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In today's Sprint:
- 🏀 “Blue Bloods” struggle
- 🏈 Combine goes virtual
- 🎮 Esports are here to stay
Fall From Grace
For the first time since 1961, Duke, UNC, and Kentucky are all unranked. Each school embraced the one-and-done culture of college basketball and, this year, it’s come back to haunt them.
However, one Blue Blood stayed focused on building great teams - the Kansas Jayhawks, who played their biggest game of the year last night:
#2 Baylor 77 vs. #9 Kansas 69
- Jared Butler (30 pts, 8 ast) led Baylor to an impressive win over Kansas. Mark your calendar for February 2nd, when Baylor and #5 Texas square off.
#3 Villanova vs. Seton Hall - Tue. 9:00 p.m. ET on FS1
- Villanova tips-off for its first game since (checks notes) December 23rd against an up and down Seton Hall squad.
#6 Tennessee vs. Florida - Tue. 7:00 p.m. ET on ESPN
- Tennessee looks to build momentum and distract the Volunteer fan base from the football program (see Water Cooler below) in a rivalry game against Florida.
#7 Michigan vs. Maryland - Tue.7:00 p.m. ET on FS1
- Michigan tries to rebound from their first loss of the year, an 18-point drubbing from #17 Minnesota, against a tricky Maryland squad who beat #12 Illinois last week.
Brooklyn Nets 125 vs. Milwaukee Bucks 123
- Kevin Durant and James Harden both went for 30+ points, including KD’s game-winner, to beat the Bucks in what may have been a preview of the Eastern Conference Finals. After the game, Harden said, “We were young in Oklahoma City. We’re men now.” The league is officially on notice.
WATER COOLER TALK
- 🏀 Sportico unveiled their NBA franchise valuations, with the stumbling New York Knicks ($5.42 B) and Golden State Warriors ($5.21 B) leading the way. The least valuable team? The New Orleans Pelicans ($1.35 B).
- 🏀 A’ja Wilson, one of the best players in college basketball history, received a statue on the University of South Carolina’s campus. Her reflections: “The same campus my Grandmother couldn’t walk on is the same campus that houses the statue of her Granddaughter.”
- ⚾ The San Diego Padres continued to overhaul their starting rotation with the addition of pitcher Joe Musgrove in their endless quest to catch the MLB Champion Los Angeles Dodgers.
- 🏈 NFL Combine activities, such as workouts and interviews, will be entirely virtual this year due to logistical complications from the COVID-19 pandemic.
- 🏈 The University of Tennessee fired head coach Jeremy Pruitt after allegations surfaced of serious NCAA recruiting violations within the program.
The Future of Sport (Hear Us Out)
2020 raised a concern we never thought we’d have: what would the world be like without sports? And for a couple of months, until The Last Dance was released, we found out. It was grim.
Amidst the panic, one sport prevailed: esports - one of the only forms of competition that continued when the entire world shut down. It was gaming’s time to shine. And many of you may think that competitive gaming is not a sport, but Sideline Sprint team member Eric would like to convince you otherwise. Click here to read his case.
What makes him so sure?
- There are 2.7 billion gamers in the world (that’s 35% of everyone on Earth).
- FaZe Clan, an esports company that operates similarly to an NBA or NFL franchise, is worth $305 million and boasts 230 million followers across social platforms. FaZe was founded in 2010.
- What event had more viewers than the 2020 Super Bowl? The League of Legends World Championship.
Eventually, sport goes where the audience goes. The future of gaming is now and it won’t be long before esports surpass major leagues in popularity (looking at you, MLB).
The Kansas City Chiefs are only the second team to host three straight Conference Championship games in NFL history. Which other team has hosted three straight?
- Philadelphia Eagles
- New England Patriots
- Pittsburgh Steelers
- San Francisco 49ers
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A. The Philadelphia Eagles from 2002 - 2004. Their head coach at the time? Andy Reid.