Conference Crowns


By: Jeff Yoder

Good Morning,

It’s the February finale — and the slowest sports news day so far in 2023. A quiet night in sports brings the calm before the storm. The week ahead is ready to pop with the NHL trade deadline, NFL scouting combine, and plenty of crucial college basketball matchups. We’ll start there, in college hoops, where conference crowns are all but claimed.

Letter Rip!


New Polls & Conference Crowns

Photo: Bob Levey / Getty Images

Men’s Top-5 Stays In Tact While Women’s Top-5 Shuffles, Plus An Updated Look at Conference Standings

Here it is, team. The last set of AP Polls before March has set the tone for the first four months of the college basketball season. The men’s top five stayed locked while everyone is chasing South Carolina in the women’s poll. Let’s do one last pre-March power poll and take a look at the projected winners of each conference regular season crown roughly one week before conference tournaments tip off.

Men’s AP Top-10

1. Houston (27-2) | —

2. Alabama (25-4) | —

3. Kansas (24-5) | —

4. UCLA (25-4) | —

5. Purdue (24-5) | —

6. Marquette (23-6) | ↑4

7. Baylor (21-8) | ↑2

8. Arizona (24-5) | ↓1

9. Texas (22-7) | ↓1

10. Gonzaga (25-5) | ↑2

Full Men’s AP Top-25

Men’s Projected Conference Winners/Leaders (Conf. Record)

ACC: #25 Pittsburgh (14-4), #16 Miami (14-5), #13 Virginia (13-5)

Big 12: #3 Kansas (12-4), #9 Texas (11-5)

Big East: #6 Marquette (15-3)

Big Ten: #5 Purdue (13-5)

Pac-12: #4 UCLA (16-2)

SEC: #2 Alabama (15-1)

Women’s AP Top-10

1. South Carolina (29-0) | —

2. Indiana (26-2) | —

3. Utah (25-3) | ↑5

4. LSU (27-1) | ↑1

5. Maryland (24-5) | ↑2

6. Stanford (27-4) | ↓3

7. Iowa (23-6) | ↓1

8. Virginia Tech (24-4) | ↑1

9. UConn (25-5) | ↓5

10. Notre Dame (24-4) | —

Full Women’s AP Top-25

Women’s Projected Conference Winners/Leaders (Conf. Record)

ACC: #10 Notre Dame (15-3), #8 Virginia Tech (14-4), #13 Duke (14-4)

Big 12: #12 Texas (13-3), #16 Oklahoma (12-4)

Big East: #9 UConn (17-2), #11 Villanova (16-3)

Big Ten: #2 Indiana (16-2), #5 Maryland (15-3), #7 Iowa (15-3)

Pac-12: #3 Utah (15-3), #6 Stanford (15-3)

SEC: #1 South Carolina (16-0), #4 LSU (15-1)

Additional Storylines

B/R: Early Predictions for Champions of Every Men’s Conference Tournament

FOX Sports: NCAA Bubble Watch 2023: Much-Needed Wins for UNC, Arizona State & More



Combine Incoming

Photo: Kevin Sabitus / Getty Images

Everything to Watch at the 2023 NFL Combine This Week

The first major checkpoint of the NFL offseason has officially begun. The NFL Scouting Combine is underway in Indianapolis with college football’s elite displaying their talents for the 32 teams preparing for the 2023 NFL Draft. The league invited 319 prospects to this year’s combine for a series of aptitude tests and interviews before on-field drills later this week. The draft will take place April 27-29 in Kansas City, and this week’s workout will have a big impact on who goes where. Here are the key dates for this week’s events along with the top storylines to watch.

2023 NFL Combine Schedule

Thursday: Defensive Linemen & Linebackers

Friday: Defensive Backs & Special Teams

Saturday: Quarterbacks, Receivers & Tight Ends

Sunday: Running Backs & Offensive Linemen

On-Field Drills to Watch

40-Yard Dash

Bench Press

Vertical Jump

Broad Jump

Three-Cone Drill

20 & 60-Yard Shuttle

Key NFL Combine Storylines

The Bears own the No. 1 pick in the draft, so much of the attention this week will center around what Chicago plans to do and how it impacts the other top picks. The Bears are expected to trade down given other teams’ need for a quarterback. We’ll be watching the top QBs this week — Bryce Young (Alabama), C.J. Stroud (Ohio State), Will Levis (Kentucky), and Anthony Richardson (Florida) — although Young won’t throw this week. All four are projected top-10 picks.

The first few days focus on medical measurements and interviews where players undergo off-the-field testing. Your team’s big decisions in April are actually being made this week.

Additional Storylines

SI: The Nine Biggest NFL Draft Storylines Heading Into Combine Week

CBS Sports: Bears Reportedly Likely to Trade No. 1 Pick in 2023 Draft, But Still Meet With Combine QBs



 NBA Highlights

Hornets def. Pistons (117-106)

*LaMelo Ball Fractures Ankle

Heat def. 76ers (101-99)

Knicks def. Celtics (109-94)

*Jayson Tatum Gets 1st Career Ejection

Magic def. Pelicans (101-93)

 NHL Highlights

Senators def. Red Wings (6-2)

Bruins def. Oilers (3-2)

*Boston Wins 7th Straight; McDavid Scores 50th Goal

Canucks def. Stars (5-4, OT)

Avalanche def. Golden Knights (3-0)

*Colorado Wins 6th Straight

Ducks def. Blackhawks (4-2)



 The Loss Won’t Slow Jake Paul

For the first time since the start of his bombastic, polarizing, unexpected, and – admit it now, increasingly intriguing – foray into boxing, the punching YouTuber has tasted defeat. Now 6-1, Jake Paul is still just getting started. (FOX Sports)

 Early Takeaways From MLB Rule Changes

Freshly behind us is the first weekend of Cactus and Grapefruit League spring training games, and that occasioned a first look at the new rules in play for the 2023 MLB season. The early verdict is that it didn’t take long for said new rules to make a palpable difference. (CBS Sports)

 Alabama’s Reputation Going Up in Flames

Early last week, a detective investigating a murder case disclosed that Alabama’s Brandon Miller, one of the best players in the country, brought a gun to the scene of what would become a crime. Miller continues to play, and Alabama’s reputation is taking a hit. (Yahoo! Sports)



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