College: We were on a break
⚽️Soccer: Eight teams remain in the hunt for the women’s College Cup, including defending champs Santa Clara and three No. 1 seeds: Florida State, Duke and Rutgers. Quarter-final play kicks off Friday at 2 p.m. ET — the perfect way to recover from your food coma.
- On the men’s side, the Sweet Sixteen is set, with a double serving of quadruple header action slated for Saturday and Sunday. Here’s the full bracket.
🏀Basketball: No. 1 South Carolina women’s basketball defended their top ranking with a convincing 73–57 win over then-No. 2 UConn on Monday, a victory that dropped UConn down to No. 3 in yesterday’s updated national poll. Undefeated Maryland seized the second spot.
- And there could be some movement in the men’s poll after No. 2 UCLA fell 83–63 to No.1 Gonzaga in yesterday’s top-ranked showdown.
🏈Football: As expected, there was also a shakeup in yesterday’s College Football Playoff (CFP) rankings. Undefeated No. 4 Cincinnati has entered the chat, becoming the first non–Power Five team to ever crack the top four of the CFP rankings. We’re still not 100% sure what a Bearcat is, but we know they’re celebrating.
Sports Quick Hits: November 19th, 2021
⚾️MLB: LA Angel Shohei Ohtani might have bested Toronto Blue Jay Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to win the American League (AL) MVP, but the Jays still notched a win with Robbie Ray winning the AL Cy Young Award (given to the best pitcher in each league).
- Ray received all but one of the first place votes after posting a career-best 2.84 ERA. We love to see it, now we just need to make sure he loves Toronto.
🏒NHL: Don’t look now but the Toronto Maple Leafs are back to their winning ways, rattling off five straight after last night’s 2–1 win over the NY Rangers. You already know the 6ix needs a sixth, and they’ll have a shot tomorrow at 7 p.m. ET against the (soon-to-be sold?) Pittsburgh Penguins.
- Meanwhile, Edmonton Oilers star Connor McDavid helped his squad down the Winnipeg Jets in a 2–1 shootout victory last night. That’s one way to silence the haters.
🎓🏀College basketball: We’re a little more than a week into the NCAA college basketball season, and a couple of Canadians are making us proud south of the border. No. 2 UConn’s Aaliyah Edwards contributed nine points in just 17 minutes during the Huskies’ season-opening win. And she’ll be back in action tomorrow at 12 p.m. ET against Minnesota.
- Elsewhere, No. 1 Gonzaga’s Andrew Nembhard (who hails from Aurora, ON) played every minute of the Bulldogs’ big win over then-No. 5 Texas last week. Talk about dependable.
🏀College basketball is back
"A guy raised his hand and asked if I had any advice when it came to ‘coaching women.’ I remember leveling him with a death-ray stare and then relaxing and curling up the corner of my mouth and saying, ‘Don’t worry about coaching ‘women.’ Just go home and coach basketball.'"
— The late, great, legendary Tennessee basketball coach Pat Summitt, sharing perhaps our favorite anecdote ever in her memoir, Sum It Up. You tell him, Pat.
Hear that? It’s the sweet sound of swishes, dribbling and cheering crowds, because college basketball is back, baby — and with fans in the stands after COVID-19 limited spectators last season.
- So before the season tips off later today, we have everything you need to know about the women’s and men’s 2021-22 campaigns. Get’cha head in the game.
🏀 The set-up
The Division I women’s and men’s basketball seasons tip-off later today and will culminate with the aptly named March Madness tournaments beginning in mid-March, all leading up to the championship games on April 3rd and April 4th, 2022, respectively.
- On both the women’s and men’s sides, over 350 teams compete across 32 conferences, with the ultimate goal of being one of the 64 teams to advance to the Big Dance.
- Of note, after last year’s debacle, this will be the first season in which “March Madness” branding will be used for the women’s tournament. About damn time.
💃 The women’s contenders
No. 1 South Carolina: With legendary head coach Dawn Staley, the No. 1 recruiting class in the country, Player of the Year candidate Aliyah Boston (more on her later) — the Gamecocks are, in a word, stacked.
- And they’ll be hungry to avenge last year’s heartbreaking, one-point Final Four loss to the eventual champions, Stanford.
No. 2 UConn: Perennial championship contenders, UConn only improved after last season’s Final Four appearance. With all five of last year’s starters — including superstar Paige Bueckers (pronounced BECK-ers) — returning and a talented first-year class highlighted by top recruit Azzi Fudd coming in, U-Conn bet the Huskies will make another deep run.
No. 3 Stanford: The defending champs kept all but one player from last year’s championship squad, and head coach Tara VanDerveer - who last season became the winningest coach in women’s college basketball history - is also returning.
- They’ll hope to win their fourth title and be the first team to repeat since UConn in 2016. Is more history on the horizon for the Cardinal?
✍️ The men’s contenders
No. 1 Gonzaga: The ’Zags nearly went undefeated last year, falling just short and losing the championship game to Baylor. So close. But, with the exception of breakout star Jalen Suggs (who now plays for the NBA’s Orlando Magic), some of Gonzaga’s core will return to the court, including the man, the myth, the mustache: Drew Timme.
No. 2 UCLA: Last year’s Cinderella Story, UCLA nearly handed Gonzaga their first loss in the men's game of the year during the Final Four. With that young squad now boasting playoff experience, it feels like there’ll be many more Bru-wins in their future.
No. 3 Kansas: One of the most storied programs in men’s basketball history, the Jayhawks return four starters from a team that was unexpectedly bounced in the second round of last year’s championship tourney, along with several key transfer and freshman additions.
- Per usual, Kansas is favored to win the Big 12. Let’s see if they can live up to expectations.
💪 Women’s players to watch
Aliyah Boston, South Carolina: Two-time Lisa Leslie Award winner and reigning SEC co-Defensive Player of the Year, Boston gets it done on both sides of the ball for the Gamecocks, averaging over 13 points per game last season. No wonder she’s an early Player of the Year favorite.
Paige Bueckers, UConn: The top-ranked recruit in the 2020 class, Bueckers more than lived up to the hype last season, garnering AP Player of the Year, Naismith Player of the Year and John Wooden Award honors, among a laundry list of other accolades. Did we mention she’s only a sophomore? Can’t wait to see what Paige Buckets does next.
Rhyne Howard, Kentucky: The expected No. 1 WNBA draft pick next year, Howard has amassed plenty of hardware and will go down as one of the best in school history. Now the senior is laser-focused on the one accomplishment she’s yet to achieve: a national title.
Caitlin Clark, Iowa: As Clark goes, Iowa goes. A preseason All-American selection (the first in school history), Clark averaged a nation-leading 26.6 points per game in her freshman campaign and is the centerpiece for the ninth-ranked Hawkeyes. Ready to soar.
👊 Men’s players to watch
Drew Timme, Gonzaga: His legendary ’stache aside, there’s ample reason to watch out for Timme this year. The graduate student could have opted into the NBA Draft (and would’ve been an early-round pick) but instead chose to come back for another shot at a national title.
Johnny Juzang, UCLA: The key player during UCLA’s unlikely Final Four run last season, Juzang also chose to forgo the NBA Draft to return for his junior campaign with the Bruins. And he only improves as the moments grow bigger, as he averaged over 22 points per game during the March Madness tourney. Watch out, world.
Kofi Cockburn, Illinois: After averaging nearly a double-double last season, Cockburn’s Illinois team suffered an unexpected early second-round exit in the championship tourney. The All-American will surely be looking for redemption this year.
Paolo Banchero, Duke: Watch for the expected No. 1 2022 NBA Draft pick to make an immediate impact in what’s likely to be his only college season (reminder: the men have a “one-and-done” rule, meaning they can enter the NBA after just one year of college).
- Banchero is a favorite for Freshman of the Year and will be a huge boost for a Duke squad that missed March Madness for the first time in 26 years last season.
📺 What to watch
The journey begins today, and opening day features two high-powered matchups. On the women’s side, No. 5 NC State hosts No. 1 South Carolina at 5 p.m. ET, an early test for these two title contenders.
- As for the men, No. 10 Kentucky and No. 9 Duke, ahem, duke it out at 9:30 p.m. ET. Let the madness begin!
Sports Quick Hits: November 8th, 2021
🏃♀️Running: Canadian Lanni Marchant finished 11th at yesterday’s NYC Marathon, crossing the line in two hours 32 minutes 54 seconds. The former Canadian women’s marathon record-holder battled back from multiple injuries and surgeries to participate in her first official marathon in five years. Don’t call it a comeback.
🏒Hockey: Hey Google, play “Hot N Cold” by Katy Perry. After losing four in a row last month, the Toronto Maple Leafs have now rattled off five straight wins. They face the LA Kings — who are on a four-game win streak of their own — tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET. The 6ix jokes write themselves.
🏀Raptors: Though Pascal Siakam returned from a shoulder injury to make his season debut yesterday, the Raps still fell 116–103 to the Brooklyn Nets, two days after having their win-streak snapped by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
- The good news? Toronto has yet to lose on the road, and they’re traveling to face the Boston Celtics on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. ET. Pack the snacks.
⚾️Blue Jays: We changed the clocks, but Blue Jays second baseman Marcus Semien still had his golden hour, winning his first career Gold Glove Award last night. We have a feeling there’ll be many more where that came from.
Sports Quick Hits: November 5th, 2021
🏀Raptors: While we wait for Drake to put his money where his mouth is, we’re still cheering on his hometown NBA team. The Raptors have won five straight, a streak they’ll look to maintain when they host the Cleveland Cavaliers tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET. Let’s make it six for the 6ix, eh?
🏒NHL: At long last, the Jack Eichel saga has finally come to an end. Eichel was traded from the Buffalo Sabres (who were preventing him from having a surgery he wanted) to the Vegas Golden Knights, and he’s set to have surgery as soon as this week.
- In on-ice news, the Edmonton Oilers are so hot right now. They’ve lost just one game this season, and Connor McDavid was named one of the NHL’s “Three Stars” of October. His November campaign continues tonight at 9:30 p.m. ET vs. the NY Rangers.
⚽️MLS: With the final weekend of the regular season on deck, two Canadian clubs could punch their tickets to the MLS playoffs on Sunday. CF Montreal needs a win over Orlando City SC, while the Vancouver Whitecaps will clinch their spot with a win or draw against the Seattle Sounders. Cross those fingers.