February 28, 2021

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In match number 37 of this European Cricket Series (ECS) Spain 2021, Raval Sporting will be up against Barcelona Gladiators in a Group C fixture. The Montjuïc Olympic Ground in Barcelona will continue to be the venue.Raval Sporting have had an inconsistent start to the season. They were comprehensively beaten by Minhaj (74 runs). The batting let Raval Sporting down as they could muster just 56/7 while chasing 131.They did come back strongly in the second game, hunting down 93 with eight balls to spare.On the other hand, Barcelona Gladiators were outplayed by Kharian in their first game.Barcelona Gladiators batted decently as they got 97 batting first but faltered with the ball and lost with 13 balls to spare. Thus, they will be looking to bounce back quickly.Squads to choose fromRaval Sporting: Gurwinder Sidhu, Amit Das, Karan Datta, Gaurang Mahyavanshi, Gurpreet Singh, Ishan Patel, Kishitij Patel, Manish Manwani, Muhammad Rizwan, Nandan Bathani, Naveen Kumar, Rohin Kumar, Yudhvir Singh, Lovepreet Singh, Numan Ali, Unnatkumar Patel, Davinder Singh, Sawood Masood, Sonu Jangra, Irfan Muhammad, Faizan Ahmad, Zain Abideen, Ravi PatelBarcelona Gladiators: Shahid Nazir, Ali Raza, Babar Basharat, Iqbal Muzzamil, Malik Nabeeb Iqbal, Mohammad Ur Rehman, Muhammad Ali Khan, Zahid Akbar, Usman Asghar, Harsoon Salik, Ihsan Ullah-Asda, Ameer Taimur, Muhammad Umar, Farooq Ahmed, Arslan Yousaf, Sagar Shahbaz, Nadeem Muhammad, Tahir Nawaz, Arslan Muhammad, Farhan Inayat, Amad Muhammad

Predicted Playing XIsRaval Sporting: Kishitij Patel (wk), Karan Datta (c), Davinder Singh, Manish Manwani, Amit Das, Muhammad Rizwan, Dawood Masood, Gaurang Mahyavanshi, Nandan Bathani, Sonu Jangra, Irfan MuhammadBarcelona Gladiators: Tanzeer Ur Rehman, Shahid Nazir, Arslan Muhammad, Babar Basharat (c), Haroon Salik, Sagar Shahbaz, Ali Zafar Khan, Nadeem Muhammad, Muhammad Umar, Ali Raza, Ihsan Ullah-AsdaMatch DetailsMatch: Raval Sporting vs Barcelona GladiatorsDate: February 17, 2021, 3 PM ISTVenue: Montjuïc Olympic Ground, BarcelonaPitch ReportThe track at the Montjuïc Olympic Ground in Barcelona has been an excellent one to bat on and batters have enjoyed these conditions. Teams have racked up big scores regularly and 110-115 has become the par score.There is not much on offer for the bowlers. Hence, a similar track is likely to be on offer for this game and the team winning the toss might want to bat first.ECS Spain Dream 11 Fantasy Suggestions (RAS vs BAG) Dream11 Team for Raval Sporting vs Barcelona Gladiators – ECS Spain 2021.

Fantasy Suggestion #1: Shahid Nazir, Karan Datta, Kishitij Patel, Haroon Salik, Amit Das, Davinder Singh, Tanzeer Ur Rehman, Arslan Muhammad, Ali Raza, Manish Manwani, Gaurang MahyavanshiCaptain: Arslan Muhammad Vice-captain: Kishitij PatelFantasy Suggestion #2: Shahid Nazir, Kishitij Patel, Ali Zafar Khan, Amit Das, Davinder Singh, Tanzeer Ur Rehman, Arslan Muhammad, Sonu Jangra, Ali Raza, Manish Manwani, Gaurang MahyavanshiCaptain: Tanzeer Ur Rehman Vice-captain: Davinder Singh
Published 16 Feb 2021, 18:25 IST

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Eddie Hearn on Deontay Wilder’s arbitration: “A Team Fury problem. We’re confident that it won’t impact our fight, or the announcement”; Tyson Fury is set to face Anthony Joshua in undisputed world title fight

By Richard Damerell
Last Updated: 15/02/21 6:03pm

Deontay Wilder has tried to enforce another fight with Tyson Fury

Tyson Fury’s ongoing arbitration with Deontay Wilder remains ‘a problem’ but promoters are optimistic that an undisputed world title fight will not be delayed.
Anthony Joshua held a meeting with Matchroom boss Eddie Hearn last week to finalise the remaining terms for a fight against Fury, with all the world heavyweight titles at stake.But Sky Sports understands that Wilder’s arbitration with Fury is still at the preliminary stages as the American stakes his claim for a third WBC title fight following his stoppage loss last February. Hey @Tyson_Fury ,Don’t worry about me I am Fine, Blessed.The only thing I want from you is for you to honor your agreement and fight me. I gave you 2 shots when I didn’t have to and it changed your life. Now it is time for you to be a man and give me my shot as you agreed to.— Deontay Wilder (@BronzeBomber) November 12, 2020 “That’s a problem and a question really for Top Rank, and Bob Arum,” Promoter Eddie Hearn told Sky Sports.”We’ve been assured by them, that’s not going to be an issue in making this fight. That’s a Fury problem, a Team Fury problem. We’re confident that it won’t impact our fight, or the announcement. Eddie Hearn “I do believe that Deontay Wilder, h e was supposed to be fighting in January. Now we’re middle of February, so how much longer is he going to wait? He’s been out of the ring for a year now, and he’s slowly imploding in every single interview that he gives. He should get back in the ring.”That’s a Fury problem, a Team Fury problem. We’re confident that it won’t impact our fight, or the announcement.”I keep saying two weeks (until an announcement). I’m bored of saying it now. People are bored of probably hearing it, but we are finalising the finest details of the contract and hope to make an announcement soon.”Fury’s UK promoter Frank Warren is also hopeful that the Joshua fight will go ahead as planned.”We don’t believe it will affect the fight,” Warren told Sky Sports. Frank Warren expects Fury to receive the go ahead to face Joshua Wilder’s management and Top Rank, Fury’s US promotional team, did not comment on the ongoing arbitration.Hearn is confident that he can agree all the terms relating to Joshua, then he plans to select the venue, with Saudi Arabia, America and Singapore among the locations being considered.”Contracts have been backwards and forwards,” Hearn had told Sky Sports last week.”Only minor details to be resolved on both ends. We’re in a good place.”AJ was in the office yesterday with us. We had a good meeting to finalise our side of stuff. Joshua has revealed details in the past about sparring sessions with Fury Joshua has revealed details in the past about sparring sessions with Fury “We’re on the verge now of getting this fight done. We want to make sure the ink is dry, and then we’ll go out and finalise the site details.”I’m going to keep quiet for now, which probably won’t last for too long, but in the meantime working hard to finalise what is the absolute biggest fight in boxing.”

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After last weekend’s big UFC 258 event, the UFC returns to its APEX facility this weekend for UFC Vegas 19.The main event sees a clash of UFC Heavyweight contenders, as Curtis Blaydes faces off against Derrick Lewis, while Bantamweights Ketlen Vieira and Yana Kunitskaya face off in the co-main.The rest of the card is far weaker, with only a handful of recognizable names. But as always with the UFC, it’s worth watching the show as you never know when a classic fight is coming.Here are the predicted outcomes for UFC Vegas 19: Blaydes vs. Lewis.#1 UFC Heavyweight division: Curtis Blaydes vs. Derrick Lewis Curtis Blaydes is probably the UFC Heavyweight division’s best wrestler.With a UFC Heavyweight title fight between champion Stipe Miocic and top contender Francis Ngannou finally signed for next month’s UFC 260, the stakes are high in this fight.A win for either man – particularly a big finish that goes viral – could propel them into the next title shot. However, the presence of Jon Jones in the Heavyweight division might change that.UFC President Dana White has claimed Jones will be next in line for a shot at Miocic or Ngannou, but Blaydes, in particular, could change that here.

Razor is on a four-fight win streak coming into this weekend, and stylistically, he seems like a tricky test for Miocic in particular.If Ngannou – who has beaten Blaydes twice – were to win the title, things would obviously be different. But if Miocic retains the belt, then there’d definitely be an argument for Blaydes, and not Jones, taking the next shot – particularly if he wins big against Lewis.What’s on the line for Lewis? In all honesty, probably nothing. The Black Beast already had his UFC Heavyweight title shot, coming up short in 2018 against then-champ Daniel Cormier. Since then, he’s gone 3-1 but is largely seen as a popular gatekeeper these days.So who is likely to take this one? To be honest, it’s hard not to favor Blaydes.Razor is probably the best wrestler in the UFC Heavyweight division right now. Indeed, he holds the record for the most takedowns landed in a UFC Heavyweight fight after dumping Alexander Volkov 14 times in their fight last summer.Blaydes has been criticized – even by White – for a somewhat dull fighting style, but that usually isn’t the case. Prior to his admittedly slower win over Volkov, he’d finished Junior Dos Santos and Shamil Abdurakhimov in violent fashion.

And this fight sounds stylistically perfect for him. Lewis is a concussive puncher – arguably only Ngannou hits harder in the entire UFC – but his ground game has always been a major weakness.Lewis’ straight-ahead style makes him relatively easy to take down, particularly for skilled wrestlers. And while he’s capable of escaping from the bottom, usually via brute force, UFC stars such as Cormier, Abdurakhimov, and Blagoy Ivanov found it relatively easy to keep him pinned.Add in the fact that The Black Beast also lacks in the cardio department, and you’d be forgiven for questioning how he’s made it this far.But when you possess the kind of face-melting power that Lewis does, you’ve always got a shot at winning. And so fights that The Black Beast was losing have quickly been turned around with one clubbing blow – giving him an impressive UFC record of 15-5.

Therefore, Lewis can win this fight, it just won’t be easy. His best bet might be to rush Blaydes from the off, just as Ngannou did, and bank on him being too willing to trade or panicking into making sloppy errors.However, I just don’t think that’s likely. It’s much more viable that Razor takes Lewis down early on, advances to the mount or back mount, and punches him very hard until the referee has to step in. A win like that would make Blaydes 11-2 in the UFC – and should net him a UFC title shot.The Pick: Blaydes via second-round TKO

Published 15 Feb 2021, 18:11 IST

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Paul Prenderville

Comment & Analysis @paulprenders

“Previously you could say there were two or three teams that would win the league, I think now there are probably about six who think we fancy this,” Sara Bayman on top-four challenge. Watch every game of the Vitality Superleague live on the Sky Sports YouTube channel

Last Updated: 15/02/21 7:44am

Hannah Williams of Loughborough Lightning in action against Bath

Loughborough head coach Sara Bayman is relishing a showdown with Midlands rivals Wasps as part of what she believes can be the Vitality Superleague’s most competitive season yet.
A bumper Opening Weekend to the 2021 season concludes on Monday night with a double-header live on Sky Sports Mix and the Sky Sports YouTube channel and for Lightning, they are back on court 24 hours after defeat to Team Bath. Vitality Netball Superleague – Round Two fixtures Sunday Team Bath 48-44 Loughborough Lightning Surrey Storm 41-53 Saracens Mavericks Severn Stars 34-53 Wasps Netball Monday Loughborough Lightning vs Wasps Netball Saracens Mavericks vs Leeds Rhinos Bayman’s squad pushed one of the favourites for the title all the way, eventually losing out 48-44, and the Lightning head coach is desperate to get three points on the board early with their own top-four ambitions uppermost in their thoughts. “It’s important to get a quick start, get some points on the board and put some pressure on the other teams rather than face pressure ourselves,” she tells Sky Sports.”It is crucial from the sport that we have a competitive league, people and fans want to watch games that they don’t know the outcome of and previously that’s where the league has had a bit of a gulf between the top teams and the bottom teams.”This season, I don’t expect that to be there and covid protocols, double game weekends might also see a levelling out.”We could end up with a topsy-turvy league table which is great for the fans – but not so great for the coaches.” Seven of the 11 teams have so far racked up victories across the first three days at the purpose-built court in Wakefield and Lightning will have to overcome a Wasps team that eased past Severn Stars on Sunday night.Defeat will mean another slow start for a Lightning team who have a habit of making life hard for themselves. Two defeats from their opening three games in the curtailed 2020 season followed a 2019 season where they lost three of their opening five games.In their defence those defeats have tended to come against top-four rivals with Team Bath, Manchester Thunder and Saracens Mavericks among the teams to get the better of them.But with points crucial in a league that will feature double header game weekends and covid protocols, meaning squad strength is more important than ever, captain Nat Panagarry knows a repeat won’t be acceptable.”We seem to have always struggled with our start and it’s always been something we have discussed,” she says.”It has taken us too long to hit the ground running and get the intensity required but I think the last few years I have been here this feels like the best pre-season we have had.”I have confidence and faith in the team after a good week where we have spoken about the intensity and training on the eve of the season we were all going for it, we didn’t know our starting seven.”Fortunately for Bayman, Panagarry and the rest of the Lightning squad next up are perhaps their fiercest rivals to focus the mind. Loughborough and Wasps have met in two of the last three Grand Finals and local bragging rights will be up for grabs as well as three vital points. Great to be back out on court !! Tough loss but lots to be positive about for our first game of the season, ready to build tomorrow 💜⚡️💪🏼 Huge congrats @suzieliverseidg on a great debut performance 👏🏻👏🏻 https://t.co/vFr5IiZ4gq— nataliepanagarry (@Npanagarry) February 14, 2021 Bayman believes it’s important for women’s sport and the Superleague season that rivalries and competitive action is on display in the first netball season that will see all the games made available to fans to watch.”Those games that mean more and where you feel the heat of the battle are a bit more than just winning and losing so it’s always one to watch,” Bayman adds with a smile.”In 2019 it was a dogfight [for the top four], we refused to lie down and when we needed wins against teams like Wasps and Thunder – we had the attitude ‘ let’s go get ’em’ and that will be the attitude we are going to have to take every week.”Top four is going to be a real scrap and once we are there we can start worrying about semi-finals and then finals are one-off games and you look around the league and anyone could beat anyone.”Previously you could say there were two or three teams that would win the league, I think now there are probably about six who think we fancy this.”East-West Midlands is a rivalry that is there, previous finals have added a touch of spice to that rivalry and it is always satisfying, like the one-goal win in 2019 – it’s probably the highlight of the season for a lot of people.” However more importantly is the job at hand. Loughborough have managed to keep their squad intact under Bayman for the last couple of seasons and this season have added England Roses star Beth Cobden after two years of injury heartache for the mid-courter.While Bayman admits more than any year 2021 is a game-by-game, week-by-week season, the top four remains the ultimate target, while the final word is on that rivalry that she admits has lost a certain edge.”It’s not as much fun now that Tamsin is not at Wasps, it doesn’t have the same edge of a week of texts beforehand!” she smiles.”I don’t think we can look beyond the rounds, everyone is going to be scrapping for top four and it is going to be tough to get in there. “It’s a cliché but we will take it game-by-game because this season especially the games are coming thick and fast right from the very start and by the end of February we might have an idea of where we are and what we will have to do.”Sky Sports is your home of netball. The Vitality Netball Superleague continues on Monday with back-to-back matches from 4.45pm on Sky Sports Mix. Viewers in the UK and Ireland can also watch on the Sky Sports YouTube channel.

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Is Christopher Lovejoy a credible contender?

There is a mystery man threatening the heavyweight division but nobody knows whether to take him seriously or not.
If you’ve never seen Christopher Lovejoy fight, he appears to be a hellacious problem for the heavyweight big boys – he has won all 19 of his fights by knockout, has ended 17 inside the first round, he insists he spars with the elite names and is calling out credible contenders.The problem? Nobody has seen Lovejoy fight. Ever. His 19 professional fights span a total of just 22 rounds, a frankly staggering statistic considering that even Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder were extended further in their earliest bouts.But Lovejoy’s career exists in a vacuum – all of his fights took place in Tijuana, Mexico, an outlier to the professional boxing landscape against no-name opponents, of which all-but-one have lost more fights than they have won.The gentlest of prods to his impressive-looking résumé reveals potentially dark secrets making it impossible to know if this Las Vegas heavyweight is a serious menace or just a pretender.”The truth is, he might be an absolute beast or he may get found out,” promoter Eddie Hearn has said after his only interaction with Lovejoy ended in farce.Given an opportunity to prove his credentials against Dave Allen in October, Lovejoy was withdrawn at short notice due to contractual issues with the legendary promoter Don King, who once worked with Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson. Once more, Lovejoy remained hidden by a cloak of invisibility.”A lot of people want to see me get beat up,” Lovejoy tells Sky Sports. He has “unfinished business” and is out to prove that his destructive 19-0 record isn’t just paper-thin. 0:28 Dave Allen was set to fight Lovejoy – here’s his KO of Nick Webb Dave Allen was set to fight Lovejoy – here’s his KO of Nick Webb Lovejoy has had zero amateur bouts – he was living the street life, “heading in the wrong direction” as he calls it, when he saw heavyweight boxers on TV who didn’t measure up to his childhood heroes.”I’m a risk taker. I’ve got the size. So I went for it,” he says.He headed for the belly of the beast, Las Vegas, and began training at Floyd Mayweather’s gym with the legend’s father and uncle but with no meaningful reputation, he was unable to get a fight.He learned that opportunity existed in Tijuana, the city on the US-Mexican border. He had to pay out of his own pocket to feature on professional cards, he says.”It was the only route I had. It was on-the-job training. I was learning how to fight.”Lovejoy was losing money but was “investing in myself and my career” – this adventure began five years ago at such low-profile events that footage scarcely exists of the 19 KOs he has racked up.He concedes his first 10 opponents were poor but, hey, he was learning with no amateur background. He also admits that his fights haven’t been as easy as they seem.”I almost got knocked out in my first pro fight,” he says.”My first ever boxing match, the opponent was a little guy. As soon as the bell rings, he rushes me and throws a 30-punch combo!”He clips me, almost knocked me out. I had to gather myself then I knocked the guy out.”The matchmaker said after: ‘At least we know you’ve got a chin!'”In my sixth fight, the guy went a whole round with me. I was so tired. I was thinking: ‘If this goes another round, I don’t know what might happen’.”Luckily for Lovejoy, the opponent retired on his stool at the end of the first round.”After that I said: ‘I’ll never come here again unless I’m prepared to go the distance’.”An overview of his opponents quickly reveals that Juan Luis Lopez Alcaraz had won just four out of 29 fights, Martin Rodriguez four out of 31 and Esteban Sosa Vazquez two out of 16.Lovejoy has knocked out eight men who had never previously won a fight.He claims the quality of his opponents gradually increased but the most recent two had won a combined 18 of their 92 fights.”There are good fighters with bad records. And terrible fighters with good records,” he says.”They come to fight because they have a lot of pride. I know people who went down there and lost.”I know a heavyweight who went down to Mexico and lost by disqualification.”In Mexico, you’d better go for the knockout because you’re in their country. The judges don’t care about you.” What is the truth about Lovejoy’s sparring with Tyson Fury? The smoke and mirrors nature of Lovejoy’s 19-fight KO streak is the source of bemusement and conjecture, but he sees it as a good thing.”It’s an advantage because they overlook me,” he says.”I’m glad because, if all my footage was out there, I wouldn’t get any fights. I wouldn’t get called out. Dave Allen wouldn’t have accepted a fight with me.”There is some mystery with me – ‘can he really fight? Is he in shape?'”If I was in tip-top shape, was sparring the top guys and all my footage was out there, I would not get a fight.”There are politics in boxing and fighters are protected.”There is a particular whisper that, somewhere at some time, in a Las Vegas gym, he found himself in the ring with Tyson Fury. Their recollections of that moment, as you might expect, differ.Lovejoy says now: “There is a secret society in gyms.”‘Tyson Fury knocked him out! Or he knocked out Tyson Fury?'”It is a mystery and you don’t know unless you were there.”These are the rules of our brotherhood.”If I had a good day against one of the top guys, I would never say.” It is fair to point out that Lovejoy has honed his craft in sparring with Luis Ortiz, the two-time world title challenger to Deontay Wilder, as well as a host of US prospects.He is relentlessly challenging more established names than his own via social media – he balks at the suggestion that this is just self-promotion.Solomon Dacres, the Team GB amateur standout who will make his pro debut on March 20, live on Sky Sports, has challenged Lovejoy who hits back: “I will end his career before it even begins.” EVERYONE HAS A PLAN UNTIL YOU GET PUNCHED IN THE FACE— Christopher Lovejoy (@lovejoyboxing) February 8, 2021 His previous visit to the UK concluded with 4am crisis talks between Eddie Hearn and Don King to thrash out a deal for Lovejoy’s scheduled fight with Allen to go ahead. That sleepless night was ultimately futile but it has extended the mystery behind what Lovejoy, already aged 37, is truly capable of inside the ring.”I’m a really big guy with an [American football] background,” he warns. “I can bench and squat 400lbs. I can dunk a basketball, I can run fast, I am very powerful.”How powerful?”I’m up there with the best. In sparring, whenever I touch someone it changes the whole dynamic. As soon as I touch someone they fall.”Ask anyone who spars with me and they will say that I hit like a mule.”The power comes naturally.”Perhaps, just perhaps, the cynicism aimed at Lovejoy’s undefeated 19-fight record with 19 KOs is because his journey, where he paid from his own pocket for an opportunity in Mexico, is unusual and misunderstood. Perhaps. “I am a different breed,” he snarls. “A different animal. Nobody could do what I’ve done. What I’ve done is unheard of.”If they don’t believe in me, shame on them. People will be heartbroken.”

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Wooden Award 2020-21 nominee Ayo Dosunmu scored 31 points to give Illinois Fighter Illini (14-5, 10-3 Big 10) the win against Nebraska on Saturday. With that, the team is now on a 5-game winning streak and places No. 2 in Big 10 standings.Illinois will look to continue their dominant season in their fight against the Northwestern Wildcats (6-12, 3-11 Big 10) on Monday.Northwestern will look for an upset win when they step on the court to face one of the best teams in the nation. Meanwhile, Coach Chris Collins’ team dropped their 11th straight game on Saturday, suffering a heart-wrenching 64-50 loss against Rutgers.Northwestern Wildcats PreviewNorthwestern will need to be on their A-game when they face an Illinois team that beat them comprehensively the last time the two teams played this year.Their 81-56 loss to Illinois on Jan. 7 showed the team had no answer on how to stop them.Northwestern ranks second-to-last in Big 10 standings, sitting just above Nebraska by one game. The team holds a conference record of 3-11, and they will really need to toughen up when they play arguably the best team in the conference.Key Player – Chase Audige

Audige serves as the team’s leading scorer, averaging 12.8 points for the season. The sophomore guard only scored 11 points in the team’s loss to the Rutgers, but put up 19 points against Indiana and 18 against No. 24 Purdue.If Northwestern wants to keep up with Illinois, Audige must step up offensively, and defensively, when he matches up against Ayo Dosunmu on Monday.Illinois Fighting Illini PreviewThe team just continues to amaze us throughout the season. Just when we thought the team had been in a slump at one point, Illinois squashed those notions, immediately.Illinois is led by tandem Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn, both Wooden Award Candidates, as the two have been outstanding for the team all season. Cockburn dominated against Northwestern in their last meeting, as the center scored 18 points and snatched 12 boards for a double-double. He also had 21 points in the game against Nebraska.

Kofi Cockburn ranks second in the NCAA with 14 double-doubles this season, behind only Austin Peay’s Terry Taylor with 15. Cockburn has posted double-doubles in 11 of 13 Big Ten games. https://t.co/wHwBd3mmNT— Illini Stats & Notes (@IlliniStats) February 13, 2021Brad Underwood’s team is one of the top teams in college basketball and will continue their Big 10 surge when they look to dominate against Northwestern.Key Player – Ayo DosunmuDosunmu dominated the team’s recent win against Nebraska. The junior guard is averaging 21.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 5.1 assists for the season.He is elite when he gets in rhythm and utilizes his all-around game on the offensive end. The guard came up big in the overtime win against Nebraska, scoring 22 points in the second half, 10 points in regulation, and the first 5 points in overtime.Illinois vs Northwestern PredictionExpect this game to end in a blow-out win for Illinois. With the way Illinois’ entire starting line-up and reserves have progressed, Northwestern might have to brace themselves for the worst.When Illinois defeated Northwestern on Jan. 7, the team was at their breaking point in winning six of their last 8 before that. But now that this team has reached their breaking point, Illinois could see their dominance against Northwestern as soon as the game tips off.Where to watch the game ?The game will be broadcast on the Big 10 Network.
Published 15 Feb 2021, 05:45 IST

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Sophie Kelly, a 16-year-old debutant, looked right at home on a Vitality Netball Superleague court

Surrey Storm, Team Bath Netball and Strathclyde Sirens all secured victories on the second day of the Vitality Netball Superleague season in Wakefield on Saturday.
The trio joined Leeds Rhinos Netball and Manchester Thunder in making winning starts to their 2021 campaigns as a bumper weekend of action continued at Studio 001.London rivals Storm and Pulse duked out a thrilling first match of the day, with Storm coming out on top, before Team Bath Netball showcased their title credentials against Dragons. Last on court, were Severn Stars and Strathclyde Sirens. The two did not disappoint as they pushed each other to the wire, before Sirens secured victory.The bumper start to the season continues on Sunday with three more matches all available to watch via the Sky Sports YouTube channel, before Monday’s two contests are live on Sky Sports Mix.Kelly fires Storm to opening winSurrey Storm edged out London Pulse in a thrilling contest to start Saturday’s action in Wakefield, 16-year-old Sophie Kelly the hero for Mikki Austin’s teamThe teams had met in one of the few games to be contested in the 2020 season and, after Pulse won 12 months ago, it was Storm who gained their revenge with a 42-40 victory. Kelly, part of the England U17 and U19 squads, came on to make her Superleague debut when Storm’s starting goal attack Emma Magee suffered a painful leg injury after just four minutes, but the teenager was never fazed.Having made a blistering start to the cancelled 2020 season, Pulse were keen to pick up where they had left off but it was Storm who started the faster, responding to Lefebre Rademan opening the scoring with a blistering run of seven unanswered goals.Trailing by four after the opening 12 minutes, Pulse then fell six behind before they were finally able to chip away at Surrey’s advantage. Coach Sam Bird turned to Kira Rothwell for Rademan as she tried to get some control against a Storm defence which had Leah Middleton and Niamh Cooper impressing. Belying her age, the 16-year-old slotted in seamlessly alongside Karyn Bailey to keep Storm competitive throughout a physical match-up and it was fitting she scored the goal that sealed victory in the final seconds Sigi Burger drew Pulse within one and Rothwell was on hand to level the scores for the first time since the opening exchanges, but Storm recalibrated and held on to lead by two at half-time.Pulse continued to create the clear-cut openings, but were wasteful in the shooting circle, in contrast Karyn Bailey and Kelly were relentless in taking the chances that came their way. Midway through the third quarter Pulse managed to sneak their way into a lead for the first time since the opening score thanks to a three-goal burst from Burger.Bird’s team held onto their advantage, Olivia Tchine helping them into a one-goal lead going into the final quarter and then a two-goal advantage through the early stages of the last 12 minutes. At 16-years-old, Sophie Kelly looked right at home on a @NetballSL court. 👏Outstanding @SurreyStorm debut from @mikki_austin’s GA – what a platform it sets for her.The bit that makes us feel just a tad old… she was born in 2005! 😄— Sky Sports Netball (@SkyNetball) February 13, 2021 Storm drew level at 35-35 and made their decisive move in a low-scoring contest with a 5-1 run giving them a lead which Pulse could not overturn – despite a couple of late chances to force a draw that typified their afternoon’s work with the feed into the circle letting them down.It was not to be for Pulse who are back in action next Sunday, while Storm look to maintain a 100 per cent start in less than 24 hours when they face Saracens Mavericks. Vitality Superleague – Round One fixtures & results Friday Celtic Dragons 35-65 Leeds Rhinos Strathclyde Sirens 36-53 Manchester Thunder Saturday London Pulse 40-42 Surrey Storm Team Bath 61-29 Celtic Dragons Strathclyde Sirens 36-30 Severn Stars Confident first outing from title hopefuls BathAnna Stembridge’s Bath outfit, like Pulse and Thunder, had enjoyed a flawless start to the 2020 season before its cancellation, and they underlined why they are among the favourites for the title with a 61-29 win over the Dragons.Early on both teams made mistakes, as many have done after so long without competitive action. But as the opening quarter wore on, Bath began to up their tempo in attack and work their full-court press well. On her Superleague return, England co-captain Serena Guthrie enjoyed a great deal of space in the goal third and thrived, feeding the potent partnership of Sophie Drakeford-Lewis and Kim Borger effortlessly.The result of Bath’s slick work was a six-goal advantage, but as Annika Lee-Jones started to use her height more in the circle and Dragons looked to Amy Clinton earlier in attack, the Welsh team finished the first quarter strongly to hold Bath to a 13-9 advantage. The start of the second quarter saw Eboni Usoro-Brown, who has been documenting her journey back to elite netball after giving birth, return to court and the seasoned international fitted effortlessly into the Bath defensive end. The most decorated side in Superleague history then put their foot on the gas.Imogen Allison worked hard in defence, while Borger got the better of Lee-Jones up front, and, as was the case on Friday night against the Rhinos, Dragons found themselves staring at a large half-time deficit. 61-29 Bath win. No Guscoth today and no Bath ‘starting 7’ and whole squad took to court 👀👀👀 not bad 😂🤷🏼‍♀️Im definitely sticking @SkyNetball— Tamsin Greenway (@tamsingreenway) February 13, 2021 At 31-15 down, Tania Hoffman used the break to make wholesale changes. Christina Shaw showed her versatility as she moved from WD to GK, while Claire Jones donned the WD bib, with Sophie Morgan and Shona O’Dwyer completing a new-look mid-court. They were slick, really slick. Bath were accurate, composed and they made their possession count. What I also loved was their work in their defensive end, for example Imogen Allison turned over so much ball in that first half. In what looks like becoming a theme through the congested season, Stembridge also decided that the third quarter was the time to mix things up, with Betsy Creek, Charlie Curtis and Abi Robson arriving in place of Borger, Tash Pavelin and Guthrie.The changes did little to loosen Bath’s hold on the game, instead their speed of play and pressure emptied a tired Dragons energy reserves and they charged over the finish line, with plenty in the tank for Sunday’s mouthwatering clash against Loughborough. Vitality Superleague – Round Two fixtures Sunday Team Bath vs Loughborough Lightning Surrey Storm vs Saracens Mavericks Severn Stars vs Wasps Monday Loughborough Lightning vs Wasps Saracens Mavericks vs Leeds Rhinos Sirens show composure to edge StarsStrathclyde Sirens built on the positives of their first match on Friday night and edged out Seven Stars 36-30 in a cracking contest to finish the day.It was clear from the onset that the match was going to be hotly contested from post to post. Brilliant opening weekend @SirensNetball 😊 think teams will be taking note for sure 👀 apart from my gals @Lynsey_G & @bethgoodwin47 smashing it as always..SO impressed with Taylor Cullen in defence AND attack 👏🏽🚨— sam murphy (@saam_murphy) February 13, 2021 Despite good pressure from Lucy Herdman, Sirens’ Bethan Goodwin and Lyndsey Gallagher remained confident with their shots and, at the other end, Liana Leota set the tone for Stars with her feeds into Georgia Rowe.Although Sirens found a two-goal edge midway through the quarter, they were hauled back in and just a single goal separated them after the opening 12 minutes. In the second quarter, Towera Vinkhumbo did her utmost to provide Sirens with the ball they needed to fully break free, but Stars stayed firm.As the quarter played out, it remained tense and tight before the Scottish outfit finished stronger and created a 19-16 half-time advantage. Saturday done & dusted. Sirens👏🏼👏🏼Patience in attack, hustle in defence. So many chances to push on so getting over the line will fill them with so much confidence. Stars need to regroup quickly as they face wasps tomorrow, they just never found the attacking answers @SkyNetball— Tamsin Greenway (@tamsingreenway) February 13, 2021 After the interval. Melissa Bessell introduced Lucy Harris at C and Iman Thomas at GD, while Karen Atkinson decided to stick with the same line-up. Sirens’ consistency paid dividends, as Vinkhumbo put doubt in Stars’ minds, and the Scottish outfit duly created a four-goal cushion.From a position of 26-22 in their favour, the final quarter was a test of nerve for Sirens and Stars.The introduction of 18-year-old shooter Goodwin proved to be a masterstroke from Sirens’ technical director Atkinson and that change in attack turned the game. Goodwin created a great target in the circle and although Stars never gave up, Sirens were able to finally move away and secure the victory they desired.Sky Sports is your home of netball. The Vitality Netball Superleague continues on Sunday at 2pm on Sky Sports’ YouTube Channel. Every contest will be available to watch across Sky Sports, the Sky Sports YouTube channel or England Netball’s YouTube channel.

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In a blockbuster Saturday night game in the 2020-21 NBA, two offensive juggernauts, the new-look Brooklyn Nets and the short-sized Golden State Warriors, will lock horns at the Chase Center in San Francisco. Both sides previously clashed in the season opener, where Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving helped the Brooklyn Nets surge past the Golden State Warriors with a 125-99 blowout victory.With two-time NBA champion and former Golden State Warriors player Kevin Durant returning to the Bay Area, he could have an enticing battle against his former teammate Stephen Curry. Durant and Curry played together for three seasons, winning back-to-back NBA championships.✈️ @KDTrey5’s return to basketball and the Bay, and what else to watch for on our five-game West coast road trip ✈️— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) February 13, 2021Brooklyn Nets fans have reason to celebrate too, as their ten-time All-Star Kevin Durant is set to make his return after missing three games due to the league’s stringent COVID-19 protocols. Durant finally got the nod to play ball after he was ejected twice from the game against the Raptors on Friday. He will now take on the short-handed Golden State Warriors for the first time, with three-time scoring champion James Harden in the lineup and Kyrie Irving alongside him. With four MVP-caliber players expected to feature in the game, there could be fireworks galore.The Golden State Warriors face an uphill battle in this matchup. However, they will fancy their chances of an upset if their floor general Stephen Curry comes to the fore. Curry has been on a tear in recent games, and could potentially explode for another monster performance in this thrilling matchup.

With Klay Thompson out with a season-ending injury, former league MVP Stephen Curry has carried the Golden State Warriors’ hopes on his shoulders, keeping his team in contention for the playoffs. He will need to carry the load offensively in this matchup but will need the rest of the cast to step up and capitalize on the Brooklyn Nets’ non-existent defense.This season, Stephen Curry is averaging 30 points on an impressive 49% shooting from the floor and 43% shooting from downtown. Curry will especially need Andrew Wiggins to have a good outing at the offensive end, as the latter has been the second scoring option behind him on most nights.Golden State Warriors – Team News Stephen Curry (#30) of the Golden State WarriorsThe Golden State Warriors are likely to continue playing small ball, as they remain without a true center in their lineup. Up-and-coming star James Wiseman will miss a week’s action due to a wrist injury, while Kevon Looney (ankle) and Marquese Chriss will remain on the sidelines with injuries as well.Nevertheless, the Golden State Warriors have momentum with them after winning their last two games. They have been blazing on the offensive end of the floor, averaging an impressive 113.8 points per game. While the Brooklyn Nets appear to be the favorites on paper, it would be foolhardy to count out a team boasting Stephen Curry, one of the best shooters in the league.

Brooklyn Nets – Team News James Harden (#13), Kevin Durant (#7) and Kyrie Irving (#11) of the Brooklyn NetsMeanwhile, Brooklyn Nets primary center DeAndre Jordan won’t be available for this matchup due to personal reasons. That improves the chances of the short-sized Golden State Warriors upsetting their more illustrious opponents on Saturday night. The Brooklyn Nets will also be without Iman Shumpert and Nicolas Claxton for this game.The Brooklyn Nets have seen their fair share of ups and downs this campaign. However, with the return of Kevin Durant, the team will look to fire on all cylinders, and aim for a blowout victory against the Golden State Warriors.At what time will the Brooklyn Nets vs Golden State Warriors game commence?USA: February 13th, 2021, 8:30 PM (Eastern Time).India: February 14th, 2021, 7:00 AM (Indian Standard Time).

Where to watch Brooklyn Nets vs Golden State Warriors?The Brooklyn Nets-Golden State Warriors match will be televised nationally on the ABC network. Local coverage will be available on AT&T Now and NBC Sports Bay Area. The game will also be streamed live on the NBA League Pass.
Published 13 Feb 2021, 17:53 IST

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Paul Prenderville

Comment & Analysis @paulprenders

Leeds Rhinos too strong for Celtic Dragons with impressive start to Superleague life, while Manchester Thunder rally to see off Strathclyde Sirens

Last Updated: 12/02/21 8:59pm

1:58

Dan Ryan, Leeds Rhinos Netball’s high performance director and head coach, reflects on his team’s 65-35 Vitality Superleague win over Celtic Dragons.

Dan Ryan, Leeds Rhinos Netball’s high performance director and head coach, reflects on his team’s 65-35 Vitality Superleague win over Celtic Dragons.

Leeds Rhinos began life as a netball franchise with a dominant victory over Celtic Dragons as the 2021 Vitality Superleague season got underway in Wakefield, with champions Manchester Thunder also starting in style.
Rhinos are the newest team in the Superleague, but they fired an early warning sign that they are likely to be dangerous opponents as they ran out 65-35 winners over an out-of-sorts Dragons who failed to get going.Thunder were slower out of the traps than their Lancashire rivals, but after surprisingly trailing to Strathclyde Sirens after the opening quarter, they bossed the rest of the match to chalk up a 53-36 win. A bumper start to the season continues on Saturday with three more games to complete Round One, and then more live action on Sunday and Monday – and you can watch all of the action unfold via the Sky Sports YouTube channel. Vitality Superleague – Round One fixtures & results Friday Celtic Dragons 35-65 Leeds Rhinos Strathclyde Sirens 36-53 Manchester Thunder Saturday London Pulse vs Surrey Storm Team Bath vs Celtic Dragons Strathclyde Sirens vs Severn Stars Rhinos charge past Dragons to start in styleLife in the Superleague started fast for the Rhinos as they flew out of the traps to lead early – an advantage they never relinquished against the Dragons as they claimed a deserved and comfortable victory in their first official game as a franchise. With former basketball prodigy Donnell Wallam leading from the front, Rhinos raced into a 12-4 lead against a shellshocked Dragons, who made the 220-mile journey from Cardiff to the purpose-built court at Production Park in Wakefield.They maintained their eight-goal lead through to the end of the first quarter, Rhea Dixon adding a touch of flair from the goal-attack position and England’s most capped player Jade Clarke stamping her authority on the game from the centre position.In contrast to the Dragons’ journey, Leeds made the short trip across Yorkshire for their Superleague bow and with the experienced defensive end of Fi Toner, Vicky Oyesola and Tuaine Keenan making life difficult for Rebekah Robinson to lay the platform for Rhinos to continue pulling clear. The experienced Jade Clarke made her debut for the Rhinos and was pivotal throughout as she laid the foundations for the attacking intent while ensuring the defensive end had bags of support. 1:24 Jade Clarke said it was a privilege to be back on a Vitality Netball Superleague court and was so proud of her team after Leeds Rhinos Netball’s victory. Jade Clarke said it was a privilege to be back on a Vitality Netball Superleague court and was so proud of her team after Leeds Rhinos Netball’s victory. Rhinos were 12 goals clear at half-time and as is so often the case, the stronger team used the third quarter to pull clear – conceding just six goals in an impressive third quarter that underlined their authority.Aussie shooter Wallam continued to enjoy an impressive start to life in the Superleague and with a 49-23 lead at the end of the third quarter, Dan Ryan turned to some of the Rhinos talented youngsters.Both teams will be back for a second time over the weekend, Dragons face a less than 24-hour turnaround when they face Team Bath on Saturday, while Rhinos take on Saracens Mavericks in a mouthwatering-looking contest on Monday night.Rhinos finished with a flourish, wrapping up a dominant 30-goal victory with valuable court time for youngsters Sienna Rushton, Rosie Harris and Emily Hollingworth while there is much to ponder for Dragons’ Tania Hoffman. Vitality Superleague – Round Two fixtures Sunday Team Bath vs Loughborough Lightning Surrey Storm vs Saracens Mavericks Severn Stars vs Wasps Monday Loughborough Lightning vs Wasps Saracens Mavericks vs Leeds Rhinos Leeds Rhinos: Why netball, why now? Gary Hetherington and Kevin Sinfield reveals how netball fits into the Rhinos franchise and Dan Ryan can’t wait to get started Thunder rally to see off stubborn SirensManchester Thunder are the champions desperate to retain their title, and they battled back from a slow start to pick up where they left off during the truncated 2020 season. Thunder had started fast with four wins from four games before the season was cancelled amid the coronavirus pandemic, but it was Sirens who seized the early initiative.An early turnover allowed Sirens to forge a two-goal lead and with uncharacteristic mistakes hampering the Thunder cause, it was Sirens who took the early credit.Beth Goodwin in attack and new recruit Towera Vinkhumbo in defence gave the Scottish franchise plenty to be pleased with during an impressive first quarter of the season. Lynsey Gallagher moved them three goals clear and it was four by the end of the opening 12 minutes.Trailing 12-8, Thunder made changes as Laura Malcolm moved to centre and Caroline O’Hanlon to wing defence and a fast start to the quarter saw them stem the Sirens flow and fight back to level the contest at 16-16 and then hit the front.Karen Greig’s team did not look back from that moment, closing out the first half with a 23-19 lead as Eleanor Cardwell, who enjoyed an impressive Legends Series for England, began to find the goal with increasing regularity. A tactical tweak saw Malcolm move from centre to wing attack after the first quarter and the England Rose used all her experience to dominant the mid-court and help Thunder get off to a winning start Having turned a four-goal deficit into a four-goal advantage, Thunder introduced Kerry Almond into the goal keeper bib, just days after she came out of retirement to replace the injured Loreen Ngwire.The result was a dominant defensive end in a low scoring third quarter which Thunder edged 10-7 to pull further clear and allow Greig to bring on some of the franchise’s talented youngsters for the final quarter.The impressive Lois Pearson was one of those, she teamed up with Cardwell to help Thunder take their lead into double figures. With games coming thick and fast, both teams rotated their squad through the closing stages, Thunder eventually closing out a victory with plenty of room for improvement before they return next week. Sirens can take great heart from making the champions work for a victory and put themselves in fine position to take on Severn Stars on Saturday.Sky Sports is your home of netball. The Vitality Netball Superleague returns on Friday at 4.45pm on Sky Sports Mix, with a 10-match weekend. Every contest will be available to watch across Sky Sports, the Sky Sports YouTube channel or England Netball’s YouTube channel.

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The 9th-ranked Virginia Cavaliers will play host to their ACC conference rival North Carolina Tar Heels on Saturday. The Cavaliers currently hold the top spot in the ACC standings, most recently defeating Georgia Tech to earn their 10th conference victory. The North Carolina Tar Heels have had an up-and-down season, but they enter this matchup in 5th place in the ACC.Match DetailsFixture: North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Virginia Cavaliers – NCAA Men’s BasketballDate & Time: Saturday, February 13th, 2021, 6 PM ETVenue: John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, Virginia_________________________________________________________________North Carolina Tar Heels Preview Notre Dame v North CarolinaThe North Carolina Tar Heels are fighting to stay in the mix after a tough start to their season. Victorious in seven of their last nine games, North Carolina is looking like the perrenial contender they are.North Carolina Tar Heels is coached by the legendary Roy Williams, now in his 18th season with the program. Williams has accumulated a lifetime record of 479-158 while at North Carolina, including 9 Final Four appearances. While this Tar Heels team looked to be having an off year, they seem to have revived and can keep their momentum rolling with an upset on Saturday.

Key Player – Caleb LoveFollowing a breakout performance against Duke earlier this week, Caleb Love will be the key to victory for the Tar Heels on the road. The star freshman exploded for a season-high 25 points to lift his team to a 4-point victory.Caleb Love had averaged just over 10 points per game prior to this outburst, but perhaps he has found his stroke at the right time. The Virginia Cavaliers will need to keep a close eye on Love, as he may bring the hot hand with him on the road.North Carolina Tar Heels Predicted LineupF Garrison Brooks, F Armando Bacot, G Leaky Black, G Caleb Love, G Kerwin Walton_________________________________________________________________Virginia Cavaliers Preview

The Virginia Cavaliers carry a 14-3 overall recordThe Virginia Cavaliers outlasted the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in a defensive battle in their last matchup. While they were held to a season-low 57 points of offense, the Cavaliers’ defense allowed just 49 points, their lowest in conference play.With a commanding lead in the ACC standings, the Virginia Cavaliers can enter this matchup under no pressure. The North Carolina Tar Heels have been heating up lately, but the Cavaliers are playing their best basketball.Key Player – Sam HauserVirginia Cavaliers’ star forward Sam Hauser could make a huge impact in Saturday’s matchup with North Carolina. The 6’8″ senior is leading the Cavaliers’ offense in scoring, averaging just under 15 points per game. Hauser tallied just 8 points in Virginia’s latest win, but did his work on the boards with 10 rebounds.With a dangerous North Carolina Tar Heels team coming to town, Sam Hauser will need to display his leadership and control the paint all night. The senior will be matched up with Armando Bacot, providing a tough challenge on the glass for the talented Hauser.

Virginia Cavaliers Predicted LineupF Sam Hauser, F Jay Huff, G Kihei Clark, G Trey Murphy III, G Reece Beekman_________________________________________________________________North Carolina vs. Virginia PredictionNorth Carolina Tar Heels has a very balanced offense, with three starters averaging double digits in scoring and a team field goal percentage of 44%. The Tar Heels will certainly put up a good fight and could possibly complete the upset with another breakout performance from Caleb Love.However, the Virginia Cavaliers have denied many attempts at an upset, proving to be the top competitor in the ACC. I give the Cavaliers a slight advantage in this matchup due to their recent defensive efforts.Where to watch North Carolina vs. VirginiaThe game will be broadcast on ESPN.
Published 13 Feb 2021, 06:18 IST

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