Redskins

Top 25 Capsules

Top 25 Capsules

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) Cody Zeller and Christian Watford gave Bryant a rude welcome to big-time college basketball

The 7-foot center had 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Watford added 15 points and 15 rebounds to lead No. 1 Indiana past the Bulldogs 97-54 on Friday night.

Indiana, which has its first No. 1 ranking in 33 years, has now won 15 consecutive season openers and 28 straight home openers.

Bryant, a school from Rhode Island, was playing its first game as a full-time Division I member, and it marked the first time the school had ever faced America's No. 1 team.

The Northeastern Conference member was overmatched. While Alex Francis finished with 15 points and Frankie Dobbs has 12, the Bulldogs had no answers for Indiana's front-line duo.

Zeller, a national player of the year candidate, had 12 points and five rebounds in the first half despite missing 4 of 6 from the free throw line, and he was such a big mismatch inside that Bryant's two tallest players - Andrew Scocca and Vlad Kondratyev - combined for seven fouls less than 16 minutes in.

NO. 3 KENTUCKY 72, MARYLAND 69

NEW YORK (AP) - Junior guard Jarrod Polson scored 10 points and made the clinching free throws with 7.7 seconds to play as Kentucky held off a furious second-half rally by Maryland.

Kyle Wiltjer led Kentucky with 19 points in the second game of the Barclays Center Classic, the first college basketball games played in the new arena in Brooklyn. Archie Goodwin had 16 points for the defending national champions.

Seven-foot-1 sophomore Alex Len led Maryland with 23 points and 12 rebounds, both career highs. His rare three-point play - he made the first free throw then rebounded his own miss of the second - brought the Terrapins within 70-69 with 8.9 seconds left.

Polson was fouled with 7.7 seconds left and made two free throws for a 72-69 lead.

Maryland's Pe'Shon Howard missed the final shot but it was only a 2-point attempt.

NO. 5 MICHIGAN 100, SLIPPERY ROCK 62

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 25 points, surpassing 1,000 for his career in Michigan's win over Slippery Rock.

Trey Burke added 21 points for the Wolverines and freshman Glenn Robinson III had 10 points and eight rebounds. Michigan led 44-30 at halftime and had little difficulty in its season opener against a Division II opponent.

In an odd arrangement, the game counted toward Michigan's record but was considered an exhibition for Slippery Rock. Devin Taylor led the visitors with 14 points.

Hardaway made all five of his 3-point attempts, and the Wolverines went 12 of 19 from beyond the arc in their highest-scoring game since 2007.

Michigan entered with its highest preseason ranking since 1993.

NO. 6 N.C. STATE 97, MIAMI (OHIO) 59

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Richard Howell had 16 points and 10 rebounds to help North Carolina State beat Miami (Ohio) in the season opener for both teams.

Lorenzo Brown added 15 points, six rebounds and seven assists for the Wolfpack, who scored the game's first 10 points and led by 19 at halftime en route to an easy win that kicked off a season of high expectations.

N.C. State did nothing to diminish fan excitement that had built since being named the preseason Atlantic Coast Conference favorite for the first time in nearly four decades, shooting 61 percent and leading by 43 points for its 19th straight season-opening victory.

Allen Roberts scored 16 points for Miami, which shot 22 percent in the first half and finished at 32 percent in the first game under new coach John Cooper.

NO. 7 KANSAS 74, SE MISSOURI STATE 55

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Ben McLemore had nine points, 12 rebounds and five assists in his Kansas debut, helping the Jayhawks pulled away from pesky Southeast Missouri State.

Jeff Withey finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds, and freshman Perry Ellis added 15 points and eight boards for the Jayhawks, who have won 40 straight season openers at Allen Fieldhouse.

This one was a bit tougher than expected.

The Redhawks managed to close within six midway through the second half, but Kansas slowly extended the lead behind its slew of freshmen to put the game away.

Nick Niemczyk finished with 14 points for the Redhawks, who have lost seven straight season openers, all on the road, and remain winless in six tries against Big 12 schools.

NO. 8 DUKE 74, GEORGIA STATE 55

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) - Mason Plumlee had 19 points and 14 rebounds to lead Duke to the win over Georgia State.

Seth Curry added 15 points and surprise starter Tyler Thornton had 13 for the Blue Devils.

They shot 51 percent while holding the Panthers to 37 percent and keeping them without a field goal for 5 minutes during a run early in the second half that propelled them to their 31st straight home-opening victory.

Next up for Duke: A showdown with third-ranked defending national champion Kentucky in Atlanta on Tuesday night.

Devonta White had 19 points and R.J. Hunter scored 14 to lead Georgia State, which never got closer than 12 points in the second half and turned it over 16 times.

NO. 11 NORTH CAROLINA 76, GARDNER-WEBB 59

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) - James Michael McAdoo set career highs with 26 points and 14 rebounds to help North Carolina beat Gardner-Webb.

McAdoo shot 10 of 20 from the field in the first game of the season for both teams. Dexter Strickland added 13 points for the Tar Heels, who improved to 91-12 in openers.

North Carolina overcame 18 turnovers, 1-of-12 shooting from 3-point range and a 9-of-19 mark at the free throw line to win for the 80th time in its last 82 home openers.

Donta Harper and Max Landis scored 13 points each to lead Gardner-Webb, which dropped to 0-16 against ACC competition. Mike Byron added 10 for the Bulldogs.

North Carolina took its biggest lead at 57-39 midway through the second half. The Bulldogs cut the deficit to 63-54 with 4:55 remaining before the Tar Heels answered with an 8-0 run.

CONNECTICUT 66, NO. 14 MICHIGAN STATE 62

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (AP) - Shabazz Napier scored 25 points and UConn upset Michigan State in the Armed Forces Classic, Kevin Ollie's first game as the Huskies' head coach.

UConn led most of the way and by as many as 16 points in the first half of the game, which was played in a hangar at the United States' Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

Keith Appling scored 17 points and Branden Dawson had 15 points for Michigan State.

Gary Harris scored to pull the Spartans to 62-60, but Denzel Valentine and Appling each missed a shot in the last minute that would have tied the game, forcing Michigan State to foul.

Napier hit four free throws in the final 13 seconds to seal the win.

This marks the first season someone other than Jim Calhoun has been UConn's head coach since Dom Perno coached his final game in 1986.

NO. 16 CREIGHTON 71, N. TEXAS 51

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Doug McDermott had 21 points and 11 rebounds to lead Creighton to a season-opening victory over North Texas.

About a dozen NBA scouts were on hand to watch McDermott, the returning first-team All-American, and North Texas' Tony Mitchell, projected as a possible lottery pick if he turns pro after this season.

Mitchell finished with 18 points and seven rebounds.

Creighton led 39-25 at halftime and opened the second half on a 14-5 run, with Avery Dingman making back-to-back 3-pointers to stretch the lead to 53-30.

Austin Chatman added 11 points and reserve Avery Dingman had 10 for the Bluejays, who have won 39 straight November regular-season home games.

NO. 19 BAYLOR 99, LEHIGH 77

WACO, Texas (AP) - Baylor freshman center Isaiah Austin scored 22 points in 17 minutes before spraining his right ankle, and Corey Jefferson had 26 points for the Baylor in a season-opening victory over Lehigh.

The 7-foot-1 Austin, a McDonald's All-American considered one of the nation's top freshmen, went to the ground after making a turnaround jumper with about 16 minutes left. He apparently stepped on somebody else's foot coming down.

Austin was 10-of-12 shooting, including three dunks and two 3-pointers. Austin was helped off the floor but returned to the bench before the end of the game.

Preseason AP All-American C.J. McCollum had 36 points for the Mountain Hawks, who as a No. 15 seed in last season's NCAA tournament upset Duke.

NO. 21 GONZAGA 103, SOUTHERN UTAH 65

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - Freshman Przemek Karnowski scored 22 points to lead Gonzaga over Southern Utah in the season opener for both teams.

Karnowski, a highly touted 7-foot-1 center from Poland, led six players in double figures. Guy Landry Edi scored a career-high 16 points, Sam Dower had 15, Elias Harris and David Stockton had 12 apiece and Kevin Pangos added 10.

Jackson Stevenett led Southern Utah with 29 points on 11-of-15 shooting. Waded Collie added 10 points for the Thunderbirds.

Gonzaga, which was never threatened after halftime, opened the second half with a 12-2 run and allowed only one Southern Utah field goal in the first 5 minutes. A free throw by Gary Bell Jr. gave the Bulldogs their biggest lead of the night at 83-45 with 7:47 left.

SOUTH ALABAMA 76, NO. 25 FLORIDA ST. 71

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Antoine Allen hit four 3-pointers and scored 21 points to lead South Alabama to a season-opening upset of Florida State.

Augustine Rubit added 12 points and Mychal Ammons had 11 points and 11 rebounds for South Alabama, which shot 9 of 15 from 3-point range.

Terry Whisnant and Montay Brandon had 11 points apiece for the Seminoles, the defending Atlantic Coast Conference champions. Senior guard Michael Snaer had 10 points at halftime but was held scoreless in the second half. He shot 2 of 11 in the game. Terrance Shannon returned from a shoulder injury to score 10 points for Florida State.

Florida State, which had 17 turnovers and just nine assists, had won 11 straight season openers.

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2018 NFL Power Rankings: Redskins rising, Jaguars falling

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USA Today

2018 NFL Power Rankings: Redskins rising, Jaguars falling

The Rams continue to roll and that means the 1972 Miami Dolphins still have their champagne on ice.

The debate for the top team in the NFL is simple. The debate over who is the worst team... now that is interesting.

CLICK HERE FOR WEEK 8 POWER RANKINGS

The Cardinals, Raiders, 49ers, Giants, and Bills could all make a case for the worst team in the NFL. At times, it seems like all those teams would like to earn that spot.

The Redskins have now won two straight and visit the 1-6 Giants this weekend. Could the 'Skins have a winning streak come Sunday afternoon? 

As manager Lou Brown reminded us in Major League II,  "if we win one tomorrow that's called a winning streak. It has happened before."

What has happened to the Jaguars? I know there were plenty of questions about Blake Bortles but to be outscored 90-28 over the past three weeks? That dominating victory over the Patriots feels like a long time ago.

CLICK HERE FOR WEEK 8 POWER RANKINGS

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Which MLB team's contention windows are still open?

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Which MLB team's contention windows are still open?

Sports have changed in recent years. In the past, franchises were often content with simply being “in the mix” every year. Going above-.500 was always considered a successful season, and players, coaches, and owners took pride in just winning more than losing.

These days, the only thing that matters (besides making money, of course) in professional sports is winning championships. Teams would (rightfully, I’d argue) rather finish dead last in their sport than somewhere hovering around .500 with no clear room to move up another tier.

In that sense, congratulations Orioles fans!

Organizations like the 76ers in basketball and the Astros and Cubs in baseball have shown a willingness to, ahem, trust the process. A few years with terrible records brings highly touted draft picks which turn into highly affordable young stars.

Baseball has been a little late to the party in embracing this philosophy, but the aforementioned Cubs and Astros did just win World Series titles in 2016 and 2017, respectively. It works. And because it works, teams are more cognizant than ever of just where they stand in relation to the proverbial “contention window.”

With that in mind, let’s take a look at where every National League team stands. The American League is a bit more regimented (the Astros, Indians, Red Sox, and Yankees are going to dominate the AL for at least the next few years), plus the Nats obviously reside in the Senior Circuit, so that’s where we’ll focus. We’ll split the 15 teams into four categories: Window Closed, Window Closing, Window Opening, and Window Open.

Window Closed

Miami Marlins

This one couldn’t have been easier. The Marlins are not only completely bereft of talent, but they aren’t even chock full of prospects on the horizon. Outside of catcher J.T. Realmuto, who almost certainly will get traded at some point, there’s not a single player on this roster who looks like a current or future contributor on a World Series contender.

That’s, uh, not good.

Cincinnati Reds

The Reds are pretty interesting, and I actually considered putting them in “Window Opening.” The talent level isn’t there, but the 67-95 record looks worse thanks to a 3-15 start. Once the team switched to former National manager Jim Riggleman, the offense picked up and became an actual plus for the team.

Additionally, there are a few top prospects coming soon. Nick Senzel is going to be a reliable hitter at the Major League level as soon as next season, and the team has other talented young guys down the line. Taylor Trammell, Hunter Greene, and Jonathan India all look like potential regulars, if not stars. 

They’re probably still a year or two away from really feeling like they have a chance of competing, but this is a team on the cusp of competing.

Pittsburgh Pirates

I honestly expected the Pirates to finish with one of the five worst records in baseball last season, and I have no problem admitting I was wrong. Their hot start certainly didn’t last, as they finished fourth in the NL Central and were just three games over .500, but their team held up better over the course of the season than I expected.

Looking at the roster, there are literally just three guys around for a while who are worth getting excited about: Starling Marte, Chris Archer, and Felipe Vazquez. An outfielder, a decent-but-overrated starter, and a relief pitcher.

I don’t see enough reinforcements on the way to get excited about the future of the team. If they commit to a rebuild, they could turn things around, but for now, the window is closed shut.

Window Closing

Arizona Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks had their chance to go for it this year and couldn’t quite make it work. They were in on Manny Machado, but after depleting their farm system last season had nothing to offer. Instead, Machado went to the Dodgers, and now Los Angeles is in the World Series and the Diamondbacks ended with 82 wins. 

What made it especially tough for their fans is knowing this era of contention was about to end. A.J. Pollock’s contract is up, and Paul Goldschmidt will be gone after next season, if not sooner thanks to a trade. Breakout ace Patrick Corbin is also a free agent, but the team does have some pitching depth. Unfortunately, their ace is the just-turned-35 Zack Greinke, and Zack Godley and Robbie Ray took steps back last season.

There’s just enough there that they probably won’t completely fall off the cliff yet, but this is a team that has expected to compete in each of the last few springs, and that won’t be the case in 2019.

San Francisco Giants

I was really tempted to place the Giants into the “Window Closed” category. I said it many times all season long, it was a mistake for them to go all in and acquire Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria. 

Their 73-89 record speaks for itself. Unfortunately for fans in the Bay area, there aren’t any real actions they can take. For some reason, they are considered one of the eight favorites to land Bryce Harper, but I just don’t see it happening. Thanks to some ill-fated contract extensions, they’re locked into multiple years with guys like Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Longoria, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija.

Now, that’s a core that’s won a few championships in its day, and it doesn’t include the maybe-healthy Madison Bumgarner, so for that reason they don’t get the fully shut window yet. But it’s coming, and might be here sooner than fans realize.  

Window Opening

Atlanta Braves

This one is pretty obvious. The Braves’ best players are guys like Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna, who spent last season as 21 and 20 years old, respectively. Freddie Freeman is older, but still young enough to help the team win now. 

My only hesitation keeping them out of the “Window Open” category is the general narrative of young teams arriving a year earlier than anticipated. We saw it with the Twins last season. A team is competitive a season or two earlier than everyone expected, and then the following season regression kicks in.

The Braves are clearly on the way up, but let’s wait one more year before declaring their window open.

Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies, in almost every way, are a less extreme version of the Braves. They also embraced a rebuild, but less emphatically. They also have a slew of top prospects, but none on the level of Acuna. They also competed earlier than expected in 2018, but not as successfully as the Braves.

In that vein, they also are clearly deserving of this category, though maybe not quite as much on the cusp of true contention as Atlanta. This is a team whose window would bust open several more levels if they sign Manny Machado or Bryce Harper.

Colorado Rockies

The Rockies were somewhat difficult to place. On the one hand, they have several talented young position players, led by the undeniable Nolan Arenado. Trevor Story had his post-hype breakout last season, and they maybe kind of sort of finally found some decent pitching? Kyle Freeland was one of the stories of the season, and Jon Gray looks like he could be embarking on a nice career.

On the other hand, D.J. LeMahieu is a free agent, and Arenado is up after next year. Can they re-sign their superstar? That will determine if this placement is foolhardy or optimistic. I believe in their other young talent, and Arenado seems like the type of star to stick in one city for his whole career. Most millenials are headed to Denver, not headed out.

New York Mets

The Mets are a good example of why the category you fall into here is not necessarily representative of the talent level of the roster. To wit, the Mets are clearly not one of the best teams in the National League, but the bulk of their core is still built with young players on the upswing, and enough of those guys have already hit to the point that they can’t really consider themselves rebuilding anymore.

Michael Conforto, Amed Rosario, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard are really talented players, the kind of guys who can lead franchises to the World Series if things break the right way.

I’m definitely not saying this is a dark horse contender in 2019 or anything like that. Just that they are (slowly) moving toward their next competitive window.

San Diego Padres

The Padres desperately want to have their window open. They signed Eric Hosmer to a huge deal in the offseason, and they clearly view themselves as closer to contention than not. I’ll give them that they’re on the way, but it appears to be in the distant future.

I considered them for every category other than Window Open, because they have been really bad in recent years, but they also have one of the best farm systems in recent memory. Give it two years, and they may very well be the next Astros/Cubs.

Milwaukee Brewers

I was torn on whether or not the Brewers should consider themselves as the window open or just in the process of opening. They, of course, were just one win away from the World Series this past season, and certainly don’t look like they’re going anywhere anytime soon.
They earned their NLCS shot, but it had more of a Cinderella-type feel than an actual true contender. Similarly to the Braves, this is a young team on the upswing who might have reached their potential earlier than even they thought.

That said, they did add Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich last season, so they clearly believe they are in their window right now. With the likely NL MVP returning and the determination to get to the promised land, who am I to say they’re wrong? This is the pick I’m least sure of.

Window Open

Chicago Cubs

Another easy choice. The Cubs have plenty of talented players on the roster, and just about all of them are either smack dab in the middle of their primes, or at the very least on the cusp. Maybe in a few years they’ll start having to worry about contracts and stability, but for now, this a team whose window is wide open.

In fact, they may actually be trying to force the window even more open in the form of a blockbuster Bryce Harper signing

Los Angeles Dodgers

As I’m writing this, the Dodgers are getting set to face the Red Sox in the 2018 World Series. So, yeah, they are obviously somewhere in contention range. The only question is what will they lose in free agency? And are any players aging out of their primes?

The answer to both hinges on Clayton Kershaw. The southpaw who is the best pitcher since prime Roger Clemens has been jaw-droppingly good his entire career, but has recently started to suffer from regular back injuries, a scary proposition for a position notorious for durability issues. Not to mention the fact that he can opt out of his contract this year should he choose to do so.

Looking at the rest of the roster, Machado will likely leave, but Corey Seager will be returning to health to replace him. They may need a new catcher if they can’t re-sign Yasmani Grandal, but everywhere else either has a young talent on the horizon, a star locked up, or a slew of flexible guys ready to chip in. Plus, this is the richest team in baseball. Like the Yankees, it would take some extreme scenarios for a franchise like this to ever NOT be in contention.

St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals are yet another team whose category doesn’t accurately reflect the talent on their roster. St. Louis isn’t quite on the level of the Cubs and Dodgers, but they don’t really have anywhere to go from here. Their young pitching is uber-talented and will keep them in most playoff races in the near future, not to mention hitters like Matt Carpenter and Marcell Ozuna.

The steadiness of this roster, and lack of options to really change things up, is why they’re here. They are competing right now, even if they aren’t completely set up to do so in the era of the superteam.

Washington Nationals

Ahh, the Nationals. I didn’t save them for last because they’re the local team, or for alphabetical reasons. Quite honestly, they were the most difficult franchise for me to place on this list.

It looks like a new era is upon us, especially if Bryce Harper leaves. Even if he sticks around, many of the names and faces fans have become familiar with in recent seasons are headed out the door. So, in that sense, it might seem like the window is closing.

At the same time, Juan Soto’s magnificent career is only just beginning, and Victor Robles looks like a ready-made Harper replacement. The outfield will be good-to-great next season no matter what, and Anthony Rendon is still starring in the infield, with Carter Kieboom coming soon. So that seems like the window is opening. 

Also, Max Scherzer still pitches for the Nats last I checked. Any team with Rendon, Scherzer, and Stephen Strasburg will at the very least have designs on competing. 

So, considering how ready top MLB prospects are to impact playoff races as rookies these days, and how many big name stars the team will employ no matter if a certain number 34 leaves town, it feels like the Nats will still very much be competing in 2019 and beyond. For the sake of fans in the nation’s capital, let’s hope so.

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