What you missed this weekend: 3/29-3/31

As the Basketball season wraps up and looks to put an end to all the madness next weekend, things are just starting to swing off in the MLB.

This past Thursday was opening day of the Major League Baseball season and you can see what we at Fourth Quarter Sports thought about the divisions and playoffs here. 

Don’t forget about the NBA playoff picture and where we are entering the few games of the season. So let’s see what we missed?

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PNC Park – Pittsburgh, PA by Dan Gaken is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

NCAA Basketball

Two No. 1’s go down an ugly fashion:

Despite Auburn’s best player Chuma Okeke getting injured, Auburn still defeated North Carolina astoundedly 97-80. Malik Dunbar accumulated 13 points in this game while Bryce Brown and Daniel Purifoy won 12 points each. Jared Harper got nine points, but more importantly, 11 assists. This win is important as Auburn aim for their first Final Four in history.

While Auburn is aiming for Final Four, Texas Tech have made it with their 75-69 win over Gonzaga. Though close, throughout the last minute, it was even tighter. Josh Perkins of Gonzaga’s five points in the next half-minute wasn’t enough as Gonzaga stumbled in the hunt for a win.

Though Perkins is not perfect. In the last minute, when Gonzaga was just trailing by two points, Perkins stepped outside of bounds, allowing Texas Tech the free throws they needed to win.

Perhaps earlier Gonzaga could’ve used a window of opportunity to win. When Texas Tech’s Tariq Owens was caught out of bounds while defending the ball, when Gonzaga should’ve been awarded the ball, they fouled seconds later, allowing Texas Tech to score more. The stars of both teams did show up. For Gonzaga, Rui Hachimura scored 22 points, Brandon Clarke with 18 and Perkins with 16. But what cost Gonzaga were the 16 turnovers.

Along with the excess of free throws, Texas Tech’s Jarret Culver scored 19 points and Matt Mooney surprisingly scored 17 himself.

Virginia finally makes the Final Four:

For the first time since 1984, Virginia has made the Final Four! Tony and Dick Bennet become only the second father-son coaching duo in history to be coaching in the Final Four. In Bennet’s words, he described the sensation as, “I’ve always dreamed of coaching in a Final Four…This seems [easy]’ — I didn’t realize how hard it was.”

Auburn makes first ever Final Four with thrilling OT win (By RahimAli Merchant):

Coming into the tournament as the conference tournament champ, you should be one of the favorites to go far in the tournament. That was necessarily the case for Auburn as they reach their first ever Final Four.

Auburn was on the edge of an upset in the first round as they won by a point against New Mexico State. They used that to fuel them to two huge wins over Kansas and No. 1 North Carolina before finally taking down their conference rival Kentucky in overtime. I knew Auburn was a sleeper team in the tournament, but they proved a lot in the NCAA tournament and I think they could beat Virginia and fight the Spartans for the National Championship next Monday night!

Duke’s 17 turnovers cost them a Final Four berth:

The reason this was an upset was that Duke was the no. 1 seeded team. And Duke lost by one point. Michigan State won 68-67. R.J. Barrett had the chance to win the game for Duke, but only one of his free throws went in. And Michigan State move on to the Final Four.

Players declaring for NBA Draft:

UCLA’s small forward Kris Wilkes
Oregon’s center Bol Bol
San Diego State’s forward Jalen McDaniels

MLB

Bryce Harper’s first homer as a Phillies player:

Expectations on Phillies’ new signing Bryce Harper were high, but his maiden home run for the team shattered all of that. Harper’s home run went for 465 feet and the Phillies went on to beat the Atlanta Braves 8-6.

Yu Darvish’s big return:

For the first time in nearly 11 months, Yu Darvish stepped onto the grass to pitch. Unfortunately, it didn’t go to plan. Darvish’s only two innings saw seven batsmen walk. The two runs which Asdrubal Cabrera was able to score off of Darvish resulted in the Texas Rangers triumphing over the Chicago Cubs 8-6.

Yelich making history:

Christian Yelich is already such a good player, being the reigning MVP, but this season might just be even more fun to watch. In all of MLB history, Yelich is now the sixth player to be an MVP who opens the following season with a home run in each of his first four matches. The last one was truly special as in the ninth innings, Yelich won the game for the Milwaukee Brewers against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Yankees SS Troy Tulowitzki homers for the first time since ’17:

It’s been a two-year wait for Tulowitzki, but he finally was able to score. After suffering through ankle and heel injuries, Tulowitzki was able to hit a homer in the ninth inning against the Baltimore Orioles. However, the Yankees still went on to lose 5-3.

Goldschmidt hits 3 HRs in 2nd game with Cards:

It’s hard enough to score one home run, but Paul Goldschmidt hit three home runs in his second ever match for the Cardinals against the Brewers. His first came after facing nine pitches from Freddy Peralta before his tenth one was hit far enough. By the end of the game, Goldschmidt had accumulated three homers and five RBIs as the Cardinals won 9-5.

NBA:

Despite their poor effort in make the playoffs, Lakers Vets want to return next season: (By RahimAli Merchant)

With the arrival of LeBron James in LA, the Lakers expectations were huge! It was a playoff or bust type of season and as we can see from their 35-42 record. The Lakers will miss the playoffs for the sixth straight season, but they are hopeful for a better run next season. With a lot of cap space and roster spots available, the Lakers front office has to decide what they want to do.

Two of the teams veteran players, Rajon Rondo and Javale McGee, have made it clear that they want to be back. McGee has an a career season offensively and Rondo has been the Rondo Lakers fans once hated when he was a member of the Boston Celtics. They have both managed to play a lot of minutes due to injuries to guys like Lonzo Ball and Tyson Chandler and when given the chance, they made the best of it.

As of now, the Lakers have been officially checked out as most then half the roster is injured and will sit the rest of the season. Can Rondo and Mcgee be apart of the 2019-20 Lakers and help lead them to a playoff?

Spurs retire the jersey of one of Argentina’s greatest athletes:

The Spurs’ most beloved player, Emanuel Ginobili was rewarded with the retirement of his no. 20 jersey. The ceremony was held at the AT&T Center after the Spurs beat the Cavaliers 116-110. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich reflected on Ginobili’s career afterward. He noted that with him in the team, were Spurs able to win the championships they won. Ginobili was also accomplished with an Olympic gold which he won for Argentina in basketball in 2004. En la termina, gracias Manu. 

Wade-Dirk final battle:

Dwayne Wade and Dirk Nowitzki played their final game against each other when Miami Heat took on the Dallas Mavericks. Wade found success in the last chapter with his eleven points pushing Heat to a 105-99 win over their opponents. Though the rivalry between the two people at times did heat up, a public jersey swap earlier made things much more positive. In the loss, Nowitzki scored two more points than Wade, but the Heat’s win allowed them an eighth-place spot in their conference.

Thunder striking:

Oklahoma City Thunder’s 107-99 win over the Indiana Pacers including an amazing 24-0 run in favor of the Thunder. In total, Paul George scored 31 points that night. Steven Adams pitched in with 25 points and 12 rebounds while Russell Westbrook made his name in 17 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists, being his 29th triple-double of the season.

What you may have missed this weekend in sports: 1/4-1/6

As promised, we have brought back the “What you missed this weekend” articles. You can see last week’s here! This week is much of the same in terms of the NFL news, as it’s real playoff heavy. But there is news from other sports you might be interested in. So let’s find out what you may have missed!

0 Philadelphia Eagles Nick Foles” by Jack Kurzenknabe is licensed under Public Domain

NFL Playoffs

By RahimAli Merchant and Aman Huda

Colts beat Texans 21-7

Were you surprised in what the Colts defense did to the Texans? To be honest, I’m not! The Colts had the Texans’ number all season. They should’ve beaten them all three times instead of letting the Texans come back and win in overtime during their first meeting. The Colts took care of Texans, with both the offense and defense looking great! QB Andrew Luck had two touchdowns in the first half. Then they melted the clock, continuing to pressure Texans QB Deshaun Watson and the run game. Their next opponent will be the Kansas City Chiefs, and it’ll interesting to see how well the Colts’ secondary can play against MVP candidate QB Patrick Mahomes.

Cowboys beat Seahawks 24-22

Dallas won their fourth playoff game in the last 24 years. In 1995, the Cowboys won their last Super Bowl. They are looking to add another one this season. It was a nice win for the Cowboys, as they continue to prove they are worthy of being in the playoffs. The defense looks like it could be a championship defense. QB Dak Prescott didn’t look all that bad either, but can he continue to be great for the Cowboys? Their next opponent will be the Los Angeles Rams. The Dallas defense will be out to prove they can once again take down one of the best offensive teams in the league. They’ve already done it once to the Saints this season. Can they do it again?

Baltimore’s offensive errors cost them dearly

Within the first five minutes of play, the Ravens made mistakes which even high school teams wouldn’t. They fumbled three times, two of them from not receiving the snap. Their offensive line was also quite poor, with the QB having being sacked seven times. Melvin Ingram’s fourth-quarter touchdown seemed to be the gravestone for Baltimore, as that gave the Los Angeles Chargers a 20-3 lead. Afterward, despite scoring two touchdowns, Baltimore couldn’t do enough to repair the damage.

The Chargers’ next opponent is the New England Patriots. They have the ability on defense to slow down a Patriots team that’s been slow already. This is the playoff Patriots, and they are a totally different team in the playoffs. Do the Chargers have what it takes to knock them off?

A drama in which the hero dies

When everything seemed perfect for the Bears, everything fell into the Eagles’ claws, as QB Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles win as underdogs again. Both sides on defense showed strength, as at half-time, the score read Chicago 6, Philadelphia 3, all points from field goals. Philadelphia ended up getting the better end of it, as Cody Parkey, the Chicago kicker, hit the post twice when Chicago needed one point to win. The game ended Chicago 15, Philadelphia 16.

The Eagles’ next opponent is the Saints. They will be looking to avoid another embarrassing loss to them. The last time these two teams played, the Eagles looked like a team that just came into the league. Their QB at the time was also Carson Wentz, so hopefully, Nick Foles and the Eagles’ defense can find a way to win.

 

MLB

By RahimAli Merchant

The New York Yankees-Zach Britton agreement

The Yankees reached an agreement with relief pitcher Zach Britton, which was a three-year, $39 million deal, league sources told ESPN. Britton was one of the most dominant closers in baseball with the Baltimore Orioles until he was traded to the Yankees for three prospects. With the Yankees, he went 1-0 with a 2.88 ERA in 25 innings and finished the season with seven saves and 34 strikeouts over 40⅔ innings in 41 appearances. He will continue to be a part of the devastating late-inning complement to closer Aroldis Chapman, setup man Dellin Betances and fireman Chad Green, as they look to pursue their 28th World Series title.

 

NBA

By Aman Huda

Warriors, Kings set three-point record

For the first time in NBA history, both sides scored 20+ three-pointers. There was a total of 41 three-pointers scored Saturday night. Starman Stephen Curry for the Golden State Warriors scored 42 of Golden State’s 127 points, but the margin between both California teams was very fine, as Sacramento ended up losing by just four points. This match did not go without referring controversy, however, which you can check out in Kevin Dannaher’s article. 

 

College Football

By Aman Huda and RahimAli Merchant

Cal CB Bryce Turner dies at 20

After being hospitalized on December 30th for an undisclosed medical emergency, Bryce Turner has passed away. After transferring from Long Beach City College, the 20-year old had just played one game before his passing.

Cal Coach Joe Wilcox said, “We are so deeply saddened by Bryce’s passing. This is an extremely difficult day for everyone. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to Bryce’s family, friends, teammates and so many others who have been a part of his life. No words can accurately describe the pain we feel in our hearts right now. We’ll always remember Bryce and how he impacted all of us with Cal football.”

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Bryce’s friends and family.

North Dakota State wins FCS Title

We will all find out who the CFB National champ is on Monday between Alabama and Clemson, but this past weekend we got to see North Dakota State win their second straight FCS National Championship title. This is their seventh title in eight years. All congrats are given to them for being able to dominate the FCS world for so many years. They are the only college football program to ever win five consecutive NCAA national championships, and the only football program to win seven FCS titles.

 

College Basketball

By RahimAli Merchant

St. John’s wins against Georgetown for the first time since 03′

St. John’s been looking like a team who could make a big impact in the tournament when it comes time in March. After losing their first game to Seton Hall last week, they rebounded by beating Marquette and Georgetown this week. They will likely get a spot in the top 25 rankings, but even if they don’t, a win over rival Georgetown after 16 years is the best feeling. That should help them carry over their momentum to the next few games, which will definitely put them in the top 25 if they manage to win them.

Losses by top 25 teams

14 Ohio State to 8 Michigan State (86-77)
5 Kansas to Iowa State (77-60)
6 Nevada to New Mexico (85-58)
13 Kentucky to Alabama (77-75)
9 Florida State to 4 Virginia (65-52)
2 Michigan- 21 Indiana (74-63)
24 Nebraska-25 Iowa (93-84)

 

Cricket

Pakistani batsmen not good enough

Despite efforts by Shan Masood 44(71) & 61(110), Captain/Wicket-Keeper Sarfraz Ahmed 56(81), Asad Shafiq 88(118) and Babar Azam 72(87), Pakistan could only put up a lead of 40, giving South Africa an entire two days to simply chase 41. It wasn’t necessarily the most easy thing for South Africa, as Pakistan’s Mohammad Abbas managed to dismiss Theunis de Bruyn and Hashim Amla was retired hurt, but the loss by 9 wickets is still dismal in Pakistan’s point-of-view.

Unfortunately, due to slow over rate, South African Captain Faf du Plessis has been suspended for the third test, a dead rubber, as South Africa has already won the series 2-0.

Too-good India forced to settle for a draw

Man of the match for Australia in the fourth test vs India? Rain. With just a little over 25 overs played in the last two days, India couldn’t see victory despite putting up 622-7d and bowling Australia out for 300. Despite a five-wicket haul from young leg-spinner Kuldeep Yadav and 193 by Cheteshwar Pujara and 153* by Risabh Pant, India was unable to bowl out Australia a second time, after Australia were forced to follow on at home, for the first time in 37 years.

 

5 Reasons to Not Count Dallas Out

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Dak Prescott” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The time the Dallas Cowboys have dreaded has come. Ezekiel Elliott’s 6 game suspension is back on, and this time it looks like it will stay that way. He won’t be able to return to the field until the Cowboys play the Seattle Seahawks in Week 16. Elliott is one of the biggest weapons the Cowboys have offensively, and without him, many think the Cowboys will struggle.

Many have already jumped to conclusions, counting the Cowboys out of the playoffs. It’s reasonable to think so, considering they still have to play the Falcons, Eagles, Chargers, Redskins, Giants, and Raiders all without Zeke. When Zeke returns, they finish the season against the Seahawks and Eagles. Who knows what Zeke will be like when he comes back? He may pick up where he left off, or he might struggle like he did at the beginning of the season.

While it’s not unreasonable to count the Cowboys out already, those who are probably aren’t looking at the big picture, but rather only at one aspect of it. Zeke is only one player. He’s a difference maker, but he’s only one person. Does Zeke play quarterback, offensive lineman, corner, and safety? As far as I know he plays one position. The Cowboys are more than Ezekiel Elliott. If you’re one of those who have already counted the Cowboys out, let me break down 5 reasons why it may have been too early to do so.

1. Dak Prescott

Since when has quarterback been a less important position than running back? You have to have a great quarterback to be taken seriously on offense. That’s exactly what the Cowboys have in Dak Prescott. So far this season, Prescott has a completion percentage of 62.9%, 1818 passing yards, a TD-INT ratio of 16-4, and a passer rating of 97.9. He’s also added 195 yards and 4 TD’s on the ground.

What’s most impressive about Prescott is his ability to take care of the ball. He doesn’t turn the ball over often. He doesn’t put his defense in bad positions. He makes smart decisions with the ball. If you haven’t seen this guy play yet, you need to. Prescott balls. He does what he has to do to get his team a win. His team may not always get a victory, but you will always see him do everything in his power to make it happen.

2. Sean Lee
Sean Lee
Former Nittany Lion and current Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee” by Penn State is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Sean Lee may not be well known outside of Dallas, but he’s one of the best linebackers in the NFL. This guy is a difference maker on defense. NFL.com has the numbers to prove it. Below is a breakdown of how the Dallas defense performs with and without Sean Lee in the lineup.

                    With Sean Lee       Without Sean Lee

Record:                 5-1                                0-2

PPG:                      18.0                              35.0

Total YPG:          307.2                            377.0

Rush YPG:           80.3                             164.0

Takeaways:          10                                   1

Passer Rating:    91.5                             109.5

Sean Lee is probably more important to this defense than Ezekiel Elliott is to the offense. He’s the guy who makes everything go. The numbers don’t lie. That pretty much tells us everything we need to know about the impact Sean Lee makes. As long as the Cowboys have him on their defense, they have a chance to win games.

3. Defensive Line
Cowboys Defensive Line
Kirk Cousins” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Last year the Cowboys had a solid secondary, but their pass rush was weak. This year it’s the opposite. The secondary is young and still learning, but the defensive line has turned things around, making life a lot easier for those young defensive backs. The Dallas Cowboys defense currently ranks 3rd in sacks (27).

Demarcus Lawrence is destroying offensive lineman. He ranks 2nd in league in sacks with 10.5. David Irving is also putting a lot of pressure on quarterbacks. He has 6 sacks this season, and that’s after missing the first 4 games. Irving is the current leader in sacks per game (1.5). There are other contributing factors on the defensive line, but Lawrence and Irving are the “War Daddy’s” Jerry Jones said this defensive line needed.

4. Two Former 1,000 Yard Runners
Alfred Morris
Alfred Morris” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Anyone remember Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden? It can be easy to forget them when they’ve been sitting behind Zeke all season long. McFadden hasn’t even been active for a game yet. With limited snaps so far this year, Morris has taken advantage. He has an 8.3 yards per carry average on his 14 rush attempts.

Both of these running backs are former 1,000 yard rushers. They have the ability to get things done in the running game. Morris likely won’t maintain his 8.3 yards per carry, but what he’s done on a limited basis has shown us that he still has the ability to run the ball effectively. McFadden may take some time to get going, but he’s well rested and should be fresh. He will be a nice weapon for Prescott as a receiver out of the backfield.

5. Offensive Line
Dallas Cowboys Offensive Line
Dallas Cowboys Offensive Line” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

How can you talk about the Cowboys strengths and not talk about the offensive line? This offensive line is one of the best in the NFL, even if they’ve started out a little shaky this season. It was expected by some because of them losing two key pieces. The last few weeks though, this offensive line has looked in sync. They seem to be back to playing at the level of the best offensive line in football.

Zeke is part of the offensive line’s success, but they’re also a big part of Zeke’s success. They do very well at executing their plays and clearing running lanes. If they can do that for Zeke, I don’t see why they won’t be able to do it for Morris and McFadden.

Don’t Count Them Out Yet

The Dallas Cowboys are on a hot streak since their bye week, going 3-0 in that time. Zeke was playing well, but he wasn’t the only one. The Cowboys have been playing their best football the past few weeks, and it looks like it came at just the right time. When so many are counting them out, the Cowboys are out to prove that one player doesn’t dictate their success. They’ll probably lose some games along the way, but they have a lot of reasons for hope despite losing Ezekiel Elliott.