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NC State hires Northern Illinois' Doeren

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NC State hires Northern Illinois' Doeren

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) Dave Doeren is leaving Northern Illinois after two straight championship seasons to take over at North Carolina State.

N.C. State announced Doeren's hiring Saturday - less than 24 hours after he guided the 19th-ranked Huskies to their second consecutive Mid-American Conference championship, and just six days after firing Tom O'Brien.

Doeren claimed a MAC title both years he was at NIU and is 23-4 since taking over the Huskies with a 17-1 record in conference play.

Doeren ``is a highly motivated overachiever who shares our goals to pursue aggressively a high level of achievement in the classroom and on the field of competition,'' N.C. State athletic director Debbie Yow said in a statement.

The school planned a Sunday afternoon news conference to introduce him.

Doeren - who turns 41 on Monday - said he was ``honored and excited'' to join the Wolfpack. He replaces O'Brien, who was fired following six inconsistent seasons and no Atlantic Coast Conference championship-game appearances at the school that hasn't won the ACC since 1979.

Doeren came to Northern Illinois in December 2010 after five seasons as Wisconsin's defensive coordinator. He replaced Jerry Kill at NIU and led the Huskies to an 11-win season in 2011 that was capped by a MAC title and a win over Arkansas State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl.

That was followed by an even bigger finish this year. He became one of the up-and-coming names for bigger jobs as he guided Northern Illinois to a school-record 12 wins and a top-20 national ranking.

The Huskies beat No. 18 Kent State on Friday night in double overtime for their second straight league title.

Northern Illinois AD Jeff Compher said Doeren will not coach the Huskies in their bowl game, and that he spoke to the players Saturday after Doeren addressed them. He credited Doeren and his staff for helping Northern Illinois move ``from being a great team to being a great program.

``We will move quickly, as we have in the past, to get the right person to lead this program going forward,'' Compher said. ``We are confident there is a high level of interest in Northern Illinois as the incoming staff will take over one of the best programs in the country.''

Doeren helped develop two-way threat Jordan Lynch into a possible Heisman Trophy contender - with nearly 3,000 yards passing and 1,771 yards rushing, he ranks third nationally in total offense - and his Husky teams scored at least 40 points in 16 of 27 games. They average 40.8 points this season and rank in the top 15 in the nation in five offensive stat categories.

The 64-year-old O'Brien was fired after going 40-35 in six seasons in Raleigh, won't coach the Wolfpack in their bowl game and will receive a buyout of $1.2 million over four years.

His teams were just 22-26 in ACC play and finished with a winning conference record just once, going 5-3 in 2010. He was 1-14 in Atlantic Division road games.

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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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Stephen Strasburg will start for Nationals Sunday against Orioles

Stephen Strasburg will start for Nationals Sunday against Orioles

Davey Martinez said Friday that Stephen Strasburg will start Sunday against the Baltimore Orioles.

Strasburg has yet to pitch this season because of a right wrist impingement which led to a nerve problem in his right hand. He missed his first start, slated for the second game of the season on July 25, then what would have been his second start five days later. Strasburg said his hand was falling asleep in the middle of the night. The Nationals medical staff needed to give Strasburg multiple injections in his hand in order to help the pain subside.

RELATED: IS NATIONALS VS. ORIOLES A TRUE RIVALRY?

He threw a heavy bullpen session Wednesday before throwing 32 pitches in a simulated game. Martinez said Strasburg felt well during the simulated game, so instead of continuing, they had him stop in order to throw 70-plus pitches Sunday against Baltimore.

"The tingling in his thumb is gone," Martinez said Friday. "That's a good sign. We watched him, like I said, he's thrown some really good [bullpen sessions]. That was the big thing for me. Nothing in his mechanics has changed. Everything's good. Based on conversations with him, he feels good. He wants to pitch. He's ready to pitch on Sunday."

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Max Scherzer left his Wednesday start after just an inning because of a hamstring "tweak" from the day before when he was running sprints. He was expected to play catch Friday. Martinez labeled him "day-to-day."

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