Lot riding on Michigan-Ohio State grudge match

Lot riding on Michigan-Ohio State grudge match

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) It's hard to imagine in a grudge match like the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry that a player wouldn't take it personally being snubbed by his hometown team.

But the Wolverines' brilliant point guard, Trey Burke, swears that he's OK with being bypassed by the Buckeyes - even though he grew up in Columbus and he longed to play with his longtime best friend, former Buckeye Jared Sullinger.

``I understood that they already had Aaron Craft and they were looking at Shannon Scott,'' Burke said of his two Ohio State counterparts. ``In high school, it fueled me and made me work harder. Now I feel I'm in the best situation I could have been in. I feel like I'm in the right place. I'm happy here. I don't see anything personal.''

Even though he's coming home, he's a former Associated Press Mr. Basketball in Ohio and he'll have 25 or so friends and family cheering him on, it's likely he'll get a cold reception when No. 2 Michigan (16-0, 3-0 Big Ten) takes on 15th-ranked Ohio State (12-3, 2-1) on Sunday.

With No. 1 Duke losing at No. 20 North Carolina State 84-76 on Saturday, the Wolverines are the last unbeaten team left standing.

As a freshman last season, Burke was a bit overwhelmed by the crowd when he came back home. So were the Wolverines. Burke had 13 points and five assists in a 64-49 loss to the then-No. 4 Buckeyes.

In the rematch at Ann Arbor, Mich., he had 17 points and five assists in a 56-51 upset.

When the teams met in the Big Ten semifinals - less than 24 hours after Michigan had gone to overtime to beat Minnesota - and Burke had almost as many turnovers (eight) as he did points (five) and assists (four) combined in a 77-55 loss. He made just 1 of 11 shots from the field.

Now he's guided the Wolverines to a fast start. A win against the Buckeyes and Michigan will set a school record for wins to start a season, currently shared with the 1985-86 team.

Burke says he's grown accustomed to hostile environments after fronting the Michigan attack for a year and a half.

``I'm used to going (on the road) and getting booed by a crowd,'' he said. ``I know there'll be a lot of people who want to see me do well; and I know there's going to be a lot of people who want to see me do bad.''

There are very few rivalries as intense as the annual football grudge match between Michigan and Ohio State. Now that enmity has been carried over to the wintertime, said Craft.

``It's Ohio State-Michigan. I don't care what sport it is. It could be synchronized swimming,'' Craft said. ``You always want to win.''

Especially this time. The Buckeyes, who have won at least a share of the Big Ten title the last three seasons and five of the last seven years, can ill afford another debilitating conference loss after a one-sided beatdown at Illinois on Jan. 5.

``(The Big Ten season) is a long grind but you don't want to get into that position of hoping things happen in your favor when you're not playing,'' said Ohio State coach Thad Matta.

Matta has had his way with Michigan in his eight previous years at Ohio State, winning 16 of 19 meetings.

From the outside the game will likely revolve around how well the Wolverines can guard 6-foot-7 Deshaun Thomas, the Big Ten's leading scorer at 20.3 points a game, and whether Ohio State can muster a way to stop Michigan's many scoring threats.

Burke leads the Wolverines at 18.2 points a game, with three other starters also hitting double figures. Tim Hardaway Jr. is at 16.3 and freshmen Nik Stauskas averages 13.5 and Glenn Robinson III contributes 12.6 points per outing.

Both teams have something to prove. Michigan's biggest two road wins have been over Northwestern (94-66) and Bradley (74-66). Can the Wolverines show their mettle against a rough-and-tumble ranked opponent?

And they can ascend to No. 1 for the first time since Nov. 30, 1992. That Michigan team, featuring the vaunted ``Fab Five,'' went on to a 31-5 record and lost in the national championship game before NCAA violations resulted in vacating that season.

Ohio State is 12-0 against unranked teams and 0-3 when playing teams in the AP Top 25. Do the Buckeyes have what it takes to beat someone at least as good as they are?

The rivalry provides an undercurrent for the game. Fans have been camping out - granted, in unseasonable temperatures approaching 70 degrees - to get prime seats at Value City Arena. The players have gotten texts, tweets and emails from fans and fellow students urging them to beat their chief adversary.

Matta said his team always gets a team's best shot, partly because of the Buckeyes' run of titles.

``The thing I've learned, and I like it, you either love Ohio State or you hate Ohio State,'' he said. ``There's no gray area like, `I like them.' When you've had some success, it definitely heightens the awareness.''

Burke said he's trying to distance himself from the emotion of the game.

``Last year I kind of made it a personal matchup at times. That was a sign of immaturity,'' he said. ``Now that I know what it takes to win, I'm going to try and do that and get the win.''


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Capitals vs. Lightning Game 6 Eastern Conference Final 2018: Date, Time, How to Watch, live stream

Capitals vs. Lightning Game 6 Eastern Conference Final 2018: Date, Time, How to Watch, live stream

When the Capitals take the ice in Game 6, they will be playing for their playoff lives. After losing Game 5 on Saturday to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Caps must win on Monday or their season will be over.

In order to do that, the Caps will have to change some things. First, they have to figure out how to win at home, something they have yet to do in this series. Second, they will have to find a way to get to Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy who has been dominant the past three games. Alex Ovechkin also needs to win the matchup against the fourth line since he has only two five-on-five points through five games. Finally, the defense will have to be better. Matt Niskanen took the blame for Game 5, but really it was a tough night all around.

Also, a few penalty calls against Tampa Bay would be nice too.

Where: Capital One Arena

When: 8:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Lightning, Game 6 will be broadcast on NBCSN

Live Stream: You can watch Capitals-Lightning Game 6 on NBC Sports' live stream page.


Game 6 of the Capitals vs. Lightning 2018 NHL Playoff series takes place on Monday, May 21 at 8:00 p.m. at Capital One Arnea.


The TV broadcast of Game 6 between the Capitals and Lightning is on NBCSN. Capitals pre- and postgame coverage takes place on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:30 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
7:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
8:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Lightning Game 6 on NBCSN
10:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
11:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime


Game 6 between the Capitals and Lightning is available to stream online on Monday, May 21 live here through the NBC Sports live stream page.


Capitals projected lines:

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

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

Braden Holtby with Philipp Grubauer as backup.

Lightning projected lines:

Ondrej Palat - Steven Stamkos - Nikita Kucherov
Tyler Johnson - Brayden Point - Yanni Gourde
Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - J.T. Miller
Chris Kunitz - Cedric Paquette - Ryan Callahan

Victor Hedman - Dan Girardi
Ryan McDonagh - Anton Stralman
Braydon Coburn - Mikhail Sergachev

Andrei Vasilevskiy starts with Louis Domingue as backup.


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.


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Soto makes debut in Nationals loss to Dodgers


Soto makes debut in Nationals loss to Dodgers

WASHINGTON  -- Kike Hernandez and Yasiel Puig each hit two-run homers, and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Washington Nationals 7-2 on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep.

Hernandez's blast off Stephen Strasburg in the fifth inning put the Dodgers up 3-2. Yasmani Grandal also homered off Strasburg (5-4), who allowed three runs and five hits over 6 2/3 innings with seven strikeouts.

Alex Wood (1-4) pitched six innings, allowing just three hits and two earned runs. Wood came out to start the seventh, but returned to the clubhouse after showing some discomfort during his warm-up tosses.

Trea Turner homered for Washington, which swept Arizona last weekend and then went five days without playing a full game because of rain before getting swept by the Dodgers.

Los Angeles, after losing six consecutive games, has now won four straight overall and five of six over Washington this season.

Washington's Juan Soto, at 19 the youngest active player in the majors, made his debut in the eighth as a pinch-hitter and struck out against Erik Goeddel.

The Dodgers added two runs in the ninth. Josh Fields recorded the final four outs for his second save of the season.


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