12.29.14: Bowling, anyone?

It’s the last week of 2014… how did that happen? Anyhow, we’re thankful for a great year of sports and even more excited to watch the upcoming 2015 athletic feats of excellence. Happy New Year from Team SQ to you! And with that, enjoy this cool video that Gatorade put together to celebrate their 50th birthday.

 

QUIPS FOR THIS WEEK

NFL

Things were nothing short of interesting in the final 17th week of regular season games in the NFL.

In the AFC: The Baltimore Ravens defeated the Cleveland Browns 20-10 to clinch the 6th seed, the Denver Broncos beat the Oakland Raiders 47-14 to claim their 1st round bye as the AFC West champs (their 3rd straight season of this), the Indianapolis Colts (who had already clinched the AFC South) beat the Tennessee Titans 27-10, and even though they lost to the Buffalo Bills 17-9, the New England Patriots are your AFC East winners and will have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs as the overall number 1 seed. Lastly, on Sunday Night Football, we saw the Pittsburgh Steelers defeat the Cincinnati Bengals 27-17 to win the AFC North. As a result, the Bengals joined the Ravens in the Wild Card spots.

In the NFC: The Seattle Seahawks picked up the NFC West title and home-field advantage with their win over the St. Louis Rams 20-6, the Carolina Panthers moved past the Atlanta Falcons 34-3 to win the NFC South and the Green Bay Packers looked top notch in their win over the Detroit Lions to win the NFC North and claim a first round bye. Finally, the Dallas Cowboys beat the Washington Redskins 44-17 to win the NFC East in a game where DeMarco Murray set a single season Dallas record for most rushing yards and surpassed the legendary Emmitt Smith. The other two NFC playoff teams in the Wild Card slots are the Arizona Cardinals and the Detroit Lions.

Now that we know which teams made the playoffs, let’s take a look at the schedule. Wild Card games kick off next weekend on January 3rd and 4th:

  • NFC: Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers 4:25pm (Jan 3rd – ESPN)
  • AFC: Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers 8:15pm (Jan 3rd – NBC)
  • AFC: Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts 1:50pm (Jan 4th CBS)
  • NFC: Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys 4:40pm (Jan 4th – FOX)

The San Francisco 49ers announced a mutual separation from head coach Jim Harbaugh on Sunday night. The 49ers finished this season 8-8 and Harbaugh will likely become the next head coach of his alma mater, the Michigan Wolverines.

J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans became the only player in NFL history to have two seasons with 20 sacks. It is becoming more and more likely that he will be this year’s MVP, a rare feat for a NFL defensive end.

One team looking way ahead to next season is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who lost to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday 23-20 but won the right to the number 1 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.

College Football

It’s an exciting week for college football as the bowl season continues. There are plenty of good games to watch, but the real action kicks off on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day with five great games including the college football playoffs. On New Year’s Eve, check out #9 Ole Miss vs. #6 TCU in the  Peach Bowl at 12:30pm, #20 Boise State vs. #10 Arizona in the Fiesta Bowl at 4pm and #7 Mississippi State vs. #12 Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl.

Then on New Year’s Day, starting at noon #19 Auburn plays #18 Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl followed by #8 Michigan State vs. #5 Baylor in the Cotton Bowl at 12:30pm, and #16 Missouri versus #25 Minnesota in the Citrus Bowl at 1pm. But let’s be real, this is all a warm-up for the college football playoffs which heat up on Thursday, January 1st.

#2 Oregon will face off against #3 Florida State in the Rose Bowl at 5pm in a game that features two back-to-back Heisman quarterbacks —  last year’s winner Jameis Winston of FSU, and this year’s winner Marcus Mariota of Oregon while #1 Alabama will meet #4 Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl at 8:30pm in a game that features two coaching legends in Alabama’s Nick Saban and OSU’s Urban Meyer. Needless to say, the storylines are endless and the winners of these games will meet in the college football national championship on Monday, January 12th at 8:30pm.

NBA

It was a bit of a rough week for the Cleveland Cavaliers who lost 2 out of 3 games on Christmas to the Miami Heat and then lost again on Sunday night to the Detroit Pistons at home in Cleveland. The Cavs did pick up a solid win in Orlando Friday against the Magic, but will need to maintain that winning energy when they travel to Atlanta to face the Hawks (one of the top teams in the East), on Tuesday. So, why are we talking about some random series of games? The Cavs just lost one of their best players in Anderson Varejao to an Achilles tear for the season and if they’re going to make the Finals (East or NBA), it will be interesting to see how they adapt. Good news for them: they’ve got LeBron James and that helps a lot.

Speaking of LeBron James, all-star voting (the game is February 15th in New York!) has begun and as of right now, he has the lead in the total votes. James currently holds the lead over the Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry, who is ahead of both the New Orleans Pelicans’ Anthony Davis and and the LA Lakers’ Kobe Bryant. Fans have until January 19th to cast their votes.

In all things NBA scoring, Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks has now moved up to number 8. Add this to the list of things to talk about when it comes to the Mavs, who are doing quite well in the West and hope to do even better with the new addition of point guard Rajon Rondo, who was recently traded from the Boston Celtics. Without a doubt, the wild wild west continues in the NBA!

College Basketball

#1 Kentucky beat #4 Louisville on Saturday afternoon in Louisville 58-50. Kentucky is really, really good so this was not exactly surprising. As we have mentioned before, the bigger question is whether or not anyone will beat them this year in the regular season. As it stands, they’ve passed pretty big tests so far and while conference play remains, more and more people are suggesting they might just run the table and go undefeated. Guess we’ll find out!

The past few weeks of college hoops have been quiet due to winter breaks and final exams, but things should get going again as 2015 kicks off and conference play gets going. Get excited!

Oh, and there is a big women’s hoops game as #10 Duke travels up to #2 Connecticut to face UConn on their turf on Monday night at 9pm. Check it out!

 

JUST FOR FUN

It’s a beautiful day
Manchester City played in the snow this weekend, and the photos are pretty cool

STORIES FOR INSIGHTS, COOL FACTOR + DEBATE

In Memory
Rutgers team honors fallen NYPD officers
Players and coaches alike sported NYPD hats at the Quick Lane Bowl in tribute

A Long December
Tony Romo is really really good
Will Dallas Cowboys fans find pearls in their oysters in this year’s NFL playoffs?

When the clock strikes midnight…
It’ll be a whole new year
What sporting events are you looking forward to the most in 2015? Check out some of the New York Times’ favorites here

Wild Wild West
The NBA’s Western Conference is stacked
Grantland’s Zack Lowe breaks down and ranks the very talented western conference

The man bringing baseball to Africa
George Mukhobe is teaching the Ugandan youth to love the sport
In a place where hardship is prevalent, he’s able to bring fun into the picture

12.15.14: Mariota Magic

Mahalo, Mariota! Let’s start today off right — by congratulating Marcus Mariota and welcoming him to the Heisman family. Originally from Hawaii, this year’s Heisman trophy winner is the University of Oregon Ducks’ star quarterback and an all-around great guy. Check out his heartwarming speech below:

 

QUIPS FOR THIS WEEK

NFL

So, about that Sunday Night Football game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles. After building up a big lead and then falling behind, the Cowboys rallied and beat the Eagles on the road to take control of the NFC East.

No need to waste time here, the NFL had a wild weekend of games besides just Sunday Night Football. Despite playing without Cam Newton (who is recovering from a scary car accident), the Carolina Panthers beat the Tampa Bay Bucs 19-17 while the Atlanta Falcons lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-20. Both of these games are important especially because we are getting closer to the playoffs — the Steelers look strong in the AFC North and the Falcons hurt themselves in the NFC South. The New England Patriots crushed the Miami Dolphins 41-13 to claim the AFC East, and the Indianapolis Colts beat the Houston Texans 17-10 to capture the AFC South.

In all things upsets, the Buffalo Bills won their game against the Green Bay Packers 21-13. Some other games of note from Sunday include a tough first start for Johnny Manziel as the Cleveland Browns fell to the Cincinnati Bengals 30-0 (yikes), and a solid win for the Denver Broncos who beat the San Diego Chargers 22-10 to clinch the NFC West. Oh, and the Seattle Seahawks knocked the San Francisco 49ers out of the playoffs with their 17-7 Sunday win.

Adrian Peterson, running back for the Minnesota Vikingslost his appeal to a NFL suspension that will keep him off the field until at least April 2015. It’s hard to say what’s next for Peterson, but he told ESPN that there will be a lawsuit against the NFL and it’s expected to be filed Monday.

This week’s Monday Night Football game features the New Orleans Saints at the Chicago Bears. Make sure to tune in, this one has playoff seeding implications for the NFC South. 

College Football

As we mentioned in today’s intro, Marcus Mariota is your 2014 Heisman Trophy winner. The quarterback from the University of Oregon is the first football player from Hawaii to win college football’s most prestigious award. Congrats! Next up his Ducks will face Florida State in the college football playoff semifinal game.

Navy beat Army 17-10 over the weekend in their annual game, giving them their 13th straight victory of the series.

In case you missed it, here is the college football bowl schedule. We’ll definitely have more to talk about as we get closer to the games!

NBA

Kobe Bryant is officially in third place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Kobe scored 26 points in his LA Lakers’ win over the Minnesota Timberwolves to pass the legendary Michael Jordan on the list. It’s a big milestone, but at 32,292 points, Kobe will need quite a few more to catch Karl Malone at 36,928 points or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at 38,387 points. Will he do it? Like KG said, anything is possible.

What’s more impressive: 21-2 or 16 straight wins? It’s hard to say but those numbers are from the same squad — the Golden State Warriors. The Dubs defeated the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday night to get that 16 straight win and are looking stronger than ever. Next up, they play the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday (a game which could be tough on the road). Golden State coach Steve Kerr says the Warriors won’t reach 72 wins, but they sure look like the team to beat right now.

A couple of updates to the NBA injury report: The Miami Heat‘s Chris Bosh will be out for an indefinite amount of time with a calf injury, Iman Shumpert will be out roughly 3 weeks for the New York Knicks, and Doug McDermott will be out for about 4-6 weeks for the Chicago Bulls as he recovers from a knee injury.

College Basketball

Both #1 Kentucky and Kansas showed their potential this weekend in their respective wins over top 25 teams. Kentucky cruised past #21 UNC without Alex Poythress (who’s out with an injury) while #10 Kansas outfought #13 Utah at home.

#3 Arizona also looked strong this weekend after picking up their 10th win of the season and 28th straight home victory over Michigan on Friday night.

The Georgetown men’s basketball team and the Notre Dame women’s basketball team both wore “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirts during their pregame warm-ups. They joined other professional athletes who have been wearing the shirts in protest and support.

Hockey

Sidney Crosby is the latest NHL player to be diagnosed with the mumps. The Pittsburgh Penguins star is the latest victim of the outbreak that is sweeping the league.

Mark Howe spoke with the Associated Press and said that his father, hockey legend Gordie Howe, is doing better after a health scare in the last few weeks.

Who’s doing well in hockey? Out West, the the Chicago Blackhawks lead the Central division while the Anaheim Ducks are holding strong in the Pacific. In the East, the Tampa Bay Lightning are leading the Atlantic while the Chicago Blackhawks are in charge of the Metropolitan division. It’s obviously still early, but these teams are looking good!

 

Other

It may be the off-season but there is plenty to talk about in the baseball world. The LA Dodgers traded Matt Kemp to the San Diego Padres, Jon Lester signed a mega (and we mean mega) deal with the Chicago Cubs, and Melky Cabrera is prepared to sign a nice contract with the Chicago White Sox.

Speaking of baseball, Sports Illustrated named Madison Bumgarner of the San Francisco Giants their 2014 Sportsman of the Year. Congrats!

Finally, in Premier League news, Manchester United picked up a shutout victory over Liverpool 3-0 on Sunday at Old Trafford.

JUST FOR FUN

Santa Spoof
Laugh along to Santa’s re-enactment of LeBron’s decision to leave Miami

Little girl cries about losing Brett Lawrie to the Oakland A’s
Check out this video of Lawrie consoling her with a pizza date

STORIES FOR INSIGHTS, COOL FACTOR + DEBATE

Family Inheritance
What it’s like to inherit the LA Lakers
Jim and Jeanie Buss talk about the community they’ve built around the Lakers, and the future of the team

Staying close to Sandy Hook
Why elite hockey recruit Melissa Samoskevich chose Quinnipiac
After playing in Minnesota for several years, she’s coming home to the East Coast to play for her Sandy Hook community

Tommy Gaines
The sad story of an almost NBA player
A young star with lots of skill swallowed up by a terrible addiction

In the market for a QB?
Potential candidates up for trade 
The who, what, where, when and why of the five guys that are most likely to get swapped

For Hire
Tennis champions are choosing ex-champs as their coaches
It seems to be working, too!

12.8.14: Happy One Year, SQ!

Good Morning Team SQ! We just want to say thank you so much to you all for reading, sharing, and supporting The SportsQuip for the last year! So with that enjoy this awesome Russell Westbrook dunk from Sunday night.

 

QUIPS FOR THIS WEEK

NFL

What happened in Week 14 of the NFL? The Seattle Seahawks looked good in a 24-14 win over the Philadelphia Eagles, the Oakland Raiders somehow defeated the San Francisco 49ers 24-13, the New England Patriots rallied from a slow start to pick up a 23-14 win over the San Diego Chargers, the Denver Broncos got the win over the Buffalo Bills 24-17, the St. Louis Rams got another shutout win — this time over the Washington Redskins, the Carolina Panthers crushed the New Orleans Saints on the road 41-10, the New York Giants got the win (finally) over the Tennessee Titans 36-7 and last but definitely not least, the Indianapolis Colts had all the luck (cc: Andrew) they needed with a end of game touchdown that helped them sneak past Brandon Hoyer and the Cleveland Browns 25-24.

As we get closer to the end of the regular season, it’s time to start thinking about the playoffs. After this week’s games, the Philadelphia Eagles are tied with the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East (they’ll play each other next weekend), the Green Bay Packers lead the NFC North, the Atlanta Falcons are ahead in the NFC South and the Arizona Cardinals have a 1-game lead over the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC West. In the AFC, the New England Patriots remains on top of the AFC East, the Cincinnati Bengals barely control the the AFC North over the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Indianapolis Colts remain in front of the AFC South and the Denver Broncos control the AFC West. If the season were to end today, the playoffs would look like this. Here’s the thing — the season doesn’t end today, so stay tuned because a lot could change.

Athletes are talking about race in America. Members of the St. Louis Rams, the Chicago Bulls’ Derrick Rose (NBA), the Detroit Lions’ Reggie Bush and more are voicing their opinions and advocating for a much needed conversation on racism, social and criminal justice. We are thankful for these athletes using the power of sports to draw attention to an important dialogue on race in America.

This week’s Monday Night Football game should be a fun one as the Atlanta Falcons take on the Green Bay Packers on the road.

College Football

After a weekend of conference championship games, Bowl season is finally here. The most important thing you need to know is who made the college football playoff: #1 Alabama, #2 Oregon, #3 Florida State and … #4 Ohio State! That’s right, the committee chose these four teams to compete in the first ever college football playoff. So what does this mean and how will this work exactly? Top seeded Alabama will play lowest seeded Ohio State in the All State Sugar Bowl on January 1st in one of the two college football playoff semifinals while Oregon will play Florida State in the other semifinal at the Rose Bowl also on January 1st. The winners of each game will advance to the College Football Playoff National Championship game on January 12th in Texas. Get ready y’all, it’s about to be a fun ride!

So how did we get here? #2 Oregon crushed #7 Arizona in the Pac-12 Championship on Friday to reserve their playoff spot under the strong play of quarterback Marcus Mariota, who will likely be this year’s Heisman Trophy winner. #3 TCU convincingly defeated Iowa State and #6 Baylor picked up a victory over #9 Kansas State to share the the Big 12 Championship Title but neither was enough to advance either team to the college football playoffs. #1 Alabama looked good in their win over #16 Missouri to claim the SEC Championship, and #4 Florida State narrowly took down #11 Georgia Tech to win the ACC Championship game. The real statement came from #5 Ohio State, who dominated #13 Wisconsin to win the Big Ten Championship game and propel themselves into the last playoff spot.

What’s next? Lots and lots and lots of Bowl Games. Of note, #6 TCU will play #9 Ole Miss in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on December 31st and #5 Baylor will play #8 Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl on January 1st as part of New Year’s Six. This is important because TCU and Baylor were the other two teams with a legitimate shot of making playoff that just missed the cut. Check out the schedule here and enjoy as many games as your heart desires throughout December and January.

NBA

You guys, the Golden State Warriors are really good. After winning their 12th straight game on Saturday night against the Chicago Bulls (who are looking pretty good themselves), the Warriors showed us why people should start paying more attention to that NBA best 17-2 record. Also, how can you not love Steph Curry and the real Chef Curry? We love them.

While a lot of folks are talking about Kobe Bryant and Rajon Rondo having breakfast, we couldn’t help but notice Rondo’s triple double (13 points, 13 rebounds, 11 assists) as his Boston Celtics topped former teammate Paul Pierce’s Washington Wizards on Sunday afternoon.

What to watch? The Cleveland Cavaliers (who have won 6 straight and are looking much better with improved defense) will play the Brooklyn Nets on Monday night in front of the Prince William and Duchess Kate Middleton at Barclays.

College Basketball

We’ve seen a lot of intense games and upsets during this college basketball season. This weekend and last week, we saw #4 Duke ace an early season test with a big road victory over #2 Wisconsin, and #1 Kentucky defeat #6 Texas (and on Sunday Eastern Kentucky) with a dominating second half performance on Friday. #11 Kansas fought back from an 18 point deficit to get the win over Florida 71-65, Yale upset UConn with a buzzer beater, Iowa got a surprising road win over #12 UNC (who won on Sunday against ECU)VCU lost both the game and their 22 home game win streak to #7 UVA, and #9 Gonzaga fell short in OT to #3 Arizona after leading most of the game. Oh, and #17 Michigan lost to the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Just another week…

We can’t tell for sure yet, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see Duke move up to the #2 spot behind #1 Kentucky in the rankings. These two teams are looking impressive and will likely be the ones to beat as college hoops finishes out December 2014.

So, what to watch this week? It’s a light week, but stay tuned for conference play that will heat up towards the end of the month.

The undefeated South Carolina women’s basketball team rallied to defeat the Duke women’s basketball team 51-50 on a putback play in Cameron Indoor Stadium after being down the majority of the game. That means South Carolina will still be #1 when the new rankings come out this week.

Hockey

On Sunday, former Montreal Canadiens players and fans came together to celebrate the life of Jean Beliveau, who passed away on Tuesday at 83. Beliveau is a hockey legend, may he rest in peace.

Is expansion on the way for hockey? NHL owners have their annual meeting this week to discuss several topics including potential expansion cities and teams. It will be interesting to learn what the board of governors have to say about the opportunity.

Don’t be alarmed, but there appears to be a bit of a mumps breakout in the NHL. Okay, maybe outbreak is a little strong, but since mid-October, players from at least 4 teams have been infected by the virus. The NHL is taking precautions and here’s to wishing the players good health!

Other

The LA Galaxy are your 2014 Major League Soccer Cup champs! On Sunday afternoon, the Galaxy defeated the New England Revolution 2-1 in Landon Donovan’s last game to win their 5th MLS championship. Congrats!

Lindsey Vonn is back on the slopes and appears to be better than ever. Vonn won her first race in about 2 years at the skiing World Cup. She had left competing behind to recover from two severe reconstructive knee operations. Go Lindsey go!

Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who’s the most popular NASCAR driver of them all? Dale Earnhardt Jr. No really, he just won the most popular driver award for the 12th time in a row. Wowza.

Major League Baseball kicked off their 113th annual winter meetings in San Diego on Sunday. The gathering brings together representatives of the MLB world.

CM Punk is leaving the WWE and will join the UFC. It’s a big move for one of professional wrestling’s most popular wrestlers and who is expected to fight in 2015.

The US Women’s Soccer team will be in Group D when the World Cup kicks off in 2015. By many accounts, it’s the toughest group and includes: Australia, Sweden and Nigeria.

JUST FOR FUN

Mo’ne Davis is at it again
She made her high school varsity basketball team, even though she’s only in 8th grade! Congrats!

 

STORIES FOR INSIGHTS, COOL FACTOR + DEBATE

Cutting Costs
University of Alabama-Birmingham Football
UAB made the difficult decision to end their college football program due to finances

Keeping an eye out
The swing doctor is in full force
Chris Como spent years studying the best golfers, and is now bringing his eagle eye and quiet demeanor to Tiger Woods’ side

The Brow
Anthony Davis is growing up fast
He may only be 21 years old, but the New Orleans Pelicans’ player is very special

There’s no I in Team
Mike Miller has a reputation for being a great teammate
Grantland tells us why ‘Everybody loves Mike’ in this neat long read

Parenthood
An interview with parents of two Division I athletes
We wonder how they raised such superstar children, and how they manage game day craziness!

You’re my best friend 
Through the good times and the bad
Caroline nominates Serena for the Sports Illustrated 2014 Sportsman of the Year award

12.1.14: Hello December

So it’s December…how did that happen? We don’t know either but we do know this: Gabrielle Union crashing husband Dwyane Wade’s post game interview was pretty awesome. So there’s that!

 

QUIPS FOR THIS WEEK

NFL

Let’s give them something to talk about? Yeah, the NFL sure did that this weekend alright. Drew Brees threw 5 touchdowns as his New Orleans Saints defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in a close 35-32 game, the Atlanta Falcons knocked off the Arizona Cardinals 29-18 to stayed tied for first in the NFC South, the St. Louis Rams cruised past the Oakland Raiders 52-0, and the Denver Broncos seemed to have no worries in their 29-16 win over the Kansas City Chiefs while the Green Bay Packers picked up the victory 26-21 over the New England Patriots in the first meeting between Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. Oh, and the Houston Texans beat the Tennessee Titans 24-21, but the real story was that J.J. Watt scored his 5th touchdown of the season, making him the first defensive lineman since 1944 to do that in one season.

Moving on — The Cleveland Browns may have lost to the Buffalo Bills 26-10, but Johnny Football (some call him Manziel) got the chance to show his stuff when his squad benched quarterback Brian Hoyer in the 4th. What does this mean? Too early to tell, but this might be the beginning of Johnny Football’s time to shine.

In off the field news, former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was reinstated back into the NFL after a neutral arbitrator ruled that his indefinite suspension should be overturned. What does this mean? Rice is now eligible to play football again but it’s unclear if he will be signed by any team. ESPN has reported that four teams might be interested but time will tell if Rice will actually play football in the NFL again.

This week’s Monday Night Football game features the Miami Dolphins against the New York Jets at 8:30pm. Welcome to December!

College Football

Talk about a good weekend to be a college football fan! There were quite a few awesome games to review. First, let’s talk Iron Bowl where #1 Alabama defeated #20 Auburn 55-44 in an exciting close game that was nothing short of an offensive showdown. Alabama’s Amari Cooper tied a school record with 3 touchdowns and 224 yards received.

#2 Florida State defeated in-state rival Florida 24-19, #13 Ole Miss upset #10 Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl, #12 Georgia Tech beat #15 Georgia in a overtime thriller 30-24, and #5 Baylor edged Texas Tech 48-46. #6 Ohio State defeated their football enemy (aka Michigan) 42-28 but lost star quarterback J.T. Barrett to a broken ankle.

Nebraska fired coach Bo Pelini on Sunday morning after his 7th season with the school. He had an overall record of 67-27. Associate head coach Barney Cotton will coach the the team in their upcoming bowl game but it remains unclear who will coach Nebraska next season.

In terms of rankings, the new AP poll has Alabama as the number one team followed by Florida State, Oregon, TCU and Baylor. However, like we’ve said before, the rankings that count are from the committee who chooses what teams will play in the post-season football playoff… and after this weekend things are about to get really interesting (especially as conference championship games are about to begin).

NBA

It was a milestone kind of night for Kobe Bryant who dished out his 6,000th assist on Sunday evening against the Toronto Raptors (the Lakers won in OT). The LA Lakers star is the first NBA player with 30,000 total points to reach 6,000 assists. No matter what you think of Kobe, those are some impressive numbers.

The Oklahoma City Thunder appear to finally be getting healthy. After losing stars Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant for the majority of the first part of the season, Westbrook returned to action for the Thunder on Friday night in top form with a 32 points, 8 assists, and 7 rebounds performance. That’s good news for the Thunder, who have been struggling without their best players. Even better news? Sounds like KD will return to the lineup soon too.

So, where do things stand so far in the NBA? Yes, we know it’s still relatively early, but sometimes the beginning of the season can be telling. Out West, it’s the Memphis Grizzlies and the Golden State Warriors who are stealing the show. The Warriors won their 9th straight on Sunday night and the Grizzlies continue to have the best record in the league. In the East, the Toronto Raptors are still leading the way despite injuries and Sunday night’s loss. Of note, while the Cleveland Cavaliers  may not have the best record, recent games suggest that they are finding their way. Stay tuned — it may be a long season, but the fun has already begun.

College Basketball

In all things college basketball, there were a lot of fun holiday hoops tournaments over the Thanksgiving week. #11 Kansas defeated #20 Michigan State 61-56 to win the Orlando Classic, #2 Wisconsin got the victory over Oklahoma 69-56 to win the Battle 4 Atlantis and #3 Arizona beat #15 San Diego State to win the Maui Invitational. Do these games matter? Holiday championships are nice, but the only one that count are in April. Will any of these teams reach Indy for the Final Four? Perhaps.

#4 Duke edged out Army 93-73 in a Sunday game that also gave Coach K his 990th career win (congrats!) while #7 Texas defeated #24 Connecticut 55-54 with the help of a last second (okay 2 seconds) 3-pointer from Jonathan Holmes.

This week, we’ve got the ACC-Big Ten challenge on deck which should offer some great games to check out. Of note, Syracuse plays #19 Michigan and #16 Ohio State plays #6 Louisville on Tuesday while Iowa takes on #5 North Carolina and #4 Duke goes up against #2 Wisconsin on Wednesday.

JUST FOR FUN

‘Tis the Holiday Season…
The worst gift guide ever — a list of things not to buy your favorite sports fan

 

STORIES FOR INSIGHTS, COOL FACTOR + DEBATE

Giving thanks
Stories from 2014 that’ll make you feel good
Although this year in sports has been characterized by a lot of bad, don’t forget about all of the good!

Say goodbye to Sony
They’re not renewing their World Cup sponsorship
Sony is the second top-tier “official partner” of FIFA to announce this news

Where’s he headed?
RG3’s complicated career in Washington
Although there’s still one year left on his rookie deal, Washington has to decide if they want to keep him through 2016 by May

Helping hand
Since Darryl Talley retired from the NFL in 1997, he’s had a tough time
But, once Buffalo Bills fans found out about his struggles, they pitched in and raised more than $100k for him

More helping hands, and a display of sportsmanship
Rising above the rivalry
Michigan QB Devin Gardner comforts the injured Ohio Buckeyes’ QB, J.T. Barrett