Happy Tuesday, folks! It’s Zach Pereles here, back from a couple of days off, and, hmm, doesn’t seem like I missed too much exciting stuff over the weekend, right? 😉
Let’s get right to it.
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Good morning to everyone but especially to…
THE AUBURN TIGERS
Welcome to the top of the AP Poll, Auburn men’s basketball. The Tigers reached No. 1 in the rankings for the first time in program history on Monday. Bruce Pearl‘s squad received 45 out of a possible 61 first-place votes, overtaking Gonzaga after coming in at No. 2 in last week’s poll.
The Tigers have won 15 straight, with their only loss coming to UConn in double overtime in late November. Auburn is a perfect 3-0 against top-25 teams this year, the best mark in the country. Our college basketball expert Gary Parrish was on hand for their latest triumph — an 80-71 win over then-No. 12 Kentucky — on Saturday and came away plenty impressed:
- Parrish: “Auburn shot 56.8% from the field, 37.5% from 3-point range, and 82.8% from the free-throw line. Those are the kind of numbers that lead to wins, and these are the kind of wins that often lead to unprecedented achievements.“
Not surprisingly, Auburn stayed on the 1 seed line in Jerry Palm’s latest Bracketology, too. Baylor, Gonzaga and Kansas joined the Tigers there.
- No. 5 Kansas beat No. 13 Texas Tech 94-91 in double overtime in a potential Game-of-the-Year candidate. Ochai Agbaji poured in a career-high 37 points.
- Anthony Davis is probable to return for the Lakers tonight against the Nets after missing the last 17 games. Davis might be head coach Frank Vogel‘s last hope to keep his job, writes our NBA expert Brad Botkin.
- The Cavaliers have won seven of eight, and this time it was Kevin Love leading the way against the Knicks.
- Packers head coach Matt LaFleur says the front office is “united” in wanting Aaron Rodgers to return, which seems like a good start to what will be a long offseason in Green Bay.
- How’s this for an underdog story? The 1,169th-ranked amateur golfer in the world will get to play in the Masters and the Open Championship. Here’s how 19-year-old Aaron Jarvis got there.
And not such a good morning for…
It’s tea leaves-reading season for the Buccaneers and their fans as to whether Tom Brady will return next season. The earliest returns aren’t exactly the most promising.
On his “Let’s Go!” podcast Monday, Brady only further muddied the waters:
- Brady: “It pains [my wife] to see me get hit out there. And she deserves what she needs from me as a husband and my kids deserve what they need from me as a dad. Playing football I get so much joy from. I love it. But not playing football, there’s a lot of joy in that for me also now, too, with my kids getting older and seeing them develop and grow. So all these things need to be considered and they will be.”
Talk about the wife and kids? Check. Also sneak in how much you still love football? Check. Leave nobody any the wiser? Also check!
The comments came after Brady had already given cryptic answers about potentially retiring to the NBC broadcast crew ahead of Sunday’s loss. Our NFL insider Jason La Canfora reported some Buccaneers player have braced for the seven-time Super Bowl champion to call it a career.
- La Canfora: “One Bucs source said: ‘Nothing’s been said, but there is a sense among some guys in the locker room that this is it, one way or the other. It’s just little things here or there they are picking up on. Maybe it turns out to be nothing.”http://www.cbssports.com/”
I think Brady will come back. This was a bonafide title contender before Chris Godwin‘s injury and the Antonio Brown saga. Tampa Bay has a ton of free agents — Godwin, Rob Gronkowski, Leonard Fournette and Jason Pierre-Paul among others — but I think it will be a reload rather than a rebuild, and Brady will be there for one last hurrah.
Either way, it’ll be an uncertain next few weeks for Buccaneers fans. Brady’s latest comments certainly didn’t help.
Not so honorable mention
- The top linebacker in the 2022 recruiting class, Harold Perkins, decommitted from Texas A&M. The Aggies still have the top class in the nation, but this is definitely a blow for Jimbo Fisher and company.
MLB and the MLBPA are finally starting to do something about the lockout?! ⚾
At long last, we have something to (kind of) celebrate on the MLB front.
Here what the sides discussed:
- Players are no longer asking free agency to be tied to a player’s age rather than (or in addition to) his MLB service time. Presently, players are eligible for free agency only after six full years of MLB service time.
- Players revised prior proposals regarding revenue sharing among MLB clubs.
- Players are still proposing to reduce the timeline for arbitration eligibility from three years to two years.
The players’ proposal also reportedly included raising the minimum salary and providing draft pick bonuses for teams that don’t manipulate service time of top draft picks. The meeting reportedly lasted roughly two hours — a significant step up from the seven-minute meeting Dec. 13 — and the sides will meet again today.
There’s still a long way to go, but baby steps are happening. Given that there hasn’t been much of anything since the lockout started Dec. 2, baby steps are encouraging, especially as time is beginning to run short to ensure spring training — and even the upcoming season — isn’t impacted.
How to fix NFL overtime (and yes, it needs to be fixed) 🏈
We’re now two days removed from that thrilling Bills-Chiefs game, and, yes, I’m still frustrated about the NFL’s overtime rules. Ever since one of the greatest games we’ve ever seen ended on Patrick Mahomes‘ walk-off touchdown pass to Travis Kelce on the opening drive of the extra session, people have been debating whether the OT rules need to change to allow both teams to have the ball at least once.
The most common trope I’ve seen defending the current setup is that “defense matters” and “all you need to do is get a stop.” And that’s true. But both defenses should matter, and both should have to get a stop. Of the 11 playoff overtime games under the current rules, the team that gets the ball first has won 10 times, and seven of those 10 wins have come via a first-possession touchdown.
- Breech: “The simple proposal: Both teams get the ball — If this rule had been in place on Sunday, the touchdown scored by Kelce in overtime wouldn’t have ended the game. Instead, the Chiefs would have had to kick off to the Bills and Buffalo’s offense would have also had a chance to score. Once both teams have had one possession, then the game would turn into sudden death.”
It still favors the team that wins the coin flip, but there are some really fun scenarios here. What if both the Chiefs and Bills scored touchdowns on their drives, and the Bills — not wanting to have to try to stop Mahomes again — went for two after their touchdown?
Or what if *gasp* a team actually decided it didn’t want the ball first, so that it could know what it needed to do following the opponents’ first drive of overtime? The possibilities are endless… and much more exciting than what we have now.
What we’re watching Tuesday 📺
🏀 No. 10 Michigan State at No. 24 Illinois (-5.5), 7 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 Lakers at Nets, 7:30 p.m. on TNT
🏀 Mavericks at Warriors, 10 p.m. on TNT
🏀 No. 3 Arizona (-2) at No. 7 UCLA, 11 p.m. on ESPN