02 May

2024 NBA Play-In Tournament picks, April 16 bets by proven model

The Golden State Warriors and the Sacramento Kings link up in a 9-seed vs. 10-seed contest in the 2024 NBA Play-in Tournament on Tuesday. The winner of this game faces the loser of the Lakers/Pelicans game to fight for the No. 8 seed. These Pacific Division foes played four times this season and split the series 2-2. On Jan. 25, the Kings topped the Warriors 134-133.

Tipoff is scheduled for 10 p.m. ET at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, Calif. Golden State is the 3-point favorite in the latest Warriors vs. Kings odds via SportsLine consensus. The over/under for total points is 222.5. Before making any Kings vs. Warriors picks, you’ll want to see the NBA predictions and betting advice from the proven computer simulation model at SportsLine.

The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every NBA game 10,000 times and has returned well over $10,000 in profit for $100 players on its top-rated NBA picks over the past five-plus seasons. The model enters the 2024 NBA playoffs on a sizzling 88-58 roll on all top-rated NBA picks this season, returning more than $2,600. Anyone following it has seen huge returns.

Now, the model has set its sights on Warriors vs. Kings and just locked in its picks and NBA playoff predictions. You can head to SportsLine now to see the model’s picks. Here are several NBA odds and betting lines for Kings vs. Warriors:

Warriors vs. Kings spread: Golden State -3
Warriors vs. Kings over/under: 222.5 points
Warriors vs. Kings money line: Golden State -152, Sacramento +129
Warriors: The Golden State Warriors have won 17 of their last 21 away games
Kings: The Sacramento Kings have hit the game total Under in 16 of their last 20 games
Warriors vs. Kings picks: See picks at SportsLine
Why the Warriors can cover
Guard Stephen Curry is a dominant presence on the court. Curry has limitless range and forces defenses to plan around him. The 10-time All-Star is able to thread the needle as a passer as well. Curry ranked ninth in the NBA in scoring (26.4) with 4.5 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game this season. In his last outing, he dropped 33 points and five assists.

Forward Jonathan Kuminga provides the Warriors with a downhill scoring threat. Kuminga can finish around the rim with ease and is an active force on the glass. The 21-year-old logs 16.1 points, 4.8 rebound and 2.2 assists per contest. On April 11 against the Portland Trail Blazers, Kuminga totaled 19 points and six boards. See who to back at SportsLine.

Why the Kings can cover
Forward Keegan Murray is a good floor spacer who doesn’t need the ball in his hands to be effective. He fights on the glass and has a pure jumper on the perimeter. The Iowa product averages 15.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, and shoots 35% from downtown. He’s scored at least 19 points in three of his last five games, including on April 12 versus the Phoenix Suns when Murray had 23 points, seven rebounds, and made five 3-pointers.

Forward Harrison Barnes is another valuable player in the frontcourt. Barnes provides Sacramento with an active defender who has a fine offensive game. The UNC product is an efficient spot-up shooter, making 38% of his 3-point attempts. Barnes averages 12.2 points with three rebounds per game, and in his last contest against the Warriors, the 31-year-old had 39 points and went 7-of-12 from 3-point land. See who to back at SportsLine.

How to make Kings vs. Warriors picks
SportsLine’s model is leaning Over on the total, projecting 224 combined points. The model also says one side of the spread hits well over 50% of the time. You can only get the model’s picks at SportsLine.

So who wins Warriors vs. Kings, and which side of the spread hits well over 50% of the time? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the spread you need to jump on, all from the model that’s 88-58 on top-rated NBA picks this season, and find out.

02 May

Prediction, pick, time, TV channel, how to watch NBA Play-In Tournament, odds, live stream

Haven’t we done this one before? A year ago, the Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors faced off in what was, in hindsight, the single most fun series of the 2023 postseason. A rollicking seven-game bloodbath swung only by the grace of Stephen Curry, whose 50-point explosion on Sacramento’s home court sent the Warriors to the second round and the Kings home in disappointment.

Now, the Warriors and Kings are set for their second postseason bout in as many years, but neither side is quite the same team they were a year ago. The Kings, who remained in the top six for much of the season, slipped into the Play-In when they lost key guards Kevin Huerter and Malik Monk to injuries. The Warriors have been at the bottom of the postseason standings for quite some time now, and their roster looks very different than it did a year ago. Chris Paul has arrived. Klay Thompson is a reserve. Rookies Brandin Podziemski and Trayce Jackson-Davis have elevated to key roles.

So who will come out on top when the Kings and Warriors engage in their far briefer rematch? Here’s everything you need to know for Tuesday’s do-or-die bout.

Warriors at Kings
Date: Tuesday, April 16 | Time: 10 p.m. ET
Location: Golden 1 Center — Sacramento
TV channel: TNT | Live stream: TNT app
Odds: Warriors -2; O/U 226
Warriors: Obviously, the Warriors are hoping to extend their season with a win on Tuesday. Looming over the proceedings, though, is the very real chance that this game represents the end of an era for Golden State. Klay Thompson can be a free agent after the season. Orlando is reportedly interested. Warriors owner Joe Lacob has talked about hoping to duck below the luxury-tax line next season, a reasonable goal considering this year’s disappointment and the hundreds of millions of dollars the Warriors have spent on taxes over the past several seasons. The Kings would love nothing more than to officially end Golden State’s dynasty. Whether or not anyone admits it, that’s on the line Tuesday.

Kings: Sacramento just doesn’t have the same team it did a year ago. They managed to overcome Kevin Huerter’s injury thanks to the emergence of Keon Ellis and a remarkable stretch of defense from a team that had the greatest offense in NBA history a year ago. Malik Monk’s loss might be one injury too many. The Kings are 4-6 without him, but the eye-test is far worse. Everything runs through De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis right now, and Sabonis struggled mightily against Draymond Green last postseason. This is going to have to be a very different stylistic game than the ones the Kings won in the first round last season. Can Sacramento win a slower, grind-it-out contest against a four-time champion?

The Warriors are coming into this game healthier than they’ve been all season. They have their whole roster available to them and 82 games worth of intel to work with in figuring out how best to deploy it. The Kings are on the other end of the spectrum. On opening night, they may well have been the better team. Without Huerter and Monk, they are just too thin to beat playoff-mode Curry. For the second consecutive season, the Warriors will knock the Kings out. The Pick: Warriors -2

02 May

Lakers hold on after Zion’s injury; Does Warriors flame out mean end of an era for Golden State?

This is an article version of the CBS Sports HQ AM Newsletter, the ultimate guide to every day in sports. You can sign up to get it in your inbox every weekday morning here.

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🏀 Good morning to everyone but especially …

They’re baaaack. The Lakers slugged out a 110-106 win over the Pelicans to claim the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference. Los Angeles blew an 18-point lead but made its final 14 free throws — including six in the final 15 seconds — to hold on and earn a date with the defending champion Nuggets in the first round.

The Lakers have never lost a play-in game, and they have the usual suspects to thank for that. LeBron James narrowly missed out on a triple-double with 23 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, Anthony Davis had 20 points and 15 rebounds, and D’Angelo Russell added 21 points, including five 3-pointers. Crucially, Los Angeles only turned the ball over eight times and forced 13 turnovers.

On the other side, the game of a lifetime ended with the disappointment of a lifetime. After a game-tying floater with 3:19 left gave him 40 points in his first career postseason game, Zion Williamson grimaced and was subbed out seconds later with what the team later deemed “left leg soreness.” He’ll undergo further imaging today.

It’s unfortunate, but this is Williamson’s career in a nutshell. The signs of greatness are obvious. He’s a ridiculous athlete with absurd body control, touch around the rim, strength, size and explosiveness. He also can’t stay healthy, and his injuries come at the most inopportune times. His chance at a true legacy game ended with him in the locker room. Every score is breathtaking. Every wince makes you hold your breath. Brad Botkin has thoughts on Williamson’s magnificence and everything else from the game.

👍 Honorable mentions
Here are CBS Sports’ All-NBA, All-Defense and All-Rookie teams.
Rory McIlroy shut down rumors he’s joining LIV Golf.
Kawhi Leonard earned the final Team USA roster spot for the Paris Games.
Travis Kelce is hosting a TV show.
Brock Purdy saved a woman and her dog from a coyote.
College basketball news: Jeremy Roach entered the transfer portal, Indiana landed guard Myles Rice and coveted big man Oumar Ballo from the portal, new Michigan coach Dusty May also has big portal plans, Johnny Furphy declared for the NBA Draft while maintaining eligibility, and BYU hired Kevin Young.
Notable MLB callups: Jack Leiter will debut for the Rangers tomorrow, and the Dodgers promoted Andy Pages.
Connor McDavid reached the rare 100-assist plateau.
We have new WNBA Power Rankings following the draft. Also, the league hopes to expand to 14 teams by 2026.
Blake Griffin retired.

😬 And not such a good morning for …
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It was clear and obvious for all to see: the Kings ran up and down the court and blew the doors off a Warriors team that looked creaky and obsolete. The exact score — 118-94 — may just be a couple of numbers that will be lost in history, but they signify so much more.

If this is the end of the Stephen Curry-Draymond Green-Klay Thompson big three that offered glorious, historic highs, they went out on a brutal low.

Curry scored 22 points but had six turnovers and was the only reliable offensive facilitator, a problem Golden State had all season.
In all, Golden State turned the ball over 16 times, were outscored 12-6 on fast break points and gave up 15 offensive rebounds.
As a team, the Kings were a blistering 46.2% (18 of 39) from beyond the arc, while the Warriors were a subpar 31.3% (10 of 32), about seven points off their season average.
Thompson produced the biggest dud of all: an 0-for-10 shooting performance, the worst of his career. It could be his last game with the team, Sam Quinn writes.
So ends a season that saw Green receive a lengthy suspension featuring NBA-mandated counseling, Curry grow visibly frustrated with Green’s antics and Thompson produce arguably his worst full season since he was a rookie. Around those three, Andrew Wiggins fell off, Chris Paul missed the playoffs for the first time since 2010, and youngsters Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody showed promising signs, but weren’t enough to overcome myriad issues elsewhere.

The franchise’s foundation has at long last collapsed, Colin Ward-Henninger writes.

Ward-Henninger: “The Warriors seem to think that running it back with the same core can yield another championship, but the NBA’s Magic 8 Ball seems to be telling them ‘Outlook Not So Good.’ Even with minor tweaks this offseason, we may have already seen Curry, Thompson, Green and [coach Steve] Kerr raising the Larry O’Brien trophy together for the last time.”
Finally, let’s give enormous credit to the Kings. De’Aaron Fox is a legitimate superstar, Domantas Sabonis is as tough as they come, and Keegan Murray — whose selection was widely panned two years ago — knocked down eight 3s en route to a 32-point night. Keon Ellis and Davion Mitchell provided energy, some clutch shooting and terrific backcourt defense. Sacramento will travel to New Orleans for the No. 8 seed game Friday.

👎 Not so honorable mentions
Kawhi Leonard is uncertain for Game 1 against the Mavericks.
Christian Yelich (back) is on the IL. Same for Ozzie Albies (fractured toe).
Donte DiVincenzo being ineligible for Most Improved Player is ridiculous.
Michigan received NCAA penalties from its recruiting violations.
The Sabres fired Don Granato.
Yuniesky Betancourt was accused of staging an accident, insurance fraud, organized scheme to defraud and grand theft.

🏀 Eastern Conference Play-In Tournament preview
Getty Images
The Play-In Tournament swings to the Eastern Conference tonight, with the (7) 76ers battling the (8) Heat for the No. 7 seed (preview) followed by the (9) Bulls and (10) Hawks hoping to keep their season alive (preview).

You never want to doubt Eric Spoelstra, Jimmy Butler & Co. come the postseason, and Joel Embiid and the 76ers have given us plenty of reasons to doubt them in these scenarios. But Philadelphia has also won eight straight, including a victory over Miami less two weeks ago. Here’s Jasmyn Wimbish’s prediction:

Wimbish: “Bam Adebayo offers a solid option to defend Embiid, but even he won’t be able to stop the Philly big man from getting his points and, more importantly, getting to the free-throw line. Having Embiid back also opens things up for Tyrese Maxey, who can operate with more space and less defensive attention. … I don’t see how the Heat stop Embiid, and the Sixers’ supporting cast feels more reliable than the Heat’s. The Pick: Sixers -4.5”

⚽ UEFA Champions League: PSG, Borussia Dortmund flip script, previewing today
Getty Images
There’s no drama like UEFA Champions League drama. And Tuesday delivered it. Both PSG and Borussia Dortmund overcame first-leg deficits to make the semifinals.

Let’s start with Les Parisiens, which throttled Barcelona, 4-1, after losing the first leg, 3-2. A dream start — Raphinha’s 12th-minute goal — quickly turned into a nightmare for Barca: Ronald Araujo was red carded in the 29th minute, Ousmane Dembele, Vitinha and Kylian Mbappe (twice) all scored for the visitors, and even Barcelona coach Xavi got red carded for his sideline outburst. Chuck Booth weighed Barcelona’s future.

Borussia Dortmund, meanwhile, ran rampant over Atletico Madrid, 4-2, to win 5-4 on aggregate. Niclas Füllkrug and Marcel Sabitzer tallied in the 71st and 74th minute, respectively tilting things in the hosts’ favor for good and sending the home crowd into delirium. Dortmund learned its lesson from the first leg, Pardeep Cattry writes.

Today, Manchester City and Real Madrid meet, tied 3-3 on aggregate (preview), and Bayern Munich and Arsenal look to break a 2-2 deadlock (preview). Our expert picks are in, and for Manchester City-Real Madrid, James Benge says …

Benge: “Manchester City 2, Real Madrid 0 — Strange things tend to happen when these two run into each other, but, for the most part, City have proven themselves to be a superior side to Madrid, just one vulnerable to the inherent randomness of knockout football. Barring another serving of that, expect City’s quality to shine through.”
James also has key players for today, and Tom Fornelli has made his Corner Picks.

🏈 Colorado loses several players as football transfer portal opens
The football transfer portal is open again, and judging by first day, the next two weeks will be a whirlwind. Much of the movement, it appears, will involve Colorado.

The Buffaloes saw a bevy of players hit the portal, including the top cornerback in the 2023 recruiting class, Cormani McClain. He never made much of an impact, and Deion Sanders hinted at McClain’s lack of preparation back in September. McClain becomes the No. 3 uncommitted player in the 247Sports Transfer Portal rankings.

The Buffaloes lost many other players to the portal, including starting right tackle Savion Washington.

Here’s more from the portal:

USC offensive lineman Jason Zandamela entered and is the second-best player available, per 247Sports.
Penn State’s KeAndre Lambert-Smith entered, leaving Penn State thin at wide receiver.
Taylen Green is the frontrunner to be Arkansas’ quarterback after Jacolby Criswell entered.
More portaling means less learning, Dennis Dodd writes.
NCAA transfer portal via 247Sports: Latest portal additions | Team transfer rankings
📺 What we’re watching Wednesday
⚽ Manchester City vs. Real Madrid, 3 p.m. on CBS and Paramount+
⚽ Bayern Munich vs. Arsenal, 3 p.m. on Paramount+
🏀 Heat at 76ers, 7 p.m. on ESPN
🏒 Maple Leafs at Lightning, 7 p.m. on TNT
🏀 Hawks at Bulls, 9:30 p.m. on ESPN
🏒 Blues at Stars, 9:30 p.m. on TNT

21 Mar

Ranking top 25 players in portal as Clifford Omoruyi paces Rutgers exodus

Rutgers has signed the nation’s No. 4 recruiting class in the 2024 cycle, according to 247Sports. The unprecedented haul for the Scarlet Knights is highlighted by five-star prospects Ace Bailey and Dylan Harper, who will collectively give coach Steve Pikiell’s program more star power than it’s ever had.

But as Rutgers welcomes in the most-celebrated class in school history, it is also dealing with a significant exodus of key players. Highlighting the crop of Scarlet Knights indicating their intent to transfer is defensive superstar Clifford Omoruyi. The 6-foot-11 center led the Big Ten in blocks during the 2023-24 season and has four seasons of high-level experience under his belt.

Other Rutgers players indicating their intent to transfer include Derek Simpson, Mawot Mag and Antoine Woolfolk, each of whom started at least six games in the 2023-24 season. Rutgers’ final 15-17 record marked its first sub-.500 season since 2018-19, so perhaps a roster revamp was necessary. But the exodus means that Pikiell’s work isn’t done with the signing of a great freshman class. He will have to be active in the portal as well, working hard to replace a hefty crop of departed production.

The spring portal window opened on March 18 and will remain open until May 1. However, players who have entered the portal by then don’t face a firm deadline on when they must commit. Additionally, graduate transfers and players impacted by coaching changes that occur after May 1 will be able to transfer after the deadline.

As players enter the portal, we will rank the best of them here. The rankings will be updated regularly as players either enter the portal or announce their intentions to enter the portal.

Check out the latest transfer portal updates from 247Sports

  1. Clifford Omoruyi
    Old school: Rutgers

Entering the first round of the NCAA Tournament, Omoruyi’s 93 blocks ranked fourth nationally. The 6-foot-11 center is an elite rim protector with consecutive Big Ten All-Defense honors. Omoruyi also averaged double figures in each of the last three seasons and posted 29 double-doubles in his four years with the program. He can’t do much away from the rim offensively but is excellent defensively.

  1. Jevon Porter
    Old school: Pepperdine

Porter ranked as a top-100 prospect in the Class of 2022 and earned honorable mention All-WCC honors this season while averaging 16.2 points, 5.9 rebounds and one block per game. The 6-foot-11 younger brother of Denver Nuggets star Michael Porter Jr. is a career 32.5% 3-point shooter and could get high-major interest because of his size, pedigree and flashes of perimeter shooting.

  1. Darlinstone Dubar
    Old school: Hofstra

Dubar is a 6-foot-6 wing who averaged 17.8 points and 6.8 rebounds on 39.9% 3-point shooting for a 20-win Hofstra team. He began his career at Iowa State, starting seven games for the Cyclones in 2020-21. As a fifth-year player with a proven shot and size, he’ll have opportunities to return to a major conference. Alabama guard Aaron Estrada is an example of a quality high-major player to come through Hofstra.

  1. Maxime Raynaud
    Old school: Stanford

Raynaud was named the Pac-12’s most improved player after nearly doubling his scoring average to 15.5 points per game as a junior. The seven-footer collected 9.6 rebounds per game and hit 36.1% of his 3-pointers on 61 attempts. The drawback is how limited he is defensively for a player of his size (0.8 blocks per game in 29.1 minutes).

  1. Tyrin Lawrence
    Old school: Vanderbilt

Lawrence is a 6-foot-4 guard with 105 career appearances for an SEC program under his belt. Though just a career 28.7% 3-point shooter, he’s a good defender and averaged better than 13 points per game the past two seasons. He is the type of seasoned veteran with a track record of production who could provide reliable minutes for a good high-major program.

  1. Brandon Garrison
    Old school: Oklahoma State

Garrison showed glimpses of why he was a top-50 prospect and McDonald’s All-American in the Class of 2023 during his freshman season at Oklahoma State. There are offensive strides to be made, but Garrison blocked 1.5 shots per game in just 22.7 minutes and has three seasons of eligibility remaining to continue realizing his potential.

  1. Gibson Jimerson
    Old school: Saint Louis

Shooters like Jimerson don’t come around often. The 6-foot-5 wing hit 39.5% of his 789 long-range attempts over five seasons for Saint Louis. He’s got one season left to play and should be highly sought after demonstrating one of college basketball’s most consistent outside strokes in an unparalleled sample size.

  1. Jacob Crews
    Old school: UT Martin | New school: Missouri

Crews shot 41.4% from 3-point range on 6.7 attempts per game as a junior for a UT Martin team that won a share of the OVC regular-season title. He also yanked down 8.2 rebounds per game for the Skyhawks. There are questions about his defense, but at 6-7 and with a good shooting stroke, he will garner significant interest.

  1. Dug McDaniel
    Old school: Michigan

McDaniel averaged 16.3 points and 4.7 assists while shooting 36.8% from 3-point range on 5.8 attempts for a bad Michigan team. The 5-11 guard also rated as the Wolverines’ top defender, per evanmiya.com. Although his offensive numbers dipped against Big Ten foes, the former four-star prospect will help a team needing to upgrade its guard play.

  1. Kanaan Carlyle
    Old school: Stanford

Carlyle averaged 11.5 points and 2.7 assists per game in his freshman season at Stanford after ranking as a four-star prospect in the Class of 2023. His best games came against Arizona and Washington State, which were both NCAA Tournament teams. With three seasons of eligibility remaining and a proven body of work at the high-major level, there is some upside here.

  1. Koren Johnson
    Old school: Washington

Johnson earned Pac-12 Sixth Man of the Year honors while averaging 11.1 points, 2.7 assists and 1.2 steals for Washington. The 6-foot-2 guard is a career 35.1% 3-point shooter over his two seasons and also rates as a good defender for his size.

  1. Malik Dia
    Old school: Belmont

Dia shined as a dynamic frontcourt player in his sophomore season at Belmont after playing sparingly during his freshman season at Vanderbilt. He averaged 16.9 points and 5.8 boards for the Bruins while shooting 34.1% from 3-point range. He’s 6-9 and has surprising athleticism for a player with such a big frame. His game needs refining, but Dia’s upside is clear.

  1. Ja’Kobi Gillespie
    Old school: Belmont

Belmont was at its best with Gillespie on the floor; he averaged 17.2 points, 4.2 assists and 2.2 steals for the Bruins. The 6-foot guard is on the smaller side but shot a ridiculous 66% inside the arc and a solid 38.7% beyond it. With two seasons of eligibility remaining, he’s worth a shot for a high-major team in need of an on-ball guard.

  1. Houston Mallette
    Old school: Pepperdine

Mallette is a career 37.5% 3-point shooter on 512 attempts over three seasons at Pepperdine. The 6-foot-5 guard upped his mark to a career-best 41.5% in 2023-24 and had big games against quality foes like Indiana State and UNLV. His combination of size and proven track record of perimeter shooting will be attractive.

  1. Bensley Joseph
    Old school: Miami

Joseph played a key role on Miami’s Final Four team in 2023 and upped his contributions to 9.6 points and 3.4 assists per game as a starter in 2023-24. The 6-foot-1 guard is a career 37.9% 3-point shooter and has one season left to play.

  1. Amari Williams
    Old school: Drexel

Williams earned CAA Defensive Player of the Year for a third straight season while averaging 1.8 blocks per game. The 6-foot-10 rim protector rated among the top-100 defenders in all of college basketball following the conclusion of conference tournament play, per evanmiya.com. He also scored 12.2 points and grabbed 7.8 rebounds for a 20-win Dragons team.

  1. Michael Ajayi
    Old school: Pepperdine

Ajayi is 6-foot-7 and hit 47% of his 3-pointers on 2.5 attempts per game while averaging 17.2 points in his lone season at Pepperdine. While Ajayi was a rebounding force for the Waves with 9.9 per game, his defense is a question mark. But there is enough here to pique the interest of high-major programs.

  1. Frankie Fidler
    Old school: Omaha

Fidler finished second in the Summit League in scoring at 20.1 points per game. The 6-foot-7 forward hit 35.6% of his 3-point attempts in 2023-24 and was effective against Big 12 foes TCU and Texas Tech. Max Abmas (Oral Roberts to Texas) and Grant Nelson (North Dakota State to Alabama) are recent examples of players from this league transferring up and playing big roles for good teams.

  1. Andrej Stojakovic
    Old school: Stanford

Stojakovic averaged 7.8 points and 3.4 rebounds in 22.3 minutes per game as a freshman at Stanford after ranking as a top-25 prospect in the Class of 2023, per 247Sports. He hit just 32.7% of his 3-pointers and was not an impact defender. But with three seasons left to play, he’ll have time to realize the potential that made him a McDonald’s All-American.

  1. Clark Slajchert
    Old school: Penn

Slajchert shot 42.2% from 3-point range on 6.1 attempts per game in 2023-24 while averaging 18 points per game. At 6-foot-1, adapting to the defensive demands of the high-major level could be a challenge. But his offensive game will be attractive to high-major programs in need of perimeter firepower.

  1. Sincere Parker
    Old school: Saint Louis

Parker is the definition of instant offense. The 6-3 guard averaged 15.9 points per game in just 20.7 minutes per contest off the bench for Saint Louis while shooting 42.6% from 3-point range. He went for 30 or more three games in a row during one February stretch of A-10 play. That should make him interesting to high-major programs.

  1. Jordan Sears
    Old school: UT Martin

Looking for a bucket? Sears has you covered. The 5-foot-11 guard ranked ninth nationally in points per game at 21.6 after making 43.2% of his 3-pointers on 5.5 attempts per game for UT Martin. He also dished out 4.5 assists and rated as the Skyhawks’ top defender, per evanmiya.com. How it might translate to a tougher conference is difficult to decipher, but he’s worth a look for teams needing some scoring punch.

  1. Mikeal Brown-Jones
    Old school: UNC Greensboro

After two years of major minutes at UNC Greensboro, Brown-Jones has proven himself worthy of a high-major opportunity. He’s 6-foot-8 and hit 43.1% of his 3-pointers in 2023-24 for a 21-win team. In a past life, Brown-Jones was on the outskirts of the rotation for a VCU team that reached the second round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament.

  1. Jacob Meyer
    Old school: Coastal Carolina

Meyer was a bright spot for an otherwise bad Coastal Carolina team as a freshman, averaging 15.7 points on 40.2% 3-point shooting. The 6-foot-2 guard was an unheralded high school prospect but could get some high-major looks after a solid season in the Sun Belt.

  1. Dominick Harris
    Old school: Loyola Marymount

After beginning his career as a reserve at Gonzaga behind a logjam of good guards, Harris finally spread his wings at Loyola Marymount, averaging 14.3 points on 44.8% 3-point shooting in 2023-24. The 6-foot-3 guard is worth a shot from a high-major school.

21 Mar

2024 NCAA Tournament picks, March Madness bets by proven model

The Kentucky Wildcats will look to get back on the winning track when they square off against the Oakland Golden Grizzlies in a first-round game of the 2024 NCAA Tournament on Thursday at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh. The Wildcats (23-9), who are seeded No. 3 in the South Region, are coming off a 97-87 loss to Texas A&M in the SEC Tournament. Prior to that, Kentucky had won five straight games. Meanwhile, the Golden Grizzlies (23-11) enter the 2024 NCAA Tournament having won both the Horizon League regular season and tournament titles. They have never reached the Round of 32 in three previous NCAA Tournament appearances.

Tipoff is set for 7:10 p.m. ET. The Wildcats are favored by 13.5 points in the latest Kentucky vs. Oakland odds via SportsLine consensus, while the over/under for total points scored is 162. Before making any Oakland vs. Kentucky picks, you need to check out the college basketball analysis from the SportsLine Projection Model.

The model simulates every Div. I college basketball game 10,000 times. It enters the 2024 NCAA tournament on a 148-106 roll on all top-rated college basketball picks dating back to last season, returning more than $1,700 for $100 players. It also has a strong 29-19 (+810) record on top-rated spread picks this season. Anyone following it has seen huge returns.

Now, the model has set its sights on Kentucky vs. Oakland. You can visit SportsLine now to see the picks. Here are several college basketball betting lines and trends for Oakland vs. Kentucky:

Kentucky vs. Oakland spread: Wildcats -13.5
Kentucky vs. Oakland over/under: 162 points
Kentucky vs. Oakland money line: Wildcats -986, Golden Grizzlies +646
UK: The Wildcats lead the country in 3-point percentage (41.2)
OAK: The Golden Grizzlies commit 15.1 fouls per game (fewest in the Horizon League)
Kentucky vs. Oakland picks: See picks at SportsLine
Why Kentucky can cover
Kentucky has one of the best players in the country in Antonio Reeves. The 6-foot-6, 195-pound senior guard ranks third in the SEC in scoring (20.0 points) while shooting 50.8% from the field (fifth best in the conference). For his efforts this season, he was named a third-team All-America by The Sporting News.

Reeves & Co. form the best shooting team in the nation. The Wildcats shoot 41.2% behind the 3-point arc, which is the best percentage in the country. That bodes well against an Oakland defense that allows opponents to shoot 33.9% on 3-pointers, which is 195th in Div. I. See whom to back at SportsLine.

Why Oakland can cover
Oakland will face a Kentucky team that has struggled on defense this season. The Wildcats give up 79.7 points per game, which ranks 12th in the SEC and 334th in the country. They also give up 102.7 points per 100 possessions according to Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric, which is 108th in the nation.

In addition, the Golden Grizzlies have a go-to scorer in Trey Townsend. The 6-foot-6, 228-pound junior forward and Horizon League Player of the Year averages 16.9 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. In the conference tournament title game, he scored a career-high 38 points on 12-of-22 shooting and was named the tournament MVP. See whom to back at SportsLine.

How to make Kentucky vs. Oakland picks
SportsLine’s model is leaning Under on the total, projecting the teams to combine for 161 points. The model also says one side of the spread hits more than 70% of the time. You can see the picks only at SportsLine.

21 Mar

Lakers’ LeBron James gifts Duquesne team with new sneakers ahead of matchup with BYU

The Duquesne men’s basketball team is set to begin its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 47 seasons. In coordination with the special occasion, the Dukes received some spectacular gifts from Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James.

During a team meeting on Wednesday, Duquesne received new sneakers from James himself ahead of the team’s matchup against BYU.

Appreciate it King 🙏@DuqMBB x @KingJames pic.twitter.com/yTiQFMBno0

— Duquesne Basketball (@DuqMBB) March 20, 2024
The team was clearly over the moon when the gifts arrived and were truly appreciative of the gesture from James.

James has been a big supporter of the Dukes’ program in recent years, and even congratulated them following Sunday’s victory in the Atlantic 10 tournament. That’s because Duquesne head coach Keith Dambrot was James’ coach when he played at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron before being drafted.

This will be Dambrot’s final collegiate season as he plans to retire following this year’s NCAA Tournament run.

Duquesne has had a very impressive season as they put together a 24-11 (10-8 Atlantic 10) record this season. The Dukes won the Atlantic 10 conference tournament this past weekend to earn an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.

The No. 11 seed Dukes will face off with the No. 6 seed Cougars on Thursday with the game set to tip off at 12:40 p.m. ET.

21 Mar

NCAA bracket expert picks against the spread, odds in Thursday’s Round 1 games

March Madness has its a big day Thursday as the 2024 NCAA Tournament kicks into high gear with first-round action taking place across the nation beginning at 12:15 p.m. ET. Over a 48-hour span, the field will shrink from 64 teams to 32 with a sun-up to sun-down schedule that will not just consume the sport but the world in general.

No doubt your brackets have been filled out by now — or you’re probably putting the final touches on them — but there are other picks that can be made for the first-round games. Getting some extra skin in the game can certainly put you in the tournament spirit.

As such, our CBS Sports experts are here to help by providing insight into Thursday’s first-round games with picks straight up and against the spread. Our expert brackets may offer some help, too, especially if you’re considering seed-line upsets.

Don’t get caught on the bubble! Get your brackets in now to compete for the chance to win a new Nissan Rogue and Final Four® trips!

The NCAA Tournament is all about surviving and advancing, but for those plunking down on their coach or pulling up to their desk to consume as much March Madness content as possible — especially over the next four days — which teams cover their spreads will be quite important as well. The CBS Sports college basketball experts have been covering the sport for years and certainly all season since November, and they are not shy with their picks for these games.

Be sure to stick with CBS Sports for the rest of the month as NCAA Tournament coverage continues through the end of the Final Four. Let’s take a look at our expert picks as first round games get underway Thursday.

Odds via SportsLine concensus | All times Eastern

2024 NCAA Tournament picks
(3) Creighton vs. (14) Akron
Thursday, 1:30 p.m. | TNT, March Madness Live: The balance of Creighton is too tempting to fade even with a big line here. It is one of only eight teams in this year’s field entering the tournament with a top 25 offense and defense in adjusted efficiency ratings. The matchup — against an Akron team that would not be in the field if not for a Kent State slip-up in the conference title game — sets up nicely. Ryan Kalkbrenner, Baylor Schierman and the length and size of this Bluejays roster should be enough to mow down the Zips in convincing fashion. Pick: Creighton -13 — Kyle Boone

(6) South Carolina vs. (11) Oregon
Thursday, 4 p.m. | TNT, March Madness Live: Dana Altman does not often have a talent advantage, but his Ducks have routinely become a difficult out in tournament play. Oregon can ride the momentum of a Pac-12 Tournament title all the way to a win in the first round. Meechie Johnson leads a South Carolina team that has better wins on the whole than what Oregon can boast, but I don’t see the Gamecocks having an answer inside for N’Faly Dante. South Carolina will likely have to shoot over Oregon’s defense to win because of the Ducks’ size, and as a 33.5% three-point shooting team, I’m not ready to rely on that for a first-round prediction. Pick: Oregon +1.5 — Chip Patterson

(7) Texas vs. (10) Colorado State
Thursday, 6:50 p.m. | TNT, March Madness Live: A team that played in the First Four makes a run virtually every season. Colorado State could be the school to do it this year after obliterating Virginia on Tuesday to reach the Round of 64. The Rams have an elite, veteran guard in Isaiah Stevens and are entering with ample confidence to play a middling Texas team. The Longhorns are entering off an eight-day layoff and haven’t won a game against an NCAA Tournament team since Feb. 27. Pick: Colorado State +2.5 — David Cobb

Get every pick, every play, every upset and fill out your bracket with our help! Visit SportsLine now to see which teams will make and break your bracket, and see who will cut down the nets, all from the model that nailed a whopping 20 first-round upsets by double-digit seeds.

(5) Gonzaga vs. (12) McNeese
Thursday, 7:25 p.m. | TBS, March Madness Live: McNeese is one of only four teams in this year’s field to win 30 or more games. The Cowboys dominated the Southland and have won 25 of their last 26 games entering the NCAA Tournament. They draw a good matchup against a Gonzaga team that isn’t quite on par with recent Mark Few-coached quads. McNeese has the athleticism and offensive firepower to at least keep this within the number. Pick: McNeese +6.5 — Kyle Boone

(4) Kansas vs. (13) Samford
Thursday, 9:55 p.m. | TBS, March Madness Live: With Kansas star wing Kevin McCullar Jr. out due to injury, a tough matchup for Kansas is going to be even tougher. The Jayhawks are sorely lacking depth and will be playing at altitude against a Samford team that ranks No. 3 nationally in bench usage. The Bulldogs get 44.8% of their minutes from players outside the starting five and press on virtually every possession. Samford may be able to wear the Jayhawks down in the second half. Pick: Samford +7 — David Cobb

(8) Mississippi State vs. (9) Michigan State
Thursday, 12:15 p.m. | CBS, March Madness Live: Chris Jans has done an excellent job getting Mississippi State into consecutive NCAA Tournaments, but there’s a notable coaching edge with Tom Izzo given the kind of game we’re expecting in the early tip of the afternoon session in Charlotte. Both teams are rock solid defensively, and it’s going to produce a bit of a rock fight — one where the Spartans are going to have more options in terms of offensive playmakers for those tense tournament possessions in the final minutes. Michigan State has that with Tyson Walker and AJ Hoggard, so as long as they can keep Tolu Smith off the glass, Michigan State advances to the weekend. Pick: Michigan State -1 — Chip Patterson

21 Mar

2024 NCAA Tournament picks, March Madness bets by top model

The No. 12 seed McNeese Cowboys play against the No. 5 seed Gonzaga Bulldogs in a Midwest Region battle in the first round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament on Thursday. The Cowboys have been rolling lately, logging 11 straight wins. On March 13, the Cowboys defeated Nicholls 92-76. Meanwhile, Gonzaga lost 69-60 to Saint Mary’s in the WCC Championship Game in its last outing.

Tipoff from the Delta Center in Salt Lake City is set for 7:25 p.m. ET. The Bulldogs are 6.5-point favorites in the latest McNeese State vs. Gonzaga odds from SportsLine consensus, while the over/under for total points scored is 149.5. Before making any Gonzaga vs. McNeese State picks, be sure to see the college basketball predictions and betting advice from SportsLine’s proven model.

The model simulates every Division I college basketball game 10,000 times. It enters the 2024 NCAA tournament on a 148-106 roll on all top-rated college basketball picks dating back to last season, returning more than $1,700 for $100 players. It also has a strong 29-19 (+810) record on top-rated spread picks this season. Anyone following has seen huge returns.

Now, the model has set its sights on McNeese State vs. Gonzaga. You can head to SportsLine now to see the picks. Here are several college basketball odds and trends for Gonzaga vs. McNeese State:

Gonzaga vs. McNeese State spread: Bulldogs -6.5
Gonzaga vs. McNeese State over/under: 149.5 points
Gonzaga vs. McNeese State money line: Bulldogs -293, Cowboys +233
MCNS: 16-13 ATS this season
GONZ: 15-16 ATS this season
Gonzaga vs. McNeese State picks: See picks at SportsLine
Why Gonzaga can cover
Junior forward Graham Ike is a powerful scoring threat in the frontcourt who is also a reliable rebounder. He leads the team in scoring (16.5) and rebounds (7.2). The Colorado native has scored 20-plus points in seven of his last nine games. On March 2, he finished with 24 points and 10 boards.

Junior forward Nolan Hickman is a steady playmaker. Hickman does a great job controlling the pace while scoring off the dribble consistently. The Washington native averages 13.9 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. On March 11 versus San Francisco, Hickman totaled 20 points, four rebounds and six assists. See which team to pick at SportsLine.

Why McNeese State can cover
Senior guard Shahada Wells is one of the most productive performers on this squad. Wells has tremendous speed with the ball to get into the lane but can knock down perimeter jumpers. The Texas native logs 17.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game. In his previous outing, Wells notched 27 points, four rebounds and six assists.

Junior forward Christian Shumate is a powerful two-way force in the paint. Shumate uses his strength to create space from opposing players and owns a soft touch around the rim. The Illinois native averages 11.9 points and 9.5 rebounds and makes 55% of his shot attempts. In the March 13 win over Nicholls, Shumate amassed 11 points, six rebounds and four blocks. See which team to pick at SportsLine.

How to make McNeese State vs. Gonzaga picks
The model is leaning Over on the total, projecting 156 combined points. It also says one side of the spread hits nearly 70% of the time. You can only see the pick at SportsLine.

21 Mar

2024 NCAA Tournament picks, bets by proven model

The Big 12 Tournament champion Iowa State Cyclones hope to ride their momentum into the 2024 NCAA Tournament on Thursday as they take on the South Dakota State Jackrabbits. The No. 2-seeded Cyclones (27-7) enter March Madness playing perhaps as well as any team in the country. They bludgeoned the competition in the Big 12 Tournament with three wins by at least 14 points each, clobbering top-seeded Houston 69-41 in the championship game. The No. 15-seeded Jackrabbits (22-12) return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2022 on the strength of winning the Summit Conference Tournament. They enter the Big Dance on an eight-game winning streak.

Tipoff is set for 7:35 p.m. ET from CHI Health Center in Omaha, Neb. The Cyclones are 16-point favorites and the over/under for total points scored is 135.5 in the latest South Dakota State vs. Iowa State odds via SportsLine consensus. Before making any Iowa State vs. South Dakota State picks, you need to check out the college basketball analysis from the SportsLine Projection Model.

The model simulates every Div. I college basketball game 10,000 times. It enters the 2024 NCAA tournament on a 148-106 roll on all top-rated college basketball picks dating back to last season, returning more than $1,700 for $100 players. It also has a strong 29-19 (+810) record on top-rated spread picks this season. Anyone following it has seen huge returns.

Now, the model has set its sights on Iowa State vs. South Dakota State. You can visit SportsLine now to see the picks. Here are several college basketball betting lines and trends for South Dakota State vs. Iowa State:

Iowa State vs. South Dakota State spread: Iowa State -16
Iowa State vs. South Dakota State over/under: 135.5
Iowa State vs. South Dakota State money line: Iowa State -1808, SDSU +950
SDSU: The Jackrabbits are 5-4 against the spread in neutral site games this season.
ISU: The Cyclones are 9-4 ATS in non-conference games this season.
Iowa State vs. South Dakota State picks: See picks at SportsLine
Why Iowa State can cover
The Cyclones became a popular selection in the college basketball futures betting market following their dominant run through the Big 12 Tournament with a form that had many observers believing they should usurp conference rival Houston for a No. 1 seed. That didn’t happen, but it’s worth noting that Iowa State’s current run is reminiscent of last year’s champion, Connecticut, which used a dominant run through the conference tournament to spark its run to the national title. The Cyclones rank in the top 10 for almost all advanced efficiency analytics and their 14.3-point average margin of victory ranks No. 9 nationally.

Iowa State has offensive balance, with four starters averaging between 10.5 and 13.8 points per game, and their sterling half-court defense is limiting opponents to 61.3 points per game. In the Big 12 title game, they held Houston to 26.8% shooting while forcing 12 turnovers. Freshman Milan Momcilovic had a team-high 18 points and six rebounds. See whom to back at SportsLine.

Why South Dakota State can cover
The Jackrabbits struggled against a somewhat difficult non-conference schedule, though they did notch wins against the likes of Southern Miss and Wichita State before turning their attention to Summit opponents. They have a deep rotation that features a mixture of experienced veterans and talented underclassmen. South Dakota State, which shoots 36.2% from 3-point range, excelled down the stretch to finish in first place at 12-4 and went on a dominant run in the conference tournament with three decisive victories.

The closest contest in the conference tournament was a 76-68 win over Denver in the final, but the Jackrabbits held a 37-23 halftime lead and were never seriously threatened. Leading scorer Zeke Mayo had 16 points with six rebounds and three assists. See whom to back at SportsLine.

How to make South Dakota State vs. Iowa State picks
SportsLine’s model is leaning Over on the total, projecting the teams to combine for 144 points. The model also says one side of the spread hits well over 50% of the time. You can see the picks only at SportsLine.

21 Mar

League balances mixed emotions after sudden halt to 2020 season

It was Thursday, March 12, around 5:30 p.m. ET, when XFL players started calling their agents to pass along the news.

Their league had been canceled.

About two hours later, when the startup professional football venture made the official announcement, the terms were less harsh: “Currently, the XFL will not be playing its regular season games” — with a promise to play “a full season in 2021” and beyond.

That may very well be true. There is general optimism among the XFL and its players that things will, eventually, return to normal. Pretty much the entire professional sports landscape has been forced to adopt the same hope, all while shuttering — literally — almost every major league in the wake of the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

March Madness? Gone, at least until next year. NBA games? Postponed indefinitely. MLB Opening Day? Pushed back until mid-April, at the earliest. NHL games? Suspended indefinitely. The Masters? Pushed out of April for the first time since World War II. The 2020 Summer Olympics might be next.

The difference is the XFL was just getting started. Five weeks earlier, most people couldn’t have named half, let alone all eight of the league’s inaugural teams. On the flip side, in just those five weeks, the XFL had also grown to resemble the kind of genuine career stepping stool that so many of its players, coaches and staff failed to find elsewhere.

Put simply, when the XFL closed doors on March 12, it may not have closed only its own.

Any discussion of COVID-19’s impact on the world at large has to start there: with the world at large. Regardless of personal opinion about advice for the general public (embrace “social distancing”) or large-scale industries (from airlines to colleges to concerts to movies) suddenly valuing caution over convenience, the fact is the virus has spread rapidly, with more than 150,000 global cases and 5,700 deaths as of mid-Saturday.

In other words, no matter how unfortunate the XFL’s shutdown may have been for fans, players and everyone in between, most understand that it was inevitable.

Some of the league’s biggest names — quarterbacks P.J. Walker and Jordan Ta’amu among them — took to social media after the official announcement to share their gratitude for the abbreviated 2020 season and cast optimism on the future. Plenty of lesser-known teammates did the same. As a whole, one source told CBS Sports players think the XFL has been “extremely professional about communicating” during the abrupt process, especially about paying out salaries for games no longer on the schedule.

But that doesn’t make what’s transpired any less unfortunate.

Los Angeles Wildcats pass rusher Devin Taylor told CBS Sports that he understands the decision “from a world and health side,” knowing “the risks that we are currently facing” and the fact “we don’t know the true severity of it.” But he also acknowledged “it’s somewhat, from an athlete standpoint, frustrating because you want to play.”

In truth, for many like Taylor, “playing” in the XFL isn’t just that. The league successfully adopted a “For the Love of Football” slogan during its 2020 season, suggesting it would thrive as an alternative to the NFL, complete with genuinely competitive rosters, because its players — many of them NFL castoffs or hopefuls — simply loved playing the game. And don’t get it twisted: Many of them do.

As Taylor explained, however, playing in the XFL was also about building — or re-building — bigger dreams.

“I would love to play another year in the NFL,” he told CBS Sports a few weeks earlier, when COVID-19 was but a blip on countless Americans’ radar. “It’s what I want, as well as what all the players on my team want. The XFL is a good starting block, but I’m not settling till I’m back on the big stage.”

Taylor, of course, already had a taste of the NFL before. He’s not lacking a resume. He started opposite Jadeveon Clowney at South Carolina. He spent four years with the Detroit Lions after coming into the league as a fourth-round draft pick, logging seven sacks in 2015. He had a cup of coffee with the New York Giants.

But take P.J. Walker as another example. The Temple product, an undersized quarterback who went undrafted and then spent three years on and off a team’s practice squad, just turned 25. He’s never taken a single NFL snap. Within weeks of becoming the XFL’s apparent MVP favorite as a human highlight reel with the undefeated Houston Roughnecks, he too was touting his XFL pedigree as a hopeful ticket to the big leagues, telling ESPN his goal was to return, permanently, to the NFL.

And the XFL, unlike so many startup leagues before it, was actually working. It was, at least to those on the inside, structured solidly enough to survive.

Vince Amey, Taylor’s defensive line coach with the Wildcats, has experience at pretty much every level and league of football. He played in the NFL in 1998, the NFL Europe in 1999, the Arena Football League from 2001-07, even the original and first iteration of the XFL back in 2001. He’s since coached in college, at Arizona, and in the now-defunct Alliance of American Football.

In the XFL, Amey explained weeks before the suspension of the season, “everybody’s doing double duty, sometimes triple duty” because of the startup nature of the operation. (“In the NFL,” he added, “they have the financial backing to get more things done quicker.”) And yet everything about this league’s structure, from the creative broadcast decisions (live mics on countless coaches, players and officials) to the actual broadcast partners (“being on ESPN and Fox and national TV week in and week out”) contributed to a pervading belief that this XFL was more than capable of bringing the dreams of Devin Taylors and P.J. Walkers to life.

“I’ve had a few good buddies in college football, pro football, and they’ve had nothing but good things to say,” Amey said. “People are surprised. It’s a different feel, a different vibe here. There’e excitement in the air. The whole setup and the format has been well done. Are there little kinks to work out? Of course. But after every game, my phone’s blowing up.”

Now? All of those dreams — all of that excitement — has been put on hold.

Are we to pity pro athletes, coaches and league executives over those affected by the virus that’s basically put all of sports on pause? Are we to pity them over those who no doubt will be affected by COVID-19 in the coming weeks and months? No. A good portion of these XFL players have already gotten a taste of the pro spotlight. A handful of them have already made decent money doing so.

But just as many of them are like Walker or Ta’amu or Cam Phillips, the superstar Roughnecks wide receiver who spent 2019 out of football, or Kenny Robinson, the St. Louis BattleHawks safety who opted to overlook additional college eligibility to provide for his mother, who’d been diagnosed with cancer. All of these young men seemed to stumble upon the perfect home for a blossoming life and career, only to see it thrown in jeopardy. And that’s not accounting for the guys whose names you didn’t learn during the five-week 2020 season — the ones who may not get the same shot in 2021 even if the XFL returns.

In the grand scheme of things, sports are trivial. Football is trivial. But just like any other profession, there are livelihoods at stake.

There’s also a reason we come back to sports and, specifically, the gridiron every fall — or, in the case of the XFL, every spring. There’s an inherent sense of community there.

When the XFL kicked off less than a week after the Super Bowl this February, it may have been odd to see former Ohio State star Cardale Jones decked out in red, repping the nation’s capital with the DC Defenders. It may have been hard to root for any specific team knowing the majority of each club’s roster was full of players far less proven or talented than your average NFL Joe.

But a community still formed. Fans poured into NFL venues to watch XFL matchups. Walker’s highlights went viral. So, too, did stuff like New York Guardians QB Matt McGloin throwing his entire coaching staff under the bus.

For five weeks, the XFL lived and breathed. At worst, it offered an escape from the kind of big-picture issues that now dominate our headlines. At best, it served not only as “more football,” but a launching pad for the game’s next generation.

Its sudden disappearance, if not comparatively heartbreaking, at least reinforces the surrealism of a totally interrupted society.

There are, of course, also some silver linings.

Most notably, the abrupt end to the XFL’s season has reportedly triggered an early release of players to contracts with other leagues. In other words, someone like Walker or Taylor or Phillips could conceivably sign with an NFL team earlier than expected, and with 2020 free agency right around the corner, there might never be a better time for XFL standouts to get the promotion they’ve been seeking.

Perhaps even more importantly, everyone is now free to go home. Players. Coaches. Scouts. Fans. With everything on hiatus, there’s little else to do but that. On Friday, in fact, a day after the XFL’s big announcement, one team staffer told CBS Sports that one of the largest sentiments, after the initial disappointment of the news, was everyone being “ready to see loved ones.”

Maybe, at this time, that’s what we need most anyway.