Nationals

College hoops season starts with a military flair

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College hoops season starts with a military flair

The college basketball season gets under way Friday with a game at a Europe military base, two more aboard Navy ships and another featuring a reshaped national champion playing in a brand new building.

No. 14 Michigan State plays Connecticut, in its first game since the retirement of coach Jim Calhoun, at Ramstein Air Base in Kaiserslautern, Germany. It's the first game between Division I teams held in Europe.

Then it's on to the decks for No. 4 Ohio State against Marquette on the USS Yorktown in Charleston, S.C., and Georgetown facing No. 10 Florida on the USS Bataan in Jacksonville, Fla.

No. 3 Kentucky, the defending national champion with a heralded freshman class, plays Maryland in the first college doubleheader at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Also, one of the sport's shrines reopens. Pauley Pavilion, boosted by a $132 million renovation, will be the site when No. 13 UCLA hosts Indiana State, the alma mater of John Wooden.

A statue of Wooden stands outside the north entrance and the corridor on the east side of the 47-year-old arena has been named Wooden Way. Three large cabinets are filled with mementos of the Wooden era that includes 10 NCAA championships - seven in a row - during his 27 years in Westwood.

The big opening weekend - 21 teams from the preseason Top 25 will have played by Sunday night - will be followed by a month full of early season tournaments. Several special matchups before Christmas will dot the 2012-13 schedule leading into the start of conference play.

There will be a third game played on a ship this weekend when No. 9 Syracuse faces No. 20 San Diego State on the USS Midway in San Diego on Sunday. The game will be the first telecast of more than 100 for MSG Network.

ESPN will continue its coverage of almost 1,500 games with its annual 24-hour college basketball marathon on Tuesday. Those 12 games, including a 6 a.m. start for Stony Brook at Rider, an 8 a.m. tip for Northern Illinois at Valparaiso and a 10 a.m. start for Harvard at Massachusetts, are part of the 54 the network will show during a six-day stretch.

Early matchups between ranked teams include Michigan State against No. 7 Kansas and then No. 8 Duke facing Kentucky in the doubleheader in Atlanta that caps the 24-hour marathon; No. 23 Wisconsin at No. 10 Florida; and the Battle 4 Atlantis that involves No. 2 Louisville, Duke, No. 15 Missouri and No. 17 Memphis.

Four months of conference, nonconference and in-season tournament games all point to Selection Sunday on March 17. The NCAA tournament ends three weeks later with the Final Four in Atlanta's Georgia Dome.

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Max Scherzer grits his way through broken nose in stellar outing, win vs. Phillies

Max Scherzer grits his way through broken nose in stellar outing, win vs. Phillies

WASHINGTON -- With a broken nose, pronounced black eye and seven shutout innings, Max Scherzer provided a striking capper to the Washington Nationals' day-night doubleheader sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Scherzer himself? He shrugged off his work in the Nationals' 2-0 victory Wednesday night as business as usual.

"Trust me, this thing looks a lot worse than it actually is," Scherzer said. "I felt zero pain. There's been plenty of other injuries where I felt a lot of pain and I've had to pitch through. I'll hang my hat on those starts, but tonight I felt zero pain. This is part of what you have to do. You take the ball every fifth time.

"That's my responsibility to the team, to make sure I always post, and I knew I could post tonight."

Brian Dozier and Victor Robles hit solo homers to support Scherzer (6-5) as Washington won for the 16th time in 23 games. Philadelphia has dropped seven of its last nine and 12 of 18.

In the first game, Patrick Corbin struck out eight while allowing one run over seven innings as the Nationals earned a 6-2 victory in the delayed series opener after the teams were rained out Monday and Tuesday.

Scherzer bunted a ball off his face during batting practice Tuesday, but it didn't stop him from making his scheduled start. His injury may have provided an extra layer of intimidation in the form of a black eye more worthy of a boxing ring than a baseball diamond.

The three-time Cy Young Award winner sported a pronounced bruise arcing beneath his right eye, adding another hue to a glare that already featured one blue eye and one brown eye.

"Going out there and throwing, the only thing I had to deal with was the swelling underneath the eye," Scherzer said. "It was kind of jiggling around, and so in warmups I just had to get used to knowing what it was feeling like to throw the ball and just have that swelling."

While he wasn't at his most efficient on a humid night, piling up 117 pitches, Scherzer was rarely threatened. He struck out 10, yielded only four hits and permitted just two runners to reach scoring position. And he finished strong, striking out three in a row after Cesar Hernandez led off the seventh with a double.

"It really is one of the most impressive things I've seen in a while," Dozier said. "He's probably the best pitcher in our generation, and you don't get that status unless you take the ball every fifth day, no matter if you're doing good, doing bad, you got a broken nose. You always want the ball."

Bryce Harper, Scherzer's former Nationals teammate, was 0 for 4 with four walks in the doubleheader and was loudly booed before each plate appearance -- especially in the better-attended nightcap. This series is his second trip back to Washington, where he played from 2012-18, since signing a 13-year, $330 million contract with Philadelphia in March.

Dozier belted a two-out solo shot in the second off Jake Arrieta (6-6), who allowed two hits and struck out three over six innings and had the misfortune of matching up with Scherzer on the wrong day.

"Max is just one of the best to ever toe the rubber, honestly," Arietta said. "We have ran into him a couple of times. That's just what he does. He is tough to square up, and he is throwing three or four pitches for strikes with electric stuff. Just a tough one."

Robles homered off reliever Pat Neshek in the eighth. Neshek departed two batters later with a left hamstring strain, and manager Gabe Kapler said he was likely to land on the injured list less than a week after returning from an absence of more than three weeks caused by a shoulder strain.

Wander Suero pitched a perfect eighth for Washington, and Sean Doolittle worked the ninth for his 15th save in 18 tries.

Philadelphia was 0 for 12 with runners in scoring position between the two games.

Corbin (6-5), whose start was pushed back twice this week, allowed a solo homer to Scott Kingery in the first inning of the opener. But he let just one other runner to reach third while ending a personal three-game skid.

"It's not ideal, but you have to deal with it to make sure you are ready," said Corbin, who is one strikeout shy of 1,000 for his career. "I was glad we got that one in today."

Dozier and Gerardo Parra had RBI doubles against Phillies starter Zach Eflin (6-7). They later hit back-to-back homers in the eighth inning off Cole Irvin to seal the victory.

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This Nationals fan's Max Scherzer broken nose shirt is the best thing you'll see today

This Nationals fan's Max Scherzer broken nose shirt is the best thing you'll see today

Nationals ace Max Scherzer added another incredible chapter to his legendary career Wednesday, pitching seven shutout innings against the Phillies after breaking his nose in a batting practice accident the day before. 

To honor Scherzer's toughness, one amazing Nats fan wore arguably the greatest shirt ever seen at a baseball game.

(Photo: NBC Sports Washington)

This isn't a good shirt. This is a GREAT shirt, worthy of the man who's face it features. 

Someone get this fan a signed Scherzer baseball. 

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