NCAA

Leinart hoping to get 1st start for Raiders

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Leinart hoping to get 1st start for Raiders

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) Matt Leinart is hoping to get one more shot to show what he can do as an NFL starting quarterback.

With Carson Palmer sidelined for Oakland's season finale in San Diego with cracked ribs and a bruised lung, Leinart and third-stringer Terrelle Pryor have been sharing time at practice.

Raiders coach Dennis Allen says he won't pick a starter until after Friday's practice but it seems likely both quarterbacks will get a chance. Leinart has started only two games since 2007 and failed to live up the expectations of winning the Heisman Trophy at Southern California and being a first-round draft pick by Arizona in 2006.

``I still feel I have a lot to prove at this point of my career,'' Leinart said Thursday. ``No matter what the naysayers say, I do feel like I still can play. I do feel like that, and I think I'll play like that until the day I retire. But you're only given so many opportunities in this league. That's why this weekend would be awesome.''

Leinart started 16 games his first two seasons in Arizona before being sidelined by a broken left collarbone in 2007. He was beaten out the next season by Kurt Warner and started one game his final two seasons with the Cardinals.

Leinart then signed with Houston in 2010 and got another chance to start late last season when Matt Schaub went down with a foot injury. But Leinart got hurt in the first half of his first start, missing a chance to take the Texans to the playoffs.

He signed this past offseason with Oakland and had thrown only one pass before replacing Palmer in the first quarter of last week's 17-6 loss at Carolina. Leinart completed 16 of 32 passes for 115 yards, no touchdowns and one interception for a 45.7 passer rating.

``I felt a little rusty,'' Leinart said. ``I think my footwork, for me, wasn't as good as I wanted it to be, and what I work on. But I think again, that was just kind of getting in there, hadn't played in a while. But it is what it is, moved on and watched the film and been practicing well this week and just trying to correct those mistakes.''

Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp acknowledged the difficult situation Leinart went into but was disappointed in his play. Knapp was particularly upset by an interception late in the first half that led to a Panthers touchdown and a ball Leinart threw away on fourth down late in the game.

``He didn't play as well as I would have liked,'' Knapp said. ``I wished his footwork would have been better on a consistent basis. It's hard for any backup quarterback to come in on short notice without any reps, but that comes with the job. You got to know that going in. He struggled a little bit with the footwork and his consistency. He had it sometimes but not all the time.''

The Raiders have an interesting decision this week. Coach Dennis Allen said Pryor wasn't ready to be the backup last week but could start this week after getting more practice time than usual.

Allen and general manager Reggie McKenzie have talked about wanting to get a better look at Pryor down the stretch, but whether that's as a part-time player or a starter remains to be seen.

``I think I deserve to play, I deserve to start, not sure what's going to happen, but that's all you can do -- just keep preparing, keep working hard, be here, be accountable and whatever happens, whatever decision is made, that's what's made,'' Leinart said. ``If they want to start Terrelle and evaluate him and see what he can do, then I'll support that and I'll help him this week and help him during the game. But if they make me the starter and stuff, I'm just going to go out there and try to capitalize on that opportunity.''

Palmer won't travel to the game because of the bruised lung but Leinart said he is doing better even though he is moving around slowly.

``He's one of the toughest guys I've ever been around,'' Leinart said. ``When he was laying on the ground I knew something was wrong because he's normally up, not matter what. He's the type of guy who will never tell you if something's wrong, and obviously, he took a big shot, but he'll be fine.''

NOTES: The Raiders placed DT Richard Seymour on IR with a hamstring injury. Seymour missed the final eight games of the season with the injury and is eligible for free agency in the offseason. ... G Mike Brisiel has passed the concussion protocol but is still sidelined by an ankle injury which could give rookie Tony Bergstrom a chance to start. ... DBs Tyvon Branch (neck, ankle) and Phillip Adams (groin) and RB Mike Goodson (illness) did not practice.

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No. 7 Maryland takes down Northwestern for 9th straight win

No. 7 Maryland takes down Northwestern for 9th straight win

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) -- Jalen Smith had 22 points and a career-high 19 rebounds for his ninth consecutive double-double, and No. 7 Maryland extended its winning streak to nine games by defeating Northwestern 76-67 Tuesday night.

Smith achieved his 17th double-double of the season by halftime. In two games against Northwestern this season, the 6-foot-10 sophomore has 47 points and 30 rebounds.

Anthony Cowan Jr. scored 19 for the Terrapins (22-4, 12-3 Big Ten), who never trailed in improving their record at home to 15-0. The victory, combined with Penn State's loss to Illinois, left first-place Maryland with a two-game lead with five games to go.

Ryan Young scored 17 and Boo Buie added 15 for the Wildcats (6-19, 1-14) in their 10th successive defeat.

Down by 12 at halftime, Northwestern trailed only 50-46 with 10:45 left. It was 63-57 before a dunk by Smith, two free throws by Cowan and layup by Aaron Wiggins put the Terps up 69-57 with 3:23 remaining.

When the teams met at Northwestern a month ago, the Terrapins rallied from a 14-point halftime deficit to win 77-66. This time, Maryland took charge at the outset.

Smith had 10 points and six rebounds in the opening seven minutes to stake the Terps to a 17-6 lead. After the Wildcats closed to 25-22, Darryl Morsell, Wiggins and Eric Ayala hit successive 3s and Cowan added a free throw for a 13-point cushion.

A late dunk by Smith made it 37-25 at halftime.

MOVING ON UP

Cowan passed Tom McMillen to move into eighth place on Maryland's career scoring list. Cowan, a senior guard, has 1,809 points and is 49 short of catching Lonny Baxter for seventh. The school record is 2,269 by Juan Dixon.

BIG PICTURE

Northwestern: The Wildcats can take solace in making a game of it on the road against a Top 10 team. But what Northwestern could use instead of a moral victory is a real one, a feat the Wildcats haven't accomplished since Jan. 11 against Nebraska.

Maryland: One week after squeezing past lowly Nebraska at home, the Terrapins left nothing to chance against an overmatched opponent. It wasn't a blowout, but the outcome was never really in doubt. Maryland now stands two wins away from a perfect season at home.

UP NEXT

Northwestern hosts Minnesota on Sunday, the rematch of a game the Wildcats lost 77-68 on Jan. 5.

Maryland faces No. 25 Ohio State on Sunday to begin a stretch in which the Terrapins play three of four on the road.

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If Georgetown wants to make the NCAA Tournament, they must beat Providence

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If Georgetown wants to make the NCAA Tournament, they must beat Providence

An improbable upset over No. 19 Butler at Hinkle Fieldhouse suddenly vaulted the Georgetown Hoyas into the NCAA Tournament conversation over the weekend. 

They pulled out the victory with only seven scholarship players, missing their top two scorers on the season. But no matter how they accomplished the feat, they win drew attention across the country. Any team in the Big East conference that just pulled out a road victory against the ranked Butler Bulldogs has to have postseason aspirations, right? 

There was a surprising revelation when evaluating the Hoyas: The don't have that bad of a tournament resume. 

Yes, at 15-10 (5-7 Big East) the Hoyas can be considered a bubble team. They're ranked 46th in the NET, 47th in KenPom, 60th in BPI and are the last team in Joe Lunardi's bracketology projection as of this writing. Their surprising win over Butler, along with an atrocious bubble this season, has helped them get there.

Now is when the season gets important for the Hoyas, though. One loss to a subpar team could derail that. On Wednesday they host Providence for their second matchup of the season. If they lose, the Hoyas can kiss an at-large bid goodbye. 

Georgetown's resume is contingent on them avoiding bad losses. Their worst loss on the season was to a solid UNC Greensboro team. Every other one is qualified as a Quadrant 1 loss according to the NET. They are 10-1 in non-Q1 situations. 

Bad losses are abound in college basketball this season, even from the top teams. Those losses have Virginia, VCU and Alabama stuck on the bubble. Somehow, the scrappy Hoyas have kept them off their resume. 

Losing to Providence would be a bad loss for the Hoyas. It would be their worst loss to date, according to the NET. Providence is, in fact, one of those teams with a handful of poor losses (9-4 vs. sub-Q1 opponents). And while Providence is also in consideration for the NCAA Tournament, it would crush the Hoyas' outlook since they don't have the Q1 wins to offset a loss like that. 

Beating the Friars at home will not likely be enough for the Hoyas to make the tournament. They'll have to also beat Xavier, DePaul and likely find some magic in one of their other three games. 

The Hoyas can get there, but their quest for the NCAA Tournament starts by beating Providence. 

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