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College basketball picks, schedule: Predictions, odds for Duke vs. UNC and other key Top 25 games



The last weekend of college basketball’s regular season has already arrived. Hope you stretched those muscles, because March’s madness has already done some flexing and we’re sure to get more drama and thrills over the next two days. Saturday and Sunday will provide five automatic bids from these conferences: Mountain West, OVC, Missouri Valley, ASUN and Big South. 

CBS will air the Mountain West title game Saturday at 5:30 p.m. ET. CBS will, as always, have the Valley championship the Sunday before Selection Sunday. Arch Madness will tip off Sunday at 2 p.m. ET. 

Below, as always, expert picks for the five most intriguing/high-profile games of the weekend. 

All times ET

Who wins and covers in every college basketball game? Visit SportsLine now to see projected scores, player stats, best bets and more, all from the model that simulates every game 10,000 times and has returned $2,770 on its top-rated spread picks the last three years.

No. 6 Kentucky at Florida (-3.5)

1 p.m. (CBS and streaming on, the CBS Sports App and CBS All-Access

Kentucky was one of the hottest teams in the country until a humbling loss on Tuesday against Tennessee. The Wildcats have already secured the SEC regular season title, but coach John Calipari will demand urgency from his team so it does not enter the postseason with the foul stench of that loss to the Volunteers lingering overhead. That urgency should be enough to spur Kentucky to a straight up victory. Pick: Kentucky +3.5 (David Cobb)

No. 1 Kansas (-3.5) at Texas Tech 

2 p.m. (ESPN) 

Kansas has won 15-straight and risen to the top of the college basketball rankings. Texas Tech, on the other hand, has lost three-straight and desperately needs a win to feel comfortable as Selection Sunday looms. And yet: don’t discount KU’s motivations. The Jayhawks can clinch the Big 12 outright Saturday with a win over the Red Raiders — and add another feather in the cap of their already-great No. 1 seed resume. Even with Tech at home, I’m laying the points on the better team here with KU. Pick: Kansas -3.5 (Kyle Boone)

No. 8 Seton Hall at No. 11 Creighton (-4)

2:30 p.m. (Fox) 

Did I expect, a few weeks back, that Seton Hall would need to win at Creighton on the final Saturday of the regular season to be outright Big East champ? No. Based on how things were going, I figured the Pirates would have things locked up by now. But they missed a chance to secure the outright title earlier in the week at home — so now here they are. And, yes, I’m very aware that Creighton is 15-1 at home. But Seton Hall has already won at Villanova, Butler, Marquette and Xavier. So put me down for the Pirates to add another massive win on the road and get their first outright league title since 1993. Pick: Seton Hall +4 (Gary Parrish)

UCLA at USC (-4.5)

3:15 p.m. (CBS and streaming on, the CBS Sports App and CBS All-Access 

No way I’m stepping in the way of the hottest team in America. Mick Cronin and the Bruins have leveled up in a major way since USC’s 11-point win in Pauley Pavilion more than a month ago. UCLA has gone 11-3 since that first meeting, including seven straight wins and regular season sweeps of Colorado and Arizona. Rivalry factor and revenge factor are on UCLA’s side and while I like them to win I love the play to cover the number. Pick: UCLA +4.5 (Chip Patterson)

North Carolina at No. 12 Duke (-12)

6 p.m. (ESPN) 

Cole Anthony said earlier this week that he felt North Carolina was playing like a top-10 team as of late. Most will chuckle at that, but the Tar Heels have won three straight by an average of 9.7 points. It’s the first three-game win streak for Roy Williams’ team since Nov. 27. Since Feb. 18, Duke has been the 41st-best team in college basketball, according to’s calculations. This line is bloated. UNC should have defeated Duke at home a month ago. The Blue Devils are playing to keep their No. 2-seed hopes alive. Mike Krzyzewski’s team will get the win, but Carolina can and should have the game in single digits most of the night. Pick: North Carolina +12 (Matt Norlander)

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Surge in virus threatens economic rebounds | News, Sports, Jobs




WASHINGTON (AP) — The resurgence of coronavirus cases engulfing the United States and Europe is imperiling economic recoveries on both sides of the Atlantic as millions of individuals and businesses face the prospect of having to hunker down once again.

Growing fear of an economic reversal coincided with a report Thursday that the U.S. economy grew at a record 33.1 percent annual rate in the July-September quarter. Even with that surge, the world’s largest economy has yet to fully rebound from its plunge in spring when the virus first erupted. And now the economy is slowing just as new confirmed viral cases accelerate and rescue aid from Washington has dried up.

If many consumers and companies choose — or are forced — to retrench again in response to the virus as they did in the spring, the pullback in spending and hiring could derail economic growth. Already, in the United and Europe, some governments are re-imposing restrictions to help stem the spread of the virus.

In Chicago, where Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois has banned indoor dining and drinking, Grant DePorter, who runs Harry Caray’s Restaurant Group, worries that the blow to restaurants and their employees could be severe.

When indoor dining was first shut down in the spring, he noted, employees could get by thanks to a $600-a-week federal unemployment benefit. That benefit has expired.

“Everyone is incredibly disappointed by the state’s decision,” DePorter said.

In France, President Emmanuel Macron has declared a nationwide lockdown starting Friday. And in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced a four-week shutdown of bars, restaurants and theaters. Merkel warned of a “difficult winter” as Germany’s daily reported coronavirus cases hit a new high Thursday.

In Rheinberg, Germany, Michael Boehm had set up plastic igloos outside his restaurant to welcome guests during the winter. But Germany’s new restrictions, Boehm said, will threaten businesses like his by forcing them to provide only take-away meals through November.

“People prefer to sit outside,” he said ruefully. “We do everything possible, my colleagues do everything possible, too, to ensure that our guests come home healthy.”

A major uncertainty is whether most people will abide by government directives or whether the resistance to lockdowns and other restrictions that have emerged in parts of the United States and Europe will slow progress in controlling the pandemic. President Donald Trump, facing an election in five days, has loudly denounced states and cities that have imposed restrictions on businesses to help control the pandemic. And many of his supporters have registered their agreement.

In Spain, some regions have closed bars and restaurants. But the government hasn’t provided subsidies to aid the proprietors, triggering protests in Barcelona this week by business owners who banged pots, waved cocktail shakers and chanted, “We want to work!”

The U.S. government’s estimate Thursday of third-quarter growth showed that the economy has regained only about two-thirds of the output that was lost early this year when the eruption of the virus closed businesses, threw tens of millions out of work and caused the deepest recession since the Great Depression.

The economy is now weakening again and facing renewed threats. Confirmed viral cases are surging. Hiring has sagged. Federal stimulus has run out. With no further federal aid in sight this year, Goldman Sachs has slashed its growth forecast for the current fourth quarter to a 3 percent annual rate from 6 percent.

Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics, noted that the record-high third quarter growth in the nation’s gross domestic product “tells us little, if anything, about momentum heading into” the current quarter.

“The strong GDP performance gives a false impression of the economy’s true health,” Daco wrote in a research note. “We anticipate a much slower second phase of the recovery.”

Likewise in Germany, Europe’s largest economy, Oxford Economics has raised the possibility that its already pessimistic forecast of 1.2 percent growth for the fourth quarter will have to be downgraded. Oxford’s forecast is based on an index that reflects credit card payments, online restaurant reservations, health statistics and mobility data.

Another setback for the U.S. economy would again most likely imperil front-line service companies — from restaurants and bars to hotels, airlines and entertainment venues. Boeing, for example, said this week that it will cut 7,000 more jobs because the pandemic has smothered demand for new planes.

Perhaps no economic sector is under a darker cloud than the bar and restaurant industry, which is both vulnerable to the spread of the virus and deeply affected by government restrictions.

Dr. Emily Landon, a medical director at the University of Chicago’s medical school, said two factors facilitate the virus’s spread in winter, especially at restaurants: Colder air is drier, and the droplets that transmit the virus become even smaller.

Add to that, she said, what people do in a bar or restaurant.

“There are only a couple activities where you have to take your masks off around other people, and that is dining in a restaurant and going to a bar,” Landon noted. “There is just no way to escape the risks (of COVID-19) when you go into a restaurant.”

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, warned that the job market might not fully recover until perhaps 2023 because “many of the jobs in retailing, leisure and airlines have been permanently lost, and those folks will have to find different work, and that will take time.”

In contrast to the hospitality sector, some industries are actually faring well, pointing up the unevenness of the pandemic economy. From Amazon and Walmart to delivery services like UPS, Grubhub and DoorDash, some companies have benefited from evolving consumer demands. So have companies involved in streaming or cloud computing services, like Netflix, Microsoft and Comcast.

But for the U.S. economy as a whole, the prospect that the virus could roar back is a growing fear. Add to that the failure of Congress to pass another rescue aid plan now that the package it enacted back in spring has expired. That $2 trillion package managed to ease the pain of the recession by boosting incomes and spending and supporting small businesses. Without additional aid, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell has warned, those dynamics could re-emerge.

The $600-a-week federal unemployment benefit and $1,200 stimulus checks that went to most individuals under last spring’s federal aid package enabled many of the jobless to rebuild savings, allowing them to keep spending even after the $600 supplement expired in July. Both are now long gone.

Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC Financial Services, envisions a slowdown to GDP growth to 4.8 percent annual rate in the current quarter and a 3.7 percent rate in the first three months of 2021. But he said he might have to reduce his forecasts if either pandemic worsens or Congress fails to provide more economic stimulus early next year.

If many states felt compelled to impose shutdowns in response to an acceleration of the virus,” Faucher said, the economy could even fall back into recession.

“I am concerned,” Faucher said, “that the longer it takes to get a stimulus bill, the more structural damage we will see to the economy with more businesses closing.”

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Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence tests positive for COVID-19, won’t play against Boston College in Week 9





Clemson star quarterback Trevor Lawrence has tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of the No. 1 Tigers’ game against Boston College on Saturday, Lawrence and the program announced Thursday night. Lawrence’s positive test came on Wednesday after he tested negative on Sunday, Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich told CBS Sports.

Lawrence will miss Saturday’s game, and while his status for next week’s showdown with No. 4 Notre Dame is unknown, it appears possible that he could be cleared.

“I have tested positive for COVID-19, and my symptoms have been relatively mild while I’m following the protocol from Clemson and the ACC. The only thing that hurts is missing an opportunity to be with my teammates this weekend and play the game I love,” Lawrence said in a statement. “I hate that I can’t be there, but I’ll be watching from isolation and pulling for our guys while I wait for the opportunity to rejoin the team.”

According to ACC guidelines, athletes who test positive must isolate “for at least 10 days from the onset of symptoms/positive test.” Until Lawrence returns, the Tigers will likely turn to true freshman DJ Uiagalelei, a five-star prospect from the 2020 recruiting class. Uiagalelei has completed 12-of-19 passes for 102 yards in backup duty this season.

“Trevor has authorized us this evening to announce that he has tested positive for COVID-19 and is now in isolation,” Swinney said in a statement. “He is doing well with mild symptoms but will not be available for this week’s game against Boston College. While we certainly will miss Trevor, this is an opportunity for other guys to step up and we’re excited about competing against a very good BC team on Saturday.”

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Lawrence is the potential No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and among the favorites to win the Heisman Trophy this season. The junior has completed 135-of-191 passes for 1,833 yards, 17 touchdowns and just two interceptions while leading Clemson to a 6-0 start. His statistics are especially impressive considering that the Tigers have frequently play reserves in the second half during blowout victories.

It’s not the first time Clemson has dealt with COVID-19 issues this year, as the program dealt with outbreaks before the season. But Lawrence will be the most high-profile player in college football to miss game time because of a positive test so far this season.

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