Ravens

Ohio State-Penn State still matters amid sanctions

201210201251462607956-p2.jpeg

Ohio State-Penn State still matters amid sanctions

Only three teams in the Big Ten are unbeaten in league play - and two of them are ineligible for the postseason.

That takes a bit of the luster from this weekend's impressive slate of games - but not all of it.

No. 9 Ohio State and Penn State are both undefeated in conference, and they're playing each other this weekend. Thanks to sanctions, neither can compete for the Big Ten championship or go to a bowl - and because of that, it's looking exceedingly likely that Wisconsin will cruise to the league championship game.

Still, the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions can play for pride, and the winner of this weekend's game will have a decent chance to finish atop the standings in the Leaders Division.

A cosmetic distinction? Sort of. But that's the best these two programs can hope for after being beset by off-the-field problems.

``We've got great kids here. We've got a hell of a coaching staff,'' Penn State coach Bill O'Brien said. ``It's never been doom and gloom in here.''

The sanctions have taken a bit of the luster off the Big Ten's postseason prospects. Ohio State (8-0, 4-0) is the conference's highest-ranked team in the AP poll. The only other team in the Top 25 is No. 20 Michigan, which is also without a conference loss.

But Penn State's resurgence after an 0-2 start has added some buzz to the division races. Not only do the Nittany Lions (5-2, 3-0) host Ohio State on Saturday, but the Michigan-Nebraska game could decide the Legends Division. The Wolverines (5-2, 3-0) finally snapped their four-game losing streak against Michigan State (4-4, 1-3) last weekend. Nebraska (5-2, 2-1) will try to avenge a 45-17 loss to Michigan last year.

Even the matchup between Iowa (4-3, 2-1) and Northwestern (6-2, 2-2) could be crucial in the Legends race, especially if Michigan stumbles.

About the only team that doesn't have much to worry about is Wisconsin. The Badgers (6-2, 3-1) are in the driver's seat for a spot in the championship game - Ohio State and Penn State aren't eligible, and nobody else in the Leaders Division has a conference win.

Still, there's no telling what will happen this weekend because Wisconsin takes on Michigan State. The Spartans beat the Badgers last year on a `Hail Mary' at the end of the game - and Wisconsin won a thrilling rematch in the Big Ten championship game.

The race for the Leaders Division title would be a terrific one if Wisconsin, Penn State and Ohio State were all in contention for a Rose Bowl berth.

Instead, the Nittany Lions were given harsh NCAA sanctions for the school's handling of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. They included significant scholarship cuts and a four-year postseason ban.

Penn State lost its first two games of the season to Ohio and Virginia but has won five straight since.

``It does start with players. ... From Day One, we just tried to get in here and explain our program to these guys and be truthful and honest with them,'' O'Brien said. ``We knew we could have played better, so it was a lot of frustration but there was a lot of resiliency.''

The Buckeyes, meanwhile, are on probation because of transgressions during Jim Tressel's coaching tenure. That hasn't stopped Ohio State from racing to an 8-0 start.

And the Buckeyes aren't satisfied. They may not be in contention for a bowl, but they can still finish undefeated and atop their division and become shadow champions of a sort.

``We're 8-0, but it's an 8-0 where we're working for every yard and every win,'' coach Urban Meyer said.

Quick Links

Baltimore Ravens Roundup: OTAs Day 1

ravens_1_usat.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Images

Baltimore Ravens Roundup: OTAs Day 1

Kick off your Tuesday with the latest Baltimore Ravens news including a recap of the first day of OTAs.

Player/Team Notes: 

1. Yesterday, (Monday) was the first day of the Ravens' OTAs. OTAs continue today (Tuesday) as the Ravens work on developing a new offense. Check out some of the highlights here. 

2. The Baltimore Ravens have officially announced the full 90-man roster that will be competing for an official team roster spot in OTAs this summer. 

Looking Ahead:

July 15: 4 p.m. deadline to get a long-term deal done with designated franchise tag players.

The 2019 NFL schedule is set! See the Baltimore Ravens defend the AFC North at M&T Bank Stadium this season. Get your tickets now at www.BaltimoreRavens.com/tickets.

Credit: Baltimore Ravens for news points.

MORE RAVENS NEWS: 

Quick Links

2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Jaxson Hayes

jaxson-hayes-texas-pumped-usat.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Jaxson Hayes

The Washington Wizards will have the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...

2019 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Jaxson Hayes

School: Texas
Position: Center
Age: 19
Height: 7-0
Weight: 219
Wingspan: 7-4
Max vertical: 34.5 in.

2018/19 stats: 10.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 0.3 apg, 0.6 spg, 2.2 bpg, 72.8 FG% (3.8/5.3), 00.0 3PT% (0.0/0.0), 74.0 FT%

Player comparison: Jarrett Allen, John Henson

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 10th, NBADraft.net 9th, Bleacher Report 10th, Sports Illustrated 9th, Ringer 10th

5 things to know:

*Hayes is considered the best center prospect in this year's class. He is athletic, plays with energy and measured in at the combine at about 7-feet in shoes with a 7-foot-4 wingspan. He can run the floor and play above the rim.

*The skill that stands out most for Hayes is rim protection. He averaged 2.2 blocks in only 23.3 minutes per game. That extrapulates to 5.7 blocks over 100 possessions. He has long arms and appears to have good instincts tracking the ball in the lane. He is following in the footsteps of fellow Texas shot-blockers before him like Myles Turner and Jarrett Allen. The latter may be the best player comparison for Hayes in today's NBA.

*Hayes is not considered a very good rebounder. He averaged 5.0 per game and only once reached double figures. It could be that he just needs to add some weight, an issue that is correctable but would hurt him even more at the NBA level initially. The worst-case concern is that he is soft and won't do the necessary dirty work.

*At this point, Hayes offers nothing in the way of an outside shot. He didn't attempt a single three-pointer in college and didn't do much on offense outside of dunks and putbacks. In order to justify being taken with a high draft pick, he will either need to develop a post game, an outside shot or be extremely good on defense. His lack of an all-round game will certainly give some teams pause in evaluating him.

*Hayes comes from a family of impressive athletes. His father played 12 seasons in the NFL and recently served as the tight ends coach for the Cincinnati Bengals. His mother played basketball at Drake University and later coached in college, including a stint as an assistant at Oklahoma. Hayes followed his father's footsteps by playing wide receiver in high school before a growth spurt made it clear basketball was the path to go.

Fit with Wizards: Hayes is one of the best fits for the Wizards among the players who could be available with the ninth pick. He does what they arguably lack the most, which is play defense and more specifically protect the rim.

The Wizards allowed the most field goals within five feet of any team this past season and the third-highest field goal percentage in that range. They desperately need someone who can block and alter shots.

Hayes would likely be the Wizards' best shot-blocker Day 1. But whether he can help them in other ways is a question at this point.

Hayes would represent a bit of a project for the Wizards and may not have All-Star potential because of his offensive limitations. Still, he remains one of their best options in the first round. Long-term, he could transform their defense and form a strong pick-and-roll partner for John Wall.

Best highlight video:

MORE WIZARDS NEWS: