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2019 Big Ten vs. ACC Challenge: Predictions, picks, odds, point spreads, lines, scores, schedule



The Big Ten/ACC Challenge got underway Monday with each conference notching a victory. Miami held off Illinois’ comeback bid  to pick up a a 81-79 road victory and Minnesota defeated Clemson 78-60. Those games were just the prelude to six games on Tuesday, including two games featuring teams in the AP Top 25.

Duke — which dropped from No. 1 in the AP Top 25 to No. 10 this week — is part of a monstrous Tuesday slate that features four ranked teams in action in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The Blue Devils face preseason No. 1 Michigan State at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday to cap the second day of the event. Earlier in the evening, at 9 p.m., new No. 1 Louisville will welcome No. 4 Michigan into the KFC Yum! Center for what figures to be the headline matchup of the week.

On the final day of the event Wednesday, No. 3 Maryland will take center stage as the first of six games that will conclude the 2019 event. The Terps take on Notre Dame at 7:15 p.m. and look to extend their early season record to 9-0 — which would be the program’s best start since the 2006-2007 season.

2019 Big Ten/ACC Challenge schedule

All times Eastern

Monday, Dec. 2

  • Miami 81, Illinois 79 — Recap
  • Minnesota 78, Clemson 60: — Recap

Tuesday, Dec. 3

  • Iowa at Syracuse (-4) — 7 p.m. ESPN2: Don’t buy into Syracuse’s recent two-game skid. Oklahoma State and Penn State are better than people think. I expect the Orange to bounce back in a big way as they return home, and I expect that bounceback includes a win and a cover. Pick: Syracuse -4
  • Northwestern at Boston College (-2) — 7 p.m. ESPNU: Don’t like either team in this spot much. But only one team in this game has losses to Radford, Merrimack and Pitt on its resume. Since I think it’ll be close, I’ll pick against that team and ride the home favorite — Boston College — to win and cover. Pick: Boston College -2
  • No. 4 Michigan at No. 1 Louisville (-5.5) — 9 p.m, ESPN: Michigan’s hot streak ends. After a 7-0 start highlighted by top-10 wins over UNC and Gonzaga, I think this road environment against No. 1 Louisville will be too much. It’s the team’s first road game all season in a non-neutral environment. I expect Louisville to win but I will gladly take Michigan and the points. Pick: Michigan +5.5
  • No. 17 Florida State at Indiana (-3) — 9 p.m. ESPN2: Both teams enter this game on seven-game winning streaks, but FSU’s been playing with fire lately. I’ll take the home Hoosiers to finally burn them. Give me IU to win and cover. Pick: Indiana -3
  • Rutgers at Pittsburgh (-3.5) — 9 p.m. ESPNU: Think this one will be close, but I’m leaning Rutgers +3.5. Pitt has already been beaten by West Virginia and Nicholls State at home this season, so I don’t expect the Panthers’ home court advantage to mean much here. Pick: Rutgers +3.5
  • No. 10 Duke at No. 11 Michigan State (-5) — 9:30 p.m. ESPN: Duke might have the most talent in the ACC, but it is not playing up to that level right now. The Blue Devils lost to Stephen F. Austin last Tuesday and squeaked out a win over Winthrop on Friday. Against a well-coached and more experienced Michigan State team, I expect experience to win out and MSU to win handily. Pick: Michigan State -5

Wednesday, Dec. 4


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Alysa Liu Successfully Defends U.S Women’s Skating Title – NBC Chicago




Alysa Liu watched Mariah Bell put out the performance of her life. Then the 14-year-old defending champion did Bell one better.

Liu needed all of her technical brilliance in her impressive jumping arsenal to hold off Bell at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships title Friday night.

“I was very happy for her,” Liu said. “I said, ‘OK, she did well and I also have to do well.'”

No American woman comes close to the repertoire of jumps the 14-year-old Liu possesses. She hit two triple axels among eight triples overall and attempted the only quad of the event, a lutz she under-rotated. Her 160.12 points by far exceeded the rest of the field and lifted her to 235.52 and up from second place after the short program.

Skating last, Liu had little margin after Bell’s superb skate.

Bell knew after her final triple lutz, her seventh triple jump of the program, that she’d outdone herself. A huge smile spread across her face for the final half-minute as she flew across the ice with spirals and then her last spins.

“I saw how into it the crowd was and I love to share what I do with the audience like that,” she said. “I feel very awesome to have that experience.”

Bell’s program was choreographed by 2018 U.S. Olympian Adam Rippon, who got the first hug from her as she left the ice to a standing ovation.

“Adam has been such a major part of my success this year,” Bell explained. “To have that moment here was so special. He deserves to have that moment and to be able to share it.”

But she simply didn’t have the technical numbers to win her first national crown.

Short program winner Bradie Tennell, the 2018 U.S. champ, has vastly improved her presentation, and she’s usually the most precise of American female jumpers. Her fall on a triple loop not only was surprising, it dropped her to third place.

Tennell landed six triples, all of them efficiently, and her program flowed nicely, with good pace and dynamic spins. It wasn’t particularly exciting, but it was among her most interesting routines. And she did it after an infection to her elbow caused “a really crazy week.”

Because Liu is too young to go to senior worlds, Bell and Tennell are likely to get the trip to Montreal in March. Meanwhile, Liu will keep an eye on all competitors.

“I do pay attention to other skaters around the world,” she said. “I’m aware a lot of them are getting these difficult jumps and just trying to keep up with the jumps and keep up with the skating skills for others around the world.”

Two-time U.S. winner and 2014 Olympic team bronze medalist Gracie Gold wound up 12th in her comeback from battling mental illness. Gold completed a good program down on one knee and teary-eyed as the crowd rose to salute what some called a courageous performance.

“It’s very flattering that could be compared to something that typically the word courage can be used for,” she said, noting soldiers sent to Afghanistan or people who protect others during a mass shooting. “I was excited, relieved, so overwhelmed almost, so existing in the moment.”

Earlier Friday, Madison Chock and Evan Bates, who won their only national championship at the Greensboro Coliseum in 2015, used a lively performance to win the rhythm dance.

“We are different people than we were five years ago,” Chock said. “We’re very proud of today’s skate. It was free and spontaneous; that was the goal of ours.”

The couple missed the 2018-19 Grand Prix season when Chock underwent ankle surgery. But they returned to finish second at nationals to Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue.

Now, they are on a roll that includes a second-place showing at the Grand Prix Final, where their long-time competitors, Hubbell and Donohue, placed third.

Yes, U.S. ice dance is in good shape with these two veteran teams.

Chock and Bates, a couple off the ice, have been to the last two Olympics, finishing eighth in Sochi and ninth in Pyeongchang. They’ve hung around, hardly unusual in ice dance, and are on the verge of making this season their best. They haven’t been worse than second in 2019-20.

“For a whole year we have been low and high, and now we are on a high,” Chock added. “We are hoping to continue on that trajectory.”

Hubbell, portraying Marilyn Monroe in a fiery red dress, and Donohue, as Joe DiMaggio in a baseball uniform — not a Yankees outfit for fear of copyright infringement — gave a fast-paced and highly energetic performance to “My Heart Belongs to Daddy.” They didn’t quite capture the hearts of all the judges, and their 86.31 points were 1.32 behind Chock and Bates.

“We had three trips in the program,” she said with a chuckle. “You are hoping to get the kinks out here so we can perform better internationally.'”

Two-time defending champs and bronze medalists in the 2018 Olympics team event, where they wound up fourth in ice dance, Hubbell and Donohue also own a silver and bronze at worlds and won the 2018 Grand Prix Final.

Third on the scorecards but probably first with the majority of the crowd that caught “Saturday Night Fever” from their routine to the Bee Gees were Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker. They managed to cram many of the songs from the John Travolta classic into their program, and even stayed in character as they took their bows.


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Here is the latest Gulf Coast Conference sports news from The Associated Press




EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning has officially retired. The 39-year-old quarterback called it quits on Friday, saying he was leaving the game on his own terms _ as a New York Giant. Speaking at a packed news conference surrounded by family, friends, Giants management and former teammates and two Lombardi Trophies. Manning said he had no regrets and insisisted he was proud he did things his way. Manning said he had no immediate plans. He plans to spend some time reliving the positives memories. A job with the Giants is a possibility, he said. The Giants plans to retire his number 10.


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Gracie Gold Skates to 12th Place and a Standing Ovation at U.S. Championships




Gracie Gold, the Olympic figure skater whose career was halted by a battle with mental illness, received a standing ovation on Friday night at the United States national championships after completing a stirring free skate.

Gold, 24, a 2014 Olympian who won a bronze medal in the team competition, was considered a favorite to win the women’s singles gold at the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. But the year before, she had to abandon her bid to make the American team and enter an inpatient therapy clinic in Arizona to address an eating disorder, depression and anxiety.

Gold finished the overall competition on Friday in Greensboro, N.C., in 12th place among 18 skaters, scoring 161.75 points. Alysa Liu, 14, repeated as the national champion with 235.52 points, with Mariah Bell (225.21) in second and Bradie Tennell (220.86) in third.

Ahead of the 2019 nationals, Gold began a comeback attempt and detailed her struggles in a New York Times article. Though eligible to compete at those championships, she decided she was not ready and withdrew two weeks before they started. To enter this year’s nationals in Greensboro, she had to go through lower-rung qualifying events for the first time since 2011.

“The full audience pulling for my existence, like, on the ice,” she said in an interview with NBC’s Andrea Joyce.


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