Red Sox

We have a new No. 1 in college basketball

553968.jpg

We have a new No. 1 in college basketball

From Comcast SportsNetANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) -- John Beilein acknowledged Monday afternoon that he had quite a few text messages on his phone.The Michigan coach just hadn't checked them yet."I've been absorbed in Northwestern tape," Beilein said.The Wolverines are No. 1 in The Associated Press' college basketball poll for the first time since their Fab Five days 20 years ago, but Beilein is determined not to get carried away with all this recognition.Michigan took over the top spot after a 74-60 victory at Illinois on Sunday night. Next up on the schedule is Northwestern, and there's no reason for the routine to change."Our goal at Michigan is to be No. 1 in the Big Ten. When you achieve that honor, you will have a chance at the national championship," Beilein said. "All through the year polls will spark great interest among college basketball fans everywhere and that is always good. Our coaches and players, however, will remain focused on our goals of improving daily and competing for the championship within our conference."Michigan is doing pretty well in that regard, too. The Wolverines tied for the Big Ten title last year, and they're deadlocked atop the league right now with No. 3 Indiana. The Hoosiers host Michigan on Saturday night.Michigan received 51 first-place votes from the 65-member national media panel Monday. Kansas moved up one spot to No. 2 and had 13 first-place votes. They are the only one-loss teams in the poll. Indiana, Florida, which drew the other first-place vote, and Duke complete the top five.Duke, which was No. 1 last week, dropped after being routed 90-63 by Miami in the third-worst defeat by a top-ranked team. It was the second straight week the No. 1 team lost.The Wolverines advanced from No. 2 to become No. 1 for the fourth time. They were at the top for 10 weeks in 1964-65, eight weeks in 1976-77 and three weeks at the start of 1992-93, the Fab Five's second and final season together.That season, Chris Webber, Juwan Howard, Jalen Rose, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson made it to the national championship game for the second straight year.Jackson now lives in Texas, but he roots for the Wolverines from afar."I'm excited about it and I'm very proud of those boys," Jackson said in a telephone interview Monday. "I'm really excited and pleased about what Coach Beilein has done to turn the program around."Michigan fell on hard times after the Fab Five moved on, in part because of NCAA sanctions related to that era. Beilein took over in 2007 and made the NCAA tournament in his second season with the Wolverines, but the program's rise didn't really begin until two years ago.In January 2011, Michigan was 1-6 in Big Ten play when the Wolverines shocked Michigan State in East Lansing. Michigan took off after that victory, reaching the NCAA tournament that year. The following season, the Wolverines won a share of their first conference title since 1986.Now the Wolverines are national title contenders thanks to guards Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway and a talented group of freshmen -- although the toughest tests are still to come.After hosting Northwestern on Wednesday night, Michigan faces a four-game stretch against Indiana, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan State."What I'd like to see is what we've already seen," Beilein said. "That they're on a mission to be the best that this team can possibly be."Michigan is the second Big Ten team to be No. 1 this season. Indiana was the preseason No. 1 and stayed there for the first five weeks of the regular season. Duke moved in for four weeks before Louisville and the Blue Devils both held it for one week.Rounding out the top 10 are No. 6 Syracuse, followed by Gonzaga, Arizona, Butler and Oregon. Miami rode its win over Duke to an 11-place jump in the poll, from 25th to 14th.Fourteen ranked teams, including half of the top 10, lost at least one game last week. Four teams, including Louisville, which dropped from fifth to 12th, lost twice last week.San Diego State and Marquette returned to the rankings this week, replacing Virginia Commonwealth, which was 19th, and Notre Dame, which was 24th.

Brad Ausmus interviews with Red Sox, but Alex Cora appears frontrunner

Brad Ausmus interviews with Red Sox, but Alex Cora appears frontrunner

BOSTON — Brad Ausmus was the second person to interview to replace John Farrell as Red Sox manager, baseball sources confirmed Monday afternoon. The Sox are expected to interview Ron Gardenhire, the Diamondbacks' bench coach, as well.

But the net might not be cast too wide. More and more, it sounds like the Sox already know whom they want.

Astros bench coach Alex Cora, who met with Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski in New York on Sunday, appears the frontrunner to take the reins next year. The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal has reported that to be the case multiple times, and for some inside the Sox organization, that's a growing feeling as well.

MORE:

The criteria the Sox value most isn't hard to guess: a strong connection with players, an ability to incorporate data and analytics; and someone who can handle the market.

"I knew Alex for a couple of years before getting a chance to work with him and had tried to recruit him to work a few years ago and he had other options," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said Monday in New York, before Game 3 of the American League Championship Series against the Yankees. "To watch him develop relationships with the players, he's all about baseball. He's all about the competition and small advantages within the game, one of the brightest baseball intellects that I've been around. And to see him pass some of that on and transition from player to TV personality to coach, he's had a ton of impact.

"He challenges people. He challenges me. He's someone who's all about winning. And I think to watch our players respond to him, he's got a lot of respect in that clubhouse because of the work he puts in and the attention to detail that he brings. That's why he's the hottest managerial candidate on the planet and deservedly so."

Cora joined the Astros before this season.

Ausmus, whom Dombrowski hired in Detroit ahead of the 2014 season, grew up in Connecticut and went to Dartmouth. The 48-year-old spent 18 seasons as a big-league catcher, the last in 2010. He was working for the Padres before Dombrowski gave him his first shot at managing the Tigers. 

Ausmus went 314-332 in four years managing the Tigers, a more veteran team than might have been ideal for him as a first-time manager.

Ausmus pulled out of the running to interview with the Mets, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag while Cora was expected to interview with the Mets on Monday or Tuesday, per the New York Post's Mike Puma.

What could change from here? One baseball source indicated a second interview with Cora was expected. Asked if he plans a second round of interviews generally, Dombrowski did not say.

"We have started the interview process," Dombrowski wrote via email. "I do not have any specific time frames at this point. Will wait and evaluate as we go through the process."

The Boston Herald's Chad Jennings first reported Ausmus' interview.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Smart, Celtics unable to agree on contract extension prior to deadline

Smart, Celtics unable to agree on contract extension prior to deadline

CLEVELAND – For the third year in a row, a first-round pick of the Boston Celtics is unable to come to terms on a contract extension prior to the deadline.

That means Marcus Smart will become a restricted free agent this summer. Last year it was Kelly Olynyk (now with the Miami Heat) and in 2015 it was Jared Sullinger (now with Shenzhen Leopards of the Chinese Basketball Association).

Both the Celtics and Smart's camp intensified their discussions in recent days as the October 16th 6 p.m. EST deadline drew near.

MORE:

While there was progress made, there wasn’t enough to get a deal done.

Smart has repeatedly indicated that he wants to re-sign a long-term deal to stay in Boston.

And the market for the 6-foot-4 guard became clearer based on the contracts that some of his fellow rookie class of 2014, were receiving.

Denver’s Gary Harris agreed to a four-year, $84 million contract after establishing himself as one of the better young two-way talents in the NBA last season. And at the other end of the financial spectrum, you would have to look at Phoenix’s T.J. Warren who signed a four-year, $50 million contract.

More than likely, Smart’s deal next summer will fall somewhere between the deals those two players received.

As much as Smart would have preferred to get a deal done heading into the season, it’s not something that he’s going to cause him to lose any sleep.

“Get it done now, or get it done in six months, I’m OK either way,” he told NBC Sports Boston. “I’m not worried about it.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE