Articles By All

All taxonomy terms: Bristol Motor Speedway, NASCAR
Path: /nascar/nascar-hamlin-wont-appeal-bristol-returns-it-old-ways

1. How's the arm feeling, Smoke?

It's been nearly seven months since Tony Stewart took to the NASCAR pitching mound. The three-time champion removed the frown from track magnate Bruton Smith's face by hurling his helmet at Matt Kenseth's car after they crashed battling for the lead last August at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Stewart hit his target—Kenseth's windshield—perfectly. He gestured angrily to the crowd. The fans roared.

The "night race" was back.

Bristol had been a huge source of complaints among fans since its soul was resurfaced in 2007. Between the March and August races that season, Smith and his staff approved the first major change to NASCAR's most famous high-banks since it went concrete in 1992. The deteriorating surface would be replaced and the track's iconic banks changed to progressive banking in a bid to foster more side-by-side passing.

What a dud.

From 2003 to the spring 2007 race, Bristol was sold-out and rocking for every NASCAR visit. Fans got what they wanted: an average of 13 cautions a race due to crashes. The new concrete surface dropped that number significantly, as multiple lanes of racing opened up and the move-or-get-moved mentality of making up ground at the east Tennessee bullring disappeared."

Crashing, of course, isn't the point of racing. But at Bristol, it's what people on the waiting list of a track that seated more than 160,000 wanted to see. By 2010, the waiting list had disappeared and Bristol Motor Speedway was facing a crisis. There were empty seats and the fans weren't happy—even if the drivers loved the racing better than ever.

So Smith, after another un-Bristol race in the spring of last season, set out to make things right. He ground the track and made the groove tighter. He promised a better show.

Stewart, and 11 of 13 cautions for crashes, gave the fans what they wanted. Even Danica Patrick, irritated after being wrecked herself, made a gesture to a passing driver in anger. By the end, Denny Hamlin had held off charges by Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon all while completing a Bristol race that felt Bristol of old.

Will that hold up Sunday? For the sake of Bruton Smith, the engineers he hired to "fix" Bristol and the fans still longing for a tell-my-coworker-about-Monday sort of race in 2013, let's hope it does.

2. Hamlin doesn't plead guilty, but gives up NASCAR fight

The biggest news heading into a NASCAR weekend again is Denny Hamlin and his dispute with NASCAR. It was a week ago Thursday that NASCAR rocked the media center with news that Hamlin was docked $25,000 for completely unmemorable comments he made at Phoenix about his initial reaction to NASCAR's new car.

Hamlin swiftly built a following of grassroots support as he vowed to fight to not pay the penalty.

That all changed Thursday when Hamlin and NASCAR released near simultaneous statements saying that Hamlin was dropping the appeal, yet still not paying the fine. He actually will, though, as NASCAR will simply remove $25,000 from the next check Joe Gibbs Racing receives for competing.

Hamlin decided against the appeal in fear of negative attention it would bring to his team and sponsors. It's a disappointing move because it seems many fans had galvanized alongside Hamlin in rebellion of one NASCAR's poorer decisions as a sanctioning body in a long while. Now, NASCAR has won.

Of course, they probably would have anyway.

3. Upsets not exclusive to college basketball in March

Bristol, thanks to its lesser dependance on aerodynamics and overall car design, presents an opportunity not normally found for drivers and teams who wouldn't typically be seen as contenders. No, it's not easy to beat the top-flight Sprint Cup teams and drivers at any track. But Bristol's close quarters and all-day track position struggle presents opportunities for smaller teams or drivers racing limited schedules.

This weekend, keep your eye on two drivers: Brian Vickers and A.J. Allmendinger.

The former Red Bull teammates are both trying to work their way back to full-time Sprint Cup level competition and will be in part-time rides Sunday. Vickers posted a pair of top-5 finishes for Michael Waltrip Racing in the No. 55 last season at Bristol, and Allmendinger drove the No. 51 Phoenix Racing Chevrolet to an 11th-place finish on the Phoenix "shorter" track two weeks ago.

4. Point standings aren't a concern…yet

Any team that struggles in the first three races of the season undoubtedly feels some angst to get a strong finish and improve their standing in the point rankings. Until that good run comes, the creeping doubt can only do more damage to a team's morale.

For teams still struggling this season, there's comfort in knowing that last year's champion Brad Keselowski didn't get off to the most impressive start himself. Heading to Bristol for the fourth race of 2012, Keselowski was 22nd in points, 60 out of first.

It's been a much better start for the defending champion this year, but others with Chase hopes like Ryan Newman (31st, -79 points) and Martin Truex Jr. (22nd, -65) are mired deep in the standings. Another some unexpected struggle this season has been for Kurt Busch in his ride with Furniture Row Racing. That team, essentially a satellite operation of Richard Childress Racing, is 29th and 72 points out of first.

Each driver still has 33 events to sort things out, of course.

5. Figuring out "Go Time" during Bristol's 500 laps

Five hundred laps at Bristol can almost become an out of body experience for drivers. The laps—nearly four per minute—leave them pressed against the right side of the seat. Roughly one-eighth of a lap is spent not turning the wheel. It's all about hitting turning and braking points, keeping a consistent line. Lap after lap, after lap, after lap.

And that's just before the first pit stop.

A race at Bristol, despite it's 500-circuit distance, is the second-shortest scheduled oval race of the season. Figuring when to be ready to fight for the lead can sometimes take drivers by surprise. Inevitably, most races at Bristol feature at least one long green flag run in which a car that isn't handling nearly perfectly could get lapped quickly.

Kurt Busch has five career wins at Bristol. With 75 miles to go, Busch wants to be in ready to fight for another win.

“To contend for the win you want to be in position by Lap 350,” said Busch. “That is definitely the ‘Go Time’ at Bristol."

Advanced statistics from NASCAR back him up. In the 18 races in Bristol since August 2004, the eventual race winner has been no worse than fourth on lap 350.

See if that streak continues on Sunday.

THE BRISTOL ETC.: Among active drivers, three have a series-leading five wins at Bristol. Jeff Gordon has five, joined by brothers Kurt and Kyle Busch. The last win by any of those three was Kyle's spring win in 2011. Jeff Gordon, meanwhile, hasn't won at Bristol in over 10 years… Mark Martin leads active drivers with nine poles at Bristol… Ryan Newman's 14.908-second lap at Bristol in 2003 set the Sprint Cup Series track record, but it's much slower than a 12.742-second lap turned by Brian Gerster at the half-mile in a winged sprint car in 2011… 14 drivers have finished each the last 10 Bristol races, but only Dale Earnhardt Jr. has finished on the lead lap of at least nine of those events… 80 percent of Bristol Sprint Cup races have been won by a driver starting in the top-10.

by Geoffrey Miller
Follow Geoffrey on Twitter:

<p> NASCAR: Hamlin Won't Appeal, Bristol Returns to it Old Ways</p>
Post date: Saturday, March 16, 2013 - 09:15
Path: /college-basketball/50-funny-college-basketball-march-madness-bracket-team-names

With the 2013 NCAA Tournament kicking off next week, it's time for college basketball fans to start filling out their March Madness brackets. For those playing online, it also means coming up with a humorous or ridiculously over-the-top name to go along with their ill-fated picks. With that in mind, we pulled together some of our favorites. 

Grand Theft Otto Porter Jr. (Georgetown)
Full Metal Bracket
Naters Gonna Nate (South Dakota State’s Nate Wolters)
Dunk You Very Much
Don’t Haith the Player, Haith the Game
I saw Gun-Zaga, You Say Gone-Zaga, let’s call the whole thing off
I Got the Vander Blues
My Russdiculous Picks
The Dana Altman Brothers Band
Pros and Cuonzo
March Sadness
Happily Raftery After
Did you get your spring game ticket yet? (SEC fans only)
Rick Byrd’s Sweatervest
John Groce Pointe Blank

Final Fourgasm
A Cinderella Story
Russ-elmania 2013
Siva Seat for Me
Knock Down the Trey (Trey Burke, Michigan)
Boom Skaka Shaka
What Cav you done for me lately?
I’d rather be golfing with Jim Boeheim
What channel is TruTV again?
Church of Bracketology
Don't Tell Anyone, but I kinda like Notre Dame's Uniforms
March Mad Men
James Michael McAdoo the Right Thing
Calipari's Recruiting Budget
Lobos know Brackets
Wake me up when Duke loses
Shabazz-er Beaters

When I Think About You I Touch Bill Self

Thad Matta World Peace
Cinderella's Left Slipper
All Zeller, No Filler
Wait, this isn't the NIT?
Winning by Accident
One and Done
Buzzer Beaters Anonymous
My Other Bracket Joined the ACC
Buzz Williams' Barber
One Man Wolfpack
iPick Pretty Jerseys
No X-'Cuse-s 
Villa No Fun 
Shoeless Joe Jackson (Memphis)
The Butler Did it ... Again

Could it be ... CREIGHTON?

Larranaga, Moe and Curly
<p> Need help choosing a name for your bracket picks? Here you go.</p>
Post date: Friday, March 15, 2013 - 13:31
Path: /college-basketball/ncaa-basketball-john-caliparis-top-20-all-time-freshmen

Even since his first season as a college head coach at UMass, John Calipari has thrived with freshmen. That season in 1988-89, Calipari had a rookie Jim McCoy, who averaged 19.8 points per game.

That freshman and that team didn’t resemble the recruiting empire Calipari built at Memphis and Kentucky where a glut of talented freshmen sign with Cal, win a ton of college games in one year and then go on to be NBA Draft picks.

No, McCoy put up big numbers but went 10-18 at UMass as a freshman. He’s certainly one of Calipari’s best freshmen, but he’ll have trouble landing in the top 10 from recent years.

Sorting through Anthony Davis, Derrick Rose, John Wall and more is a tall task, but we tried to tackle it here with Calipari’s top 20 freshmen.

We included three freshmen from this season’s team, but this early in the season, their grade is incomplete. We anticipate one or all three to make a move up this list, but for now, this elite group of rookies is tough one to crack.


Anthony Davis

1. Anthony Davis, Kentucky
Season: 2011-12
Davis didn’t simply have one of the best freshman seasons in college basketball history -- he had one of the best seasons of any player. If there was an award to be won or honor to receive, Davis earned it. He was the consensus national player of the year, a unanimous All-American, the national defensive player of the year and the Final Four Most Outstanding Player. After leading Kentucky to its eighth national title and first championship since 1998, Davis was the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft. The only other players to win the Naismith Award, the Final Four MOP and then be selected first overall in the draft all the in the same season were Kansas’ Danny Manning and. UCLA’s Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. With a 7-foot-four wingspan, Davis was a defensive force, setting an NCAA freshman record and Kentucky record with 186 blocks.

2. Derrick Rose, Memphis
Season: 2007-08
Hard to believe as it is, Rose wasn’t the most decorated player on his own team as a freshman. That distinction went to All-American and Conference USA player of the year Chris Douglas-Roberts. Rose belongs on this list, though, as the point guard of a team that played for a national title before falling 75-68 in overtime to Kansas. Rose averaged 20.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 6 assists per game in the NCAA tournament, but his missed free throws late in regulation of the title game sealed Memphis’ fate. Months later, Rose was the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft.

3. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky
Season: 2011-12
It’s never bad when the team’s most competitive player and glue guy happens to also be the No. 2 player in the NBA Draft (behind only teammate Anthony Davis, the No. 1 overall pick). Kidd-Gilchrist’s intangibles were second-to-none, a trait that was absent on some of Calipari’s most talented teams. Kidd-Gilchrist averaged 11.9 points and 7.4 rebounds, earning Most Outstanding Player honors for the East regional as the Wildcats reached the Final Four and eventually won the national title.

John Wall

4. John Wall, Kentucky
Calipari started at Kentucky the same way he finished his time at Memphis – with an elite one-and-done point guard. Wall followed in the footsteps of Rose and Tyreke Evans at Memphis and preceded Brandon Knight and Marquis Teague at Kentucky. In leading Kentucky to a 35-3 season, Wall was the National Freshman of the Year and the Associated Press and coaches’ pick for SEC Player of the Year (Oddly enough, teammate DeMarcus Cousins was the coaches’ pick for SEC freshman of the year). Wall was blocked for most national player of the year awards by Ohio State’s Evan Turner, but Wall did earn the Adolph Rupp Trophy. Go figure.

5. Brandon Knight, Kentucky
Knight was a McDonald’s All-American, but his arrival wasn’t as heralded as John Wall’s to Kentucky or Derrick Rose’s to Memphis. Still, he brought similar results. Knight wasn’t a collegiate All-American like Wall, but he took Kentucky deeper into the NCAA Tournament for the Wildcats first Final Four appearance since 1998.

6. Nerlens Noel, Kentucky
Season: 2012-13
Before his devastating knee injury against Florida, Noel was having an award-worthy season even if his team paled in comparison to recent Calipari squads. When he did play, Noel was offensively limited but few were better on the defensive end of the floor. He could have challenged Davis’ blocked shots numbers and was a leading candidate for national defensive player and freshman of the year honors. The flat-topped center finished his season averaging 10.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 4.4 blocks and 2.1 steals per game.

7. Tyreke Evans, Memphis
Season: 2008-09
After Calipari moved him to point guard, Evans had the unenviable task of stepping in for Rose, who had just led Memphis to the national championship game. Evans was a stat-sheet stuffer from the start with 17.1 points per game, 5.4 rebounds and 3.9 assists in his single season at Memphis.

8. Dajuan Wagner, Memphis
Before the deluge of one-and-dones followed Calipari to Memphis and Kentucky, he had Wagner with the Tigers. He averaged 42 points per game in high school before landing in Memphis, where he averaged 21.2 points for the Tigers. Calipari revoked Wagner’s sophomore scholarship to persuade him to enter the NBA Draft, where he became the No. 6 pick. However, health and injury issues derailed his promising career.

9. DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky
What could Cousins’ ceiling be if he were able to tackle his maturity issues? Kentucky fans may ask the same thing. He was dominant in his single season alongside Wall in 2009-10, averaging 15.1 points and 9.8 rebounds. His talent was undeniable, but so was his tendency to sulk on the sideline. Cousins and Wall went 35-3 in during the regular season before falling in the Elite Eight to West Virginia.

10. Marcus Camby, UMass
Season: 1993-94
Camby would go on to bigger things as a junior when UMass reached the Final Four and earning National Player of the Year honors, but his rookie season in Amherst wasn’t too shabby. Despite starting only 12 games, Camby was the Atlantic 10 Freshman of the Year after averaging 10.2 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.6 blocks per game.

Terrence Jones

Others of note:
11. Terrence Jones, Kentucky (2010-11)
12. Eric Bledsoe, Kentucky (2009-10)
13. Sean Banks, Memphis (2003-04)
14. Jim McCoy, UMass (1988-89)
15. Marquis Teague, Kentucky (2011-12)
16. Darius Washington Jr., Memphis (2004-05)
17. Will Herndon, UMass (1989-90)
18. Doron Lamb, Kentucky (2010-11)
19. Alex Poythress, Kentucky (2012-13)
20. Archie Goodwin, Kentucky (2012-13)

<p> College basketball: John Calipari's top 20 freshmen</p>
Post date: Friday, March 15, 2013 - 12:20
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Baseball, MLB, Fantasy, News
Path: /mlb/2013-fantasy-baseball-rankings-relief-pitcher

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.

Pitching stats are expressed W-ERA-SO-WHIP

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

Athlon Sports' 2013 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Relief Pitchers

1. Craig Kimbrel, Braves (A)
First you get all the saves, of which there were an MLB-high 88 the past two years. But Kimbrel is also like having a half-season of a league strikeout leader, plus two months of a starter who’s on a record pace for ERA and WHIP. Plan B closer: Jordan Walden

2. Jonathan Papelbon, Phillies (A)
The pure-closer pool is thinning so markedly that no pitcher has saved 30 games each of the past three years except Pap, who’ll be working on his eighth in a row. As such, he’s the closest thing left to a guarantee in this increasingly quirky corner of rotodom. Plan B closer: Mike Adams

3. Jason Motte, Cardinals
The longball was Motte’s sole snag in his first season as a closer, costing him six of his 12 blown saves-plus-losses. We call fluke, and think he’ll be even better this time around. First Cardinal ever to account for every one of his team’s saves (42). Plan B closer: Trevor Rosenthal

4. Mariano Rivera, Yankees (F)
When last seen as a youngster of 41, Mo was hanging up his 11th sub-2.00 ERA, fourth-highest save total and a WHIP and strikeout rate superior to his career average. Unless the torn ACL was a sign that his parts are wearing out, the presumptive position is that he’s just what he’s always been. Plan B closer: David Robertson

5. Fernando Rodney, Rays (E)
“I remember the time I was kidnapped and they sent a piece of my finger to my father,” another Rodney once recounted. “He said he wanted more proof.” Well, we want more proof. Fernando’s 48 saves and MLB-record 0.60 ERA buttressed a relief season like no other, but previously there were years’ worth of reasons he didn’t get no respect. Plan B closer: Jake McGee

6. Rafael Soriano, Nationals
The former Yankee setup man took over for Rivera following his ACL injury last May, saving a career-high 42 in 46 opportunities. He parlayed that performance into a two-year, $28 million free agent contract with Washington in January, which could be worth another $14 million in 2015 if finishes 120 total games in 2013-14. A big reason for Soriano's success last season was he struck out more batters (69) than innings pitched (67 2/3), which is key considering he has some bouts with wildness (24 BB). Plan B closer: Drew Storen

7. Jim Johnson, Orioles (E)
Fifty-save seasons are the residue of opportunity, as well as aptitude. Not to say that Johnson won’t have another good year, but the 2012 Orioles were far-off-the-charts outliers in the number of close games they played and won. His 5.4 SOs/9 was the fifth-lowest rate ever by a pitcher with 40-plus saves. Plan B closer: Pedro Strop

8. Joel Hanrahan, Red Sox
ERA escalation from 1.83 to 2.72 was a byproduct of walks and homers, both of which ranked among the “top” five of 20-save men. Hanrahan can really hunker down, though; his 24 strikeouts while protecting a ninth-inning lead with men in scoring position were nine more than anyone else. Plan B closer: Andrew Bailey

9. Addison Reed, White Sox (B)
While others may be spooked by the 4.75 ERA, you shouldn’t be. Reed was the youngest of the full-time closers, and his ERA in save situations (of which he blew but four) was just about half as in lower-leverage scenarios. Plan B closer: Matt Thornton

10. Joe Nathan, Rangers (E)
Validated the second-year-back-from-Tommy-John hypothesis with a superb 2012. Successfully protected 15-of-16 one-run leads, and is now a perfect 24-for-24 in his career when entering a game in extra innings. Too bad he’s at a time-bomb age of 38. Plan B closer: Joakim Soria

11. Sergio Romo, Giants (B)
Despite Bruce Bochy’s rumblings about closing with a committee, we think Romo will be the chairman. Though new to the job late last year, he didn’t flinch — 18-for-19 in saves (including playoffs) and just one run allowed in those opportunities. Plan B closer: Santiago Casilla

12. Huston Street, Padres
Opponents batting average of .130 was second to Kimbrel’s .126 among relievers (min. 40 games). His curse is that there are training rooms in three cities with his name on a memorial plaque above the door. Plan B closer: Luke Gregerson

13. Chris Perez, Indians
Perez can let things get away from him on occasion; he allowed 15 of his 23 earned runs in just five outings. He did, however, indicate maturity by more than doubling his SO/BB ratio. Would rank a little higher if not for trade rumors. Plan B closer: Vinnie Pestano

14. John Axford, Brewers
“Good Ax” reeled off a string of 49 straight saves over two seasons. “Bad Ax” was just 29-for-38 with 10 homers allowed in 59.2 innings on the back end of it. In his favor, the Brewers have zero viable options as a replacement. Plan B closer: Mike Gonzalez

15. Greg Holland, Royals (B)
Fourth in AL with 16 saves after he was passed the closer baton on Aug. 1. Big strikeout bonus (91 in 67 IP). Has a shorter leash than most because of K.C.’s stable of alternatives. Plan B closer: Kelvin Herrera

16. Tom Wilhelmsen, Mariners
17. J.J. Putz, Diamondbacks (E)

18. Grant Balfour, Athletics
19. Ryan Madson, Angels
20. Casey Janssen, Blue Jays (F)
21. Glen Perkins, Twins
22. Kyuji Fujikawa, Cubs (C)
23. Jonathan Broxton, Reds
24. Jason Grilli, Pirates (B)
25. Rafael Betancourt, Rockies (E)
26. Steve Cishek, Marlins (B)
27. Drew Storen, Nationals (F)
28. Frank Francisco, Mets (F)
29. Brandon League, Dodgers

30. Bruce Rondon, Tigers (C,G)
31. Sergio Santos, Blue Jays (F)
32. Phil Coke, Tigers (B)
33. Carlos Marmol, Cubs (E)
34. Vinnie Pestano, Indians (C,D)

35. Andrew Bailey, Red Sox (D,F)
36. Jose Veras, Astros (B,C)
37. Sean Doolittle, Athletics (C,D,G)
38. Kenley Jansen, Dodgers (D,E,F)
39. Jarred Cosart, Astros (C,G)
40. Joaquin Benoit, Tigers

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

<p> 2013 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Relief Pitcher</p>
Post date: Friday, March 15, 2013 - 12:00
Path: /college-basketball/daily-march-madness-tracker-statements-illinois-and-syracuse

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.


And, this is why we liked Illinois in tournament play.
Against Minnesota, Brandon Paul had his highest-scoring game (25 points) and most field goals (10) since Dec. 8. That date is not insignificant. Paul had 35 points in the win that day over Gonzaga, now the No. 1 team in the country. True, Illinois needed Paul’s buzzer-beater to defeat Minnesota, but if the Illini can get D.J. Richardson going (2 of 12 against the Gophers), no one will want to face Illinois in the Tourney.

Should Cal be nervous?
Cal has looked like an NCAA Tournament lock for a few weeks, but the Bears now have reason to be nervous. Cal lost 79-69 in overtime to Utah, the 10th seed in the Pac-12 Tournament. Why was Cal a lock in the first place? Defeating Arizona on the road, beating UCLA and Colorado at home, and sweeping Oregon plus no bad losses assembled a strong case. The wins over the Ducks aren’t as impressive, and now Cal has its worst loss of the season on the heels of losing to Stanford in the regular-season finale. Cal may still be in the field, but its seeding has taken a hit.

Syracuse surging?
After shaking off a tough first half against Seton Hall, Syracuse pulled off its most impressive win since Feb. 4 over Notre Dame, if not since Jan. 19 at Louisville, by defeating Pittsburgh 62-59. James Southerland has been on fire for the Orange, scoring 20 in both Big East Tournament games. Should we buy into Syracuse again? Let’s wait to see if the ‘Cuse can crack 50 against Georgetown today.

Iowa State climbing, Oklahoma slipping
The Cyclones entered the Big 12 on the right side of the bubble, but they can probably rest easy after defeating Oklahoma 73-66 in the first round of the conference tournament. Iowa State picked up its second top-100 win away from Ames and its first over a prospective tournament team. Against upcoming opponent Kansas, Iowa State has been a matchup problem against the Jayhawks with its ability to shoot threes. Iowa State made 17 and 14 threes in the two losses to the Jayhawks. As for Oklahoma, the Sooners have damaged their seeding in recent weeks with losses to Texas, TCU and now in the first game in the Big 12 Tournament.

Baylor, see you in the NIT.
Baylor entered the Big 12 Tournament fighting for its postseason life. No one told Baylor. Despite a late surge, the Bears fell behind big early on the way to a 74-72 loss to Oklahoma State. Baylor fans may want to gripe about a disputable foul call that sent Phil Forte, a 91-percent free throw shooter, to the line for the game-winning shots, but the Bears' 18-point halftime deficit didn't help, either. The Bears’ slim NCAA Tournament hopes are gone. A popular preseason pick to win the Big 12, Baylor wraps up one of the most disappointing seasons in the country.

Louisiana Tech’s fade
At one point this season, the Bulldogs won 18 games in a row, including a 16-0 start in the WAC as of March 2. Louisiana Tech’s at-large credentials at the time were debatable -- a top-50 RPI, one top-50 win (Southern Miss), one sub-200 loss (McNeese State). That’s gone after a three-game losing streak to end the season. Tech lost on the road to New Mexico State and Denver to end the regular season and then to No. 9 seed UTSA in the WAC quarterfinals. Louisiana Tech is heading to the NIT.

March Controversy
Charlotte’s 68-63 win over Richmond in the Atlantic 10 first round may be more notable for officiating miscues than its impact on the bracket. Charlotte hit eight straight free throws to turn a three-point deficit into a five-point win in the final five seconds. First, Richmond fouled a Charlotte shooter before a shot. Charlotte made the front end of the one-and-one but as the ball went through the hoop, Richmond’s Derrick Williams became entangled with a Charlotte player and was called for a deadball technical foul, resulting in three more free throws (two for the technical, one for the second half of the one-and-one). Charlotte made all three to take the lead, and took a commanding lead when making four of seven (three attempts on a shot from halfcourt and four more on two technicals on Mooney).

Related: Twitter accounts every March Madness fan should follow

All times Eastern

ACC quarterfinals
Virginia vs. NC State (2 p.m., ESPN2)

Atlantic 10 quarterfinals
Butler vs. La Salle (6:30 p.m.)
UMass vs. Temple (9 p.m.)

Big 12 semifinals
Iowa State vs. Kansas (6:30 p.m., ESPNU)
Kansas State vs. Oklahoma State (8:30, ESPNU)

Big East semifinals
Georgetown vs. Syracuse (7 p.m., ESPN)
Louisville vs. Notre Dame (9 p.m., ESPN)

Big Ten semifinals
Indiana vs. Illinois (noon, ESPN)
Wisconsin vs. Michigan (2:30 p.m., ESPN)

Mountain West semifinals
New Mexico vs. San Diego State (9 p.m., CBS Sports Network)
UNLV vs. Colorado State (11:30 p.m. CBS Sports Network)

Pac-12 semifinals
UCLA vs. Arizona (8 p.m., Pac-12 Networks)

SEC quarterfinals
Tennessee vs. Alabama (3:30 p.m., ESPNU)
Vanderbilt vs. Kentucky (7:30 p.m. ESPNU)
Missouri vs. Ole Miss (10 p.m., ESPNU)

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

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: 15 teams for nine spots
Arizona State
Boise State
Iowa State
La Salle
Middle Tennessee
Ole Miss
Saint Mary’s
Wichita State

<p> Daily March Madness Tracker: Statements for Illinois and Syracuse</p>
Post date: Friday, March 15, 2013 - 11:26
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Baseball, MLB, Fantasy, News
Path: /mlb/2013-fantasy-baseball-rankings-starting-pitcher

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.

Pitching stats are expressed W-ERA-SO-WHIP

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

Athlon Sports' 2013 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Starting Pitchers

1. Justin Verlander, Tigers (A)
Verlander can be a budget buster, but fortunately he’s not yet too far down the physical cliff. The newly minted 30-year-old offers a confluence of past performance and consistency unrivaled in the pitching fraternity. He’s the No. 1 winner and No. 2 strikeout man since 2006, and with an MLB-high 16 September victories the past four years, durability seems to be a non-issue.

2. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (A)
The first to lead both leagues in ERA back-to-back since Pedro Martinez in 2002-03. The only “Claw” flaw has been the modest 12 win-a-year average. And maybe the September hip scare. The Dodgers’ offensive upgrade will help the former, and the R&R should have addressed the latter. Three-year WHIP and strikeout totals are the NL’s best.

3. Stephen Strasburg, Nationals (A,B)
Unshackled by an innings limit, there is no limit to Strasburg’s possibilities. To wit: At his career strikeout rate, he’d fan 274 batters in 220 innings this year. Three of the four worst starts of his career came in his last eight outings — hopefully just a meaningless blip.

4. David Price, Rays (A)
Price has officially rounded off the rough edges into true-ace status. Sub-3.00 ERAs and 200-punchout totals should be more rule than exception. He gets the grind-it-out Rays deep into a lot of close games, so he’ll need the back end of the pen to be as airtight as it was in 2012 to approach 20 wins again.

5. Matt Cain, Giants (A)
Cain’s been pretty much the same guy for four years now, but in 2012, he put all the fantasy factors in place by finally getting passable run support. He went 15–0 when he received three or more runs to work with. Since 2009, his 2.93 ERA is fourth in the majors.

6. Gio Gonzalez, Nationals (A)
Ryan Zimmerman says Gio is the friendliest player he’s ever met. He’s your BFF, as well — a peaking 27-year-old on a good team who’s lowered his ERA while increasing his wins and strikeout sums each season.

7. Felix Hernandez, Mariners (A)
Of the 11 500-inning pitchers with an ERA below 3.00 the past three years, Hernandez’s .533 winning percentage is at the bottom — and it’s not close. Outside of his flimsy support system, and the X-factor of the fence adjustments in Seattle, he’s Tier 1 material.

8. Cole Hamels, Phillies (A)
Hamels has found a groove of roto-reliability that has seen him constrain his ERA below 3.10 in four of the last five campaigns. His 17 wins of 2012 were, and probably will remain, a career high, since Phillies scoring seems destined to decline for a fourth straight season.

9. Jered Weaver, Angels (A)
Weaver is a big silver lining with a little cloud. He’s a 20-game winner with a refurbished offense, and his 2010-12 WHIP of 1.034 topped MLB. Reservations stem from September shoulder issues and an 87.8-mph average fastball that was the third-pokiest among AL starters. (On the other hand, he allowed the lowest OPS — .549 — on fastballs.) Since he’s 13–0 with a 1.85 ERA in his last 18 pre-May starts, if there are any portents, the evidence will present early.

10. Cliff Lee, Phillies
Lee’s 3.16 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 207 SOs were SOP for him. But there’s this: His six wins were the fewest ever by a pitcher with a sub-3.20 ERA and 200 whiffs. Barring another historical prank, he’ll continue to track just below the elite.

11. Madison Bumgarner, Giants (B)
Hit his strikeout number of 2011 (191) precisely, and offset a nearly doubled gopher ball total with one fewer hit per nine innings. Still a bit of a moving target, but his bull’s-eye is a Cy Young Award.

12. Chris Sale, White Sox
Sale had the most wins (17) and lowest ERA (3.05) of any 23-or-younger pitcher. That earnie stood at 2.11 one start past the All-Star break, but bloated to 4.32 after that — excusable for someone who’d pitched barely 100 professional innings prior to 2012. We’re not all-in on him because he has the only delivery in the game that actually forces anyone who sees it to have Tommy John surgery.

13. Johnny Cueto, Reds
Five years in the making, Cueto took the requisite step to ace-dom in 2012 with his first 200-inning effort and a huge spike in his SO/BB ratio to 3.47. The consequence was 19 wins and a 2.78 ERA. The final step is doing it again.

14. Yu Darvish, Rangers
The hot start was unsurprising for an Asian import with more unfamiliar pitches than Hideo Nomo has vowels, but even more impressive was how Darvish adjusted. On the heels of a 5.82 ERA over 13 starts, he finished 2.35 in his last eight. That bodes well for an even better 2013.

15. CC Sabathia, Yankees
Sabes, the only 100-game starter since 2007 who’s won 70 percent of his decisions, boasts an impeccable résumé. But between his pitch (and calorie) count, two trips to the DL and surgical elbow clean-up, he’s past-peak and a tad chancy.

16. Kris Medlen, Braves
Medlen was to pitching in 2012 what Jose Bautista was to home runs in 2010. He came out of the bullpen — and abject obscurity — in late July to allow nine (!) earned runs in 12 starts and extend his career record as a starter to 16–2. Pay what you will for a half-season of absolute domination and near-zero precedent.

17. Aroldis Chapman, Reds
Impervious for short bursts, Chapman’s .141 opponents average and 15.3 strikeouts per nine as a closer are untranslatable to starting. Owns a ceiling as high as Strasburg’s, and even the worst-case scenario isn’t awful: The Reds might return him to the pen.

18. Jordan Zimmermann, Nationals (B)
Matt Cain and Zimmermann were the highest-rated starters for whom we predicted a “career year” in 2012. That worked out so well, we’re re-B’ing him in 2013. Time for his wins (12) to tag along with his 2.94 ERA and 1.17 WHIP.

19. R.A. Dickey, Blue Jays (E)
Had the ninth-worst ERA (5.43) in baseball from 2001-09, but 11th-best (2.95) from 2010-12. More relevant than his advanced age is the extreme ballpark impact from sociable Citi to hostile Rogers. Since his reinvention as a knuckleballer, he’s made seven starts in the quiet air of domes, where his ERA is 1.72.

20. Mat Latos, Reds
A move from Petco to GAB helped inflate Latos’ longball yield by 60 percent, but he’s been the same pitcher for three years now — mid-teens wins, mid-3.00s ERA, mid-1.10s WHIP, mid-180s whiffs. Ideal for your mid-rotation.

21. Yovani Gallardo, Brewers
He’s Latos with higher WHIPs. Seemed to cross a threshold in 2011 by dropping his BBs/9 from 3.6 to 2.6, then he went right back to 3.6 last year. If Gallardo could pair the 2.6 with his measly 12 home runs allowed three years ago, he’d be Tier 1.

22. Adam Wainwright, Cardinals
Wainwright’s comeback from Tommy John went as well as could have been expected, though the bottom line was nothing like his prime years. He should take another stride forward, so if he splits the difference between 2012 and 2010, he’s looking at 17-3.13-198-1.14.

23. Roy Halladay, Phillies (F)
Shoulder problems sent him reeling from a top-three fantasy pitcher to below the league average in almost everything. If anyone can adapt, Doc Halladay can, but at 35 years old, there can be no clear presumption that this was more stumble than plunge.

24. Zack Greinke, Dodgers
Both in the scouting and fantasy communities, the assessment of Greinke ranges from perplexing to divisive. His 2009 “Cy” ERA of 2.16 is 1.67 lower than in his three years since. At worst, he’s a 15-win/200-strikeout horse. Prone to midseason swoons (40–50 career ledger May through July).

25. James Shields, Royals
Speaking of the equine, Shields is more War Horse than Secretariat — a grinder and a finisher who’s made exactly 33 starts each of the last five seasons. ERA oscillations (5.18 to 2.82 to 3.52) and splits (4.54 away from Tropicana Field, including 6.38 at Kauffman) are discomforting.

26. Max Scherzer, Tigers (B)
Due to extended bouts of mechanical discombobulations, Scherzer’s Slinky of a season saw his ERA tumble in every month, from 7.77 in the first to 1.91 in the last, before settling at 3.74 with the AL’s No. 2 strikeout number (231). If he ever combobulates wire-to-wire, watch out.

27. Brett Anderson, Athletics (B)
Should his career gain some traction after missing almost 60 starts the past six years, Anderson might emerge as a top-10 pitcher. Extreme ground-baller, great control and still only 25.

28. Jake Peavy, White Sox
Fully healthy for the first time since 2008, his season (11-3.37-194-1.10) was reminiscent of his salad days in San Diego. Physical breakdowns — some minor, some major — tend to be a question of when, not if.

29. Brandon Morrow, Blue Jays
Threw shutouts of three or fewer hits in three of his first dozen starts of 2012. His ERA in the other 205 outings of his career is 4.28. Cy Young stuff, Chris Young dependability — and no longer young enough (28) to draft on potential alone.

29. Homer Bailey, Reds (B)
After five years of making mediocrity (4.89 ERA) look like his projected ceiling, the 13 wins, no-hitter and dazzling NLDS start were a revelation for this one-time megaprospect. They could well have been a false positive, but we think not, and assess him as a legit No. 2 or 3 in a good rotation.

30. Matt Harvey, Mets
Big promise, big ballpark … small run support, small sample. Led NL with 10.6 SOs/9, and ranked eighth with a 2.73 ERA, after his late-July debut.

31. Mike Minor, Braves (B,C)
4–0 record, 0.87 ERA and .129 opponents average in five September starts erased the dis-ease of his bumpy career start and revived the talk of his substantial potential.

32. Jon Niese, Mets
He’s not an impact pitcher, but Niese is nice in the midpoint of a fantasy rotation. Trimmed his ERA a full run to 3.40 and posted a top-20 WHIP.

33. Jeff Samardzija, Cubs
An otherwise breakout year was deflated by poor support (three or fewer runs in 18 of his 28 starts) and two June beatdowns that inflated his ERA from 3.13 to 3.81. Has submitted his application to the 200-K club.

35. Anibal Sanchez, Tigers
A recurrent underperformer whose strong peripherals and intermittent overpowering outings don’t jive with his 48–51 career record. Amazing what $80 million will buy you these days.

36. Matt Moore, Rays
Wasn’t the instant smash many predicted, but he kept getting better. Will be a major strikeout force as soon as this year and — as he pares those 4.1 BBs per 9 and learns to avoid the heart of the plate (AL-high 47.1 percent of pitches in the zone) — a Kershaw-type lefty.

37. C.J. Wilson, Angels (F)
The so-called “most interesting man in baseball” always keeps things interesting with unacceptable walk totals. Will his results ever play up to his stuff? Stay thirsty, my friends.

38. Alexi Ogando, Rangers (C)
This 2012 reliever was a 13-game winning All-Star with a 1.14 WHIP in 2011 as a starter, the task to which he now returns.

39. Matt Garza, Cubs (F)
Barring insurgence from his sore, but non-surgical elbow, Garza’s only drawback as a mid-staff roto starter is that he’s a Cub. Crafted a lifetime-low 1.18 WHIP before he shut it down last July.

40. Doug Fister, Tigers
Saddled with historically meager run provisions in Seattle, Fister’s gone 18–11 with soaring strikeout rates since becoming a Tiger at the 2011 trade deadline. Usually has one atrocious start a month, however.

41. Josh Johnson, Blue Jays
Average fastball velo fell below 93 mph for the first time last year. Gives you an honest day’s labor though; he owns by far the game’s longest streak of starts (117) of not allowing more than six runs.

42. Ross Detwiler, Nationals (B,C)
The best No. 5 starter in the game, bar none. As such, he should present a grand bargain on draft day and return something on the order of 14 wins, a 3.30 ERA and an escalating strikeout haul.

43. Jon Lester, Red Sox
Lester’s SO rate was 27 percent below what it was three years earlier and his 4.82 ERA the third-highest of qualifying lefties. Perhaps it was just a mid-life crisis; even a halfway comeback makes him usable.

44. Hiroki Kuroda, Yankees (E)
Not sexy — but smart, professional, impervious to age, terminally underrated, numbingly consistent and (against all odds) lights out at Yankee Stadium.

45. Jarrod Parker, Athletics
Parker did not get enough acclaim for his 13-3.47-140-1.26 debut. The 24-year-old’s upside is a sliver beyond those numbers.

46. Jeremy Hellickson, Rays
Overachieves in ERA by stranding runners (an astonishing 82 percent in his career), but underachieves in wins because he can’t get past the sixth inning (failing to do so in 22 of 31 starts last year).

47. Ryan Vogelsong, Giants (E)
He was the NL ERA leader at 2.27 as late as Aug. 12, but a 6.75 in his last 10 games raised it a full run. Even Lazarus rose from the dead only once, so we’re thinking his rags-to-riches thing has run its course.

48. A.J. Griffin, Athletics (C)
Second pitcher of the past century to go undefeated in his first 11 MLB appearances (6–0, 1.94), all of which were starts. Hitters caught up to him after that, but he’s a big ol’ bulldog who can locate four pitches.

49. Dan Haren, Nationals (F)
Has thrown more pitches than anyone — 27,659, of which a significant percentage were arm-taxing cutters — since 2005. He’s paying the price in core pain and an average heater mph that’s gradually eroded from 92 to 89 the past six years.

50. Trevor Cahill, Diamondbacks
He’s more the workmanlike innings eater of the past two seasons (3.97 ERA) than the 18–8, 2.97 upstart of 2010. Beware of high-risk mechanics.

51. Wade Miley, Diamondbacks (E)
First rookie since 1983 with 14 wins and an ERA under 3.00 in his first 25 games of a season.

52. Derek Holland, Rangers
53. Johan Santana, Mets (F)
54. Tim Hudson, Braves (E)
55. Chris Tillman, Orioles (B,C)
56. Kyle Lohse, Free Agent (E)
57. Alex Cobb, Rays
58. Wei-Yin Chen, Orioles
59. Phil Hughes, Yankees
60. Brandon McCarthy, Diamondbacks (F)
61. Josh Beckett, Dodgers
62. Paul Maholm, Braves
63. Wade Davis, Royals (C)
64. Jason Vargas, Angels
65. Lance Lynn, Cardinals (E)
66. Tim Lincecum, Giants

67. Shaun Marcum, Mets (F)
68. Joe Kelly, Cardinals (C)
69. Hisashi Iwakuma, Mariners
70. Wandy Rodriguez, Pirates
71. Chad Billingsley, Dodgers (F)
72. Shelby Miller, Cardinals (C)
73. Ryan Dempster, Red Sox (E)
74. Ryu Hyun-Jin, Dodgers
75. Matt Harrison, Rangers (E)
76. Chris Carpenter, Cardinals (F)
77. Ted Lilly, Dodgers (F)
78. Miguel Gonzalez, Orioles
79. Clay Buchholz, Red Sox
80. Edwin Jackson, Cubs
81. Ervin Santana, Royals (C)
82. Jaime Garcia, Cardinals (F)
83. Jason Hammel, Orioles
84. Jeff Niemann, Rays (F)
85. Bud Norris, Astros
86. Trevor Rosenthal, Cardinals (C)
87. A.J. Burnett, Pirates (E)
88. Tommy Milone, Athletics (E)
89. Mark Buehrle, Blue Jays (E)
90. Hector Santiago, White Sox (C)
91. Drew Smyly, Tigers
92. Marco Estrada, Brewers (C)
93. Lucas Harrell, Astros
94. Zack Wheeler, Mets (G)
95. Chris Capuano, Dodgers (E)
96. Jhoulys Chacin, Rockies
97. John Lackey, Red Sox (F)
98. Nathan Eovaldi, Marlins
99. Ricky Romero, Blue Jays (F)
100. Jose Fernandez, Marlins (G)

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

<p> Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Starting Pitchers</p>
Post date: Friday, March 15, 2013 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: Golf
Path: /golf/top-20-golfers-2013-majors-no-19-charl-schwartzel

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. 19: Charl Schwartzel

Born: Aug. 31, 1984, Johannesburg, South Africa | Career PGA Tour Wins: 1 (8 on European Tour | 2012 Wins (Worldwide): 2 | 2012 Earnings (PGA Tour): $1,138,844 (90th) World Ranking: 16


Brandel Chamblee's Take

Schwartzel wouldn’t have made this list except for something he did in back to back weeks late in 2012: He won in Thailand by 11 shots, and then the very next week in South Africa, he won by 12 at the Alfred Dunhill in his home country, which is the third-widest margin of victory in the history of that tour. Perhaps the 2011 Masters winner discovered the reason for a lackluster year. If so, the promise of his youthful major win and his gorgeous swing will make the golf world agog in 2013. He already has two top-10 finishes in four U.S. appearances thus far this season.

Major Championship Résumé
Starts: 24
Wins: 1

2012 Performance:
Masters - T50
U.S. Open - T38
British Open - Cut
PGA Championship - T59

Best Career Finishes: 
Masters - 1 (2011)
U.S. Open - T9 (2011)
British Open - T14 (2010)
PGA Championship - T12 (2011)
Top-10 Finishes: 2
Top-25 Finishes: 8
Missed Cuts: 8

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

To order your copy of Athlon Sports' 2013 Golf Annual, click here

<br />
Post date: Friday, March 15, 2013 - 10:44
All taxonomy terms: College Football, College Basketball, NBA, MLB
Path: /college-football/athlons-essential-11-links-day-march-11

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for March 15.

Safe to say that Elin Nordegren has bounced back nicely. After her nine-figure settlement from Tiger Woods, she's now dating a billionaire (that's her on at the beach). But don't shed any tears for Tiger; he's dating skier Lindsey Vonn and is close to retaking golf's No. 1 spot.

• The SEC's latest money grab: It's launching its own network. We can assume that the focus will be on football, because aside from Kentucky, hoops is a mere placeholder before spring drills. Along those lines, here are the SEC's NFL factories, ranked. Over the last five years, Bama is a surprising third. Apparently, Saban's not coaching up those top-ranked recruiting hauls.

SEC schools as Simpsons characters. I think it's a bit of a reach, but you be the judge.

• Yesterday, we showed you Jim Boeheim mining for gold in his outsized beak. Today, a guy picks his nose on camera, realizes he's on camera, and plays it off like a pimp.

Bill Walton, please report to the principal's office. For those who are interested, here are some photos of the Big Red-Head in his full-on hippie phase.

• On a serious note, this long-form piece of sportswriting about the triumph and tragedy of former Maryland Terp Earl Badu is worth a read.

• Forget Manti Te'o. The real Notre Dame scandal is those godawful highliter-green unis.

Possibly the worst strike call in baseball history. Juuust a bit outside.

• Today's video features some major March heartbreak. You're not going to get a much better look at a game-winner than this.

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

March 14

• Ladies and gentlemen (well, gentlemen anyway) — your Sports Ilustrated Swimsuit Rookie of the Year, Kate Bock. Mazel tov.

Carmelo Anthony pulled a Rory McIlroy and bailed on an ugly loss in Denver.

• Kobe Bryant accused Dahntay Jones of Jalen Rose-ing him. To find out what all that means, click here.

• Fifty years ago, Loyola and Mississippi State changed hoops culture for the better.

• Some people really want Jeff Bzdelik fired from Wake Forest, and they're putting their money where their mouth is.

• Free agent departures sometimes come with bitterness, but Joshua Cribbs is departing Cleveland with class.

• Sorry, Jim, there's no way to call this a scratch. Jim Boeheim was caught going mid-knuckle up the right nostril.

• These are always fun to relive: The 10 greatest coach meltdowns.

• Signs that Tennessee football is back: The Vols just landed a 5-star home-state stud.

Wes Welker's walking, and Brady's bummed.

• Records are made to be broken. Here are 10 MLB standards that could fall this year.

• LeBron sort of got dunked on last night. At least it's close enough for the James haters to enjoy.

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

March 13

• Golfer Natalie Gulbis caught malaria on the LPGA Tour's Asian swing. We wish her well on her recovery. To make us feel better while she recuperates, here's a slideshow from her outstanding work for Sports Illustrated.

Ricky Rubio scoffs at your weak attempts to impede his progress toward the goal. Last night, he went behind the back twice on one play.

• Amazing, but true: Bill Belichick held a Q&A on Twitter. On his girlfriend's account.

Last night saw a Grant Hill to Christian Laettner redux in Michigan high school hoops.

• Scandalous if true: Does Johnny Manziel have a Texas Longhorn tattoo?

• It's official: Ray Lewis is now employed by the Worldwide Leader. Will his motivational rants work on Steve Young and Trent Dilfer?

• Now that's how you nail a job interview: Interim St. Louis coach Jim Crews is Sporting News Coach of the Year.

• Hey, Warren Sapp: That thing on your lapel? It's a microphone. Make sure it's off before you start dropping f-bombs on the air.

SEC coaches against the spread. One takeaway: Les Miles pulls games out of his nether regions, but he doesn't always cover.

College basketball's all-name team. My favorite: Radford's Ya Ya Anderson.

• Grantland has reached the Sweet 16 of its most hated college basketball players of the last 30 years.

• These videos never get old: A returning soldier surprises his family at a hockey game.

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

March 12

• Erik Spoelstra is living the life. He gets to roll the ball out to LeBron and Dwyane during practice, and afterwards, he gets to go out with the young lady in the picture. Yep, he's apparently dating this 24-year-old former Miami Heat dancer.

I'm sure Russell Westbrook had good intentions in hoisting this halfcourt shot with more than two minutes left in the quarter, like trying to draw a foul, but he ended up looking kinda stupid.

• Speaking of unnecessary moves, did Stephen Jackson really need to do a 360 after whipping this pass to Boris Diaw?

Hey mop guy — look alert.

• Note to all future celebrators: Save the Gatorade baths for football. In hoops, they can be hazardous.

This POV video makes falling and sliding down the side of a mountain look sort of fun. Terrifying and life-threatening, but fun.

• A handy guide to the nation's best football conference: The best players in the SEC, broken down by team.

• This is why you can usually find me on the couch: 25 sports, 25 faceplants.

Florida Man, the world's worst superhero, has his own comic. You know Florida Man from escapades like, "Florida Man Kills Roommate Over Missing Corn Dog."

One last look at DeAndre Jordan's murder-dunk, featuring a voice-over from legendary wrestling announcer Jim Ross.

• The NFC West just got a lot more interesting: Percy Harvin's going to Seattle. Adrian Peterson did not take the news well.

• This pee-wee hockey player shows enviable skating and puck-handling skills. But we don't know if he can pass.

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

March 11

• Wanna feel worse about yourself? Bleacher Report counts down 25 female athletes who would absolutely destroy you, including softball player Cheyenne Cordes (pictured).

Tom Crean kinda ruined a great moment for his program by acting like a jackass. Of course, this could play well in Bloomington, where there's a history of this sort of thing.

• Speaking of jerkweed Indiana basketball coaches, this ancient video of outtakes from Bobby Knight's '80s golf show is priceless, although it comes with a serious content warning. As you can imagine.

• No single moment captures the thrill of victory and agony of defeat like the buzzer-beater. Athlon has compiled the best buzzer-beaters of this college basketball season.

• Speaking of ecstasy turning to agony, this guy thought he'd won 50 grand. Too bad he was wrong.

• The SEC brags about its speed, but up front is where games down south are won and lost. The best of the league's big uglies.

• You're only as old as you feel. Today, 48-year-old Bernard Hopkins feels like a world champion.

• Sometimes you try to be nice, and it backfires. Just ask this Hooters girl, who tossed a live ball into the stands. But the best part might be this quote from Rays skipper Joe Maddon: "I thought she presented her hands to the ball very well."

• Today in embarrassing injuries: A member of the A's sliced his finger while trying to throw his gum away.

Joe Flacco celebrated his new contract with Chicken McNuggets. Hey Joe, don't spend it all in one place.

• You've probably seen this by now, but DeAndre Jordan murder-dunked on Brandon Knight yesterday. For an assortment of GIFs and memes resulting from this epic posterization, click here. For the dunk itself, click on the video below.

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

<p> The best sports links from the NFL, college football and basketball, MLB, the NBA, NASCAR and the world of entertainment.</p>
Post date: Friday, March 15, 2013 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/michigan-wolverines-2013-spring-football-preview

It didn't take Brady Hoke long to get Michigan back into contention for conference titles and BCS bowls. He also ended the long losing streak against Ohio State. Yet, the Big Ten championship and trip to the Rose Bowl has eluded this coaching staff as it enters its third season in Ann Arbor. And now, for the first time in four years, the Wolverines will enter a season without Denard Robinson under center.

Michigan Wolverines 2013 Spring Preview

2012 Record: 8-5 (6-2)

Spring practice dates: March 16-April 13

Returning Starters: Offense – 5, Defense – 6

Returning Leaders:

Passing: Devin Gardner, 75-of-126, 1,219 yards, 11 TDs, 5 INTs
Rushing: Fitzgerald Toussaint, 130 car., 514 yards, 5 TDs
Receiving: Jeremy Gallon, 49 rec., 829 yards, 4 TDs
Tackles: Jake Ryan, 88
Sacks: Jake Ryan, 4.5
Interceptions: Raymon Taylor and Thomas Gordon, 2

Redshirts to Watch: OG Kyle Kalis, OG Blake Bars, OL Erik Magnuson, WR Jehu Chesson, DE Chris Wormley, DE Matthew Godin

Early Enrollees: DB Dymonte Thomas, OL Logan Tuley‐Tillman, DE Taco Charlton, OL Kyle Bosch, TE Jake Butt, DB Ross Douglas

2013 Schedule

Aug. 31 Central Michigan
Sept. 7 Notre Dame
Sept. 14 Akron
Sept. 21 at UConn
Sept. 28 Bye Week
Oct. 5 Minnesota
Oct. 12 at Penn State
Oct. 19 Indiana
Oct. 26 Bye Week
Nov. 1 at Michigan State
Nov. 9 Nebraska
Nov. 16 at Northwestern
Nov. 23 at Iowa
Nov. 30 Ohio State

Offensive Strength: Potential. There is a lot to like about what Michigan returns on offense but senior leadership and experience isn't a part of that. However, there is a ton of upside and potential in this group with players like Gardner set to take on bigger roles.

Offensive Weakness: Skill playmakers. Finding a workhorse tailback and a No. 1 wide receiver will be key for this offense. Can an injured Fitzgerald Toussaint or smallish Jeremy Gallon be those players?

Defensive Strength: Linebackers. This is as deep a position as Hoke has on his roster. There are veterans, rising stars and young depth to pick from.

Defensive Weakness: Star power. There is a lot of depth and a lot of young talent returning to the defense, however, four All-Big Ten performers depart this offseason. Talented rising stars need to take the next step and develop into household names — and team leaders.

Spring Storylines Facing Michigan:

1. Replace three starters on the O-line. Patrick Omameh was an All-Big Ten player and Ricky Barnum and Elliot Mealer combined for 26 starts last year. Filling these three voids are made much easier by the return of tackles Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield, but this is still a major concern for Michigan. The interior of the line will be an area of focus this spring as Hoke looks to rebuild the heart of his O-line. Jack Miller and Graham Glasgow will battle it out for the pivot position while talented youngsters Kyle Bosch and Kyle Kalis will duel for the right guard position. Ben Braden, Blake Bars and Joey Burzynski are the top candidates at left guard.

2. Fill gaps along the defensive line. Craig Roh wasn't a flashy player but was dependable and consistent. Will Campbell earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors last year as well. Both are gone and Michigan needs to replace them. There is little in the way of experience up front on defense and Hoke needs to find bodies who can play. Frank Clark, Mario Ojemudia, Brennen Beyer and Keith Heitzman all got playing time a year ago and all four will vie for time at end. Jibreel Black and Quinton Washington return to the middle while the coaching staff is still waiting for Ondre Pipkins to break out. This area of the team must be stabilized to make a run at the Big Ten title in 2013.

3. Develop Devin Gardner. Gardner took over in difficult circumstances a year ago and made the most of it. In five games under center, he threw for 11 touchdowns while rushing for seven. He won his first three starts before the competition level took a big jump (Ohio State and South Carolina) and Michigan lost those games. He has all the tools needed to be a superstar but needs to develop as a passer and leader for Hoke. This team needs a definitive voice pacing the huddle and it needs to be Gardner's. Look for him to take command of the team this spring.

4. Find a workhorse tailback. The best way to help Gardner will be if Hoke can find a power running game. Prized recruit Derrick Green won't show up until fall camp and Fitzgerald Toussaint will be out until then as well. This spring is the time for the Wolverines tailbacks to shine if they want carries. The path is clear for Thomas Rawls to take a huge step forward while Justice Hayes figures to be the mix as well. Hoke craves a workhorse back, and he may have to wait until the fall to find him, but fans can bet the runners on the roster will get a heavy workout this spring.

5. Reaplce two All-Big Ten defensive backs. Jordan Kovacs was the leader of the defense as he patrolled the back end of this unit for years. J.T. Floyd was the top cover corner. Both All-Big Ten players must be replaced this spring. Hoke is hoping that Blake Countess, who missed all but one game a year ago with a torn ACL, will be back to man one corner spot while Raymon Taylor, Courtney Avery and Delonte Hollowell will compete for the other. Thomas Gordon returns to his free safety spot while a host of new faces will battle for the starting strong safety spot.

6. Make some big-plays down the field in the passing game. Jeremy Gallon is a solid player but is he a superstar wide receiver that makes a difference on the outside? That remains to be seen, so Hoke and Gardner need to find some big-play weapons they can trust on the outside to go with Gallon. Jerald Robinson has loads of ability while Drew Dileo and Jeremy Jackson also return. The continued development of Devin Funchess and early enrollee Jake Butt at tight end will help in the passing game as well.

Related College Football Content

Ranking All 125 College Football Coaching Jobs for 2013

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

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

College Football's Top 15 Spring Quarterback Battles to Watch

<p> Michigan Wolverines 2013 Spring Football Preview</p>
Post date: Friday, March 15, 2013 - 08:20
Path: /college-football/top-15-alabama-football-teams-all-time

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


Related College Football Content

College Football's Top Transfers to Watch for 2013
Ranking the SEC Coaching Jobs for 2013

SEC 2013 Spring Storylines to Watch

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

College Football's Top 5 Wide Receivers on the Rise for 2013

Ranking All 125 College Football Coaching Jobs for 2013

Texas A&M Aggies 2013 Spring Preview

South Carolina Gamecocks 2013 Spring Preview

Florida Gators 2013 Spring Preview

Georgia Bulldogs 2013 Spring Preview

Tennessee Volunteers 2013 Spring Preview

Arkansas Razorbacks 2013 Spring Preview

<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

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. 

Related College Football Content

Ranking the SEC Coaching Jobs for 2013
Ranking All 125 College Football Jobs for 2013

College Football's Top 5 Wide Receivers on the Rise for 2013

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

College Football's Top 5 Quarterbacks on the Rise for 2013

College Football's Top 15 Spring Quarterback Battles

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

<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

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.

<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

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.


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.




Andy Katz @ESPNAndyKatz
If you follow college basketball, you probably know’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 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 team
Jeff Borzello @JeffBorzello
Jeff Goodman @GoodmanCBS
Matt Norlander @MattNorlander
Gary Parrish @GaryParrishCBS

Want a lesson in newsroom chemistry? The 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.



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.

<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

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


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)

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

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

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
Arizona State
Boise State
Iowa State
La Salle
Middle Tennessee
Ole Miss
Saint Mary’s
Wichita State

<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

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

College Football's Top Transfers to Watch for 2013
Ranking the SEC Coaching Jobs for 2013

SEC 2013 Spring Storylines to Watch

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

College Football's Top 5 Wide Receivers on the Rise for 2013

Ranking All 125 College Football Coaching Jobs for 2013
Texas A&M Aggies 2013 Spring Preview
South Carolina Gamecocks 2013 Spring Preview

Florida Gators 2013 Spring Preview
Georgia Bulldogs 2013 Spring Preview
Tennessee Volunteers 2013 Spring Preview
Arkansas Razorbacks 2013 Spring Preview

<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

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 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.

<br />
Post date: Thursday, March 14, 2013 - 12:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Baseball, MLB, Fantasy, News
Path: /mlb/2013-fantasy-baseball-rankings-outfield

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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.

Related College Football Content

Ranking All 125 College Football Coaching Jobs for 2013
College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat for 2013

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

College Football's Top 15 Spring Quarterback Battles to Watch

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

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.

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 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.

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)

Duke, Miami, NC State, North Carolina

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

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

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.

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 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)

Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin

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.

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

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

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.

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 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.

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.

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)

Butler, Saint Louis, VCU

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

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

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


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 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 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 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 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 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)



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)

Related College Football Content

Ranking All 125 College Football Jobs for 2013
College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat for 2013

College Football's Top 5 Wide Receivers on the Rise for 2013

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

College Football's Top 5 Quarterbacks on the Rise for 2013

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

<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

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

<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

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:

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.

<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

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

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.

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.

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)

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)

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

<p> 2013 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Shortstop</p>
Post date: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 - 12:07