COLLEGE BASKETBALL: NOV 15 Champions Classic - Kentucky vs Michigan State
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Good morning to everyone but especially to...


Tom Izzo's teams often peak in March Madness. If that's the case this year, the Spartans have put college basketball on notice, because they look very good already. Michigan State topped Kentucky, 86-77, in double overtime at the Champions Classic on Tuesday night.

  • The Spartans trailed by two with four seconds left in regulation, but Malik Hall got a wide-open dunk out of a terrific out-of-bounds play to force OT. The Spartans then trailed by two with six seconds left in overtime, but Hall got another dunk out of another great play call to force the second overtime.
  • Michigan State's starting front court of Joey Hauser (23 points, eight rebounds), Hall (20 points) and Mady Sissoko (16 points, eight rebounds, three steals) was terrific.
  • Still, Oscar Tshiebwe was his normal dominant self. Making his season debut after a knee injury, the reigning player of the year had 22 points, 18 rebounds and four blocks. But he also had five turnovers and, crucially, fouled out in overtime.

Keep in mind that this win came just days after a one-point heartbreaker against Gonzaga. But this is exactly why Izzo chooses to play such tough schedules, writes college basketball reporter Gary Parrish.

  • Parrish: "They're already twice-tested and full of confidence just nine days into the season. For that, the Spartans can thank Izzo -- in part for the way he designed those two out-of-bounds plays that forced two overtimes and led to the resume-building win, but mostly for being fearless enough to routinely put his players in challenging games most coaches prefer to avoid in November."


Early-season college basketball shows where teams are, but more importantly, it gives us hints of where they can go. It looks like both Duke and Kansas can go far this year, but the Jayhawks have the slight advantage now. Led by the relentless Jalen Wilson and the clutch Gradey Dick, the Jayhawks took down the Blue Devils, 69-64.

  • Wilson had a career-high 25 points, 11 rebounds and six assists.
  • Dick had 14 points, seven of which came in a one-minute, 20-second span late. Dick showed off his vast offensive arsenal, nailing a deep three, flushing an alley-oop dunk and then finishing a crafty layup off the dribble.
  • For Duke, Kyle Filipowski continued his strong start with 17 points and 14 rebounds. He's the first Duke player to open his career with three straight double-doubles.

Duke's ballyhooed freshman class gets a ton of spotlight, and rightly so, but in the crucial moments, it was Kansas' standout first year, Dick, who stole the show. Neither team is close to a finished product -- and both were without key players -- but it's clear Kansas has plenty of returning and incoming talent as it looks to defend its title.

Honorable mentions

And not such a good morning for...



Cooper Kupp barely avoided serious injury in Week 8. He and the Rams didn't get so lucky in Week 10. Kupp suffered a high-ankle sprain that requires surgery and will put him on IR.

I shouldn't have to tell you how important Kupp is, but I will. Since the start of last season, Kupp ranks...

  • First in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns
  • First in percentage of his team's receptions, percentage of his team's receiving yards and percentage of his team's receiving touchdowns
  • First in percentage of snaps played among wide receivers

Matthew Stafford has a 106.6 passer rating when targeting Kupp this year and a 77.2 passer rating when targeting anyone else. It's the latest blow for the reigning champs, who, at 3-6, aren't defending their title in very inspiring fashion. Stafford is still in the concussion protocol, and the offense has sputtered without much of a running game or offensive line. The Rams are averaging 16.4 points per game, on pace to be the fewest ever by a defending champ.

The Kupp news was just the tip of the iceberg -- though a quite large one -- in what was a brutal day for injury news around the league.

Not so honorable mention

NFL Power Rankings: Changes at the top, plus beasts of the Easts 🏈

To say a whirlwind Week 10 threw a wrench into our NFL senior writer Pete Prisco's NFL Power Rankings would be putting it lightly. With the Eagles, Bills and Cowboys suffering losses, four of last week's top five teams moved. Here's the newest top 10:

First off, welcome to the top five, Miami! The Dolphins have won four straight and are 7-1 when Tua Tagovailoa starts -- with the only loss coming to the Bengals when Tagovailoa left early. Miami leads the NFL in yards per pass attempt, and Tagovailoa belongs in the MVP conversation, Pete writes.

  • Prisco: "There is no doubt that Tagovailoa's play has received a big boost from the addition of the speedy receiver Tyreek Hill, the growth of second-year receiver Jaylen Waddle and the brilliant offensive mind of coach Mike McDaniel. But Tagovailoa deserves his share of the credit as well.  He has gone from a player the team considered replacing several times with several players to an MVP candidate."

Not only did the Dolphins move ahead of the Bills in the Power Rankings following Week 10, but they also passed them for the lead in the AFC East.

Speaking of the AFC East, all four teams rank in the top half of Pete's rankings, with the Patriots (13th) and the Jets (14th) rounding things out. The NFC East is looking strong, too, with the Cowboys (sixth), Giants (11th) and Commanders (17th) all in or just outside the playoff picture.

College Football Playoff Rankings: Top five stay put, LSU up to No. 6 🏈

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The difference between winning a close game and losing a close game is, well, gigantic. Just ask LSU and Oregon. The Tigers snuck up from No. 7 to No. 6 in this week's College Football Playoff Rankings while the Ducks -- last week's No. 6 -- fell all the way to 12th.

The top five of Georgia, Ohio State, Michigan, TCU and Tennessee stayed put after all five won over the weekend. Then comes LSU, though one key thing separates the Volunteers and the Tigers, writes college football guru Jerry Palm.

  • Palm: "Only five teams remain that control their own fate in the chase for a spot in the four-team field, but they are not the top five teams in the rankings. The top four all control their own fate, but Tennessee does not. That is because if LSU beats Georgia, the Tigers would move into the top four and the Vols would be out of luck."

Terry Francona, Buck Showalter win AL, NL Manager of the Year awards ⚾

MLB awards season rolled on Tuesday night, with Terry Francona and Buck Showalter capturing AL and NL Manager of the Year, respectively. Both are plenty familiar with the award: It's Francona's third time winning it and Showalter's fourth.

Showalter made history with his win:

He also won with the Yankees in 1994, the Rangers in 2004, and the Orioles in 2014. As for the voting breakdown...

  • Francona led the Guardians to an AL Central title despite managing the league's youngest roster, which saw 17 players make their MLB debut over the course of the season. He received 17 of 30 first-place votes, beating out Orioles manager Brandon Hyde and Mariners manager Scott Servais.
  • Showalter eked out a much closer win; he received eight first-place votes, as did Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. Braves manager Brian Snitker received seven. Showalter dominated Roberts in second- and third-place votes, though.

What we're watching Wednesday 📺

🏀 Celtics at Hawks, 7:30 p.m. on ESPN
🏒 Blues at Blackhawks, 7:30 p.m. on TNT
🏀 No. 2 Gonzaga at No. 11 Texas, 9:30 p.m. on ESPN2
🏀 Warriors at Suns, 10 p.m. on ESPN
🏒 Kings at Oilers, 10 p.m. on TNT