Rutgers and Louisville to play for BCS berth


Rutgers and Louisville to play for BCS berth

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) The Big East Conference football season has come down to a game between one school headed to the Big Ten and another off to the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Louisville (9-2, 4-2) visits Rutgers (9-2, 5-1) on Thursday night with the conference's bid to the Bowl Championship Series berth on the line.

Both will likely be leaving the Big East after next season.

The Scarlet Knights announced last week they would be joining the Big Ten. The Cardinals made it official on Wednesday that they are going to the ACC. The exact exit dates are still to be determined. The conference requires 27 months' notice, but has been willing to negotiate early departures for other members.

Conference realignment has set a strange backdrop for what has been a somewhat odd season on the field, too, for the Big East.

Louisville and Rutgers seemed primed to both come into this game nationally ranked not too long ago.

But Louisville has dropped two straight after winning its first nine and Rutgers was embarrassed by Pittsburgh last weekend in what could have been a title clinching game. .

If Rutgers wins, it will earn its first outright conference title and its first BCS berth.

If Louisville beats Rutgers for a third straight time, and Cincinnati beats Connecticut on Saturday, there will be a four-way tie for the conference title with the Cincinnati and Syracuse. Louisville and Rutgers would emerge from the tiebreaker, and Louisville would most likely get its second BCS bid based on a higher BCS ranking.

The bowl berth would likely be either the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1 or the Orange Bowl on Jan. 2.

``I had no idea it would come down to this game,'' said Louisville coach Charlie Strong, whose team was the preseason favorite to win the title. ``I don't think anyone in this room would've said it would be us having a chance with the limited number of seniors we have, feeling like we're a young team and being a year or two away from where we need to be.

``But now the opportunity's here is here for us and you don't ever pass up an opportunity,'' Strong added. ``You can always say next year is our year, but now you have a chance this year for it to be that year, so let's take care of business.''

This is familiar territory for Rutgers. It missed a chance to win a BCS berth in 2006 when it dropped a triple-overtime decision to West Virginia in the regular season finale, ironically, giving Louisville the crown.

``We don't want to share it,'' said Scarlet Knights linebacker Khaseem Greene, who was the conference's co-defensive player of the year last season. ``Sharing is not a good feeling. I know firsthand from last season, sharing Big East player of the year was horrible. It was almost sickening. I try to tell the guys that. I don't want this team to experience that because we deserve it. We worked very hard since the season ended in Pinstripe Bowl to be in this position. And now it's time to take the next step and win.''

Louisville comes into the game with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater being a major question mark. The sophomore, who leads the league and ranks sixth nationally in passing efficiency and is second in the league in total offense (296.1 yards), broke his left wrist - his non-throwing hand - against Connecticut last weekend.

Bridgewater is expected to play but his cast probably will force him to take snaps in a shotgun position the entire game.

The Cardinals also have to get more out of their running game. It has been limited to 75 yards over the last two games, including 27 against the Huskies Saturday.

``There's a big sense of urgency this week,'' said quarterback Will Stein, who would take over if Bridgewater can't go. ``If we go in and get the win, these last few losses won't mean a thing because we'll be Big East champs and we'll going to a BCS bowl. It's the same on the line for Rutgers and they'll be playing their tails off just like we will be.''

Rutgers has its own quarterback problems. Sophomore Gary Nova has thrown 10 interceptions in the last four games and the offense has scored only 16 points in the last two.

While it has a 1000-yard rusher in Jawan Jamison, Rutgers' strength is its defense, which has allowed 71 points in six conference games. It ranks fourth nationally in scoring defense (13.7 points), 14th in total defense (317.4 yards) and 11th in run defense (110.7 yards). It is tied for third nationally with 17 touchdowns allowed, including six on the ground, which is fourth best nationally.

``The stakes are definitely out there for us,'' senior defensive tackle Scott Vallone said. ``Winner goes on. Those are the things we're definitely excited for. Pressure is on but this is why we play, for this kind of atmosphere.''


AP Sports Writer Gary Graves in Louisville contributed to this report.


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Wizards display lack of urgency in loss to Nuggets and Scott Brooks is frustrated

Wizards display lack of urgency in loss to Nuggets and Scott Brooks is frustrated

Following their seventh loss in 11 games and another lackluster performance in key areas, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks reverted back to a critique that characterized many defeats months ago. He called into question the effort of his team, more specifically their urgency. How they could overlook the stakes at this point of the season and with so much on the line had escaped him.

Brooks wasn't pleased following Washington's 108-100 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Friday night. He didn't like their three-point defense, their inability to force turnovers and their lack of zip on offense. But overall, it was the apparent lack of realization that time is running out in the regular season and off-nights cannot be afforded.

"We have to play with more spirit [and] we have to take some pride in our home court," Brooks said. "We’re building our habits going into the playoffs and these are moments where we need to take advantage because it’s playoff implications in every game."


Pride is something Brooks has referenced after the Wizards' worst defeats since he took over. This one didn't qualify, as they only lost by eight points and had opportunities late to write a different ending. But they were playing a team fighting for their own playoff position in the opposite conference and for the most part did not match their intensity.

The Nuggets, to put it plainly, are among the worst defensive teams in basketball. They were missing their leading scorer, Gary Harris. And they tightened their rotation to just eight players.

Yet the Wizards only managed 100 points, six below their season average, and committed 17 turnovers. Aside from their 33-point third quarter, the Wizards' offense was effectively stalled. 

"We can’t have guys that are not going to participate with hard cuts and hard setups and good screens. We need everybody. It’s not one person, it’s all," Brooks said.


The Wizards only forced 10 turnovers on the Nuggets and only three in the first half. That held back their offense in the sense they had few opportunities for fastbreak buckets.

"That’s where we get most of our offense from anyways, getting stops, getting out in transition," forward Otto Porter said.

The Wizards have lost two straight games. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers and Pacers both won on Friday night.

The Wizards are sixth place in the East and just 1 1/2 games out of fourth, but there is a huge difference in those spots. Sixth could mean meeting the Cavs in the first round and they have won three straight since Kevin Love returned from injury.


The Cavaliers could quickly become the most dangerous team in the Eastern Conference. Their record is deceiving due to Love's injury and they still boast LeBron James, the best player on the planet. No one can control a playoff series quite like he can.

An argument could be made the Wizards would be better off moving down than up, as the seventh spot would match them up with the injury-riddled Boston Celtics. The Wizards are just 1 1/2 games ahead of the seventh-seed Miami Heat.

The Wizards, though, would prefer to move up and they still have a chance to get into fourth, which would mean home court advantage.

John Wall will return at some point, likely soon. In the short-term, Brooks would like to some urgency and for his team to get back to the trademark ball movement that allowed them to go 10-3 in their first 13 games when Wall went down.

"We can get it back, but it’s not going to come back. We have to go get it. It’s time to do it; it’s time," Brooks said.

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Game 75 Capitals at Canadiens Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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Game 75 Capitals at Canadiens Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Montreal Canadiens

Where: Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Canadiens will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington.

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Canadiens game on NBC Sports' live stream page.


The Capitals (43-24-7) take on the Canadiens (27-36-12) Saturday, March 24 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Montreal.


The Capitals-Canadiens game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off on NBC Sports Washington with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington after the game for Caps Extra and Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. for postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals at Canadiens
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime


You can watch the Capitals-Canadiens game on NBC Sports' live stream page.


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

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