The Pulse: CFP scenarios, Kentucky’s bad night and early hot stove contract signings

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Good morning! Don’t lose your first three games, okay?

while you were sleeping

Underdogs lurk in the CFP rankings

This week’s College Football Playoff rankings aired later than usual last night thanks to a long basketball game (more on that in part two). The top 4 stayed the same:

The next three are where things get interesting: #5 Tennessee, #6 LSU, and #7 USC. With LSU playing Georgia in three weeks, the Vols – who already have a win against LSU – and USC are the best bets to get in.

A few scenarios:

  • It will be fascinating to see how the committee handles which team loses Ohio State-Michigan next weekend. A tight game could result in the loser getting the No. 4 seed, while a blowout loss opens the door for Tennessee.
  • TCU has yet to play the Big 12 title game. Plenty of room for a loss as no Big 12 team is willing to replace them in the top four. That means one of those lurkers is coming in.
  • If my LSU Tigers beat Georgia? The committee has a tough choice between a two-loss SEC champion (LSU), a one-loss SEC runner-up (Georgia) and a one-loss Tennessee that throttled LSU early in the season.

David Ubben has a full breakdown of each scenario here. It’s going to be a fun few weeks again.

college tires

A bad night in the state of Kentucky

College basketball has technically been underway for a week, but we’ve had little to talk about. In this week? The goods are there.

We had some bangers last night (plus a worrying start):

Michigan State outlasted No. 4 Kentucky in overtime. Rankings don’t mean all that much at this time of year, but it’s quite remarkable that a loaded British team succumbed to an unranked Sparty so early. It’s a long season, but a fun data point to file for. At least Coach Cal bagged another mega recruit.

The defending champion ruined Jon Scheyer’s big day. In the first real look at Duke basketball in the country after Coach K, Kansas played the spoiler last night with a 69-64 win. It was a fantastic game and the Blue Devils clearly have a lot to do.

Louisville lost to Appalachian State, dropping the Cardinals to 0-3. New coach Kenny Payne is still looking for a win as the new head coach. No dice. Brutal context: every loss was by a point, and the competition? 😬

MLB hot stove

The burners are on

We’re only a few days into MLB free agency and — hey, watch your fingers — the hot stove is high. Some big names off the board yesterday:

  • Anthony Rizzo returns to the Yankees, just a day after Ken Rosenthal reported that Rizzo was also a prime Houston target. Rizzo gets two years and $40 million to plant bombs in Yankee Stadium’s short porch. All are happy.
  • The Angels have signed Tyler Anderson to a three-year deal across town with the Dodgers after his breakout season last year. It’s a nice signing for the Angels, who have broken with their odd habit of not giving starting pitchers multi-year contracts.

Elsewhere, Eno Sarris has singled out the best free agent bargains.


Wiseman already done in the bay?

The Warriors sent 2020 NBA draft pick James Wiseman to the G League on Monday, a clear sign of the disconnect between the talented but raw Wiseman, just 22, and a team that needs to win now. The team hasn’t released any official details, but Tim Kawakami wonders if a mutual split might be on the way. Despite a lackluster start to his career, Wiseman could pocket a hefty bounty should he become available.


Where does Deshaun Watson return to?

Outside of Cleveland, the Browns really capitalized on the Raiders’ incompetence. One talented squad has failed a little more than the other. Congratulations?

Deshaun Watson, the questionable quarterback the Browns mortgaged the franchise for, returns to practice today. Jason Lloyd wonders what else he can save. Some sobering facts:

  • Cleveland is 3-6, sit 11th in the AFC and have no tiebreakers outside of the division. Something astronomical aside, they need to win to make the playoffs.
  • The season is simply a failure. That team would remain in place until Watson – who comes with extreme baggage – could make his debut after serving an 11-game suspension.

The Browns own the mess. As Lloyd points out, if the season goes on as expected, they’ve wasted another year of Myles Garrett and Nick Chubb’s heyday, “putting the franchise in a blender” in the process.

pulse picks

Players in Virginia and Wisconsin were still in shock yesterday as they tried to come to terms with the tragic murder of three Commodore football players. Devin Chandler, one of the victims, played in Wisconsin before moving to Virginia.

Ken Rosenthal writes a powerful column about Pete Rose, who has given Rob Manfred no reason to change his mind about Rose’s lifetime ban.

Nick Miller does the important World Cup work: checking the merch.

Terry Francona is your AL Manager of the Year. Well deserved. Remember he will also return next year after some talks he would walk away or retire.

Our soccer team has a complete guide to the US men’s national team ahead of the World Cup. The games start on Sunday.

The most successful coach in WNBA history, Mike Thibault, stepped down as coach and general manager of the Washington Mystics yesterday. He hands over the reins to his son Eric.

We rated every NBA City Edition jersey. The Warriors are rightly last. My favorites? Detroit and San Antonio. which one do you like

Recruitment Shocker: The No. 1 women’s basketball player chose Southern California over Stanford and South Carolina.

Still alive in fantasy football but players lost to injuries? So skip the shop.

(Photo: Randy Sartin/USA Today)