Raiders

NCAA Tourney sets up to be a memorable one

699840.jpg

NCAA Tourney sets up to be a memorable one

From Comcast SportsNet
Were they minor hiccups or something much bigger? Kentucky, Syracuse and North Carolina will sort that out over the next three weeks. For now, though, they have "No. 1" by their names -- top seeds and beneficiaries of a selection committee that all but ignored their weekend losses and put them in prime position for the NCAA tournament. "The win streak? That's done now," Kentucky coach John Calipari said after his team lost only its second game of the season, a setback to Vanderbilt in the SEC tournament Sunday that ended a 24-game winning streak. "The fact that we were invincible? That's done now. We're going to be in a dog fight. That's how you have to approach this. Play each game like it's your last." It's what the NCAA tournament is all about -- a three-week free-for-all that gives little guys such as VCU, a Final Four team last year, and Iona, one of the last teams to squeak into the tournament this year, a chance against Kentucky, Carolina and the rest of the so-called power teams. Michigan State earned the fourth and final No. 1 seed and was the only top-billed team to win its conference tournament. The Spartans defeated Ohio State 68-64 in the Big Ten title game Sunday and earned top seeding for the first time since 2001. Michigan State is seeking its first national title since 2000. "We were playing for a No. 1 seed, which we knew was a possibility," Spartans forward Draymond Green said. "And we were playing to do something that hasn't been done here since 2000. That's all the motivation we needed." While No. 2 seeds Kansas, Duke, Missouri and Ohio State wonder whether they could have been rated higher, teams such as Drexel, Seton Hall, Mississippi State and Pac-12 regular-season champion Washington curse what might have been. Those bubble teams were left out, and all will be wondering how Iona, California, North Carolina State and South Florida made it in. The Big East led all conferences with nine teams, including defending national champion Connecticut, a dangerous No. 9 seed, conference tournament winner Louisville and, of course, Syracuse, which cruised through most of the season with only one loss. "I think it's going to help us a little bit," coach Jim Boeheim said of the second defeat, Friday to Cincinnati in the Big East tournament. "I think players, when they're winning, they kind of excuse their mistakes. I think we finally got their attention. I think they'll be a better team going forward than they were last week." There were 11 at-large teams from the so-called mid-major conferences, four more than last year and the most since 2004 when 12 made it. Though the committee claims not to consider a team's conference when it picks the bracket, this was nonetheless a nod to how unpredictable this tournament can be. Last year, 4,000-student Butler finished as national runner-up for the second straight season, while VCU, of the Colonial Athletic Conference, went from one of the last teams in the draw, all the way to the Final Four. Who might be this year's VCU? It's the question being asked across the country, as those 10- and 20-a-pop brackets start getting filled out in office pools and Internet contests around America. The tournament starts Tuesday with first-round games and gets into full swing Thursday and Friday, with 64 teams in action. "There were 112 teams with more than 20 wins," said Jeff Hathaway, chairman of the NCAA selection committee. "We talked a lot about parity at the high end of the field and about quality throughout the field. Bottom line, it was about who did you play, where'd you play them and how did you do?" Some results, though, were less important than others, and apparently, losing in the conference tournament didn't cost Syracuse, Kentucky or North Carolina. Those losses could have created chaos in the bracket, but the committee had the teams more or less cemented into top spots. "Seeding really doesn't matter too much," Tar Heels guard P.J. Hairston said after Carolina's loss to Florida State in the ACC title game Sunday, but before he knew his team would have a 1' by its name. "As long as you get in the dance, it's an equal opportunity to get to the Final Four." The Tar Heels open their run in the Midwest regional against the winner of a first-round game between Lamar and Vermont. Led by freshmen Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, either of whom could be one-and-done in Calipari's turnover-heavy program, Kentucky is the No. 1 overall seed. Kentucky was placed in the South region and potentially could play six games without having to leave the Southeast. Kentucky will open its 52nd NCAA tournament appearance in Louisville against the winner of a first-round game between Mississippi Valley State and Western Kentucky, but it gets tougher from there. A possible second-round opponent is UConn, with No. 4 Indiana and No. 2 Duke possibly waiting beyond that. Indiana handed Kentucky its first loss this year and anyone who knows college hoops knows about Duke-Kentucky: This is the 20th anniversary of Duke forward Christian Laettner's last-second catch-and-shoot game-winner against the Wildcats. In the West, Michigan State will begin its quest for its seventh Final Four since 1999 against No. 16 LIU. The bottom of the West draw features No. 2 Missouri, which won the Big 12 tournament but got penalized for a weak nonconference schedule. "That hasn't changed at all over the years," Hathaway said when asked whether the committee rewards programs that beef up their schedules. In the East region, Syracuse opens against UNC Asheville with a possible third-round matchup against Jared Sullinger and Ohio State. Other games include No. 3 Florida State, which went 4-1 against Duke and North Carolina this year, against No. 14 St. Bonaventure, which was a surprise winner of the A-10 conference tournament and took a bubble spot away. Maybe Drexel's? "There must be a lot of people on the basketball committee that don't know too much about basketball," said Dragons coach Bruiser Flint, whose team went 27-6. Others left out included Miami, Northwestern, Nevada and Oral Roberts. All had flaws, as did Iona, though the Gaels' strength of schedule appeared to carry them through. "We tried to play teams or conferences ranked above ours, and most of those games we really had to play on the road to get those games," Iona coach Tim Cluess said. "We spent seven, eight weeks in a row on the road this year, but those were the teams we had to play to give ourselves a chance."

Instant Analysis: Raiders overwhelmed, stunned by Washington in season's first loss

raiders-postgame.jpg
AP

Instant Analysis: Raiders overwhelmed, stunned by Washington in season's first loss

BOX SCORE

LANDOVER, Md. – The first two Raiders games went according to plan. They established an early lead, played solid defense and cruised to victory. The offense proved a dynamic and defenders exceeded expectation.

That streak snapped on Sunday night, when nothing went right.

The Raiders fell off the rails early and never recovered, losing a 27-10 decision to Washington at FedEx Field.

They made an average Washington squad look like a juggernaut. A prolific Raiders offense wilted under Washington pressure. Their mighty offensive line had its worst day in a while and typically reliable quarterback Derek Carr was off target.

The Silver and Black had just 128 yards of total offense, and gave up explosive plays on defense. They were beat soundly on both lines, and were never able to dig out of a early rut.

The Raiders were uninspired in most instances, but Marquette King gave his team some life. He forced a muffed punt late in the third quarter that James Cower recovered. Carr found Jared Cook on a 21-yard touchdown that ended the shutout.

The defense didn’t allow a comeback to take shape, giving up a 74-yard reception to running back Chris Thompson – he had 188 yards of total offense – that set up a field goal that put the Raiders down three scores.

Cory James forced a fumble deep in Washington territory, but the Raiders only mustered a field goal

The Raiders laid an egg in the first half. They got manhandled on both sides of the ball, committed silly turnovers and gave Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins far too much time to work.

He picked the Raiders secondary apart on two touchdown drives that established a two-score halftime lead. Former 49ers tight end Vernon Davis, seeing more time with Jordan Reed hurt, had five catches for 58 yards and a touchdown.

The Raiders have long struggled covering tight ends, and made the veteran look like his old self, when he was dominant as a 49er.

The whole team seemed flat early in this game. Marshawn Lynch struggled to get the ground game going, Carr threw too many to the other team and the Raiders fell in an early hole.

Carr’s rough start: Derek Carr’s first pass was an interception. It wasn’t the only one. The typically reliable Raiders quarterback was out of sync to start this nationally televised contest, and the offense sputtered as a result. He was sacked on consecutive plays, as the offensive line struggled to maintain a pocket.

Washington scored after both Carr interceptions, and he finished the first half with just 32 passing yards.

Marquette strikes again: Raiders punter Marquette King puts some English on his punts. They’re tough to catch when he does that.

He forced a muffed punt for the second time in as many games, Sunday night, which helped the Raiders get on the scoreboard. James Cower recovered the muffed punt, and Carr found Jared Cook a few plays later to score the team’s first touchdown.

Kings owner Ranadivé releases statement on Trump's 'deeply disappointing' comments

vivek-us.jpg
USATSI

Kings owner Ranadivé releases statement on Trump's 'deeply disappointing' comments

Sacramento — Sacramento Kings Owner and Chairman Vivek Ranadivé released the following statement.

“I have a deep respect for our nation’s unwavering commitment to free speech and support all Americans’ right to freely express themselves. The President's recent comments are deeply disappointing, because our focus should be on fostering a culture of sensitivity and inclusion. Our mission at the Sacramento Kings has always been to unite our community and use our platform to create positive change, so we continue to stand with our players, and all people, who use their platform to raise awareness and make Sacramento and our country proud.”

Kings media services