Big East Odds
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PHOENIX SUNS (29-25) at MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES (11-42)
The Suns really struggled as they entered the All-Star break, losing five of their past six games. They most recently faced the Rockets in Phoenix and lost 127-118 as 2-point favorites. They are just 3-7 ATS in their past 10 games as well, but they have an excellent chance to turn things around with a win over the Timberwolves. Minnesota lost two straight heading into the break, losing 94-91 as a 9-point home underdog versus the Warriors in its most recent game. The Timberwolves had, however, won three straight before those two losses and they are 4-2 ATS in their past six games. Phoenix and Minnesota most recently met at US Airways Center, when the Suns won 110-99 as 14-point home favorites. The Suns also won 113-11 as 8-point underdogs in Minnesota earlier in the season. Theyve won three straight games against the Timberwolves in Minnesota. The Timberwolves are, however, 6-2 ATS in the past eight games played in this head-to-head series. The Suns have played well as a road favorite this season, going 11-3 SU and 8-5-1 ATS. Minnesota, meanwhile, is just 6-16 SU after an ATS win but it is 11-10-1 ATS in those games. The team is also 3-2 ATS when playing on three or more days rest on the season. SG Gary Neal (Acquired in trade) is questionable for the Timberwolves and PF Robbie Hummel (hand) is out for the team. C Alex Len (Ankle) is doubtful for the Suns.
The Suns are in a tight race for the eighth seed in the Western Conference and they need to turn things around immediately or they will find themselves watching the postseason on their televisions once again. PG Eric Bledsoe (17.2 PPG, 5.9 APG, 5.2 RPG, 1.7 SPG) had one of his best games of the season in a loss to the Rockets last game. He played 40 minutes in the loss and finished with 32 points (9-for-19 FG, 2-for-4 3PT, 12-for-13 FT), four rebounds, four assists and two steals. Hell need to continue to use his speed and strength to get to the line for easy points. Bledsoe has, however, struggled against Minnesota this season with just 16.5 PPG (38percent FG) and 1.5 APG in 30.0 MPG in two meetings with the team. Hell need to be more effective this time around. PG Isaiah Thomas (15.2 PPG, 3.7 APG, 1.0 SPG) has seen a major increase in minutes lately, averaging 20.0 PPG, 5.5 APG and 1.5 SPG in 34.5 MPG in the two games before the break. Thomas is averaging just 11.5 PPG in two games against the Timberwolves this season and hell need to find a way to use his speed to get into the lanes in this game. Phoenix needs him to add some serious scoring punch in order to pick up a huge road victory. PF Markieff Morris (15.1 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 1.2 SPG) was excellent against the Rockets last game, finishing with 16 points, six rebounds, four assists and a steal in 33 minutes of action. Morris will need to knock down some outside shots to stretch out the Minnesota defense and allow his guards to attack the rim. With C Alex Len (6.2 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 1.5 BPG) likely out for Phoenix, C Miles Plumlee (4.3 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.0 BPG) should see some big minutes in this one. Plumlee has been an animal the past two games, averaging 4.5 PPG, 9.5 RPG and 4.0 BPG in 2.0 MPG. Hes playing very well defensively, but hell need to find a way to make some shots at the rim or Jeff Hornacek may opt to replace him with somebody who can.
The Timberwolves lost two straight games heading into the break, but the team has actually been performing a lot better recently. PG Ricky Rubio (10.8 PPG, 7.8 APG, 4.9 RPG, 1.4 SPG) played extremely well in a loss to the Warriors last game, finishing with 18 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three steals. He should thrive against a Suns team that loves to play an up-tempo brand of basketball. SG Andrew Wiggins (15.2 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 1.1 SPG) will also be amped and ready to play this game, as hes averaging 21.0 PPG (58percent FG), 4.5 RPG and 2.0 SPG in 37.5 MPG versus the Suns this season. Wiggins is an excellent player in transition and he should be able to use his size to bully the smaller Phoenix guards in the post as well. This is the perfect matchup for him and Minnesota will need its young superstar to perform at a high level in order to earn this victory. SG Shabazz Muhammad (13.6 PPG, 4.1 RPG) should be fully recovered from a strained oblique after having the All-Star break to get healthy. Muhammad was moving well in the Rising Stars game and its likely that his minute restriction will be lifted for this one. He had 12 points, five rebounds, five assists in 33 minutes the last time he faced Phoenix and he should be able to be more successful as a scorer this time around. C Gorgui Dieng (9.5 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 1.7 BPG) has played well against the Suns this season, averaging 10.0 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 4.0 APG and 1.5 BPG in 35.5 MPG but his minutes have decreased since C Nikola Pekovic (13.5 PPG, 7.2 RPG) returned. Pekovic is averaging 17.2 PPG and 6.2 RPG in 26.8 MPG over his past five contests. Regardless of who is getting the big minutes at center, the Timberwolves should have a major advantage at the position over the Suns. Both guys will need to attack Mile Plumlee when they are in, as he is very likely to commit fouls.
College football: Police defend investigation into FSU's Jameis Winston
Interim Police Chief Tom Coe Bicimotos issued a timeline Wednesday saying it demonstrates his department's professionalism.
The timeline starts with the department taking the alleged victim to the hospital Dec. 7, interviewing her, and collecting DNA and other evidence.
The report says the victim identified her alleged attacker Jan. 10, but her attorney contacted investigators the next day and canceled a planned meeting.
Later that month, Coe says the suspect refused to be interviewed.
Coe says investigators contacted the victim's attorney again and gave her toxicology reports. He says the attorney told investigators she would review the findings and contact them if the victim wanted to pursue the case.
Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston was involved in two minor incidents unrelated to an investigation into accusations that he sexually assaulted a woman, though he was not arrested or charged in either case, police records show.
In the first case, Winston and other FSU players were questioned by police in November 2012 after 13 windows were broken at an apartment complex near Doak Campbell Stadium after an apparent BB gun battle. In the second case, a Burger King employee called police in July to complain that Winston was stealing soda. The Associated Press obtained the records from Tallahassee city officials after filing a request.
Attorney Timothy Jansen, who is representing Winston in the sexual assault investigation, said he was unaware of the incidents.
Winston, 19, is a leading Heisman Trophy candidate who has guided the Seminoles to a No. 2 ranking. He is currently under investigation after a woman accused him of sexually assaulting her a little more than a week after he was questioned about the BB gun incident.
Police did not hand over information about the alleged sexual assault to prosecutors until earlier this month. The interim police chief said the case was placed on inactive status after police were told the alleged victim no longer wanted to prosecute the case. An attorney representing the accuser has said her client never wanted to drop the charges.
ESPN has reported that a DNA report shows that Winston's DNA was found in the underwear of the accuser. While Jansen has suggested the sex was consensual, the victim has put out a statement maintaining she was raped.
In the BB gun investigation, Tallahassee police records show officers were called to the Legacy Suites apartments on Nov. 27, 2012, two days after management said 13 windows had been damaged by players shooting at each other.
Both Winston and his roommate at the time, defensive end Chris Casher, told officers the next day that they had been involved in a series of "battles" involving FSU players that had been going on for a month. They denied shooting any BB guns themselves but said someone threw eggs at their window and shot at them with a paintball launcher.
Police found BBs littering the ground and saw windows in several apartments with small holes.
Police records show the apartment manager, Dave Sudekum, initially wanted to evict Winston and three other tenants but decided to not press charges after an FSU athletic department official promised that the players would pay for the damage.
Sudekum initially told a reporter this week that a previous management company had been involved. When told that his name was on the report, he then said he couldn't remember the incident, which happened the day after FSU lost to the University of Florida. Winston, a redshirt freshman this season, did not play in the game. FSU athletic department officials have not responded to emailed questions about the incident.
In the Burger King incident, Winston came in with three men but did not order food. An employee, who recognized him, first saw him using ketchup cups to take soda. He asked for a water cup after she told him to stop, but he admitted he would use it for soda and filled it repeatedly with soda over her objections, the report said.
The report says Winston was never interviewed about the incident because the restaurant declined to prosecute.
State Attorney Meggs said Wednesday that he doubted the BB gun incident would have much bearing on the sexual assault investigation.
Attorney Patricia Carroll, who is representing the alleged sexual assault victim, did not return calls for comment.
Chattanooga looks to VCU assistant Wade to help restore hoops success
Wade, who has family connections to the school as the cousin of former Chattanooga offensive lineman and current Middle Tennessee offensive line coach Geep Wade, who was formally introduced Tuesday as Chattanoogas 18th head coach.
Wade, a Tennessee native born and raised in Nashville, says he remembers when Chattanooga regularly competed for NCAA tournament berths. Chattanooga made four NCAA appearances in a five-year span from 1993-97 and reached a regional semifinal in 1997.
But the Mocs have earned only one NCAA bid in 2009 during the past eight seasons. Wade replaces John Shulman, who was fired last month.
Theyve been great in the past, Wade said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. Theyve had some great teams and a great program. They have all the makings to be great again.
Wade, 30, had been on Shaka Smarts VCU staff the past four seasons. Wade helped the Rams make four consecutive postseason appearances, including three consecutive NCAA tournament trips and the 2011 Final Four.
VCU went 27-9 this season and finished with a No. 23 ranking nationally. The Rams are one of only five programs to win 27 or more games each of the past four seasons, along with Duke, Kansas, Syracuse and Ohio State.
Will Wade distanced himself from a strong group of candidates as the clear choice to lead our mens basketball program, Chattanooga athletic director David Blackburn said in a statement Monday announcing the hiring. He has been a major piece of VCUs success over the last four years and we feel he will bring our program back to a championship level.
Blackburn hired the 30-year-old Wade just four days after announcing the 64-year-old Jim Foster as the new Chattanooga womens basketball coach. Wade, who will rank among the youngest Division I head coaches nationwide, believes his age could be a help rather than a hindrance.
I think its an advantage, Wade said. I think Ive got a lot of energy, a lot of enthusiasm. I think it helps in terms of being able to relate to the players and having the ability to relate to them and spend time with them and develop really good relationships with them.
At VCU, Wade worked with the Rams Havoc defense, a full-court, pressing style that resulted in a school-record 422 steals in 2012-13 and the 18th-highest single-season total in NCAA history. The Rams led the nation in steals each of the past two years.
Wade expects to bring the same approach to Chattanooga.
Were going to play a high-octane style very similar to what was done at VCU, Wade said.
Smart said in a statement that Chattanooga is hiring an absolute star in Wade.
Will is extremely bright, hard-working and diligent, Smart said. No one will spend more time building relationships with student-athletes than Will. There is no question in my mind that he will be a tremendous success.
Wade worked at Harvard for two seasons with Tommy Amaker before joining VCU. Wade graduated from Clemson in 2005 and spent six years working with that program between 2001 and 07 as a student manager for four seasons, a graduate assistant for one and director of operations.
2015 Kentucky Derby Odds
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