DMV College Basketball Power Rankings: A shake-up near the top

USA Today Sports Images

DMV College Basketball Power Rankings: A shake-up near the top

Thanksgiving week is without a doubt the busiest it will get during the college basketball regular season. A majority of teams in the Mid-Atlantic region played in a preseason tournament and it came with mixed results.

Towson was one of two schools to come away with a tournament title, being named Gulf Coast Showcase Champions. As a result, they become the first school to break up the top five that was holding strong for nearly three weeks. Virginia claimed an even more impressive NIT Tip-Off Championship as well as breaking into the AP Top 25 poll. 

Elsewhere teams down the rankings faced off against each other. The biggest, and perhaps most entertaining was William and Mary’s buzzer beater against Old Dominion.

This week though is when the ‘Power’ part of power rankings begins to show and it is more than wins and losses that determines how one team compares to another.


These rankings are based on scores as of Monday, November 27. All 29 Division I schools in Washington D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware are included in this rankings.

1. Maryland Terrapins (Big Ten):
Record: 6-1
Last Week: #1 (+0)

During feast week the Maryland Terrapins suffered their first loss of 2017 during the Emerald Coast Classic. While there is nothing to be worried about in terms of the loss, St. Bonaventure is still a really good team; there are some worrying notes.

The Bonnies beat the Terps without their best player, who is will likely be a candidate for Atlantic 10 Player of the Year when it is all said and done. Against the zone, Maryland’s offense looked awful, particularly against the 1-3-1. Maryland just threw up shots, played hero basketball, basically everything opposite of what they have shown this season.

Nothing to worry about in a loss to St. Bonaventure, they will likely make the NCAA Tournament either as an at-large or the Atlantic 10 champion this season. The Terrapins did rebound with a win over New Mexico, another decent squad, to finish in third place at the Emerald Coast Classic.

For now they stay No. 1 in these rankings, but the Cavaliers are nipping at their heels during key parts of both of their non-conference schedules. Next up, the Big Ten/ ACC Challenge on Monday against Syracuse and then a slight dip into conference play on Friday, hosting Purdue.

2. Virginia Cavaliers (ACC):
Record: 6-0
Last Week: #2 (+0)

Virginia keeps racking up decent non-conference wins. The Cavaliers won the NIT Season Tip-Off Tournament by beating both Vanderbilt and Rhode Island.

No players are bouncing off of the stat sheet night after night. No one is scoring 20 points a game. Their defense first mentality is paying off once again.

During the tournament, senior Isaiah Wilkins was named the Tournament MVP. In two games he had 27 points combined (11-15), including a game-high 19 against Rhode Island in the championship game. Additionally he blocked five shots in the two games to bring his total up to eight on the year in six contests.

They now play Wisconsin this week in the Big Ten/ ACC Challenge.


3. VCU Rams (A-10):
Record: 3-3
Last Week: #3 (+0)

Leaving the Jim Maui Innovational one could easily say that the VCU Rams underperformed.

Although it resulted with a win over a Power 5 school, beating California does absolutely nothing for VCU in terms of RPI help. De’Riante Jenkins had a team-high 27 points and 11 rebounds for the best performance of his year. They closed the tournament with a 68-60 loss to Michigan in a game that was a lot closer than the final result.

A big problem so far is that it appears Jonathan Williams and Justin Tillman are trying to do a little too much offensively instead of run an offensive system. Additionally, fouling is becoming a large issue for both of them.

4. Virginia Tech Hokies (ACC):
Record: 5-1
Last Week: #4 (+0)

Not much for Virginia Tech this week, two blowout wins over Houston Baptist and Morehead State keeps them fourth in our power rankings.

They are not far off from passing VCU, two wins this week over Iowa and Ole Miss would jump them ahead of the Rams. They are just lacking a quality win this season (beating Washington is not going to cut it).

In both of their wins this past week they shot 57 and 65 percent from the field, getting everyone involved in the scoring. Justin Bibbs is still leading the team in scoring with 25 and 15 points this week. On the season he is shooting 67 percent from the field and has eight other teammates joining him in the plus-50 percent club.

Overall a strong start for the Hokies this season, just now they need to do it consistently against good schools, like Iowa and Ole Miss this week.

5. Towson Tigers (CAA):
Record: 5-1
Last Week: #7 (+2)

Leaving the Gulf Coast Showcase as tournament champions will bump up the Tigers to their highest mark of the season in these rankings.

Mike Morsell, the tournament’s MVP, finally pulled it all together averaging 14 points in three games, including 16 in the championship against Georgia Southern. Brian Starr also was named to the all-tournament team, scoring 15 in the championship.

Still early, but the Tigers are currently ranked third in the NCAA for three-point defense at 20.2 percent. They are continuing to have balanced production from their entire roster and have no problem going to their bench.

In five straight games they have scored 70 or more points and could continue that stretch against St. Mary’s College on Monday.

6. George Mason Patriots (A-10):
Record: 3-3
Last Week: #5 (-1)

In the tournament portion of the Cancun Challenge the Patriots were unable to get a win against Louisiana Tech or Fresno State finishing last in their preseason tournament.

While those two teams were tough competition, they were two squads on the Patriots level. George Mason may not be a year ahead of schedule as originally thought. Playing a young group of players, including four freshmen, the team should slowly get better throughout the season.

A big issue is scoring in the first half, in their two tournament games a combined 53 points in the first 20 minutes of action. They shot 15-53 in that span.

Despite those issues offensively, defensively they are giving up open shots from deep. Of course this is to circumvent the fact that their tallest player is 6-8 and averages less than seven minutes a night.

7. Old Dominion Monarchs (C-USA):
Record: 4-2
Last Week: #6 (-1)

Only one game this week for the Monarchs and it was a heartbreaker. Losing to William & Mary on the road with a half-court buzzer beater is the only thing that kept the Monarchs out of the top five. Honestly if they didn’t play this week, they would have passed George Mason. Instead they drop down to seventh.

Ahmad Caver had a double-double with 13 points and 10 assists while B.J. Stith went off with 26 points (11-12 FG).

8. Georgetown Hoyas (Big East):
Record: 4-0
Last Week: #8 (+0)

Facing their toughest opponent so far this year, Georgetown continued to stay undefeated with a road win at Richmond this week.

Offensively they shot 53 percent from the field and had all of their starters reach double figures. What kept the Spiders in this game though was 18 turnovers by the Hoyas, most of them being careless.

Three players nearly tallied a double-double, including Jonathan Mulmore who almost did it with eight assists. Marcus Derrickson led the charge tough with 16 points, seven of those coming from the charity stripe.

This was the Hoyas ONLY non-conference game away from Capital One Arena. They look to continue their undefeated start against Maine and Coppin State this week.

9. Liberty Flames (Big South):
Record: 4-2
Last Week: #9 (+0)

A blowout win over Toccoa Falls, a Division II opponent, does change anything for Liberty in these rankings or for their season. Redshirt sophomore Scottie James has a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds in only 10 minutes of play.

10. UMBC Retrievers (A-East):
Record: 3-3
Last Week: #10 (+0)

Barely squeaking out a win over Nicholls’ State with free throws by Jairus Lyles kept UMBC in the top ten momentarily. They also barely held on over Chicago State earlier in the week.

They would have been over a lot earlier had they sunk their free throws (18-30 and 17-29). Offensively they are fine, just defensively they are having trouble forcing teams into tough shots.

Joe Sherburne is coming off of the bench in a big way for the Retrievers with 19 and 16 points this week.

They rattled off a third straight win over Shenandoah just before these rankings were published.


11. William & Mary Tribe (CAA):
Record: 3-2
Last Week: #15 (+4)

The old CAA is always fun to reminisce about and Saturday the good ol’ days were on display.

Senior Oliver Tot ended a classic between two schools in Hampton Roads, connecting on a buzzer-beating half court shot to end the game.

In 19 minutes of action that was the only points he scored, but were also the biggest in the contest.

David Cohn was the star for the game, single-handily trying to beat the Monarchs. He had 25 points, including spotting up on five of six from behind the arc. Dishing out nine assists he easily had his best performance of the season.

Honestly the Tribe could go higher in these rankings and they will if they prove it against Marshall and Savannah State this week.

12. George Washington Colonials (A-10):
Record: 2-4
Last Week: #11 (-1)

Playing well against No. 15 Xavier and Kansas State, George Washington is putting it together halfway through their non-conference season. Neither of those two games the Colonials were expected to win.

Against Xavier though, the Colonials did see the development of freshman Terry Nolan Jr, dropping 18 points for the second time this season.

Its tough to gauge how George Washington actually stacks up based on these two games this week. Like George Mason and other young teams on this list, it will be a work in progress to see how they do this season. George Washington should get a win over Morgan State at home this year, then have a key match-up against Temple at the BB&T Classic.

13. Richmond Spiders (A-10):
Record: 1-5
Last Week: #12 (-1)

Khwan Fore is back and Grant Golden is going off and yet there are still a ton of problems for the Spiders.

Defensively they are stopping no one in the post and Georgetown exploited that early and often on Saturday. When they are stopping teams in the paint, they just foul them. They consistently are getting outrebounded and aside from Golden and De’Monte Buckingham, no one is scoring.

Local Maryland product, Golden continues to lead the team with 16.2 ppg on the season and 6.2 rebounds. He also has the best mark from the field, 53 percent, and from behind the arc, 38 percent, on the team.

No let up on the schedule for the Spiders. Vermont, who received votes in the AP Top 25 poll this week, comes to town and then Richmond heads to Wake Forest.

14. Morgan State Bears (MEAC):
Record: 3-2
Last Week: #13 (-1)

Goldey-Beacom was their lone opponent this week and the Bears won by 15.  Lapri McCray-Pace led the team in points and on the boards. He had 21 and seven respectively. He is the only Bear averaging more than 10 points per game on the season.

15. Navy Midshipmen (Patriot):
Record: 5-3
Last Week: #14 (-1)

A lot of action this week for the Midshipmen at the Florida Gulf Coast Shootout. They leave the action 3-1 with their only loss coming against Florida Gulf Coast.

As they always do, they have a packed roster and have been able to put away teams will strong performances from everyone.

They play three straight teams in these rankings this week, Delaware, Morgan State, and Coppin State. They could wrap up a decent non-conference stretch this year if there are no surprises from here on out.

16. Delaware Blue Hens (CAA):
Record: 4-2
Last Week: #16 (+0)

The Blue Hens barely knocked off a winless Longwood squad at home, only totaling 65 points.

DeMatha Catholic graduate Ryan Allen had his best performance of his freshman campaign. He scored 19, with 5 boards and two assists.

But while he was great the team needs help in the paint to not tire out their guards.

Yale comes to town on Monday and then they travel to Navy to wrap up the week.

17. Radford (Big South):
Record: 3-2
Last Week: #19 (+2)

They must like playing teams with purple in their logo, because they rattled off another win this time over James Madison 69-68.

Ed Polite Jr. (17 points) would hit the game winner with five seconds left on the clock to keep the Highlanders undefeated at home to start the year. The team was once down by 15 in the first half.

They go on the road to Vanderbilt and VMU this week.

18. Hampton Pirates (MEAC):
Record: 2-5
Last Week: #17 (-1)

Hampton was almost able to knock off Rider, trying in their second time this season. Allowing 50-plus points in the second half for the second time really hurts.

Many of the games this far are contests that the Pirates knew got away from them this season.

What has been consistent is sophomore guard, Jermaine Marrow who is making a case for All-MEAC honors early in the year. Both games this week he scored 19 points and combined to dish out 15 assists. He is averaging 20.9 points and 6.1 assists per game.

If only he had some help, they could really do some damage before they start conference play, for the final time in the MEAC, in January.

19. James Madison Dukes (CAA):
Record: 2-5
Last Week: #21 (+2)

A stunner in Harrisonburg as the Dukes knocked off Appalachian State this week in double overtime, 105-99. A win of this magnitude would definitely vault James Madison up the rankings, however they lost to Radford on Saturday.

20. American Eagles (Patriot):
Record: 2-3
Last Week: #23 (+3)

A two-game winning streak for the Eagles over New Hampshire and VMI gives them their first two wins of the season. Sa’eed Beksib now has three straight games where he has scored 20 points or more and all were in their best games of the season.

21. Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers (NEC):
Record: 2-4
Last Week: #18 (-3)

The Mount scored 90 to close out the Maui Invitational and then traveled to Ohio where they dropped another contest by nearly 20 points.

They’re still small, not forcing turnovers and are led by Junior Robinson. He is still averaging 21.3 points a game.

During their game against York (P.A.), the Mountaineers unveiled their 2017 Northeast Conference Championship banners. Right now they are exactly on pace with their championship run from last season.

They are only falling in the standings because other teams are winning.

22. Loyola Greyhounds (Patriot):
Record: 1-4
Last Week: #20 (-2)

Getting their first win on the season over Goucher, the Greyhounds finally have that monkey off of their back. Unfortunately they would not keep that going losing on the road to UMass Lowell. In the 83-75 loss, there was a nine minute second half stretch where Loyola failed to score even once. That would doom them despite a double-double from Cam Gregory (17 points, 14 rebounds).

Back to the drawing board as they now look for their first Division I win of the season.

23. Norfolk State Spartans (MEAC):
Record: 0-6
Last Week: #22 (-1)

Still winless on the year it is starting to get dark for the Spartans.

It is not like they are losing to really good teams either. At the grand Canyon Classic the most points they scored was 62 against San Diego. No hole on the schedule either as they may go a month into the year without a win.

24. VMI Keydets (SoCon):
Record: 2-3
Last Week: #25 (+1)

Winning has to feel good for the Keydets after last season. Their losses are also not that embarrassing anymore either. They could pick up another one this week and also face rival Radford on Sunday.

25. Howard Bison (MEAC):
Record: 0-6
Last Week: #24 (-1)

Their chance to win their first game is on the horizon. They play Central Pennsylvania College this week.

26. Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawks (MEAC):
Record: 2-4
Last Week: #26 (+0)

At first one would be inclined to move the Hawks up after beating Jackson State for their second victory of the season. But they then followed that up with a 30-point loss to Tennessee Tech in the Emerald Coast Classic.

27. Longwood Lancers (Big South):
Record: 1-5
Last Week: #27 (+0)

The Lancers get their first win of the year, knocking off a Division II opponent by 29 at home. In that game they scored more than they did of the entire UNGC Tournament.

28. Delaware State Hornets (MEAC):
Record: 2-4
Last Week: #28 (+0)

We’re not going to make the cross-division joke but the Hornets only wins (and only games that are within single digits) are against non-Division I teams.

29. Coppin State (MEAC):
Record: 0-6
Last Week: #29 (+0)

In one game the Bald Eagles surpassed the 60-point plateau and the 70-point plateau, however that was in a loss.


Rick Horrow's Sports Business Podcast March 12: The business of the NCAA Tournament

Rick Horrow's Sports Business Podcast March 12: The business of the NCAA Tournament

with Jamie Swimmer & Jesse Leeds Grant

Podcast edited by Tanner Simkins

  1. From top seed Virginia to final picks Arizona State and Syracuse, it feels as though everyone involved in March Madness is on the bubble this year. As noted by the AP and elsewhere, college basketball is in trouble. When the brackets were revealed on Selection Sunday, Kansas, Villanova, and Xavier joined Virginia as Number 1 seeds. But those teams, along with the other 64 contenders, will play against the backdrop of an NCAA investigation in which bribes and payoffs made bigger headlines than no-look passes and buzzer beaters. The tourney begins Tuesday with play-in games featuring UCLA and St. Bonaventure, then kicks into full swing Thursday and Friday at eight regional sites around the U.S. Shortly after the April 2 championship game in San Antonio, a commission led by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will likely deliver recommendations from an investigation triggered by an FBI probe that led to charges last fall against coaches, agents, shoe company employees, and others. No fewer than 12 tournament teams have been named by either the FBI or media investigations that allege coaches and others have directed payments and improper benefits to recruits and players – breaking rules that define both the NCAA and the "student-athletes" who created the $1.06 billion in revenue the NCAA earned in its 2017 fiscal year.
  2. In all, the NCAA landed nearly $1.1 billion in annual revenue during the 2017 fiscal year, according to an audited financial statement released by the association last Wednesday. According to USA Today, that number marks the first time in NCAA history that it has surpassed the $1 billion threshold, with the statement also showing more than $956 million in expenses in the 2017 fiscal year alongside $105 million in profit. The rise in revenue came as a result of increases from TV and marketing fees in addition to investment income and increased revenue from championship events, according to the report. Television rights packages with tournament broadcast partners CBS and Turner accounted for more than $800 million of its revenue. That $800 million figure and the $8 billion the networks have agreed to pay to broadcast the tourney through 2032 also gives March Madness announcers some incentive to not mention the FBI investigation during courtside broadcasts.
  3. As the NCAA tournament prepares to tip off this week, the NBA is likewise "preparing to get involved again with elite high school basketball players," according to ESPN and other sources. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and "several of his top advisers have been engaged in listening tours and information-gathering missions with an array of stakeholders for months." That has included formal meetings with the NBPA about "adjusting the so-called 'one-and-done' age-limit rule." A plan is "expected to include the NBA starting relationships with elite teenagers while they are in high school." It would ultimately "open an alternate path to the NBA besides playing in college and a way 18-year-olds could earn a meaningful salary.” Another benefit of the new NBA plan? It would undoubtedly cut down on the under the table payments and improper benefits being alleged in the current FBI investigation of NCAA coaches and players, as the top-tier recruits who stand to receive such compensation will likely forego college altogether, returning the college basketball environment to the “amateurs.”
  4. During this year’s tournament, NCAA March Madness Live will offer fans multiple ways to engage with live coverage for all 67 games of the 2018 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship. March Madness Live will run across 16 platforms this year – the most in the product’s history. In addition, the digital platform will introduce a new Fast Break feature offering continuous live streaming coverage throughout the first round of the NCAA Tournament, presented by AT&T and Lowe’s. The offering will include live streaming whip-around coverage of every tournament game during the first two full days of tournament action, switching from game-to-game with live look-ins, quick turnaround highlights, and commentary on behalf of all the games. NCAA March Madness Live will also continue to offer select NCAA Tournament games in virtual reality this year. Every year, as the dollar signs get bigger, the digital stakes get higher. And what happens around the digital brackets often slides over to other sports. The Madness spreads.
  5. With March Madness upon us, the personal finance website WalletHub has released its NCAA Tournament Stats and Facts infographic as well as its report on 2018’s Best Cities for College Basketball Fans. To find 2018’s top spots for NCAA hoops, WalletHub crunched the numbers on more than 280 U.S. cities using nine key metrics. They range from the number of teams per city and the winning percentage of each to stadium capacity and social-media engagement. The survey identified the best cities for college basketball fans as #1 Chapel Hill, NC; #2 Lawrence, KS; #3 Los Angeles, CA; #4 Durham, NC; and #5 Lexington, KY. WalletHub also noted that the $8.98 million salary paid to college basketball’s highest paid coach, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, compared very favorably to the $1.4 million combined for Duke’s president and the North Carolina governor, and that the difference between the average NBA rookie’s salary ($2.36 million) and a D1 men’s basketball scholarship for a year ($130,000) is a factor of 18x. Get those brackets filled out before Thursday, and let the unofficial U.S. hoops holiday begin.
  6. This year’s NCAA March Madness Music Festival – presented by the NCAA, Turner Live Events, and official NCAA Corporate Champions AT&T, Coca-Cola and Capital One – will take place at Hemisfair in San Antonio as part of this year’s NCAA Final Four celebration. The three-day free music festival features Maroon 5 and Imagine Dragons, and additional performers will be announced in the coming weeks. The festival opens on March 30 with the AT&T Block Party, while Imagine Dragons take the stage on March 31 as the Coca-Cola Music headliner. Maroon 5 then headlines the Capital One JamFest on April 1. Even with a mega sporting event as big as March Madness and its crowning Final Four weekend, organizers and sponsors alike are ever-cognizant of the need to keep fans entertained with wall-to-wall shoulder programming, even when the on-court attraction is as good as its going to get all year.
  7. Woods-stock is back. Tiger Woods moved to 149th in the Official World Ranking, up from 388, and won $572,000 in prize money with his (tied for) second place finish in the Valspar Championship. And when it comes to picking up a check, according to GolfWorld there's no state he'd rather be in than Florida. Woods has now earned $20,553,868 in the Sunshine State, or slightly more than 20% of the $100 million he's made in the U.S. Ohio ($16,335,145) ranks second on the list and California comes in third ($16,057,684), followed by Georgia (those four green jackets help) at $13,372,311. After three PGA starts so far this season and plenty of fist pumps and power shots that remind golf fans of the Woods of old, it feels like this might be the year that Woods can finally bring his magic back to the sport. Golf fans seem to agree, as ticket prices have skyrocketed in recent days for those who want to watch Tiger compete in the Masters for just the second time since 2013. According to, the average price of a single-day ticket at Augusta this year is a whopping $2,948.42 on secondary markets. Compare that to $2,592.91 for last year’s Masters. A renewed Tiger Mania has effectively increased the price of entry at Augusta National by 20%. And we’re still four weeks, and several tourneys, away.
  8. Jimmy Pitaro beat out at least five internal candidates to become ESPN’s eighth and newest president. Pitaro, who headed up Disney’s consumer products and interactive media group since 2016, will report directly to Disney Chair and CEO Bob Iger. Pitaro replaces John Skipper, who resigned in December citing a substance abuse problem. Former ESPN President George Bodenheimer took over as interim president for a 90-day period while Iger interviewed for a permanent replacement. Iger picked Pitaro over internal candidates including ESPN Exec VP/Affiliate Sales and Marketing Justin Connolly, Exec VP/Content Connor Schell, Exec VP/Programming and Scheduling Burke Magnus, Exec VP/International Russell Wolff, and others. Iger was reportedly swayed that Pitaro’s background in digital media, sports, and consumer products would be a good fit for a sports media company trying to navigate a new media world. One of the first tasks on Pitaro's to-do list will be overseeing the launch of ESPN+, coming later this spring. He will also need to focus on looming sports rights renewals: ESPN’s MLB and NFL deals end in 2021.
  9. Need data to prove that the U.S. is in fact the biggest international sports market? Here’s some more food for thought for new ESPN honcho Jimmy Pitaro. According to a newly-released global industry survey, the worldwide sports media rights market is valued at $49.5 billion. American sports rights holders take in 36% ($18 billion) of that total, with the NFL ($7.3 billion), NBA ($3.9 billion) and MLB ($3.4 billion) regarded as three of the four most valuable sports media properties in the world. The English Premier League ($4.5 billion) is the only non-U.S. based sports media property generating more than $3 billion per year in revenue. For reference purposes, the Champions League, La Liga and Serie A bring in $2.2 billion, $1.9 billion, and $1.5 billion, respectively. Major shifts in sports consumer preferences and tastes, as well as the NFL’s recent troubles, will likely cause Pitaro to more closely evaluate opportunities outside of U.S. borders for ESPN.
  10. Here’s even more food for ESPN thought: mass audience reach, long believed to be an assumed advantage of the largest TV networks, is proving to be a myth. In 2018, marketers and agency executives at all levels are rating Facebook, Amazon, and Google/YouTube as more valuable at delivering on that goal than broadcasting and lead cable network groups. The trio’s market dominance is being driven by their ability to share detailed metrics against specific KPIs identified by marketers and their agencies. A new survey of over 1,200 U.S. brand marketers and agency executives, conducted by Jack Myers Tomorrow Today for Media Village, revealed that 80% of respondents rated the three online companies as very valuable for reach delivery, compared to 61% who rated the four leading broadcast networks as valuable. While ESPN was not named in the survey, the continuing mass migration to social and digital media is the impetus behind sports networks’ large-scale investment in proprietary social/digital platforms, and a major reason the Twitters and Facebooks of our world can now land Big Four sports media rights – a notion that would have been laughable even a handful of years ago.
  11. And in that vein, just examined how Instagram "conquered the NBA." While soccer "still reigns supreme worldwide, the NBA is Instagram’s shining star domestically." The NBA’s official account "has 27 million followers -- nearly doubling the NFL’s 10.9 million and MLB’s 4 million combined -- and totaled a whopping 3.7 billion video views on the platform last year." LeBron James "leads all U.S. athletes with 35.7 million followers, dwarfing Tom Brady’s 3.9 million." And the Warriors "lead all team accounts with 8 million followers." As new basketball stars and NBA prospects arise during the NCAA tournament, it will be instructive to see how many new Instagram followers they gain alongside points, assists, and rebounds.
  12. Churchill Downs, Inc. has announced it will acquire casinos in Pennsylvania and Mississippi, as it prepares to capitalize on legalized sports betting. The company will buy the Presque Isle Downs & Casino in Erie, PA (for $178.9 million) and the Lady Luck Casino in Vicksburg, Mississippi (for $50.6 million), from current owner Eldorado Resorts. Both Pennsylvania and Mississippi have passed sports betting legislation that would change their laws, should the U.S. Supreme Court rule in favor. Churchill Downs also owns brick-and-mortar casinos in Illinois, Kentucky, and Louisiana -- three other states actively working towards sports betting legalization. While Presque Isle Downs & Casino is among the lowest revenue-generating casinos in Pennsylvania, it is a significant acquisition for Churchill Downs. Pennsylvania recently legalized online gambling and the law passed covers mobile wagering on sporting events when permitted by federal law. While land-based casinos are profitable, mobile sports betting really has Churchill Downs excited. TwinSpires, the company’s online horse betting platform, accounted for $256.7 million in 2017 revenue. You can assume the company will look to quickly turn their database of users betting on the ponies into mainstream sports gamblers.
  13. In Miami, the new MLS ownership group inches closer to its stadium site. According to the Miami Herald, David Beckham and Jorge Mas met this week with Miami City Manager Emilio Gonzalez about building an MLS stadium on the city-owned Melreese Country Club, "floating a 180-acre alternative" near Miami International Airport. Mas and his brother Jose have discussed with Gonzalez "how the Melreese park could mesh with the Mas ambitions for a sprawling soccer complex." Gonzalez is entertaining the "possibility of renting at least a sizable portion of Miami’s largest park and a public 18-hole golf course to a for-profit soccer stadium and commercial complex." Miami has always been a hotbed of public-private investment – much of which has deserved a raised eyebrow or two – and the new proposed mixed-use soccer stadium is only the most recent footnote in that grand tradition.
  14. The NHL and NHLPA, in conjunction with Live Nation, announced dates, local start times, locations and ticketing information for the 2018 NHL Global Series and the 2018 NHL Global Series Challenge. In January, the NHL announced that the Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, New Jersey Devils, and Winnipeg Jets will play regular-season games in Europe as part of the slate. The Oilers and Devils will play their 2018-2019 season-opening game against each other in Gothenburg, Sweden on October 6, while the Panthers and Jets will face off in a pair of regular-season games in Helsinki, Finland on November 1-2. Prior to the New Jersey-Edmonton season-opening matchup, the Devils and Oilers will complete their training camps in Europe and will each play in an exhibition match as part of the 2018 NHL Global Series Challenge. Even though we didn’t get to see NHL players complete in the Olympics this year, the Global Series Challenge gives hockey fans around the world a taste of the NHL – and allows the league, rather than the IOC, to control the schedule and the accompanying revenue.
  15. Elsewhere in Olympic-land, the IOC has laid out an overview of 25 recommendations from its Gender Equality Review Project, in a move to “focus on changing the conversation about women in sport holistically – from participation to representation and decision-making.” According to Cynopsis Sports, the recommendations cover five key areas – sport, portrayal, funding, governance, and human resources.  “We are certain that, through the implementation of the 25 IOC Gender Equality Recommendations, we as the Olympic Movement – athletes, officials, commissions, federations and executives – can take real steps to enact effective change together,” said IOC President Thomas Bach. “It is not just the right thing to do. It is in the interest of us all – the fans, the families, and every girl and woman who has been able to fully realize her dreams through athletic participation.” A fitting way for the IOC to celebrate last week’s International Women’s Day, and the rest of March, which is Women’s History Month.





Tech Top 5


  1. Levy Restaurants tests robot cooks in sport venues. Levy Restaurants, in collaboration with California technology startup Miso Robotics, is developing a robotic chef capable of cooking in commercial kitchens such as sports venues. The artificial kitchen assistant, named Flippy in its initial pilot testing, is an industrial robotic arm that uses a combination of cameras, artificial intelligence, thermal scanners, and lasers to know when to turn burgers and remove them from the grill, complete deep-frying cycles, or chop vegetables. The robotic arm is capable of instantly receiving digital orders, starting food on a grill or fryer, monitoring precise food temperatures during cooking, removing that food, and then alerting humans when it’s time to finish and serve items. The robot can even change spatulas from one for raw food to one for cooked food to ensure compliance with safety regulations. “We’ve essentially built a third hand for overworked chefs,” said David Zito, Miso Robotics co-founder and chief executive. The technology is set to debut this summer at Dodger Stadium, at a popular food stand at the ballpark offering fried chicken. That installation will be followed by one at L.A.’s Staples Center this fall, and a broader rollout over the next two years across Levy’s portfolio of sports and entertainment clients.
  2. Social media features NCAA March Madness selection show. Ahead of this year’s 2018 NCAA March Madness Selection Show, Turner Sports and CBS Sports produced a special four-hour Social Madness social media preshow, running exclusively on official March Madness handles across YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook along with and Bleacher Report. March Madness Selection Countdown will showcase fan-created content from schools and teams that have earned automatic bids to this year’s 2018 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship via conference championships, in addition to those seeking at-large bids. The key for the joint CBS-Turner tournament has always been to evolve and innovate all aspects of how it is broadcast, beginning with moving the tournament to four different channels in 2011 and expanding regularly to different online and social platforms. The more aggressive move to social in 2018 represents the next generation of March Madness Selection Show expansion.
  3. Real Madrid launches VR channel.  Fans of Real Madrid will now be able to watch Cristiano Ronaldo score goals and give exciting locker room speeches in virtual reality on their TVs thanks to a partnership between La Liga and Dream VR, which creates a dedicated channel for VR content watchable on mobile devices. The channel will allow Real Madrid fans around the world to access exclusive videos from the club, including 360-degree content. Dream VR developed the new channel through its own application, which can be accessed via iOS and Android mobile devices and various virtual reality platforms. The Dream VR app is also available through Samsung Smart TV and Apple TV platforms, with plans to extend their reach to other sports teams in the near future. Real Madrid's commitment to this new initiative, which launched last Monday and will offer new content each month, is set to enable the club's millions of followers throughout the world to enjoy exclusive 360° content.
  4. Kevin Durant joins wearable technology company as investor. Whoop, the wearable company that partnered with the NFL Players Association last year to track player strain and recovery, has secured a $25 million Series C funding round led by UAE71 Capital with participation from the NFLPA, Kevin Durant via the Durant Company, and NBA Commissioner Emeritus David Stern. "In the process of fundraising you meet people and get introduced to one another," Whoop co-founder and CEO Will Ahmed said when asked how he met UAE71. “They’ve worked with other products in the past and we were excited by their point of view of expanding internationally.” Founded out of the Harvard iLab in 2012, Whoop uses the wristbands to track data about an athlete's sleep schedule, "strain" during workouts, and recovery afterwards. The company has now raised about $50 million in total. Whoop wristbands have been approved for in-game use by Major League Baseball, and the company is working toward similar arrangements with the NFL and the NBA.
  5. Rep The Squad jersey rental adds MLB jerseys. Rep the Squad announced the addition of MLB jerseys to its marketplace, as well as a new trade-in program that aims to reduce the amount of counterfeit items. The Seattle-based jersey rental service now offers Seattle Mariners and Detroit Tigers jerseys, with more MLB teams to be added later this year. Rep the Squad uses a Netflix-like model, charging customers $19.95 per month to receive selected jerseys in the mail, one at a time. When you’re done wearing one, you can return it and receive a different jersey as long as you maintain your subscription. The company launched last year with NFL jerseys, and added NBA jerseys in November. It aims to attract new customers by offering membership discounts for used jerseys fans already own, including counterfeit items. After signing up for the trade-in program, members will receive a free subscription for one month after sending in their old jersey. Rep the Squad has raised $2.5 million from top venture capital firms, along with current and former pro athletes such as Doug Baldwin, Golden Tate, Russell Okung, and Edgar Martinez.




Power of Sports 5

  1. Tom Brady gets a buzz cut for charity and raises $6.5 million. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady just got a buzz cut for a cancer research institute. Brady was the mystery guest at last Thursday's "Saving by Shaving" annual fundraiser for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Brady showed off his new look on Instagram after his long, brown hair was shaved down with a razor. Granite Telecommunications holds the event at its headquarters in Quincy, Massachusetts. The company pledged to give over $5 million to the cancer institute if 1,000 people shaved their heads or beards. Granite Telecomm says 1,200 people participated this year, and it will contribute $6.5 million for its fifth annual event. "It's great to see you guys out here. I know you're doing great work and I know we are going to continue to do the same," Brady told the crowd. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker stood beside Brady. "It's a great statement about him as well as a great statement about how much people appreciate the chance to do this on behalf of such a great cause," Baker said. Saving by Shaving has raised close to $15 million in four years.
  2. Rich Eisen runs 40-yard dash for charity. Every year, Rich Eisen steps onto the starting block at the NFL Combine and runs a 40-yard dash, with the NFL Network anchor using the platform to benefit St. Jude Children's Hospital. This marks the 14th consecutive year that Eisen has run a televised 40. He posted his best time in 2016, when he ran a 5.94. That’s the second time in all these years that Eisen has managed to get below six seconds. This raises money for a wonderful cause, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. St. Jude’s provides treatment and care to children with cancer and other life-threatening diseases, and they never turn away a patient based on their ability to pay. Families do not receive any bill from St. Jude’s when their child receives treatment there. The NFL Network will contribute $25,000 this year to St. Jude’s on behalf of Run Rich Run. AT&T Audience Network, Courtyard by Marriott, and Under Armour also pledged $25,000 each to St. Jude’s as part of this initiative, for a total of $100,000. “I’m touched and honored by the chance to do anything on behalf of St. Jude and the terrific partners of Run Rich Run who support it,” Eisen said, “If only any of that could make me run faster.”
  3. Washington Capitals support TAPS. Courage Caps, the Washington Capitals’ team-issued branded hats and T-shirts, went on sale last week, in partnership with Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation and the Washington Capitals. This season's Courage Caps campaign is sponsored by Telos Corporation, with 100% of the proceeds benefiting the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). For the seventh-consecutive season, TAPS is the beneficiary of Courage Caps. TAPS is a nonprofit organization that provides comfort and care for anyone grieving the death of someone who died while serving in the military. Funds raised will help TAPS provide peer-based emotional support, regional seminars for adults, good grief camps for children, casework assistance, grief and trauma resources, and a 24/7 resource and information helpline for bereaved military families. To launch the 2017-18 campaign, Caps players John Carlson, Taylor ChorneyMatt NiskanenBrooks Orpik, and T.J. Oshie hosted nearly 150 children and adults who have found healing through TAPS for a skating party at Kettler Capitals Iceplex on February 10.
  4. Houston Texans announce #TexansCare Volunteer Day. The Houston Texans announced their annual #TexansCare Volunteer Day. The annual event will be held this year on April 28 and offers Texans fans the opportunity to volunteer around the city of Houston alongside the Texans Cheerleaders, TORO, Texans staff, and their favorite Texans players. This year, the Texans will offer volunteer support at the YMCA of Greater Houston and Boys & Girls Club of Greater Houston. Volunteers at the Houston Texans YMCA will participate in projects such as mulching, pressure washing, building structures, and assembling kits for families affected by Hurricane Harvey. These projects will create a fresh look for the space where children learn and grow, and assist in strengthening the community. Volunteers at the Boys & Girls Club - Havard location will help with the upkeep of this facility. The projects for this site consist of repainting outdoor areas, landscaping, deep cleaning, and repairing equipment. Completing these projects will provide the Boys & Girls Club with much-needed services and will encourage participation in club activities by area youth.
  5. Former NFL punter to play in charity game for 9/11 victims. The Washington Wild Things, an independent minor league baseball team in Pennsylvania, announced that former NFL punter Pat McAfee will play in a Wild Things game this season as part of a promotion that benefits a veterans' charity. The 30-year-old McAfee retired after the 2016 NFL season to join media company Barstool Sports, which announced the promotion for the June 21 Wild Things game. According to a team release, McAfee will be in the starting lineup, playing right field for Washington before batting and coaching first base in his pro baseball debut against the Traverse City Beach Bums. Fans attending the game also will receive a free T-shirt, with $1 draft beer available. The Wild Things said half of all proceeds from the game will benefit the "It's About the Warrior Foundation," a post-9/11 veterans organization that assists and empowers all Tri-State area post-9/11 veterans and their families via various programs. "I'm very grateful that the Washington Wild Things are willing to have a great time with some promotion while raising money for an incredible cause," McAfee said. "(One-dollar) pints, a free T-shirt and a chance that I die from getting hit by a pitch from a professional pitcher is quite a recipe for an incredible time."

UMBC's NCAA Tournament hopes end vs. Kansas State, but its Cinderella run was unforgettable


UMBC's NCAA Tournament hopes end vs. Kansas State, but its Cinderella run was unforgettable

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — UMBC's improbable run through the NCAA Tournament was brief. The statement the Retrievers made and their place in history is forever.

For one weekend in March, the tiny commuter school from Baltimore known for its academics and championship-winning chess team captured the hearts of the college basketball world and beyond. UMBC became the first No. 16 seed to knock off a No. 1 in March Madness, a victory over Virginia that made the Retrievers the ultimate Cinderella.

The fairytale came to an end Sunday night in a 50-43 loss to No. 9 Kansas State -- heartbreaking because it was a game UMBC could have won, but still satisfying because the Retrievers touched so many people by accomplishing what many thought was impossible.

"We put our name on the map. We gave hope to teams that come to the tournament with lower seeds," said senior guard K.J. Maura. "I think we gave hope to guys that are not even that tall like me. People that feel like they are underdogs in their life, I think we gave hope to everything they want to do in life."


Stephen Curry noticed the team and sent UMBC the sneakers the team wore against Kansas State. The Golden State Warriors had his Curry 5s, which are in limited release, and other swag sent to the team. U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams declared the Retrievers "Surgeon General approved" and posted a photo of himself on Facebook wearing a sweatshirt from his alma mater.

NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers tweeted to UMBC guard Joe Sherburne, who claims to be Rodgers' biggest fan. And for a team addicted to the video game "Fortnite," their dreams were made when Ninja, a popular gamer who recently played against rapper Drake and JuJu Smith-Schuster of the Pittsburgh Steelers, FaceTimed with the team early Sunday.

"They play with passion, they play with heart, they play together," coach Ryan Odom said. "We do things together for one another, and obviously when you have a big win like that (over Virginia) and it's so shocking, you know, people love to see that. They love to see the upset.

"And our guys handled it with grace and understood the circumstances. They weren't pounding their chests or anything. They expected to be here and expected to compete."

When UMBC returned to the locker room following its ouster, Odom had written just one word on the whiteboard. The Retrievers needed a buzzer-beating 3 against Vermont to win their conference title and make the NCAA Tournament, but they showed up believing they could beat Virginia, and the same about Kansas State.


So Odom simply penned "Proud" on the board for his players.

"Just very proud of these kids and what they've been able to do as the representatives that they are for our university," Odom said. "Just captured our country and beyond, to be honest, from a sporting perspective and it's really, really neat to see."

Sherburne said Odom relayed stories from friends who had texted or called from outside the country to rave about UMBC. Near tears after an 0-for-9 shooting night, Sherburne found consolation in the joy UMBC brought to so many.

"From when we beat Vermont until the last two hours were the greatest time of my life," Sherburne said. "What we did, everyone in here, it's the greatest time of our lives."

Odom arrived at UMBC two years ago and inherited a team accustomed to losing. He told them he was going to get them to .500 that first year; they thought he was joking. But slowly the culture changed and the Retrievers did everything Odom told them they could accomplish.

And then some.

"When I got here, first we were a four-win team that year, and then the next year we went on to win seven games," said graduate student Jairus Lyles. "Then Coach Odom and his staff came in, we won 21 games and this year we had a tremendous season."

Odom doesn't know how far the UMBC program can grow. Those four letters are now synonymous with the biggest upset in college basketball history, but it's a long way from becoming a basketball school.

"UMBC is a unique place -- lot of high achieving kids on campus," Odom said. "We want guys that want to be great from a basketball perspective and want to play after college. But, at the same time, we want folks that are highly motivated academically that want to do great things past basketball. Because the air goes out of the ball at some point for everybody."