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As struggling Bucks get healthy, they must take advantage of soft schedule on homestand

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MILWAUKEE — Between a rash of injuries and inconsistent play on both sides of the ball, the Milwaukee Bucks have looked nothing like a defending champion through the first month of play. They’re stuck in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, and at 7-8, this is the latest in a season they’ve been under .500 since back in 2017. 

“Definitely started way slower than I think we all wanted to,” Khris Middleton said after a win over the Los Angeles Lakers earlier this week. “But it happens, it has happened. So we just gotta find a way to get ourselves out of this rut.”

As an experienced team coming off a title, there’s certainly no sense of panic in Milwaukee. At the same time, the team knows they have to turn things around soon. We’re nearly 20 percent through the season now, and the Bucks don’t want to wind up in a position like the Lakers were in last season, where limping through the regular season and hoping to flip a switch in the playoffs left them with no margin for error, and eventually a first-round exit. 

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“We gotta start winning games,” Giannis Antetokounmpo said. “For me, it’s not the most important thing. For me, the most important thing is to get better and build good habits and play the best basketball down the stretch in May and June. But at the end of the day it leaves a bad taste in your mouth when you keep losing so now we gotta switch that mentality. We gotta win games, go out there and play hard, play together.”

The good news for the Bucks and their fans is that there are multiple reasons to believe a turnaround is on the horizon. In fact, it may have already started with the win over the Lakers and could continue into next week if the Bucks take advantage of their improved health and a soft upcoming schedule. 

First and foremost, Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton are finally healthy at the same time. Holiday missed six games early in the season with heel and ankle injuries, and then right before he was due to come back Middleton tested positive for COVID-19 and was sidelined for eight games himself. 

Middleton, though, returned against the Lakers, hitting a few clutch jumpers en route to 16 points, five rebounds and six assists. For the season, Middleton, Holiday and Giannis Antetokounmpo have now played in three games together, and the Bucks are 3-0 in those contests with a plus-40 point differential. While the Bucks still aren’t at full strength — Brook Lopez and Donte DiVincenzo are out for the foreseeable future — this is the trio that makes the team run. 

“There’s an inside joke between me and Khris like I always complain to him that ‘I see you too much, I’m tired of you, we gotta get some space from one another,’ Giannis joked. “But I missed him. Just having him out there, he definitely helped the team… It’s good to have him back. It’s definitely good to have him back.”

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When they were on the floor together last season, the Bucks had a plus-12.7 net rating in the regular season, and a plus-12.3 net rating in the playoffs. So far this season, it’s plus-19.3. Now, that’s over just 39 minutes, but the point remains: the Bucks are quite good when they have their three best players together. 

Getting the band back together is always great, and the timing could not have worked out better for the Bucks. They already beat the Lakers, and now have four games left on what looks like the easiest extended homestand of the season. Next up is the Oklahoma City Thunder, followed by two games against the Orlando Magic and a matchup with the Detroit Pistons

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Those three teams have a combined record of 14-29, and the Magic and Pistons are currently in a battle for last place in the Eastern Conference. There are no guaranteed victories in the NBA, as the Bucks have found out firsthand already, but these are all teams they should absolutely handle. If they do, they could enter Thanksgiving on a five-game winning streak. 

It’s too early to really be in a must-win situation, but the rest of this homestand is about as close as it gets in November. Things have finally started to turn in their favor, and now the Bucks must take care of business to get their season back on track. 





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How to watch Appalachian State vs. James Madison: NCAA Football live stream info, TV channel, time, game odds

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Who’s Playing

James Madison @ Appalachian State

Current Records: James Madison 2-0; Appalachian State 2-1

What to Know

The James Madison Dukes watched the action from their couches last weekend, but are set to take to the field. James Madison and the Appalachian State Mountaineers will face off in a Sun Belt battle at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Kidd Brewer Stadium. The odds don’t look promising for the Dukes, but the bigger the opponent is, the harder they fall.

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A well-balanced attack led James Madison over the Norfolk State Spartans every single quarter on their way to victory two weeks ago. James Madison claimed a resounding 63-7 win over Norfolk State at home. The game was pretty much decided by the half, when the score had already reached 35 to nothing.

Meanwhile, Appalachian State didn’t have too much breathing room in their contest with the Troy Trojans last week, but they still walked away with a 32-28 victory. Appalachian State QB Chase Brice was slinging it as he passed for two TDs and 279 yards on 34 attempts. Near the top of the highlight reel was Brice’s 53-yard TD bomb to WR Christan Horn in the fourth quarter.

Their wins bumped the Dukes to 2-0 and the Mountaineers to 2-1. Watch the matchup and check back on CBS Sports to find out who keeps up the positive energy and who hits a stumbling block.

How To Watch

  • When: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Where: Kidd Brewer Stadium — Boone, North Carolina
  • TV: ESPN Plus
  • Online streaming: fuboTV (Try for free. Regional restrictions may apply.)
  • Follow: CBS Sports App
  • Ticket Cost: $40.99

Odds

The Mountaineers are a solid 6.5-point favorite against the Dukes, according to the latest college football odds.

The oddsmakers had a good feel for the line for this one, as the game opened with the Mountaineers as a 7.5-point favorite.

Over/Under: -111

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See college football picks for every single game, including this one, from SportsLine’s advanced computer model. Get picks now.

Series History

This is the first time these teams have played each other within the last seven years.



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UTSA vs. Texas Southern: How to watch NCAA Football online, TV channel, live stream info, game time

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Who’s Playing

Texas Southern @ UTSA

Current Records: Texas Southern 1-2; UTSA 1-2

What to Know

The Texas Southern Tigers will take on the UTSA Roadrunners at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Alamodome. Texas Southern isn’t favored, but they just beat the odds in their last game, so don’t count them out.

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The Tigers kept a clean sheet against the Southern University Jaguars last week and took the matchup 24 to nothing. The squad ran away with 21 points in the first half and mostly just sat on those in the second to pick up the victory.

Meanwhile, it was all tied up 17-17 at halftime, but UTSA was not quite the Texas Longhorns’ equal in the second half when they met last week. The Roadrunners suffered a grim 41-20 defeat to the Longhorns. This contest was a close 17-17 at the break, but unfortunately for UTSA it sure didn’t stay that way. A silver lining for them was the play of RB Brenden Brady, who threw one touchdown in addition to punching in one rushing touchdown.

Texas Southern’s win lifted them to 1-2 while UTSA’s loss dropped them down to 1-2. We’ll find out if the Tigers can add another positive mark to their record or if UTSA can shake off the defeat and take the spring out of Texas Southern’s step.

How To Watch

  • When: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Where: Alamodome — San Antonio, Texas
  • TV: STADIUM
  • Follow: CBS Sports App
  • Ticket Cost: $69.00

Odds

The Roadrunners are a big 42-point favorite against the Tigers, according to the latest college football odds.

Bettors have moved against the Roadrunners slightly, as the game opened with the Roadrunners as a 44-point favorite.

Over/Under: -110

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Series History

This is the first time these teams have played each other within the last seven years.



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North Carolina vs. Notre Dame live stream info, TV channel: How to watch NCAA Football on TV, stream online

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Who’s Playing

Notre Dame @ North Carolina

Current Records: Notre Dame 1-2; North Carolina 3-0

What to Know

The North Carolina Tar Heels will be returning home after a two-game road trip. They will take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Kenan Memorial Stadium after a week off. UNC is expected to win — but not by much — so they will need to come into the game prepared for a fight.

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The Tar Heels beat the Georgia State Panthers 35-28 two weeks ago. Among those leading the charge for UNC was RB Omarion Hampton, who rushed for two TDs and 110 yards on 16 carries. Hampton put himself on the highlight reel with a 58-yard TD scramble in the third quarter.

Meanwhile, Notre Dame netted a 24-17 victory over the California Golden Bears last week. RB Audric Estime and RB Chris Tyree were among the main playmakers for Notre Dame as the former punched in one rushing touchdown and the latter snatched one receiving TD.

Notre Dame’s defense was a presence as well, as it embarrassed California’s offensive line to sack QB Jack Plummer six times for a total loss of 47 yards. It was a group effort with four guys contributing.

The wins brought the Tar Heels up to 3-0 and the Fighting Irish to 1-2. A pair of stats to keep an eye on: UNC enters the matchup with 310 passing yards per game on average, good for 21st best in the nation. But Notre Dame comes into the contest boasting the 34th fewest passing yards allowed per game in the nation at 184. These opposing strengths should make for an exciting matchup.

How To Watch

  • When: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Where: Kenan Memorial Stadium — Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • TV: ABC
  • Online streaming: fuboTV (Try for free. Regional restrictions may apply.)
  • Follow: CBS Sports App
  • Ticket Cost: $110.00

Odds

The Tar Heels are a slight 2.5-point favorite against the Fighting Irish, according to the latest college football odds.

The line on this game has moved quite a bit since it opened, as it started out with the Fighting Irish as a 1.5-point favorite.

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Over/Under: -110

See college football picks for every single game, including this one, from SportsLine’s advanced computer model. Get picks now.

Series History

Notre Dame have won all of the games they’ve played against North Carolina in the last eight years.

  • Oct 30, 2021 – Notre Dame 44 vs. North Carolina 34
  • Nov 27, 2020 – Notre Dame 31 vs. North Carolina 17
  • Oct 07, 2017 – Notre Dame 33 vs. North Carolina 10



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