NCAA Roundup: ISU falls to North Dakota

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NCAA Roundup: ISU falls to North Dakota

North Dakota State 38, Illinois State 20

NORMAL, Ill. (AP) Sam Ojuri and John Crockett each rushed for more than 100 yards and a touchdown, Marcus Williams returned a kickoff a career-long 98 yards for a score, and North Dakota State won the Missouri Valley Conference title Saturday, beating Illinois State 38-20 in both teams' regular-season finale.

Ojuri had 118 yards on the ground, including a 1-yard TD that capped a 21-point fourth quarter for the Bison (10-1, 7-1). Crockett scored on a 5-yard run and totaled 109 yards rushing.

Brock Jensen added two short rushing scores for NDSU, which improved to 11-0 on the road the past two seasons. Jensen had just 96 yards passing, but NDSU rolled up 274 yards on the ground.

Box Score Recap

SIU shuts down Western

CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) Kory Faulkner threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score as Southern Illinois defeated Western Illinois 35-0 Saturday in the season finale for both teams.

Steve Strother ran for 90 yards for the Salukis (6-6, 5-3 Missouri Valley), who held Western Illinois to 16 yards rushing and 126 total yards. Kevin Reed returned an interception 18 yards for a touchdown for SIU.

Southern Illinois sacked three Western quarterbacks five times, and the Leathernecks (3-8, 1-7) punted 11 times in the game.

Box Score Complete Recap

Eastern Illinois can't slow Central Arkansas

CONWAY, Ark. (AP) Wynri Smothers threw for 335 yards and four touchdowns as Central Arkansas defeated Eastern Illinois 48-30 in a battle of conference champions Saturday night.

Smothers completed 35 of 49 passes and had TDs of 26, 14, 37 and 6 yards for the Bears (9-2), who finished the regular season with six straight victories and won the Southland Conference.

Eastern Illinois' Jimmy Garoppolo also threw for four TDs, completing 19 of 33 passes for 228 yards. Garoppolo had scoring throws of 17, 37, 14 and 74 yards for the Panthers (7-4), who won the Ohio Valley Conference.

Box Score Complete Recap

The ‘friendly rivalry’ between Theo Epstein and Andrew Friedman with Cubs, Dodgers becoming NL superpowers

The ‘friendly rivalry’ between Theo Epstein and Andrew Friedman with Cubs, Dodgers becoming NL superpowers

LOS ANGELES – A man stepped to the microphone during a Q&A session at Cubs Convention and called Theo Epstein and Andrew Friedman “the two boy geniuses.” The fan told Epstein how his friends used to call the Dodgers baseball boss “your Mini-Me,” asking about their personal rivalry and if beating L.A. in the playoffs had any extra meaning.

“We have a friendly rivalry,” Epstein told a packed hotel ballroom in downtown Chicago in January. “First off, didn’t he interview for an internship with us and we turned him down way back in the day?

“And then like nine months later, he was GM of the Rays. When he was with Tampa and I was with Boston, we never spoke, because we were in the same division. It was kind of a heated rivalry. We literally never called each other on trades or anything like that.”

But where it’s so difficult for the small-market Rays to keep up with the ultra-rich Red Sox – and replace Friedman’s vision and Joe Maddon’s star power and survive a string of wasted first-round draft picks and find a long-term stadium solution – the Cubs and Dodgers are positioned to be superpowers for years to come.

That’s what makes this Memorial Day weekend showdown at Dodger Stadium so compelling beyond the National League Championship Series rematch. It’s not just upcoming free agent Jake Arrieta returning to the site of his onesie no-hitter on Friday night, a reigning MVP (Kris Bryant) and Rookie of the Year (Corey Seager), two of the best closers on the planet (Wade Davis and Kenley Jansen) and a classic Jon Lester vs. Clayton Kershaw matchup on Sunday afternoon.

The Cubs eliminated the Dodgers less than a month after Epstein finalized a five-year contract worth in the neighborhood of $50 million, likely surpassing Friedman as the game’s highest-paid personnel executive.

“Jed developed a pretty good relationship with him, because I didn’t like talking to him,” Epstein said, referencing GM Jed Hoyer, another Boston transplant on the Cubs Convention panel that day. “But then when I came out here with the Cubs, a different league and everything, I developed a much better relationship with Andrew and we became friends, so now it’s much more of a friendly rivalry.

“I will say that losing to the Dodgers would have been a bitter pill to swallow on a number of fronts, including that one. But they’re developing a powerhouse out there.

“We see them as a team we have to go through each year to get where we want to be.”

[MORE CUBS: Summing up the Cubs' impressive, potentially season-altering homestand]

Backed by Guggenheim Partners’ financial muscle and flush with new TV money, the Dodgers have won four straight division titles and 90-plus games each season while ramping up a farm system that’s now ranked fourth, fifth or sixth by Baseball America, ESPN and MLB.com.

“Everyone’s got their own style and their own approach,” Epstein said. “Ours was more kind of bottom-up (where) they needed to keep it rolling at a high level in the big leagues while retooling their system and nurturing the talent that was already there.

“We had to go out and transact and bring some stuff in. We were at different points of the success cycle. They’ve done a really nice job of winning while kind of establishing something new at the same time.”

The blue-blooded franchise that produced 17 Rookie of the Year winners last month rolled out Cody Bellinger, a 21-year-old, left-handed first baseman with nine homers in his first 28 games in The Show. Julio Urias – who might be the next Fernando Valenzuela – is supposed to be conserving some innings at Triple-A Oklahoma City for another October where the Cubs could be standing in the way of the Dodgers’ first World Series title since 1988.

“They’ve been producing great young talent for a long period of time,” Epstein said. “If you go back and look at some of the young studs they have in the big leagues that (former scouting director) Logan White and (the previous regime) brought in, some of the guys are still coming.

“They’re stocked and the Dodger tradition runs really deep. With Andrew and his front office, we know they’re going to be dynamic. They’re going to have more resources than anyone. And they’re a big threat to the whole league for a long period of time.”

Could Derrick Rose reunite with Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota?

Could Derrick Rose reunite with Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota?

Tom Thibodeau was without Derrick Rose for the first time in his head-coaching career last season, coaching the Timberwolves while Rose suited up for the New York Knicks.

But a reunion may be on the horizon. Rose is an unrestricted free agent and the Timberwolves, though they don't have a real need at point guard, are showing interest in the Chicago native. We'll have to wait until July 1, when free agency begins, to see what happens.

See what special guest Nick Friedell, Bulls beat reporter for ESPN, had to say about the topic on SportsTalk Live in the video above.