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MAC championship has BCS implications

MAC championship has BCS implications

Time to put the BCS puzzle together.

There's not a lot of mystery going into championship weekend. Mostly, everything should simply fall into place.

The spot opposite Notre Dame in the championship game will go to Alabama or Georgia, whichever one takes the SEC title. The winners of the Pac-12, Big Ten and ACC championship games will each advance to a big game, as will the team that comes out on top in the Big East matchup between Louisville and Rutgers on Thursday night.

Florida and Oregon aren't playing this weekend, but both are safe bets to land at-large bids to BCS games. Pencil in the Gators for the Sugar Bowl and the Ducks for the Fiesta.

The real BCS intrigue this weekend will happen at a most unlikely place: Detroit, where No. 18 Kent State and No. 19 Northern Illinois will be playing for the Mid-American Conference title Friday.

The MAC has never sent a team to the BCS, but it could benefit from the Big East's struggles this season.

BCS rules state that if a champion from a conference without an automatic bid, such as the MAC, ranks in the top 16 of the final BCS standings and is ranked higher than a champion from one of the AQ leagues, such as the Big East, that non-AQ champ is guaranteed a spot in the BCS.

Neither Rutgers nor Louisville was ranked in last week's BCS standings, so that opens the back door to a bid for the MAC champ.

Kent State was 17th and stands a good chance to move up one spot with a victory. UCLA is in 16th place and has to play at Stanford in the Pac-12 title game on Friday night.

``I won't talk about that at all,'' MAC coach of the year Darrell Hazell said about Kent State's BCS prospects. ``I'll talk about Northern Illinois. If our guys don't focus on this Friday we won't have the opportunity to play in some of those big games.

``This is huge, huge game for this university.''

Northern Illinois is 21st in the BCS standings and could also get into the top 16, but would need a little extra help. It's just as likely an NIU victory in the MAC title game will eliminate both the Huskies and the Golden Flashes.

Boise State, 20th in the standings, plays at Nevada on Saturday and can win a share of the Mountain West title. The Broncos also have a long shot chance at getting into the top 16, but it'd be tough for them to jump the MAC champion.

If a BCS buster does emerge, the biggest loser could be the Big 12.

No. 12 Oklahoma plays TCU on Saturday with a chance to close its season 10-2 (losses against Notre Dame and Kansas State) and earn a share of the conference title.

The Sooners can still win the Big 12 if they win and Kansas State loses to Texas. Still, there's room for both in the BCS unless space needs to be created for Kent State or one of the other potential BCS busters.

If the Golden Flashes (11-1), who lost to Kentucky by 33 early in the season and later won at Rutgers, do find their way into the BCS, expect it to be in the Orange Bowl.

The Orange Bowl has the last selection among the BCS bowls and it's not likely any other game will be rushing to take Kent State, or Northern Illinois (11-1) for that matter.

But rest assured those teams won't be picky.

The picks:

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FRIDAY

No. 17 UCLA (plus 8 1/2) at No. 8 Stanford, Pac-12 championship

Rematch for the Rose Bowl ... STANFORD 31-21.

No. 18 Kent State (plus 6) vs. No. 19 Northern Illinois, MAC championship at Detroit

KSU RB Dri Archer and NIU QB Jordan Lynch are MACtion stars ... NORTHERN ILLINOIS 35-28.

SATURDAY

No. 2 Alabama (minus 7) vs. No. 3 Georgia, SEC championship at Atlanta

Winner gets the Irish in Miami ... ALABAMA 28-24.

No. 23 Texas (plus 11 1/2) at No. 7 Kansas State

Wildcats get Big 12 title and Fiesta Bowl bid with victory ... KANSAS STATE 38-24.

UPSET SPECIAL

No. 12 Oklahoma (minus 6 1/2) at TCU

Sooners need to bounce back quickly from Bedlam ... TCU 34-31.

BEST BET

No. 13 Florida State (minus 14) vs. Georgia Tech, ACC championship at Charlotte

Seminoles looking for first ACC title since 2005, and Orange Bowl bid ... FLORIDA STATE 44-21.

No. 14 Nebraska (minus 3) vs. Wisconsin, Big Ten championship at Indianapolis

Winner goes to Rose Bowl because Ohio State can't ... NEBRASKA 24-17.

Nicholls State (no line) at No. 16 Oregon State

Postponed by Hurricane Isaac earlier in season ... OREGON STATE 48-14.

No. 24 Oklahoma State (minus 4) at Baylor

Cowboys and Bears combine to average 1,122 yards per game ... OKLAHOMA STATE 51-45.

No. 25 Boise State (minus 9 1/2) at Nevada

Last time Broncos visited Reno, an OT loss kept them out of BCS ... BOISE STATE 31-24.

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Last week's record: 14-5 (straight); 12-7 (vs. points)

Season record: 211-48 (straight); 122-111 (vs. points)

Best bets: 5-8.

Upset specials: 8-5.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphdrussoap

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Mike Scott

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Mike Scott

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Mike Scott's season...

Player: Mike Scott

Position: Power forward

Age: 29

2017-18 salary: $1.7 million

2017-18 stats: 76 G, 18.5 mpg, 8.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.1 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.1 bpg, 52.7 FG%, 40.5 3P%, 65.8 FT%, 59.0 eFG%, 109 ORtg, 111 DRtg

Best game: 12/9 at Clippers - 22 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 9-for-11 FG, 3-for-4 3PT, 28 minutes

Season review: The 2017-18 Wizards season was full of unpredictability and the most positive surprise had to be the comeback of Mike Scott.

The Wizards signed Scott to a veteran minimum contract last offseason after a workout at Capital One Arena. This came just months after he had felony drug charges dropped in the state of Georgia, he lost 25 pounds and rehabbed a leg injury. That spring he had wondered, and justifiably, if his NBA career was over.

Scott overcame all of those odds to not only return to the NBA, but re-establish himself as a productive player off the bench. No one was more consistent start-to-finish in the Wizards' second unit than Scott was.

Scott earned a significant role in head coach Scott Brooks' rotation out of the preseason and stayed there. He reached double-figures in 31 of his 76 games, second only to Kelly Oubre, Jr. on the Wizards. 

Scott's primary value was on offense. He scored inside and out and got his points with remarkable efficiency. He led the Wizards and was tied for 11th in the NBA in effective field-goal percentage. He was second on Washington in field goal percentage and third in three-point percentage. 

Scott closed the season strong, reaching double-figures in scoring in seven of the last nine regular season games. He carried that over into the playoffs with 46 points through their first three games against the Raptors. 

Now comes the question of how much money Scott earned himself with his comeback year and whether the Wizards can afford keeping him. Since they are in the luxury tax, they will have little money to spend this summer. 

The way to keep Scott would be to use the remainder of their taxpayer mid-level exception, but that figures to be only about $1.9 million, not much more than what Scott made in 2017-18. Given how well he played this season, it would not be surprising if he earns much more than that.

Potential to improve: Free throw shooting, forcing turnovers, ability to guard bigs

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Markieff Morris, PF

Marcin Gortat, C

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

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Markieff Morris is helping his brother gameplan to defend LeBron James

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Markieff Morris is helping his brother gameplan to defend LeBron James

Wizards forward Markieff Morris is all-in on his brother Marcus and the Boston Celtics beating the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals. Not only is he showing up to games in his twin brother's jersey, he is helping Marcus break down film on LeBron James.

James was held to just 15 points on 31.3 percent shooting with seven turnovers in Game 1 and Marcus got some credit for stopping him. In the two games since, James went off for 42 and 27 points, each time posting 12 assists to complement. Though Cleveland lost Game 2 as well, they punched back with a 30-point win in Game 3.

The Morrises are combining forces to make sure that doesn't happen again, according to Jay King of The Athletic. They stayed up until 2 a.m. on Sunday morning reviewing plays. 

Game 4 between the Cavs and Celtics is on Monday night. If Boston wins, they will take a 3-1 lead in the series, which will be very difficult for the Cavs to overcome. Yes, they mounted the most famous 3-1 comeback in NBA history, but this isn't the same Cavs team that accomplished the feat in 2016.

There is of course some irony in Markieff helping the Celtics, given he was so integral in the rivalry between the Wizards and Boston. But, as he has shown many times over the years, it's family over everything.

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