Capitals

No. 10 Florida wants another shot at Final Four

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No. 10 Florida wants another shot at Final Four

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) Florida could be coming off back-to-back trips to the Final Four.

The Gators squandered late leads against Louisville (2012) and Butler (2011) in regional finals the last two seasons, disappointing losses that still haunt some of the team's upperclassmen.

``There's not a day that doesn't go by that I still don't think about it,'' junior center Pat Young said.

The 10th-ranked Gators want another shot at college basketball's biggest stage, and they seemingly have the players to make it happen. Coach Billy Donovan returns seven of nine key contributors, including three starters and his entire frontcourt, and has a schedule built to prepare his team for the NCAA tournament.

``People aren't going to remember that we came up short,'' Young said. ``I want to leave here with a championship. We all want to. We know we have all the components necessary to get there.''

Florida's quest begins Nov. 9 against Georgetown on the USS Bataan in nearby Jacksonville. The non-conference schedule also includes games against No. 23 Wisconsin (Nov. 14), Marquette (Nov. 29), No. 25 Florida State (Dec. 5), No. 12 Arizona (Dec. 15) and Kansas State (Dec. 22).

It's Florida's toughest slate in Donovan's 17 seasons in Gainesville.

But the Gators seem up for the challenge.

Guard Kenny Boynton and fellow starters Young and forward Erik Murphy are back, along with guards Scottie Wilbekin and Mike Rosario as well as versatile forwards Will Yeguete and Casey Prather. Throw in freshmen Michael Frazier II, Dillon Graham, Braxton Ogbueze and Devon Walker, and Donovan has the ability to press more than he has in years and the depth to handle injuries and foul trouble.

``The one thing that is clear right from the get-go is we have incredible potential defensively,'' Donovan said.

The Gators might need to alter their identity, mostly to compensate for losing guards Brad Beal and Erving Walker. Beal turned pro after his freshman season and was selected by Washington with the third pick in the NBA draft. Walker graduated, leaving school as the program's all-time assist leader.

Both were solid shooters, helping Florida lead the nation in 3-pointers last season.

``I do think we need to change some things on offense because our team is a little bit different,'' Donovan said. ``Last year, clearly the identity was we could really, really shoot 3s. I think we have a good shooting team, but we probably, with the loss of Walker and Beal, don't have the same depth shooting the ball as we did a year ago.''

The Gators have plenty of depth in the frontcourt. But Young needs to stay out of foul trouble. Murphy needs to become a post presence. And Yeguete needs to develop a short-range jumper.

But what really motivates this team is the way the last two years ended.

Florida led Butler by 11 points midway through the second half before collapsing and losing in overtime. Last year ended in similar fashion. The Gators were up 11 with about 8 minutes to play against Louisville, but managed just three points the rest of the way and lost 72-68.

``Our guys really need to be careful with the mentality of we got to try and get over the hump and get to the Final Four,'' Donovan said. ``We can actually end up being a better team than a year ago and not go as far. With that being said, there's no guarantee right now that we're even an NCAA tournament team. You have to earn your way into that. You have to work your way into that.

``Our guys need to understand, and I think that they do, that there's a process.''

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Game 6 Capitals at Blue Jackets Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

Game 6 Capitals at Blue Jackets Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

After three straight wins, the Caps now sit just one win away from closing out the Columbus Blue Jackets. They will get their shot to finish the series Monday in Game 6.

Nicklas Backstrom was the hero in Game 5 for Washington with three points including the overtime winner. Who will step up in Game 6? The Caps will need to make sure it's not Artemi Panarin who has been held without a point in two straight games. Washington will also need to make sure their penalty kill stays hot as they have killed off 13 straight power plays for the Blue Jackets.

The Pittsburgh Penguins await the winner of this series after closing out the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday. Will the Caps close out Columbus and set up the rematch?

What: Washington Capitals vs. Columbus Blue Jackets, Round 1, Game 6

Where: Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio

When: 7:30 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 6 will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 6 on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

The Capitals take on the Blue Jackets in Game 6 on Monday, April 23 at 7:30 p.m. ET in Columbus. Washington currently leads the series 3-2.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME ON?

Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 6 will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:30 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 7:00 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:30 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:30 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:30 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
7:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:30 p.m. — Capitals at Blue Jackets
10:00 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:30 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

Capitals-Blue Jackets Game 6, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

Here are the Caps' projected lines:

Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson
Chandler Stephenson - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly- Lars Eller - Devante Smith-Pelly
Jakub Vrana -  Jay Beagle - Alex Chiasson

Michal Kempny - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Christian Djoos

Braden Holtby with Philipp Grubauer as backup.

Scratches: Travis Boyd, Andre Burakovsky (upper-body), Shane Gerisch, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek

CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

SEE THE CAPITALS VS. BLUE JACKETS FULL SERIES SCHEDULE HERE

CAPITALS SCHEDULE

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Need to Know: Setting the final odds on the Redskins first-round draft pick

Need to Know: Setting the final odds on the Redskins first-round draft pick

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, April 23, three days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

Setting the odds on the Redskins’ top pick

We have just three days left until the draft and it’s time to make the final predictions. For the last time before this draft, we’re going to break out the $100 in imaginary poker chips and see who is the favorite to be the Redskins’ top pick. 

Before we get started, all of these odds are set with the Redskins staying at No. 13. With a separate stack of chips, I’ll put $20 on them trading down, $80 on them staying put. There just isn’t an obvious team to deal with or a player that would be on the board to make a team want to move up. 

DT Vita Vea, $30—I would have this a little higher but I’m becoming less confident that he’ll be on the board when the Redskins draft at 13. Normally nose tackle isn’t a high-value position, but this is an odd draft and Vea is a freakish talent. He has to get past the Raiders picking tenth and the Dolphins at No. 11 and I’m not sure they will. 

S Derwin James, $20—If Vea is gone then there is a good chance that James will be there at 13, assuming that the four quarterbacks everybody thinks will go in the top 12 are indeed selected. Although the Redskins have D.J. Swearinger and Montae Nicholson at safety, the versatile James could find snaps all over the field, as a third safety to cover tight ends and perhaps even at slot corner. 

DT Da’Ron Payne, $15—It’s starting to look like he’ll be a reach at 13; his real value lays more in the late teens or early twenties. But the analysts’ consensus doesn’t necessarily match up with what the Redskins think. If they believe that Jim Tomsula can coach some pass rushing ability out of him, they could well have him graded high enough to go ahead and fill the need with the first-round pick. 

LB Roquan Smith, $10—His size may concern enough teams to leave him on the board until the Redskins are on the clock. I’m not sure that the Redskins would take him because they just re-signed Mason Foster and Zach Brown. But he is fast, hard hitting, and he may be too good to pass up. 

DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, $10—Many project him to be a slot corner in the NFL. A few years ago, many teams would hesitate to take a nickel corner in the first-round. But today, with teams lining up with three or more wide receivers on 63 percent of the snaps a slot corner is much more than a role player. Add Fitzpatrick’s ability to move back to safety and you have a player the Redskins should covet if he drops to 13. 

CB Denzel Ward, $10—I don’t give much of a chance of being on the board when the Redskins pick but stranger things have happened. He would be a steal at 13.

RB Derrius Guice, $5—I don’t think that this will happen, but I can’t look at all of the attention the Redskins have given to him and believe that there is a zero chance of them taking a running back this high in an RB-rich draft.  

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS.

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Timeline  

Days until:

—Rookie minicamp (5/11) 18
—OTAs start (5/22) 29
—Training camp starts (7/26) 94

The Redskins last played a game 113 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 139 days. 

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