Time for 8 Team Expansion

Posted on December 18, 2016. Filed under: Football, NCAA Sports, Sports Business | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

How to Expand the College Football Playoff

December 11, 2016

PrezRo
compiled by Prez Ro
follow back at @PrezRo365

As the subject states… it’s time to expand the College Football Playoff (CFP) from 4-teams to 8 like immediately!

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It’s the third College Football Playoff season rankings and Bill Hancock, the CFP’s executive director, reiterated that the system is working. “We are confident,” Hancock said Sunday, “that four is the right number.”

Is it? The Big Ten Champion is out of the playoffs… Big 12 leader is out… Undefeated Western Michigan is out…. but it’s working?

He went on to say “I don’t anticipate any discussion about expansion.” In a word, INTERESTING!!!!

So, wouldn’t you say eight teams would be much more solid as well as fun for the students! And it seems that the majority of fans want the playoff to expand! And every playoff in every major American sport has eventually grown bigger!

NOTE: FCS, Division-I, has been doing this for years

Speaking December 7th at the Learfield Intercollegiate Athletics Forum, Emmert said he prefers an eight-team format that includes automatic bids for champions of each Power Five conference.

And in case you didn’t know, NCAA Commissioner, Mark Emmert, doesn’t have control over the College Football Playoff format — the NCAA doesn’t run the Football Bowl Subdivision postseason and they always remind you of that — but “if” he did, he’d expand it to eight teams in a heartbeat.

However, as Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany noted on Wednesday, the field selection this year did not provide any movement toward an eight-team playoff. In so many words he shared ‘the tires have been kicked on an eight-team playoff, casually or otherwise, even before major college football had a four-team playoff. With the three-year-old postseason format paying out hefty sums of money, one can venture to guess expansion is coming at some point in the future.’

Why eight teams? Many believe, including the staff at Amateur Sports, eight is the sweet spot for the college football playoff: more national representation but not too much, and only one more round of competition. Even further…. win your conference (Big Ten, SEC, ACC, MAC, Big 12, PAC12, *AAC or *Sun Belt) and you are in – PERIOD!!! With one spot for a solid wildcard (highest ranked teams remaining including independent teams like Navy and Notre Dame, etc).

* best overall record between these two conference determines who’s in…

The case for expansion…

For the first two years of the playoff, one thing looked abundantly clear: winning your conference championship was important and all eight playoff teams in those two years were conference champs. But this year, Penn State messed things up by winning the Big Ten championship. Suddenly, the qualifying statements perpetuated by the “CYA” mission of selecting the “four best teams” began pouring in. Then came along the dialogue about the resumes between Penn State and Ohio State, which were not close but they won when they had to based on their schedule.

To be clear, this isn’t to say those statements are wrong. In many ways they’re right. But can anyone remember this much dismissing of conference titles last year? How about the year before? Funny how it emerges when it’s the team no one expects winning the conference.

And let’s not forget the efforts of Western Michigan who went undefeated including winning the MAC championship, and they are out too.

Additionally, two things fans love about March Madness take effect. There’s the Cinderella story, which would have been Western Michigan this year, and the team with the hot hand. No one denies that early-season losses by Oklahoma and USC matter, but it’s also true they aren’t the same teams now as they were in September. Expanding to eight at least allows for greater consideration of this.

The macro point here is that the first three seasons of the playoff have been filled with inconsistencies. Fans see this on a week-to-week basis with the mock rankings selection show. “Body clocks” is a pass one week and “game control” is a criterion the next. Flexibility is the beauty of having a human committee. It’s also what makes it extraordinarily frustrating. Having the Power Five conference champions as automatic bids absolutely takes away the drama, but it also takes away a lot of the frustration.

What would an eight-team playoff look like this season? This exercise is part reality and part subjectivity.

To acknowledge the selection committee members, we will use their top four: No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Ohio State and No. 4 Washington.

Now, the fun part: we pick the next four!

They are as follows: No. 5 Penn State, No. 6 Western Michigan, No. 7 Michigan and No. 8 Oklahoma. Despite a 39-point loss at Michigan Stadium, Penn State is ahead of the Wolverines because of its overall profile (wins over Ohio State, Wisconsin, Temple and Iowa) and conference championship.

Unfortunately, the first four out would be USC, Wisconsin, Florida State, and Colorado. USC is very close to Oklahoma to us even though they didn’t win their conference or division but has two better wins — Washington and Colorado — than anything on Oklahoma’s résumé. Plus, outside of Alabama, USC is the team no one wants to play.

Here’s how our hypothetical eight-team playoff would look this year.

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NOTE: With the team with the higher ranking “host” to game on their home field.

No. 1 Alabama (13-0) vs. No. 8 Oklahoma (10-2)

No. 2 Clemson (12-1) vs. No. 7 Michigan (10-2)

No. 3 Ohio State (11-1) vs. No. 6 Western Michigan (13-0)

No. 4 Washington (12-1) vs. No. 5 Penn State (11-2)

college-bracket-2016

NOTE: Losers are then slotted to the “already” predetermined bowl games ~click here for details on that. Notice in the column of team selection how it states conference and place in the standings.

CONCLUSION
Now to be fair, there is a case against expansion expanding…

What do you want to reward? The best team in tournament play at the time of the tournament, or the best team in the land?

In the modern era of college football, championships have been won by teams with superior talent and excellent coaching. Each year, you could make an argument that only about 13-16 teams in the country will fit that description at the beginning of the year, and many of those teams will fall from title contention because of injuries or ill-timed poor play. If the playoff is expanded, you gain the element of postseason drama but risk losing a worthy champion because of a bad break. Often you hear let’s leave the “Cinderella story” to college basketball and let college football crown its king with the four best teams in the country.

I also think expanding the playoffs would require increasing the scholarship limit or cutting back on the number of regular-season games. Expanding the playoff would decrease the urgency for conference championship weekend for teams that were “locks,” like Ohio State was heading into Selection Sunday this season.

I’m not great at math, but scholarships cost money, cutting regular season or conference title games means less money, and there isn’t enough impetus for this current crop of conference commissioners to go through the headache or reworking the letter of the law without knowing more regarding the future of finances (media rights) in college football.

Regardless of the “so-called” obstacles, isn’t it about the “student-athlete” and their efforts on the field? And these athletes can only play who’s on the schedule and in front of them. We also believe the NCAA should “own” one floating week on ALL D1 schedules each year, which they can force teams to play a real, out of conference competitor, but that’s in an upcoming article – Stay tune. We digress…

In the end, we’re going to watch and debate, but respectively speaking, it’s time to reward overall achievement not what we think will happen.

For fun, here is a 16-team playoff by our friends at SEC country  – whew!… click here!

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2014 BIG Ten – Week 3

Posted on September 14, 2014. Filed under: Football, NCAA Sports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Week 3…

September 13, 2014

BIG games this week across the board…

I think we all can clearly admit that Big Ten Football hasn’t been that good this season. Last week, they went 8-5 against what some would consider easy opponents. Now in week 3, they faced a fewer tougher opponents. Overall, the league played a lot better but same results going 4-7.

 Washington 44, Illinois 19

The Fighting Illini barely won during the first two weeks, well, that caught up with them during week 3 as Washington dominated them all afternoon.

Washington led 21-3 at the end of the first quarter and 38-12 at the half, thanks in part to two defensive touchdowns from Shaq Thompson. Illinois played a sloppy, miserable game they had no chance of winning. Don’t interrupt Illinois head coach Tim Beckman’s delusions by telling him that, though.

———

 Penn State 13, Rutgers 10

Conference play kicked off with Penn State-Rutgers, in Rutgers’ first-ever Big Ten game. The Scarlet Knights’ much-maligned defense had a strong performance, but Gary Nova’s antics cost them the game.

The Rutgers defense asserted its will from the get-go, shutting out Penn State for the first half. After scraping out a couple field goals in the third and fourth quarter to pull within 10-6, Christian Hackenberg led PSU on a beautiful two-minute drill to take the lead. In response, Nova threw his fifth interception of the game.

It was a rough introduction to the Big Ten for Rutgers

———-

 West Virginia 40, Maryland 37

Heartbreak type of game here….

West Virginia jumped out to a 28-6 lead, but Maryland came back with a combination of red zone defense stances and plays from C.J. Brown and Stefon Diggs. Late in the fourth quarter, Maryland had a punt return from Will Likely to tie the score, and then allowed West Virginia to drive for the game-winning field goal.

———-
Notre Dame 30, Purdue 14

In the battle of Indiana… well, it’s still all about the Irish as they remain perfect.

Purdue was feisty in the first half, grabbing a 14-10 lead in the second quarter and ceding little ground on defense. But the Boilermakers allowed a last-minute touchdown before the half, and they couldn’t string together an offensive drive in the second half until it was too late.

The talent disparity was too great as the Fighting Irish beat the Boilermakers in Indianapolis.

——–
 Bowling Green 45, Indiana 42

The Big Ten’s struggles with the MAC continues as Indiana lost a winnable game to Bowling Green. This game went back-and-forth from the start as each team traded jabs, but in the end, the Hooisers’ defense couldn’t prevent an 88-yard touchdown drive in two minutes, giving up the winning score with nine seconds to go.

———-
 Michigan 34, Miami (Ohio) 10

Michigan needed this win more than a fat kid needs recess, as they suffered an embrassing loss last week at the hands of Notre Dame. So, this was the perfect opponent especially since Miami (Ohio) entered the contest on an 18-game losing streak.

The Wolverines got out to a quick 10-0 lead, but three turnovers in the second quarter let Miami tie the game. But athletic Derrick Green had an outstanding shownig for the Wolverines, rushing for 137 yards and two touchdowns, and the Michigan defense smothered Miami. In the end, this was a well-needed win for Michigan and the Big Ten.

———

Iowa State 20, Iowa 17

TCU 30, Minnesota 7

Nebraska 55, Fresno State 19

BYE: Northwestern, Michigan State, Wisconsin

 

“BIG TEN HELMET STICKER 4 the Week”

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J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State – finished the day 23 of 30 passing for 312 yards and six touchdown passes.

 

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IHSA AP Girls Rankings

Posted on November 20, 2013. Filed under: Basketball, Basketball, Girls High School Basketball, High School Basketball | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

SECOND EDITION of IL High School Girls Basketball AP Rankings

January 15, 2014

By Associated Press

Homewood-Flossmoor grabs the top spot in Class 4A while Montini holds on to the No. 1 ranking in Class 3A. Find a complete list of the AP rankings here.

CLASS 4A
SCHOOL (First-place voice)

RANKINGS – SCHOOL – POINTS for 1st – RECORD – TOTAL VOTES – PREVIOUS
1     Homewood-Flossmoor (5)     11-2     93     4
2     Young (1)     13-2     88     1
tie     Rolling Meadows (1)     17-2     88     2
4     Edwardsville (4)     12-0     68     3
5     WW South     16-2     64     6
6     Marian Catholic     13-4     51     5
7     Trinity     14-2     44     NR
tie     Fremd     15-2     44     7
9     Bolingbrook     9-2     22     8
10     New Trier     16-0     17     10

Others receiving votes: Neuqua Valley 10, Rock Island 8, Geneva 2, Hersey 2, Batavia 1, Hononegah 1, Huntley 1, Oak Lawn 1

CLASS 3A
SCHOOL (First-place votes)

RANKINGS – SCHOOL – POINTS for 1st – RECORD – TOTAL VOTES – PREVIOUS
1     Montini (6)     17-1     127     1
2     Quincy Notre Dame (5)     14-1     122     2
tie     Joliet Catholic (3)     14-0     122     3
4     Springfield     17-1     97     4
5     Morgan Park     11-2     77     5
6     Washington (Ill.)     11-1     53     8
7     Bishop McNamara     13-2     51     6
8     Morton     13-3     38     7
9     Normal U-High     13-1     35     9
10     Burlington Central     14-2     20     NR

Others receiving votes: Richwoods 7, Champaign Centennial 6, Effingham 6, Vernon Hills 4, Mendota 2, North Chicago 2, Coal City 1

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CLASS 2A
SCHOOL (First-place votes)

RANKINGS – SCHOOL – POINTS for 1st – RECORD – TOTAL VOTES – PREVIOUS
1     St. Thomas More (12)     18-2     138     1
2     Breese Central (2)     19-0     128     3
3     Nashville     16-1     102     4
4     Teutopolis     12-3     87     2
5     Sherrard     19-2     61     5
6     El Paso-Gridley     12-2     55     6
7     Watseka     15-2     53     7
8     Prophetstown     18-2     39     8
9     Byron     15-3     19     NR
10     Clinton     14-2     14     NR
tie     Piasa Southwestern     16-1     14     NR
tie     Sullivan     13-1     14     NR

Others receiving votes: Mt. Carmel 8 (Ill.), Illini West (Carthage) 7, Havana 7, Litchfield 6, Carterville 6, Westminster Christian 5, Marshall 3, Oregon 2, St. Joseph-Ogden 1, Bloomington Central 1

CLASS 1A
SCHOOL (First-place votes)

RANKINGS – SCHOOL – POINTS for 1st – RECORD – TOTAL VOTES – PREVIOUS
1     Annawan (13)     12-4     130     1
2     Gilman Iroquois West     17-1     105     2
3     Moweaqua Central A&M     15-4     102     3
4     Putnam County     17-1     82     T5
5     Brimfield     10-1     65     T5
6     Carrollton     12-2     51     8
7     Eastland     17-3     39     NR
8     Danville Schlarman     10-6     29     4
9     Arcola     13-3     25     T9
10     Shiloh     15-3     15     NR

Others receiving votes: South Fulton 14, Calhoun 13, Nokomis 12, Aquin 10, Stark County 8, River Ridge 8, Pearl City 3, Winchester West Central 2, Galena 2

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BIG TEN Week 3 recap

Posted on September 16, 2013. Filed under: Football, NCAA Sports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Stunning weekend in the Big Ten…

September 15, 2013

Huskies 34,  illini helmet24 ~click here to read our recap!

 purdue-helmet31,NotreDame-helmet24

The Boilermakers came to play taking an early lead of 10-3 at the half against the Irish but couldn’t stop the visitors from scoring in the fourth quarter. The Irish scored 21 points in the fourth quarter which proved to be enough to steal a victory 31-24 on Saturday night.

Notre Dame receiver DaVaris Daniels staggered Purdue with two late touchdowns. Three plays after his second score, teammate Bennett Jackson delivered the final blow — a 34-yard interception return for a score.

“I was never worried in the sense there was a panic,” Kelly said. “I felt really confident that we were going to win the football game. We just needed to settle down a little bit.”

michigan-helmet28, Akron 24

One the winningest program in college football might have just had its worst win.

Fitzgerald Toussaint scored a go-ahead, 2-yard touchdown with 2:49 left and Michigan made a desperately needed stop on the final play to hold on for a 28-24 victory over Akron on Saturday.

It’s something about Michigan (3-0) and the Mid-American Conference, where they seem to have a few problems as they did with Appalachian State and Toledo.

nebraska121, UCLA 41

The Bruins came back from 18 points down behind the fine play of QB Brett Hundley, who threw three touchdown passes and stunned Nebraska 41-21 in front of a record crowd of 91,471 on Saturday.

The win for UCLA came six days after receiver Nick Pasquale was killed when he was struck by a vehicle while he was walking in his hometown and a day before coaches and teammates travel to San Clemente, Calif., for his memorial service.

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OTHER NOTEABLES

Minnesota 29, Western Illinois 12

Indiana 42, Bowling Green 10

Michigan State 55, Youngstown 17

Iowa 27, Iowa St 21

Ohio State 52, Cal 34

Western Michigan 17, Northwestern 38

Wisconsin 30, Arizona State 32

BIG TEN POWER RANKINGS click here2

by Adam Rittenberg & Brian Bennett

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Illinois lose to Washington 34-24 for the Chicago Homecoming

Posted on September 14, 2013. Filed under: Football, NCAA Sports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Huskiesillini helmet

Two undefeated teams come into Soldier Field – one will stay undefeated – who?

September 14, 2013

CHICAGO – Both teams come into the season undefeated, but only one can leave Soldier Field n the same manner… who will it be?

Well tonight it is Washington, who held off Illinois 34-24.

Huskies senior quarterback Keith Price led the charge going 28-35 for 345 yards and 2 touchdowns. Followed by running back Bishop Sankey, who added 35 carries for 208 and two scores. The first score in the game came in the second quarter on a 25 yard pass from Price.

Illinois needed a fast start, big plays on offense and a bend-but-don’t-break defense to upset “ranked” Washington. Unfortunately, they didn’t get it in the first half where Washington led 10-3. And to start the second half, the Huskies picked up where they left off at, with a 4 play touchdown drive featuring Sankey, who scored on a short run, giving the visitors a commanding lead of 17-3.

Washington dominating first half stats in just about all of the important ones: first downs (14-8), rushing (67-32), total yards (278-93), and the most important one, score 10-3.

After the Huskies (2-0) marched down the field with the third-quarter kickoff for a 17-3 lead, the Illinois offense answered with a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive capped by a two-yard naked bootleg by Nathan Scheelhaase with four tight ends on the field.

Nathan Scheelhaase finished the game 9 for 25 for 156 yards, 1 interception, one touchdown in the air and one on the ground.

‘‘Anytime you walk off the field without the win, there’s something missing,’’ Scheelhaase said. ‘‘We kept throwing punches, kept giving it all we had. It’s fun to be a part of that. I didn’t see that a lot last year. It was good to see that.’’

In retrospect, I want to say that all was not lost in this first loss of the season. The Illini (2-1), who trailed basically the entire game, found a way to hang around in that first half with their defense, which is looking better than anticipated — because not much was anticipated. That defense, which gave up a scary 615 yards, will need to get better. But the Illini have faith. Here the bottom line is the young Illinois defense needs to tackle better — and it will learn to do that in time.

‘‘If we were in this situation last year, it might have turned sour,’’ senior linebacker Jonathan Brown said. ‘‘But these guys fought to the end. They showed heart. With a performance like that, you can find the things you need to improve on.’’

There is still time to make adjustments and put together the right Illini plan moving forward. And their bye week comes at a good time too.

‘‘Our players came out knowing they had a chance to win this game and fought to the end,’’ coach Tim Beckman said.

Up next for the 2-1 Fighting Illini is Miami (OH), September 28 in Champaign.

statefarm1

University of Illinois rolled out the red carpet and added some of the best Chicagoland and Illinois icons beginning with Jim Cornelison, fulltime national anthem singer for the 2013 Stanley Cup champions Blackhawks, who put goose bumps on everyone in attendance. In addition, Chicago Bear Hall of Famer and Illini alum, Dick Butkus tossed the ceremonial coin to begin the game.

ABOUT WASHINGTON (1-0): Senior quarterback Keith Price passed for 324 yards and two touchdowns against Boise State and is 115 yards away from overtaking Brock Huard (6,391 yards from 1996-98) for third place on the school’s all-time list. Junior tailback Bishop Sankey rushed for 161 yards (his fifth 100-yard performance in his last six games) in a strong opening-game salvo to follow up last year’s 1,439-yard season. Junior middle linebacker – and defensive leader – John Timu racked up 13 tackles in the opener while senior safety Sean Parker made an interception.

ABOUT ILLINOIS (2-0): Cubit’s effect on quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase has been stunning as the senior has six touchdown passes in two games to surpass last season’s output (four in 246 attempts). Scheelhaase threw for a career-high 416 yards in the opener against Southern Illinois and followed up with 312 in last Saturday’s 45-17 rout of favored Cincinnati. The defense, which has experienced issues while allowing an average of 431 yards, is led by senior outside linebacker Jonathan Brown (14 tackles against Cincinnati, 23 overall), sophomore middle linebacker Mason Monheim (2.5 tackles for loss among 18 stops) and junior strong safety Earnest Thomas III (16 tackles in two games).

FUN NOTES for Fighting Illini

• The Fighting Illini (2-0) look to continue their hot start on Saturday when they head to the Windy City to host No. 19/23 Washington at Soldier Field for Chicago Homecoming (5 p.m. CT, BTN). A win would make Illinois 3-0 for only the second time in the last 12 seasons. The other was in 2011, when the Illini started the season 6-0.

• Following Saturday’s shellacking of Cincinnati, the Illini are receiving votes in both polls for the first time since Oct. 24, 2011. Illinois sits 34th in the AP poll (nine votes) and 39th in the coaches poll (three votes).

• Illinois faces its first top-25 opponent of the season on Saturday as Washington is ranked No. 19 in this week’s Associated Press poll and No. 23 in the USA Today Coaches Poll.

• Scheelhaase has more passing touchdowns (six) in two games than 102 of the 123 FBS teams. He also has thrown for 728 yards, more than 116 of 123 FBS teams through week 2.

• Scheelhaase’s 728 yards are the most in Illinois’ first two games of a season since Jason Verduzco passed for 783 yards in the first two games of 1991. Scheelhaase also has six passing touchdowns, equaling the school record for most TD passes in the first two games of a season shared by Juice Williams (2008) and Kurt Kittner (2000).

• Senior LB and Butkus Award candiate Jonathan Brown leads the Big Ten and ranks 14th nationally in tackles (11.5 tpg). Brown had 14 stops against Cincinnati, a B1G single-game high this season.

• Washington leads the all-time series with the Illini by a 5-4 margin, but the teams haven’t met since 1972. The two programs are 2-2 in games played in Champaign, while Washington holds a 3-1 margin in Seattle. The Illini notched a 17-7 win in the 1964 Rose Bowl. Illinois will travel to Seattle in the third week of 2014 for a Sept. 13 tilt at Husky Stadium.

• This year is the 50th anniversary of Illinois’ 1964 Rose Bowl victory over the Huskies, an Illini squad that was led by Chicago-born Illini legends Dick Butkus and Jim Grabowski. Washington took a 7-0 lead in the second quarter, but Illinois’ defense took over and the Illini managed touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters for the 17-7 final score. Grabowski earned MVP honors, finishing with 125 yards and a touchdown.

#Illini defeated Washington in ’64 @rosebowlgame, 17-7. In the 50th anniversary @illinifootball hoping for repeat Sat, Sep 14 at @SoldierField. http://pic.twitter.com/otoTCpKtgA

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Illini Chicago Homecoming Game

Posted on September 13, 2013. Filed under: Football, NCAA Sports, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Huskiesillini helmet

Illini host ranked Washington

September 13, 2013

Just two games into the 2013 season, but the state of Illinois is buzzing for the Fighting Illini, who are 2-0, after defeating top-contender Cincinnati 45-17 last week in a very impressionable fashion.

statefarm1

On the other side of the ball, Washington (2-0) have had an impressionable win too defeating Boise State 36-6 in the season-opener. Now, the Huskies have been resting since the game against Boise allowing for their young talent to get prepared for the fast Illini offense behind the fine play of Nathan Scheelhaase.

The Fighting Illini brought in former Western Michigan coach Bill Cubit to revamp the offense, and the results were favorable in victories over Southern Illinois and Cincinnati. Illinois is averaging 43.5 points and 493 yards and has posted 17 plays of 20-plus yards after having just 34 last season. The Huskies will have All-American tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (69 receptions, 850 yards in 2012) back on the field after he was suspended for the Boise State game due to an offseason DUI charge.

The Huskies come in to Soldier Field trying to prove their season-opening thrashing of Boise State wasn’t a fluke and Illinois looks to start 3-0 for only the second time in 12 seasons when the teams met today. The Huskies shot into the national rankings after their convincing 38-6 win in their opener but went 3-10 away from Seattle over the previous two seasons. Illinois is playing at Soldier Field for only the second time.

EXTRAS

ABOUT WASHINGTON (1-0): Senior quarterback Keith Price passed for 324 yards and two touchdowns against Boise State and is 115 yards away from overtaking Brock Huard (6,391 yards from 1996-98) for third place on the school’s all-time list. Junior tailback Bishop Sankey rushed for 161 yards (his fifth 100-yard performance in his last six games) in a strong opening-game salvo to follow up last year’s 1,439-yard season. Junior middle linebacker – and defensive leader – John Timu racked up 13 tackles in the opener while senior safety Sean Parker made an interception.

ABOUT ILLINOIS (2-0): Cubit’s effect on quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase has been stunning as the senior has six touchdown passes in two games to surpass last season’s output (four in 246 attempts). Scheelhaase threw for a career-high 416 yards in the opener against Southern Illinois and followed up with 312 in last Saturday’s 45-17 rout of favored Cincinnati. The defense, which has experienced issues while allowing an average of 431 yards, is led by senior outside linebacker Jonathan Brown (14 tackles against Cincinnati, 23 overall), sophomore middle linebacker Mason Monheim (2.5 tackles for loss among 18 stops) and junior strong safety Earnest Thomas III (16 tackles in two games).

1. Washington leads the all-time series 5-4. The programs last met in 1972, when the Huskies notched a 31-11 home victory.

2. Illinois’ lone previous contest at Soldier Field was a 10-9 victory over Washington State in 1994.

3. Sophomore WR Jaydon Mickens set career highs for receptions (nine) and yards (109) in Washington’s season opener.

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Follow the action LIVE on your mobile device at http://www.athletics.illinois.edu/livestats/xlive.htm

Follow the action LIVE on your PC at http://www.fightingillini.com/gametracker/launch/gt_mfootbl.html?event=1236439&school=ill&sport=mfootbl&camefrom=&startschool=&

FUN NOTES for Fighting Illini

�The Fighting Illini (2-0) look to continue their hot start on Saturday when they head to the Windy City to host No. 19/23 Washington at Soldier Field for Chicago Homecoming (5 p.m. CT, BTN). A win would make Illinois 3-0 for only the second time in the last 12 seasons. The other was in 2011, when the Illini started the season 6-0.

�Following Saturday’s shellacking of Cincinnati, the Illini are receiving votes in both polls for the first time since Oct. 24, 2011. Illinois sits 34th in the AP poll (nine votes) and 39th in the coaches poll (three votes).

�Illinois faces its first top-25 opponent of the season on Saturday as Washington is ranked No. 19 in this week’s Associated Press poll and No. 23 in the USA Today Coaches Poll.

�Scheelhaase has more passing touchdowns (six) in two games than 102 of the 123 FBS teams. He also has thrown for 728 yards, more than 116 of 123 FBS teams through week 2.

• Scheelhaase’s 728 yards are the most in Illinois’ first two games of a season since Jason Verduzco passed for 783 yards in the first two games of 1991. Scheelhaase also has six passing touchdowns, equaling the school record for most TD passes in the first two games of a season shared by Juice Williams (2008) and Kurt Kittner (2000).

• Senior LB and Butkus Award candiate Jonathan Brown leads the Big Ten and ranks 14th nationally in tackles (11.5 tpg). Brown had 14 stops against Cincinnati, a B1G single-game high this season.

• Washington leads the all-time series with the Illini by a 5-4 margin, but the teams haven’t met since 1972. The two programs are 2-2 in games played in Champaign, while Washington holds a 3-1 margin in Seattle. The Illini notched a 17-7 win in the 1964 Rose Bowl. Illinois will travel to Seattle in the third week of 2014 for a Sept. 13 tilt at Husky Stadium.

• This year is the 50th anniversary of Illinois’ 1964 Rose Bowl victory over the Huskies, an Illini squad that was led by Chicago-born Illini legends Dick Butkus and Jim Grabowski. Washington took a 7-0 lead in the second quarter, but Illinois’ defense took over and the Illini managed touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters for the 17-7 final score. Grabowski earned MVP honors, finishing with 125 yards and a touchdown.

#Illini defeated Washington in ’64 @rosebowlgame, 17-7. In the 50th anniversary @illinifootball hoping for repeat Sat, Sep 14 at @SoldierField. http://pic.twitter.com/otoTCpKtgA

So, can the Illini continue their winning ways at their northern home, Soldier Field Saturday night? Or will the Huskies speed in the pass rush be too much for Scheelhaase?

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We will see – kickoff is at at 5p LIVE from Chicago and Soldier Field.  Follow the action with us via Twitter, @ASNN365, as well as here on our blog.

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2013 McDonald’s All-American Game

Posted on April 7, 2013. Filed under: Basketball, Boys High School Basketball, Girls High School Basketball, High School Basketball | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Girls and Boys… East meets West for braggin rights!!!

April 3, 2013

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Playing in the 36th annual McDonald’s HS All American Game (McDAAG) is almost a golden ticket to super-stardom on the collegiate or professional level. Since 1977, legendary players like Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, and more have all gotten their initial national exposure from playing in the McDonald’s Game.

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There is no such thing as a sure thing in sports, but that hardly has us putting down our crystal balls in the form of amateur tournaments and all-star exhibitions. The McDAAG is no different, and has always been a chance to see the special young stars of today and daydreaming of where they will land just a few years from now.

The McDAAG is always about looking into the future, to see what these kids will do when they become men. In the case of Taya Reimer and Jabari Parker, Players of the Year, it’s safe to say that it will be all good things.

Indiana standout Taya Reimer, and Four-time Illinois state champion Jabari Parker hold up their McDonald's All American jerseys accompanied by Joe Wootten, left, the son of Morgan Wootten, and Douglas Freeland, right, Director of McDonalds All American Games after being picked as the national prep basketball players of the year Monday, March 18, 2013, in Chicago. The award, named for legendary Maryland high school coach Morgan Wootten, is awarded annually to the top male and female McDonald's All-American players. (caption provided by AP)

Indiana standout Taya Reimer, and Four-time Illinois state champion Jabari Parker hold up their McDonald’s All American jerseys accompanied by Joe Wootten, left, the son of Morgan Wootten, and Douglas Freeland, right, Director of McDonalds All American Games after being picked as the national prep basketball players of the year Monday, March 18, 2013, in Chicago. The award, named for legendary Maryland high school coach Morgan Wootten, is awarded annually to the top male and female McDonald’s All-American players. (caption provided by AP)[/caption]

GIRLS: West 74, East 55

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Final high school game…. what a way to end this chapter, and prepare for the next…. Senior guard Linnae Harper stood in the middle of a huddle of McDonald’s Americans at the United Center and initiated the celebratory cry.

“Whose side? West Side!” as the West defeated the East 92-64 in the girls McDonald’s All-American game.

Harper, a Kentucky-recruit, did a lot for the players visiting Chicago, including giving a tour of the city and recommending places to eat, but on Wednesday night, she pushed the pace of the game and helped her team snag a big victory adding eight points, five assists, three rebounds and two steals.

“Usually when I start the games, my first goal is to get a steal,” Harper said. “That brings intensity and energy to the game, and eventually that affected the team. We were just on a roll.”

At the half, the West led 45-35 and didn’t relinquish the comfortable lead. Harper directed a 7-0 second-half spurt in which she had a steal, two assists and a long jumper.

Also at halftime, Harper was given a different award, the Jack Daly Sportsmanship award, which she shared with Erica McCall and Kelsey Plum. It was a tribute, she said, to her desire to make sure her teammates enjoyed her city.

“I’m going around and showing them the best of Chicago because I would hope if I went to their state, they would give me the best of where they live at,” Harper said. “It’s all about giving back.”

“She did a great job coming out, anticipating, getting steals and buckets for us,” said West coach Anthony Smith, of Bolingbrook. “That’s the type of kid and player she is. It was great to see.”

Tennessee recruit, Mercedes Russell (Springfield, OR), was named the game’s MVP after finishing with 16 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks for the West.

North Carolina recruit Diamond DeShields led the East with 15 points and five rebounds, while Harper’s future Kentucky teammate, Makayla Epps, added 13 points.

High School Player of the Year Notre Dame recruits Taya Reimer (2 points, 3 blocks) and Lindsay Allen (4 points, 6 rebounds) teamed up for the losing side with Northwestern recruit Nia Coffey (2 points, 6 rebounds).

“I could have done a lot better personally, but it’s really not about individual stuff,” Allen said. “It’s playing together, having fun.”

NOTABLE PERFORMERS: West — Tyler Scaife, 15 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists; Jordan Reynolds, 10 points, 11 rebounds. East — Diamond DeShields, 15 points, 5 rebounds, 4 steals; Makayla Epps, 13 points.

Harper’s, now famous pre-game meal of the chicken skin mixed with ranch and french dressing, continues to help her basketball performances now for the Lady Wildcats.

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BOYS: West 110, East 99 Game

Talk about a stellar high school basketball career for Duke-recruit, Jabari Parker, from Chicago Simeon. And on Wednesday night, helped his All-American Squad (West), to a 110-99 victory over the East in front of his base-fans in Chicago at the United Center.

“It was the best experience so far,” Parker said. “Getting a chance to play in front of a lot of family. I saw a lot of my coaches out there, having Coach Mike coach me. A lot of people don’t know I was about to go to Mount Carmel if I didn’t go to Simeon.”

Matched against the number 1 ranked, undecided player, Andrew Wiggins, Parker immediately made his presence felt defensively. He had two quick blocked shots, including Wiggins’ first attempt from the perimeter. He managed to stay in front of Wiggins more often than not, but did commit five fouls in the process.

“It went pretty good,” Parker said. “He is super athletic so I had to over-commit on the drive, but he can shoot so it was kind of difficult. He is a great player.”

Parker didn’t have a problem getting his shot off on the other end, but getting the ball to drop was another matter. He was 4-for-13 shooting from the field and 2 of 2 from the line. Wiggins, on the other hand, was 6 of 10 and 7 of 8 for 19 points.

“Going against Jabari is the best going against the best,” Wiggins said. “I look forward to doing it in the future.”

Parker was asked if the evening was bittersweet because it was his final high school game. Parker replied “I think I have another game,” Parker said. “It is on the D.L. (down low) right now. It will surprise a lot of people.”

Parker finished with 10 points, eight rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocked shots.

Arizona-bound forward Aaron Gordon, California’s Mr. Basketball, had 24 points and eight rebounds to claim MVP honors.

Attendance: 15,818 at the United Center.

FUN NOTE: Record number of fans who attended the 2011 game at the United Center in Chicago. Last year’s attendance, also at the United Center, was 16,308. The attendance for the 2013 game was 15,818.

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Another successful McDonald’s All-American event and this clearly means the future of college hoops is in good hands!

JABARI PARKER CAREER

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2010 National Freshman of the Year (ESPN HS)
2011 National Sophomore of the Year (ESPN HS)
2012 National Junior of the Year (ESPN HS & MaxPreps.com )
2011 USA Basketball’s Male Athlete of the Year
2012 National Player of the Year (Gatorade)
2012 Statewide Player of the Year (Gatorade, Illinois Mr. Basketball)
2012 First team All-American (ESPN HS, SLAM, USA Today)
2013 All-American (Jordan, McD’s)
2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 IHSA state champion
2013 National Player of the Year (McD’s/Wootten)
2013 Statewide Player of the Year (Gatorade, Illinois Mr. Basketball)

****McDONALD’S ALL-AMERICAN GAME****

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The McDonald’s All-American Game consist of the top players, each team plays a single exhibition game after the conclusion of the high-school basketball season, in an East vs. West format. As part of the annual event, boys also compete in a slam dunk contest, a three-point shooting competition, and an overall timed skills competition. The girls compete in the three-point shooting competition and the overall-skills competition. The boys’ game has been contested annually since 1978, and the girls game has been played each year since it was added in 2002.

The McDonald’s All-American designation began in 1977 with the selection of the inaugural team. That year, the All-Americans played in an all-star game against a group of high school stars from the Washington, D.C. area. The following year, the McDonald’s game format of East vs. West was begun with a boys contest. In 2002, with the addition of a girls contest, the current girl-game / boy-game doubleheader format began.

The McDonald’s All-American Team is the best-known of the American high-school basketball All-American teams. Having the designation of McDonald’s All-American instantly brands a player as one of the top high-school players in the United States or Canada.

The teams are sponsored by McDonald’s, the fast-food chain. Proceeds from the annual games go to local Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) and their Ronald McDonald House programs.

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2013 McDonald’s American Game Preview

Posted on April 3, 2013. Filed under: Basketball, Boys High School Basketball, Girls High School Basketball, High School Basketball | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Best of the best on one court…

April 2, 2013


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The 36th annual McDonald’s All-American games activities kicked off Sunday with the players’ visit to the new Ronald McDonald House in Streeterville, where boys and girls players spent time with families.

This is definitely an event I’ve been mentally preparing myself for almost as if it were the opening tip of the NBA playoffs due to the level of players selected on one floor in the house Michael built at United Center.

Things get started with Chicago’s lovable son, Jabari Park, Player of the Year from Simeon, who just completed a 4-peat in the Illinois High School Association Title run. Mr. Parker is being recognized as one of the best out of Chicago since Derrick Rose, Ben Wilson, Tim Hardaway and Mark Aguirre.

Then you have what is now being called the “new Fab Five…” Kentucky Wildcats recruits. Coach John Calipari has six of the 25 players selected to participate on the boys roster will be playing ball for him in Kentucky this fall. No college has drawn this many McDonald’s All-Americans in a single class.

Kentucky-bound McDonald’s All-Americans in the ESPN rankings also include No. 3 Julius Randle, No. 5 Andrew Harrison, No. 6 James Young of Rochester (Mich.), No. 7 Aaron Harrison, No. 11 Dakari Johnson of Montverde (Fla.), and No. 18 Marcus Lee of Deer Valley (Calif.).

“It’s our way to start off our season for next year,” said Kentucky recruit Julius Randle, of Prestonwood Christian in Texas. “It’s good to hang out with everybody and get a good feel for each other, just have fun while we’re doing this.”

Randle, a 6-foot-9 forward ranked the No. 3 recruit in the country by ESPN, had planned for a couple of weeks to make his college announcement on March 20. The day before he committed, Kentucky suffered a shocking 59-57 loss to Robert Morris in the NIT, ending a season in which it lost star Nerlens Noel to an ACL tear en route to a 21-12 record.

MEDIA DAY COVER
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Randle’s announcement — spurred by his desire to win a national championship, he said — immediately turned the page and sparked debate about whether the Wildcats’ recruiting class could be considered the best in history.

“If you go by paper and rankings, maybe you can say (it’s the best class), but we haven’t done anything yet,” Randle said. “We have to prove ourselves.”

The recruits learned that watching Kentucky this season.

“They had a good amount of talent on their team. I guess they just couldn’t put it together at the right times,” Andrew Harrison said. “I feel like the team this year lacked a little bit of leadership. Coach (Calipari) told me he’s depending on me to bring that, so I’m definitely going to try to do that.”

McDonald’s All-American Andrew Wiggins, a 6-8 forward from Huntington Prep (W.Va.) and the nation’s top recruit, said Sunday he will decide by mid-May between Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina and Florida State.

Click below to read recap….

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Despite the neverending comparisons to Lebron James and Kevin Durant (for his quiet, yet relentless approach), Wiggins’ game is unique to only him, with his own true deficiency being he gets “bored” at times playing kids his own age, according to his high school coach Rob Fulford. Those not yet willing to sip the kool-aid on Wiggins should take a gander at this highlight mixtape.

While the game Wednesday night won’t make or break Wiggins, Parker, Randle or any high school senior suited up, calling the All-American Game a “stepping stone” is short-changing the power of the moment. Stages like this can and have accelerated the process of morphing phenoms into stars, and stars into walking, breathing brands.

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Other McDonald’s All-Amercan Game Notes:

The rosters for the 2013 boys and girls McDonald’s All-American game can be found at http://www.mcdonaldsallamerican.com/aag/en/gamescenter/2013-Team.html.

The games will be played on April 3, in Chicago (Ill.) at the house Michael Jordan built (United Center), with the girls’ game starting at 6 p.m. CDT on ESPNU and boys’ game beginning at 8:30 p.m on ESPN.

– The selection of Taya Reimer to this year’s game made McDonald’s All-American history as she became half of the first father-daughter duo to be selected to the game. Her father, Ben Davis, was selected to the game in 1991.

– Duke and North Carolina each have three recruits playing in this year’s game while four other schools teams also have multiple selections. The other four teams with multiple selections are Notre Dame, Stanford, Kentucky and Tennessee.

– Kaela Davis, the number two-rated prospect by ESPN Hoopgurlz, missed a good chunk of her high school season to get treated for Meniere’s disease. Davis has battled the disease, which is an inner-ear disorder characterized by hearing loss and vertigo, since she was 11. Davis is expected to play in the McDonald’s game as well as for Georgia Tech next season.

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