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Stephen Curry, Warriors are winning their breakup with KD, plus big college basketball upsets

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Happy Hump Day everyone! I hope you’re waking up to a bunch of successful fantasy football waiver claims who will fuel your playoff push.

Let’s get right to it.

Good morning to everyone but especially to…


usatsi

STEPHEN CURRY AND THE GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS

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Let me give you a quick list to start things off this fine morning:

MOST GAMES WITH NINE OR MORE THREE-POINTERS MADE in NBA HISTORY

  • 37. Stephen Curry
  • 36. No one
  • 35. No one
  • 34. No one
  • 33. No one
  • 32. No one
  • 31. No one
  • 30. No one
  • 29. No one
  • (ok, this is gonna take a while, so let’s speed things up)
  • 28-13. Still no one
  • 12. No one
  • 11. No one
  • 10. No one
  • 9. James Harden, Damian Lillard

Nights like Tuesday explain that list. Curry knocked down nine threes on his way to a 37-point effort as the Warriors routed the Nets, 117-99, in Brooklyn. Here’s our Brad Botkin to put into perspective how great of a game Curry had:

  • Botkin: “Curry — whose shooting, relatively speaking, has actually been somewhat erratic to start the year — was just too much. When he hit his first four 3s of the night, all of them from at least 25 feet and the final two from 30 and 35 feet, you knew it was going to be a long night for Brooklyn.”

The Warriors are now an NBA-best 12-2 this season. They’re third in offensive rating and first in defensive rating. That is really, really good.

Next time Curry is on TV, please, please make him appointment viewing.

Honorable mentions:

  • I told you yesterday Seton Hall at No. 4 Michigan was worth watching, and I hope you listened. The Pirates won 67-65. It tied the program’s highest-ranked road win ever. Remember this ultra-tough squad come March.
  • BYU also gave us a huge upset in college basketball last night when they demolished No. 12 Oregon, 81-49.
  • Gabe Kapler and Kevin Cash won NL and AL Manager of the Year, respectively. Kapler led the Giants to a franchise-record 107 wins while Cash, who won his second straight such award, led the Rays to a franchise-record 100 wins.
  • While it may not have been the prettiest or best performance the US men’s national team has ever put together, it picked up a point in a 1-1 draw at Jamaica. Tim Weah — who earned the highest mark in soccer reporter Roger Gonzalez’s ratings — opened the scoring before Jamaica’s Michail Antonio leveled things.

New College Football Playoff Rankings have arrived! 🏈


Graphic by Mike Meredith

If you watched Tuesday night’s reveal and thought “these look a lot like last week’s rankings,” you’re exactly right. There was no movement among the top seven teams in the College Football Playoff Rankings:

1. Georgia (10-0)
2. Alabama (9-1)
3. Oregon (9-1)
4. Ohio State (9-1)
5. Cincinnati (10-0)
6. Michigan (9-1)
7. Michigan State (9-1)

Meanwhile, Notre Dame is up to No. 8, but our Jerry Palm isn’t making much of that — yet:

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  • Palm: “Speaking of Cincinnati, there has been some speculation in various places that Notre Dame at 11-1 could jump the undefeated Bearcats for a spot in the playoff. That belief is based on the Fighting Irish having a much stronger schedule and the committee already ignoring head-to-head once this season by putting Michigan ahead of Michigan State. Let me make this as clear as possible: Even though Notre Dame crept one spot closer in the rankings this week, there is no chance that the Irish will finish ahead of an unbeaten Bearcats team.

Big contracts for big-name pitchers 💰


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A pair of starting pitchers inked notable deals on Tuessday, led by José Berríos, who signed a seven-year, $131-million extension with the Toronto Blue Jays. It’s the largest contract the Blue Jays have ever handed out.

Berríos posted a career-best 3.52 ERA last season, which he started with the Twins before being traded to Toronto, and he could lead a strong Blue Jays rotation for years to come, writes MLB expert Dayn Perry:

  • Perry: “Right now, Berríos would slot in at the front of a Toronto rotation that also includes Hyun-Jin Ryu, Alek Manoah, Ross Stripling, and Nate Pearson. If the Jays are able to re-up with 2021 ace and Cy Young finalist Robbie Ray, then Berríos would become a particularly strong No. 2 man.”

Meanwhile, the Angels agreed to a one-year, $21-million deal with Noah Syndergaard. Though Syndergaard is indeed a big name, he threw just two innings in 2021 following Tommy John surgery. Still, it could be a high-upside signing, writes Dayn Perry:

  • Perry: “Syndergaard, when fully healthy, owns one of the biggest fastballs in the majors, and he also complements it with a changeup and hard slider. Thanks to the quality of his stuff, Syndergaard’s upside remains substantial. Health, though, remains a question. In addition to his torn UCL that required Tommy John, Syndergaard has also dealt with lat, biceps, and finger issues.”

Loyola Chicago is headed to the Atlantic 10 🏆

Sister Jean is going to make some new friends. In a big shakeup on the college basketball mid-major scene, Loyola Chicago announced Tuesday that they are leaving the Missouri Valley Conference and joining the Atlantic 10 starting with the 2022-23 academic year.

The Ramblers joined the Missouri Valley in 2013 and did the conference proud — especially on the hardwood. They are an attractive addition to the Atlantic 10, writes our college basketball analyst Gary Parrish:

  • Parrish: “The development is a boost to the A-10, especially in basketball, considering the Ramblers were in the 2018 Final Four and Sweet 16 of last season’s NCAA Tournament. They’re currently 2-0 under first-year coach Drew Valentine and ranked 32nd at KenPom, which is higher than any current A-10 member.”

But the conference shuffling doesn’t stop there. Later Tuesday, our college basketball writer Matt Norlander reported that the MVC is pursuing Murray State, UT Arlington and Kansas City.

  • Norlander: “(T)he appeal for Murray State is clear and most obvious. It’s one of the most accomplished mid-major programs in men’s basketball, with 17 NCAA Tournament appearances to its name. … UT Arlington and Kansas City are candidates for one huge reason: their proximity to major media markets. Arlington is in the greater Dallas area, which is by far its greatest selling point and the thing that entices the MVC’s presidents as they look to expand the conference’s appeal geographically.”

Packers return to top of Pete Prisco’s Power Rankings, Pats enter top 10 🏈

The Packers reclaimed their spot atop Pete Prisco’s Power Rankings, and it’s not just because Aaron Rodgers is back. Let’s hear it for the defense, too.

  • Prisco: “The Packers can win slugfests now, even if that’s not what it’s been for most of Rodgers’ time with the team. That’s a good sign for the postseason because you know he can still sling it when he has to do so. That’s why this Green Bay team is so different. It can throw it, run it and play a physical brand of defense. That sure seems like a combination that can win it all — a style that has the Packers back on top of these rankings.”

While the NFC leaders have been near the top of Prisco’s rankings all season, over in Foxborough, the Patriots are making their presence known. Winners of four straight games, New England cracked the top 10 for the first time this season, and Prisco believes, “This might be Bill Belichick’s best coaching job.

That certainly extends to Mac Jones, whose three touchdowns in Week 10 earned him the No. 2 spot on NFL expert Josh Edwards’ Rookie Power Rankings:

  • Edwards: “Jones was phenomenal against Cleveland. His ability to layer throws and make quick reads has been fun to watch so early in his career. The Alabama product was throwing with great touch (19 for 23) and putting the ball where the Browns defense simply could not make a play…” 

What we’re watching Wednesday 📺

🏀Lakers at Bucks (-7.5), 7:30 p.m. on ESPN | While LeBron James isn’t quite back, this one still has plenty of star power.
🏀Mavericks at Suns (7.5), 10 p.m. on ESPN | No Luka Doncic in this one as the Mavericks go for their third win in a row.

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Aaron Rodgers to the Jets? Giants' free agency options & Mike McCarthy's future with Cowboys | Ask Jay Glazer

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Jay Glazer discussed whether Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers will head to the New York Jets, the New York Giants’ free agency options, and breaks down Mike McCarthy’s future with the Dallas Cowboys.



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Super Bowl LVII: Chiefs and Eagles will meet for title in Arizona

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Patrick Mahomes finally got the best of Joe Burrow. 

All he needed was a little shove.

Harrison Butker made a 45-yard field goal with 3 seconds left — after Cincinnati’s Joseph Ossai was flagged for a 15-yard penalty for shoving Mahomes after he was out of bounds — and the Chiefs beat the Bengals 23-20 in the AFC championship game to make it back to the Super Bowl.

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Kansas City will face the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl on Feb. 12 in Glendale, Arizona. 

The Eagles opened as a 1 1/2-point favourite, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

There are no shortage of storylines: Kansas City coach Andy Reid goes against his old team — which he led to Super Bowl 39 — in a game that’s also the first matchup of Black starting quarterbacks in the Super Bowl with Mahomes and Philadelphia’s Jalen Hurts. 

On top of that, there’s a brother-against-brother showdown between Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and Philadelphia center Jason Kelce.

“Officially done being a Chiefs fan this season!! ” Jason Kelce tweeted immediately after the Chiefs won.

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The Chiefs have been making deep postseason runs on a regular basis ever since Mahomes came to town as the franchise quarterback. 

This was their fifth straight trip to the AFC title game and will be their third Super Bowl appearance in that span. They beat the 49ers for the NFL title in the 2019 season, but lost to the Bucs the following season.

The Eagles clobbered the Niners 31-7 in the NFC title game earlier Sunday. They’ve looked dominant in the playoffs so far, also beating the New York Giants 38-7 in the divisional round.

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Philadelphia is back in the Super Bowl five years after beating the New England Patriots 41-33 on Feb. 4, 2018. 

Now a mostly new generation of Eagles — led by coach Nick Sirianni and Hurts — will come to Arizona to try and win another title.

The Chiefs-Bengals game looked as if it was going to overtime before Ossai’s ill-advised play. Mahomes — who was playing on a badly sprained ankle — was running to get a first down in the final seconds as Ossai desperately tried to track him down. 

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Mahomes was out of bounds when Ossai gave him a shove, sending both players tumbling to the turf. The ensuing 15-yard penalty was enough to push Butker into field-goal range and the kick split the uprights.

A distraught Ossai sat on the bench with his head in his hands, well after the game was over.

The Bengals and Chiefs were playing for the fourth time in less than 400 days and Cincinnati had won the previous three meetings — all by three points. This one was decided by a field goal, too, and all Burrow could do was watch.

The Bengals lost to the Rams in last year’s Super Bowl and they just missed another chance at returning to the title game.

NO DRAMA IN NFC

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Oddsmakers thought fans were in for some close conference championship games. 

They’ll have to settle for a 50% success rate.

The NFC title game was a blowout. Niners rookie quarterback Brock Purdy was injured in the first quarter when Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick drilled his right arm on a play that was ruled a fumble. The Eagles recovered that fumble and the injury proved to be a game-changer.

With Purdy hurt, San Francisco turned to 36-year-old journeyman Josh Johnson, who couldn’t do much before eventually leaving with a concussion. Purdy came back into the game, but could barely throw, and the Eagles cruised to the win.

The 49ers dealt with quarterback injuries all season, losing Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo before turning to Purdy, a seventh-round draft pick out of Iowa State. Purdy stepped into a starter’s role in December and won his first seven games before Sunday’s injury. 

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Here’s a few things to know about the upcoming Super Bowl:

WHAT’S THE UPCOMING SCHEDULE?

FEB. 5

Pro Bowl flag-football game, 3 p.m. EST, ABC/ESPN

FEB. 12

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Super Bowl LVII, Philadelphia Eagles vs. Kansas City Chiefs, 6:30 p.m. EST, Fox

RIHANNA AT HALFTIME

Rihanna will take center stage as the headline act for this year’s Super Bowl halftime show.

With sales of more than 250 million records worldwide, Rihanna ranks as one of the best-selling female artists ever. Her most recent album was 2016′s “Anti.” Rihanna last performed publicly at the Grammy Awards in 2018.

The singer said she turned down a similar opportunity for the 2019 Super Bowl that was ultimately headlined by Maroon 5. At the time, many artists voiced support for Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who protested police brutality against Black people and minorities by kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.

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Country music star Chris Stapleton will sing the national anthem, while R&B legend Babyface will perform “America the Beautiful.” 

PRO BOWL MAKEOVER

The Pro Bowl is getting a major makeover this year after the NFL eliminated its full-contact all-star game and replaced it with weeklong skills competitions and a flag football game.

The flag football contest is Feb. 5 in Las Vegas at Allegiant Stadium, one week before the Super Bowl.

The Pro Bowl debuted in January 1951 in Los Angeles and stayed there for 21 seasons before the game moved to different cities from 1972-80. Hawaii hosted from 1980-2009, and the game has had several homes in the years since, including Miami, Phoenix, Orlando and Las Vegas.

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“The game was kind of silly, I guess,” Saints two-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman Ryan Ramczyk said back in September when the news was announced. “Guys weren’t out there playing true football. Hopefully, there’ll be a lot of interactions with the fans and guys will get their opportunity to go out there and show some skills. I could see that being a good change.”

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Ohio State hires James Laurinaitis & Tennessee extends Huepel's contract | Joel Klatt Show

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Joel Klatt discussed Ohio State Buckeyes hiring former linebacker James Laurinaitis as a defensive GA. Joel believes that Laurinaitis can help transform the defense into a powerhouse like the offense is for wide receivers. He then discussed the Tennessee Volunteers giving Josh Huepel a contract extension after their 11-win season.



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