Capitals

Iowa's in-state rivalries now a doubleheader

Iowa's in-state rivalries now a doubleheader

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) For decades, Northern Iowa and Drake were guaranteed at least one home and one road game a year against a Big Ten and Big 12 team.

It was a luxury rarely afforded a Missouri Valley team - and an opportunity for a resume booster that few mid-majors could match. It's now been reduced to a single game on a neutral floor in Iowa's state capital.

The yearly home-and-home matchups the Panthers and Bulldogs had with Iowa and Iowa State have been replaced by a doubleheader, the Big Four Classic, on Saturday in Des Moines.

It's a setup that clearly favors Iowa and Iowa State, who avoid having to play road games in Des Moines and Cedar Falls. But a December doubleheader could also prove to be a roaring success with fans, so for now all four coaches are publicly expressing optimism about the event.

The Hawkeyes (8-2) will face Northern Iowa (6-3) for the 43rd time. The Cyclones (7-3) will play Drake for the 171st time, but for the first time on a neutral floor.

``It's going to be a great day for basketball. An opportunity for all four programs to be in the same building. An opportunity for two very good basketball games,'' Northern Iowa coach Ben Jacobson said.

Jacobson is right about that.

The Hawkeyes will be looking for a bit of payback after getting blasted up in Cedar Falls last year.

Northern Iowa handed Iowa perhaps its ugliest loss under third-year coach Fran McCaffery. The Panthers used a 21-2 run to blow out the Hawkeyes 80-60, and McCaffery was so frustrated that he got ejected.

Iowa looks like a much better team now than 12 months ago.

The Hawkeyes have won three in a row with a starting lineup that includes three freshmen; center Adam Woodbury and guards Anthony Clemmons and Mike Gesell.

Last Friday, Iowa blew past Iowa State - yes, that rivalry is still alive - behind an increasingly balanced offense strengthened by its added depth.

``It's a completely different situation than we had before, because there are so many ways we can go,'' McCaffery said. ``Now we've got guys that if they're pressuring up over here, and we've got guys over here taking shots. I have so many more things in my mind that I can go to offensively to get a basket.''

Northern Iowa has played tough against top-notch competition this season. The problem was that, up until last weekend, the Panthers hadn't actually beaten any of them.

Northern Iowa looked good in a tournament in the Bahamas in November, playing No. 6 Louisville and Memphis within five points. But the Panthers broke through with an overtime win at George Mason last week and clearly won't fear the Hawkeyes.

Northern Iowa and Iowa have split the last 12 meetings.

``They've got guys that come with it on a regular basis. Anything short of that, you don't have a chance against them. So you have to not only match that level of intensity but do a better job with it,'' McCaffery said.

Drake (4-4) is the de facto home team, since it plays its home games just a few miles away.

But the Bulldogs figure to have the longer odds than the Panthers.

Drake did beat the Cyclones in Des Moines last season, but that came in mid-November as Iowa State struggled to assimilate its slew of transfers. The Cyclones, who figure to have a large contingent of fans in Wells Fargo Arena as well, have beaten six opponents by at least 20 points and lead the all-time series with Drake 106-65.

The Iowa State-Drake game figures to be a big draw since both teams are local. The Hawkeyes are a state-wide draw, and Northern Iowa certainly has plenty of alumni scattered throughout greater Des Moines.

Tickets are reportedly close to being sold out. But even McCaffery wondered this week if fans will stay for both games or just watch the one their team is playing in.

That's just one of a number of questions about this new setup, which is scheduled to run through 2015.

``I think it's good for the state,'' Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said. ``It's going to be a lot of fun for everyone involved.''

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Follow Luke Meredith on Twitter: www.twitter.com/LukeMeredithAP

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Possible playoff opponents for the Capitals are starting to come into focus

Possible playoff opponents for the Capitals are starting to come into focus

With their 3-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday, the Capitals' playoff future is starting to come into focus. Washington has only one game remaining and can finish in either third or fourth in the round robin standings. That limits the number of possible playoff opponents for the Caps when the games really start to matter.

First, before talking about who the Caps may play, it is important to remember why. Under the NHL's regular format, a normal year would see teams advance in a bracket, meaning each team knows going in they will be playing the winner of a specific matchup if they advance. This year, the NHL is going back to its old format of re-seeding after each round. This makes determining matchups a bit harder to figure out.

Here's what we know. The Caps are going to finish in the bottom half of the round robin meaning they will play one of the highest two seeded teams coming out of the qualifying round. The Carolina Hurricanes swept their qualifying round series against the New York Rangers. As the No. 6 seed coming in, Carolina is going to be one of the top two qualifying round teams.

RELATED: DEFENSIVE BREAKDOWNS AND MORE FROM CAPS LOSS TO FLYERS

Washington's final seed will be determined by Sunday's game against the Boston Bruins. A win in regulation, overtime or a shootout will mean the Caps are No. 3, while a loss in any fashion will bump them down to No. 4.

The simplest scenario for Washington is that If the Pittsburgh Penguins rally to win their series against the Montreal Canadiens, the Caps are guaranteed to play either Pittsburgh or Carolina as the No. 5 and 6 seeds, respectively. It gets a little trickier if the Penguins lose. If that happens, the Hurricanes become the top qualifying team and will play No. 4. The top team behind them then becomes No. 6 which, as of now, could be the New York Islanders, Toronto Maple Leafs or the Columbus Blue Jackets.

So a rematch with the Hurricanes is a definite possibility for the Caps, as is a matchup with the rival Penguins.

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Report: Derrius Guice's attorney denies client's domestic abuse allegations

Report: Derrius Guice's attorney denies client's domestic abuse allegations

Derrius Guice's representation has released a statement that says the Washington Football Team running back "adamantly denies" the charges that he was arrested for on Friday

Guice turned himself into the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office facing one count of strangulation, three counts of assault and battery, and one count destruction of property.

The following statement from Peter Greenspun was obtained by Ben Standig of The Athletic. 

"Mr. Guice will not be commenting on these charges, which he adamantly denies. We ask that the media respect Mr. Guice's privacy," the statement read. 

"Unfortunately, the investigators did not seek a statement or any input for Derrius before the warrants were issued. The failure to fully investigate allegations of events, which allegedly took place months ago is inexplicable."

Greenspun, who has a historic career and most notably was a defense attorney in the 'D.C. Sniper trial,' called the charges of his client "unsubstantiated." He also called out the football franchise for releasing Guice prematurely without inquiring about the investigation. 

"... a full vetting of the allegations will take place, in contrast to actions by local law enforcement and the Washington Football Team that assumed the worst, directly contradicting every sense of fairness and due process," the statement concluded.

The Washington Football Team released Guice less than an hour after his arrest became public. The move came through as a part of the culture Ron Rivera has vowed to instill during his first few months as head coach. This is also not the first time Guice has faced issues for off-the-field behavior. He fell to the team back in the 2018 draft due to issues he had while with LSU.

In his short tenure, Rivera has dealt with a tumultuous series of issues arising from the franchise including current and former players facing other serious allegations, a monumental name change, and serious allegations of the culture within the team's executives.

Despite injuries mounting in two years for the 23-year-old back, it was expected that Guice would become the leading rusher in the backfield this season. Still, he had yet to prove to be a consistent contributor with only 42 carries for 245 yards and two touchdowns entering his third season.

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