cabrera DET 3B 2 3 3 2 2 2 1 3 2 3
3 Robinson Cano NYY 2B 4 4 4 6 3 5 5 4 3 4
4 Mike Trout LAA OF 3 2 1 3 26 1 4 1 7 1
5 Albert Pujols LAA 1B 5 7 7 4 6 6 6 12 8 6
6 Andrew McCutchen PIT OF 7 5 5 5 10 8 3 13 5 8
7 Matt Kemp LAD OF 6 6 6 7 13 4 14 8 4 5
8 Joey Votto CIN 1B 8 9 9 9 7 9 8 6 6 7
9 Prince Fielder DET 1B 9 10 11 8 24 11 7 5 14 10
10 Carlos Gonzalez COL OF 17 8 8 10 5 7 11 26 9 9
11 Justin Verlander DET SP 11 13 14 12 4 20 21 9 13 11
12 Giancarlo Stanton MIA OF 13 15 10 11 44 13 9 18 10 14
13 Jose Bautista TOR OF 12 20 15 13 30 12 18 10 16 16
14 Troy Tulowitzki COL SS 10 11 13 20 25 10 22 25 20 15
15 Clayton Kershaw LAD SP 15 14 18 14 14 22 40 11 11 13
16 Buster Posey SF C/1B 16 16 12 17 8 26 30 7 21 20
17 Adrian Beltre TEX 3B 25 18 16 22 21 18 16 28 17 17
18 Justin Upton ATL OF 26 12 19 15 20 14 10 55 19 23
19 Josh Hamilton LAA OF 14 19 17 16 64 16 15 15 22 21
20 Stephen Strasburg WAS SP 32 24 22 19 15 25 25 19 33 12
21 Evan Longoria TB 3B 20 21 24 25 41 33 12 16 25 19
22 David Price TB SP 23 25 30 21 19 31 33 20 32 24
23 Jose Reyes TOR SS 22 29 29 31 11 23 23 48 12 30
24 Ian Kinsler TEX 2B 19 27 27 30 27 29 17 32 27 26
25 Dustin Pedroia BOS 2B 18 26 23 28 28 24 24 40 29 25
26 David Wright NYM 3B 31 17 20 18 52 17 28 60 23 22
27 Felix Hernandez SEA SP 21 22 26 26 40 34 41 34 31 18
28 Hanley Ramirez LAD 3B/SS 29 23 21 24 45 21 30 64 18 28
29 Jason Heyward ATL OF 37 28 25 23 31 15 36 68 15 27
30 Adam Jones BAL OF 36 34 40 32 43 28 13 22 38 34
31 Edwin Encarnacion TOR 1B 24 31 28 29 61 37 27 14 42 29
32 Cole Hamels PHI SP 30 33 38 38 9 39 45 31 37 31
33 Matt Cain SF SP 44 30 33 34 17 35 48 23 59 32
34 Cliff Lee PHI SP 46 32 31 43 16 41 55 27 46 33
35 Matt Holliday STL OF 27 46 41 36 36 42 29 47 36 40
36 Bryce Harper WAS OF 52 37 44 33 94 19 37 21 26 35
37 Jay Bruce CIN OF 51 36 43 41 42 51 34 38 30 37
38 Adrian Gonzalez LAD 1B/OF 33 41 58 27 49 43 20 70 28 43
39 Jered Weaver LAA SP 34 39 34 42 12 54 79 29 52 38
40 Starlin Castro CHC SS 68 35 32 37 48 32 32 80 24 41
41 Billy Butler KC 1B 45 38 35 46 56 56 58 17 39 42
42 Ryan Zimmerman WAS 3B 28 51 36 45 71 27 26 104 34 44
43 Yoenis Cespedes OAK OF 53 52 47 44 29 36 51 63 43 49
44 Jacoby Ellsbury BOS OF 38 45 46 35 75 30 50 66 49 36
45 Craig Kimbrel ATL RP 56 43 39 63 33 50 53 33 64 55
46 Ben Zobrist TB 2B/SS/OF 39 54 53 62 65 63 39 30 47 69
47 Gio Gonzalez WAS SP 50 49 63 53 46 45 54 36 73 53
48 Joe Mauer MIN C/1B 40 65 45 40 18 80 92 49 41 68
49 Brandon Phillips CIN 2B 77 42 65 64 50 38 38 57 45 65
50 B.J. Upton ATL OF 69 47 50 49 66 48 46 69 48 51
51 CC Sabathia NYY SP 47 60 76 47 23 58 81 52 57 48
52 R.A. Dickey TOR SP 42 59 75 50 62 40 83 24 69 50
53 Zack Greinke LAD SP 49 40 48 55 69 44 42 116 63 39
54 Madison Bumgarner SF SP 43 53 56 51 51 68 52 61 85 45
55 Paul Goldschmidt ARI 1B 86 72 55 48 76 47 19 91 35 46
56 Chase Headley SD 3B 35 44 49 60 80 60 44 96 56 62
57 Aramis Ramirez MIL 3B 62 70 42 52 63 75 66 46 40 80
58 Adam Wainwright STL SP 70 50 64 65 39 76 57 75 76 47
59 Carlos Santana CLE C/1B 48 76 62 72 35 66 61 45 94 77
60 Allen Craig STL 1B/OF 41 63 52 54 93 82 60 83 62 52
61 Chris Sale CHW SP 55 66 73 67 73 55 82 54 91 58
62 Johnny Cueto CIN SP 63 67 79 75 32 64 96 65 77 61
63 Matt Wieters BAL C 80 56 54 76 47 70 91 51 70 87
64 Yadier Molina STL C 66 48 60 58 37 52 178 39 84 76
65 Jason Kipnis CLE 2B 85 61 37 57 90 84 118 50 61 57
66 Yu Darvish TEX SP 54 55 66 61 68 53 85 108 97 54
67 Ian Desmond WAS 2B/SS 78 64 104 59 58 46 62 105 59 66
68 Freddie Freeman ATL 1B 87 90 67 69 72 93 77 35 50 71
69 Mat Latos CIN SP 64 69 82 87 34 57 64 84 115 60
70 Aaron Hill ARI 2B 72 73 71 90 53 85 69 71 71 67
71 Roy Halladay PHI SP 59 75 88 81 60 79 97 67 78 56
72 Michael Bourn CLE OF 89 58 70 68 55 49 124 92 54 81
73 Jimmy Rollins PHI SS 67 77 95 78 78 94 47 59 72 75
74 Pablo Sandoval SF 3B 74 80 78 79 145 61 43 95 44 63
75 Brett Lawrie TOR 3B 101 57 51 66 160 81 67 73 58 59
76 Shin-Soo Choo CIN OF 58 78 69 80 77 73 35 165 55 86
77 Alex Rios CHW OF 76 74 68 70 83 86 74 97 87 74
78 James Shields KC SP 57 88 94 82 38 59 84 94 105 91
79 Elvis Andrus TEX SS 91 93 100 71 121 100 70 53 51 64
80 Desmond Jennings TB OF 92 68 59 73 100 89 49 127 95 73
81 Jose Altuve HOU 2B 88 86 85 86 81 78 107 44 82 96
82 Jordan Zimmerman WAS SP 83 71 84 92 57 95 63 102 106 85
83 Jonathan Papelbon PHI RP 82 79 77 106 70 69 80 90 93 92
84 Austin Jackson DET OF 94 62 74 74 82 72 71 136 88 89
85 Kris Medlen ATL SP/RP 60 84 90 93 122 67 87 41 146 82
86 Alex Gordon KC OF 75 83 72 83 59 133 72 161 53 90
87 Max Scherzer DET SP 65 92 89 84 162 62 56 114 96 83
88 Jason Motte STL RP 104 82 83 120 67 71 93 89 110 97
89 Asdrubal Cabrera CLE SS 84 98 102 88 116 77 106 107 66 93
90 Martin Prado ARI 2/3/SS/OF 93 91 81 99 114 98 122 77 67 107
91 Aroldis Chapman CIN RP 61 81 86 103 194 96 68 62 130 78
92 Yovani Gallardo MIL SP 71 89 96 89 98 90 86 140 141 84
93 David Ortiz BOS 1B 81 107 103 77 96 97 103 126 143 70
94 Ike Davis NYM 1B 119 95 80 98 112 156 59 81 99 106
95 Victor Martinez DET C 129 87 91 104 95 91 116 138 80 88
96 Carlos Beltran STL OF 109 132 108 95 163 113 76 58 74 94
97 Mike Napoli BOS C/1B 134 156 87 102 22 87 170 43 89 138
98 Matt Moore TB SP 122 85 97 96 86 101 65 185 116 79
99 Curtis Granderson NYY OF 98 104 57 39 152 65 113 191 122 99
100 Melky Cabrera TOR OF 97 97 105 117 99 108 - 79 68 111
101 Hunter Pence HOU OF 117 127 119 123 87 102 73 131 81 124
102 Rickie Weeks MIL 2B 73 150 118 94 91 109 117 137 79 119
103 Anthony Rizzo CHC 1B 120 109 99 111 168 - 90 37 98 72
104 Eric Hosmer KC 1B 181 105 111 101 125 132 101 56 92 104
105 Paul Konerko CHW 1B 128 139 93 97 127 121 151 42 109 103
106 Josh Willingham MIN OF 110 113 109 107 144 117 112 88 86 126
107 Shane Victorino BOS OF 100 116 101 116 74 - 114 87 119 105
108 Mark Trumbo LAA 1B/3B/OF 135 111 107 85 193 129 78 111 90 134
109 Brandon Morrow TOR SP 99 100 116 118 108 124 111 119 189 101
110 Mariano Rivera NYY RP 113 101 98 155 119 125 94 101 171 123
111 Nelson Cruz TEX OF 131 136 124 119 85 118 75 183 131 100
112 Doug Fister DET SP 105 99 121 127 109 104 168 74 175 120
113 Ian Kennedy ARI SP 106 103 127 105 89 88 141 144 200 102
114 Miguel Montero ARI C 79 175 114 91 102 74 177 180 108 113
115 Fernando Rodney TB RP 108 96 125 151 84 92 198 98 135 127
116 Joe Nathan TEX RP 114 110 120 159 106 111 131 93 142 132
117 Chase Utley PHI 2B 107 158 113 124 123 141 120 146 75 130
118 Wilin Rosario COL C 103 184 143 100 92 83 137 135 166 95
119 Rafael Soriano WAS RP 136 94 92 136 134 103 133 149 133 131
120 Jeff Samardzjia CHC SP 112 144 167 133 128 115 99 141 132 110
121 Jake Peavy CHW SP 90 119 139 137 133 99 88 - 199 108
122 Josh Johnson TOR SP 96 114 137 122 169 139 162 113 162 116
123 Hiroki Kuroda NYY SP 140 117 155 130 118 105 167 109 181 122
124 Salvador Perez KC C 132 - 134 126 105 107 108 - 104 129
125 Adam LaRoche WAS 1B 153 151 115 112 178 153 163 112 103 140
126 Sergio Romo SF RP 147 145 133 180 104 126 132 72 194 151
127 Andre Ethier LAD OF 115 153 129 140 - 120 126 134 124 152
128 Dan Haren WAS SP 160 108 123 128 138 131 166 182 150 109
129 Ryan Howard PHI 1B 124 147 130 114 195 - 104 145 147 98
130 Nick Markakis BAL OF 111 - 148 182 97 - 127 86 120 135
131 Jesus Montero SEA C 146 - 159 148 54 - 138 103 129 142
132 David Freese STL 3B 127 126 110 109 - - 161 - 83 112
133 Norichika Aoki MIL OF 158 - 131 153 132 154 129 110 126 150
134 Neil Walker PIT 2B - 123 141 115 88 151 181 151 125 168
135 Mark Teixeira NYY 1B 137 128 61 56 - - - - 65 199
136 Derek Jeter NYY SS 126 186 126 139 - 106 156 172 102 141
137 Tim Lincecum SF SP 116 118 142 121 146 - 145 - 153 114
138 C.J. Wilson LAA SP 102 152 178 145 79 147 - 152 180 133
139 Jon Lester BOS SP 95 138 165 141 - 176 98 - 139 118
140 Will Middlebrooks BOS 3B 168 188 172 108 - 137 153 82 112 154
141 Angel Pagan SF OF 163 115 140 132 111 110 - - 167 145
142 Danny Espinosa WAS 2B/SS 171 135 122 110 - 148 89 - 148 160
143 Brett Anderson OAK SP 143 140 138 152 107 191 193 129 140 153
144 Carlos Gomez MIL OF 139 102 106 125 - 144 191 - 163 117
145 J.J. Putz ARI RP 155 106 117 171 110 193 - 100 - 137
146 Jim Johnson BAL RP 148 130 145 156 115 146 200 123 188 146
147 Erick Aybar LAA SS 178 122 166 143 153 119 155 148 137 176
148 Alcides Escobar KC SS 172 142 190 150 189 112 158 117 100 180
149 Chris Davis BAL 1B/OF 193 168 136 144 164 142 95 143 179 157
150 Huston Street SD RP 170 154 161 175 131 169 136 118 152 158
151 Alejandro de Aza CHW OF - 129 132 142 171 122 - 120 169 139
152 Carl Crawford LAD OF 156 141 116 113 - 155 146 - 183 115
153 Anibal Sanchez DET SP 144 120 151 184 - 138 164 156 157 144
154 Michael Morse SEA OF 118 160 149 135 172 - 149 - 113 170
155 Kyle Seager SEA 2B/3B 165 165 146 169 - 161 119 106 155 181
156 Pedro Alvarez PIT 3B 173 157 154 138 - 128 159 186 127 147
157 Nick Swisher CLE 1B/OF 138 195 135 174 - 127 185 160 117 149
158 Jonathan Lucroy MIL C 133 - 182 129 103 180 176 157 159 169
159 Greg Holland KC RP 179 146 147 194 101 177 135 147 - 164
160 Howie Kendrick LAA 2B - 133 158 149 158 136 157 - 134 178
161 Torii Hunter DET OF - 124 197 162 170 130 125 - 101 194
162 Ben Revere PHI OF 157 137 150 147 - 116 - 169 186 143
163 Josh Reddick OAK OF 174 181 157 179 - 189 128 76 136 186
164 Mike Minor ATL SP 123 179 179 158 157 123 142 - - 163
165 Jonathon Niese NYM SP 121 121 163 165 176 - 110 - - 167
166 Mike Moustakas KC 3B 177 148 160 146 - - 152 - 114 136
167 Lance Lynn STL SP/RP 130 134 156 131 - 163 171 197 - 156
168 Josh Rutledge COL 2B/SS 145 - 187 170 - 166 100 115 178 183
169 Dan Uggla ATL 2B 149 170 174 160 - - 121 - 156 125
170 Matt Harvey NYM SP 142 163 169 167 - - - 78 - 148
171 Brett Gardner NYY OF - 131 194 134 151 194 147 153 198 171
172 Michael Cuddyer COL 1B/OF - - - 168 - 114 150 124 164 162
173 John Axford MIL RP 198 125 128 190 165 172 175 162 182 190
174 Ichiro Suzuki NYY OF 176 193 189 161 139 171 123 179 195 165
175 Jarrod Parker OAK SP 150 159 152 154 - - 140 - 187 161
176 Tom Wilhelmsen SEA RP 154 - - - 136 167 134 139 - 175
177 Homer Bailey CIN SP 182 161 175 - 124 135 139 - - 192
178 Dexter Fowler COL OF 159 177 191 157 - - 130 - 111 184
179 Kendrys Morales SEA 1B - 190 153 198 149 - 105 - 149 173
180 Joel Hanrahan BOS RP 164 112 144 178 - 170 - 178 - 174
181 Todd Frazier CIN 1B/3B/OF 196 173 164 181 - 152 102 - 168 -
182 Grant Balfour OAK RP - 172 177 - 117 140 - 133 - 198
183 Jayson Werth WAS OF 175 - - 192 135 160 192 - 107 -
184 Matt Garza CHI SP 194 - 181 163 181 198 165 193 170 121
185 Adam Dunn CHW 1B 190 - - 172 - 145 184 174 145 155
186 A.J. Burnett PIT SP 141 200 - - - 150 143 - 160 185
187 Coco Crisp OAK OF - 180 - 164 - - - 122 154 159
188 Brian McCann ATL C 125 - 168 186 - - 180 - - 128
189 Alexi Ogando TEX SP - 194 - - 129 186 - 85 - -
190 Rafael Betancourt COL RP - 166 176 - 154 192 - 130 - 179
191 Manny Machado BAL 3B 197 178 171 183 - - 154 - 121 -
192 Wade Miley ARI SP 169 149 170 189 - 190 172 166 - -
193 Marco Estrada MIL SP/RP 161 - - 200 196 157 - 125 - 166
194 Justin Morneau MIN 1B 151 - - - 143 199 188 - 128 197
195 Corey Hart MIL 1B/OF 152 199 - 58 - - - - - -
196 Tim Hudson ATL SP 195 167 180 176 - 143 - 158 - 200
197 Jeremy Hellickson TB SP - 164 173 195 126 - - 177 184 -
198 Alexei Ramirez CHW SS - 191 162 185 197 - - 168 123 -
199 Chris Perez CLE RP - 192 183 173 148 173 - - 191 196
200 Ryan Doumit MIN C/OF 188 - - 177 137 158 - - - -

Note: Positional eligibility is accoring to Yahoo! leagues.

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Teaser:
<p> 2013 Fantasy Baseball Consensus Big Board</p>
Post date: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/florida-gators-2013-spring-football-preview
Body:

Florida lived on the edge like few teams last season. No matter the opponent -- from Bowling Green and Louisiana-Lafayette to Texas A&M and LSU, the Gators made Saturdays interesting. In Will Muschamp’s third season, the coach will take the record (11-2) but maybe not the stress of games that shouldn’t be as close as they were.

Spring opens with plenty of questions, though. Jeff Driskel was a liability at times at quarterback last season, but he’s the focal point this season. On defense, many of the top playmakers are gone, opening doors for talented youth to make a move.

Florida Gators 2013 Spring Preview

2012 Record: 11-2 (7-1)

Spring practice dates: March 13-April 6

Returning Starters: Offense – 5, Defense – 4

Returning Leaders:

Passing: Jeff Driskel, 156 of 245, 1,646, 12 TDs, 5 INTs
Rushing: Driskel, 118 car., 413 yds, 4 TD
Receiving: Quinton Dunbar, 36 rec., 383 yds., 4 TDs
Tackles: Loucheiz Purifoy, 51
Sacks: Dominique Easley, 4
Interceptions: Jaylen Watkins, 3

Redshirts to watch: S Marcus Maye, QB Skyler Mornhinweg, TE Colin Thompson, DT Quinteze Williams

Early Enrollees to watch: LB Alex Anzalone, DL Joe Ivie, LB Daniel McMillian, OL Tyler Moore, WR Demarcus Robinson

JUCO Transfer to Watch: DT Darious Cummings

2013 Schedule
Aug. 31: Toledo
Sept. 7: at Miami
Sept. 21: Tennessee
Sept. 28: at Kentucky
Oct. 5: Arkansas
Oct. 12: at LSU
Oct. 19: at Missouri
Nov. 2: Georgia (Jacksonville)
Nov. 9: Vanderbilt
Nov. 16: at South Carolina
Nov. 23: Georgia Southern
Nov. 30: Florida State

Offensive Strength: The offense as a whole is in transition with new faces on the offensive line and questions at running back and wide receiver. That leaves quarterback, or at least Jeff Driskel’s returning experience, as a strength. Driskel threw all but 43 of the Gators’ pass attempts last season.

Offensive Weakness: The Gators averaged an un-Florida-like 5.3 yards per play last season. Only Missouri and Kentucky averaged fewer in the SEC last season. The Gators will focus on a power run game under Will Muschamp and coordinator Brent Pease, but Florida will need to find playmakers with running back and Mike Gillislee and tight end Jordan Reed gone.

Defensive Strength: Florida is overflowing with numbers at cornerback, which is allowing Muschamp to tinker with moving players around. Loucheiz Purifoy will see time on offense while Cody Riggs and Jaylen Watkins may play safety.

Defensive Weakness: As usual, the Gators have plenty of talented players on defense, but there’s a question of who will become the big-play leader. Matt Elam led the team in interceptions (four) and was second in tackles for a loss (11), but he’s gone. Empty spots in the front seven mean Florida is also looking for a pass rusher to emerge.

Spring Storylines Facing the Gators

1. Can Jeff Driskel emerge? Driskel won’t be competing for his job after starting all but two games last season. Now, it’s time to see what he can do with a full spring as the No. 1 quarterback. He has a strong arm and he can scramble, but he needs to be able to make more plays downfield and avoid sacks. Two huge safety nets in Gillislee and Reed are gone, so Driskel needs to emerge as a playmaker in his own right.

2. Finding offensive playmakers. Where would Florida have been without the steady, grinding run game of Gillislee? That’s not a question the Gators hope to answer. The Gators used to have a steady stream of offensive playmakers, but there’s been a drought of reliable big play receivers. This spring, cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy is working out at the position, and early-enrolling freshman Demarcus Robinson could make an impact. At running back, the race is on to replace Gillislee. Matt Jones came on late last season, including eight carries for 81 yards and a touchdown against Florida State. He’s one of three scholarship tailbacks in spring camp.

3. A new offensive line look. Three starters are back on the offensive line, including center Jon Harrison, right guard Jon Halapio and right tackle Chaz Green. Sophomore D.J. Humphries could take over at left tackle and may have a bright future there. Maryland transfer Max Garcia is a projected starter at left guard while Nebraska transfer Tyler Moore could press Green for playing time.

4. Changing of the guard in the front seven. The Gators will have a ton of turnover in the front seven with linemen Sharrif Floyd and Omar Hunter and all three starting linebackers gone. Linemen Dante Fowler Jr. and Jonathan Bullard are looking to build on positive freshman seasons. Ronald Powell, a former No. 1 prospect, is looking to make a return from a torn ACL. With defensive tackle Darious Cummings arriving from junior college, Florida will have candidates at line. The Gators will need help at linebacker, though.

5. Filling both safety spots. Where Florida is stocked at cornerback, the Gators have questions at safety. Matt Elam was Florida’s top defensive player last season. He left big shoes to fill. Josh Evans, who started the last two seasons, are also gone. Hopes are high for Marcus Maye to take over for Elam, but he’s a redshirt freshman.

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Teaser:
<p> Florida Gators 2013 Spring Football Preview</p>
Post date: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: 2013 March Madness, College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/2012-13-college-basketball-all-name-team
Body:

Anthlon Bell is so close. The freshman guard from Arkansas is just one letter off from being the all-time captain of the Athlon Sports College Basketball All-Name Team. We’ll list him here anyway for the top basketball names for the 2012-13 season. Some you’ll recognize. Some will show up in your bracket. Some are buried on a roster in at one of nearly 350 Division I schools.

Here are the highlights of the 2012-13 All-Name Team


ALL-NAME ALL STARS
Athlon Sports wants to honor all-around contributes to the All-Name team. Not only do these players have outstanding names, they’re outstanding players. Their performance on the court makes them household All-Names, in essence.

Nnanna Egwu, Illinois
The sophomore with four Ns in his first name is a starter for Illinois, averaging 6.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.

Majok Majok, Ball State
The Sudanese-born forward gets bonus points for nearly averaging a double-double (10.7 points, 9.9 rebounds) to go with his double name.

Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado
Giggle at the name, if you must. Pac-12 fans learned not to as Dinwiddie averages 15.4 points per game.

Cleanthony Early, Wichita State
The junior college transfer was an instant boost for the Shockers, averaging 13.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. 

Vander Blue, Marquette
One of two Vanders playing this season (see: Vander Joaquin at Hawaii), Vander Blue emerged from a big recruit to a star junior at 14.4 points per game.

Cleveland Melvin, DePaul
Hello, Cleveland. A fantastic player who has averaged 16.1 points and 6.5 rebounds won’t play in the postseason at lowly DePaul.

ALL-NAME STARTING FIVES
Some teams have so many great names, we can’t highlight just one or two. Here are starting fives of unique names at six schools.

ST. JOHN’S
God’sgift Achiuwa
Felix Balamou
Marc-Antoine Bourgalt
Sir’Dominic Pointer
JaKarr Sampson

CINCINNATI
Alex Eppensteiner
Ge’Lawn Guyn
Cheikh Mbodj
David Nyarsuk
Titus Rubles

WESTERN KENTUCKY
O’Karo Akamune
Teeng Akol
Kene Anyigbo
Percy Blade
Aleksejs Rostov

SAINT LOUIS
Jared Drew (ed. note: Not related to Bryce, Scott or Homer, but name and hometown in Indianapolis makes it seem that way on paper.)
Grandy Glaze
Rob Loe
Austin McBroom
Jordair Jett

HAWAII
Hauns Brerton
Manroop Clair
Dyrbe Enos
Davis Rozitis
Christian Standhardinger

MONTANA STATE
Antonio Biglow
Jeff Budinich
Flavien Davis
Paul Egwuonwu
Christian Moon

DOUBLE DOUBLES
Ya Ya Anderson, Radford
Bak Bak, Cal
Leek Leek, Campbell
Shayok Shayok, Bradley
Deng Deng, Long Beach State

HONORABLE MENTION
Mo Alie-Cox, VCU
McWisdom Badejo, Florida A&M
Marcellus Barksdale, IUPUI
Staats Battle, NC State
Beau Beech, North Florida
Deuce Bello, Baylor
Alex Biggerstaff, UNC Asheville
Jaron Blossomgame, Clemson
Jayson Cheesman, Southern Utah
Rob Chubb, Auburn
Bobby Capobianco, Valparaiso
BaeBae Daniels, North Florida
Indiana Faithfull, Wofford
Grandy Glaze, Saint Louis
Dusty Hannahs, Texas Tech
Keegan Hornbuckle, UCSB
Charlon Kloof, St. Bonaventure
Gregoryhson Magee, South Alabama
Gee McGhee, Chattanooga
Four McGlynn, Towson
Ferg Myrick, New Hampshire
Johnny O’Bryant III, LSU
Onochie Oche, Southeastern Louisiana
Peter Pappageorge, Long Beach State
Bubu Palo, Iowa State
Dalton Pepper, Temple
Chad Posthumus, Morehead State
Dakota Slaughter, Alabama
Hippolyte Tsafack, Memphis
Drake U’u, Cal Poly
Parker U’u, Hartford
Daddy Ugbede, Drake
Hooper Vint, UTEP

And finally
De’End Parker, San Francisco
 

Teaser:
<p> 2012-13 College Basketball All-Name Team</p>
Post date: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 - 07:50
Path: /college-football/big-12-football-2013-schedule-analysis
Body:

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

Since the Big 12 has yet to expand back to 12 teams, each program has an unbalanced home or away slate in the conference schedule. While it’s not a huge deal, playing five home conference games could be the difference for a team that’s trying to get bowl eligible. And with no clear favorite for 2013, the schedules could play an even bigger role in helping to determine which teams emerge near the top.

Oklahoma State and Texas have two of the Big 12’s best schedules, while West Virginia catches an unfortunate break with a road trip to Oklahoma in Week 2. Athlon details some of the early trends and games to watch with its Big 12 schedule analysis for 2013.  

Big 12 Schedule Analysis for 2013

Baylor

Aug. 31 Wofford
Sept. 7 Buffalo
Sept. 14 Bye Week
Sept. 21 UL Monroe
Sept. 28 Bye Week
Oct. 5 West Virginia
Oct. 12 at Kansas State
Oct. 19 Iowa State
Oct. 26 at Kansas
Nov. 2 Bye Week
Nov. 7 Oklahoma
Nov. 16 Texas Tech (Arlington)
Nov. 23 at Oklahoma State
Nov. 30 at TCU
Dec. 7 Texas

Related Content: 2013 Baylor Spring Preview

* With Baylor set to move into a new facility in 2014, home games against Oklahoma and Texas is quite a curtain call for Floyd Casey Stadium. The Bears have four conference home games, with one neutral site affair against Texas Tech.

* Even though ULM gave Baylor all it could handle last season, the Bears should head into Big 12 play with a 3-0 mark. Playing Wofford, Buffalo and ULM should allow Baylor a chance to get new starting quarterback Bryce Petty comfortable with the supporting cast.

* For the second consecutive season, Baylor will open Big 12 play against West Virginia. Last season, these two teams combined to score 133 points in a 70-63 Mountaineers’ victory.

* Baylor and Kansas State have played only 10 times, but the Bears are 0-7 in Manhattan.

* After losing 15 consecutive games against Texas Tech from 1996-2010, the Bears have won back-to-back games against the Red Raiders. The last four games in this series have been played at a neutral site, and the 2013 matchup will take place in Arlington, Texas.

* It doesn’t quite rival back-to-back trips to Alabama and Texas A&M or Alabama and LSU, but Baylor’s late-November stretch against Oklahoma State and TCU might be one of the toughest in the nation. The Cowboys and Horned Frogs are the two early frontrunners to win the Big 12 in 2013.

* Considering how difficult conference play is, Baylor catches a bad break in scheduling with two bye weeks in September. The Bears will play five consecutive opponents without a break in November, including likely top-25 teams in Oklahoma, Texas, TCU and Oklahoma State.

* And with a difficult late-season schedule in mind, if the Bears want to go bowling in 2013, it could depend on getting to six wins before November. Outside of a road trip to Kansas State, Baylor is likely to be favored in six out of the first seven games.
 

Iowa State

Aug. 31 Northern Iowa
Sept. 7 Bye Week
Sept. 14 Iowa
Sept. 21 Bye Week
Sept. 26 at Tulsa (Thur.)
Oct. 5 Texas
Oct. 12 at Texas Tech
Oct. 19 at Baylor
Oct. 26 Oklahoma State
Nov. 2 at Kansas State
Nov. 9 TCU
Nov. 16 at Oklahoma
Nov. 23 Kansas
Nov. 30 at West Virginia
Dec. 7 Bye Week

* Iowa State may struggle to find rhythm early in the season as two bye weeks will fall in the first four weeks. Additionally, the Cyclones won’t leave the state, or play anyone from out of Iowa, until a trip to Tulsa on a Thursday night.

* Beginning with Tulsa, Paul Rhoads bunch will play four out of six games on the road. Trips to outposts like Lubbock, Manhattan and Waco will not be easy considering the two homes games during that stretch will be against conference frontrunners Texas and Oklahoma State.

* Following the second bye week in Week 4, the Cyclones will play 10 straight weekends. The only good news is ISU will get an extra few days to prepare for Texas following a Thursday night game with Tulsa.

* Finishing up with Kansas and West Virginia isn’t all that difficult. A trip to a third straight bowl game — and fourth in five seasons — could hang in the balance in the season finale against the Mountaineers in Morgantown.

* ISU will play five Big 12 road games and four conference home games in 2012. The third bye week is wasted in the final weekend of the regular season. 


Kansas

Aug. 31 Bye Week
Sept. 7 South Dakota
Sept. 14 at Rice
Sept. 21 Louisiana Tech
Sept. 28 Bye Week
Oct. 5 Texas Tech
Oct. 12 at TCU
Oct. 19 Oklahoma
Oct. 26 Baylor
Nov. 2 at Texas
Nov. 9 at Oklahoma State
Nov. 16 West Virginia
Nov. 23 at Iowa State
Nov. 30 Kansas State
Dec. 7 Bye Week

* After back-to-back seasons with no wins in Big 12 play, Kansas starts 2013 with the worst possible opponent: Bye Week. Even though the extra time will give coach Charlie Weis an opportunity to prepare for the upcoming non-conference slate, there’s only so much scouting a team can do by playing itself.

* Kansas enters 2013 riding an 11-game losing streak, but the Jayhawks should have no trouble starting 1-0 with South Dakota (1-10 in 2012) coming to Lawrence.

* Even though it’s not a gauntlet of schedules, the Jayhawks need to win at Rice and beat Louisiana Tech in non-conference play. If Kansas can sweep its first three games, it should allow the Jayhawks to build some momentum for conference play. And a 3-0 start would also help bolster Charlie Weis’ efforts on the recruiting trail.

* With TCU, Oklahoma, Baylor and Oklahoma State in the first portion of Big 12 play, Kansas will have a hard time finding a victory in conference action until late November. The Jayhawks play West Virginia, Iowa State and Kansas State in November, which seem to be the most likely opportunities for a Big 12 victory in 2013.

* Kansas and Texas have met 12 times, but the Jayhawks have never won in Austin. And making matters worse for the Jayhawks is none of the matchups at Texas have been decided by 10 points or less.

* With Kansas unlikely to make a bowl game in 2013, this team has a chance to play spoiler late in the season against rival Kansas State. The Jayhawks have lost four consecutive matchups to the Wildcats, with the last three games decided by a whopping 38 points or more. 


Kansas State

Aug. 30 North Dakota State (Fri.)
Sept. 7 Louisiana-Lafayette
Sept. 14 UMass
Sept. 21 at Texas
Sept. 28 Bye Week
Oct. 5 at Oklahoma State
Oct. 12 Baylor
Oct. 19 Bye Week
Oct. 26 West Virginia
Nov. 2 Iowa State
Nov. 9 at Texas Tech
Nov. 16 TCU
Nov. 23 Oklahoma
Nov. 30 at Kansas
Dec. 7 Bye Week

* Kansas State opens the 2013 season with a dangerous FCS opponent. North Dakota State has won back-to-back FCS titles and has 28 victories in the last two seasons. With the Wildcats breaking in a new quarterback and a handful of starters on defense, NDSU could pull off the upset in Manhattan.

* And the Wildcats don’t catch a break in Week 2 with Louisiana-Lafayette coming to Manhattan. The Ragin’ Cajuns will be picked near the top of the Sun Belt in 2013 and have a potent offense, led by quarterback Terrance Broadway. Could K-State start 0-2? It’s certainty a possibility.

* Kansas State opens Big 12 play on Sept. 21 with a home date against Texas. The Wildcats have won five consecutive games over the Longhorns, including the last two matchups in Austin.

* The Wildcats have not won at Oklahoma State since 1999. Kansas State is also just 2-4 in its last six matchups against the Cowboys.

* Kansas State’s Big 12 title hopes could be decided in mid-November, as the Wildcats host TCU and Oklahoma in back-to-back games. The Wildcats beat both opponents on the road last season and the timing of these two matchups are crucial, especially as Kansas State will have plenty of time to fill the voids left behind by its departing seniors on defense and settle on a quarterback.

* Can Kansas State continue its dominance over in-state rival Kansas? The Wildcats have won four consecutive games over the Jayhawks and have scored at least 56 points in each of the last three meetings. Additionally, Kansas State has won the last three games against Kansas by at least 30 points. 


Oklahoma

Aug. 31 ULM
Sept. 7 West Virginia
Sept. 14 Tulsa
Sept. 21 Bye Week
Sept. 28 at Notre Dame
Oct. 5 TCU
Oct. 12 Texas (Dallas)
Oct. 19 at Kansas
Oct. 26 Texas Tech
Nov. 2 Bye Week
Nov. 7 at Baylor (Thur.)
Nov. 16 Iowa State
Nov. 23 at Kansas State
Nov. 30 Bye Week
Dec. 7 at Oklahoma State

Related Content: 2013 Oklahoma Sooners Spring Preview

* Oklahoma gets three straight home games to start the 2013 season. The Sooners should start 3-0, but all three matchups provide interesting tests for a rebuilt defense — one that struggled mightily to stop opponents last year. Having to face Dana Holgerson in Week 2 in Big 12 play could be tricky.

* The first off weekend of the year comes at a perfect time before a road trip to Notre Dame. Seeking revenge from last year’s defeat, Oklahoma needs to play well in South Bend because the trip North begins one of the nastiest and most important three-week stretches in the Big 12. Bob Stoops’ team will face TCU at home and Texas in the Cotton Bowl immediately following the battle with the Irish. This portion of the schedule will determine if OU is a national contender or not.

* Should Oklahoma begin 6-0, watch out. The next four games will be against Kansas, Texas Tech, Baylor and Iowa State with a bye week directly in the middle. Oklahoma should be heavy favorites in all four games and could easily push the Sooners to 10-0.

* The final three weeks of the season will be bittersweet for OU faithful. The season ends with road trips to Kansas State and Oklahoma State in the Bedlam Series. The Wildcats are replacing a lot on defense and under center but will only get better as the season progresses. And the season finale with the rival Cowboys on the road could carry with it a trip to a BCS bowl game. The good news is Stoops’ team gets a bye week between the two nasty road trips.
 

Oklahoma State

Aug. 31 Mississippi State (Houston)
Sept. 7 at UTSA
Sept. 14 Lamar
Sept. 21 Bye Week
Sept. 28 at West Virginia
Oct. 5 Kansas State
Oct. 12 Bye Week
Oct. 19 TCU
Oct. 26 at Iowa State
Nov. 2 at Texas Tech
Nov. 9 Kansas
Nov. 16 at Texas
Nov. 23 Baylor
Nov. 30 Bye Week
Dec. 7 Oklahoma

Related Content: 2013 Oklahoma State Spring Preview

* Oklahoma State and Mississippi State will meet for the first time since 1999 with a neutral site affair in Houston. These two teams have split their four previous meetings, with Mississippi State winning the last matchup 29-11 in Starkville in 1999. The last time Oklahoma State played a SEC team in a non-conference matchup was Sept. 5, 2009 against Georgia.

* With the first two games of the season in Texas, Oklahoma State has a good opportunity to showcase the program in two valuable recruiting markets – Houston and San Antonio.

* The Cowboys have one of the Big 12’s best conference schedules, starting with the opener against West Virginia. With the Mountaineers rebuilding on offense and defense, Oklahoma State should have no trouble winning in Morgantown. The Cowboys have not played at West Virginia since 1928.

* Could the Oct. 19 matchup between Oklahoma State and TCU decide the Big 12 title? Considering both teams are predicted by most to finish in the top four of the Big 12 standings, this game is a huge opportunity for one team to take an early edge in the title race.

* Due to conference realignment, the 2013 meeting between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State will be the third matchup in four years in Stillwater. The Sooners own a 3-1 series edge in that span, but the Cowboys won 44-10 in 2011 and nearly won in Norman last season. With a potential conference title on the line this year, the Bedlam Series should have plenty of intrigue when Oklahoma and Oklahoma State kick off on Dec. 7.

* Oklahoma State’s bye weeks seem to come at the right time in 2013. After playing their first two conference games, the Cowboys will have a bye week on Oct. 12 and an off date on Nov. 30 before playing Oklahoma.

* Three out of Oklahoma State’s last four games are at home.
 

TCU

Aug. 31 LSU
Sept. 7 Southeastern Louisiana
Sept. 12 at Texas Tech (Thur.)
Sept. 21 Bye Week
Sept. 28 SMU
Oct. 5 at Oklahoma
Oct. 12 Kansas
Oct. 19 at Oklahoma State
Oct. 26 Texas
Nov. 2 West Virginia
Nov. 9 at Iowa State
Nov. 16 at Kansas State
Nov. 23 Bye Week
Nov. 30 Baylor
Dec. 7 Bye Week

Related Content: 2013 TCU Horned Frogs Spring Preview

* TCU could be in for a special season in Fort Worth, but the opening weekend could be a bloodbath. The Frogs have an excellent front seven on defense but will be put to the test physically by LSU’s powerful running game.

* Things get much easier for a month following the semi-home, semi-road trip to Cowboys Stadium. A Thursday night road trip to Lubbock will be tricky but it will give TCU 16 days off before The Battle for the Iron Skillet with SMU. A 3-1 record would be a quality start for the Frogs, because…

* Things will get very interesting in Week 5 when TCU heads north to Oklahoma. A win for TCU puts this team on the map nationally, while a Sooners victory puts them securely in the Big 12 driver’s seat.

* A breather against Kansas at home, ideally, will prepare TCU for a nasty five-game stretch as the calendar changes from October to November. Road trips to Stillwater, Ames and Manhattan sandwich a pair of key home games with Texas and West Virginia. This is as tough a stretch as there will be in the Big 12 in 2013.

* Gary Patterson’s group was unlucky in that two of its three off weekends come in the final three weeks, including the wasted Dec. 7 bye week. If the season finale home game against Baylor carries Big 12 title implications (which is easily could) then at least the first bye will help tremendously.

* TCU will play five Big 12 road games, including three of the top four conference contenders (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State). Trips to Ames and Lubbock are no joke either. 
 

Texas

Aug. 31 New Mexico State
Sept. 7 at BYU
Sept. 14 Ole Miss
Sept. 21 Kansas State
Sept. 28 Bye Week
Oct. 3 at Iowa State (Thur.)
Oct. 12 Oklahoma (Dallas)
Oct. 19 Bye Week
Oct. 26 at TCU
Nov. 2 Kansas
Nov. 9 at West Virginia
Nov. 16 Oklahoma State
Nov. 23 Bye Week
Nov. 28 Texas Tech (Thur.)
Dec. 7 at Baylor

Related Content: 2013 Texas Longhorns Spring Preview

* A critical 2013 season will get underway for Mack Brown with some seriously intriguing non-conference tilts. A road trip to BYU in Week 2 will test David Ash and the struggling Longhorns offense. The following week, a visit from a red-hot Ole Miss program will test Manny Diaz’ reeling rushing defense. To top off a very interesting first month, arch-nemesis Bill Snyder and Kansas State comes to town in Week 4.

* Fans in Austin may know all they need to about the future of Brown as head coach entering the bye week in Week 5. This team could easily be teetering at 2-2 (or worse), but it could also have the most impressive 4-0 resume in the nation. Brown has long pointed to 2013 as his year to get back into the national picture and the nation will know if he was right after just one month of play.

* A road trip to Ames isn’t all that intriguing but playing a primetime Big 12 conference game on a Thursday night gives Iowa State a national stage to pull the upset. Most importantly, a win over ISU gives Texas two extra days to prepare for the Red River Shootout that Stoops and Co. won’t be afforded.

* Texas will get another off week following the battle in the Cotton Bowl. It’s a good thing, too, because the next month will be brutal. Trips to Big 12 newbies TCU and West Virginia as well as a visit from Oklahoma State over a four-week span will be tough for the Longhorns.

* Texas will head into their third bye week before the final two weeks of the regular season. This might be the easiest three-week span and could be a confirmation of sorts for Brown — be it a national championship contender or potential swan song on the Burnt Orange sideline.


Texas Tech

Aug. 30 at SMU
Sept. 7 Stephen F. Austin
Sept. 14 TCU
Sept. 21 Texas State
Sept. 28 Bye Week
Oct. 5 at Kansas
Oct. 12 Iowa State
Oct. 19 at West Virginia
Oct. 26 at Oklahoma
Nov. 2 Oklahoma State
Nov. 9 Kansas State
Nov. 16 Baylor (Arlington)
Nov. 23 Bye Week
Nov. 28 at Texas
Dec. 7 Bye Week

* With a new quarterback and coaching staff taking over, it’s a good thing Texas Tech has three very winnable games in its first four matchups. SMU, Texas State and Stephen F. Austin should be victories for the Red Raiders, with a tough date against TCU sandwiched between non-conference games on Sept. 14.

* Speaking of the TCU-Texas Tech matchup, this will be the first meeting between these two teams in Lubbock since 2004. The Red Raiders and Horned Frogs have split the last two meetings, with Texas Tech winning a 56-53 three-overtime game in 2012.

* With Kansas, Iowa State and West Virginia on the October slate, Texas Tech has an opportunity to start 6-1 before a difficult stretch against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Baylor and Texas. Considering the second-half schedule, getting to a bowl game could rest with what happens before November.

* Texas Tech’s Oct. 19 trip to Morgantown is its first road game at West Virginia in school history. The Red Raiders played the Mountaineers just two previous times, with both games won by Texas Tech.

* The Red Raiders are 2-2 in their last four matchups against Oklahoma. Texas Tech upset the Sooners 41-38 in Norman in 2011 but lost 41-20 in Lubbock last season. The Red Raiders are just 2-8 in 10 previous games at Oklahoma.

* Texas Tech will play Texas on Thanksgiving night this season. The Red Raiders have not won in Austin since 1997.

* In a scheduling quirk, Texas Tech will play without a bye week from Oct. 5 to Nov. 23. And the Red Raiders have an off date the week before playing Texas, which allows Kliff Kingsbury’s team some extra time to prepare on a short week for the Thursday night game.

* For the fourth consecutive season, Texas Tech and Baylor will meet at a neutral site. The 2009 and 2011-12 matchups were held in Arlington, while the 2010 game was played at the Cotton Bowl.
 

West Virginia

Aug. 31 William & Mary
Sept. 7 at Oklahoma
Sept. 14 Georgia State
Sep. 21 Maryland (Baltimore)
Sept. 28 Oklahoma State
Oct. 5 at Baylor
Oct. 12 Bye Week
Oct. 19 Texas Tech
Oct. 26 at Kansas State
Nov. 2 at TCU
Nov. 9 Texas
Nov. 16 at Kansas
Nov. 23 Bye Week
Nov. 30 Iowa State
Dec. 7 Bye Week

Related Content: 2013 West Virginia Spring Preview

* Considering the new faces on offense and concerns on defense, West Virginia’s opener against William & Mary is the perfect way to start the 2013. This game should allow the Mountaineers a chance to work out some of the kinks before Big 12 play.

* However, there’s not much breathing room between the opener and Big 12 play, as West Virginia travels to Oklahoma on Sept. 7. Needless to say, coach Dana Holgorsen should have a good idea about his team after the road trip to Norman.

* West Virginia should have an easy win over Georgia State on Sept. 14, but the toughest non-conference game of its 2013 is the neutral site affair against Maryland. The Mountaineers have won the last seven games against the Terrapins and oddly enough, have scored 31 points in four out of the last six matchups in this series.

* The Mountaineers will host Oklahoma State in Morgantown for the first time since 1928 on Sept. 28. The Cowboys won 55-34 in 2012, but the overall series is tied 2-2.

* Kansas State and West Virginia will meet for only the fourth time in school history on Oct. 26. The Wildcats have won the last two matchups in the series, with the Mountaineers’ only victory coming in 1930.

* The Mountaineers will host Texas for the first time in school history on Nov. 9. West Virginia won 48-45 in Austin last season and owns a 2-0 edge in the overall series between these two teams.

* West Virginia has the unbalanced road/home game conference schedule for 2013. The Mountaineers play four home games in Big 12 play but also has five contests on the road. West Virginia plays four potential top-25 teams on the road – Baylor, Kansas State, TCU and Oklahoma – and travels to Kansas on Nov. 16.


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


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Teaser:
<p> Big 12 Football 2013 Schedule Analysis</p>
Post date: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 - 07:40
Path: /college-football/boise-state-broncos-2013-spring-football-preview
Body:

The 2012 season was the most nondescript and least heralded in some time at Boise State. And yet, Chris Petersen's bunch won at least 10 games for the seventh straight season and twelfth time in 15 campaigns. Despite losing seven All-Mountain West performers from the starting lineup, expectations will be higher in Boise, Idaho, in 2013 than they were a year ago. The quarterback is back, the defensive line will be incredible and the receiving corps is deep and talented. Petersen and the Broncos are poised for yet another stellar year on the blue turf.

Boise State Broncos 2013 Spring Preview

2012 Record: 11-2 (7-1)

Spring practice dates: March 11-April 15

Returning Starters: Offense – 4, Defense – 5

Returning Leaders:

Passing: Joe Southwick, 248-of-371, 2,730 yards, 19 TDs, 7 INTs
Rushing: Jay Ajayi, 82 car., 548 yards, 4 TDs
Receiving: Matt Miller, 66 rec., 769 yards, 5 TDs
Tackles: Jeremy Ioane, 70
Sacks: Demarcus Lawrence, 9.5
Interceptions: Jeremy Ioane and Darian Thompson, 2

Redshirts to Watch: OL Mario Yakoo, OL Travis Averill, DB Chris Santini, QB Nick Patti, LB Ben Weaver, RB Devan Demas, DE Darien Barrett, CB Chaz Anderson

JUCO Transfers to Watch: RB Derrick Thomas, CB Cleshawn Page, K Tyler Rausa, DT Deuce Matale, DT Justin Taimatuia, CB Mercy Maston

2013 Schedule

Note: Only opponents have been set for the Mountain West. Times and dates are to be determined.

Aug. 31 at Washington
Sept. 7 Tennessee-Martin
Sept. 14 TBD
Sept. 21 TBD
Sept. 28 Southern Miss
Oct. 5 TBD
Oct. 10 TBD
Oct. 19 TBD
Oct. 26 at BYU
Nov. 1 TBD
Nov. 9 TBD
Nov. 16 TBD
Nov. 23 TBD
Nov. 30 TBD

Home dates, times to be determined: Air Force, Nevada, New Mexico and Wyoming
Road dates, times to be determined: Colorado State, Fresno State, San Diego State, Utah State

Offensive Strength: The passing game. Joe Southwick returns under center as do the six of the top seven receivers, including the top two pass-catchers in Matt Miller and Kirby Moore.

Offensive Weakness: The running game. Star running back D.J. Harper and three starting offensive linemen, including all-MWC blocker Brenel Myers, must be replaced up front. That said, there is no lack of talent at either running back or offensive line.

Defensive Strength: Defensive line. Mike Atkinson was an elite player who will be missed at nose tackle. However, the top four defensive ends return as do four of the top six defensive tackles.

Defensive Weakness: Cornerback and linebacker. Two All-MWC cornerbacks and two All-MWC linebackers are gone from the roster in '13. Finding replacements at these two positions is important this spring.

Spring Storylines Facing the Broncos:

1. Develop cover corners. There aren't too many question marks on this depth chart but Petersen will have to replace three cornerbacks, including two All-Mountain West performers in Jamar Taylor and Jerrell Gavins. Corey Bell and Donte Deayon have some experience and should get first crack at replacing the two stars, however, fans can look for Deon'tae Florence, Jonathan Brown and Bryan Douglas — who is still recovering from a torn ACL — to provide support. A host of newcomers — junior college recruits Cleshawn Page and Mercy Maston and redshirt freshman Chaz Anderson — will likely get plenty of looks as well. The Mountain West has some big-time offenses so finding covermen will be paramount this spring for Boise State.

2. Plug holes along the offensive line. Myers was a star at right tackler and will be missed as will both guards Joe Kellogg and Michael Ames. The good news is first-team All-MWC pivot Matt Paradis returns at center while second-team left tackle Charles Leno is back as well. These are two elite pieces to build around for Petersen. Names like Spencer Gerke and Jake Broyles, both guards, have some starting experience and will be the first names into the starting lineup. This group has to replace three starters but the two returning are excellent and should help lead the new faces up front on offense.

3. Find depth at linebacker. J.C. Percy led the team in tackles and was a first-team All-MWC linebacker. Tommy Smith received honorable mention honors from the conference as well. Both are gone and Petersen is left with little in the way of experience at the heart of his defense. Blake Renaud and Tyler Gray got plenty of playing time a season ago and will get the first crack at the starting jobs this spring. Dustin Kamper is a senior who will be asked to step up in spring camp. Travis Saxton, Ben Weaver, Andrew Pint and Christopher Santini will see time as well.

4. Is Jay Ajayi ready to carry the load? Harper wasn't a traditional workhorse back like his predecessor Doug Martin, but he was a veteran who made plays. His 15 rushing touchdowns and 1,137 yards will need to be replaced. Jay Ajayi is the top returning rusher and, at 222 pounds, plays much more like Martin than Harper. He can carry the load and could be the Broncos' next great star at tailback should he grasp the starting job this spring. Jack Fields will be his top competition but figures to be the backup. Depth could be an issue at this position so expect new faces like junior college transfer Derrick Thomas and redshirt freshman Devan Demas to get plenty of chances as well.

5. Pick a kicker. Fans in Boise don't want to hear about the field goal kicking game and how important it can be. It's a bit of a sore subject, understandably so. Michael Frisina is gone after making 15-of-20 kicks last year and Petersen is left with three options: junior Dan Goodale, junior college transfer Tyler Rausa and redshirt freshman Sean Wale. Choose carefully, Coach Pete.

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Ranking All 125 College Football Coaching Jobs for 2013

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat for 2013

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Teaser:
<p> Boise State Broncos 2013 Spring Football Preview</p>
Post date: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 - 07:30

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