NCAA

College Football 2019 Week 3 What to Watch: Florida State talks big before UVA matchup

College Football 2019 Week 3 What to Watch: Florida State talks big before UVA matchup

Maryland has put the nation on notice after two impressive games to start the season, Penn State takes on one of its biggest rivals, Virginia Tech looks to get right against Furman, Navy is back in action and Virginia hosts Florida State under the lights.

Here is a breakdown of all the local action.

No. 13 Penn State vs. Pitt

When: 12 p.m. Saturday
Where: Beaver Stadium, University Park, Pa.
How to watch: ABC

Penn State has been rolling through the first two weeks of the season and, while Pitt should provide a bigger challenge than either Idaho or Buffalo, on paper it appears the Nittany Lions should have no trouble dispatching the Panthers. Pitt has lost its last five games in Happy Valley and have not won there since 1988.

No. 21 Maryland at Temple When: 12 p.m. Saturday Where: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pa. How to watch: CBSSN

You could not have scripted a better start to the season for Maryland as the Terps are 2-0 after two dominating victories. They now hit the road for the first time this season to take on the Owls. Like Maryland, the Owls are working with a new head coach, Rod Carey, who was previously at Northern Illinois. Temple has had plenty of time to prepare for the Terps with a bye week after an opening win over Bucknell. But even with the extra time, they will have a hard time cooling off Maryland’s red-hot offense.

Virginia Tech vs. Furman When: 12 p.m. Saturday Where: Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, Va. How to watch: ACCN

The Hokies looked less than impressive in their first two games. Furman is a tough FCS opponent, but Saturday should offer Virginia Tech a chance to improve upon multiple aspects of their game.

Navy vs. East Carolina

When: 3:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, Md.
How to watch: CBSSN

Navy is back in action after a bye week and will take on their first FBS opponent of the season. It is also their first conference game. Both Navy and ECU are not projected to do well this season. If either team hopes to prove the predictions wrong, they will need a win on Saturday.

No. 25 Virginia vs. Florida State

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Scott Stadium, Charlottesville, Va.
How to watch: ACCN

Virginia is off to an impressive start this season. Florida State is not. Year 2 for Willie Taggart is not going well as the Seminoles blew a big lead at home in a loss to Boise State then needed a botched extra point in overtime just to beat Louisiana-Monroe. Despite that, linebacker Leonard Warner still came out and said of UVa quarterback Bryce Perkins, “I don’t think we are going to have too much trouble with him. We have a good game plan built up. I think we have pretty good plan for controlling him.”

Game of the week: No. 19 Iowa vs. Iowa State

When: 4 p.m. Saturday
Where: Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, Iowa
How to watch: FS1

Iowa-Iowa State has been a great rivalry, but for years the matchup pitted a good Iowa team looking for a big season against a much weaker Iowa State team hoping for an upset. Cyclones head coach Matt Campbell has changed the nature of this rivalry. Iowa State is not seen on equal footing as their state rivals, but with one caveat: The Cyclones have not beaten Iowa since 2014.

While Iowa State has proven itself to be one of the top teams in the Big 12 the past few years, we still are not sure what to expect from them this season. The Cyclones needed overtime to beat FCS Northern Iowa in Week 1, then had a bye week in Week 2.

The Hawkeyes also have not been truly tested this season yet with wins over Miami of Ohio and Rutgers.

This will be the first big game and chance to make a statement for either team. Who will take the state bragging rights?

Other local teams:

Georgetown vs. Catholic University, 12 p.m. Saturday
Norfolk State at Coastal Carolina, 2 p.m. Saturday on ESPN3
James Madison vs. Morgan State, 4 p.m. Saturday
Howard vs. Hampton, 4:30 p.m. Saturday
William & Mary vs. Colgate, 6 p.m. Saturday
Richmond at Elon, 6 p.m. Saturday
Towson at Maine, 7 p.m. Saturday
VMI at East Tennessee State, 7:30 p.m. Saturday on ESPN+

Here’s why the NCAA is not giving winter sports an additional year of eligibility like spring sports

Here’s why the NCAA is not giving winter sports an additional year of eligibility like spring sports

On Monday, the NCAA announced that it will allow schools to grant student-athletes an additional year of eligibility for spring sports but not for winter sports. This means there will not be an additional year granted to men’s and women’s basketball student-athletes. 

While the move may be disappointing for seniors and fans alike of several basketball programs, this move is the correct one as the NCAA navigates through the impact of the coronavirus. 

Four days before the selection of the men’s basketball NCAA Tournament field, and five days before the women’s, the NCAA canceled all winter and spring sports championships. In addition to no March Madness and no national champion, there are several conference titles left undecided with the regular season completed. 

Many teams across the country, though, had already wrapped up their seasons. The week prior to cancelation had wrapped up over half of the men’s and women’s 2019-20 campaigns with losses in respective conference tournaments. This was primarily the men’s mid-major conferences and most of the women’s high-major (Power 5) leagues. A select few were waiting on their postseason fate, but many were either home or on their way there and making offseason plans. 

This is the lone reason cited in the Division I Council’s release. But that is only part of the reason why the NCAA isn’t granting an additional year.

Logistically this would be a nightmare. Already, the NCAA revealed as much in its announcement of another year of competition for spring sports. It leaves the discretion of giving the additional year to each institution instead of a broader relief. 

“The Council’s decision gives individual schools the flexibility to make decisions at a campus level,” council chair and Penn athletics director M. Grace Calhoun said in the release. “The Board of Governors encouraged conferences and schools to take action in the best interest of student-athletes and their communities, and now schools have the opportunity to do that."

To make this possible, the NCAA adjusted financial aid rules, is providing funding and is extending the five-year clock of competition by a year. Most importantly, it also expanded the roster limit for baseball teams to allow incoming high school seniors to not occupy roster spots for those who wish to return. No other sports have roster limits. 

Div. I basketball programs are allowed no more than 13 full scholarships. Giving seniors the opportunity to come back would complicate how schools would make decisions on which players can do so, and which ones couldn’t. Any spot that a school would allow a senior to come back could take away a scholarship from a recruit that already committed to the program. 

Not every school would make the same decisions either. The scholarship limit would have to be lifted, but then for how much and for how long? Would the extra year be given to the underclassmen too? 

Allowing those programs to get that season back would create more problems in a trying time for many across the world. Administrators, coaches, fans, players, recruits; there would be no easy solution that would be fair to all parties. 

At least a canceled March Madness stinks for everyone. Fans included. 

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March Madness Revisited: When 16-seed Mount St. Mary's pushed 1-seed Villanova

March Madness Revisited: When 16-seed Mount St. Mary's pushed 1-seed Villanova

As March winds down without its usual flurry of March Madness moments, NBC Sports Washington takes a look back at some smaller DMV schools who made a big impact during their most recent NCAA Tournament appearances.  

A season removed from winning the national championship in 2016, Villanova found itself trailing by a point with less than five seconds to play in the first half of the first round of the NCAA Tournament. 

At the time, no No. 16 seed had ever beaten a No. 1 seed. That would come a year later. The Wildcats’ opponent that March evening in Buffalo, N.Y.? Mount St. Mary’s.

The little school from Emmitsburg, Md. had been to the Big Dance before. Legendary coach Jim Phelan, who ran the program for 49 years and is in the College Basketball Hall of Fame, shepherded the Mountaineers from Division II to Division I in the early 1990s. They won the Northeast Conference tournament in 1995 and 1999 to reach the tournament and made it twice more in 2008 and 2014 even after Phelan retired. 

But it was its fifth trip the NCAA Tournament, under current George Washington coach Jamion Christian, where The Mount put a scare into the defending champs and heralded what UMBC would do a year later against No. 1 seed Virginia.     

The road to becoming Northeast Conference champions did not get off to an easy start. The Mountaineers opened the 2016-17 campaign with nine straight road games. But that was by design.  

“I knew when we built that schedule we had a great team,” Christian told NBC Sports Washington. 

Entering a Dec. 22 showdown with Coppin State, the Mountaineers were 1-11. Mount St. Mary’s won its final non-conference game with ease, 87-49, and went 14-4 in NEC play en route to claiming the conference’s regular season championship. 

“I bet on their ability to rally around one another when it got tough and I bet on their ability to be great,” Christian said. “We got it spot on that year.”

Christian had played four years for Phelan and his successor, Milan Brown, from 2000-2004. But a three-year starter and captain, his teams at The Mount never reached the NCAAs. He did take them there as head coach in 2014, a 71-64 loss to Albany in a First Four game in Dayton.  

But 2016-17 was different. Until that season, Mount St. Mary’s had never won the NEC regular season title and tournament in the same year. The Mount defeated St. Francis (Pa), 71-61, at home at Knott Arena to earn the school’s fifth trip to the tournament. 

On Selection Sunday, the Mountaineers learned that they would be headed to Dayton again for the second time in four years as part of the First Four. This time they were a little offended, not just happy to be going at all. 

“We didn’t feel like we should have been in Dayton,” Christian said. “We felt like we should have been a 15 - or even a 14 seed with our numbers that year. And we went into that game bringing back the underdog mentality that we wanted to prove and show the world how good of a team we had.”

The 2014 loss to Albany had prepared Christian’s group for what was to come in 2017. They weren’t worried about escaping Dayton this time around. 

“It was a perfect scenario for us with all of that,” Christian said. “We had played in Dayton before. We had made some mistakes playing in Dayton the first time just because you don’t know.”

Led by a 23-point performance from Junior Robinson, the Mountaineers defeated New Orleans, 67-66, in Dayton. 

Next up? Villanova less than 48 hours later in Buffalo. Christian said he learned a lot from a 90-59 loss to the Wildcats in 2013 and knew exactly what his game plan was going to be. 

“The number one thing was we wanted to be aggressive. We wanted to be in attack mode,” Christian said. 

Top seeded teams were 130-0 against No. 16 seeds entering that game. But following an Elijah Long 3-pointer, the Mount led Villanova 10-2 with 13:27 to play in the first half. The Mountaineers led the majority of that first half and owned a 29-28 lead in the closing seconds of the half before a Jalen Brunson backdoor layup put Villanova in front heading into the locker room.

“When we got to the half, I remember walking in and the guys were breathing really hard and I said, ‘Oh boy,’” Christian recounted. “It was one of those moments where you want to try to continue to give them confidence, but you’re also letting them take a moment to take a deep breath so they can play to their full potential.”

Villanova eventually pulled away in the second half and won 76-56. But the game did leave Wildcats head coach Jay Wright impressed. For a large part of that game, The Mount made Wright and the Wildcats uncomfortable. 

“It’s in the back of your mind,” Wright said after the game. “It hits you for a second. ‘This could be one of those nights.’ You’ve got to knock it out and concentrate on the next play. But I’d be lying if I said it didn’t come up.”

It didn’t end quite the way they wanted it to. The really big upset would have to wait until the following season when UMBC stunned Virginia 74-54. But after its 1-11 start, Mount St. Mary’s won 20 games in a season for the first time in two decades and showed everyone the blue print for how a 16 could finally beat a 1. 

“The best don’t look at winning and losing as a finale, they look how hard you compete,” Christian said. “And I felt [Villanova] had a great level of respect for how hard our team competed that day.”

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