Liverpool Is 1 Game Away from Champions League Semi-Finals

Liverpool is set to face-off against Man City in the second leg of their Champions League Quarter-Finals matchup at 2:45 PM, ET. The Reds won their opening match against City 3-0 at Anfield and baring a historic collapse, they’ll cruise into the Semis. Now, call me a pessimist, but this would be such a Liverpool move to mess this up.

Both Liverpool and Man City are known for their ferocious attacks, but each team has a health concern up top. Sergio Aguero was forced to miss the first leg of the competition and Mo Salah left the same game in the second half. While I don’t necessarily think Aguero is City’s best player, he does rank first on the team in goals scored in the Premier League with 21. Salah, on the other hand, is without a doubt the Reds’ best player and is almost a shoo-in at this point for Premier League Player of the Year. If I had to guess the two players’ availabilities, I believe that Aguero will start and that Salah will be available on the bench if needed.

Another thing that both teams benefit from is their top-flight managers, Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola. Klopp and Pep are widely regarded as two of the best managers in the world and these two fiery tacticians have breathed new life into these historic squads.

So, how do all these things add up to Liverpool potentially blowing this? First, Man City benefits from playing at home in the Ethiad. Secondly, just in the Premier League, Man City has won by 3+ goals eleven times, including a home defeat of Liverpool by 5-0 earlier in the season. And lastly, Liverpool’s defense is suspect at best. Since they’ve acquired Virgil Van Dijk and made Loris Karius their starting goalkeeper, they’ve been infinitely better, but there are still holes in their back line.

Ultimately, I believe that Liverpool will advance to the next round, but it’ll be close, and there will be plenty of goals. Life as a Reds’ supporter is going to be a stressful one today.

My prediction:

Man City 3 – 2 Liverpool

Liverpool advances 5 – 2 on aggregate

“Put $5 On It”: The Masters

Like every degenerate group of friends who enjoy sports, the QuarterMasters love to gamble. We all play Draft Kings. We would also love to have a bookie and make big bets, but we aren’t ballin’ like that yet, and the one of us that does make a little bit of money is saving for a wedding. (Congrats, Cannon) So how do we get past this? Small bets between ourselves, of course. We all think that we know more about sports and pretty much everything else in life than the other, so every week we have a series of $5 bets. Most of the time, it’s just between two of us, but every now and then, we get into a pool. It’s a magical affair. So why not blog about it?

For the inaugural “Put $5 On It” blog, we all chose two golfers for the masters. One favorite (<60/1 odds to win) and one underdog (>60/1 odds to win). Whosever two golfers have the highest average finish wins the pot. Simple enough, right? Let’s get to who chose who.

 

TyGuy:

Jordan Speith: Day 1 (-6)                Day 2 (+2)              Day 3 (-1)           Day 4 (-8)                 Overall (-13)

Ian Poulter: Day 1 (+2)                    Day 2 (+3)              Day 3 (+2)         Day 4 (-3)                  Overall (+4)

 

TreBabs:

Rickie Fowler: Day 1 (-2)                Day 2 (E)                Day 3 (-7)            Day 4 (-5)                  Overall (-14)

Bryson DeChambeau: Day 1 (+2) Day 2 (+2)              Day 3 (E)             Day 4 (-1)                  Overall (+3)

 

Rongy:

Hideki Matsuyama: Day 1 (+1)     Day 2 (-1)                Day 3 (E)             Day 4 (-3)                  Overall (-3)

Kevin Kisner: Day 1: (E)                 Day 2 (+3)              Day 3 (-3)            Day 4 (E)                   Overall (E)

 

The Cannon:

Justin Thomas: Day 1 (+2)            Day 2 (-5)                Day 3 (-2)           Day 4 (+1)                   Overall (-4)

Kevin Chappel: Day 1 (+5)             Day 2 (+4)              Day 3 (CUT)       Day 4 (CUT)               Overall (+9)

 

As you can clearly see, we aren’t quite as smart as we think, but let’s see how it plays out. I’ll update the leaderboard each day.

It came down to TreBabs vs. TyGuy, but my guy Rickie Fowler came through in the battle of the bros. Winner of the inaugural “Put $5 On It” – TreBabs

Expect more “Put $5 On It” blogs every week!

Dolphins Acquire Robert Quinn From Rams

It was reported earlier today that the Dolphins are trading a mid-round pick and swapping late round draft picks to acquire DE Robert Quinn from the Los Angeles Rams.

Just when I began to lose faith in my Dolphins, they reel me back in. After Tannehill got injured in the preseason last year, it was a pretty wild ride in Miami. We automatically signed Jay Cutler to be a $10 million joke. He was a funny joke, we had some good times, but he was still a joke…and an expensive one. Then, they traded Jay Ajayi for a fourth-round draft pick. I was LIVID.

See:

BREAKING: Jay Ajayi To The Eagles

So that happened and we missed the playoffs. Always next year, right? Hard maybe.

My hope started to come back around the time the Dolphins Franchise-Tagged Jarvis Landry a couple of weeks ago, because no matter what happens with that, at least they aren’t letting him walk. And then, this. We not only have Cameron Wake,  we not only have Ndamukong Suh, but not we also have ROBERT QUINN!

Obviously, Adam Gase’s philosophy (besides hiring all of his boys from previous teams) is that if the opposing quarterback dies every week, they can’t beat us. I LOVE IT.

Two important items to note:

https://mobile.twitter.com/QMS_TreBabs/status/969700978684518401

This D-Line trio might actually end Tom Brady’s career. You heard it here first!!

Secondly, getting Robert Quinn for what seems like a 4th-rounder essentially means that they turned Jay Ajayi into Robert Quinn. I can get behind that. I realize that we took on a pretty good sized contract in the process, but we are also not having to pay Landry now. (Hopefully we get good compensation.)

All we need now is to draft the next great QB and let ol’ TanneTHRILL mold them and we will be set.

P.S. I have NO idea which QB we should draft…pretty much anyone besides Darold.

P.S.S. While we are at it, let’s sign Johnny Football to the practice squad. Why? Because it’s #COMEBACKSZN

PHINS UP!

 

Podcasts Are Coming!

In the fast paced society that we live in today, it’s hard to sit down and truly appreciate an article. Sports fans today prefer TV Shows or Radio, but the hot new media outlet on the market is podcasting. With podcasts, you can listen to your favorite personalities while you finish homework or commute to work, or during any other phase of your life.

Here at QuarterMaster Sports, we believe in adapting to best fit our fans, so starting next week we will be offering three new podcasts.

The Parley

Every Monday will feature “The Parley,” which includes all four of the QMS crew talking about the hot sports topics of the week. This podcast is sure to have no shortage of arguments and disagreements as Rongy, TyGuy, TreBabs, and The Cannon sort out who knows best.

That’s Your Opinion

Every Thursday will feature Rongy & The Cannon’s podcast, “That’s Your Opinion.” This will be a fast paced sports podcast that is sure to include the two’s specialty of NCAA Basketball as March Madness draws nearer.

Going Overboard

Finally, every Friday will feature TreBabs & TyGuy’s podcast, “Going Overboard.” This podcast will feature sports topics as well, but will also have real life debates, fantasy talk, and more. “Going Overboard” will be the perfect segue into the weekend as you wind down from work or school.

To begin with, all of our podcasts will be featured on SoundCloud. As always, you can find all of our content on our website and official Twitter page.

More information will be rolling out over the next week, but we hope that you come join us in our podcasting adventures!

Tulo Tricks Photographer Into Thinking He’s A Pitcher

Baseball is officially BACK!

Pitchers and Catchers reported to Spring Training last week, which gave a slight quench of the baseball thirst that has been mounting since the season ended last year. The offseason beforehand was even more entertaining than years past (mostly aided by my Marlins’ firesale.) But now, the full rosters have reported to their Arizona and Florida homes of the next month and BASEBALL IS BACK.

Admittedly, Baseball is not the most entertaining sport to the naked eye. The game moves slowly at times and there isn’t the instant gratification that is present in the nation’s other sports, such as Basketball, Football, and Hockey. Personally, I believe that Baseball is the best game of all, followed closely by Soccer. But then again, I may just be a boring old soul. To others, however, who don’t understand the inner workings of the world’s most in-depth mental game, Baseball relies on two things to reach the common fan…superstitions and shenanigans, which brings us to the title.

Tulo, the Comedian.

Yesterday, while taking Toronto Blue Jays team pictures, Troy Tulowitzki tricked the team photographer into thinking that he was a pitcher. “Why is this so funny,” you might ask? Well, first of all, Tulo is a Shortstop and has been his whole career. I understand that it’s Spring Training, which means young new players, so the photographer wouldn’t know their position, but come on…this is Tulo. Also, apparently the photographer assumed that he was a pitcher. It wasn’t like Tulo initiated the prank, he just saw an opening and took it.

Tulo is 6’3″ and weighs about 205 lbs, which doesn’t scream pitcher. Most pitchers are a little taller and lankier. It’s not the rule, but Tulo’s body type doesn’t scream pitcher, either. He also wears #2, which unless I’m missing someone, isn’t worn by any pitcher in the MLB. There’s only one player off of the top of my head that breaks both of these pitching stereotypes, and it’s Tulo’s teammate, Marcus Stroman, who’s only 5’9″ and wears #6.

Regardless of what the photographer is thinking here, its hilarious stuff, and the perfect way to get back into the lightheartedness of Spring Training.

Speaking of lightheartedness, here’s the best MLB Gif of all time:

Welcome back, Baseball. And, as always, RIP Jose.

Ball Bro’s Make Professional Debut

Ball Bros Make Professional Debut

LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball made their professional debuts earlier today for Vytautas in the Big Baller Brand Challenge in Prienai, Lithuania. The BBB Challenge is a series of 5 “friendly” games against other Lithuanian teams that range in the competitive level. Today’s game was against Zalgiris-2, the best team in Lithuania’s developmental team. Most of the team’s players are under 18 years of age.

The first game of the BBB Challenge was a spectacle, to say the least. The BBB logo was everywhere, including the center of the court and on the referee’s uniforms. The game was streamed on Facebook Live and announced by Rytis Kazlauskas, (play by play) and Rytis Vysniauskas, (analyst). The tandem was absolutely hilarious.  Considering they were announcing the game in a second language, Rytis & Rytis were actually pretty impressive. However, at times Kazlauskas struggled with which Ball bro was on the court.

Some viewers may have thought that was annoying at times, but come on…it’s the Ball family. I thought it just added to the spectacle.

LiAngelo’s Performance

Gelo was announced in the starting-five for Vytautas and actually played a pretty decent game. He finished with a team-leading 19 points, with a handful of rebounds and a few steals to go with it. There were times when Gelo looked out of place on the offensive end of the floor. He missed some easy scoring opportunities. That being said, he looked completely in control on the defensive side. At times he had to play against physically superior players and held his own. The most impressive thing from Gelo’s performance is that it genuinely looked as if he was giving it all the duration of the game and got into a better flow, offensively, as the game progressed.

LaMelo’s Performance

Melo’s game is the epitome of his father’s personality but on a basketball court. It’s flashy, entertaining, but down-right ridiculous at times. He came off the bench and immediately bricked an NBA range three. There were times when he showed flashes of greatness and times where he showed that he was a 16-year old kid. Melo finished the game with 10 points and a handful of both assists and steals. He was at his best when he used his quickness, especially on fast-breaks, driving to the basket, or going for steals. There were a few instances on defense, however, where he sold out too hard for a steal. He finished the first half with 3 fouls and there were a few instances when the opposing guards blew by him. I still think that LaMelo could be the most talented out of the three Ball brothers, but he needs to mature both on and off the court for that to happen.

Overview & Looking Forward

This wasn’t NBA-level basketball, but it was really entertaining. There was a good amount of sloppy play at times, but there were also a few ballers on the court. The Ball brothers had a couple talented stretch-fours on their Vytautas squad and the coach’s son, Edvinas Seskus looked to be the clear leader. On the opposing Zalgiris-2 side, PG Rokas Jokubaitis was the game’s leading scorer with 31. He could legitimately be a future NBA prospect with the right exposure. He’ll surely get that playing against the Ball’s.

There are four more of these BBB Challenge games, which is where I assume the Ball brothers will get the majority of their playing time. If you didn’t get the chance to check today’s game out, I would certainly tune-in in the future. No matter the NBA future of the younger Ball brothers, the family certainly knows how to put on a show.

The Buffalo Bills Are In The Playoffs

The Buffalo Bills have made the 2018 NFL Playoffs, ending an 18-year drought, and it is GREAT for the NFL. Now, I say this as a die-hard Miami Dolphins fan, but really, it was time. The Bills started the day on Sunday as the most unlikely of the four teams vying for the two wild-card spots to make it, but alas they found a way.

Before anything else, of course, the Bills needed to beat my Fins. And, to be honest, I didn’t really see a highlight on RedZone of the Dolphins until the fight at the end. Ol’ David Fales did his best, but like his namesake…he failed.

Next, the Bills needed some help. They needed the Titans and Bengals to win. Blake Bortles was out there throwing the ball to the other team and it just seemed like the Jaguars didn’t really care that much. What was really exciting, was the Red Rocket, Andy Dalton marching the Bengals done the field to knock the Ravens out of playoff contention. I was super surprised because I don’t think anyone is used to Dalton being a clutch QB, but then I remembered it was the regular season. I honestly don’t know what was better, the game-winning drive or the Bills’ reaction.

Never mind. Of course, the reaction was better. Look at my boy, Zay…so excited.

So why is it good for the league, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you.

First of all, the Bills are “Panthers North,” as we like to call them at QMS. Just off the top of my head, the former Panthers on the Bills include Kelvin Benjamin, Joe Webb, Mike Tolbert, and Sean McDermott, who is their new Head Coach. Wouldn’t it be something if the Panthers and Bills somehow met in the Super Bowl? Rongy’s head might explode.

Secondly, BILLS MAFIA. My words couldn’t do them justice, so here are some highlights.

And finally, the most important reason that the Bills making the playoffs is good for the league…Zay “Darth Zayder” Jones. There’s no secret that I’m a big Zay Jones guy and he had an up and down year, to say the least, but he’s going to be a stud. Trust me. Hailing from ECU, better known as WIDE RECIEVER UNIVERSITY. The guy can flat out catch the football. Look for him to have a sneaky big playoff run because the playoffs gon’ be LIT.

The Bills meet the Jaguars in the first round and this game will really depend on two things. Is Shady McCoy able to play and which Blake Bortles will we see? Bortles is a total bro, but I’m picking Bills Mafia to find a way in a close game. If they win, then they go to Foxboro, and it’s hard to beat a team three times in one season, right?

I’d like to end this with a RIP to the Chargers’ season. The Cannon almost had an aneurysm knowing that a team that the Chargers beat by 30 is making the playoffs over them. Got to love tie-breakers. Also, congrats to the Browns, who now rightly own the longest playoff drought at 15 years and counting.

2018 World Cup Groups Drawn

2018 World Cup: Analysis & Predictions

The 2018 World Cup groups were drawn today and I AM HYPE. Like so many other US Soccer fans out there, I’m also pretty bummed that we aren’t going to be participating, but it’s still the World Cup. Don’t give me the “Well, we’re not in it, so I’m just not going to watch it.” You sound like a child and honestly you can get over yourself. Italy, who has been a soccer powerhouse forever, didn’t make it. Netherlands, who made some noise in the last World Cup and is downright scary to face, didn’t make it. So, like I said, get over yourself…we aren’t the only one left out. Yes, I’m going to miss going crazy at bars on match days wearing Red, White, & Blue too, but it’s going to be okay. This is a beautiful event. Root for your favorite league team’s players or pick a dark horse. Just watch the event, okay? Okay.

Now, let’s get down to it. I’m sure if you’re a true soccer fan, then you’ve been watching TV all day and listening to those bozo analyst’s picks and breakdowns, but they’re predictable. Here’s my knee-jerk picks and analysis.

 

Group A: Russia, Uruguay, Egypt, Saudi Arabia

First Reaction:

Is anyone going to say it or am I going to have to? COLLUSION. The average FIFA Ranking in this group is 45, and that’s with Russia’s own 65. In the US, we know a little something about Russia colluding in the things, but seriously? I don’t think that they’ll make it out of the group anyways, but they definitely have a shot. All it takes is one slip up by Uruguay or Egypt and they could squeak by into the Round of 16.

Projected Finishes:

1. Egypt – I think that the top two or even three in this group is a bit of a toss-up, but I’m going with Egypt to win the group for one simple reason; Mohamed Salah. If you haven’t had the chance to tune into a Liverpool game this season, check this cat out. He can play anywhere up front and chances are, he’s putting one in the back of the net EVERY SINGLE GAME.
2. Uruguay – They’ve been here before and I just don’t think they let an opportunity like this slip by. They are favorites to win this group, but I think they finish 2nd.
3. Russia – I want to pick them to advance so badly, but I just can’t do it. I’m absolutely certain that something crazy is going to happen in one of their matches though.
4. Saudi Arabia – They’re lucky to be here.

Bold Prediction:

Mohamed Salah is the leading goal scorer of all groups at the conclusion of group play.

 

Group B: Portugal, Spain, Iran, Morocco

First Reaction:

We have a neighbor battle! I love when things like this happen, because this tournament is more about countries going at it than individual players. That game is going to be crazy to watch.

Projected Finishes:

1. Portugal – Portugal was unfortunately drawn into the “Group of Death” last world cup and didn’t make it to the Round of 16. I think that Ronaldo realizes that this is his last chance to make a World Cup run and handles his business.
2. Spain – Don’t get me wrong, Spain is still a powerhouse, but they’re days of dominance are numbered. If I were them, I would give younger players a shot in this World Cup.
3. Iran – I don’t see Iran moving to the Round of 16, but I also don’t think they’ll go down without a fight.
4. Morocco – They’ll be lucky to scrape out a point in group play.

Bold Prediction:

Cristiano Ronaldo nets a late winner against Spain to secure the group.

 

Group C: France, Peru, Denmark, Australia

First Reaction:

If France doesn’t win this group then it’s going to be an all-time low for that country, and they have had some lows. Besides them obliterating everyone, I think this is going to be a very entertaining group to watch.

Projected Finishes:

1. France – Like I said, France should win this group…easily. They have some firepower up front with Pogba, Martial, Lacazette, and even more. I foresee them winning the group with a solid 9 points.
2. Peru – It’s going to be tight between Peru and Denmark, but I see Peru scrapping by on goal differential. Peru has been held out of this tournament for a long time so I think the country will rally behind the squad and push them through.
3. Denmark – They’ll score 4 points in the group and lose on goal differential.
4. Australia – The game against France is going to be a BLOODBATH.

Bold Prediction:

France finishes the group with 9 points and a +9 goal differential.

 

Group D: Argentina, Croatia, Iceland, Nigeria

First Reaction:

You have to root for a country that has the same population as Corpus Christi, TX, right? I’m all in…LET’S GO ICELAND.

Projected Finishes:

1. Argentina – This one is easy. They have the best player in the world as their captain. They’re winning this group.
2. Iceland – Can I get a Viking Clap? Listen, I know that this is a dark horse pick, but Iceland has heart. They’ll get by the stringiest hair in their Viking beard.
3. Croatia – I think they’re a better team than Iceland, but I’m all in on the Viking train. They barely miss out on the Round of 16.
4. Nigeria – A lot of times in group play, it counts just as much on how you play against the fourth place finishers. Nigeria is a fiery squad and I think they’ll take a point away from either Iceland or Croatia.

Bold Prediction:

Iceland makes it to the Round of 16.

 

Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia

First Reaction:

Switzerland is a very consistent team, but I think their FIFA Rank of 8 is a little too high. Look for them to get upset.

Projected Finishes:

1. Brazil – With Neymar Jr., Coutinho, and Firmino this Brazil team is as talented as any up front. They’ll be fun to watch going forward.
2. Costa Rica – This Costa Rican team is solid on defense, which will be very important when goal differential comes into play. It’s all about how they hold up against Brazil.
3. Switzerland – Switzerland will miss out on the Round of 16 because they’ll lose worse to Brazil than Costa Rica.
4. Serbia – I don’t see them getting any points in this group.

Bold Prediction:

2nd place comes down to goal differential with Costa Rica squeaking by.

 

Group F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea

First Reaction:

If I was Mexico, I would be PISSED right now. I don’t think that this qualifies as a “Group of Death,” because of South Korea’s presence, but it’s certainly top heavy.

Projected Finishes:

1. Germany – The defending champs get the job done and win the group.
2. Sweden – This all comes down to Zlatan Ibrahimovic playing. If he plays they’ll ride him to the Round of 16, and I think he’ll play. Why? Because “Lions don’t compare themselves to humans.”
3. Mexico – Mexico lets the unfavorable group get to their head and don’t make it through.
4. South Korea – Poor South Korea.

Bold Prediction:

Zlatan Ibrahimovic plays and is the leading goal scorer in Group F.

 

Group G: Belgium, England, Tunisia, Panama

First Reaction:

This is the draw that England needed. They missed out on the Round of 16 in the 2014 World Cup, but with this draw, they’ll make it easily this time around.

Projected Finishes:

1. Belgium – Belgium may be the best-rounded team in the whole tournament. They’ll get a tough match from England but ultimately win the group.
2. England – England will focus on getting through rather than trying to win the group. With their fans, they NEED to get through more than anything.
3. Tunisia – I admittedly don’t know much about this Tunisian squad, but I’m always excited to see African teams play.
4. Panama – They’re overmatched in this group, especially at the top.

Bold Prediction:

The top spot comes down to goal differential between Belgium and England.

 

Group H: Poland, Colombia, Senegal, Japan

First Reaction:

Sadio Mane and Senegal are going to ruin someone’s first place finish.

Projected Finishes:

1. Colombia – James Rodriguez and Colombia get right back on track and win the group
2. Poland – Plays solid against all three teams, but ultimately finishes second.
3. Senegal – Sadio Mane shows out against Poland and steals a point, but the African team won’t finish higher than third.
4. Japan – No points for Japan

Bold Prediction:

Sadio Mane edges James Rodriguez as top goal scorer of the group.

 

Round of 16

 

Quarter Finals

 

Semi Finals

 

Final

 

Winner

 

After many years of trying to get back to winning way, 2018 will be the one that brings it all together for this talented French squad. It’s a bold pick, I know. Usually the smart move is to go with the solid team, such as Germany, but I believe this is the year that the youngsters prevail. Any which way this tournament shakes out, I’m sure it’ll be packed with entertainment.

 

Is Zay Jones a Magician?

Zay Jones is that Dude

It’s no secret that I’m a huge Zay Jones guy. I met him a couple times when we went to ECU, he’s currently rostered on my fantasy team, and he even favorited a tweet of mine. I’m also 1000% sure that he has no earthly idea who I am, which I’m okay with. He seems like an A+ guy, and even though he’s had some trouble transitioning to the NFL, I’m still convinced he’s going to have a solid NFL career. All of this doesn’t matter, however, because I’m almost 100% sure that he is a real-life Jedi.

There are a few reasons that I believe this, but they all came to the culmination last week when he somehow floated back up from the ground.

See the video here:

The first time that I saw the video, it was in GIF form, and I honestly thought someone slyly made a GIF of him falling in rewind. Then, I saw the whole video and my mind was BLOWN. I’m not a physicist or anything, but this doesn’t seem humanly possible. I’m convinced that it’s magic. Whatever the case, I’m hoping that we see more of it. Could you imagine a TD celebration with this kind of trickery? EPIC.

P.S. After Zay’s first career NFL TD, he celebrated like this:

ABSOLUTELY convinced that he is a Jedi…or a Sith Lord.

LONG LIVE DARTH ZAYDER.

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