After 16 days of testimony and deliberations, the Barry Bonds trial saga ended in the most anticlimactic of ways, with no clear winner emerging from the courtroom. Assigned to determined whether the legendary ball player had lied before the BALCO grand jury in 2003 and had given false testimony, jurors were unable to reach a conclusion, deadlocking Wednesday on three perjury counts.
The jury did find Bonds guilty of one count of obstruction of justice, a charge that alleged he avoided answering certain questions. But was this small victory for the prosecution - one that may not require jail time for the eight-time Golden Glove winner - enough to justify spending millions of taxpayer dollars? Was the prospect of key prosecution witness Greg Anderson refusing to testify insignificant enough to pursue the charges against Bonds anyway? SI.com's George Dohrmann isn't so sure:
Rory McIlroy may have headed into Sunday's conclusion of the Masters poised for victory, but he left stunned and jacket-less as South Africa's Charl Schwartzel took top honors. But nearly as impressive as Sunday's victory in Augusta, Georgia, was the return of a newly energized Tiger Woods of yesteryear.
Before the scandal, the dropped sponsors and the divorce, Woods was an exceptional talent and the scope of his skill was once again seen on Sunday. Golf.com's Gary Van Sickle explains that Woods' last-day push at the Masters showed the extent of the golfer's skill:
"He loudly announced his return on this sunny, humid afternoon in Georgia, and it was a beautiful thing to see again, no matter what you think about him," Van Sickle writes. "He birdied the second and third holes with vintage precise shots and putts. He stuffed an iron shot close at the sixth for another birdie, and followed it with his fourth of the day on the seventh hole."
But that wasn't all. If four straight birdies weren't enough to announce the return of the Masters' youngest winner, then maybe "a hooking 3-wood that scampered onto the green like an Olympic sprinter and rolled to a stop 10 feet from the cup" did. Though Woods came up short and showed his trademark frustration during his post-round interview, his performance was stellar.
The Red Sox weren't expected to start off their season 0-5. Neither were the Astros. Nor the Rays. But all three are still searching for their first win. Is it time for Boston, Houston and Tampa Bay to start panicking? SI.com's Cliff Corcoran thinks it could be.
"In major league history, which dates to 1871, 110 teams have started a season 0-5. Just two of those 110 went on to make the postseason, less than 2%," Corcoran writes. "Those two teams were the 1974 Pirates and 1995 Reds, both of whom actually started their seasons 0-6. Thirty-nine teams extended their season-opening losing streaks to seven games. Only one of those clubs finished as high as third place."
Not promising stats, particularly for the Red Sox, a team tapped to lead the American League East. But does a sluggish start to a 162-game season really mean much in the grand scheme of things?
Corcoran says that it's not so much the length of the winless streak as the timing. Most teams charge out of the gate, giving fans a glimpse of the strength of their preseason lineup swaps and newly acquired stars, but Boston's early struggle doesn't bode well for the remainder of the season.
The Sox will have another shot to meet their high preseason expectations this afternoon when they take on the Indians at Cleveland.
Boston Red Sox vs. Cleveland Indians (12:05 p.m. ET) Jon Lester will need to step it up if he's going to avoid the team's first 0-6 start since 1945.
Minnesota Twins vs. New York Yankees (1:05 p.m. ET) The Twins have gone 7-31 in their last 38 at Yankee Stadium, but they'll be looking to move to 3-3 for this season when the two teams face off in the Bronx.
By the numbers
11 - Number of games freshman Kyrie Irving played for the Blue Devils during the 2010-2011 season. Irving announced that he would be leaving Duke after just one year to enter the NBA draft.
25 - Number of points Manu Ginobili scored in the Spurs' 124-92 rout of the Kings. The win gave San Antonio the No. 1 seed in the West.
1996 - Last time the Texas Rangers started their season 6-0 before this year. The AL champs nabbed their sixth victory of the season Wednesday with a 7-3 win over the Seattle Mariners.
After weeks of hard-fought battles, stunning upsets and unbelievable Cinderella stories, it all comes down to tonight’s NCAA Tournament championship.
Pitting Brad Stevens-led Butler against UConn, the title matchup rounds out a remarkable tournament that saw the impossible become possible. The Butler Bulldogs will be making their second consecutive title game appearance, after missing a shot in the last seconds against Duke in 2010.
The UConn Huskies will be returning for a shot at the title for the first time since their 2004 national championship. As SI.com’s Luke Winn points out, no matter the outcome, both of these teams have clawed their way to amazing tournament runs.
But despite the incredible skill and determination both teams showed, who is this year’s underdog?
With Major League Baseball season ready to get into full swing, SI.com’s Tom Verducci breaks down the season’s top story lines that any baseball fan should be well aware of. Topping the list: How will Derek Jeter’s standing with the Yankees progress throughout the season, and is the Phillies’ time in the sun drawing to a close faster than people think?
The preseason was marked with the Jeter will-he-or-won’t-he contract drama, but ultimately the Yankees captain and shortstop chose to stay in pinstripes, signing a three-year, $51 million contract in December. More intriguing than Jeter’s contract negotiations was the worst offensive season performance of his career. The shortstop’s .270 batting average, .340 on-base percentage and .370 slugging percentage left some wondering if the Yankees legend had reached his peak.
In 2011, as Verducci points out, Jeter will be chasing the 3,000-hit mark, a milestone that will make him only the 28th player – and first Yankee – to reach it. But if his struggles from last season carry over into this year, the road to 3,000 could be an arduous one.
“Every hitless streak, however brief, launches questions about whether Jeter should be dropped in the lineup, rested more or moved to another position,” Verducci writes.
With every No. 1 and No. 2 seed knocked out of this year’s NCAA college basketball tournament, it’ll be Cinderella battling Cinderella next weekend in the Final Four.
It’s safe to say that few, if any, saw this coming. This year’s season was marked by the fact that there was not the traditional powerhouse that all other teams were chasing. This year’s tournament was arguably one of the more wide open in recent memory.
But this wide open?
VCU and Richmond have made their Virginia hometown proud. The teams are preparing to do battle in Sweet 16 matches against Florida State and Kansas, respectively. Mayor Dwight Jones said, "It's kind of like Christmas here." No matter how the games shake out, one thing is certain, as SI.com’s Ann Killion points out: This tournament season couldn’t have been better for the city of Richmond.
Killion elaborates, "The city of about 200,000 has as many basketball teams left playing as the vaunted Big East. VCU's athletics website spiked from 800,000 hits a day to 2.5 million over the weekend, causing concern it might crash. (Coach) Shaka Smart and VCU were national trending topics on Twitter. Traffic is up 48 percent on the admissions page of the Richmond website. Players are getting standing ovations in class. Coaches can't order lunch without the other patrons gushing over them.”
There is no doubt that the universities have their differences, but their ability to the overcome low seeds and even lower expectations with two of the most talked-about young coaches in the game has made them teams to contend with.
A Tobacco Road rumble ended in some very happy Cameron Crazies as the Duke Blue Devils beat the UNC Tar Heels, 79-73.
Down 14 points, the Blue Devils charged back in the second half, led by 34 points from senior Nolan Smith and a career-high 22 points courtesy of sophomore Seth Curry. As SI.com's Stew Mandel writes, Duke completely transitioned their sloppy first half into proof of why they hold the top spot in the ACC.
"After a halftime speech in which coach Mike Krzyzewski urged them to "settle down," Duke came out in the second half like an entirely different team," Mandel writes. "Twice in the first 2:40, Kyle Singler grabbed offensive rebounds off missed second free throws and kicked them out to the perimeter. Three-pointers by Smith and Curry made for a pair of four-point possessions. Duke just kept pounding the glass and grabbed nine offensive rebounds in the second half. The Blue Devils scored 10 points off turnovers after notching none in the first."
That is not to say, of course, that the Tar Heels stood idly by as the Blue Devils made their move. UNC's freshmen standouts Kendall Marshall and Harrison Barnes lit up the court with not only their defensive know-how and skillful offensive. Just one week after point guard Larry Drew abruptly left the team, the Heels held their own and forced their archrivals to step up their own game. Mandel explains:
"The Blue Devils didn't look so tough in the first half. With the help of North Carolina's upstart freshman point guard, Kendall Marshall, putting the ball in all the right places, Tar Heel big men Tyler Zeller and John Henson made mincemeat of Duke defenders Mason and Miles Plumlee and Ryan Kelly. In building a 43-29 halftime lead, UNC outrebounded Duke 27-18 and outscored the Devils 28-12 in the paint.
'We had to really face the facts and get real and know that we had to turn it around in the second half or we were going to get embarrassed out there,' said Curry."
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Boston Celtics (8:00 p.m., ET) Ray Allen will get another shot at breaking the three-point record tonight when the Celtics take on rival Los Angeles.
UConn Huskies vs. St. John's (7:00 p.m., ET) Can St. John's pull off another remarkable upset tonight when they take on the Huskies at Madison Square Garden?
By The Numbers
26 - The blood letting continues as the Cavs notch their 26-straight loss - an NBA record.
$3.95 million - Amount of right-hander Shaun Marcum's one-year contract with the Milwaukee Brewers.
12 - Number of races driver Danica Patrick will compete in during the 2011 Nationwide Series.
Any normal player might have gotten lost in the mayhem and hype of Brigham Young University's most anticipated basketball game in school history. Jimmer Fredette is no normal player. The senior guard led the Cougars to a 71-58 rout of No. 4 ranked San Diego State Wednesday night at the Marriott Center. Though the nail-biting action of two top-10 teams battling it out lasted until the fourth quarter, the Aztecs fell short in their attempts to stave off Fredette's offensive charge.
As SI.com’s Kelli Anderson writes: "The Aztecs, the best defensive team in the conference, threw all sorts of defenders at Fredette, from D.J. Gay to Billy White to Chase Tapley, sometimes two at a time. The defensive pressure frequently forced him to change his mind in mid-air and pass instead of shoot (and he coughed up the ball four times) but he still filled the bucket."
The game marked Fredette's 15th in which he scored 30 points or more, clearly making him one of the school's most fabled athletes and one of the year’s biggest successes. He is on track to reach a rare milestone as well: nabbing a scoring title and the National Player of the Year award. He would join Bradley’s Hersey Hawkins and Purdue’s Glenn Robinson as the only three players since 1970 to achieve the honor.
Looks like Carmelo Anthony will be sticking around Denver, at least a little longer.
After weeks of speculation and coming close to a 14-player, multimillion dollar deal between the Nets, Nuggets and Pistons, Nets team owner Mikhail Prokhorov announced that he was ending trade discussions.
"I am not happy with the way this deal has gone until now,” he said during a press conference Wednesday evening. “It has taken too long. It has been played out in public. The uncertainty has taken a toll on the players. I believe that has cost us several games. I think the management of the team did a great job but there comes a time when the price is simply too expensive. I'm instructing our team to walk away from the deal and the meeting which was supposed to be held by our management tomorrow in Denver with Carmelo is hereby cancelled."
"The decision to walk away is my own decision. I'm not day-to-day with the team. Being one step removed from the day-to-day business gives me a clear understanding, a clear view of what was needed to be done."
But was Prokhorov’s decision to put the kibosh on the trade, a more calculated move than just putting an end to the drama? SI.com’s Chris Mannix thinks so. With rumors circulating that Anthony wasn’t interested in heading to New Jersey, Prokhorov’s announcement could have been a ploy to simply save face for his team. But according to officials who were aware of his impending bombshell, Prokhorov has had enough of the Nets-Carmelo madness and took swift action to bring it to a close.
So where does that leave ‘Melo? Free to make his way to the New York Knicks, that’s for sure. With the Knicks reportedly being Anthony’s top choice, they have become the frontrunners in the Carmelo trade saga. But both teams still have plenty details to hammer out before a trade is on the table.
After season of trash talk and seemingly outlandish Super Bowl promises, the Jets served up one of the most stunning performances this playoff season with a surprising 28-21 victory against top-seeded New England. The Gang Green gave their brash, often rowdy, demeanor newfound credibility during a game that saw sophomore quarterback Mark Sanchez throw three touchdown passes and star Patriots QB Tom Brady get sacked five times. After a humiliating 45-3 loss against the Patriots less than two months ago, the Jets roared back, making their way into their second-straight AFC Championship matchup, this time against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Gang Green may have racked up their fair share of enemies, as verbal jabs flew between the Pats and Jets, but they backed up their words with actions that took the Patriots completely by surprise. SI.com’s Don Banks explains that on Sunday, Rex Ryan and the Jets were on a mission to prove that they weren’t in the business of making empty promises.
"We talk because we believe in ourselves," said Ryan. “That's where the talk came from. There is a huge amount of respect that our team has for New England. But we aren't afraid of anybody. We're not in fear of anybody. We came here on a mission. We're trying to win a Super Bowl."
But more than the confidence that the team reaped from Ryan, the Jets were also given a defensive strategy, befitting the big game they were verbally serving up. Ryan’s defensive plan simply proved too much for Brady and the Patriots to handle, as Banks explains: “Mixing their coverages and getting good solid pressure mostly without blitzing, the Jets had Brady looking uncomfortable and hesitant on most pass plays, with none of the crisp offensive rhythm that New England had during its awe-inspiring eight-game winning streak.”
While the Jets may still be basking in the glory of their unbelievable win, will they have what it takes to outmatch the Steelers? If Ryan can keep up the trash talk and his players can live up to it, they may actually have a shot.
A weekend of NFL playoff action has wrapped. Tonight, the NBA and college basketball take center stage:
For the first time since March 3, Duke came up short Wednesday night.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski's No. 1 Blue Devils lost 66-61 to unranked Florida State after 25 consecutive wins, 16 of them this season. But, as SI.com's Luke Winn relates, Coach K was not surprised that his team's streak came to an end with point guard Kyrie Irving out of the lineup since early December.
"I've said all along that we're not a great team since Kyrie's injury," Krzyzewski said, "but we've got a chance to be a good team, and we have to learn what this team can do."
Since the star freshman was sidelined with a toe injury, the Blue Devils have looked more and more vulnerable. They may still be the best in the ACC, but tournament time could be another story.
Their matchup with the Seminoles was their first true road test after easy nonconference victories over Kansas State and Oregon.
With Duke's winning streak coming to an end, who should move up the ranks to take the No. 1 spot in the next AP Top 25 poll? The two likely candidates appear to be Ohio State (with wins over Florida and Florida State) or Kansas (with wins over Cal and Michigan).
Up tonight: pro and college hoops. (All times Eastern.)
Miami Heat at Denver Nuggets (10:30 p.m., ESPN)
In the midst of Carmelo Anthony's uncertain future with Denver, the Nuggets will take on a possibly LeBron James-less Heat at the Pepsi Center.
No. 8 Purdue at Minnesota (7 p.m., ESPN)
The Boilermakers are looking for their first 5-0 Big Ten start since the 1989-90 season.
By the Numbers
62: Number of games football coach Les Miles has won at LSU. Miles recently signed a seven-year contract extension after talk (again) of a possible move to Michigan.
5: Number of candidates the Denver Broncos have expressed interest in for their head coaching position.
$3.4 million: Value of outfielder Ryan Raburn's new two-year contract with the Detroit Tigers.
Is Carmelo Anthony East Coast-bound? It sure seems that way with reports surfacing that the Nets are closing in on a deal that would send the Nuggets star forward to New Jersey.
Several league sources confirmed to SI.com's Chris Mannix that the Nets are in the final stages of a massive three-team trade deal with the Nuggets and Detroit Pistons that would send Melo as well as Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton and Anthony Carter to Jersey; Devin Harris, Derrick Favors, Anthony Morrow, Ben Uzoh and Stephen Graham to Denver; and Troy Murphy and Johan Petro to Detroit.
In return, the Nuggets and Pistons would also receive first-round draft picks from the Nets, something Denver is certainly in the market for as it assumes the cost of both Murphy and Petro's contracts.
But obvious talent aside, what kind of impact would the addition of Anthony have on the Nets? Despite bringing talent to the forward position, New Jersey would still not be considered among the league's best in the East, according to SI.com's Ian Thomsen. While it would have beaten out the Knicks for a claim on Melo, he won't be enough to raise the team to Celtics-like heights.
And if somehow the deal falls through? If Anthony rejects the trade? Well, that would put both New Jersey and Denver in very unfavorable positions as the Nets will have lost one of the sport's top free agents, while Denver would have to make a deal with the Knicks, find a team willing to "rent" Anthony out for the rest of the season or convince him to accept an extension.
As we wait on word about what Anthony's next move is, Monday night's can't-miss game to check out is the BCS Championship showdown between the Auburn Tigers and Oregon Ducks.
It’s safe to say that Jim Harbaugh is pretty set on heading out of the college ranks and making the transition to the NFL. But the bigger question is who will land the lauded and highly sought after Stanford coach who dreams of winning his first Super Bowl.
SI.com’s Don Banks weighs in on the five teams reportedly interested in Harbaugh, coming to the conclusion that while the San Francisco 49ers are clearly the favorite, there are a few factors that could ultimately dissuade the Cardinals’ coach from joining the Niners.
“While San Francisco owner Jed York is desperate to find the right man to lead his team and help the franchise finally get a new stadium, he's reportedly not in the position to shell out the $6 million or $7 million per year that Harbaugh is rumored to be seeking,” Banks writes. “In that scenario, it's possible Harbaugh could price himself out of the 49ers price range.”
But which teams are willing to cough up the kind of cash that Harbaugh is apparently looking for? In come the Miami Dolphins, whose Harbaugh-landing prospects fall just short of the Niners. It’s not that they don’t have the cash to attract Harbaugh’s attention, but joining the AFC East with stacked teams like the Patriots and Jets is probably not how a first-year NFL coach is looking to start his career.
Other teams in the running: Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders and Carolina Panthers. While they have far less of a shot than the Niners or Dolphins, anything is possible as Harbaugh makes his decision in the coming weeks.
The NFL’s regular season ended with a 16-game Sunday in which more than a dozen teams were still vying for a shot at the playoffs. So in all the gridiron madness, who came out on top? If you ask SI.com’s Don Banks it may have well been the Baltimore Ravens who secured their spot in the playoffs in a 13-7 victory against the Bengals.
But the rout was far from the most impressive thing to happen to the Ravens this weekend. The Raiders’ 31-10 win over the Chiefs in Kansas City, knocked the team from No. 3 to No. 4 in the AFC playoffs, allowing the Ravens to open their postseason at Kansas City. By dodging a major bullet, in the form of Colts’ QB Peyton Manning, the Ravens have significantly upped their chances to advance in the playoffs.
“Baltimore won't have to match wits once again with Manning, and that's a break for the Ravens, who have consistently shown signs of having No. 18 lodged in their heads,” Banks writes. “Why deal with your No. 1 nemesis if you don't have to?”
But despite the help they’ve received from the Raiders’ victory, the Ravens will still have to battle against a struggling defense and injuries that have sidelined cornerback Josh Wilson, offensive left tackle Michael Oher and safety Ed Reed.
We take a break from NFL action to check in as college football bowl season chugs along with the Hokies battling the Cardinals:
Shocked by Larry Brown’s decision to leave the Charlotte Bobcats? Well, maybe you shouldn’t have been.
According to SI.com’s Ian Thomsen, Brown’s dissatisfaction with the organization had been brewing for months, and it was only a matter of time before the botched deal with Erick Dampier and the departure of Raymond Felton was too much for Brown.
Sources say that Brown walked away from the Bobcats with an $8 million severance and will likely look for another coaching gig in the NBA. His replacement, Paul Silas, was the popular coach of the former Charlotte Hornets and will be a good fit for the team, at least in the short-term, as the franchise looks to cut back on its payroll in anticipation of a new collective bargaining agreement.
But, can Silas do a better job than Hall of Famer Brown in leading the Michael Jordan-owned Bobcats out of what has been a thoroughly dismal season?
The Celtics weren't the only winners filing out of Madison Square Garden Wednesday night. Although the Knicks fell to streaking Boston, their performance showed the vast improvement that they've made, says SI.com's Chris Mannix.
Granted, the sting of Amar'e Stoudemire's off-the-rim miss in the final seconds of the game is not likely to fall by the wayside immediately, but the Knicks' back-and-forth scuffle with the Celtics provided undeniable proof that this is not the same team that Knicks fans have watched over the last few years. Instead of being blown out by a team pegged as one of the championship front-runners and a group coming off 11 straight wins, the Knicks came within just a shot of the win. As Mannix points out: "Indeed, lost in the constant Carmelo Anthony watch in Manhattan is one inescapable fact: This Knicks team is already pretty good."
With Stoudemire, Danilo Gallinari, Raymond Felton and Landry Fields, the Knicks have a stacked team able to contend with some of the league's best. Would the addition of all-star forward Anthony be nice? Of course. But the simple fact is that this Knicks team has improved leaps and bounds over some of its recent predecessors. "These Knicks, these Carmelo-less Knicks, are for real," Mannix writes. "They are young, hungry and have a winning-starved fan base emphatically behind them. The team has suddenly given the city a reason to watch."
San Francisco 49ers vs. San Diego Chargers (8:20 p.m., ET)
With both teams still in playoff contention, look for the 49ers and Chargers to battle it out in the NFL's Thursday night face-off at Qualcomm Stadium.
BY THE NUMBERS
266 - Number of games legendary baseball Hall of Famer Bob Feller won during his 18-year career. The former pitcher died Wednesday night at age 92 after battling leukemia.
5 - Number of inactive players Jets strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi instructed to form a wall on the sidelines during the now infamous game between the Jets and Dolphins. Alosi has been suspended indefinitely for his actions.
13 - Number of points Blake Hoffarber scored in Minnesota's 66-58 victory over Akron. His performance put Hoffarber over the 1,000 points scored mark.
After 10 years at the helm of the Florida Gators' football program, coach Urban Meyer is stepping down, citing a desire to spend more time with his family. But will the decision stick? SI.com's Andy Staples sure hopes it does.
Staples approves not because of the Gators' lackluster record this season, but because it's time Meyer chose family over the 24-hour, seven-day-a-week grind of being a head coach.
"Sometimes, we make it too complex," Meyer said. "At the end of the day, I'm very convinced that you're going to be judged by how you are as a husband and as a father and not by how many bowl games you've won."
This isn't the first time Meyer has turned over the reins of the program. Last year, a health scare prompted him to retire ... only to return less than 20 days later.
Will being away from a team that he has led to two national and SEC titles be too much for Meyer to bear? Probably not. This time around is different than last year. There is no medication that can give Meyer the time back with his family that he clearly longs for. Only making - and sticking with - the decision to walk away from his program will do that.
As for the Gators, they'll be fine, eventually. SI.com's Stewart Mandel says that while Meyer is undoubtedly one of the school's greatest football coaches, the program will still have a leg to stand on if he decides to stick with his decision to resign. Though Florida has hobbled through 2010, inundated with staffing changes and the loss of some top players, the coaching change will not doom the team next season. With Dan Mullen, Bob Stoops and Jon Gruden all being eyed for the job, it shouldn't take long for the program to rebuild and regain traction.
Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers (8 p.m. ET) - The Sixers are looking for their sixth consecutive victory tonight when they face the Celtics at the Wells Fargo Center. But look for the 17-4 Celtics to give Philly some trouble tonight on their first stop on a three-game road trip.
By The Numbers
$137 million - The low end of the contract offer spectrum the New York Yankees have presented to ace pitcher Cliff Lee. The contract will fall somewhere in the $137 million to $140 million range and will be for six years.
17.4 -Points Duke star freshman Kyrie Irving had averaged this season before being sidelined, indefinitely, with a toe injury.
11 - Number of consecutive games the Pittsburgh Penguins have won. Their most recent victory came Wednesday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to your 2010 BCS Championship contenders: Auburn and Oregon. For the first time in BCS history the SEC will battle against the Pac-10 for the title, pitting, as SI.com’s Stew Mandel explains, “’Big Boy’ Southern football and West Coast ‘finesse,’ superior SEC defenses and glitzy Pac-10 offenses.”
While an SEC vs. any other team in the country matchup is far from a surprise, the fact that Oregon and Auburn are the teams left standing in college football’s crown jewel of bowls is a refreshing change. Come Jan. 10, we’re not going to be watching USC-Texas or Ohio State-Florida. Instead it’ll be two teams, that were traditionally second-best in their particular conferences, who dominated throughout the season and will battle in what is guaranteed to be a hard-fought, incredibly even matched showdown. And leading the charge for Auburn: Cam Newton.
All eyes will be on the standout quarterback whose performances this year rival the best seasons of Vince Young and Tim Tebow during their formative college careers. As one of the greatest college QBs in recent history and the frontrunner for this year’s Heisman, Newton is guaranteed to attract considerable attention in this year’s BCS championship and might even be able to draw in fans who wouldn’t normally tune into a Tigers-Ducks face-off.
Up tonight: A Monday Night Football matchup with two of the league’s most talked about teams:
Could Kyrie Irving be the best freshman player Duke has ever seen and 2011’s No. 1 NBA draft pick? It’s very much possible according to SI.com’s Seth Davis. If the talents of the first-year point guard from New Jersey weren’t evident before the Blue Devils’ comfortable 84-79 victory over Michigan State University Wednesday night, they certainly are now. "He'll be like, 'Get out of the way, I've got it,"' Nolan Smith said after the game. "You don't really hear that too often, when a freshman will tell two seniors on the wings to get out of the way. We have no problem letting him do it."
Sinking a career-high 31 points, notching six rebounds and going 13-in-16 from the foul line is an impressive feat for Irving, though his successes also cast more of a spotlight on standout senior Kyle Singler’s shooting slump.
But combining Irving’s impeccable performance, with MSU’s penchant for throwing the ball Duke’s way, victory came relatively smoothly for the No. 1 ranked Blue Devils who shot 47 percent and capitalized on the Spartans’ 20 turnovers.
Despite Singler’s shooting woes, Duke is without question one of the NCAA’s most dominant teams, though they, along with MSU, definitely have room to improve. Look for both of these teams to strengthen as the season chugs along and, maybe, meet up again in April.