Stop the Madness: Man in Custody After Posing as Ride-Share Driver and Sexually Assaulting a Woman at Knifepoint

A 41-year-old man is in custody after Delaware authorities say he pretended to be a ride-share driver and sexually assaulted a woman at knifepoint.

via NYDN:

The suspect, identified as Roberto Rodriguez, picked up the woman just after 1 a.m. on Saturday as she was walking in Newark, according to authorities. The man told her he drove for a ride-share service and offered her a lift in his GMC pick-up truck, but she had not ordered the ride.

After she entered the vehicle, Rodriguez pulled over and threatened her with a knife as he ordered her to perform a sexual act with him, according to Newark cops. He then continued to drive her, but she was later able to flee the vehicle.

Cops released surveillance video of the vehicle, and said Sunday morning that Rodriguez had been apprehended. He was hit with multiple charges, including first-degree rape and possession of a deadly weapon.

Rodriguez was also charged with malicious interference with emergency communications for taking the woman’s phone to prevent her from immediately calling the police.

The defendant was ordered to be held on $ 63,000 cash bail.

Last month a woman in Maryland was also sexually assaulted by a man who pretended to be a ride-share driver, and a college student was murdered in South Carolina earlier this year after getting into a vehicle she mistakenly believed was an Uber.

We can’t stress this enough — before getting into ANYone’s car, please make sure the driver and licence plate match what’s displayed on the app you’re using. Those extra 15 seconds of verification could possibly save your life!

The post Stop the Madness: Man in Custody After Posing as Ride-Share Driver and Sexually Assaulting a Woman at Knifepoint appeared first on lovebscott – celebrity news.

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We Randomly Generated 10 Million March Madness Brackets — And We Still Got Beat

I should probably be happier that my alma mater, the University of Virginia, won the men’s basketball NCAA tournament. But I’m disappointed that none of the 10 million March Madness brackets I generated would have won ESPN’s Tournament Challenge, where the winning bracket racked up 185 of 192 possible points. (ESPN multiplies those scores by 10, but otherwise it uses the same standard scoring system every major site uses.) The winner of my computer-generated brackets — none of which I entered into any actual contest — scored 178 points, which would have tied for 8th place on ESPN, tied for first place on NCAA.com, finished a strong second on USAToday.com, and been the runaway winner on FoxSports.com.

As a consolation prize, I could have considerably inconvenienced Warren Buffett, who offers his 400,000-some employees $ 1 million a year for life if they correctly predict the Sweet Sixteen. If Buffett (and TIME) had permitted me to be an employee of Berkshire Hathaway for one day, and enter 10,000,000 brackets, I would have qualified for that prize 334 times (the number of my brackets that guessed correctly in all 16 games that feed into the Sweet Sixteen). By the time I reach age 80 — 45 years from now — Buffett, who is 88, would have owed me $ 15,030,000,000, or about 18% of his current estimated net worth of $ 84 billion.

But while perfection was never on the table in this little computational experiment, I did learn a few things about the futility of guessing March Madness results. Here’s how the chips fell for my imaginary pool:

Normally — and this was true after the first two rounds — you would expect a large population of randomly generated brackets to fall along a normal distribution, better known as a “bell curve.” As you can see, this bell would ring with horrible dissonance before tipping over.

As a data analyst, whenever you see a curve like this that doesn’t make obvious sense, you first have to ask yourself a difficult question: is the problem with the data, or with me? I feel comfortably exonerated here, having meticulously checked that all 10 million brackets were legitimate. There were no bugs that had a team advancing after losing, for example, and they adhered to common sense by weighting each random choice by the seeds of the two teams.

Digging in, we see the two humps in the data peak at 54 points (267,595 brackets) and 109 points (41,352 brackets). These precise values are probably a function of various upsets in the first few rounds, but the real reason is pretty simple: the most important factor in any bracket is whether you choose the final champion correctly. Of my 54-pointers, a few had one of the two final teams correct, but none of them guessed Virginia would win. In fact, that would be impossible, because, while guessing the champion correctly is good for 32 points in the final game, this means you also picked that team to win its previous five games, for a total of 63 points. (My lowest scoring bracket to guess the winner had 79 points, an extreme outlier.)

The second hump is the most common outcome for brackets that either won the final game or, less commonly, did very well in the final three rounds. Over 90% of the brackets with 109 points guessed Virginia to win it all, and only 11 guessed neither of the final two teams.

Which is to say, the typical scoring system, in which the points double every round, is so absurdly top-heavy that you can often win an office pool by predicting the winner even if you do horribly in many of the games leading up to the championship. (It mostly depends on how many of your fellow bracketologists also picked the right winner.) While 28 of my brackets correctly guessed 31 of 32 games in the first round, my winner guessed only 24 — still respectable, but loaded with liabilities in future rounds. It didn’t matter. The best of those 28 brackets with near-perfect first rounds ended up with 139 points, compared to my ultimate winner’s 178.

I couldn’t locate figures on the average score of the winning bracket in individual pools of a few dozen people, but I can say with extreme confidence that a healthy majority of them chose Virginia to win. This is definitely true, at least, of every bracket that placed on the leaderboard of every major site’s leaderboard. And of the 1,001,864 brackets in my experiment that predicted Virginia to win the whole thing, the average score was 114 points. Of those that didn’t, the average was 59.

This, to me, is a flaw in the way brackets are scored. I am much more impressed by an entrant who guesses extremely well through the Elite Eight but then falls apart versus someone who ekes out a victory with the winning team, papering over many predictive casualties along the way. Several alternate scoring systems are designed to address this by ramping up the rewards more gradually each round or even just treating every game as 1 point.

I don’t expect this idea to take hold, because it short-circuits the possibility that a contestant can mostly guess wrong and still win. March Madness would become less of a roulette wheel and more of a poker game, favoring the savvy over the lucky. Yes, March would be less Mad. It would also be less angry.

Sports – TIME

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Late-night hosts tease White House over Post’s ‘Mueller Madness’ bracket

The Post’s “Mueller Madness” bracket was a hit at the White House — and on late-night TV, where hosts scored laughs by mocking Sarah Huckabee Sanders. President Trump’s spokeswoman tweeted Gotham’s favorite tabloid’s satirical sports-style bracket listing who op-ed editor Sohrab Ahmari said “peddled the most nonsensical” collusion theories. “How many times do the Democrats…
Media | New York Post

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None of Our 10 Million Computer Generated March Madness Brackets Are Still Perfect

March is not Mad. It is simply fickle. Whenever 64 teams gather for a single-elimination tournament, even trace amounts of entropy will resemble high drama and improbable returns.

In anticipation of this year’s NCAA March Madness hysteria, which comes on the heels of the maddest tournament in history in 2018, I approached the men’s basketball tournament with a time-honored palliative for neurotics everywhere: radical over-preparation. Instead of filling out a bracket, I wrote a computer program (open-sourced here) that generated 10 million unique NCAA brackets, randomly predicting each matchup with a modest weight toward the lower-seeded team. Here’s how it’s going:

After the first two rounds, which amounted to 48 games, a perfect bracket would have 64 points under a traditional scoring system: 1 point for each of the 32 first-round games and 2 points for the next 16. (Points double each round as the number of teams reduces by half, so the maximum is always 32). Five of my brackets have 61 points — on par with two brackets in ESPN’s pool that are tied for first place, according to the current leaderboard. Another 334 of my brackets missed a few first-round games but guessed the second round perfectly. (ESPN’s scores are inflated by a factor of 10 but are otherwise scored by the same system.)

Those five 61-point brackets all have a maximum payout of 189 points out of a possible 192, while 16,933 of them still have a maximum potential score of at least 180.

Meanwhile, for the first time in documented bracket history, one entry in the NCAA’s official bracket challenge remains unblemished going in to the Sweet Sixteen, for the maximum 64 points thus far out of 192 total. If you were to choose a bracket by flipping a coin, the odds of pulling this off are 1 in 281 trillion.

I might overtake that particular bracket in the Sweet Sixteen, but I don’t expect to outperform the winner of ESPN’s challenge. For one thing, 17.2 million people entered ESPN’s contest. There’s surely a wide spread between those who carefully weighed a wealth of factors for each matchup and those who chose whichever school had a nicer logo. My program, meanwhile, was not endowed with any data other than the seeding of each team.

But it’s possible. What remains to be seen is whether, on the whole, a computer with less information can outperform, on average, 17.2 million people with varying amounts of information, much of which is clouded by loyalties, anecdotes, and the fact that many people just really hate Duke (which is still the most popular pick for champion in ESPN’s pool.) Every year, the graveyard of busted brackets balloons with more and more entries by both the unlucky and overly optimistic alumni.

Which is to say: Between the tournament, the NCAA selection committee, and the tens of millions of people who drop everything to follow every game–and, I suppose, me–who is actually the most Mad?

Sports – TIME

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Mike Hopkins, Washington’s Upbeat Player’s Coach, Has a Method to His Madness

Mike Hopkins’s relationship with the players has shifted the culture at Washington, giving the team an upbeat, confident coach who focuses on nothing but winning. 
 

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Ultimate Basketball Fan Barack Obama Reveals His 2019 March Madness Picks

Former president and noted basketball enthusiast Barack Obama revealed his NCAA tournament brackets just in time for March Madness 2019, continuing a tradition he began while he was in the Oval Office.

Obama, who memorably began publicly sharing his brackets during his time as the commander-in-chief, posted his picks for this year’s tourney via the Obama Foundation, as he did last year. This year, Obama has selected the Duke Blue Devils to take it all for the men’s championship, while for the women’s tourney, he selected longtime NCAA champions, the University of Connecticut.

For his men’s picks, Obama selected Michigan, Tennessee, UNC, and of course, Duke for the Final Four, predicting that Duke will beat known rival UNC. His decision to select Duke as the champion might have surprised some, as Obama has frequently favored the Tar Heels in his March Madness picks in the past.

See all the Obama bracket picks below.

Sports – TIME

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We Made 10 Million Computer-Generated March Madness Brackets. Will Any of Them Be Perfect?

There’s a secret to winning your March Madness pool that Vegas doesn’t want you to know: All you have to do is enter 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 brackets, and you are certain to pick perfectly. Once.

There are 63 games in the NCAA tournament, not including the four play-ins. Filling out a bracket involves making an up-or-down decision for each one. Of course, after the first round of 32 games, not everyone guesses the outcome of the same remaining 31 matchups since it depends on who you’ve predicted will advance.

This means there are, in fact, 9 quintillion — hold on, let me count those digits again — yes, 9 quintillion possible outcomes for the tournament, or 2^63. By way of context, that’s 1.2 billion outcomes per human being on Earth, or 21 times the number of seconds since the Big Bang. Even if you reduced every bracket to just 63 bits, the size of a computer file containing every possible outcome would be about 72,500 petabytes, which is many times larger than the Internet itself, by most estimates.

Which is not to say we can’t still try to crack March Madness with what computer scientists call a “brute-force attack,” in which one tries to solve a problem by testing every possible solution rather than gaming it out methodically. (Like, say, cracking a password by trying thousands and thousands of possibilities until one works.) So rather than making any attempt to fill out a bracket wisely, I stayed up one night writing a short program that generates about 1,000 brackets a second, weighted slightly toward plausibility. By noon the next day I had over 10 million entries, none of them the same.

As the the tournament progresses, I’ll be scoring each of these March Madness brackets and comparing the best-performing entry to public data on how the nation is faring on popular bracket sites. I’m genuinely curious whether any of my entries stand out or whether even a few million attempts is insufficient to break through the noise. (We’re not putting our money where our algorithmically-generated mouth is, of course, seeing as $ 10 million in entry fees might raise a few questions with the expense department.)

I suspect the odds would be slightly greater in my favor if I had carved out more time to embolden the code with data from the regular season. College basketball dilettantes like USA Today’s Jeff Sagarin have developed techniques over the years that take into account all sorts of factors, like the difficulty of a team’s schedule and each game’s proximity to its home campus.

As it stands, the only factor my code weighs is the difference in the seeds of the two teams. When two teams have the same seed, the algorithm forks, Sliding Doors style, and guesses that both teams will win in parallel brackets.

I definitely wouldn’t want to bet any money against Sagarin, but a computational experiment that TIME ran last year lends some confidence to relying on seeding. As much as people complain about the NCAA selection committee, a 1,000-trial live simulator we developed found that, if you just always choose the higher seed to win and flip a coin when the top seeds face off in the Final Four, over time — a long time — you generally either win or lose a small net amount when pitted against colleagues who rely more on historical data.

Whether this experiment succeeds will probably hinge on the Madness Quotient this year, and the more dramatic the better. Had I tried this last year, about 3 percent of my brackets would have chosen UMBC to defeat Virginia (my alma mater) in the first round. That’s not very many, but that’s the beauty of delegating the work to a computer: It can spend all night guessing and only has to be generally correct once.

Methodology

Every matchup begins with 50-50 odds. For any matchup between unevenly seeded teams, the odds are adjusted to favor the lower-seeded team by about 3 percentage points for every 1-point difference in the seeds. This means a team that is one seed lower than its opponent has 53% odds of winning, while a first-round faceoff between the top-seeded team and the 16-seed will go to the 1-seed 97% of the time.

This generates a sensible spread of championships based on seeds: 10% for the four top-seeds, 6.1% for the 2-seeds, all the way down to between 5 and 7 total victories each for the 16-seeds out of 10 million trials.

Our source code is available on GitHub.

Sports – TIME

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A Guide to the Biggest Celebrity Superfans of March Madness

In the 80 years since the March Madness tournament started, it’s been a beloved and much-anticipated tradition for college basketball fans to fiercely rally for their favorite teams and celebrities are no exception.

For some, like actress Ashley Judd, being a super fan comes with longtime school spirit for her alma mater, the University of Kentucky, whose Wildcats are also a favorite for rapper Drake, who counts Coach John Calipari as a close friend and mentor. Others, like Bill Murray, don’t necessarily have an academic connection to a team, but an emotional one; Murray’s son, Luke, was an assistant coach for Xavier’s basketball program, which meant that the funnyman was a popular presence at Xavier games; for the 2019 NCAA Tournament, it appears that Murray will have to change teams, as Luke is now coaching at the University of Louisville.

Ahead of this year’s March Madness NCAA tournament, here’s a run-down of the most avid celebrity college basketball fans.

Drake — University of Kentucky Wildcats

While many have said that Drake is a bandwagon fan for the of-the-moment teams, there’s no denying that the Canadian rapper is an avid fan of the Kentucky Wildcats. From receiving his own “Drizzy” championship ring when the team won the national championship in 2012 to a chummy friendship with Coach John Calipari that even lead Drake to be on Calipari’s podcast.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus — Northwestern University Wildcats

Julia Louis-Dreyfus has plenty of reasons to cheer on the Wildcats when it’s March Madness; not only did the Veep actress attend Northwestern and meet her husband there, her son Charlie currently plays on the basketball team.

Julianne Moore — Davidson College Wildcats

Julianne Moore became a proud Davidson fan after her son Cal Freundlich joined the basketball team, playing the same position (point guard) that Warriors star Steph Curry played while he was at the college.

Ashley Judd — University of Kentucky Wildcats

Perhaps the most famous longtime fan of the Wildcats, Judd has long been a welcome presence at the school’s games, where she faithfully cheers on her alma mater.

American v Kansas
Jamie Squire—Getty Images

Jason Sudeikis — University of Kansas Jayhawks

Jason Sudeikis grew up in Overland Park, Kansas, roots that have helped to make him a notable fan of Kansas sports, including the Kansas Jayhawks.

Kentucky v Louisville
Andy Lyons—Getty Images

Jennifer Lawrence — University of Louisville Cardinals

While the University of Kentucky might have some major star power from fans like Drake and Ashley Judd, Jennifer Lawrence brings the shine for the state’s other big team, the University of Louisville Cardinals. Lawrence, who grew up in Louisville, is a prominent fan of the team.

Wisconsin v Xavier
Jamie Squire—Getty Images

Bill Murray — Xavier University Musketeers/University of Louisville Cardinals

Bill Murray was a proud fan of the Xavier Musketeers, becoming one of their most prominent and popular game attendees while his son Luke was an assistant coach at the college. However, this year, Luke will be coaching at the University of Louisville, which makes many believe that Murray will now be a staunch Cardinals fan.

Paul Rudd — University of Kansas Jayhawks

Although Paul Rudd was born in New Jersey, he grew up on Overland Park, Kansas and even attended the University of Kansas, making him a Jayhawks fan for life.

Brooklyn Decker — University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Tar Heels

Swimsuit model Brooklyn Decker grew up in North Carolina, making her a diehard UNC fan.

Tim Cook — Duke University Blue Devils

Apple CEO Tim Cook attended Duke for business school and is such a big fan of their basketball program that he used an Apple presentation to troll longtime Duke rival UNC.

Matthew McConaughey – University of Texas at Austin Longhorns

Matthew McConaughey attended the University of Texas, making him a longtime fan of the Longhorns; however, he recently became the university’s basketball arena’s self-proclaimed “Minister of Culture.” While the duties that come with this title are still a little dubious, McConaughey seems to be taking the role pretty seriously, going so far as to hype players during a game earlier this year, all while clad in a suit in the same hue as the school’s trademark orange.

Charity Meet And Greet With Olympic Gold Medalist Shawn Johnson
David Greedy—Getty Images

Ashton Kutcher — University of Iowa

Ashton Kutcher was born in Cedar Rapids and later attended the University of Iowa, making it easy for him to become loyal Hawkeyes fan.

Seth Meyers — Northwestern University Wildcats

Seth Meyers is such a big fan of his alma mater’s sports teams that he often works in references to them in his comedic material.

John Legend — Ohio State Buckeyes

John Legend is a native of Springfield, Ohio and is not shy when it comes to sharing his super fandom for the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Sports – TIME

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Want to Win March Madness? These 10 Players Could Lift Your Bracket to Office Pool Victory

Did Michigan State get a raw deal? Yeah. If the Spartans — who (along with Purdue) won the Big 10 regular season title and took the conference tournament — didn’t deserve a #1 seed, they definitely didn’t deserve a #2 seed. Especially because that puts Duke, the top overall team in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, right in Michigan State’s Final Four path. (If seeding holds, #1 Duke and #2 Michigan State would clash in the Elite Eight.)

Meanwhile, should the selection committee have granted St. John’s, who lost in the Big East tournament quarterfinals to Marquette by a cool 32 points, the last at-large bid? With apologies to the Red Storm faithful, you can make a strong argument that no, it shouldn’t have.

All bitter gripes about the brackets, however, should last about three seconds. You can’t change anything now. So grab your pencil, print out a piece of paper and get ready make your picks. (Seriously, just to mess with the IT honcho who runs your office pool, hand him paper brackets, we’re sure he’ll love it.)

To help you along with your NCAA basketball March Madness bracket, here are 10 standout players who could carry their teams to an upset or two, if not all the way to the Final Four in Minneapolis.

Zion Williamson, Duke

Duh, I know. But even hermits have been known to fill out brackets (presumably). And just in case you’re one of those folks who only tunes into college hoops this time of year: Duke freshman Zion Williamson is simply the most freakish player in the game. “There’s never been a player on any level like Zion Williamson,” says ESPN analyst Jay Bilas.

That doesn’t mean Williamson is the best player on the planet. It’s that no one with his build — chiseled 6’7″, 284 lb. linebacker — possesses his skill set. He can jump over the backboard. And Williamson — or just plain “Zion” at this point, ala Serena, LeBron and Neymar — is incredibly fundamental: he can dribble, pass, and owns an effective shooting touch around the rim. “He’s like a mack truck,” says Bilas, “playing lead in ballet.” Let’s just hope his shoes stay intact.

#1 Duke plays the winner of the #16 North Carolina Central/#16 North Dakota State game on Friday, March 22 at 7:10 PM ET on CBS.

Fletcher Magee, Wofford

Magee — “sounds like he should be somebody’s butler,” Bilas deadpans — might be the best shooter in the country. The 6’4″ senior has hit 502 career three-pointers for Wofford, the Southern Conference champs, two shy of the NCAA D-1 record. He shoots an efficient 43% from downtown, a pretty remarkable rate for a guy who hoists an arm-tiring 11 treys a game, and 91% from the foul line.

Magee grew up studying the shot of Philadelphia 76ers guard J.J. Redick, who used to play for the Magic in Magee’s hometown of Orlando; this season, Magee passed Redick on the career NCAA three-pointer list.

#7 Wofford — of Spartanburg, South Carolina — faces #10 Seton Hall on Thursday, March 21, at around 9:40 PM ET on CBS.

Anthony Lamb, Vermont

The player of the year in the America East Conference, Lamb, a 6’6″ junior, has an unusual style in today’s basketball world, which values spreading players across the floor and jacking threes. During Vermont’s America East Conference title game win over UMBC on Saturday, Vermont would dump the ball to Lamb around the foul line, and he’d often bully his way to the basket, a testament to his strength and skill. And Lamb can shoot: he hit 1.5 threes per game this season, nearly double his per-game production from a year ago.

Besides Lamb, who averaged 21.4 points per game this season, the Catamounts feature the Duncan brothers of Evansville, Indiana: fifth year senior Ernie, junior Everett, and freshman Robin. Vermont’s the fifth team in Division 1 history with a fraternal trio on the same squad.

Catch #13 Vermont against #4 Florida St. on Thursday at 2 p.m. ET on CBS.

Miye Oni, Yale

It’s been 24 years since the NBA drafted a player from the Ivy League. Yale’s Miye Oni could end that draught. A late bloomer who had committed to a Division 3 college in high school — and was spotted by a Yale assistant coach while scouting another player — NBA scouts have made regular visits to New Haven to check out Oni’s game. The 6’6″ guard won Ivy Player of the Year honors by doing a little bit of everything; Oni averaged 17.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game.

#13 Yale will play #4 LSU on Thursday at 12:40 PM ET on TruTV. Both schools are involved in embarrassing scandals: LSU coach Will Wade was placed on leave after he was caught potentially violating NCAA rules on wiretap. Yale’s embroiled in the college admissions scandal, as a family allegedly paid $ 1.2 million in bribes to get a fake soccer recruit into the school. Folks made jokes on the internet.

Ja Morant, Murray St.

Zion may be the top overall pick in this June’s NBA draft. But Morant, the explosive 6’3″ point guard from Murray St., is almost certainly going top 3. A Murray State assistant coach first spotted Morant, another unheralded recruit, while stopping by a gym concession stand to grab some chips. Best snack ever: Morant’s stewardship on the Murray St. offense is now appointment TV. Morant scores 24.6 points per game on 50% shooting, which is scarily efficient for a point guard, and dishes out 10 assists per game, tops in the country.

In the first round, Morant will duel with one of the country’s other top point guards, Markus Howard of #5 Marquette, around 4:30 PM ET on Thursday on TBS. Grab some more chips for that one.

Tacko Fall, University of Central Florida

Ja Morant, Fletcher Magee — this year’s tournament fields an impressive All-Name Team. Tacko Fall’s another name you won’t forget. The 7’6″ University of Central Florida center shot 75% from the field this season, and swatted away 2.5 shots per game for the Knights, who finished 23-8. That’s right: Fall’s 7’6″, with a 10-foot, 5-inch standing reach, meaning he need not jump to dunk the basketball.

In one of the season’s sweetest moments, Fall was reunited this season with his mother, whom he hadn’t seen in the seven years since he moved to the U.S. from Senegal.

#9 UCF takes on #8 VCU on Friday at around 9:40 ET PM on CBS. The winner most likely gets Duke in the second round.

Ethan Happ, Wisconsin

Ethan Happ, the 6’10” senior center, this season became the first Big 10 player in more than 35 years to score over 2,000 career points and grab over 1,000 rebounds. Don’t discount his passing — Happ has also assisted on 37% of his teammates’ field goals while he’s on the floor, a fantastic rate for a big man.

Happ’s a bit of a throwback, the rare tall pro prospect who doesn’t jack three-pointers — he finished his career 1-16 from downtown. Still, don’t discount the damage Happ, a second team All-American, and his Badgers can inflict on their opponents these next few weeks.

First test for #5 Wisconsin is #12 Oregon, the Pac-12 tournament champions, on Friday at 4:30 ET on TBS.

Eric Paschall, Villanova

One-and-done college players like Zion, who stay in college for a year before leaving for the NBA, rightfully steal most headlines. They tend to be phenomenal. But it’s nice to see players who stick around at college, like Happ and Villanova’s Eric Paschall, get their due. Remember the Wildcats, last year’s national champs? They lost four of their top six players to the NBA this season, but thanks in large part to Paschall — the relatively undersized senior 6’8″ power forward who memorably shot 10-11 from the field against Kansas in last year’s national semifinals — the Cats still won the Big East regular season and tournament championships.

‘Nova’s not a favorite to repeat as national champions. But beware of any team with a skilled bruiser like Paschall, who’s eager to prove that he’s ready to play at the next level, no matter his height.

#6 Villanova opens up its title defense against #11 St. Mary’s on Thursday at 7:20 ET on TBS.

Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga

Hachimura, a 6’8″ junior, is a projected NBA lottery pick: he’d be the first native of Japan ever selected in the draft. As a freshman at Gonzaga, for the 2016-2017 Zags team that reached the national championship game (before falling to North Carolina), he didn’t see much action. Hachimura missed practice time with his teammates to learn English in tutoring sessions (he also picked up the language through TV shows like The Vampire Diaries).

Since then, he’s blossomed. In one of the best regular season games of the season, in Hawaii back in November, Hachimura helped show that Duke — a team that some pundits were predicting would finish with a perfect record this season — could indeed be felled. In a thrilling 89-87 win for Gonzaga, Hachimura scored 20 points, with seven rebounds, five assists, and three blocked shots. Gonzaga could face Duke again in the national semifinals.

But first, on Thursday at 7:27 ET on TruTV, the #1 ‘Zags must advance past either #16 Farleigh Dickinson or #16 Prairie View A&M, who play in the “First Four” on Tuesday night in Dayton.

De’Andre Hunter, Virginia

A financial services firm called 361 Capital on Monday released a note —titled “The Psychology of Undermining March Madness Brackets” — applying behavioral research to tournament picks. (Makes sense: the firm’s clients surely want to win their bracket pool’s prize.) As one of its “behavioral biases that can bust a bracket,” the company pointed to “the gambler’s fallacy,” a misconception that an abnormal event is less likely to occur in the future because it just happened in the past. So, 361 Capital warns, don’t feel #1-seeded Virginia is immune to another historic upset at the hands of a #16 seed, just because UMBC crushed the Cavaliers a year ago.

With all due respect to the financial outfit, throw your psychological buzzwords off the court. Virginia’s not going to fall in the first round again, because this year, the Cavaliers have De’Andre Hunter. The 6’7″ sophomore swingman from Philly missed last year’s tournament game due to an injury. But this season, Hunter has emerged as Virginia’s best NBA prospect in the school’s resurgence under coach Tony Bennett over the last decade.

Virginia will try to move on from last year’s nightmare against Gardiner-Webb on Friday, at around 3:10 PM ET on TruTV. With Hunter, a third-team All-American, on the floor, they’re more than likely to avoid another disaster. That’s no fallacy, gambler’s or otherwise.

Sports – TIME

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The 10 Most Exciting March Madness Match-Ups That Could Happen During the 2019 NCAA Tournament

The NCAA tournament, March Madness, the Big Dance, whatever you want to call it, it’s the most wonderful time of the year for college basketball fans.

Selection Sunday has come and gone and the field of 64 Division I men’s basketball teams that will compete for the 2019 National Championship is set— with the exception of the four teams that will be determined by play-in games on Tuesday and Wednesday, of course. This year’s Final Four will take place in Minneapolis, Minn. from April 6 – 8, with the national championship title game set for Monday, April 8.

In the mix this March are three No. 1 seeds from the Atlantic Coast Conference — Duke, Virginia and North Carolina — as well as the fourth and final one-seed, Gonzaga, and a slew of other programs gunning for an upset against the four top-ranked teams.

Brackets will almost certainly be busted and at least one Cinderella story will hopefully be told as the tournament plays out, but in the meantime let’s take a look ahead at 10 of the most exciting potential match-ups that could happen in the 2019 NCAA tournament.

Match-up: Tennessee (2) vs. Purdue (3)

Southeastern Conference Tournament championship game between the Tennessee Volunteers and Auburn Tigers at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee on March 17, 2019.
Matthew Maxey—Icon Sportswire/Getty ImagesTennessee Volunteers guard Jordan Bone watches the final seconds tick off the clock during the Southeastern Conference Tournament championship game between the Tennessee Volunteers and Auburn Tigers at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee on March 17, 2019.

Round: Sweet Sixteen

The Volunteers and Boilermakers may not be defensive powerhouses — their defenses are ranked 34th and 32nd in the nation, respectively, according to KenPom — but with the No. 3 and No. 5 offenses in play, this could be a high-scoring second weekend match-up to look out for.

Match-up: Duke (1) vs. Virginia Tech (4)

Wabissa Bede #3 of the Virginia Tech Hokies runs past Jordan Goldwire #14 and Marques Bolden #20 of the Duke Blue Devils at Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg, Virginia on February 26, 2019.
Lauren Rakes—Getty ImagesWabissa Bede #3 of the Virginia Tech Hokies runs past Jordan Goldwire #14 and Marques Bolden #20 of the Duke Blue Devils at Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg, Virginia on February 26, 2019.

Round: Sweet Sixteen

The Hokies pulled off a decisive upset when they came up against the Blue Devils during regular-season conference play in February. Of course, the caveat to that win is that Duke’s star freshman, Zion Williamson, sat the game out with a sprained right knee. Williamson is back and slamming down more dunks than ever, but that doesn’t mean Virginia Tech won’t somehow find an answer to the Blue Devils’ 6-foot-7-inch, 285-pound forward.

Match-up: North Carolina (1) vs. Kentucky (2)

North Carolina Tar Heels forward Luke Maye #32 handles the ball against Kentucky Wildcats forward PJ Washington #25 during the CBS Sports Classic at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois on December 22, 2018.
Quinn Harris—Icon Sportswire/Getty ImagesNorth Carolina Tar Heels forward Luke Maye #32 handles the ball against Kentucky Wildcats forward PJ Washington #25 during the CBS Sports Classic at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois on December 22, 2018.

Round: Elite Eight

When these two storied basketball programs last met in March, North Carolina’s Luke Maye hit the game-winning shot with just 0.3 seconds left to send the Tar Heels to the Final Four on the way to their 2017 National Championship. Not to mention that the 2018 CBS Sports Classic game that these two played in December came down to the final minutes — Kentucky pulled off the win. An Elite Eight match-up between the one and two-seeds in the Midwest would almost certainly be another one for the books.

Match-up: Duke (1) vs. Michigan State (2)

Michigan State Spartans guard Foster Loyer #3 and Michigan State Spartans players celebrate after defeating the Michigan Wolverines in a Big Ten Tournament Championship game between the Michigan Wolverines and the Michigan State Spartans at the United Center in Chicago, IL on March 17, 2019.
Robin Alam—Icon Sportswire/Getty ImagesMichigan State Spartans guard Foster Loyer #3 and Michigan State Spartans players celebrate after defeating the Michigan Wolverines in a Big Ten Tournament Championship game between the Michigan Wolverines and the Michigan State Spartans at the United Center in Chicago, IL on March 17, 2019.

Round: Elite Eight

Straight off a come-from-behind victory against their in-state rival Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament Championship, Michigan State is entering the NCAA tournament on a hot streak. The only bad news is that the Spartans’ Kyle Ahrens suffered a gruesome ankle injury in Sunday’s game that could keep him on the bench for the remainder of the season. As the No. 1 overall seed, the Blue Devils are going to be a force to be reckoned with for any team, let alone one that isn’t at full strength.

Match-up: Virginia (1) vs. Villanova (6)

Phil Booth #5 of the Villanova Wildcats celebrates the 74-72 win over the Seton Hall Pirates during the Big East Championship Game at Madison Square Garden in New York City on March 16, 2019.
Elsa—Getty ImagesPhil Booth #5 of the Villanova Wildcats celebrates the 74-72 win over the Seton Hall Pirates during the Big East Championship Game at Madison Square Garden in New York City on March 16, 2019.

Round: Elite Eight

After battling through a late-season slump to win the Big East Tournament Championship, Villanova could easily turn out to be one of the most dangerous teams ranked below the top three seed lines in this year’s tournament. On the other hand, after losing to the No. 16-seeded UMBC Golden Retrievers in the first-round of last year — a historic March Madness upset — the Cavaliers are back at No. 1 with something to prove.

Match-up: Kentucky (2) vs. Kansas (4)

Lagerald Vick #24 of the Kansas Jayhawks shoots the ball against the Kentucky Wildcats at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky on January 26, 2019.
Andy Lyons—Getty ImagesLagerald Vick #24 of the Kansas Jayhawks shoots the ball against the Kentucky Wildcats at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky on January 26, 2019.

Round: Elite Eight

If one-seed North Carolina and current-Tar-Heel-former-Jayhawk coach Roy Williams fall to Kansas in a Sweet Sixteen game that is set to take play at Kansas City’s Sprint Center — an arena that would essentially give Kansas a home-court advantage — a Kentucky-Kansas match-up in the Elite Eight could very well be in the cards. The Wildcats topped the Jayhawks by just eight points when the two teams faced off in January, so with a spot in the Final Four at stake, this rematch would likely be a showstopper.

Match-up: Gonzaga (1) vs. Michigan (2)

Rui Hachimura #21 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs brings the ball up the court against the Pepperdine Waves during a semifinal game of the West Coast Conference basketball tournament at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on March 11, 2019.
Ethan Miller—Getty ImagesRui Hachimura #21 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs brings the ball up the court against the Pepperdine Waves during a semifinal game of the West Coast Conference basketball tournament at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on March 11, 2019.

Round: Elite Eight

As the losers of the 2017 and 2018 National Championships, Gonzaga and Michigan are both itching to make it back to the championship title game for a shot at redemption. But to get there, the two may first have to face each other in an Elite Eight game that would pit the nation’s No. 1-ranked offense (Bulldogs) against the No. 2-ranked defense (Wolverines).

Match-up: Virginia (1) vs. North Carolina (1)

Kenny Williams #24 of the North Carolina Tar Heels takes a three-point shot against the Virginia Cavaliers during their game at the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on February 11, 2019 .
Grant Halverson/Getty ImagesKenny Williams #24 of the North Carolina Tar Heels takes a three-point shot against the Virginia Cavaliers during their game at the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on February 11, 2019 .

Round: Final Four

The Cavaliers came out on top the first and only time that Virginia and North Carolina met during the regular season, but it’s always a showdown when these two ACC powerhouses go head to head. The Cavaliers thrive at a slower pace while the Tar Heels like to race down the court at breakneck speed, so the outcome of this Final Four match-up would likely depend on who controls the tempo of the game

Match-up: Michigan (2) vs. Michigan State (2)

Ignas Brazdeikis #13 of the Michigan Wolverines dribbles the ball while being guarded by Aaron Henry #11 of the Michigan State Spartans in the second half during the championship game of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois on March 17, 2019.
Jonathan Daniel—Getty ImagesIgnas Brazdeikis #13 of the Michigan Wolverines dribbles the ball while being guarded by Aaron Henry #11 of the Michigan State Spartans in the second half during the championship game of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois on March 17, 2019.

Round: Final Four

If both Michigan State and Michigan manage to knock out the No. 1 seeds in their regions (Duke and Gonzaga, respectively) — or another team does the job for them first — a Big Ten Tournament Championship rematch could prove to be one of the tournament’s most exciting games. Only this time, the Spartans and Wolverines would be competing for a chance to play in the 2019 National Championship.

Match-up: Duke (1) vs. North Carolina (1)

North Carolina Tar Heels forward Nassir Little #5 shoots over Duke Blue Devils forward RJ Barrett #5 during the ACC basketball tournament between the Duke Blue Devils and the North Carolina Tar Heels at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, NC on March 15, 2019.
Icon Sportswire—Icon Sportswire via Getty ImagesNorth Carolina Tar Heels forward Nassir Little #5 shoots over Duke Blue Devils forward RJ Barrett #5 during the ACC basketball tournament between the Duke Blue Devils and the North Carolina Tar Heels at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, NC on March 15, 2019.

Round: National Championship

No matter either team’s record or ranking, a Duke-UNC game is high stakes any time the two Tobacco Road teams meet. Over the course of college basketball history, the two schools — both of which are among the top five winningest programs of all-time — have won a combined 38 of the 65 ACC Tournament Championships, 50 regular season ACC championships and 11 National Championships. This year alone, North Carolina swept Duke to win a share of the ACC regular season championship before Duke returned the favor by edging Carolina out of the ACC Tournament with a 74-73 win in the semifinals.

All of this is to say that, for fans of either program, the idea of the Blue Devils and Tar Heels meeting in the NCAA tournament for the very first time with a national title on the line is nearly unfathomable. If these two do go head to head in the 2019 National Championship, the greatest rivalry in college basketball will skyrocket to a whole new level.

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Broadcaster Jay Bilas Breaks Down March Madness and Any Qualms About Savoring it

In the den of Jay Bilas’ Charlotte, N.C., home, framed pictures commemorate his collegiate basketball career at Duke, his days as a pro overseas and the critical reception of I Come in Peace, the 1990 sci-fi thriller that stars Dolph Lundgren but features Bilas in the role of Azeck, alien cop. (Los Angeles Times: I Come in Peace Should Go Away.) But that’s the past. Today, through his platform as an analyst at ESPN and a Twitter account with nearly 2 million followers, Bilas has emerged as a sort of conscience of college basketball. His is a singular voice that can both deftly break down game tactics for passionate fans and eviscerate the business model supporting the entire enterprise. He’s a fierce critic of amateurism, the NCAA policy that facilitates a free market for handsomely compensated coaches, administrators and TV executives–everyone involved in college basketball, it seems, except the players themselves.

So I’ve journeyed to Charlotte to ask Bilas whether he, who makes a living in the game, reporters who write about it, or anyone who watches college basketball or simply fills out an annual March Madness bracket in the office pool is complicit in supporting a business that, according to Bilas, is “just wrong to the point of immoral.”

Jay Bilas, can we make our tournament picks in peace?

Sure, he says. (Whew.) If you don’t like a law in America, after all, you don’t up and leave the country. You push for change. Bilas knows the skeptics’ line: Since you despise amateurism so much, why don’t you quit your job and do something else? “I find that reasoning to be nonsensical,” he says. “The fact that I differ in policy matters doesn’t mean I don’t love the endeavor. I love it, that’s why I opine on it. If I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t care.”

The 6-ft. 8-in. former center is a licensed attorney who, before becoming ESPN’s lead college-basketball analyst, once subpoenaed Barney the purple dinosaur in a costume copyright-infringement case. But over the past decade or so, Bilas, as much as any public figure, has pushed the case for paying players out of the halls of academia and into the mainstream. He called BS when high school officials in Alabama benched a star basketball player this season because she had deposited an accidental payment from USA Basketball and when the NCAA investigated former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel for selling his autograph at the same time his jersey was being sold on its shopping website. On March 13, Bilas called out the NCAA via Twitter for its tepid two-sentence response to a sweeping college-admissions scandal; several coaches have been accused of accepting bribes to falsely present high school students as athletes in order to ensure their admission to elite universities. Admirers love his hammering. Critics tell him to shut up about this stuff already.

Not likely. On March 8, a federal judge in California found that the NCAA amateurism rules violate antitrust law. She ordered the NCAA to remove caps on compensation related to education for things like tutoring, computers and science equipment. The ruling, ostensibly a victory for the players, falls far short of imposing a free-market system in which college athletes can earn their full worth. In an environment in which multimedia rights to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament go for $ 8.8 billion and coaches can make north of $ 7 million per year, he believes school leaders will eventually have to do the right thing on their own and fairly compensate players. “The idea that the free market works for the entire world, save the athletes, is ludicrous to me,” says Bilas. “Absolutely ludicrous.”

 

Bilas, who grew up in the Los Angeles area, started sensing this economic imbalance in the mid-1980s, while playing at Duke. But he wasn’t about to speak up publicly. “You knew what got rewarded and what didn’t,” he says. “I wasn’t Norma Rae or anything.” When a former Duke player brought up the idea of boycotting the 1986 Final Four in Dallas, which Bilas and his teammates had reached in his senior season, his response was, “Why don’t we do it next year?”

After his Blue Devils lost to Louisville in that year’s national championship game, Bilas, now 55, played professionally in Italy for two seasons and in Spain for part of a third. He picked up the alien acting gig–sadly, Azeck’s head exploded–one offseason. Bilas soured on pro ball after his Spanish team fined him for missing practice time to take the LSAT and accepted both a spot in Duke’s law school and one on Mike Krzyzewski’s bench, as an assistant coach. He loved coaching but not the itinerant lifestyle, so he settled with his wife Wendy in Charlotte, where he joined a law firm. Soon came offers to call games on local radio, and he joined ESPN as a full-time analyst. He keeps his old office and pitches in on recruiting and business development, but “there’s going to be a point where they walk in and say, ‘Pack your sh-t and get out.’”

As a broadcaster, Bilas figured if he could call out players and coaches for messing up, why should NCAA leadership be off-limits? Wendy encouraged him to sign onto Twitter 10 years ago so he could prove he had more personality than your average geek watching hoops film all day. Bilas is like your bald, slightly hip, bright and upright bio teacher. He tweets rap lyrics from Young Jeezy, daily, before signing off with “I gotta go to work” (since, while once corresponding with a Twitter user, he ended the conversation by saying he actually did have to go to work). Bilas trades in self-deprecation–“You must have low standards,” he told a tickled crowd at a Charlotte fundraising benefit where he was the guest speaker. He’s a needler who can take being needled and, ever the lawyer, recognizes that words matter, not least his own. During the March 9 Duke–North Carolina game in Chapel Hill, he observed on air that the rebounding of North Carolina’s Cameron Johnson has improved “immeasurably.” He then chastised himself, off the air, at halftime. Rebounds, like most things in sports, are nothing if not quantified. “F-cking idiot,” he said backstage.

Bilas was present for the most momentous episode of the regular season: the foot of Duke superstar freshman Zion Williamson ripping through his Nike shoe, resulting in a knee sprain. If Zion’s back at full strength for the tournament, Bilas likes his alma mater’s chances. Zion’s too, of course. “As long as he stays healthy, he’s going to make a billion dollars,” Bilas says of the presumptive top pick in the NBA draft. A Cinderella player to watch: arguably the best shooter in college basketball, Wofford guard Fletcher Magee. “Sounds like he should be somebody’s butler,” Bilas deadpans.

Before wrapping up our talk in the den, I ask Bilas for some bracket tips, now that we don’t have to feel crappy about obsessing over March Madness and all. Earnestly, he suggests going to KenPom.com, a stats site for hoops wonks, and checking out every team’s offensive and defensive efficiency stats. Okaaay. Bilas recalibrates. Most Americans are allergic to KenPom.com and just want to finish the damn bracket before the deadline. Sensing this, he checks out of “Bilastrator” mode and comes out with a bit of sensible advice. “Go with the toughest mascot,” he says.

This appears in the March 25, 2019 issue of TIME.
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