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Sports

Duke No. 1 in AP preseason men’s hoops poll

12:48 PM ET Associated Press Duke was in good position to be ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press poll before landing Marvin Bagley III. Once the nation’s top recruit decided to reclassify for this season, the Blue Devils became the voters’ clear choice. Led by Bagley and senior guard Grayson Allen, Duke was the preseason No. 1 for the second straight season and ninth time overall, matching rival North Carolina for most all time. The Blue Devils received 33 of 65 first-place votes from a national media panel in the AP Top 25 released on Wednesday. Arizona might have more experience to go with its talent. Michigan State might have the best player in the country in addition to depth. Kansas and Wichita State have rosters filled with playmakers. But Duke has everything. No. 2 Mich...

The great Tyrod Taylor debate

8:00 AM ET This story appears in ESPN The Magazine’s Nov. 13 issue. Subscribe today! IN EVERY BILLS game, Tyrod Taylor performs a feat of athleticism that makes you question your prior understanding of how human limbs are supposed to move — how legs and arms and hands normally work in tandem, restricting one’s ability to, say, hopscotch and type at the same time. In early October, when Buffalo went down to Atlanta, it happened in the second quarter amid a scoring drive. Taylor took a snap and faked a handoff, then found himself face-to-face with a pair of irate-looking Falcons linemen. He danced to his right. As he cocked his arm, eyes downfield and feet still whirring, his left leg rose in the manner of a prima ballerina taking flight, and he flicked a 44-yard bomb to ti...

Papa John’s boss: NFL protests hurting sales

1:43 PM ET Executives from Papa John’s, the official pizza company of the NFL, expressed disappointment on a conference call Wednesday about the league’s ongoing player protests during the national anthem. “The NFL has hurt us,” company founder and CEO John Schnatter said. “We are disappointed the NFL and its leadership did not resolve this.” Executives said the company has pulled much of its NFL television advertising and that the NFL has responded by giving the company additional future spots. “Leadership starts at the top and this is an example of poor leadership,” Schnatter said, noting he thought the issue had been “nipped in the bud” a year and a half ago. In revising sales estimates for the next quarter, Papa John’s p...

Impact games in college basketball’s first month

8:53 AM ET The biggest date at the start of the college basketball calendar is Nov. 14. That’s because of Champions Classic, which will have Duke, Michigan State, Kansas and Kentucky — four of the top five teams in our preseason Power Rankings. It doesn’t get any better than that — and certainly not in November. It also doesn’t take a Bracketologist to project all four of these teams into the 2018 NCAA tournament. Barring a complete calamity off the court, we’re talking about four legitimate national championship contenders and four very possible — if not probable — No. 1 seeds. The intrigue comes when we dive a little deeper into the nonconference schedule. There are literally dozens and dozens of matchups that could be pivotal to the NCAA t...

Preseason BPI not especially high on Duke, Kentucky

11:33 AM ET The Duke Blue Devils are not the favorite to win this year’s college basketball national championship. That bold statement, made by our Basketball Power Index (BPI), runs contrary to the sentiment from just about everyone else, including ESPN’s own power rankings and Las Vegas futures. Wichita State isn’t trying to make a name for itself. Ask Gregg Marshall. “You look at some of the teams we beat,” he said. The Shockers feel they already have a name, so their goal isn’t a league crown or tournament berth. No, they want a national title. Sure, the season is long. But that doesn’t mean the games in November don’t matter or won’t be entertaining. So it’s time to take a look around the schedule and see what early can’...

Quick 9: Anticipation, questions surround Tiger’s return

11:02 AM ET 1. Tiger returns If it seems too soon, Tiger Woods’ return to competitive golf is not really surprising. The Twitter video posts in recent weeks, including driver and stinger swings, suggested that Woods was feeling good about himself and his recovery from April back surgery. His Monday announcement that he would play the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas beginning Nov. 30 confirmed that optimism, offering a promising yet cautionary future. Promising, because it wasn’t that long ago Woods was acknowledging it was possible that his playing career could be done. Cautionary, because we’ve been down this road before with these comebacks, only to see more issues arise. The difference this time? Expectations. Or the lack thereof. Perhaps this time, Woods will retu...

The Bilas Opus: Here to rescue college basketball

8:10 AM ET Welcome to The Opus, the most comprehensive view of the wide landscape of college basketball. The Opus is not a preview, it’s an awakening — not to what could happen in the game, but what will happen. The Opus removes all mystery and intrigue. The accuracy of The Opus is beyond pinpoint. The Opus is not a road map to be unfolded at a gas station by the side of the road. The Opus is more accurate than GPS and is both celestial and terrestrial. The big names are obvious: Arizona, Duke, Michigan State and on and on. But where does your team fall? Top 50? Top 100? The more you scroll, the worse it gets. Top 200? You just hope you aren’t No. 351. There were different names here and there, but a few kept popping up over and over. Whether it was title winner, player o...

Minutes restriction or not, there’s no holding back Joel Embiid

Oct 31, 2017 0:46 A healthy Joel Embiid is showing the NBA that his skills were worth the wait as he gives hope to the 76ers and their fans. PHILADELPHIA — Joel Embiid postures at the free throw line like the Greek warrior Perseus, flexing his chiseled 7-foot-2 frame and gesturing to the paying customers to raise their game. The adoring Philly crowd responds accordingly, enthusiastically bellowing in unison, “Let’s go process!” When Embiid drains the first free throw, the chant is upgraded: “MVP! MVP!” Are Fultz’s shooting struggles and shoulder issues a major setback for the No. 1 pick’s career? Kevin Pelton and Mike Schmitz discuss. What players and teams have stood out the most over the first two weeks of NBA action, and will it last? Our ...

Follow live: It’s winner-take-all in Game 7

Yu Darvish didn’t get help from his defense and did induce three soft grounders, but his inability to put away Yuri Gurriel in a 13-pitch at-bat is maybe a sign that he doesn’t have the A stuff tonight. Clayton Kershaw isn’t warming up, but he was stretching and getting loose out in the bullpen. David Schoenfield, ESPN Senior Writer

Bedlam curse? Oklahoma State’s tortured history against its in-state rival

8:30 AM ET STILLWATER, Okla. — Excitement was building this week in town for one of the biggest bouts in Bedlam history. Local landmark Eskimo Joe’s was packed for lunch, with more patrons sporting orange than not. Around the corner, on campus, the Oklahoma State band was getting ready to rehearse its pregame routine. Before long, ESPN “College GameDay” will begin setting up on the library lawn. Mike Gundy has beaten Oklahoma just twice in 12 season as Oklahoma State’s head coach. Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports Such excitement is warranted because this showdown of the No. 5 Sooners and No. 11 Cowboys will carry implications for both the Big 12 championship game and the College Football Playoff. But for this small community, and the OSU fan base around the state...

Expensive ticket: Game 7 fetching big bucks

9:59 AM ET Game 7 of the World Series at Dodger Stadium will be one of the most expensive tickets in baseball history. Ticket reseller StubHub said Wednesday morning that the average ticket sold to Wednesday night’s winner-take-all game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Houston Astros was purchased for $1,795. While it falls some $300 short of last year’s Game 7 between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians, it more than doubles the price paid on StubHub for a Game 7 ticket in 2014 (Giants-Royals, $887) and nearly triples what was paid for a Game 7 in 2011 (Cardinals-Rangers, $696). Keep up with the latest as baseball’s top teams contend for the title. • Ultimate playoff guide » | WS Picks »• Dodgers beat Astros, force Game 7 »• The inning that won Game 6 for L...

This incredible World Series gets the ending it deserves

10:30 AM ET LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros have outlasted Halloween. Now all they have to do is try to outlast each other. The 2017 World Series has been building toward a crescendo from the moment Jackie Robinson’s family threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 1. The Dodgers and Astros have traded leads, home runs, home-field advantages, gut punches and momentum under a California sky, a retractable roof in Texas and back again. And now the one missing piece that distinguishes the very good or even excellent series from the true classics is finally here. It’s going the distance. Keep up with the latest as baseball’s top teams contend for the title. • Ultimate playoff guide » | WS Picks »• Dodgers beat Astros, force Game 7 »• The ...