Good morning! And, about that World Cup game last night… USA USA USA! Start your day with one of Carli Lloyd’s amazing three goals here:
QUIPS FOR THIS WEEK
Like we said in the intro…Team USAwon the women’s World Cup for the first time since 1999 in dominating fashion. After scoring 4 goals (including an amazing hat trick from Carli Lloyd who won the Golden Ball) in the early part of the game, the Americans would go on to win the World Cup 5-2. Yay America!
After a wild week of free agency the major signings to report include:
Good Morning! Start your morning off with a highlight of the amazing Serena Williams and her French Open victory…her 20th Grand Slam. Can you say impressive? Because we can.
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Last night, as we watched the second game of the NBA Finals head into overtime (just like the first!), the Cleveland Cavaliers battled their way to a final score of 95-93 againstthe Golden State Warriors. Although the Cavs played yesterday without Kyrie Irving, LeBron James scored a triple-double and a total of 39 points to carry the team to their win. Kyrie Irving, who sustained a broken kneecap during his team’s eventual 100-108 loss to the Warriors in Thursday’s Game 1, is expected to be out for at least 3-4 months. After this exciting Game 2, the series is tied 1-1. Make sure to catch Game 3, which will be Tuesday night at 9pm EST.
Stanley Cup hockey continued as well this weekend! The final series between the Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning is now tied 1-1, after the Lightning’s 4-3 win on Saturday. Make sure to check out Game 3 tonight at 8pm EST.
As we mentioned earlier, Serena Williams won her 20th Grand Slam at the French Open this weekend. This win against Lucie Safarova marks her third French Open win, as well. On the men’s side, Stan Wawrinka upset Novak Djokavic for his first French Open title.
The wait is over — we have a Triple Crown victor for the first time since 1978. Congratulations to American Pharoah and jockey Victor Espinoza for a phenomenal run!
On Saturday in Berlin, Barcelona took home the glory of a Champions League win. Their 3-1 victory over the Italian team Juventus (alongside their Spanish title and Copa Del Rey win) made them the first team to complete a Treble twice in six years.
The ball is tipped and there you are — you’re running for your life, you’re a shooting star… remember that familiar tune? Well, March Madness is here and soon enough one team will end their season with the beautiful song that is One Shining Moment, and more importantly, the National Championship. So get excited, and get into the spirit with one of our favorite shining moments from 2010.
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The time has come to welcome back the NCAA Tournament into your lives. It’s one of the reasons we love March and we predict that this year will live up to the hype. We’ll get to a mini-breakdown of the brackets, but keep in mind that the biggest question in this year’s tourney is whether or not #1 overall seed Kentuckycan run the table and finish the season undefeated. The answer: 40-0 is looking more and more likely with each game.
Okay, now onward to the brackets. This year, the tournament seeding looks relatively even across the board. As always, there’s definitely some upset potential but this year the tournament is looking more top heavy than usual. Here’s a breakdown of the top four seeds in each region:
Midwest: Kentucky, Kansas, Notre Dame, Maryland
South: Duke, Gonzaga, Iowa State, Georgetown
East: Villanova, UVA, Oklahoma, Louisville
West: Wisconsin, Arizona, Baylor, UNC
The play-in games kick off on Tuesday, and the real action kicks off Thursday and Friday with the opening rounds. Get ready, it’s almost go-time.
Oh, and don’t sleep on the women’s tournament — the selection show kicks off on Monday night!
Speaking of the playoffs, as we move closer to the end of the regular season, let’s take a look at who’s leading the way. In the East, the Atlanta Hawks remain in control of the top seed but the Cleveland Cavaliers may be the team to beat. Out West, the Golden State Warriors may hold the best record in the league, but the West is really good and the Memphis Grizzlies, the Portland Trail Blazers and the Houston Rockets look ready to go. That’s not to say that things will stay this way — there’s still enough time in the season for things to shift in the last month or so. Stay tuned.
This week, make sure to check out these big match-ups (while you’re not watching March Madness):
Cleveland at Miami – Monday
Oklahoma City at Dallas – Monday
Atlanta at Golden State – Wednesday (this is the game of the week)
From our SQ family to yours, wishing you the very best holiday! We’ll be back next week with lots to share, so stay tuned (and check out the Pittsburgh Penguins’ version of Christmas Vacation for some added fun).
The Slim Reaper, Durantula, KD Trey…call him what you want, the fact is Kevin Durant is putting on a show these days. The league’s top scorer not only averages over 30 points a game, he’s also leading the Oklahoma City Thunder to the best record in the Western Conference. The latest magic was a triple double (32 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists) in a win over the Philadelphia 76ers. More impressively, he’s doing this while the Thunder’s star point guard Russell Westbrook recovers from a knee injury. Watch out world, when Westbrook is back and with this duo, the Thunder just might be unstoppable.
Two big announcements in the hoops world happened this past week:
Second, the fan-voted NBA All-Star starters were announced for the East and the West. The West features: first time all-star Stephen Curry, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love and Blake Griffin while the East features: Carmelo Anthony, Paul George, Kyrie Irving, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. The remaining team members for each side are voted on by coaches and will be released soon. All-Star weekend is on February 14-16 in New Orleans.
Remaining undefeated, #2 Syracuse, #1 Arizona and #5 Wichita State keep rolling. Syracuse improved to 19-0 after defeating Miami on the road, while Wichita State improved to 21-0 with a win over Drake. Did Arizona continue the trend? They sure did as they beat Utah in a close game Sunday night.
The greatest Coach in college hoops just hit another major milestone. That’s right, Coach K won his 900th game as the #18 Duke dominated Florida State at home. After a tough loss at Clemson, the Blue Devils have been on a bit of winning streak. Look for another big road test on Monday night, as Duke travels to face Pittsburgh on their turf.
Let’s hear it for the the new kid. Stanislas Wawrinka defeated Rafael Nadal to win the Australian Open in the men’s final early Sunday morning. Not only was it his first time beating Rafa, it was also the first major title in his tennis career for the 28 year old Swiss player.
Super Bowl XLVIII might not be until next weekend, but that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare!
TALKING POINTS AND QUESTIONS PEOPLE WILL BE DEBATING
Peyton Manning – Denver’s star quarterback is the talk of the town. After overcoming a career-threatening neck injury just 2 seasons ago, Manning is back in the Super Bowl for the third time. The likely league MVP went one for two while playing for the Indianapolis Colts, and there’s no doubt that getting that second Super Bowl ring this time would be the ultimate icing. Some folks are seeing this game as a defining moment in his legacy as one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the game. Win or lose, he’s one of the greatest of all time.
Key Question: Where would a second Super Bowl ring place Manning on the list of best quarterbacks of all time?
Best Defense vs. Best Offense – The Denver Broncos have the #1 offense (Think Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and more). The Seattle Seahawks have the #1 defense (Think Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett and more). So here’s the math for this game: Best Defense + Best Offense = Great Game. And don’t think the Seattle offense and the Denver defense aren’t up for the challenge. Seattle’s running back Marshawn Lynch will be ready to run and Denver’s whole defensive unit will look to stop him. Match-ups like this don’t happen often, so get ready.
Key Question: Will Denver’s top offense be able to overcome the strong defensive force that is the “Legion of Boom,” the Seattle Seahawks?
Richard Sherman – Everyone has something to say about Sherman, including the man himself. Expect people to keep talking this week. We’re simply going to say this: the Seattle Seahawk’s cornerback made an incredible game-winning play in the NFC Championship and is one of the best defensive players in the league. We’re looking forward to seeing him play next week.
Key Question:Will off-the-field distractions affect the Seahawk’s Super Bowl performance?
Russell Wilson – He may only be in his second season in the NFL, but Wilson is quickly becoming one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Because of his height, he came into the NFL as a bit of an underdog, but he continues to defy expectations with his strong arm, quick feet, and overall leadership. No doubt about it, Wilson is great and ready to bring the first Super Bowl Championship to the city of Seattle.
Key Question: Can Wilson overcome turnovers and inexperience to lead the Seahawks to victory?
Weather – Picture this: Bright lights and a polar vortex? Not exactly a winning combination. This year’s Super Bowl takes place at MetLife Stadium, home of the New York Giants and the New York Jets. The stadium is beautiful but like any outdoor event in the early part of the year, it can potentially be freezing! Weather is definitely going to be a factor and poor conditions would likely favor the Seahawks.
Key Question:What type of weather conditions can we expect and just how cold is it going to be?
The X Factor(s) – We all know that the Super Bowl is a game of stars, but the stars don’t always win games. One great stop or one great catch can change a game. One great run or one forced turnover can define a player. Look for candidates on either team — on both offense and defense — to make something happen. After all, it is the Super Bowl; and in the game of football, nothing is greater than that.
Key Question: Who will this year’s X factors (coaches, players) be, and will they make or break the game?
Half-Time – That’s right, the Super Bowl is more than a game… there’s also a half-time show! This year’s event features Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but if history repeats itself there are bound to be surprises. Last year, Beyonce rocked the show and surprised the crowd with a Destiny’s Child reunion. What will this year have in store? We”ll see…
Key Question: Will there be any surprise cameos in this year’s half-time show? And will the lights stay on?
INTERESTING STORIES ABOUT THIS SUPERBOWL AND THE CHARACTERS
Seattle Seahawk fullback Derrick Coleman is making waves on the field – not only because of his skills, but because he’s the first deaf offensive player in the NFL. Get inspired with this commercial featuring Coleman.
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Peyton Manning is returning to the Super Bowl. In a hyped AFC Championship, Manning looked calm and cool in a huge Denver Broncos win over the New England Patriots. The Pats tried to rally, but the Broncos got the early lead and never looked back. This year’s Super Bowl happens to be in baby brother Eli’s stadium in New York. Eli Manning had led the New York Giants to a Super Bowl win just two seasons ago in Peyton’s former stadium in Indianapolis. Undoubtedly, Peyton and the Broncos will look to repeat the pattern in New York.
The Seattle Seahawks beat the San Francisco 49ers in an incredibly close home game. The game saw two of the league’s top defenses engage in an intense battle. Despite some spectacular plays, both quarterbacks – Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson – struggled with their offenses. In the end, the Seahawks prevailed after a late interception ended a rally by the Niners. There was also a devastating knee injury to the 49er’s NaVorro Bowman, here’s to hoping he’s okay.
Start spreadin’ the news…Super Bowl XLVIII is here! We’ll have a lot more coverage in the coming weeks, including stories on the characters. Get ready for the bright lights when the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks battle in New York on February 2nd.
The Oklahoma City Thunder might miss Russell Westbrook, but Kevin Durant is giving them everything’s he got. Durant dropped a career high 54 points in a huge win against the Golden State Warriors. Stephen Curry had 37 points in a strong game for the Warriors, but Durant was nearly flawless and unstoppable. It’s these consistent efficient performances that explain why he’s at the top of the race for league MVP.
Rajon Rondo is back in the lineup for the Boston Celtics, after missing part of the season because of a torn ACL. On Friday, the star point guard had a nice performance in his first game back though they lost against the Los Angeles Lakers. It may take a while to get back in the groove, but the Celtics are sure glad to have their point guard back whether they trade him or not.
Superstar freshman, Jabari Parker put on a show as #23 Duke defeated NC State by 35 points at home in a great team effort on Saturday. Jabari wasn’t the only freshman that had a big day. Joel Embiid nearly had a triple double for #15 Kansas in a big win over #9 Oklahoma State. Embiid might be relatively new to hoops but he’s a rising star whose NBA draft stock is skyrocketing.
In all things Big Ten, #3 Wisconsin lost for the second time this week, this time to Michigan. In a nice road win, Michigan State beat Illinois convincingly. Moving forward, #11 Ohio State looks to rebound from a string of three straight losses this week against Nebraska.
In a battle of the new ACC teams, #2 Syracuse improved to 18-0 in a big win at home against #22 Pittsburgh. Point guard Tyler Ennis had another great game for the Orange, proving that he’s another star freshman on the rise. Syracuse will look to extend their undefeated record against Miami on the road next Saturday. The only other undefeated team the college basketball, the #1 Arizona Wildcats will look to defend their streak this Thursday against #21 Colorado.
In a big upset at the Australian Open,Ana Ivanovic defeated Serena Williams. Ivanovic took 3 sets to win beat Serena, who had been struggling with back pain coming into the match. This is the first time she has lost since August.
Canada named hometown heroSydney Crosby captain of their hockey team for the upcoming Olympic Games. Crosby, who plays for the Pittsburgh Penguins, was a star in the last winter Olympics and looks to lead Canada to another gold medal in the games.
I am increasingly aware of the extent to which being an effective leader is predicated on a very high level of empathy…Empathy is a learned skill like anything else, and I think that diminishing opportunities for kids to play means that there is a diminishing opportunity for them to learn and practice the skills of empathy. – Jill Vialet, CEO and Founder of Playworks.
Jill Vialet is reclaiming recess and play for kids. She is the CEO and Founder of Playworks, a non-profit that has helped bring safe and healthy playground activities to over 400,000 children and 750 schools and youth-serving organizations in 23 different cities. She has been recognized by Forbes as one of the top 30 social entrepreneurs.
Jill recognizes the power of sports in learning and development and has been committed to helping students use sports to grow and build relationships– read her LifeChats Interview with the Fuqua/Coach K Leadership & Ethics Center at Duke University.
Defending champs, the Miami Heat lost to both the struggling New York Knicks and the floundering Brooklyn Net this past weekend. No one likes to lose, but for a team that’s been to the NBA finals the past three seasons, the Heat knows they’ve got to get their rest and pick their spots. Look for LeBron James and the Heat to bounce back against the Washington Wizards on Wednesday. Until proven otherwise, they’re still the favorite.
In a deal that drew sparks across the league, the Chicago Bulls traded forward Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers for center Andrew Bynum. Deng joins a stumbling Cavs team that features fellow Duke alum and star point guard Kyrie Irving. Key questions are whether Deng can help the Cavs make the playoffs and if he’ll re-sign in the off-season. Meanwhile, the Bulls released Bynum and will continue their season without him. The verdict is out on where Bynum will sign next, but don’t be surprised if it ends up being the Miami Heat or LA Clippers.
Less than a month away from the NBA All-Star break, the top teams look roughly the same. In the Eastern Conference, the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat remain on top, while the best of the rest sees theToronto Raptors and Washington Wizards making strides. The Western Conference is more of a toss-up. At the moment the San Antonio Spurs, Portland Trail Blazers and the Oklahoma City Thunder are all deadlocked in a race for the top spot. The Thunder definitely miss Russell Westbrook, but Kevin Durant is doing everything he can to keep this team afloat. Look for the battle for the 4th spot between the LA Clippers,Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets to get even more interesting as the young Warriors continue to shine, the Clippers get healthy and the Rockets get more in sync.
Saturday’s games featured a windy, rainy showdown between the Seattle Seahawks and the New Orleans Saints. Both teams struggled, but the top seeded Seahawks prevailed and moved on to the NFC championship. In the later game, the New England Patriots faced the Indianapolis Colts on their own wet and cold turf. Turnovers doomed Andrew Luck and the Colts from the start, and the Patriots rode a dominant running game performance by LaGarrette Blount to a victory. They’ll move on to the AFC Championship next week.
On Sunday, sunny weather in Charlotte didn’t help the Carolina Panthers use home field to their advantage. A strong performance by the San Francisco 49er’s defense led them to a big victory. Niner’s quarterback Colin Kaepernick looked strong in the win, and will look to increase his 4-1 postseason record next weekend in Seattle. Sunday’s final matchup featured the top seeded Denver Broncos hosting the San Diego Chargers at home in windy Denver. Keenan Allen had a great day for the Chargers, but Peyton Manning and the Broncos never looked back from the start. The Broncos will host their familiar foe, the New England Patriots next week at home.
Onward to the NFL Playoff Conference Championship matchups! Next weekend’s schedule is:
AFC Championship – New England Patriots at Denver Broncos (January 19th 3:00pm CBS)NFC Championship – San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks (January 19th 6:30pm FOX)
It was a wild weekend of upsets in college basketball. The #3 Ohio State Buckeyessuffered their second straight loss after losing to #5 Michigan State Spartans on the road last week and at home to #20 Iowa Hawkeyes on Sunday. The struggles continue for the #16 Duke Blue Devils on the road, as they fell to 1-2 in ACC play in a loss to the unranked Clemson Tigers. The #9 Iowa State Cyclones suffered their first loss of the season to the unranked Oklahoma Sooners.
It was a good weekend for others in college basketball. The #2 ranked Syracuse Orange improved their record to 16-0 and looked dominant in a big win over the North Carolina Tar Heels at home. And the #6 Wichita State Shockers came back from down 19 to beat the Missouri State Bears and remain undefeated as well.
College basketball continues as conference play picks up this week. Look for all the top teams to be back in action, with a number of good games to be played over Martin Luther King Weekend.
It may be the off-season in baseball, but there’s still plenty of drama. The New York Yankee’s Alex Rodriguez suspension for the use of performance enhancing drugs was reduced from 211 games to 162 games in an arbitration ruling that will still see him out for entire 2014 post-season.
In tennis, the Australian Open is off and running. The men’s side features familiar faces such as Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Roger Federer preparing to bring their best to the tennis court. On the women’s side, Serena Williams is the one the watch as usual – will anyone be able to stop brilliant dominance? Look for Sloane Stephens and Victoria Azarenka, among others to try.
Kevin Durant is a sight to be seen. The Oklahoma City Thunder star dropped 48 points, including game winner, and led his team to a close win against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night. The Thunder, one of the top teams in the Western Conference are looking to maintain their dominant status while point guard Russell Westbrook recovers from a knee injury that will likely keep him out until the all-star break in mid-February.
On the Eastern Conference side, Stephen Curry continued his rising stardom as the Golden State Warriors defeated LeBron James and the Miami Heat on the road in Miami. Curry dropped 36 points including 8 threes and 12 assists in the big win. The Warriors continued their road trip with a big win over the Atlanta Hawks with a game winner by Andre Iguodala and on Sunday, they beat the Washington Wizards for their 9th straight victory. After injuries slowed them at the start, this squad is now at full strength and looking poised to show the Western Conference what they’ve got.
As the season continues, so do the injuries. And even though it’s not an abnormal year for injuries in the NBA, it certainly can feel that way. LA Clippers star point guardChris Paul will be out for 3-6 weeks after separating his shoulder Friday against the Dallas Mavericks. New York Nets centerBrook Lopez had surgery on his broken foot that will end his play this season but likely save his career. Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving might miss a few more games but caught a break after a knee injury scare turned out to be just a bone bruise.
What a wild weekend for the opening round of the NFL playoffs. On Saturday, Andrew Luck led theIndianapolis Colts on a ferocious 28-point comeback win against the Kansas City Chiefs. Talk about a heart-breaking loss for the Chiefs, not only did they lose, but they lost in historic fashion. In the second game of the night, Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints beat the Philadelphia Eagles with a last second field goal. After a season apart, Coach Sean Payton and Drew Brees are looking to prove that they’ve got that same magic next week against the Seattle Seahawks.
Sunday’s first game featured the San Diego Chargers defeating the Cincinnati Bengals convincingly on the road. The Chargers are turning it on at the right time, and will face their greatest challenge yet next week against the Denver Broncos, the top seed in the AFC who they beat earlier this season. Sunday’s second game featured a great matchup between the San Francisco 49ers on the road in ice-cold Green Bay against the Packers. The Niners would go onto with a game winning field goal as time expired and will travel to slightly warmer Charlotte next weekend to face Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers.
The fun continues with more NFL playoff action next weekend. The Divisional Round matchups include:
NFC Divisional Round (January 11th/12th)
New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks (January 11th 4:35pm FOX) San Francisco 49ers at Carolina Panthers (January 12th 1:05pm FOX)
AFC Divisional Round (January 11th/12th):
Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots (January 11th 8:15pm CBS)
San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos (January 12th 4:40pm CBS)
Talk about an entertaining week of college football. Texas A&M beat Duke in a wild game at the Chick Fil-A Bowl.Michigan State looked strong and convincingly beat Stanford in the Rose Bowl and UCF toppedBaylor in the Fiesta Bowl. Oklahoma dominated Alabama in a big win in the Sugar Bowl, Clemsondefeated Ohio State in a very entertaining Orange Bowl, and Missouri beat Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl.
Charlie Strong is leaving the Louisville Cardinals to become the new head coach of the Texas Longhorns. It’s a big move for Strong; UT-Austin is one of the best jobs in college football. He is now the first black head coach in the history of the school for men’s athletics and replaces Mack Brown.
College football season ends Monday night with the BCS National Championship game. This the season’s most important game largely because it is the last year of the traditional BCS system. The Auburn Tigersdefense will look to stop Heisman winner/star quarterback Jameis Winston and the dominant Florida State Seminole offense. Florida State may have the line on their side, but look for this to be a close, entertaining finale to the college football season.
In college hoops, the weekend kicked off with some surprising wins and upsets. Kansas fans just couldn’t catch a break this weekend as the Kansas Jayhawks lost at home to the San Diego State Aztecs. Two top ten ranked teams opened up conference play with losses as #7 Duke fell to the Notre Dame and #6Oklahoma State lost to Kansas State. This marks the first time in nearly 6 years that Duke might not be ranked in the top 10 in this weeks polls. On the flipside, the top two ranked teams overcame close games to remain undefeated as #1 Arizona rallied to beat Washington and #2 Syracuse pulled away from Miami. Look for all teams to bounce back and continue to get tested as January heats up.