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All taxonomy terms: Golden State Warriors, Stephen Curry, NBA
Path: /nba/steph-curry-probably-clinched-mvp-award-last-night
Body:

This year’s NBA MVP race has been as close as they come. Between Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis, Chris Paul, LeBron James, James Harden and Steph Curry, there are six candidates truly worthy of the award. Curry and Harden, however, have been more deserving than the rest, and the hardest part of calling the competition has been deciding between these two.

 

For most voters, that choice got a lot easier last night. In a 116-105 win over the Portland Trail Blazers, Curry led his Golden State Warriors with 45 points and 10 assists, shooting an obscene 17-of-23 from the field (74 percent), including 8-of-13 from beyond arc. This, on the same night that he broke the previous record (his own) for most three-pointers by one player in a season.

 

Those numbers are baffling, but the sight of how Steph got to them was even more so; the ease of his virtuoso was especially startling last night. Against Portland, he was completing sequences that even other elite NBA players can only dream about executing on an empty floor, with nobody guarding them. Steph dribbled through defensive obstacles like they were tissue paper all night — and especially in the fourth quarter — pulling up to drop smooth mortar into the net from any spot on the court of his choosing.

 

It was the perfect cornerstone game to display what Curry’s done all year, and show why he’s even more impressive than the amazing Harden. Steph is not only an offense unto himself, but he’s one that you have to account for like it’s an atomic bomb, the second he crosses the half-court line. His immaculate handles mean he can quickly get to any spot, and his shooting range (perhaps better than anyone’s, ever) makes him a threat to score from virtually any of those locations.

 

Nothing like Curry — the indomitable engine to basketball’s best team — has ever been seen before.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, April 10, 2015 - 10:27
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Georgia Bulldogs, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/georgia-bulldogs-2015-football-schedule-and-analysis
Body:

Georgia and Mark Richt will once again be the front-runner to win the SEC East.

 

He’s got an elite roster that fits his offensive style and a defense that finally appears poised to be one of the nation’s best.

 

However, part of why Georgia hasn’t won an SEC title since 2005 is because of how difficult the schedules are in the best league in America. For the Dawgs, with both Auburn and Alabama on the slate, 2015 won't be any different.

 

Related: 2015 Georgia Spring Football Preview

 

2015 Georgia Bulldogs Schedule

 

Bye: Week 8

 

WkOpp.DateLocation
1.Sept. 5Athens, GA
For the first time in a while, the Bulldogs will open with a traditionally easy opponent. Georgia has played ULM three times and all three were blowouts in Athens. The combined score? 156-16.
2.Sept. 12Nashville, TN
Georgia has won 18 of the last 20 meetings between these East Division foes, including a 44-17 blowout last fall. However, Richt will be looking for revenge after what took place in the UGA's last trip to Nashville — which ended painfully in a 31-27 loss to the Dores.
3.Sept. 19Athens, GA
Pure Entertainment From an entertainment factor, few SEC east rivals put on a show better than these two. With the exception of one-sided wins in 2012 and '03, this has been a close game every season since Richt took over. South Carolina has won four of the last five overall and is 2-2 in its last four trips to Athens.
4.Sept. 26Gainesville, FL
No, this isn't Georgia Southern, Southern Miss, Southern California or Southern Methodist. It's just Southern. The Jaguars have never faced Georgia and likely won't appreciate the final score.
5.Oct. 3Athens, GA
SEC Title Preview? For the first time since 2008, the Crimson Tide will visit Sanford Stadium. Richt is 3-2 against Alabama but Bama has won two straight in the series, including one of the most unforgettable SEC title games in recent memory (2012). This could be a preview of the SEC title game that could once again lead to a Playoff berth.
6.Oct. 10Knoxville, TN
East Rivalry As should be the case with a historic rivalry that dates back to the 1899, the Vols and Dawgs are tied all-time 21-21-2. This game has featured some serious dramatics, as both sides remember what happened at the end of the epic overtime thriller in Knoxville two years ago.
7.Oct. 17Athens, GA
What is quickly developing into a quality SEC East rivalry, Mizzou and Georgia have watched the road team win all three conference meetings. The Tigers won 41-26 en route to an SEC East title the last time they visited Athens, but Georgia repaid the favor in style 34-0 last season in Columbia.
9.Oct. 31Jacksonville, FL
Cocktail Party In what could be considered Will Muschamp's last stand, the Gators inexplicably dominated the Dawgs 38-20 last fall. These two rivals are 4-4 in their last eight, as UGA owns the all-time series record 49-41-2 — which, of course, is debated by both sides. This could be a de facto SEC East title game.
10.Nov. 7Athens, GA
Georgia has won 16 of the last 18 and has won five straight in the series. Kentucky is improving but hasn't been able to stop Georgia's offense in any capacity of late, allowing 42.8 points per contest during the five-game losing streak.
11.Nov. 14Auburn, AL
Deep South's Oldest Rivalry An epic and often entertaining rivalry that started way back in 1892 is tied at 55-55-8 all-time. Both teams are eyeing an SEC title and possible Playoff berth so this game should carry even more importance than usual — which is normally a lot.
12.Nov. 21Athens, GA
Georgia Southern isn't your average November cupcake. The Eagles proved they belonged in the FBS ranks by winning the Sun Belt in their first season last year, they run a brutal option offense to stop and feature a roster full of kids who likely grew up wanting to play for Georgia. This is trickier than fans imagine.
13.Nov. 28Atlanta, GA
Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate The only good thing about facing Georgia Southern's triple option is that it will help prepare the Dawgs for the Yellow Jackets. Tech snapped a five-game losing streak by topping Georgia 30-24 in Athens last year. Richt will be out for revenge in a game that could possibly hold Playoff implications for both teams. UGA leads the series 64-40-5.

 

Listen to the Cover 2 Podcast: Early 2015 SEC Preview



Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher

Teaser:
Georgia Bulldogs 2015 Football Schedule and Analysis
Post date: Friday, April 10, 2015 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/conference-championship-game-doesnt-solve-big-12s-problem
Body:

It appears that a rule forcing a college football conference to have at least 12 teams and two divisions to hold a championship game will be nullified by 2016.

 

Fans across the Big 12 are ecstatic.

 

But the Big 12 didn’t get left out of the College Football Playoff because it didn’t play a conference championship game.

 

Baylor got left out because the Playoff Committee thought — rightly so, as it turns out — that Ohio State was the better team. (A horrendous non-conference schedule didn’t help the Bears’ case.)

 

Fans want to believe that all it would’ve taken to get Baylor into the Playoff was a Big 12 title game.

 

But what if Baylor had lost?

 

Then a Big 12 Championship Game would have actually hurt the Big 12.

 

There is some preconceived notion that adding a championship game would automatically help the Big 12. History shows us that this couldn’t be further from the truth.

 

Related: 2015 Big 12 Schedule Analysis

 

In fact, SEC commissioner Roy Kramer came under heavy scrutiny in 1992 when he implemented college football’s first conference title game in the SEC. Had Alabama’s Antonio Langham not intercepted a Shane Matthews pass and returned it 27 yards for a game-winning touchdown, Kramer would have been destroyed by fans and media for costing his conference and the No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide a chance at the national championship.

 

Big 12 fans should know all about this heartbreak.

 

Listen to the Cover 2 Podcast: Early 2015 Big 12 Preview



Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher

 

In 1996, Nebraska was poised to play for a national championship after an unbeaten Big 12 season. But a historic fourth-down conversion from Texas in the Big 12’s first-ever title game dropped the Huskers from national championship contention.

 

Again in 1998, Kansas State was going to play in the first-ever BCS Championship Game after No. 2 UCLA lost to Miami. Yet, the unbeaten Wildcats lost in double overtime to Texas A&M, relegating Bill Snyder’s bunch to the Alamo Bowl.

 

Texas was headed to the 2001 national championship game because No. 2 Tennessee lost to LSU in the SEC title game. But the Horns couldn’t finish the deal, losing 39-37 to Colorado in the Big 12 title game. The Longhorns lost a shot at the national title because of the Big 12 title game.

 

And the most painful example, the 2007 Missouri Tigers. Gary Pinkel’s bunch entered the Big 12 title game ranked No. 1 in the nation with a clear path to the BCS title game. But the Sooners smoked the Tigers 38-17 and the Big 12 watched a two-loss LSU team win the BCS title.

 

It isn’t just the Big 12 that has been hurt either. Had Ohio State beat Michigan State in the 2013 Big Ten title game, the undefeated Buckeyes would have played Florida State in the final BCS title game. But alas, Connor Cook happened.

 

Just like the Longhorns in 2001, the Tennessee Vols were a victim of the same crime that same year. As was Georgia in ‘12, Florida in ‘09 and Alabama in ’08 — all teams poised to play in the BCS title game had they not lost in a conference title game.

 

Does a championship game make boatloads of revenue? Does it create a fanatical season-finale atmosphere? Is it must-see TV? Can a title game give a team one extra huge win for its resume? Check, check, check and check.

 

Does a championship game give your favorite conference a better chance at making the College Football Playoff?

 

The answer is pretty clearly no... not every year.

Teaser:
Conference Championship Game Doesn't Solve Big 12's Problem
Post date: Thursday, April 9, 2015 - 13:30
All taxonomy terms: Le'Veon Bell, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/leveon-bell-still-top-five-fantasy-draft-pick-despite-suspension
Body:

Pittsburgh Steelers’ running back Le’Veon Bell has been suspended for the first three games of the 2015 season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. He is appealing the penalty (also includes the loss of an additional game check), which stems from his arrest last August on marijuana possession and DUI charges.

 

Bell was a first-team All-Pro last season after finishing second to DeMarco Murray in both rushing (1,361) and yards from scrimmage (2,215). Bell was second to none, however, when it came to fantasy production, putting up the most fantasy points of any non-quarterback and finishing 12th overall with 329 points (Athlon scoring).

 

Besides serving as the Steelers’ workhorse ball carrier, Bell caught 83 passes (tied for 19th in the NFL) for 854 yards. He also scored a total of 11 touchdowns and didn’t lose a single fumble among his 373 total touches.

 

Only 23 years old, Bell entered the offseason as the leading contender for being the No. 1 overall pick in fantasy drafts this fall, and despite the suspension, I don’t see think his value changes much, if at all.

 

For one, Bell is appealing the suspension, and I don’t think it would surprise many if it ends up getting reduced. Whether it has no bearing on Bell’s case or not, it should be pointed out that LeGarrette Blount, who was Bell’s teammate in Pittsburgh for the first 11 games of the 2014 season, also was arrested and charged in the same August incident.

 

Blount, however, has been suspended just one game, the 2015 season opener. Considering the circumstances, it at least appears there’s a chance that Bell’s penalties will be revisited and possibly reduced upon appeal.

 

The legalities aside, the primary reason the suspension doesn’t impact Bell’s perceived value at this point is because of the lack of an alternative for the top spot. When it comes to whom to take with the No. 1 overall pick in a fantasy draft, the most logical candidates would be running backs similar to Bell, unless you’re infatuated with Andrew Luck or Aaron Rodgers or some other quarterback.

 

Along these lines, the backs that most likely come to mind are (in no particular order): DeMarco Murray, Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy, Arian Foster, Eddie Lacy and Matt Forté. While the likelihood that Bell will now miss at least two games does matter, each of the other candidates have their own concerns/question marks.

 

DeMarco Murray – likely to see less carries going from Dallas (and one of the best offensive lines in the NFL) to Philadelphia. Much of Murray’s value in 2014 was tied to his workload. His 392 carries were 80 more than any other running back. He joins a more crowded backfield with Ryan Matthews and Darren Sproles also in line for touches.

 

Related: DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles: Philadelphia’s Crowded Backfield Clouds Fantasy Outlook

 

Jamaal Charles – His workload decreased last season despite playing in same number of games (15) and posting same yard per carry average (5.0) as he did in 2013. Also recorded 30 fewer catches in 2014 compared to ‘13.

 

Adrian Peterson – Played just one game before being suspended for the rest of the 2014 season. Hasn’t been officially reinstated yet and has expressed publicly a desire to be traded to another team. Barring Minnesota honoring his request, Peterson’s future is chock full of uncertainty.

 

LeSean McCoy – Must make transition from Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offensive system in Philadelphia to Rex Ryan’s ground-and-pound approach in Buffalo. Touches shouldn’t be an issue, but McCoy is known more for his shiftiness and big-play potential than being an in-between-the-tackles option. Also remains to be seen how McCoy will be used as pass-catcher in offensive coordinator Greg Roman’s center and who will be under center.

 

Arian Foster – When healthy, Foster is on the same level in terms of dual-threat ability as Bell, Charles, McCoy or Forté. But injuries have been an issue, as Foster missed three games last season after playing in just eight in 2013.

 

Eddie Lacy – Lacy will turn 25 in June, so he’s similar to Bell in that both don’t have as much wear and tear on their tires as the others mentioned here. Lacy is clearly the Packers’ No. 1 ball carrier, but he wasn’t a workhorse (15.4 carries per game) last season, as Green Bay’s offense continues to revolve around Aaron Rodgers and the passing game.

 

Matt Forté – Arguably the most productive pass-catching back in the league, Forté reeled in 102 receptions last season while rushing for 1,038 yards. However, with John Fox now in charge in Chicago, the Bears’ offense will look much different than it did under Marc Trestman. Not only does that mean Forté’s role could be changing, there’s also the fact that in late December, Forté will turn 30, a number that has become a bit of a red flag as it relates to running backs.

 

Conclusion

There’s no denying that the possibility of Bell missing as many as three games impacts his fantasy value. However, given the uncertainty and question marks surrounding his peers at this point, I think Bell’s fresh legs, his versatility, his stability in Pittsburgh’s offense and big-play potential are more than enough reasons to keep him near the top of any fantasy rankings., if not at No. 1.

Teaser:
LeVeon Bell Still a Top-Five Fantasy Draft Pick Despite Suspension
Post date: Thursday, April 9, 2015 - 13:00
All taxonomy terms: poker, Monthly
Path: /monthly/phil-hellmuths-advice-how-win-poker
Body:

Getting together with your buddies (or strangers) for a night of poker can be a lot of fun. But it’s considerably more enjoyable when you’re staring down at a huge stack of chips at the end of the night. To elevate your game, we asked World Series of Poker (WSOP) Hall of Famer Phil Hellmuth — winner of 13 WSOP bracelets — to teach us how to dominate at his favorite parlor game, Texas Hold ’em.

 

Poker great Phil Hellmuth offers tips on winning at pokerFollow the Cardinal Rule

“Texas Hold ’em is patience, patience, patience. If you have to play every hand, don’t play Hold ’em, because you won’t win. The extreme example is to only play my top ten hands, which I introduce in my book Play Poker Like the Pros: sevens, eights, nines, tens, Jacks, Queens, Kings, Aces, Ace/King and Ace/Queen. It’s not the optimal strategy, but you can get into the swing of the game, and that’s great for beginners.”

 

Big Hands Don’t Guarantee Large Payouts

“I’ve seen a lot of money lost with a hand like a King/Queen because, once the big money starts going in, the opponent usually has a hand that dominates it. When I say, ‘dominate,’ I mean that someone might have an Ace/King or Ace/Queen; therefore, they have one of your cards and a card over your other one.”  

 

Get the Right Value From Your Hand

“There is no specific hand to go ‘all in’ on because, even if you have the most powerful hand possible, you may be more concerned about getting paid off. If you bet too much, you’ll make your opponents fold.” 


Review Game Tape

“Reading other people at the table is not easy, but every person out there can improve their reading abilities. I would advise someone to watch videos of players without the sound and try to guess what they have based on the way they are acting. To practice, pull up a YouTube video and do this for 10 minutes at your house.”

 

Employ Smoke and Mirrors

“If you bet 10 times over five hours of play and nobody calls you, then you have to start adding some bluffs. If you get called, they will see you bluffing, which will get you future action. And, if you can get away with a bluff, you’re winning money.”

 

Ditch the Hats, Shades and Headphones

“I don’t think that all that stuff helps. People want to go and have a nice social experience. But if people know when you are weak and when you are strong, then go ahead and put sunglasses on.”

 

Know When to Fold ’em

“Going for broke on every hand is a horrible strategy.  A lot of times you’ll have the second- or third-best hand and you’re going to get called by the best hand.” 

 

Skill Trumps Luck

“A bad player will never beat a good player if they play 10 hours, no matter how much luck is involved. In 1986, the Supreme Court ruled that poker players can pay taxes as a business because the game is a game of skill.”

 

Practice, Practice, Practice

“The more experience you have, the better. Some of the online poker players have played more hands in six months than I have in my lifetime. … You can pick up a lot of experience quickly if you’re playing online poker.”

 

—By Matt McCue

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, April 9, 2015 - 12:15
All taxonomy terms: Overtime, News
Path: /overtime/princes-fielding-results-belly-flop
Body:

Prince Fielder has a history of belly flops on the baseball field. Remember the 2013 Tigers vs. Red Sox ALCS game? 

 

And Fielder had another interesting moment this week, as he attempted to make a foul territory catch for the Rangers in the fifth inning against the Athletics. The result was another belly flop:

 

To make things worse, the Rangers lost 10-0. But let's remember Fielder is still a top-notch athlete that just misjudged the ball.

 

Also, check out this video of Fielder squatting teammate Rougned Odor.

Teaser:
Prince Fielder attempts to catch a pop-up that ends in a belly flop.
Post date: Thursday, April 9, 2015 - 11:31
All taxonomy terms: Dallas Mavericks, NBA
Path: /nba/mark-cuban-thinks-ncaa-basketball-%E2%80%9Chorrible%E2%80%9D
Body:

NCAA’s March Madness is wildly popular — but apparently it’s a dance that’s not for everyone.

 

You can count Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban among the curmudgeons of the annual tournament. "It's uglier than ugly,” he said Wednesday night, in reference to many low point totals in recent games. “…it’s evidenced by the scoring going down. When the NBA went through that, we changed things.

 

“If they want to keep kids in school and keep them from being pro players, they're doing it the exact right way by having the 35-second shot clock and having the game look and officiated the way it is.

 

"You've got three kids passing on the perimeter. With 10 seconds on the shot clock, they try to make something happen and two other kids stand around. They don't look for anything and then run back on defense, so there's no transition game because two out of five or three out of five or in some cases four out of five kids aren't involved in the play.

 

"It's horrible. It's ridiculous, it's worse than high school. You've got 20 to 25 seconds of passing on the perimeter and then somebody goes and tries to make a play and do something stupid, and scoring's gone down.”

 

While Cuban certainly has a point, he seems to be missing the larger one. NCAA hoops are not about the pursuit of an aesthetic basketball purity; they appeal to many, instead, for their raw, emotional qualities. Single-elimination games make for a frequently more exciting product, as does a game played by men too young to all have their feelings in order. 

 

College ball is not as advanced of a product as what the NBA offers. But to many, it is a more fun one.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, April 9, 2015 - 10:35
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-25-players-rise-2015
Body:

Each season always brings a new cast of college football stars. Whether it’s touted true freshmen living up to the hype in their first season on campus, a sophomore ready to emerge in their second year, or an upper classmen taking on a bigger role, there’s no shortage of breakout player options in the preseason.

 

Which players might emerge with a breakout year in 2015? Here’s a list of 25 players on the rise for this season, headlined by Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson and Auburn signal-caller Jeremy Johnson.

 

And if you want to go deeper, take a look at the individual position breakdowns – quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and defensive players – for on the rise options this spring.


Related: CFB's Top 25 Defensive Players on the Rise
 

College Football's Top 25 Players on the Rise for 2015

 

1. Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
Clemson has won at least 10 games in each of the last four seasons and has a good shot at extending that streak to five in 2015. Watson is the biggest reason for optimism and potential at contending for the ACC Championship, as the sophomore is expected to be at full strength in his recovery from a torn ACL by the season opener. The Georgia native ranked as the No. 41 recruit in the 2014 signing class and completed 93 of 137 passes for 1,466 yards and 14 scores in his debut. Watson also rushed for 200 yards and five scores last season. The departure of coordinator Chad Morris was a big loss for Clemson, but with Watson’s return and a talented group of skill players, the Tigers will be among the ACC’s best on offense in 2015.

 

2. Jeremy Johnson, QB, Auburn
Johnson varies slightly in style to former starter Nick Marshall, but Auburn’s offense shouldn’t miss a beat in 2015. The Alabama native ranked as the No. 11 pro-style quarterback in the 2013 signing class and has played well in limited action over the last two years. Johnson completed 29 of 41 passes for 422 yards and six scores in 2013 and threw for 436 yards and three touchdowns in 2014. He also has two starts under his belt, including one against Arkansas (2014). Johnson may not have the dynamic mobility of Marshall, but the junior is going to have a huge season directing the offense for coach Gus Malzahn. 

 

3. Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
Fournette was regarded as the No. 1 player in the 2014 247Sports Composite and certainly didn’t disappoint in his Baton Rouge debut. In 13 appearances, Fournette rushed for 1,034 yards and 10 scores. He also made an impact on special teams, averaging 26 yards per kickoff returns and one touchdown. With LSU struggling to find consistent production from its passing game, the ground attack will have to carry the offense in 2015. With Terrence Magee and Kenny Hilliard out of eligibility, Fournette should see an uptick in carries and production next year and should be considered a lock for All-SEC honors this offseason.

 

4. Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
With quarterback Jameis Winston off to the NFL, the focus for Florida State’s offense shifts to the ground attack and talented sophomore Dalvin Cook. As a true freshman last season, Cook rushed for 1,008 yards and eight scores and caught 22 passes for 203 yards. The Miami native averaged 141.3 rushing yards over his final three games, including 6.9 yards per carry in the Rose Bowl against Oregon. Cook was a five-star recruit coming out of high school and is poised to push for All-American honors in 2015.

 

5. Adoree' Jackson, CB/WR, USC
Jackson is one of the Pac-12’s most explosive players and one of the nation’s top all-around playmakers. The Illinois native caught 10 passes for 138 yards and three touchdowns last season and scored four times on special teams. Jackson also recorded 49 tackles (four for a loss) and broke up 10 passes in 2014.
 

6. Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
Clemson ranked first nationally by holding opponents to just four yards per play in 2014. But coordinator Brent Venables will have his hands full this spring, as the Tigers return only two starters and lose several standouts from the front seven. Lawson is expected to be one of the defense’s top linemen after recording 34 tackles and 3.5 sacks in a backup role last season.
 

7. Jabrill Peppers, DB, Michigan
Peppers was expected to play a meaningful role in Michigan’s secondary last season, but the New Jersey native was sidelined after three games due to a leg injury. With a full offseason to recover, Peppers is ready to become a key contributor for the Wolverines. New coordinator D.J. Durkin plans to use Peppers as a safety in 2015, which should allow the No. 3 prospect in the 2014 247Sports Composite to emerge as a impact defender for Michigan this year. 
 

8. JuJu Smith, WR, USC
The biggest void on USC’s offense heading into 2015 is at receiver with the departure of Nelson Agholor. Last season, Agholor led the Trojans with 104 catches for 1,313 yards and 12 scores. Coach Steve Sarkisian isn’t hurting for options at receiver with the emergence of Smith, along with the addition of a talented recruiting class for 2015. Smith ranked second on the team with 54 catches for 724 yards and five scores last season and is expected to emerge as quarterback Cody Kessler’s go-to target in 2015.


9. Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
It’s no coincidence Oklahoma State’s improvement on offense late in the year came with Rudolph at the helm. The Cowboys scored at least 30 points in five games against Power 5 opponents. Rudolph was the quarterback for two of those efforts, including an impressive 38-35 win over Oklahoma and a 30-22 bowl win over Washington. The South Carolina native finished 2014 with 853 passing yards and six scores in three appearances. Rudolph needs more help from his supporting cast in 2015, but the potential is certainly there for the sophomore to earn All-Big 12 honors.
 

10. Rod Johnson, OT, Florida State
Florida State’s offensive line struggled to find consistency through the first half of 2014 but performed better late in the season. The line’s improvement was largely due to Johnson taking over at left tackle and shifting All-American Cameron Erving to center. Johnson started the final five games of 2014 and will be one of the ACC’s top offensive linemen in 2015.  
 

11. Malik Zaire, QB, Notre Dame
Zaire isn’t guaranteed the starting job for 2015, as Everett Golson remains in the mix after throwing for 3,445 yards last season and enters next season with 23 starts under his belt. However, all signs point to Zaire emerging as Notre Dame’s No. 1 option under center. In seven appearances last season, Zaire completed 21 of 35 passes for 266 yards and one touchdown, while rushing for 187 yards and two scores. The Ohio native’s most-impressive outing took place against LSU in the Music City Bowl, throwing for 96 yards and a touchdown, while adding 96 yards and a score on the ground in the upset win over the Tigers. With a strong supporting cast in place, Zaire has all of the necessary pieces for a breakout year.
 

12. Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
Alexander is one of two Clemson players to make this list. The Florida native was forced to redshirt in 2013 due to injury but quickly emerged as the team’s top defensive back last season. Alexander started all 13 games, recorded 21 tackles and six pass breakups, while also playing the most snaps by a freshman in school history. Alexander should be one of the ACC’s top cornerbacks in 2015.
 

13. Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State
Ohio State’s defense doesn’t have many question marks entering spring ball, but the linebacker corps is looking for a new starter after the departure of Curtis Grant. There should be a flawless transition from Grant to McMillan, as the Georgia native was regarded as the top recruit in the Big Ten for the 2014 signing class. McMillan played in 14 games last season and recorded 54 tackles, one interception and 2.5 sacks.
 

14. Corey Clement, RB, Wisconsin
Melvin Gordon leaves big shoes to fill at running back for Wisconsin, but new coach Paul Chryst is inheriting a rising star in Clement. The New Jersey native was Gordon’s top backup in 2014 and rushed for 949 yards and nine scores on 147 attempts. Clement never recorded more than 17 rushing attempts in a game last year, so there’s plenty of room for his overall production to grow with more carries in 2015. He also rushed for 547 yards as Wisconsin’s No. 3 running back in 2013. Clement may not match Gordon’s 2,587 rushing yards from last season, but he should be one of the Big Ten’s top running backs in 2015.
 

15. Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas
Jefferson ranked as the No. 10 prospect in the 2015 247Sports Composite and big things are expected from the Texas native in 2015. With the Longhorns replacing Jordan Hicks and Steve Edmond, Jefferson has a clear path to major snaps or a starting role. Expect Jefferson to be one of college football’s top freshmen performers.
 

16. Kyle Allen, QB, Texas A&M
Since joining the SEC in 2012, the Aggies have averaged 41.3 points per game. Life after Johnny Manziel presented a few challenges in 2014, but the arrow on Texas A&M’s offense is pointing up headed into 2015. Allen started the final five games for coach Kevin Sumlin, including a four-touchdown performance against Auburn and a 294-yard effort against West Virginia in the Liberty Bowl. The Arizona native finished 2014 with 1,322 passing yards and 16 touchdowns. Allen will be pushed by talented freshman Kyler Murray this offseason, but the edge in experience should help the sophomore hold onto the starting job. With a talented receiving corps returning, Texas A&M’s passing offense should be among the SEC’s best once again in 2015.
 

17. Joshua Dobbs, QB, Tennessee
The insertion of Dobbs into the starting lineup in late October sparked Tennessee to a 4-2 finish over its last six games. The Georgia native threw for 192 yards against Alabama after replacing Nathan Peterman in the first half and guided the Volunteers to a 45-42 upset win over South Carolina by accumulating 467 total yards and five scores. Dobbs also played well in the bowl win over Iowa by accounting for 205 yards and three scores. The junior should have more help from his supporting cast in 2015, as Tennessee should be healthier at receiver, and a young offensive line has a full offseason to grow. Dobbs should push for All-SEC honors in 2015.
 

18. Seth Russell, QB, Baylor
Over the last five seasons, Baylor’s starting quarterback has averaged 4,031 yards and 30 touchdowns. With Bryce Petty off to the NFL, the keys to a high-powered offense are in Russell’s hands. Of course, he has to hold off a challenge this offseason from sophomore Chris Johnson and talented true freshman Jarrett Stidham. However, there’s a clear edge in experience for Russell, as he has one start under his belt and completed 48 of 85 passes in 2014. The Texas native torched Northwestern State for five scores and 438 yards last year and completed 8 of 17 passes for 82 yards in relief of Petty against Texas Tech. With one of the nation’s top receiving corps in place, Russell – if he wins the job – will be next standout quarterback for coach Art Briles.
 

19. Nate Gerry, S, Nebraska
Gerry surprisingly earned only honorable mention by the coaches All-Big Ten team last season. The South Dakota native started all 13 games in 2014 and recorded 88 tackles and five interceptions. New defensive backs coach Brian Stewart should help Gerry develop into one of the Big Ten’s top performers at safety in 2015.


20. Budda Baker, S, Washington
Washington’s secondary experienced its share of ups and downs last season. However, after playing freshmen and sophomores in major roles in 2014, the Huskies should see improvement from a secondary that gave up 55 passing plays of 20 yards or more. Baker was regarded as the No. 55 recruit in the 2014 247Sports Composite and played significant snaps as a true freshman. In 13 games, Baker recorded 80 tackles, one sack, one interception and six pass breakups.
 

21. Christian McCaffery, RB, Stanford
For the first time since the 2007 season, the Cardinal did not have a rusher reach the 1,000-yard mark in 2014. That one-year 1,000-yard rusher drought could be short-lived, as McCaffrey is primed for a breakout season in 2015. As a true freshman in 2014, he recorded 300 rushing yards (seven yards per carry) and caught 17 passes for 251 yards and two scores. McCaffrey recorded at least 57 rushing yards in three out of the final four games, including 77 against Utah on Nov. 15.
 

22. Demario Richard, RB, Arizona State
The future of the Arizona State backfield appears to be in good hands with Richard leading the way in 2015. The Sun Devils also return D.J. Foster (1,081 rush yards in 2014), but the senior is expected to shift to more of a running back/receiver role in 2015. Richard was solid in limited action last year, rushing for 478 yards and four scores on 84 attempts. He eclipsed the 100-yard mark against a tough Utah defense on Nov. 1 and contributed 41 yards on seven attempts in the bowl win over Duke. Richard should have no trouble exceeding last year’s numbers in 2015.

 

23. Harold Brantley, DT, Missouri
Missouri has been a factory for All-SEC talent at defensive end over the last two seasons, but don’t overlook Brantley’s contributions to the defense in 2014. The Pennsylvania native made six starts as a freshman in 2013 and emerged as the team’s top interior player last year. In 14 games, Brantley recorded 30 tackles (five for a loss) and three pass breakups. With two seasons under his belt, Brantley should be poised for his best year in a Missouri uniform.


24. Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State
McDowell was a huge catch on the recruiting trail for coach Mark Dantonio, and the Michigan native didn’t disappoint in his true freshman campaign. McDowell played in all 13 games and recorded 15 tackles and 1.5 sacks. With Lawrence Thomas expected to move to defensive end this spring, McDowell is expected to take on a bigger role with the line for 2015. Expect to see McDowell wreaking havoc against opposing Big Ten offensive lines this year.
 

25. Wyatt Teller, OG, Virginia Tech
Teller redshirted in his first season at Virginia Tech and made the transition from defensive end to the offensive line. And despite not starting a full season, Teller emerged as the Hokies’ top lineman. Teller started 13 games, including the final six as a starter. The Virginia native should be an All-ACC performer in 2015.

Teaser:
College Football's Top 25 Players on the Rise for 2015
Post date: Thursday, April 9, 2015 - 10:30
Path: /golf/golf-experts-poll-who-will-win-2015-masters
Body:
Athlon polled a number of golf insiders on a variety of topics, but we start with this question: Are Tiger's problems primarily physical or mental? - See more at: http://athlonsports.com/golf/golf-experts-poll-are-tigers-problems-mental-or-physical#sthash.ovLdgVAh.dpuf
Athlon polled a number of golf insiders on a variety of topics, but we start with this question: Are Tiger's problems primarily physical or mental? - See more at: http://athlonsports.com/golf/golf-experts-poll-are-tigers-problems-mental-or-physical#sthash.ovLdgVAh.dpuf

Golf's greatest tournament is finally here. Picking a winner in golf is tricky business, but we wanted to know who the experts thought would be donning the Green Jacket come Sunday evening. 

 

Participants

Jay Coffin, Editorial Director, Golf Channel, @JayCoffinGC

Jason Deegan, Senior Staff Writer and Golf Advisor with The Golf Channel online, @WorldGolfer

Steve DiMeglio, USA Today, @Steve_DiMeglio

Bob Harig, ESPN, @BobHarig

Dan Jenkins, Author, Golf Digest Contributor, @danjenkinsgd

Garrett Johnston, Golf journalist, @JohnstonGarrett

Dave Kindred, Golf Digest, Sports on Earth Contributor, @DaveKindred

Alex Miceli, Senior Writer, Golfweek, @alexmiceli

Dan O’Neill, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Dave Shedloski, Golf World, @DaveShedloski

Art Spander, Global Golf Post, @artspander

 

Who will win the 2015 Masters?

Predicted WinnerVotes
Jason Day3
Dustin Johnson2
Jordan Spieth2
Rory McIlroy1
Jimmy Walker1
Bubba Watson1
No answer1

 

Comments from our panel"

• "Jason Day is due."

 

• "I always pick Rory these days."

 

• "Bubba Watson. It's his course."

 

• "This isn't Patriots vs. Seahawks. This is 90 people against each other and a course, but I'll give you several possibilities: Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Patrick Reed."

 

• "Jason Day. He's been close a bunch of times, he's won this year, and he appears healthy going in."

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, April 9, 2015 - 10:12
Path: /college-football/north-carolina-tar-heels-2015-schedule-and-analysis
Body:

Larry Fedora is entering a critical season in Chapel Hill.

 

The Tar Heels are 13-11 in ACC play in three seasons with him at the helm and it’s a big reason why he made a big switch on defense. Gene Chizik is now running the unit in an effort to produce the same way the defense has under Fedora.

 

The bad news is the schedule isn’t easy and the defense needs fixing. The good news is nine of UNC’s 12 tilts will come inside the state and the Tar Heels have one of the more talented rosters in the ACC.

 

Related: Cover 2 College Football Podcast: 2015 ACC Preview

 

2015 North Carolina Schedule

 

Bye: Week 6; * - Thurs. 

 

WkOpp.DateLocation
1.Sept. 3*Charlotte, NC
SEC-ACC These two haven't played often since 1991 (twice) but there is plenty of history to keep this rivalry going. South Carolina has won both meetings since the Cocks joined the SEC but North Carolina holds a 34-18-4 advantage all-time.
2.Sept. 12Chapel Hill, NC
North Carolina A&T has never faced its big brother from Chapel Hill so energy levels should be running high for the Aggies in Week 2. Don't expect a close score, however.
3.Sept. 19Chapel Hill, NC
This marks just the third meeting ever between the Big Ten and ACC programs. The Heels won both previous get-togethers in 1971 and '87. Watch for Illinois quarterback Wes Lunt to test that reworked UNC defense.
4.Sept. 26Chapel Hill, NC
Joe Flacco isn't walking through that door anytime soon for Delaware. The quality FCS program would need a Flacco-esque performance to go into Chapel Hill to win.
5.Oct. 3Atlanta, GA
Elimination Game Tech won the division last year and might be the front-runner again this fall. But it's North Carolina that won the showdown last year (48-43), snapping a five-game losing streak to the Jackets. The winner takes control of the Coastal Division.
7.Oct. 17Chapel Hill, NC
This has been a back-and-forth affair in the ACC over the last decade. The Deacons pulled off the upset in 2012, winning 28-27 in Winston-Salem. In fact, Wake Forest has won three out of four and five out of eight against the fellow triangle program. Watch out for revenge from UNC this fall.
8.Oct. 24Chapel Hill, NC
One of the longest played series in the nation has gone the way of the Heels of late. North Carolina has won five straight (relatively easily) in a series that has featured 119 games. Virginia was closer last year (28-27) than it had been since its last win in 2009.
9.Oct. 31Pittsburgh, PA
The heart of the Tar Heels '15 schedule begins with a road trip to The Keystone State. This has been a wild series in the ACC befitting a Halloween date. The Heels have won both game by one score.
10.Nov. 7Chapel Hill, NC
Rivalry Game I Duke-Carolina is special no matter the sport. But with Duke's recent success on the football field, this gridiron battle has been elevated significantly. The Heels snapped a two-game losing streak to Duke with a convincing 45-20 win in Durham last season.
11.Nov. 14Chapel Hill, NC
Elimination Game II This game constantly seems to deliver since the duo landed in the same division. The series is 6-5 Miami in 11 ACC meetings with six games decided by one score. The Hurricanes crushed the Heels 47-20 a year ago and North Carolina will look for revenge at home this fall.
12.Nov. 21Blacksburg, VA
North Carolina has beaten Tech just twice in 11 tries since the Hokies joined the ACC — and one of those (2009) has been vacated. Frank Beamer has owned this series, including double-digit wins in each of the last two seasons.
13.Nov. 28Raleigh, NC
Rivalry Game II Dave Doeren made his presence felt last year by putting a whipping on rival North Carolina 35-7. Fedora had won his first two meetings in the rivalry. The Pack has won seven of the last nine meetings.

 

Listen to the Cover 2 Podcast: Early 2015 ACC Preview



Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher

Teaser:
North Carolina Tar Heels 2015 Schedule and Analysis
Post date: Thursday, April 9, 2015 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/florida-state-seminoles-2015-schedule-and-analysis
Body:

Florida State still might be the top dog in the ACC.

 

The Seminoles clearly boast the most talented roster in the conference and have a proven leader in head coach Jimbo Fisher. 

 

But this league is getting better around FSU and there are more concerns with the Noles’ depth chart than fans in Tallahassee have seen in years.

 

Needless to say, there are plenty of speed bumps this team will need to navigate if it wants to win a fourth consecutive ACC title.

 

Related: Cover 2 College Football Podcast: Early 2015 ACC Preview

 

2015 Florida State Schedule

 

Bye: Week 4, * - Fri.

 

WkOpp.DateLocation
1.Sept. 5Tallahassee, FL
The season opener features a quickly improving program under Dennis Franchione in the Sun Belt that has never faced Florida State. The Bobcats aren't ready to compete with FSU but this is way more interesting than, say, Savannah State.
2.Sept. 12Tallahassee, FL
These two in-state rivals have met only twice in history, splitting meetings in 2009 and '12. The Bulls sparked their eight-win season with a 17-7 win in Tallahassee in '09 while Fisher cruised to an easy win in Tampa four years later. Willie Taggart has improved USF in two seasons but the Bulls will be a heavy underdog in Doak Campbell.
3.Sept. 18*Chestnut Hill, MA
Florida State has won five straight in the series but the last time these two teams met in Massachusetts, BC nearly pulled the upset over the eventual national champ. Steve Addazio has done well with the Eagles but this Friday night tilt could be one-sided as Boston College enters the year in rebuilding mode.
5.Oct. 3Winston-Salem, NC
Long gone are the days when Wake Forest won three in a row over the Noles. While the Deacons topped FSU in 2011, the Noles have pulverized little Wake Forest ever since. Florida State has won by a combined score of 154-6 in the last three meetings. Expect more of the same.
6.Oct. 10Tallahassee, FL
Rivalry Game I Florida State was won five straight in this series as well, but this rivalry has been much closer than Wake Forest. This was a four-point game last year and Miami has played well in Doak Campbell over the years. Since 2000, Miami is 4-3 in Tallahassee, including a close, four-point loss in 2011.
7.Oct. 17Tallahassee, FL
Florida State is 13-2 all-time against Louisville and this year the rebuilding birds must come to the panhandle. However, they've only played once since Louisville topped the Noles in 2002 — an epic 42-31 road win for FSU last year.
8.Oct. 24Atlanta, GA
ACC Title Preview? A potential rematch of last year's title game could also be a preview of this year's title match. The triple option is always tough to stop and Tech returns most of its offense. This is the first regular season meeting between the two since Tech won in 2008-09. Those are the only two wins for Georgia Tech in the series in 16 tries since 1975.
9.Oct. 31Tallahassee, FL
Syracuse beat FSU 37-21 in 1966. Florida State has won every meeting since (7-0), including a 97-23 combined score in two ACC games. The Orange are potentially the worst team in the Atlantic Division and the Noles could use a breather before heading to Clemson the next week.
10.Nov. 7Clemson, SC
Atlantic Division Championship Clemson has been the top team in the Atlantic Division not named Florida State for quite some time now. The Tigers were one fumble away from winning in Doak Campbell last year and get the Noles at home in '15. That said, the last time these two met in Death Valley, Florida State rolled to a 51-14 win. These two have split the last 12 meetings.
11.Nov. 14Tallahassee, FL
This rivalry has been sneaky good... in Raleigh. This year's bout comes in Tallahassee, however, where FSU has been excellent against NC State. The Noles have won four straight over the Pack at home by a combined score of 155-69. NC State is getting better but isn't ready to knock off the big dog on the road.
12.Nov. 21Tallahassee, FL
Talk about an SEC-style warm-up. Chattanooga is nothing more than a tune-up and breather between a tough final month and a trip to The Swamp.
13.Nov. 28Gainesville, FL
Rivalry Game II Fisher has won four of his five meetings with Florida — which snapped a six-game losing streak under the previous regime. Interestingly enough, this game has been much closer in Tallahassee. Fisher is 2-0 in Gainesville with wins by 24 points ('10) and 30 points ('13).

 

Listen to the Cover 2 Podcast: Early 2015 ACC Preview



Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher

Teaser:
Florida State Seminoles 2015 Schedule and Analysis
Post date: Thursday, April 9, 2015 - 09:30
Path: /10-greatest-masters-champions-all-time-2015
Body:

The Masters is the world's greatest golf tournament, so it's not surprising that it has produced an elite list of champions. We've identified the 10 greatest, who collectively possess 32 Green Jackets and have provided countless classic moments.

 

1. Jack Nicklaus

Wins - 6
Runner-ups - 4
Top 5 - 15
Top 10 - 22
Notes:
Nobody owns Augusta like Jack. His six wins spanned 23 years of stunning brilliance. In the decade of the 1970s, he never finished lower than 8th. As if to put an exclamation point on his unparalleled career amid the Georgia pines, Jack made one final run in 1998 at age 58, finishing sixth and beating the defending champion, 22-year-old Tiger Woods. Here's a record that may never be broken: Nicklaus made an astounding 37 cuts at Augusta; for reference, Woods has been alive only 37 years.

 

2. Arnold Palmer

Wins - 4
Runner-ups - 2
Top 5 - 9
Top 10 - 12
Notes:
Arnie came along at the perfect time, the dawn of golf's TV age, and he galvanized an army of fans with his domination at Augusta. Between 1957 and 1967, Palmer won four times and finished in the top 10 every year. He eclipses the No. 3 player on this list only because he made The Masters what it is today.

 

3. Tiger Woods

Wins - 4
Runner-ups - 2
Top 5 - 10
Top 10 - 12
Notes:
Woods' 12-shot demolition of the field at the 1997 Masters was one of golf's signature moments and ushered in the Tiger era in golf. His epic chip-in in 2005 was another classic moment, although that remains his last green jacket to date. Tiger is the all-time scoring average leader at The Masters for players with 50 or more career rounds.

 

4. Phil Mickelson

Wins - 3
Runner-ups - 0
Top 5 - 10
Top 10 - 14
Notes:
Lefty's record at Augusta rivals Tiger's. His 2004 breakthrough was perhaps the most eagerly awaited major championship win in history. Phil still has a shot to move up this list given that he's finished out of the top 5 only five times since 2001 and always seems rejuvenated by the trip up Magnolia Lane.

 

5. Gary Player

Wins - 3
Runner-ups - 2
Top 5 - 8
Top 10 - 15
Notes:
Player made his Masters bones in the 1960s as part of golf's Big Three with Nicklaus and Palmer, but he had some of his greatest Augusta moments in the 1970s, winning in 1974 and charging from seven strokes back in the final round in 1978, shooting 64 to win at age 42.

 

6. Sam Snead

Wins - 3
Runner-ups - 2
Top 5 - 9
Top 10 - 15
Notes:
Slammin' Sammy enjoyed some of his greatest successes at Augusta, winning three Masters in a six-year span, including a playoff win over rival and defending champion Ben Hogan in 1954.

 

7. Ben Hogan

Wins - 2
Runner-ups - 4
Top 5 - 9
Top 10 - 17
Notes:
The great Hogan set a Masters record during his Triple Crown season of 1953 with a 14-under total (it would be broken by Jack Nicklaus in 1965), part of an unparalleled run of golf in which he won six majors in eight appearances. In 1967, at age 56, he shot a 66 and finished 10th. His 17 Masters top 10s are second only to Nicklaus' 22.

 

8. Tom Watson

Wins - 2
Runner-ups - 3
Top 5 - 9
Top 10 - 15
Notes:
Watson's Augusta exploits are overshadowed by his dominance at the British Open, but between 1975 and 1988, no one was better at The Masters — two wins, three runner-ups and 12 top-10 finishes.

 

9. Jimmy Demaret

Wins - 3
Runner-ups - 0
Top 5 - 6
Top 10 - 8
Notes:
One of golf's most colorful showmen, Demaret was the first three-time Masters winner and parlayed his quick wit and flamboyant wardrobe into an appearance on "I Love Lucy."

 

10. Byron Nelson

Wins - 2
Runner-ups - 2
Top 5 - 7
Top 10 - 14
Notes:
Lord Byron's love for The Masters was epitomized by the fact that he kept playing at Augusta even after retiring from competitive golf to run his ranch. He probably would have won one or two more Green Jackets had the tournament been held during World War II.

 

Honorable Mention


• Nick Faldo - A three-time Masters winner, Faldo gets penalized for benefiting from three meltdowns in his three Masters wins — Scott Hoch, who missed a two-foot putt in their playoff in 1989; Ray Floyd, who made a late bogey to fall into a playoff with Faldo and then hit into the water at 11 in Sudden Death; and most notoriously, Greg Norman, who squandered a six-shot lead over Faldo with a final-round 78. Plus, Faldo's three wins were his only Masters top 10s.

 

• Seve Ballesteros - The late, great Ballesteros won twice and finished second twice. He also had the decency to step aside and allow Nicklaus to charge to his sixth Green Jacket in 1986.

 

• Horton Smith - The event's first two-time winner, Smith won Green Jackets in 1934 (the tournament's first year) and 1936.

 

• Ben Crenshaw - Crenshaw's Masters win in 1994, shortly after the death of longtime mentor Harvey Penick, provided one of the most emotional moments in golf history. Crenshaw, a two-time winner, finished in the top 10 11 times. He's announced that the 2015 Masters will be his last.

 

• Jose Maria Olazabal - Less heralded than his countryman Seve Ballesteros, Olazabal was every bit Seve's equal at Augusta, winning in 1994 and 1999 and finishing the top 10 six other times.

 

• Bernhard Langer - Langer had his greatest major success at The Masters, winning twice and posting eight top 10s.

 

• Fred Couples - Couples made 23 consecutive Masters cuts between 1983 and 2008, although he didn't play in 1987 or 1994. He's the only Masters competitor not to miss a cut at Augusta in the 20th Century. He won the tournament in 1992.

 

• Gene Sarazen - His "Shot Heard Round the World" — a double eagle at 15 during the 1935 Masters — put the tournament on the map and helped establish its major bona fides. It also allowed Sarazen to claim a modern career Grand Slam, the first in history.

 

• Raymond Floyd - Floyd won the 1976 Masters by a dominating eight strokes, matching Nicklaus' record 17-under total (which would be broken by Woods in 1997). Floyd finished second at Augusta three times, including a crushingly disappointing playoff loss to Nick Faldo in 1990, and had 11 top-10 finishes.

 

• Bubba Watson - Bubba has won two of the last three Masters. Add another Green Jacket to his closet this year, and Bubba works his way into the Top 10.

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Thursday, April 9, 2015 - 09:15
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Monthly
Path: /monthly/best-and-worst-sports-supplements-men
Body:

Men’s magazines are loaded with recommendations for supplements aimed at hard-core athletes. But are any of them actually effective? And what about the average guy who’s not competing at a high level? We asked Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, CSSD, LDN, Director of Sports Nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and a nutritional consultant to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Pirates and Washington Nationals, among others. Here’s Bonci’s best advice on what to use, and what to avoid. 

 

The Best

Omega 3 Fat: “The antiinflammatory benefit and heart healthy benefits will have an impact,” Bonci says. “And it’s really hard to get that much in your daily diet.” If fish oil doesn’t work for you, algae-based Omega 3’s are a good alternative.
 
Protein Isolate: Bonci favors powdered protein isolates for their versatility. “A protein in powder form will be more versatile,” she says. “You can mix it into oatmeal or in a shake.” You can also choose from different types of protein — whey, casein, etc. “Also, premixed shakes can be loaded with unnecessary calories.”

 

The Recovery Trifecta: “Ginger, turmeric and boswellia all have really big anti-inflammatory effects,” Bonci says. She recommends ginger and turmeric for combatting delayed-onset muscle soreness after hard workouts, while boswellia is more effective for alleviating muscle tweaks, like a strained hamstring. “Take a mix of the three before bed,” she says, recommending 500mg of ginger, 400mg of boswellia and 1200mg of turmeric. “The effects are faster than glucosamine/chondroitin and it works on a larger population.”

 

What to Avoid

Energy Shooters:  “The name ‘5-hour Energy’ is really very misleading,” she says. “It’s not calories, it’s a stimulant, so you’ll get a boost for about half an hour and that’s it.” Also, the high concentration of caffeine can raise a heart rate that’s already elevated when you exercise. 


The Cleanses: “I’ve confiscated many of them from my athletes,” Bonci says. “It’s so counterproductive to performance.” Her aversion to the trendy cleanses is due to their diuretic (and diarrheal) properties. “It can totally dehydrate and lead to electrolyte imbalance.”


Growth Stacks: “Avoid anything you see like animal pack or growth or anabolic on the label,” she says. “It probably won’t do what it says, and it’ll be adding a hormone to the body,” which affects its ability to make its own hormones. “Protein isolate will do a lot more and it’ll cost you a lot less.”

 

—by Billy Brown

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, April 8, 2015 - 20:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Monthly
Path: /monthly/eat-fan-bbq-bacon-wrapped-jumbo-shrimp-recipe
Body:

Everyone likes bacon, right? Well, here’s a new way to ingest it and make you look much fancier than you actually are. These can be served as hors d’oeuvres for a romantic dinner at home or on a paper plate to be devoured in sweatpants alone on the couch. (Probably the latter.) Add BBQ sauce and jalapeño peppers to taste and enjoy the fruits of your labor — which should take about 20 minutes from start to finish. Here’s the recipe for BBQ bacon-wrapped jumbo shrimp:

 

Step One | Pregame Prep

1. Preheat oven to 400°F
2. Place rack over large foil-lined baking sheet

 

Step Two | Makin’ Bacon

1. Arrange uncooked bacon on rack
2. Bake bacon about 8 minutes, until partially cooked but still pliable
3. Drain bacon on paper towel-lined plate

 

Step Three | BBQ Time

1. Combine barbecue sauce and olive oil in medium bowl
2. Add jumbo shrimp to bowl
3. Coat jumbo shrimp in barbecue sauce

 

Step Four | Wrapper’s Delight

1. Wrap each jumbo shrimp with a half-piece of bacon
2. Arrange bacon-wrapped shrimp on rack
3. Bake 10 minutes — until shrimp are cooked and bacon is crisp

 

Step Five | Overtime Options

1. Run toothpick through shrimp
2. Slather in barbecue sauce
3. Add fresh jalapeño 

 

Ingredients
    24    Jumbo shrimp — peeled and deveined, tails on
    12    Bacon slices — cut into halves crosswise
    6    Tablespoons barbecue sauce
    2    Tablespoons olive oil
    1    Jalapeño — sliced to garnish (optional)

 

Utensils
Baking sheet, Baking rack, Medium bowl, Toothpicks


—Recipe by Laraine Perri 

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, April 8, 2015 - 17:20
All taxonomy terms: MLB
Path: /mlb/did-%E2%80%9Cback-future-part-ii%E2%80%9D-successfully-predict-anything-world-sports
Body:

Did “Back to the Future Part II” successfully predict anything in the world of sports?

—Biff T., Las Vegas, Nev.

 

Good question, Biff — if that is your real name. When Marty McFly and “Doc” Brown time travel in the 1989 cult classic "Back to the Future Part II," they go all the way to the year 2015. So, the future is now. In the movie, the Chicago Cubs win the World Series over a Florida team with an alligator mascot. Since the release of the film, the Sunshine State has landed two MLB teams — the Miami Marlins (1993) and Tampa Bay Rays (1998). But the Cubs have not won the World Series. Maybe this year? Nike will also sell the self-tying sci-fi shoes worn by Michael J. Fox in the film. And the infamous “Left Shark” from Katy Perry’s Super Bowl XLIX halftime show looks suspiciously like the hologram billboard shark from the movie. But still no functional hover boards… even in 2015.

 

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, April 8, 2015 - 16:02
All taxonomy terms: Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers, Nick Young, NBA
Path: /nba/byron-scott-says-he-wouldn%E2%80%99t-want-be-foxhole-his-lakers-roster
Body:

The Los Angeles Lakers are facing a crucial offseason. After missing the playoffs — and not even whiffing them — for two straight seasons, they’ve got a lot of work to do if they’re going to come close to living up to their dazzling franchise legacy.

 

Head coach Byron Scott seems to already have a pretty good idea who he doesn’t want back in 2015-16. "I got a sense of a whole lot of them I wouldn't want to be in a foxhole with," Scott said about his roster, after Lakers practice on Monday. "I think they'd end up shooting me in the back. So I've got a pretty good sense of the guys that I think are going to be around, that we will build around, build together in this process and go through it.”

 

Statements like this one have been par for the course in contemporary Lakerland. The current Los Angeles squad is a comic disaster, with $24 million in salary committed to an icon who doesn’t play, Kobe Bryant, and a lot of media attention shifting to Nick Young, who’s better at being a celebrity than he is at playing basketball.

 

Rational Lakers optimists have two chief hopes heading into the summer:

 

1. That the team’s history and heraldry, in combination with the appeal of living in L.A., are going to be enough to lure big-name free agents to the Lakers.

 

2. That the front office is not buying what it’s selling the fanbase, and is in fact employing Scott and his roster in a covert tanking effort. No tanking team says they’re tanking, and Lakers fans are praying that they’re one of the league’s intentional losers, and haven’t actually compiled this army in an earnest attempt to win. Because if they have, then the future doesn’t look bright.

— John Wilmes
Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, April 8, 2015 - 15:15
Path: /7-greatest-shots-masters-history-0
Body:

We don’t have footage of Gene Sarazen’s famous double eagle from 1935, but on Masters Sunday 2012, we saw something just as good and just as rare — Louis Oosthuizen's double eagle, the first at the par-5 second hole in Masters history. Later, Bubba Watson joined our countdown with his stunning recovery shot from the pine straw in the playoff. Here are our choices for the seven greatest shots in Masters history.

 

7. Louis Oosthuizen, 2012

Before Sunday, there had been 19,809 rounds at The Masters, but this was a first: a double eagle at No. 2. Had Oostie gone on to win, his shot would rank No. 1; as it is, he'll have to settle for second in The Masters and seventh on our list.

 

6. Sandy Lyle, 1988

Lyle had a front-row seat for Jack Nicklaus' charge to the 1986 Masters title. Two years later, he made history of his own with an incredible bunker shot on the 72nd hole, using the slope of the green to set up a clinching birdie. This is great execution for a Tuesday practice round; under Masters pressure, it's one of history's greatest shots.

 

5. Bubba Watson, 2012

After a day that included a double eagle and two holes in one, Bubba's shot at 10 will be the one they'll still be talking about at the 2050 Champions Dinner.

 

4. Jack Nicklaus, 1986

Jack’s near hole-in-one on 16 during his final-round 65 was only one of many magic moments that day — but it was pretty epic. As a bonus, this video includes his birdie putt on 17 (the putt that ultimately clinched his win) and his tap-in on 18, as well as commentary from the man himself.


 

3. Phil Mickelson, 2010

Mickelson’s 6-iron second shot to four feet on the par-5 13th was the kind of hero shot that only he and Tiger Woods would even attempt.



2. Larry Mize, 1987

Playing a few miles from his home, the quiet, unassuming Mize hit the shot of his life, or anyone else’s for that matter, holing an impossible 140-foot pitch shot on the second playoff hole to deny Greg Norman a green jacket.



1. Tiger Woods, 2005

It's a scenario apparently drawn up in the Nike marketing offices — the ball hanging tantalizingly on the edge of the cup, the Nike logo momentarily freeze-framed on our television screens before the ball tumbles into the cup, unleashing an awkward golfer high-five between Tiger and caddie Steve Williams that detracts only slightly from the moment. To answer your question, Verne Lundquist — no, in our lives, we’ve never seen anything like it.

Teaser:
<p> 7 Epic Moments from Golf's Greatest Tournament</p>
Post date: Wednesday, April 8, 2015 - 12:00
All taxonomy terms: Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans, NBA
Path: /nba/anthony-davis-pelicans-beat-warriors-after-trash-talk
Body:

You shouldn’t give Anthony Davis any extra motivation. The 22-year-old is, by any measure, as good as any 22-year-old has ever been in the NBA, and he’s all but carried an awkward, poorly coached New Orleans Pelicans roster into a playoff spot in the loaded Western Conference.

 

Last night, we got a preview of the potentially fierce first round matchup Davis and New Orleans would face, against the Golden State Warriors. Davis took words said by an unnamed Warriors player to heart. "They came out and said it was going to be a scrimmage game," Davis said in a TV interview after the game, a 103-100 Pelicans win. "We kind of took that personal.”

 

"I don't know who said it,” Davis said. “We don't want to be this pushover team, guys come in and do whatever they want. That's how we want to look at ourselves.”

 

Davis was his usual sensational self in the game, gathering 29 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks in the cornerstone victory.

 

Warriors skeptics may look at the last few days and see some slippage. After getting trounced by the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday, they lost to an inferior Pelicans squad Tuesday after what could be seen as a stroke a hubris.

 

More likely, Golden State is just finally displaying some signs of malaise after having their foot on the pedal all season and racing out to a historically dominant record. The Warriors have had the West’s top seed locked down for a while now, and they may be getting a bit bored by the spate of exhibition games standing between them and a title run.

 

But if they draw Davis in the first round — a scenario that looks more likely with every Oklahoma City Thunder loss — they’ll have a compelling initial challenge on their hands.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, April 8, 2015 - 10:52
All taxonomy terms: BYU Cougars, College Football, Big Ten, News
Path: /college-football/byu-cougars-2015-schedule-and-analysis
Body:

Bronco Mendenhall has never had a losing season at BYU.

 

He’s grown accustomed to winning, posting five seasons with at least 10 wins during his decade-long career in Provo.

 

But a move to independence has increased scheduling difficulty and has led to three straight 8-5 seasons.

 

The good news in 2015 is dual-threat quarterback Taysom Hill appears poised to return to form. The bad is one of the toughest schedules Mendenhall has faced since BYU left the Mountain West four years ago.

 

2015 BYU Cougars Schedule

 

Bye: Week 9, * - Fri.

 

WkOpp.DateLocation
1.Sept. 5Lincoln, NE
Sneaky Good Opener Generally, Week 1 is the best weekend of non-conference action nationally and this one in Lincoln is sneaky good. BYU and Nebraska have never played, but the blues and reds will look great on the turf of Memorial Stadium.
2.Sept. 12Provo, UT
These two western powers have played five times total, but will play for the fourth straight season this fall. BYU is just 1-4 in the series but the Cougars' lone win came the last time they met in Provo, 37-20 in 2013.
3.Sept. 19Los Angeles, CA
The Bruins and Cougs have met 10 times total with UCLA winning seven of these matchups. However, BYU has won the past two meetings (2007-08), including a 59-0 drubbing the last time they met. The Cougars are 1-3 all-time in Pasadena against the Bruins.
4.Sept. 26Ann Arbor, MI
Remember When? BYU fans shouldn't have any trouble remembering the only meeting between the Cougars and Wolverines. BYU topped Michigan 24-17 in the 1984 Holiday Bowl en route to a 13-0 record and the program's only national championship.
5.Oct. 2*Provo, UT
The Cougars topped the Huskies 35-10 in last season's opener in Connecticut in the first-ever meeting between the two programs. UConn will attempt to exact revenge in Provo this time around.
6.Oct. 10Provo, UT
East Carolina is replacing a lot of talent but has been a solid program for years and will be a tough out. This marks the first-ever meeting between these two programs, which are separated by 2,235 miles.
7.Oct. 17Provo, UT
QB Showcase Much like ECU, Tommy Tuberville and the Bearcats are always a tough out and should be once again in 2015. This game in particular could be must-see TV because of the potential Taysom Hill/Gunner Kiel quarterback duel.
8.Oct. 24Provo, UT
What can you really say about a historic first-ever meeting between BYU and... Wagner?
10.Nov. 7San Jose, CA
A team BYU is pretty familiar with, Mendenhall has split two career meetings with San Jose State. These teams have squared off 16 times with BYU winning 10. However, the Spartans won the last time they met — which also was in San Jose.
11.Nov. 14Kansas City, MO

Not-so Neutral Field BYU will face Missouri at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City in a "neutral field" tilt. The crowd figures to favor the black and gold in what should be a great late-season meeting. The only other time these two teams have met on the field was in the 1983 Holiday Bowl, which BYU won 21-17.

11.Nov. 21Provo, UT
BYU and Fresno have played each other nine times, but the last meeting was back in 1998. This has been a high-scoring affair with the loser posting at least 21 points in five straight matchups.
13.Nov. 28Logan, UT
Rivalry Game The heated in-state rivalry game will cap Mendenhall's 11th season in Provo. He's 6-2 all-time against the Aggies, but saw his team fall 35-20 last year in Provo. BYU leads the series 46-35-3.
Teaser:
BYU Cougars 2015 Schedule and Analysis
Post date: Wednesday, April 8, 2015 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: Phil Mickelson, Golf
Path: /golf/golf-experts-poll-will-phil-mickelson-ever-win-another-major
Body:
Athlon polled a number of golf insiders on a variety of topics, but we start with this question: Are Tiger's problems primarily physical or mental? - See more at: http://athlonsports.com/golf/golf-experts-poll-are-tigers-problems-mental-or-physical#sthash.ovLdgVAh.dpuf
Athlon polled a number of golf insiders on a variety of topics, but we start with this question: Are Tiger's problems primarily physical or mental? - See more at: http://athlonsports.com/golf/golf-experts-poll-are-tigers-problems-mental-or-physical#sthash.ovLdgVAh.dpuf

After a winless 2014, Lefty's game seems to be rounding into shape just in time for The Masters, where he's at his most comfortable. But major championship wins are hard to come by for guys in their mid-40s who are also battling arthritis. The heart says yes, he can win another one, but what do smart observers of the game say? We asked some.

 

Participants

Jay Coffin, Editorial Director, Golf Channel, @JayCoffinGC

Jason Deegan, Senior Staff Writer and Golf Advisor with The Golf Channel online, @WorldGolfer

Steve DiMeglio, USA Today, @Steve_DiMeglio

Bob Harig, ESPN, @BobHarig

Dan Jenkins, Author, Golf Digest Contributor, @danjenkinsgd

Garrett Johnston, Golf journalist, @JohnstonGarrett

Dave Kindred, Golf Digest, Sports on Earth Contributor, @DaveKindred

Alex Miceli, Senior Writer, Golfweek, @alexmiceli

Dan O’Neill, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Dave Shedloski, Golf World, @DaveShedloski

Art Spander, Global Golf Post, @artspander

 

Will Phil Mickelson ever win another major?
Yes          6
No           4

Maybe     1

Comments

• Yes, the U.S. Open this year.

 

• Augusta National suits lefties, and if he has one magical putting week, he can win another green jacket.

 

• He has one more in him.

 

• Yes, Mickelson has given some back that he should’ve won.  Mickelson will for the next 3 to 5 years always have a chance at Augusta, but the other majors are close to out of his reach.

 

• He has a better chance to win one than Tiger, but he’s also older and history shows you don’t win majors at Phil’s age.

 

• His British Open performance at Muirfield tells me never to count him out, but it’s getting late early.

 

• Phil came close once more at the PGA last year, but couldn't hold on. That has happened more times than not when he was been in contention. He's at an age now where it seems unlikely he will be in contention many more times.

 

• No. He's 45.

 

• The window has closed greatly on Phil, but the view here is he's got one more in him.

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, April 8, 2015 - 10:26
All taxonomy terms: Golf
Path: /golf/tiger-woods-injury-history-visual-break-down
Body:

Tiger Woods has suffered an alarming litany of injuries, to the point that we have to wonder whether he’ll ever be truly 100% healthy again. As he prepares for this year’s Masters, we look back on the “break down” of this iconic athlete. 

 

(Click image to enlarge)

Tiger Woods Injuries

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, April 8, 2015 - 10:16
All taxonomy terms: Rory McIlroy, Golf
Path: /golf/top-30-golfers-2015-majors-no-1-rory-mcilroy
Body:

They’re the cream of the major championship crop, circa 2015 — the Athlon Major Championship Dream Team. Leading up to The Masters, we'll be unveiling Athlon Sports’ 30 players to watch for majors season, with commentary on each from the Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee.

 

No. 1: Rory McIlroy

 

Born: May 4, 1989, Holywood, Northern Ireland | Career PGA Tour Wins: 9 (10 on European Tour) | 2014 Wins (Worldwide): 4 | 2014 Earnings (PGA Tour): $6,883,785 (1st) World Ranking: 1

2014 Key Stats:

      Strokes Gained, Total: 2.266 (1st)

      Driving Distance: 310.5 (3rd)

      Par-4 Performance: -39 (1st)

 

Brandel Chamblee's Take

McIlroy, should he win The Masters at age 25, will be the second-youngest player to complete the career grand slam. Of the five men who have won all four of golf’s major championships, Ben Hogan completed the slam when he was 40, Gene Sarazen was 33, Gary Player was 29 and Jack Nicklaus was 26. Only Tiger Woods, who completed the slam at 24, did so at a younger age then what Rory is now. Of those five, three players — Hogan Nicklaus and Woods — completed the slam by winning the Open Championship; Player did so at the U.S. Open in 1965; and only Sarazen completed the slam at The Masters when he won in 1935. Unlike the other majors venues, which rotate from year to year, Augusta National is the home of the Masters, so Rory has the rest of his career to conquer one course and join the most exclusive club in golf.

But there is a reason he has not won The Masters. Rory is a streaky putter but not a great one, and in particular he struggles on really fast greens, which are the distinguishing feature at Augusta National. In the last four years he has averaged more than 30 putts per round at Augusta, and his 125 putts en route to an eighth-place finish in 2014 equaled his worst performance on the greens all year, matched only at the U.S. Open. Nor is Rory great around the greens; he finished 88th and 145th in scrambling the last two years, respectively, and invariably even the best ball-strikers miss upwards of 20 greens through four rounds in vying for the Green Jacket.

But the primary reason why Rory is likely to struggle in getting the fourth leg of the career Grand Slam is his tendency to miss left, and there is a severe penalty for missing left at Augusta. An even greater penalty, though a less obvious one, comes with the timidity that plagues a player who is prone to left misses. At Augusta it’s not the hook that kills you — it’s the fear of hitting the hook. This fear shows up on the par 5s, where Rory made five bogeys last year and played them even par, eight shots worse than winner Bubba Watson, who finished eight shots ahead of Rory for the tournament. It is no coincidence that Ben Hogan didn’t win the Masters until he was 40 years old — a few years after he learned to play the game without the fear of hitting a hook.

The Masters aside, 2015 will be another great year for McIlroy, who has done what everyone is trying to do from a fitness standpoint. In increasing his flexibility and strength, his swing has gotten longer and faster. As a result, Rory has improved his clubbed speed every year he’s been on tour, making his driver one of the most lethal weapons in golf — which, combined with his mile high irons, makes him a threat to accumulate wins at a rate reminiscent of Tiger Woods in his prime.

Major Championship Résumé
Starts: 25
Wins: 4

2014 Performance:
Masters - T8
U.S. Open - T23
British Open - 1
PGA Championship - 1

Best Career Finishes: 
Masters - T8 (2014)
U.S. Open - 1 (2011)
British Open - 1 (2014)
PGA Championship - 1 (2012, '14)
Top-10 Finishes: 10
Top-25 Finishes: 15
Missed Cuts: 4

 

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

 

Athlon's 2015 Golf annual provides in-depth previews of this year's four majors, including the top 30 players to watch this season. One of these elite players, Billy Horschel, also takes you tee to green with full-swing instruction and short game essentials. BUY IT NOW.

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, April 8, 2015 - 10:12
Path: /college-football/penn-state-nittany-lions-2015-schedule-and-analysis
Body:

James Franklin enters his second season in Happy Valley with his work cut out for him.

 

The quarterback position is settled and the defense should be in good shape under star coordinator Bob Shoop, but his offensive line and running game are still major question marks.

 

There is a lot to like about this team considering it claims one of the best rosters in the league, but it won just twice in Big Ten play last year and is facing another brutal East Division schedule.

 

Related: 2015 Penn State Spring Football Preview

 

2015 Penn State Nittany Lions Schedule

 

Bye: Week 11

 

WkOpp.DateLocation
1.Sept. 5Philadelphia, PA
The in-state rivalry has been played 43 times and the Owls haven't won since 1941. Penn State owns a 39-3-1 record all-time, but this Matt Rhule-coached Temple team is much better than Phily has seen in years.
2.Sept. 12State College, PA
These two met in 1900 (Buffalo won) and 2007 (Penn State won) but that's it. Look for Penn State to try to get the ground game going against a team that ranked 78th against the run a year ago.
3.Sept. 19State College, PA
The sneaky good Northeast and now Big Ten East rivalry has been played 25 times with PSU winning 23 of the meetings. This was an instant classic a year ago after a Christian Hackenberg rally. Rutgers last defeated the Lions in 1988.
4.Sept. 26State College, PA
The Aztecs will be a long way from home — try 2,541 miles — when they travel to State College for the first time in school history. In fact, this will be the first-ever meeting between the two programs.
5.Oct. 3State College, PA
One team runs the ball like crazy and the other one can't run it at all. This long-time East Coast matchup has been played 25 times dating back to the 1800s. Penn State is 13-10-2 all-time against the Knights but has won every meeting (9-0) since 1966.
6.Oct. 10State College, PA
Penn State has dominated this series since moving to the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions are 17-1 all-time again the Hoosiers, with the only loss coming two years ago in Bloomington.
7.Oct. 17Columbus, OH
Eastern Heavyweights The Buckeyes' toughest challenge en route to their national title last season was an overtime win over PSU in Happy Valley. Ohio State holds the series lead 17-13, has won three straight and five of the last six. However, Penn State is actually 2-2 in its last four trips to Columbus.
8.Oct. 24Baltimore, MD
Budding Rivalry Much like Rutgers, this rivalry should continue to blossom as James Franklin looks to recruit the DC/Maryland corridor. Until last year's 20-19 win, the Terps hadn't beaten Penn State since 1961. The Lions brag a 35-2-1 all-time mark against Maryland.
9.Oct. 31State College, PA
Revenge Game I A shocking late-season loss (16-14) in Champaign helped get Illinois to a bowl. Penn State can't afford to lose this game again in 2015. The Lions are 17-5 vs. the Illini all-time, including 8-1 at home.
10.Nov. 7Evanston, IL
Revenge Game II Losing at home to a team that failed to make a bowl game was no way to start Big Ten play a year ago for Franklin. Look for Penn State to exact revenge in Evanston this year — a place where the Lions have won three straight.
12.Nov. 21State College, PA
Should Penn State win this rivalry game and survive most of the Big Ten schedule, they could be in a good spot heading into the final weekend. Michigan is one of only a few B1G programs with an all-time winning record against Penn State (11-7). Penn State won 18-13 in Ann Arbor a year ago.
13.Nov. 28East Lansing, MI
Land Grant Trophy One of the most bizarre rivalry trophies in college football is on the line when these two meet in the regular-season finale. Additionally, grasp of the all-time series record also hangs in the balance, as the two have split 29 previous meetings (14-14-1).

 

Listen to the Cover 2 Podcast: Early 2015 Big Ten Preview



Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher

Teaser:
Penn State Nittany Lions 2015 Schedule and Analysis
Post date: Wednesday, April 8, 2015 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: NBA
Path: /nba/ranking-nbas-best-kentucky-alumni
Body:

On the heels of Kentucky’s nearly perfect season, we rank the school's best alumni now in the NBA.

 

13. Tayshaun Prince, Detroit Pistons

One of only two players on this list with a championship ring, Prince was once of the very best wing defenders in basketball. Now, he’s a 35-year-old journeyman with a bank of knowledge that any locker room would be lucky to have.

 

12. Patrick Patterson, Toronto Raptors

Patterson has found a home in Toronto after bouncing around with with the Houston Rockets, Sacramento Kings and the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the D-League. This season, the big man has been an invaluable defense-stretcher with his 37 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

 

11. Jodie Meeks, Detroit Pistons

The Pistons’ sharp shooter earned himself a $19 million contract with Detroit over the summer—one that turned some heads—by having an excellent season with the Los Angeles Lakers. Now the Nashville native is a key piece of a Pistons squad with a promising future.

 

10. Enes Kanter, Oklahoma City Thunder

Enes Kanter loves playing for the Thunder. After languishing in the thick of a log-jammed Utah Jazz front court, his trade to OKC has seen him develop uncanny chemistry with Russell Westbrook, and become one of the most productive down-low scorers in the league. Look for Kanter, an upcoming free agent, to lobby for a longer stay in Oklahoma.

 

9. Terrence Jones, Houston Rockets

The Rockets’ young power forward has struggled with some scary health issues, including a collapsed lung and some recurring nerve problems. But the former NCAA champion (with the 2012 iteration of the Wildcats) is a freewheeling terror when he’s healthy, and a big X-factor for this title-contending Houston squad.

 

8. Brandon Knight, Phoenix Suns

If Knight has indeed found a landing place in Arizona—after a mid-season trade from the Milwaukee Bucks—it’s a fitting one. Alongside fellow Wildcat of the past Eric Bledsoe, he could make up one half of one of the league’s most exciting young backcourt duos.

 

7. Rajon Rondo, Dallas Mavericks

Rajon Rondo certainly isn’t what he used to be. The only other NBA champion on this list (with the 2007-08 Boston Celtics), he’s seen a huge decline in his scoring ability, including a dip in free-throw percentage that’s frankly hard to believe. But Rajon still possesses an elite gamer gene, and could surprise some people anew in a Mavericks postseason run this May.

 

6. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Hornets

One of the NBA’s best perimeter defenders, Kidd-Gilchrist has failed to reach the proper level of attention from fans due to a mismatched Hornets roster that’s too short on shooting to do much winning at all. Perhaps one day, though, MKG’s tenacious efforts will find a better context.

 

5. Nerlens Noel, Philadelphia 76ers

The Sixers are widely criticized for eschewing functional talent in the name of future, asset-based goods, but in Noel they have themselves a blooming winner. As a rookie, he’s already one of the fiercest rim protectors in the NBA, with terrific hair to boot.

 

4. Eric Bledsoe, Phoenix Suns

Bledsoe, like Kidd-Gilchrist, has seen his star fade some for reasons beyond his control. The off-court mayhem that has been the Suns’ season has robbed us of a playoff run from Phoenix and “Mini LeBron,” the full-court terror that is Bledsoe. Don’t be surprised to see him shutting down other elite point guards in the years to come, though.

 

3. DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings

DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins is the most compelling big man talent in the NBA. His mixture of bullying post moves, deft footwork and outside shooting makes him essentially unguardable when he’s on. If Sacramento can provide him with some coaching and roster consistency… watch out.

 

2. John Wall, Washington Wizards

Wall has developed into more than an All-Star in his fifth season. The Wizards’ superstar is one of the very best players in the game, matching his speed and instincts with a new court vision that takes Washington to another level at times. If his team decides to can his underachieving coach and replace him (maybe with John Calipari?), Wall will quickly invade even more living rooms.

 

1. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans

The Brow is the future of the NBA—but he’s the present, too. As a 22-year-old, Davis is already a bonafide MVP candidate, reaching the rare air of a 30.0 player efficiency rating in just his third season. There’s truly no precedent for how good this guy can get.

 

— John Wilmes
@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, April 7, 2015 - 15:34
Path: /nfl/can-dominique-easley-fill-key-holes-patriots-defense
Body:

When the New England Patriots took Dominique Easley in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, they knew they were getting a player coming off back-to-back ACL tears, but they also hoped they were taking a player with incredible explosion off the line and the ability to generate instant disruption up front.

 

A torn ACL injury used to signify a major blow to a player's career, but with modern medicine and rehabilitation techniques, an ACL tear can now be little more than a 10-month bump in the road. However, it can often take a full year after the injury for a player to become completely confident in their rebuilt joint.

 

The Pats are hoping Easley's confidence in both knees has returned so he can wreak some pass-rushing havoc.

 

Easley showed some flashes in his rookie season, notably moving to defensive end after the Pats lost Chandler Jones to injury. Most saw Easley as solely a defensive tackle until that point, but in limited action at defensive end he showed an ability to not only set the edge, but also play on his feet, see below.

 

 photo easley_zpsdklmkqif.gif
(GIF courtesy of NFL.com's Game Rewind)

 

The rookie played 261 snaps, appearing in 11 games with two starts and logging nine tackles, one sack and one interception.

 

Easley was shut down near the end of the 2014 season so he could focus on getting fully healthy for the 2015 season. A number of other minor injuries seemed to catch up with him, including a separated shoulder, while his knee seemed to continue to be an issue and his explosion never quite returned.

 

The lack of interior pass rush has long been a problem for the Patriots, but some of it is related to the evolution of their scheme. Last decade, the Pats primarily played a 3-4 defense, with their front three defensive linemen two-gapping and allowing the four linebackers to make plays.

 

As the game evolved, the Pats slowly transitioned to playing the majority of snaps in sub packages, but because they were playing early downs they couldn't just sell out to a full pass-rushing nickel front.

 

That's why Vince Wilfork became the key player for New England's defense, he alone was a major run deterrent, as the Pats shifted to more of a 2-5 "double nose" front.

 

However, that would come at the expense of interior pass rush, a vital element against the top quarterbacks in the league since they get the ball out before any edge rusher can get to them. The two big defensive tackles never generated enough push, as they were being asked to primarily hold their ground.

 

On clear passing downs, the Pats would employ a defensive end or more traditional 4-3 upfield defensive tackle next to Wilfork, but few caused consistent disruption that would collapse the pocket. Mike Wright's career ended due to concussions and promising young player Myron Pryor had his career derailed by injuries.

 

As a result the Patriots' pass rush hasn't been one with enough athletes to win one-on-one matchups and get to the quarterback.

 

This brings us back to Easley, who showed the kind of explosion in college that could win instantly off the snap. 

 

The Patriots need this presence from their defense more than ever this season. With Wilfork departing to Houston there's a big hole in the defensive tackle rotation. And with Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner gone from the secondary, it only puts more pressure on the front seven to attack quarterbacks.

 

Easley will not replace the three-down, two-gapping effectiveness of Wilfork, however he's arguably the most talented defensive tackle on the roster now. Could he become the kind of weapon for Bill Belichick in the passing game that Wilfork was against the run? The answer just might determine the ceiling of this next incarnation of the Patriots' defense.

 

Initial signs this offseason are that Easley will be a full go by the time training camp rolls around. If the burst off the snap that he showed in college returns, Easley could be due for a breakout year, while becoming a key pass-rushing piece in a defense that desperately needs it.

 

— Written by Mike Dussault, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and writer/editor of PatsPropaganda.com (@PatsPropaganda), a comprehensive blog covering the New England Patriots.

 

(Easley photo courtesy of New England Patriots Web site, www.patriots.com)

Teaser:
They key player to replacing Wilfork, Revis and Browner might already be on New England's roster.
Post date: Tuesday, April 7, 2015 - 15:15

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