Edition 4.28.14

Listen to this: Magic Johnson spoke with the crew at NBA Countdown about LA Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling…

 

QUIPS FOR THIS WEEK

NBA

During one of the most celebrated times of the NBA season, it was a terribly sad weekend for the NBA. Donald Sterling, the owner of the LA Clippers, was allegedly recorded (in a tape obtained by TMZ) saying some incredibly disgusting and racist comments in a conversation with his girlfriend.  Players, coaches, the media, and even President Obama have condemned Sterling for the disturbing remarks, and Commissioner Adam Silver has vowed that the NBA will act quickly after an immediate investigation. Sterling has a history of racist and discriminatory behavior, but since he’s an owner of a team, it’s unclear how far the NBA can go in punishing him. Although the Clippers players considered boycotting today’s game against the Golden State Warriors in the Bay area, they ended up choosing to play the game and put their warm up jerseys on inside-out to cover up the Clippers logo in a silent protest. Understandably, the Clippers team was distracted during today’s game, and the Warriors won convincingly. The series is now tied at 2-2 and they play again on Thursday in LA for Game 5. Expect action from the NBA leadership before the game. There is no room for Sterling’s prejudiced attitudes and racist behavior in the NBA.

Outside of the Sterling situation, there were also quite a few playoff games this weekend. In the Western Conference, the Dallas Mavericks defeated the San Antonio Spurs in Dallas courtesy of Vince Carter’s game-winning three. Don’t call it a comeback, but VINSANITY is back! The Mavericks are now up 2-1 on the Spurs and Game 4 will take place Monday night in Dallas. The Memphis Grizzlies lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder at home in overtime and the series is now tied at 2-2. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have both made some amazing plays in this series, but backup point guard Reggie Jackson was the star of the show for the Thunder on Saturday. The dominating Grizzlies will head back to Oklahoma City for game 5 on Tuesday night. The Portland Trail Blazers beat the Houston Rockets in another great overtime game on Sunday night to go 3-1 in the series.

In the Eastern Conference, the games were also quite interesting. The Miami Heat continue to cruise through against the Charlotte Bobcats and are now up 3-0 in the series. They will play Game 4 Monday night in Charlotte before heading back to Miami for Game 5. Oh yeah, and LeBron James had an awesome dunk during the game. The Washington Wizards defeated the Chicago Bulls at home to go up 3-1 in the series. The Wiz Kids will head back to Chicago for Game 5 on Tuesday night. The Indiana Pacers weathered another storm in Atlanta and beat the Hawks to tie the series at 2-2. The Pacers are looking to gain back some of their early season success and rhythm for Game 5 in Indiana on Monday. Finally, the Toronto Raptors defeated the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday night to tie up the series at 2-2. The two teams will face off again on Wednesday for Game 5. Talk about a competitive opening round!

The search for the next coach of the New York Knicks continues. The Knicks fired Coach Mike Woodson early last week and the speculation over who will take over the job continues to grow. One candidate, Steve Kerr, had dinner with Phil Jackson to discuss the vacant coaching position. Time will tell.

The NBA Playoffs continue this week — get ready for more exciting games to watch!

MLB

Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals is back in the quips this week. The star player was put on the DL (Disabled List) due to a sprained thumb injury. The Nationals are hoping for a quick recovery and Harper expects to be back in action soon. The Nationals lost to the San Diego Padres on Sunday, but overall they continue to do well so far this season.

Jose Abreu is not your average rookie. The star first baseman is off to a hot start for the Chicago White Sox and set another rookie record in RBIs during their win against the Tampa Bay Rays. In his first month in the MLB, the rookie has set a record in RBI and in homeruns as the White Sox continue to play pretty well. Additionally, in the same White Sox game, rookie Scott Carroll won his first game as pitcher in his debut in the major leagues.

In one of the most anticipated games of the weekend, the LA Angels faced off against the New York Yankees on Sunday night in New York. This marks the first match-up between the Yankees new star pitcher Masahiro Tanaka and the talented home-run hitting Angels including Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. So, what happened? The Yankees would go on to win 3-2.

NHL

The Chicago Blackhawks defeated the St. Louis Blues to win not only Game 6, but the entire series at 4-2. The Blackhawks came back from losing the first 2 games to win 4 straight. They will face the winner of the series between the Colorado Avalanche and the Minnesota Wild. Nathan MacKinnon and the Avalanche currently have a 3-2 lead in the series and Game 6 kicks off on Monday night.

Another series wrapped up this weekend as well. The Boston Bruins beat the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday and closed out the series 4-1. They will face the Montreal Canadians who defeated the the Tampa Bay Lightning 4 straight times to win the series, in the next round.

The Washington Capitals fired both their coach Adam Coates and General Manager George McPhee on Saturday. This year marked the first time the Caps have not qualified for the playoffs since 2007. It’s unclear who the Caps will hire next.

The NHL playoffs continue this week with a number of games in the opening round series. Check out the schedule here.

Other

Some of college basketball’s most talented stars are staying in school. That’s right, twins Aaron and Andrew Harrison have decided to return to Kentucky for their sophomore season.  They will be joined by a few current teammates and a loaded recruiting class. On the flipside, Michigan’s Mitch McGary has declared for the NBA Draft. McGary sat out most of this season with a back injury and would have had to sit out for the entire next season due to a NCAA drug policy violation had he not entered the draft.

The Liverpool win streak is over at 11 games. What happened on the 12th? Chelsea came to town and defeated the Liverpool squad 2-0 on their turf.  This allowed Manchester City to gain on the leaders, after their 2-0 win at Crystal Palace. As if this were possible, the Champion League just got that much more exciting as the season winds down. The title race is on!

The NFL released their schedule earlier this week, much to the delight of football fans across the country. As always, there will be a number of headliners. The season kicks off when the Green Bay Packers travel to the last year’s Super Bowl champs, the Seattle Seahawks, on Thursday, September 4th.

 

JUST FOR FUN

Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski take on the Kentucky Derby
They won over the crowds with their figure skating and fashion commentary at Sochi, and now they’re back for more

STORIES FOR INSIGHTS, COOL FACTOR + DEBATE

Legally Speaking
Can the NBA take legal action against Donald Sterling?

Sports Illustrated breaks down the legal situation between the NBA and Donald Sterling

Change of Heart 
UCLA’s go-to player, Jordan Adams, decides to enter the NBA Draft
What does this mean for Steve Alford and the rest of the team?

Influencers
Who are the 5 athletes in the 2014 TIME 100?
They’re inspirational leaders that bring cultures together

Upcoming Litigation
The Buffalo Jills have suspended operations
5 members of the Buffalo Jills cheerleading squad have filed a lawsuit against the Buffalo Bills

D-League?
Troy Vincent of the NFL says they need a developmental league
He believes it will keep the pipeline of talent flowing, as well as help the NFL to grow

The Shot Doc
The man behind the Spurs’ offense
How does one of the best offenses in the NBA get better? The doctor is in.

Edition 4.21.14

It’s going down…I’m yelling playoffs! Whether you prefer the NBA or the NHL (or both!), ’tis the season for post-season play. Enjoy!

 

QUIPS FOR THIS WEEK

Boston Strong

There are many emotions going into today’s Boston Marathon. People within and outside of Boston will be thinking of the Boston Strong spirit in their hearts. It will be a tough day, but it will also be a celebration of life and how far we’ve come in a year. Keep an eye out for each of the amazing competitors — from the expected favorites on the men‘s and women’s side to the unexpected heroes from last year’s race who are back at it again. We’ll all be with you today, Boston.

NBA

It was quite an opening weekend in NBA playoff land. In the Eastern Conference, the #2 seeded Miami Heat cruised past the #7 seeded Charlotte Bobcats on Sunday afternoon in Game 1 at home. The Heat were at full strength with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade playing with no minute restrictions. The #3 seeded Toronto Raptors lost on Saturday to the the #6 seeded Brooklyn Nets after some late game heroics by former Celtics-turned-Nets star Paul Pierce. Also on Saturday, the #1 seeded Indiana Pacers fell to the #8 seeded Atlanta Hawks by 8 on their home court in Indianapolis. The Pacers are going to need to step it up in a major way if they want to avoid a first round upset to Jeff Teague and the Hawks. Luckily for them, it’s a long series, and that was only Game 1. Finally, on Sunday, the #5 seeded Wiz Kids aka the Washington Wizards went into Chicago and defeated the #4 seeded Chicago Bulls in a match-up that’s surely going to produce some fun games. Eastern Conference playoffs continue this week.

This weekend offered some equally awesome Game 1s in the Western Conference opening series. The #6 seeded Golden State Warriors and the #2 seeded LA Clippers kicked things off on Saturday afternoon in a great game that concluded with the Dubs winning a close game 1 at the Clips home turf. The Warriors are playing without center Andrew Bogut and still managed to get the big win, although the NBA did admit there was a missed foul call on the Clippers’ Chris Paul. Also on Saturday, the #2 seeded Oklahoma City Thunder were back in action at home against the #7 seeed Memphis Grizzlies. The Thunder look to be back at full-strength with star point guard Russell Westbrook looking as healthy as ever and leading MVP candidate Kevin Durant continuing to put on a show night after night. After a strong start this game got closer than expected but the Thunder pulled out the victory in game 1. On Sunday, the #1 seeded San Antonio Spurs pulled away to get a big first round win against the #8 seeded Dallas Mavericks at home. Finally, on Sunday night the #5 seeded Portland Trail Blazers faced off against the #4 seeded Houston Rockets with the Blazers getting the victory in Game 1 in overtime. The Blazer’s LaMarcus Aldridge fouled out with 46 points and 18 rebounds in the win.

San Antonio star Tim Duncan scored 27 points and played a great game in the Spurs’ win over Dallas, but the real star of the show was Coach Gregg Popovich. Coach Pop is not necessarily known for his friendly demeanor during in-game interviews, but he gave a wonderful one to Craig Sager Jr. during the 4th quarter. His dad, Craig Sager, is known for his sideline interviews during NBA games. He is currently undergoing treatment and will miss the NBA playoffs so his son filled in on Sunday afternoon. The entire NBA world has been sending him well wishes, including Coach Cop. #GetWellSager

So, what happens to the teams that are not participating in the NBA playoffs? Well, they are getting ready for the NBA Draft! And with the addition of some key entries, there is even more reason for teams to get excited. This past week Duke freshman Jabari Parker wrote a great essay explaining why he was leaving Duke and announced that he would enter the NBA Draft. Other recent kids who have declared for the draft include: Kentucky’s James Young, Kansas’s Andrew Wiggins, Kansas’s Joel Embiid, Arizona’s Aaron Gordon, Arizona’s Nick Johnson, Duke’s Rodney Hood among others and likely more to come.

The NBA Playoffs continue this week — get ready for a number of exciting Game 2s to watch!

MLB

The Boston Red Sox held a pre-game ceremony to honor families and victims of last year’s Boston Marathon tragedy. The team, fans, survivors and family all paid tribute in Fenway Park prior to beginning their game against the Baltimore Orioles, which they would go onto to win 6-5 on Sunday night.

Washington National’s outfielder Bryce Harper was pulled from Saturday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals at the end of the 6th inning. Although, Harper had been battling tight quad muscles throughout the week, rookie manager Matt Williams confirmed that he pulled the star from the game due to a “lack of hustle.” The Nats would go on to lose the game 4-3. Harper was back in the line-up on Sunday’s game against the Cards, which the Nats won 3-2.

Saturday’s game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays featured both highs and lows that had nothing to do with the final score. The Rays’ Evan Longoria hit his second home-run of the season to become the all-time leading home-run hitter in Tampa Bay history. On the other side, starting pitcher Ivan Nova of the Yankees left the game with elbow soreness that would sadly later be diagnosed as a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow. He will be placed on the DL. The Yankees-Rays series concluded Sunday, with the teams splitting 2-2 over the 4 games.

In all things brawls, Sunday afternoon featured one between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Carlos Gomez of the Brewers and Travis Snider of the Pirates were ejected from the game after a shouting match turned into a fight in the third inning. The Brewers would go on to win the game.

NHL

The Colorado Avalanche are up with a 2-0 lead in their first round playoff match-up against the Minnesota Wild. Thanks in large part to their 18-year-old star player, Nathan MacKinnon. MacKinnon has been nothing short of a wizard on the ice and has led the Avalanche to the strong start. Remember his name — this kid has got the “it” factor and wants to prove it. These teams face off again on Monday night.

The Columbus Blue Jackets defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins in double overtime on Saturday to get their first post-season victory in franchise history. Oh, and they also tied the series 1-1. The Boston Bruins defeated the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday to tie their series up at 1-1 as well.

Brent Seabrook of the Chicago Blackhawks has been suspended for 3 games for his hit against the St. Louis Blues’ David Backes. The hit took place in Game 2 of the Western Conference opening series match-up between the two teams. Backes had to leave the game after the injury, and Seabrook apologized. The Blues ended up winning the game in overtime, and now lead the series 2-0. The teams will be back on the ice on Monday night.

The NHL playoffs continue this week, with a number of games in the opening round series. Check out the schedule here.

Other

Another big win for Liverpool! The top futbol squad notched a 3-2 win over Norwich on Saturday. This victory matters for their standings in the Champions League because of a surprising home defeat this past Friday, as Chelsea fell to Sunderland. Can Liverpool hold on to win their first Premier League title in 24 years? Time will tell…

Michelle Wie won the LPGA Lotte Championship title on Sunday, her first title in women’s golf since 2010. Wie has had quite the successful season so far in 2014 — look for this victory to propel her to more success as the year continues.

Age is just a number. At 49, Bernard Hopkins defeated Beibut Shumenov in a split decision for the WBA belt title in boxing.

Lewis Hamilton scored a big racing victory at the China Grand Prix on Sunday. The successful driver out-dueled teammate Nico Rosberg for his third consecutive win for the Mercedes Team.

 

JUST FOR FUN

Why wear a hat if you could have one of these hair styles?
Some fans take it to the next level

Are you afraid of the dark? or at least haunted hotels?
Think twice about where you stay when you play the Oklahoma City Thunder

 

STORIES FOR INSIGHTS, COOL FACTOR + DEBATE

Off-Season Friendship
Hockey is the
only thing that matters
Long-time friends NHL stars Drew Doughty and Logan Couture only want to win during the playoffs

Serena Burla
Running saved her life
Talented marathoner Serena Burla has overcome amazing challenges to get back on her feet

Yasiel Puig
The story of his journey to LA
MLB star Yasiel Puig fled Cuba for Mexico before eventually landing with the LA Dodgers

Matt Barnes
The
LA Clippers’ X-Factor
Veteran player Matt Barnes may hold the key for a playoff run for the Clippers

Supplemental trouble
Nick Calathes is suspended for 20 games
The Memphis Grizzlies will be without guard Nick Calathes for this year’s NBA playoffs

Bite your tongue
Sometimes things are better left unsaid
Raptors GM Ujiri got a little caught up in energizing his fans at their rally before the Raptors/Nets game

Increased Projections
NBA salary cap is expected to increase more than already expected
Although the official numbers won’t be released until July, sources anticipate a nearly $5 million rise

 

Edition 4.14.14

What’s better for a professional golfer than winning the Masters? How about winning it twice? Bubba Watson picked up his second green jacket this past Sunday. Our favorite part: his sweet celebration with his adorable son.

 

QUIPS FOR THIS WEEK

Golf

Bubba Watson beat the field to win The Masters, one of professional golf’s biggest tournaments. Boy oh boy did he win in a dominating fashion. After leading the field for the first couple days, he went head-to-head with 20-year-old golfing sensation Jordan Spieth before building a commanding lead on the last nine holes. This was a big win for Bubba, who previously won the 2012 Masters and went without a major win in 2013. Congrats, Bubba!

NBA

The Indiana Pacers defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder, in one of the rare out-of-conference regular season games with major post-season implications. Lance Stevenson led the Pacers with his 5th triple double of the season to the important win, a victory that puts them in good position to lock up the #1 seed in the East over the Miami Heat. Although his streak of consecutive games over 25 points ended earlier this week, Kevin Durant played a great game and finished with 38 points. For all the talk that the Pacers have been slipping, they sure looked playoff ready on Sunday against one of the best in the West.

Welcome to the Club — the over 25,000 club. Brooklyn Nets star Paul Pierce became the 18th player in NBA history to score over 25,000 points in the NBA in a loss against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night. This is no small feat, and very impressive for the star who is playing in his first season with the Nets, after spending his entire career with the Boston Celtics. The surging Nets defeated the Orlando Magic on Sunday night and are currently in the 5th spot in the Eastern Conference heading into the playoffs.

While the playoff seeding for the NBA is still TBA, let’s talk about the big market teams that won’t be seeing any post-season action. For the first time in the history of the NBA, the LA Lakers, the Boston Celtics, and the New York Knicks will all miss the playoffs and head to the NBA draft lottery.

It may be the last week of the NBA regular season, but there are still a couple of games to watch. Check out the game between the Dallas Mavericks and the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday and then another great match-up between the LA Clippers and the Portland Trailblazers, also on Wednesday.

MLB

It may be early, but the Milwaukee Brewers just keep winning. After beating the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday for their 9th straight victory, the Brewers are now off to a 10-2 record in the beginning of the MLB season. One of the reasons the Brewers are doing so well– star player Carlos Gomez, who is off to a great start this year.

This weekend marked one of the first 2014 season battles between the Yanks and the Sox. The New York Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox on Thursday, lost on Friday, and won again on Saturday and Sunday despite Derek Jeter sitting out the last two games for the Yankees due to a tight quad muscle. What else happened for the rivals this weekend? Just a minor incorrect call based on the instant replay that MLB later acknowledged was a mistake after the game on Saturday.

Major League Baseball will celebrate the legacy of Jackie Robinson as the 67th anniversary of his first game with the Brooklyn Dodgers approaches this coming Tuesday. Teams from around the league will honor Jackie Robinson at their stadiums with a main tribute taking place at Yankee Stadium in a game where the Chicago Cubs will play the New York Yankees. Commissioner Bud Selig and members of Robinson’s family will be at the game for the celebration.

NHL

This year’s President’s Trophy belongs to the Boston Bruins. What exactly does that mean? Well, this means that the Bruins finished the season with the best overall record in professional hockey, making them the regular season champs. As we head into the NHL playoffs, the Bruins are looking tough and are one of the strongest teams headed into post-season play. The Bruins will face the Detroit Red Wings in the opening round of the playoffs, which kick off this Friday.

All 3 of the of NHL teams in California made the playoffs. The San Jose Sharks, the Anaheim Ducks, and the LA Kings will all represent the Western Conference when post-season play gets going later this week. The Ducks are at the top of the conference and will play the Dallas Stars in round 1. Time will tell who is the best in the West.

Where can I find out the schedule for the NHL playoffs?? Look no further than Team SQ.

Other

In all things English Premier League, Liverpool topped Manchester City in a exciting 3-2 victory. Both teams are competing for the league championship title.

Manny Pacquiao defeated Timothy Bradley in Las Vegas to win the WBO welterweight belt back in professional boxing. Pacquiao reclaimed the title that he lost in his first match-up against Bradley that featured a controversial ending. This time there was no doubt in who the victory belonged to.

Out in NASCAR-land, Kevin Harvick put on a dominant performance and won the NSCS race at Darlington. This is the second win of the season for Harvick.

In case you missed it, the University of Connecticut won both the men’s and women’s national championships in college basketball. As great as the men’s team was on their amazing run from a 7th seed to the NCAA Championship, the women’s team is arguably more impressive. It was another undefeated championship winning season, and their 9th NCAA Championship in women’s hoops. Talk about a dynasty. Oh yeah, and then they had a double parade — not much cooler than that.

 

JUST FOR FUN

Portlandia
The Portland Trail Blazers get a little basketball advice from their friends at Portlandia.

The ESPYs
Drake is hosting the ESPYs — this is what happened when he went in disguise to find out what people think

 

STORIES FOR INSIGHTS, COOL FACTOR + DEBATE

Derrick Gordon
UMass Basketball star is the first open gay male player in NCAA hoops
Love is love, and there’s a lot to love about Derrick Gordon’s inspiring words about coming out to the world

NBA Playoffs
Are changes coming to the league?
Commissioner Adam Silver discusses ways to improve the format in the NBA playoffs

Princess Lacey
Remembering an amazing girl
Celebrating the life of Lacey Holsworth who inspired the Michigan State basketball team and the whole country

Headed to Niagara Falls?
Are the Buffalo Bills relocating?
Their current stadium is falling apart, but they’re stuck until the end of the 2019 season

Boston Strong
The Boston Marathon, yesterday and today
Since 1987, the Marathon has embodied everything that is great about Boston — they give it their all for 26.2 miles

Gambling Hard
There’s nothing wrong with a swing and a miss
The Jacksonville Jaguars tried to steal one of the game’s best offensive linemen, and even though they didn’t get Alex Mack, they took a stand and made a point

 

 

Edition 4.7.14

It’s so hard to say goodbye to the 2014 college basketball season, but the time has come. Don’t forget to tune into the National Championship game, where Kentucky and Connecticut will fight to determine who really is the team of destiny. What are the odds that Aaron Harrison will hit another crazy big shot for Big Blue Nation? Don’t ask Michigan or Wisconsin fans…

 

QUIPS FOR THIS WEEK

College Basketball

Talk about teams of destiny and not your average Cinderellas. Connecticut (#7 seed in the East) will play Kentucky (#8 seed in the Mid West) for the 2014 National Championship in men’s college hoops on Monday night at 9:10 pm (CBS). It’s a match-up for the ages, as Kentucky’s team (full of seasoned youth) faces a good Connecticut team with a major star in Shabazz Napier. It would be the first NCAA title for Coach Kevin Ollie of Connecticut, or the second for Coach John Calipari of Kentucky, both of whom have done a great job overcoming tough seasons to reach the Championship game. What should we expect from the Championship? Anticipate a close game with strong performances from Kentucky’s Julius Randle and the Harrison twins, and UConn’s Shabazz Napier. It will be interesting to see which player will bring the x-factor for his squad, and if that will be enough for victory. What’s our prediction? While both teams might seemed destined for the title, we’re sticking with Kentucky — the young kids look unbeatable at times and have figured it out.

Speaking of the Championship game, how did both teams get there? Remember when Aaron Harrison hit that amazing game-winning shot against Michigan in the Elite Eight? Well, he did it again on Saturday night against WisconsinKentucky topped Wisconsin in a very close game (74-73), and after a pretty tight first half, the UConn Huskies pulled away and beat Florida, who had been riding a 30-game win streak. After people claimed UConn’s December victory over Florida was a fluke, they came out ready to go and made a statement in their 63-53 victory. With that, we’re on to the last game of the season, where we’ll find out if the Huskies or the Wildcats will be the last ones shining.

The women’s college hoops National Championship will kick off in Nashville on Tuesday night with the battle of the undefeated squads. Connecticut will play Notre Dame for the title and the perfect season. Both teams have been consistently impressive, so it’s only fitting that they play each other in the Championship game. Although the outcome could very well go either way, we’ve got UConn cutting down the nets for a second straight season.

That’s all, folks. The 2014 college basketball season is almost a wrap. Don’t worry, though — the 2015 pre-season starts now 🙂

NBA

The New York Knicks continue their quest for the elusive 8th spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs. After a big victory earlier in the week, they couldn’t quite muster up enough to beat LeBron James and the Miami Heat on Sunday. That’s not to say it wasn’t an interesting day, as JR Smith set the Knicks’ record for most 3-pointers made in one game with 10, and subsequently the NBA record for most 3-pointers taken in a game with 22. LeBron netted an impressive 38 for the day, and Shane Battier played excellent defense on Carmelo Anthony to help secure the win. Currently, the Knicks remain in 9th place and will have to win if they want to pass Atlanta for the 8th spot. On the flipside, Miami is back in control and in possession of the #1 seed in the East, for now.

The San Antonio Spurs winning streak is over. After 19 straight wins, the Oklahoma City Thunder came out rolling and defeated the Spurs at home in what some might call a statement win last week. Both teams are potential favorites in the Western Conference to contend for the NBA Championship, with the Spurs still sitting in 1st place atop the NBA standings. Despite losing to the Phoenix Suns on Sunday night in a game where Kevin Durant scored 38 points and continued his streak of 25 points or more at 41 games, the Thunder are in control of the 2-seed. However, the LA Clippers are sitting in 3rd place and look like a team on a mission. As the regular season winds down, one thing’s for sure — the West is loaded, and how it’s won will be worth watching.

What’s wrong with the Indiana Pacers? It’s a popular question, as the Eastern Conference contenders have continued to struggle in the last few weeks. After starting the season off strong, the Pacers have lost quite a few questionable games. However, they’re still well in control of the 2-seed in the East, and have enough time to get back into a rhythm. The real concern will be during playoffs, when the Pacers won’t have the home court advantage if they meet the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.

What to watch this week? Check out a great game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the LA Clippers on Wednesday, and stay tuned for another great match-up between the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat on Friday.

MLB

LA Dodgers star outfielder Yasiel Puig will undergo an MRI to diagnose a left thumb injury that occurred during a game against the San Francisco Giants on Saturday. The team is hopeful that there is no serious damage and that Puig will be back in the line-up quickly. Although they were missing Puig, Matt Kemp and the Dodgers still got the win over the Giants on Sunday night.

As the retirement tour continues, Derek Jeter is moving on up. In his last season in a New York Yankees uniform, one of baseball’s most famous current stars has set yet another record. After getting 2 hits in the first 4 innings in a game against the Toronto Blue Jays, Jeter is now 8th all-time in hits in baseball at 3,320. Expect that milestone to go up as the season continues.

The Atlanta Braves have looked strong, but the Washington Nationals avoided the sweep. The Nats used all the Natitude they could to get a 2-1 victory after losing earlier in the weekend. Both teams are doing well, standing at 4-2 respectively in the first week of the season.

Other

DeSean Jackson is officially a Washington Redskin. After being cut by the Philadelphia Eagles, the talented wide receiver will head to DC to play for a team that is not only in the NFC, but also in the same division as the Eagles. That means these teams will play twice a season, and there’s no doubt that Jackson will be playing with something to prove. More than that, the loaded Redskins offense just got that much better. Will this be the year the Redskins finally get it together? Time will tell.

Speaking of professional football, the NFL Draft is getting closer and closer. One of the hot topics leading the conversation is, of course, Johnny Manziel. After a successful pro day, Johnny Football is making the rounds and meeting with teams. He is headed to Oakland to spend time with the Raiders. Expect talk to continue — he’s a great player, but it’s still too early to tell which team he’ll land with.

There’s only one week to go until the regular season ends in professional hockey, and things are heating up in the NHL. The Boston Bruins defeated the Philadelphia Flyers to take the #1 spot in the East, but that doesn’t mean the seedings are set as we head into the playoffs. The wildcard spots are still up for grabs, and the exact playoff match-ups are yet to be determined. Get ready for a wild last week in the NHL!

 

JUST FOR FUN

Tricked out Ride
Check out Michael Jordan’s personalized golf cart for his charity event

STORIES FOR INSIGHTS, COOL FACTOR + DEBATE

Not a quick fix
NCAA President speaks out against unionization
Mark Emmert acknowledges the need for change in collegiate athletics, but insists that unions won’t help

It may be goodbye, but it’s not good riddance
Florida’s seniors say goodbye to their collegiate careers
They bled for each other, and it hurts them to think about never playing for the Gators again

Hip, Hip, Hooray!
Nolan Richardson will be inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
He is the winningest coach in Razorbacks history, and led Arkansas to the 1994 NCAA national championship and three Final Four appearances

Going cuckoo for the McDonald’s Game
Exciting new talent is coming your way!
Even if you’ve given up on your bracket, check out your team’s new high school recruits

Revolution Riders
Imagine not being allowed to ride a bicycle?
The Afghan National Cycling Federation is the only female-friendly bike-racing team in Afghanistan, and the team members have to fight for their right to ride

Final Four Primer

And then there were four. Okay, so maybe your team is out of the tournament but that doesn’t mean the Final Four won’t be fun — especially with the four that are left. We’ve got traditional powerhouses v. newcomers, seniors v. freshmen, and by Monday night one of them will be the 2014 College Basketball National Champion! No pressure…BUT…Who ya got?? In the spirit of the championship, here’s a taste of one of our favorite one shining moments:

The Mens’ Final Four Game Info

Florida (#1 seed) v. Connecticut (#7 seed) — April 5th, 6:09pm — TBS: In the first semi-final of the night, we are in for a treat with the #1 overall seed playing the traditional powerhouse turned Cinderella! That’s right, Florida‘s senior-led team of winners will take on the second-year coach (Kevin Ollie) and the kid (Shabazz Napier) who can’t be stopped. Earlier this season, UConn was one of the only teams to beat Florida and there is no doubt that they remember this. Further, the last time Florida lost was to UConn (in December) and since then they’ve won 30 games. However, Shabazz has been one of the best two players in the tournament and  has been willing his team to victory game after game. This one will be close, but I’m not sure Connecticut’s magic ride will surpass the veteran leadership of Florida. Further, Coach Billy Donovan has done this before — it’s not too long ago that he won 2 back-to-back titles. Regardless, expect a good game and a good fight from both teams.

Prediction: Florida

 

Wisconsin (#2 seed) v. Kentucky (#8 seed) — April 5th, 8:49pm — TBS: Expect the second game of the night to be the main event. Wisconsin and star forward Frank Kaminksy are playing excellent basketball, but Kentucky‘s young kids are the team to be feared. Ever since people started doubting them, the comeback kids have have gone from playing like men to putting on a show. Freshman Julius Randle has been a star all season, but the highly touted Harrison twins have overcome a tough start to dominate games including Aaron’s game-winner in the Elite Eight. Coach Calipari might not have the best reputation, but he’s once again led his young kids back to the final four. On the flip side, Bo Ryan has coached his team to his first final four (he previously won DII National Championships) with tough players who have spent a few years in school. These teams play fairly opposite styles, have big-name coaches, and a collection of rising stars who will be future NBA talents — need we say more? Get excited, this one could be one for the books.                                  

Prediction: Kentucky 

 

National Championship Game — April 7th, 9:00pm — CBS: We shall see, but money is on Kentucky v. Florida, with Kentucky taking the whole thing.

The Women’s Final Four — Sunday, April 6th:

  • Notre Dame (#1 seed) v. Maryland (#4 seed) — April 6th, 6:30pm — ESPN — Prediction: Notre Dame
  • Connecticut (#1 seed) v. Stanford (#1 seed) — April 6th, 8:30pm — ESPN — Prediction: Connecticut
  • National Championship — Monday, April 9th — Prediction: Connecticut

The Star Factor 

Connecticut

  • The Coach: Kevin Ollie – Star player for UConn turned rising star in his second year as the coach of UConn
  • The Star: Shabazz Napier – Unstoppable star guard for UConn who does it all
  • The X-Factor: Ryan Boatright – Talented backcourt mate to Shabazz and needs to play well for UConn to beat Florida

Kentucky

  • The Coach: John Calipari – Known for recruiting one-and-done players to Big Blue Nation and yet (mostly), all he does is win
  • The Star: Julius Randle – Super strong and one of the elite freshmen who can take over games in the paint
  • The X-Factors: Aaron and Andrew Harrison – Both of the Harrison twins have been playing great ball lately

Wisconsin

  • The Coach: Bo Ryan – Successful coach at Wisconsin with this being his first time making the final four
  • The Star: Frank Kaminsky – Excellent big man who will be a difference maker on both ends of the court
  • The X Factor: Sam Dekker – Talented sophomore forward who can provide Wisconsin with offense

Florida

  • The Coach: Billy Donovan – Previously won 2 titles with Florida in 2006 & 2007, and has coached a great team this year
  • The Star: Scottie Wilbikin – Clutch leader of the senior leaders on the Florida team
  • The X-Factor: Patric Young – His defense and rebounding will be important keys to the game

The Plot-lines

  • Old School v. New School – One and Done culture vs. Upperclassman culture
  • Freshmen v. Seniors – See: Kentucky freshmen or Florida seniors
  • All-SEC Final v. Teams of Destiny – Is Connecticut chasing destiny? or are we destined for an all-SEC rematch final? Keep in mind that if that does happen, Florida has already beaten Kentucky 3 times this year. It would be very tough to beat them again. 

The Prep Work (read these!)

Calipari’s Freshman
One-and-Done with a Championship on top?
Embracing the one-and-done movement in the new era of college basketball

Frank’s Time
Getting to know you
Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky is ready to lead his team to the national championship

Game Changer
Kevin Ollie, the Coach
Winning over the doubters and leading his team to the Final Four in his second season as head coach

Star Power
All Tournament Team
Grantland’s Mark Titus explains his top five best players of the tournament going into the Final Four

Shabazz
When it feels like destiny
Can Shabazz Napier and the Connecticut Huskies be stopped?

The Closer
Scottie does know
Scottie Wilbekin and Florida want to prove they’re the best once and for all