Crowded SEC race could mean BCS nightmare

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Crowded SEC race could mean BCS nightmare

From Comcast SportsNet
By Ralph D. Russo, The Associated Press
Chaos! You want BCS chaos?

If No. 3 Arkansas beats No. 1 LSU on Friday in Baton Rouge, La., now you really have some chaos.

Remember the 2008 season? Texas beat Oklahoma, Texas Tech beat Texas and Oklahoma beat Texas Tech, producing a three-way tie among highly ranked teams atop the Big 12 South standings. This would be similar, though the Southeastern Conference has a different tiebreaker system.

It can be a little confusing on paper, but heres all you need to know: If Arkansas beats LSU and Alabama takes care of Auburn on Saturday, and the Tigers, Crimson Tide and Razorbacks finish in a three-way tie for first in the SEC West, the team with the lowest rating in the BCS standings is eliminated.

Then the tie between the two highest-rated teams is broken by head-to-head result.

Its a better system than the Big 12 had at the time, which simply was to pick the team with the best BCS rating of the three. Had the Big 12 used the SEC system or something similar in 08, Texas would have played for the Big 12 title with a chance to reach the BCS title game. Instead Oklahoma moved on, pounded Missouri for the Big 12 title and lost the BCS title game to Florida 24-14.

Longhorns fans are still bitter.

Even with the SECs tiebreakers, a possible three-way tie is still going to be messy.

If Arkansas hands LSU its first loss in Tiger Stadium, it seems logical that voters in the Harris and coaches polls, which are used to rank teams in the BCS standings along with computers, would jump the Razorbacks past the Tigers.

But it would be hard to justify having Arkansas ahead of Alabama, considering the Tide beat the Razorbacks 38-14 in Tuscaloosa back in late September.

So Alabama is No. 1, Arkansas is No. 2 and LSU, which beat the Tide 9-6 on the road in overtime and has by far the most impressive nonconference wins of the three, would be No. 3?

The fact is there are no good solutions. And the reality is the team that loses the head-to-head tiebreaker and doesnt play No. 13 Georgia in the Southeastern Conference championshipand risk becoming a two-loss team and being eliminated from national title contention is probably better off.

Now that, right there, is chaos.

Reports: Joakim Noah likely to join Derrick Rose, sign with Knicks

Reports: Joakim Noah likely to join Derrick Rose, sign with Knicks

Multiple reports indicated that former Bulls center Joakim Noah will join Derrick Rose and sign with the New York Knicks.

Both the Washington Post and ESPN report that Noah is very likely to sign in New York, his hometown. ESPN's Marc Stein went so far as to say that other teams have already accepted that Noah is all but a done deal to sign with the Knicks.

And according to Tim Bontemps from the Washington Post, Noah's deal with the Knicks will have "a starting salary somewhere in the $18 million per year range," a large but not insane number considering the league's salary cap explosion this summer.

The Vertical's Shams Charania added that Noah will meet with Phil Jackson and the Knicks when free agency begins Friday night.

Noah would fill a void at center left by the Knicks' trade for Rose, which shipped center Robin Lopez back to Chicago. Noah averaged 4.3 points and 8.8 rebounds in 29 games last season before season-ending shoulder surgery in January. Noah spent the first nine seasons of his NBA career with the Bulls and was named Defensive Player of the Year just three short years ago.

But he fell out of grace with Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg, who opted to bring Noah off the bench for the first time in his career. It was largely assumed that both Noah and Pau Gasol would not return to a Bulls team that missed the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons.

Teams can start negotiating with free agents on July 1, and can sign free agents beginning July 6.

James Shields earns first victory as White Sox top Twins

James Shields earns first victory as White Sox top Twins

James Shields received his first standing ovation of the season at U.S. Cellular Field as he headed to the dugout on Wednesday night.

The White Sox starter settled in after another shaky start and his offense kicked it into high gear in an 9-6 victory over the Minnesota Twins in front of 18,571. Shields limited the Twins to a leadoff solo homer in the first inning and pitched into the seventh to earn his first win for the White Sox. Brett Lawrie, Tyler Saladino and Todd Frazier all homered for the White Sox, who have won six of their last nine and are 39-39. Nate Jones earned the save after Matt Purke and Dan Jennings combined to allow five runs in the ninth inning.

The scenario looked all too familiar for Shields as Eduardo Nunez opened the game with a solo home run on an 0-1 pitch to put the Twins ahead.

Shields, who had a 21.81 ERA in his first three starts with the White Sox, two of which resulted in him being booed off the mound by the home crowd, found even more trouble. He recorded pair of outs but walked Brian Dozier and he scooted to third on Trevor Plouffe’s single. But more in line with his last start in Boston, Shields took another big step forward and got out of trouble, stranding two. Two innings later, Shields worked around consecutive singles to start the third as he induced double play off Joe Mauer’s bat and Dozier’s bunt attempt resulted in a comebacker.

Adam Eaton assisted Shields in a big way in the fifth inning when he easily threw out Kurt Suzuki at home. Suzuki, who started the play on first, was forced home as Nunez nearly caught him speeding into third. But Shields stranded Nunez in scoring position as well as another runner in the sixth. He recorded two more outs before giving way after a Byron Buxton double.

As he exited, Shields was showered with applause from the appreciative crowd.

He allowed a run and eight hits in 6 2/3 innings, striking out five and walking one.

One night after they couldn’t provide for Jose Quintana, the White Sox offense went overboard for Shields. Lawrie’s opposite-field solo homer with two outs in the second inning off Ricky Nolasco tied the game at 1. J.B. Shuck then singled, stole second and scored on an RBI single by Avisail Garcia.

The White Sox never looked back as Saladino’s solo shot in the fifth made it a 3-1 game. Frazier started a five-run sixth inning with a solo homer -- the team’s 13th consecutive solo homer. Saladino singled in a run with two outs to chase Nolasco and make it 5-1. Tim Anderson’s two-run single made it a blowout and Eaton singled him in to make it 8-1. Shuck added a sac fly in the seventh for the White Sox, who went 5-for-11 with runners in scoring position.

Denzel Valentine: Bulls' versatility will 'make us so dangerous'

Denzel Valentine: Bulls' versatility will 'make us so dangerous'

The Bulls are undergoing a "retooling" in their backcourt after dealing Derrick Rose to the Knicks, drafting Denzel Valentine and attempting to re-sign E'Twaun Moore in free agency.

That, combined with Jimmy Butler, the addition of Jerian Grant and an already versatile frontcourt will give Fred Hoiberg plenty of options that Valentine believes will make the Bulls "dangerous" in 2016-17.

"I think that's going to make us so dangerous this year, is we are versatile with our guards," He said on Wednesday night's White Sox broadcast. "And in those three positions I feel like we're going to be able to guard and do a lot of things offensively and throw a lot at you when we're coming down on offense. And the defensive end, too.

"I think we're going to have a really good team this year with all that we have, and I'm glad to be part of the building year, or whatever you want to call it."

On paper the Bulls will have more versatility than a year ago. Valentine is capable of playing either wing position and can handle the ball, though he doesn't project as a point guard. Butler can play and defend four positions, and Grant is capable of playing either guard spot. Bringing back E'Twaun Moore would benefit that versatility greatly, as he's capable of playing on or off the ball.

In the frontcourt, the Bulls will need to replace Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah, neither of whom provided much versatility. Robin Lopez is entrenched at center, which will give the Bulls' stretch forwards Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis more room to roam the perimeter.

Wherever Valentine plays, and however Hoiberg uses him in Year 1, the Michigan State rookie said he's ready to do what's asked of him from a franchise known for winning.

"My job is to just come in, do what I can do best and just work on my game and try to lead as best as I can," he said on SportsTalk Live (in the video above). "I'm not coming in to step on anybody's toes but I'm going to do what I can to lead and be a good teammate and try to win some games."