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Friday, September 30, 2016

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Five likeliest NBA MVP candidates

stephen-curry-russell-westbrook

In the last eight years, the NBA has only had four different winners of the Most Valuable Player Award. LeBron James, Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant, and Stephen Curry. That’s it. That’s the list. To put that into perspective, we’ve gotten more Fast and the Furious films (five), Big K.R.I.T. mixtapes (ten), Modern Family seasons (seven), and Jeremy Lin hairstyles (too many to count) over that span than different NBA MVPs.

Now that two of those aforementioned names have joined forces on the Golden State Warriors in an attempt to monopolize the sport of basketball, another one has donated his body to Phil Jackson’s hyperbaric time chamber experiment in New York, and the last one has finally delivered on his ethereal promise to (and I quote) “win one for The Land,” will anything change in 2016-17?

Here’s a look at the five likeliest MVP candidates for the upcoming NBA season.

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Five college football programs that are on the rise

Mark Richt Miami

Through four weeks of the 2016 college football season, there have been quite a few surprises and an equal number of letdowns. Some programs have fallen flat and are heading in the opposite direction of where they’d like to go, while others are reviving themselves.

Here’s a look at five college programs that are once again ascending.

5. Washington Huskies

Can head coach Chris Petersen finally return to his winning ways and bring the Huskies along with him?

That was the question facing the program to start the season. Many wanted to believe the Huskies could finally turn a corner in Petersen’s third year, but the optimism was cautious at best.

Washington finished last season strong, winning it’s final three games, but had lost five crucial Pac-12 matchups earlier in the year.

Here in 2016, the Huskies have picked up where they left off, winning their first four games in impressive fashion, including a Pac-12 victory over Arizona, who won the New Mexico Bowl a season ago. But now Washington faces what will undoubtedly be their toughest test against No. 7 Stanford in Week 5.

The schedule gets no easier after that with games against Oregon, Oregon State and No. 18 Utah, but it’s still all there for the Huskies’ taking.

The program should be improving in Petersen’s third season and early indications are that it is. However, it’s tentative at best given the inconsistency we’ve seen in recent years. Over the next four weeks, it will be up to Washington to prove they’re the real deal and truly ascending.

For the time being, both the AP and Coaches polls believe in them, having them ranked at No. 9 and No. 10 respectively.

Additional note: Despite a 41-3 victory over the Portland State Vikings and a 35-28 victory over Arizona, Washington actually fell two spots from No. 8 to No. 10 in the AP Top 25 over the last two weeks.

4. San Diego State Aztecs

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Report: Dez Bryant fined for missing MRI, meetings

Dez Bryant

Dez Bryant did not undergo an MRI on his injured leg until Wednesday because the Dallas Cowboys receiver was absent from treatment Monday and team meetings on Tuesday, leading to a fine, according to a report.

Bryant was injured during the Cowboys’ win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday, and there was a delay on the information regarding his condition. ESPN’s Todd Archer says that is because Bryant missed Monday’s treatment day for injured players and Tuesday’s meetings. The combination led to Bryant’s MRI being delayed until Wednesday.

The Dallas Morning News says Bryant was fined by the team for missing meetings on Tuesday.

The MRI revealed a hairline fracture in Bryant’s right leg by his knee. The Cowboys are hopeful that he will be able to play in Week 4.

DraftKings investigating potential collusion in millionaire contest

Draft Kings

Daily fantasy sports site DraftKings is investigating a potential collusion scandal involving its “Fantasy Football Millionaire” contest.

One of the top daily fantasy sports players in the world won the contest, which yielded a $1 million prize. The user, Martin Crowley, who goes by the name “papagates,” has a brother, Tom, who won a million dollar contest last year. Tom goes by username “chipotleaddict,” and there was immediate speculation after Martin won last week that the two brothers were colluding after there was found to be no overlap between the multiple lineups they submitted.

“We are in the process of an ongoing investigation,” said Jennifer Aguiar, the DraftKings head of compliance, via the Wall Street Journal.

Having a lineup with little overlap to the rest of the public increases one’s chances of winning a contest. Players are allowed up to 150 entries in the “Fantasy Football Millionaire.” If both brothers played the max, they would have submitted 300 lineups total.

Martin Crowley says he did not collude with his brother and that he was confident he would be cleared. DraftKings’ internal system already had flagged the lineups for possible issues before the issue blew up in attention.

Last week, a poster on the RotoGrinders forum noted that the brothers often submitted the same amount of entries into events with no overlap in their lineups.

This is the latest in a string of scandals the daily fantasy sports industry has faced since the product exploded in popularity over the past few years. Another scandal involved allegations of insider advantages last year, which led to calls for federal regulation of the games.

H/T Deadspin

Nick Saban addresses Blake Barnett transfer reports (Video)

Blake Barnett

When Alabama opened its 2016 season, Blake Barnett was under center as the starting quarterback. Now, it appears, he may be done with the Crimson Tide football program.

Barnett, a redshirt freshman, started Alabama’s first game against USC but was pulled in favor of Jalen Hurts after the Crimson Tide went 3-and-out on its first two possessions. Saban explained the decision during a halftime interview. Hurts has started each game since.

On Wednesday, reports surfaced that Barnett is transferring from Alabama. That evening, Nick Saban addressed the rumors, confirming Barnett met with him about concerns over his future.

A five-star recruit, Barnett has appeared in three of Alabama’s first four games. Against Kent State last weekend, he completed 4-of-7 passes for 55 yards and one touchdown. For the season, Barnett has completed 11-of-19 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns.

DeAndre Hopkins defends Brock Osweiler: ‘He’s doing the best he can’

DeAndre Hopkins

Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler is facing some criticism after a lackluster first few starts to begin the year, but wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is making sure that he has Osweiler’s back.

Hopkins defended Osweiler on Wednesday, saying that the 25-year-old signal caller is “doing the best he can,” per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

Though the team has won two of their first three games, Osweiler has managed just 695 yards with three touchdowns and four interceptions over that span. He was particularly foul in a lopsided Week 3 loss to the shorthanded New England Patriots. And with JJ Watt possibly out for the rest of the season, the pressure on the Texans offense will only mount from here.

In fairness to Osweiler, who just signed with the team last March, he needs some time to learn the playbook (getting help from an unlikely source in that regard) and to develop an offensive rhythm in his new habitat. Hopkins understands that and, even if his own production is suffering as a result (a modest 16 receptions for 223 yards and two touchdowns in those first three games), he isn’t just going to hastily pin the blame on his quarterback.

H/T NFL Reddit

Rafael Nadal stops match for mother looking for missing child

Rafael Nadal mother baby

Rafael Nadal halted play during an exhibition match this week so that a woman could find her lost child.

Nadal was teaming with Simon Solbas and facing Carlos Moya and John McEnroe at an exhibition in Mallorca at the Rafael Nadal Sports Centre. During the match, Nadal was getting ready to serve but stopped play after hearing a woman searching for her missing child.

In this video you can see the search as the panicked woman was calling for her child, Clara.

Mother and child were thankfully reunited, and the event seem to go well. Victories all around!

CJ Spiller signs with Seahawks

CJ Spiller

Free agent running back CJ Spiller is signing with the Seattle Seahawks.

Spiller worked out for the Green Bay Packers last week and the New York Jets this week before agreeing to sign with the Seahawks. News of the signing was first reported by Rand Getlin.

Spiller was released by the Saints earlier this month. The former first-round pick rushed for just 112 yards on 36 carries and caught 34 passes for 239 yards last season with New Orleans.

Now 29, Spiller’s best season came in 2012 with Buffalo when he rushed for 1,244 yards and posted 459 receiving yards while scoring eight touchdowns. He will provide depth for the Seahawks, who recently lost Thomas Rawls to a fractured leg.

Report: Jets are ‘concerned’ about Eric Decker shoulder injury

Erick Decker headbutt

The New York Jets are fearful that they could be without wide receiver Eric Decker.

According to ESPN’s Rich Cimini, Decker aggravated a shoulder injury in Sunday’s game, and he did not tell trainers until Tuesday. The Jets are said to be “concerned” about the injury and he did not practice on Wednesday.

Cimini goes on to note that all the signs indicate a potentially serious injury, and Decker will have an MRI.

The only good news for the Jets is that it wasn’t a result of this celebration. At 1-2, they can’t really afford to all further behind in the AFC East. Decker has been a touchdown machine, and his absence will leave them with depth issues behind Brandon Marshall. We’ll have to wait for more information, but any lengthy absence for Decker would be very bad for New York.

Eric Mangini calls Spygate ‘a regret’ and ‘disappointing’

Eric Mangini

Former NFL head coach Eric Mangini opened up on Wednesday about the Spygate scandal he essentially put in motion by reporting the New England Patriots’ practice to the NFL.

In an interview on “The Herd with Colin Cowherd” on FOX Sports Radio, Mangini was asked about Spygate and what led him to complain to the league about it back in 2007 when he was head coach of the New York Jets.

“The practice itself, I didn’t think had very much value. But as the head coach of the New York Jets, my responsibility was to, whatever competitive advantage, no matter how small, my job was to make sure that my team had that. And that my team was protected. So I wanted to shut it down if it came to our stadium,” Mangini said.

Mangini’s complaint to the league led to an investigation, which found that the Pats had been illegally taping the signals of opposing teams. The Patriots and Bill Belichick were fined, while the team also lost a first-round draft pick as a penalty.

Mangini was previously a defensive coach for the Pats under Belichick, which is how he knew about the practice. He now says his deteriorated relationship with Belichick is “disappointing” and a “regret” he has.

“The thing with Bill is, I owe him a lot. He taught me football. He read at my wedding. Luke, my middle son, has William as his middle name. We were close. So to have something like this, which wasn’t what it was supposed to be, affect the relationship. It’s disappointing, and it is a regret that I have.”

You can watch video of the interview here:

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