Wilson Contract Update

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The clock is ticking on the Seattle Seahawks to sign Russell Wilson to a long-term extension before he enters the final year of his rookie deal.

Set to count just $1.7 million against the cap in 2015, Wilson is slated to receive a rather large payday in the not-so-distant future. If the two sides cannot come to a solution on an extension, the Super Bowl-winning signal caller will likely have the franchise tag placed on him next March, which would guarantee him over $20 million for the 2016 season.

For the record, Wilson doesn’t seem to be too worried about his deal.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to win a lot of games at such a young age and to be able to play with some great guys and have some great comeback wins and win a Super Bowl, and go to back to back Super Bowls.” Wilson said, via the Everett Herald. “It’s been special. So that’s what I focus on. I focus on the next opportunity that I have. The rest will come. I believe God is going to bless me. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I trust always. And I trust it’s going to work out the way it’s supposed to.”

There was some talk towards the end of this past season that Wilson would receive the largest contract in league history when the year concluded. That talk has since subsided.

One thing is readily apparent. Any thought that Wilson would take a contract structured similarly to division-rival Colin Kaepernick can be thrown out the window. The six-year, $114 million extension San Francisco’s quarterback signed last June called for $61 million guaranteed. However, those guarantees are given on an annual basis and the 49ers can get out from under Kaepernick’s contract prior to April each year without a cap hit the following season.

Instead, there’s been talk that Wilson may in fact be looking at a fully guaranteed contract, which would be the first of its kind on a long-term deal.

Gonzaga Falls Short Again….

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A special group of freshmen is taking Duke and Coach K back to the NCAA Final Four.

The Blue Devils and their trio of freshmen starters are going to their 16th Final Four after a 66-52 win Sunday in the South Regional over Gonzaga.

Justise Winslow, the freshman playing home in Houston, had 16 points, including a big 3-pointer in the closing minutes. Matt Jones had also had 16 points while freshman Tyus Jones had 15 points, while Jahlil Okafor nine points and eight rebounds.

Duke (33-4), the region’s No. 1 seed, is going to Indianapolis to play Michigan State in the Final Four. The other national semifinal game Saturday matches undefeated Kentucky and Wisconsin.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski is going to the Final Four for the 12th time, matching UCLA’s John Wooden for the most by a head coach.

Duke’s last Final Four and national title was in 2010, when the Blue Devils were also the No. 1 seed in the South Regional and had to go through Houston.

No. 2 seed Gonzaga (35-3) had taken a 38-34 lead less than 4 minutes into the second half, putting the Blue Devils in their largest deficit of this tournament.

The young Blue Devils responded with nine straight points and never trailed again. They had stretched it to 60-51 when Winslow made a 3-poitner from the left wing with 2:28 left.

Gonzaga, in its 17th consecutive NCAA Tournament, was trying to get to the Final Four for the first time.

This was only Gonzaga’s second regional final, and its first since 1999, when the mid-major Bulldogs were a No. 10 seed that lost to top-seeded UConn. Mark Few was an assistant coach on that squad, and took over as head coach the following season.

The Zags, a No. 1 seed only two years ago before losing to Wichita State in their second NCAA game, missed out again.

Notre Dame Ready for Kentucky?

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The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have the formula to defeat the Kentucky Wildcats, but they will need to execute this formula perfectly.

The Irish have four guards who can shoot the lights out, including Jerian Grant, Steve Vasturia, Pat Connaughton and Demetrius Jackson, and those four players hold the key to victory against Kentucky. The Irish cannot really match up with Kentucky, which might create some obvious problems, but they can beat the Wildcats with their terrific outside shooting.

The Irish looked unstoppable last night on the offensive end against the Wichita State Shockers, and if they carry over that shooting into Saturday’s matchup against Kentucky, then the Wildcats could face some problems. There is no way Zach Auguste will thrive against Kentucky’s interior defense — almost no one in the country can — but there is no need for the Irish to even attack in the paint. They must rely on consistent three-point shooting. The Wildcats are not an amazing offensive team, which is why if the Irish get off to a quick hot start from the field, the Wildcats might have some problems making a comeback.

Obviously Kentucky is still the favorite to win the NCAA tournament, but the Irish have the right players to pull off the huge upset. This game is going to be very entertaining, especially because the Irish have one of the best offenses in the country. This Notre Dame team is the real deal, and they will have the opportunity to prove it against Kentucky.

Don’t Talk Trash to Kentucky

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 Like a massive, unstoppable blue wave, Kentucky hit quickly and just kept coming. There was no escape for West Virginia, no place to hide.

The Wildcats were as advertised: too big, too strong, too everything. Just too good.

Perfect and pulverizing.

Trey Lyles scored 14 points, Andrew Harrison added 13 and the unbeaten Wildcats, chasing history and a ninth national title, made their 37th straight win look easy, blowing past the Mountaineers 78-39 on Thursday night in the Midwest Regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament.

”They were what I thought they were,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. ”That’s the best defensive team I think that I’ve ever coached against. And when they’re making shots, there’s nobody going to beat them.”

The tourney’s top seed and an overwhelming favorite to cut down the nets next month in Indianapolis, the Wildcats (37-0) jumped to an 18-2 lead, built it to 26 in the first half and advanced to Saturday’s regional final to play third-seeded Notre Dame, an 81-70 winner over Wichita State.

The Fighting Irish may need to call Rudy, consult with Digger Phelps and wake up the echoes from some of those stunning upsets in football and hoops they have pulled off in the past.

Kentucky is a monster this March.

”They did what they had to do,” West Virginia forward Devin Williams said. ”You can’t stop something that’s destined.”

With stunning ease, the Wildcats took apart the Mountaineers (25-10), who led the nation in steals and figured their full-court press would at least bother Kentucky into some turnovers. Not only did the press not work, West Virginia shot only 24.1 percent (13 of 54) against the Wildcats, who resemble a forest of blue-tinted redwoods inside the paint.

West Virginia didn’t eclipse 20 points until the 11:41 mark of the second half.

Kevin Durant Done for the Season

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Reigning NBA MVP Kevin Durant has been ruled out for the remainder of the season, the Oklahoma City Thunder announced Friday, with an expectation he’ll return to basketball activities in four to six months.

Durant has been unable to fully recover from a Jones fracture in his right foot suffered during preseason. He is scheduled to undergo a third surgical procedure.

The announcement comes one week after the team indefinitely pulled Durant from basketball-related activities due to lingering questions about his healing process. Durant only managed 27 appearances this season, posting averages of 25.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game.

Without Durant, and with power forward Serge Ibaka recovering from knee surgery, it will be almost impossible for the Thunder to make any noise against the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the playoffs should they make it that far. With 10 games remaining in their season, Oklahoma City currently holds a three-game lead over the Phoenix Suns for the eighth seed in the West. The New Orleans Pelicans are three-and-a-half games back.

Barring a collapse, the Thunder should make the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season, but at this point, they’re waiting for next year, and hoping their star forward gets healthy

John Calipari NBA Return?

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John Calipari has won big at UMass, Memphis and Kentucky. His current UK squad is, of course, undefeated and just four wins away from a national title and a 40-0 mark. 

The one place Calipari has not won is the NBA. He failed in his only stint at the professional level, compiling a 72-112 record with the New Jersey Nets over parts of three seasons. Calipari was fired 20 games into the strike-shortened 1998-99 season. 

So would Calipari ever leave Lexington, and the college ranks altogether, for another crack at the NBA? The possibility of that isn’t as far-fetched as one might think, according to NorthJersey.com’s Steve Popper. 

Popper’s report quotes an unnamed NBA front office official as saying Calipari wants back in the pro game, and badly.

“He desperately wants it,” the front office official said. “He won’t say it out loud. The NBA is the only place he’s ever failed and it drives him nuts. He’s not the same guy he was then. He came to the NBA and he wasn’t ready. He’s ready now.”

As of now, Calipari back in the NBA is mere speculation and conjecture. It would certainly be an interesting reunion though, if it ever came to fruition.

Obama’s Niece Received a Threat

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 Security was increased at Monday night’s Princeton-Maryland NCAA tournament women’s basketball game after a phone message was received detailing a threat against President Obama’s niece, according to a person with knowledge of the threat who was not authorized to speak publicly because of security issues.

An eight-minute voicemail was received at the University of Maryland athletic department offices this afternoon in which a woman said a man was driving on campus with a Glock handgun in his possession, the person said.

The caller linked the man’s appearance on campus to tonight’s game and Leslie Robinson, the daughter of Craig Robinson, Michelle Obama’s brother, who is a freshman forward at Princeton. She was not told of the threat, the person said, but Princeton coach Courtney Banghart was aware of it.

In addition to normal game security, undercover security officers were near the Princeton bench, the person said. Secret Service officers also were in the arena due to the presence of Supreme Court justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

President Obama attended Saturday’s first-round game between Princeton and Wisconsin-Green Bay but was not at tonight’s game. Maryland beat Princeton 85-70, giving The  Lady Tigers their  only loss on the season.

Tickets….Get Your Tickets!!!

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If you’re wanting a chance to contribute to the estimated $74 million gate that the Mayweather-Pacquiao ‘Fight of the Century’ is expected to garner, you’ll get your chance as soon as next week.

According to Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times, who spoke with Leonard Ellerbe of Mayweather Promotions, tickets to see Floyd Mayweather in the ring with Manny Pacquiao will go on sale “by the end of next week.”

In that same Los Angeles Times article, Pugmire writes that less than 1,000 tickets will be made available for public purchase. That’s according to promotional executives who spoke with the Los Angeles Times, but aren’t authorized to discuss any plans publicly.

Two officials added that the most expensive seats — floor seats — will be posted at $10,000. The cheapest tickets are estimated to be valued at $1,500.

Of course, the MGM Grand will fit more than a 1,000 seats for this fight. According to promoter Bob Arum, it’s capable of holding 16,200 seats for this fight. The remainder of the tickets are designated for the MGM Grand, Mayweather Promotions, and Top Rank — Pacquiao’s promoter.

On Monday, it was reported that the gate of the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight will reach a record $74 million. The previous record was set by another Mayweather fight in 2013. Still, the gate of his fight against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez only hit $20 million, so this fight’s gate will do more than break the record, it’ll destroy that mark.