09 Jan

No. 4 Marquette downs No. 1 Kansas in Maui, Washington tops Florida State in College Football Playoff Rankings

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🏀 Good morning to everyone but especially …

Marquette and Purdue both had disappointing NCAA Tournaments. The Boilermakers became the second 1 seed to lose to a 16 seed, infamously falling to Fairleigh Dickinson. Shortly thereafter, Marquette fell to Michigan State, a nightmare ending to a dream season that included the Big East regular-season and tournament titles.

A win Tuesday night in the Maui Invitational final wouldn’t erase those memories, but it would definitely help.

The No. 4 Golden Eagles took it to No. 1 Kansas, 73-59, for their third win over a No. 1 team in program history. Dwyane Wade, who had a triple-double in Marquette’s first win over a No. 1 team (Kentucky, 2003) was courtside to see Oso Ighodaro be the star.

Ighodaro had 21 points and 9 rebounds, holding Jayhawks standout Hunter Dickinson to just 13 points.
Marquette was outstanding on both ends, but especially on defense, forcing 18 turnovers.
This was Kansas’ largest loss as a No. 1 team since 2011.
With No. 2 Purdue up next, Marquette is looking to become the first team to beat the nation’s top two teams in consecutive games since Kansas did it in the 2008 Final Four.

The Boilermakers battled for a 71-67 win over No. 7 Tennessee. Reigning national player of the year Zach Edey guaranteed Purdue would be really good by returning to school, but just how good depends on his teammates. Tuesday, one in particular was terrific. Fletcher Loyer tied a career high with 27 points to complement Edey’s 23-point, 10-rebound effort. David Cobb says Loyer “looked like the potential secondary star the Boilermakers so desperately need.”

👍 Honorable mentions
LeBron James hit 39,000 career points.
The Padres promoted Mike Shildt to manager, meaning all eight openings this offseason have been filled.
The Yankees hired Brad Ausmus as bench coach.
East Carolina’s Bobby Pettiford has an early nominee for buzzer-beater of the year.
If you like points, you definitely liked the Pacers’ 157-152 win over the Hawks. It went way, way over the highest over-under this millennium. The Pacers and Lakers advanced to the In-Season Tournament quarterfinals.
😬 And not such a good morning for …
Getty Images

Angel Reese was the face of women’s college basketball entering the season. Now, her face is nowhere to be seen.

Reese missed her second consecutive game Monday (against Texas Southern) and coach Kim Mulkey has provided no answers, likening Reese’s absence to “disciplining your own children.”

Reese also missed last Friday’s win over Southeastern Louisiana after which the star forward posted on social media, “Please don’t believe everything you read.”
That came after Reese was benched for the second half of a win over Kent State on Nov. 14, a move Mulkey deemed a “coach’s decision.” The Tigers led by just two at halftime but ended up winning by 30.
LSU lost its season opener to then-No. 20 Colorado, and Mulkey said she was “disappointed and surprised in some individual players that I thought would just be tougher and have a little fight and leadership about them.” She did not name names.
Looking forward, Mulkey had no update on whether Reese would join the team at the Cayman Islands Classic. The No. 7 Tigers are set to face Niagara on Friday and Virginia on Saturday, though she said, “Angel will be back sooner than later.”

This is bad. There’s Mulkey’s unwillingness to cede information, leaving Reese to fend for herself via social media. There’s Mulkey’s comment after the season-opening loss. And there’s a huge absence for the reigning champs, one that has no end in sight.

👎 Not so honorable mentions
In a surprising move, the Colts waived three-time All-Pro linebacker Shaquille Leonard. We have potential landing spots.
Dan Campbell is a good football coach with bad Thanksgiving food takes.
Brazil lost a home World Cup qualifier for the first time … ever. Here are eight crazy numbers from Argentina’s 1-0 win.
🏈 Washington joins top four of College Football Playoff Rankings
Claire Komarek, CBS Sports
Dennis Dodd made the move Monday. So did the CBS Sports 133. Tuesday, the College Football Playoff Selection Committee followed suit. Washington is fourth in the latest CFP Rankings with Jerry Palm explaining why. Here’s the top eight:

Georgia (previous: 1)
Ohio State (2)
Michigan (3)
Washington (5)
Florida State (4)
Oregon (6)
Texas (7)
Alabama (8)
We touched on the reasons for the Huskies jumping the Seminoles yesterday, but it’s worth exploring more. Washington …

is undefeated
has wins over three teams in the current top 20 (No. 6 Oregon, No. 15 Arizona and No. 16 Oregon State)
Seems good to me! Barrett Sallee has overrated and underrated teams.

🏈 NFL Power Rankings: NFC dominates, topsy-turvy AFC West
A.J. Brown, Eagles WR USATSI
They say that in order to be the best you have to beat the best, and the Eagles certainly held up their end of the bargain with a 21-17 comeback victory over the Chiefs in a matchup between Pete Prisco’s then-No. 1 and then-No. 2 teams. So Philadelphia keeps its spot atop Pete’s newest NFL Power Rankings, but there are plenty of changes behind that.

Eagles (previous: 1)
Lions (3)
Cowboys (4)
Chiefs (2)
49ers (5)
I think Pete is a little high on the Lions but a little low on the 49ers (fifth) and Ravens (eighth). That’s the beauty of the NFL season, though: differing opinions that can be proved right or wrong any week … and change again the following week.

If the Eagles and Cowboys in the NFC East represent the peaks of stability, the AFC West is a rollercoaster. It wasn’t that long ago that the Broncos were a train wreck that had us wondering if Sean Payton would even make it through the year, and it was even more recent that the Chargers looked to be getting things in order. Now, Denver is tied for the NFL’s longest winning streak at four, and Los Angeles is reeling after an awful loss to the Packers. The Broncos are up six spots, and the Chargers are down seven.

Prisco: “16. Broncos — Sean Payton has this team back on track with four straight victories, and he has indeed fixed Russell Wilson after last year’s disaster. …

“26. Chargers — They are in big trouble right now after falling to 4-6 in losing to the Packers. Facing Baltimore this week won’t be easy as the heat intensifies for Brandon Staley.”
The Chargers were this week’s biggest fallers while the other Los Angeles team, the Rams (26th to 20th), tied the Broncos for biggest leap.

🏈 Ranking NFL wild card contenders in each conference
Listen, I love the NFL as much as anyone … and more than almost everyone. Every offseason I miss it, and every season I’m smitten. But Tom Brady wasn’t wrong when he said there’s a lot of mediocrity, and Aaron Rodgers wasn’t wrong when he agreed.

However, that also means a lot of teams are in playoff contention. In the AFC, there are nine teams between 6-4 and 4-6. In the NFC, there are seven. One on hand, it’s great; we’re going to get a ton of meaningful games down the stretch. On the other hand, it’s a mess that needs cleaning up.

So, we ranked the 12 teams in each conference not leading their divisions. And speaking of all over the place, the Bills and Josh Allen are exactly that. Jordan Dajani ranks them third on his AFC list.

Dajani: “The Bills offense ranks top 10 in yards per game and points per game. All they need to do is not turn the ball over and avoid silly penalties. Allen either leads or is tied for first in passing touchdowns (22) and total touchdowns (29). However, he also ranks first in interceptions (12) and giveaways (15). … Next up are the Eagles, then the bye week followed by the Chiefs and Cowboys. Allen has a chance to engineer an impressive turnaround.”
Jordan hits the nail right on the head. Allen is going to have to play some of the best ball of his career, and a large part of that has to be taking better care of the ball.

Over in the NFC, the Cowboys are an easy pick as the best team not leading its division, but after that, it’s wide open. Cody Benjamin says No. 2 is …

Benjamin: “2. Vikings (6-2) — The Broncos proved Sunday night that the Josh Dobbs magic has a limit, outlasting Minnesota for a close prime-time win. … But Brian Flores’ aggression has enabled their ‘D’ to overachieve all year, Kevin O’Connell could soon have Justin Jefferson back in the lineup, and Dobbs really has been improbably poised considering his abrupt takeover for the injured Kirk Cousins.”
These were two really fun, insightful articles … and great primers for what’s ahead.

📺 What we’re watching Wednesday
🏀 No. 7 Tennessee vs. No. 1 Kansas, 2:30 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 No. 2 Purdue vs. No. 4 Marquette, 5 p.m. on ESPN
🏒 Bruins at Panthers, 7 p.m. on TNT
🏀 Bucks at Celtics, 7:30 p.m. on ESPN
🏒 Golden Knights at Stars, 9:30 p.m. on TNT
🏀 Warriors Suns, 10 p.m. on ESPN

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