1.5.15: It’s 2015

Today we begin a new year of SQ. We want to take a moment to remember ESPN anchor Stuart Scott, who passed away at the age of 49 over the weekend. He fought a brave battle against cancer for the past several years and was truly an inspiration to us all. He was one of the most innovative and fun ESPN anchors and brought joy to the sports world with his creative catch phrases and commentary. When honored with the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance and Courage in July of 2014 at the ESPYs, he gave a beautiful acceptance speech: “When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.” We send our thoughts and prayers to his family and friends and encourage you to watch many of the touching tributes in remembrance of Stuart Scott.

 

QUIPS FOR THIS WEEK

NFL

In the AFC, the Baltimore Ravens defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday night 30-17 to advance to the next round. They will play the New England Patriots next. On Sunday, the Indianapolis Colts easily defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 26-10 to advance as well. They will face the Denver Broncos next weekend.

In the NFC, the Carolina Panthers took down the Arizona Cardinals 27-16 on Saturday to move on to play the defending Super Bowl Champs — the Seattle Seahawks. And on Sunday, the the Dallas Cowboys made things interesting by overcoming a poor start to defeat the Detroit Lions 24-20.  They will play the Green Bay Packers next weekend.

Here is the official schedule of the divisional rounds:

Saturday, January 10:

  • Baltimore at New England – 4:45pm – NBC (AFC)
  • Carolina at Seattle – 8:15pm – FOX (NFC)

Sunday, January 11:

  • Dallas at Green Bay – 1:05pm – FOX (NFC)
  • Indianapolis at Denver – 4:40pm – CBS (AFC)

College Football

Oregon will meet Ohio State in college football’s National  Championship game on Tuesday, January 12th. How did they get there?

Turns out this whole college football playoff thing is kind of exciting. On Thursday, the first annual college football playoff semi-finals kicked off with two big games between #2 Oregon vs. #3 Florida State in the Rose Bowl followed by #1 Alabama vs. #4 Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl.

In the first game, Oregon dominated (and we mean dominated) Florida State to win the game 59-20. Major takeaways: the PAC 12 might be better than people thought (or at least Oregon look great), and Marcus Mariota showed that he was the much better Heisman-winning quarterback in the game, in comparison to Jameis Winston, who didn’t have his best game. Ducks move on.

Without a doubt, the second game was the show of the night. Alabama got off to a hot start until Ohio State showed major heart in an comeback thriller of a game that came down to the wire. Of note, Ohio State was playing their third string quarterback Cardale Jones due to injuries and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer won the battle of the legendary coaches against Alabama’s Nick Saban.  Oh, and Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott put on a show with a 230 yard performance (also a Sugar Bowl record). Buckeyes advance.

To recap: Oregon will play Ohio State in the first ever college football National Championship game in Arlington, Texas on Tuesday, January 12th. We can’t wait.

NBA

What’s cooler than getting your first dunk of the season? Making an awesome one. Check out the Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry’s breakaway slam from Friday night. The Warriors are still in the lead for the NBA’s best record, but many teams are catching up cc: Portland Trail Blazers and the Memphis Grizzlies. In the East, the Atlanta Hawks, Toronto Raptors, and the Chicago Bulls are all neck and neck towards the top of the conference. It’s still early (I know we say this often … it’s a long season), but some fun games to check out this week include the Golden State Warriors vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder on the 5th, and the Golden State Warriors against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday the 9th.

Speaking of the Cleveland Cavaliers, there has been more chatter about why they are struggling this season. Our view: it’s only year 1, and it takes time to develop team chemistry. More than that, they have a first year coach, have  been dealing with injuries to key players, and it’s only January. To make matters worse,  LeBron James announced he will be out for 2 weeks to recover from knee and back injuries. With that said, the narrative is interesting, and if the team doesn’t turn it around by the All-Star break, you never know what changes might be made. Stay tuned!

Rajon Rondo returned to Boston, as his new team (Dallas Mavericks) faced his old team (Boston Celtics). Rondo was dominant in the return, dropping 29 points in the Dallas win. The Celtics were classy in defeat and shared an emotional tribute video honoring Rondo and his time in Boston during the game. Rondo spoke about his love for the Boston fans before and after the game, showing that the appreciation was mutual.

Oh and LA Laker Kobe Bryant shared his thoughts on AAU basketball.

College Basketball

College basketball conference play is off to a sizzling start. Over the weekend, #2 Duke looked dominant in a win over Boston College, #3 UVA overcame a tough Miami team to earn their 2OT win, Seton Hall upset #6 Villanova in OT, #5 Louisville rallied past Wake Forest, and #13 Kansas fought back to defeat UNLV.

On Saturday #14 Notre Dame beat Georgia Tech in 2OT, but the real story was Jerian Grant’s amazing jump out the gym dunk that is potentially the best slam of the year thus far.

In terms of rankings, Kentucky is holding strong at #1 with Duke holding steady in the #2 spot. Time will tell if conference play leads to greater challenges for all of the remaining undefeated teams.

There are some good games to tune in for this week, including: #6 Villanova at #15 St. John’s on Tuesday, #13 Kansas at #22 Baylor on Wednesday, and #5 Louisville at #19 UNC on Saturday.

Other

Talk about a Catch 22 — or something like that. Real Madrid’s loss to Valencia 2-1 ended their winning streak of 22 games and their hope of reaching the world record of 24 wins in a row. 

Jaromir Jagr collected a Hat Trick for ages. No, really. At 42, he collected his 15th hat trick as his Philadelphia Flyers defeated the New Jersey Devils 5-2 on Saturday night to become the oldest hockey player to get a hat trick (3 goals) moving past hockey legend Gordie Howe.

And the light heavyweight defense UFC championship title goes to… Jon Jones, who defeated Daniel Cormier on Saturday night.

JUST FOR FUN

You never know who’s watching…
The strangest fans of 2014, caught in the act!

STORIES FOR INSIGHTS, COOL FACTOR + DEBATE

Pay Attention
What to look for when you’re watching Oregon vs. Ohio State
The game will be pretty balanced, but there are some players and plays that will stand out

Why are fans still at the Garden?
Even though the Knicks aren’t performing, the seats are still filling up
Is it the celebrity sightings, team loyalty, or cheap ticket prices?

Making an impact
espnW’s Impact 25
Women who broke down barriers, achieved great things, and paved the way for others in 2014

Laying down the law
What does Jim Harbaugh’s lawyer have to say?
Meet Jeffrey Klein, a man whose job is to handle employment negotiations in the sports world

 

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