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Daphne Oz, former ‘The Chew’ host, pregnant with fourth child

Daphne Oz is pregnant with baby No. 4

The 33-year-old former TheChew co-host announced the big news on Instagram on Tuesday. Oz cradled her baby bump in the sweet photo, and said she was due later this year.

“I do love to cook!” she wrote. “Bun in the oven #4 coming your way later this year and we couldn’t be more excited!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️.”

Oz has been married to her husband, investment fund analyst John Jovanovic, since 2010. The two are already parents to 5-year-old daughter Philomena, 3-year-old son Jovan Jr. and 1-year-old daughter Domenica. 

Oz often shares adorable family photos on social media, including one last month of her and her husband and their kids celebrating her 33rd birthday on the beach. 

And clearly, she and Jovanovic still know how to keep the romance alive.

Last January, Oz kept it real about her post-baby bod after giving birth to Domenica. 

“Seven weeks post partum, still looking three months pregnant,” she captioned an Instagram selfie,  in which she was wearing a black bra and black lace underwear. “There is no bounce-back, it’s all onwards and upwards.”

“Every day has moments of total splendor and also a decent number of WTFs,” she continued. “I especially want the new mamas out there to hear that, because we see so much of how glossy motherhood can be and not enough of how real 3D life is always complicated (and better for it).”

Read on to learn more about Daphne Oz. Find out how she got interested in nutrition, how she ended up on ABC’s The Chew and what on-air announcement surprised her colleagues on the show.

Image Credit: Disney ABC Television Group by Jeff Neira

How Daphne Got Interested In Nutrition

Daphne wrote the successful Dorm Room Diet when she was still in college. “I was looking to lose that weight myself,” shares Daphne. “When I figured out how to successfully lose 30 pounds in a way that didn’t deprive myself of all the amazing experiences college had to offer, I really felt compelled to share it with my peers. I knew I couldn’t be the only college kid out there who felt like this was the time to harness my health.”

Image Credit: Getty Images

How Daphne Got Involved With The Chew

“I was touring the country, speaking at college campuses about the power we have individually to harness our health without sacrificing fun (or flavor!), or making it a huge hassle. I’d graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and went on to receive my culinary degree from the Natural Gourmet Institute. Food is the “medicine” we treat ourselves with daily, and I knew that figuring out how to make delicious meals that are also super nutritious and ideally pretty easy to prepare was going to be the best way for me to make healthy living a priority without driving myself crazy.”

Image Credit: Getty Images

“The more I learned and put into practice in my own life, the more I was able to share about what really worked. So when The Chew was casting, they reached out to me as someone who could speak to health in a way that was totally accessible for people who just wanted to live real life and make the best choices possible, and really enjoy the process.”

Image Credit: Getty Images

“I was home for three days before my husband and I went on our honeymoon and I got a call from Gordon Elliot, our executive producer. I went into an open casting call with about 200 different culinary personalities,” remembers Daphne. After three rounds of auditions with different casts over eight months, she was finally connected with the current cast and the pilot was picked up by ABC.

Image Credit: Disney ABC Television Group by Jeff Neira

“I probably lost 10 years of my life over this eight month process because every time you get the phone call, you think the show is going on without you or it’s not happening, which is terrifying because you are so invested and it is such a cool show,” she reveals. “I feel lucky every day to get to call this ‘work’ because it’s just such a blast!”

Image Credit: Getty Images

The Close Cast Of The Chew

“Mario talks about it all the time: This is not the family I would have picked; we are an odd mix of people. You almost couldn’t tell what the commonalities were going to be, if there were going to be any at all, but we all have such a love of food and we each come to it through such a different perspective. The beauty of having five different voices on the show with five perspectives and five techniques, is that we legitimize the viewer’s sixth version of things. If you do something differently, chances are it is just as good, [but just] different,” explains Daphne.

Image Credit: Disney ABC Television Group by Jeff Neira

“We got on so well from day one,” Daphne tell us. “We just celebrated our 500th episode, so it’s cool because we got to look back at some of the moments we’ve had and see how those relationships have grown.”

Image Credit: Disney ABC Television Group by Jeff Neira

Favorite Moment On The Chew

“My favorite moment was my birth announcement on the show. My colleagues were so surprised and so genuinely happy for me and John. You can’t fake that kind of love for each other. There is a still taken from the show where Mario had this look of shock and horror on his face. He was like, ‘How did I not know about this already? We share everything.’ I had only been able to keep it a surprise because we’d been on hiatus for five weeks during the bulk of my first trimester. I was away so I was able to keep it hush hush. So, when I came back and surprised him he was so shocked and thrilled,” Daphne explains.

Image Credit: Disney ABC Television Group by Jeff Neira

What She Admires About Mario Batali

“Mario has this incredible ability to remember the historical details of a dish or the origin of where it came from and how these flavors came together. I found that really illuminating.”

Image Credit: Getty Images Entertainment by Dimitrios Kambouris

What She Admires About Michael Symon

Daphne says, “Michael is so smart in the way he thinks about flavor pairings. He’ll make a really fatty meat dish but then he’ll pair it with a gorgeous, crisp citrus salad, or some kind of amazing [dish] that hits every taste bud in your mouth and makes a meal feel balanced as opposed to going totally overboard. I’ve been able to learn a huge amount from him.”

Image Credit: Disney ABC Television Group by Jeff Neira

What She Admires About Carla Hall…

“Carla is like my big sister. At 27, I don’t necessarily know where my life [will] end up. Carla is able to share these incredibly strengthening and emboldening things about life with me, just little tidbits about how to respect yourself and how to feel confident about things. Her life has been so interesting. She has had like 15 different careers and because her life has been so crazy she has so much valuable wisdom to share. Woman to woman, I feel so bonded to her,” Daphne explains.

Image Credit: Disney ABC Television Group by Jeff Neira

What She Admires About Clinton Kelly…

“Clinton is fabulous. Culinary wise, I love the way that he cooks because it is easy comfort cooking. He wants food that is beautiful, sophisticated and easy. That is such a great way to think about food. The things that I’ve learned most from Clinton are that you are your best self when you are being yourself. Don’t filter and don’t try to apologize for things because you don’t know how people will respond to them. Be exactly who you want to be and people will love you or not love you for it, but that’s ok because then they are getting the real you,” says Daphne.

Image Credit: Disney ABC Television Group by Jeff Neira

Her Favorite Type Of Food

“My favorite food is Mediterranean. I eat a lot of Turkish, Greek and Persian food. It’s funny because I don’t think of it as a healthy restaurant type of thing, but when you think about it you are getting a big chopped shepherd’s salad, you are getting some hummus and a shish kabob, so it really is a good and delicious way to eat out,” Daphne tells us. “They have such a preference on quality ingredients, and the portions are so different; they are not going to bring you out a porterhouse steak-sized anything. It’s just not how they eat.”

Image Credit: Getty Images

Biggest Culinary Pet Peeve

“Why do I need orange zest in my chocolate?” asks Daphne, as one of her biggest culinary pet peeves is the combination of citrus and chocolate.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Restaurant She’d Like to Open

If Daphne Oz were to open a restaurant, it might be a healthy fast food spot in Tribeca or Midtown Manhattan. “I think healthy fast food that is flavorful and indulgent is missing in the marketplace,” she shares.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Kitchen Tool She Can’t Live Without: Skillet

“Everyone should have their 8-10 inch skillet on hand,” says Daphne.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Kitchen Tool She Can’t Live Without: Dutch Oven

“I have my Le Creuset cast iron dutch oven. It is the best kitchen tool you’ll ever buy yourself as a new cook because you can do everything in it: You can braise, sear, stir fry, make a soup, bake.” says Daphne.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Kitchen Tool She Can’t Live Without: Chef’s Knife

Daphne recommends investing in “a good, sharp chef’s knife.”

Image Credit: Getty Images

Kitchen Tool She Can’t Live Without: Blender

“I love a quick blender,” Daphne says. “I use a Ninja. You can make smoothies in it, make a soup puree or chop vegetables.”

Image Credit: Getty Images

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Article source: https://www.aol.com/article/entertainment/2019/03/20/daphne-oz-former-the-chew-host-pregnant-with-fourth-child/23696986/

Disney finally closes its $71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox

At long last, Disney has completed its $71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s film and TV assets.

With the deal wrapped up, Disney will take over ownership of 20th Century Fox film and TV studio, cable networks FX, FXX and National Geographic, and certain cable and international television assets. Disney also acquires Fox’s 30 percent stake in Hulu, giving it majority control. The new assets should strengthen Disney’s position as a content behemoth, especially as it launches Disney+ later this year, its own streaming competitor to Netflix.

“This is an extraordinary and historic moment for us–one that will create significant long-term value for our company and our shareholders,” Disney CEO Bob Iger said. “Combining Disney’s and 21st Century Fox’s wealth of creative content and proven talent creates the preeminent global entertainment company, well positioned to lead in an incredibly dynamic and transformative era.”

Meanwhile, what’s left of 21st Century Fox will be a portfolio of news, sports and broadcast businesses formed into a new company called Fox Corporation. These include Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, Fox Broadcasting Company, Fox Sports (including cable networks FS1, FS2, Fox Deportes and Big Ten Network) and its local TV stations. That new company debuted on the NASDAQ Stock Market on Tuesday under the symbol “FOXA.”

Disney will now have to start what figures to be an arduous process of merging the two giant companies, which is expected to result in massive layoffs. The company has already set some of its senior leadership under the new structure, which include Peter Rice and Dana Walden coming over from Fox.

Walden will serve as chairman of the newly-named Disney Television Studios, which encompasses ABC Studios, ABC Signature, 20th Century Fox TV and Fox 21. Under Walden, John Landgraf and Gary E. Knell will serve as chairmen of FX and Nat Geo Partners, respectively, while Ben Sherwood, the co-chair of Disney Media Networks and the president of the Disney-ABC Television Group, will leave the company.

On the film side, Emma Watts, as well as several other Fox film executives, will make the move to Disney’s studio entertainment management team. Watts will report directly to Disney studio head Alan Horn and will serve as vice chairman for 20th Century Fox Film and president of production at Fox. Nancy Utley and Stephen Gilula will stay on as co-chairmen for Fox Searchlight and will also report directly to Horn, along with Elizabeth Gabler, who will serve as president of production at Fox 2000. Current Fox film CEO Stacey Snider will not be joining the new company; many in the industry believe she’s a candidate to eventually take over Warner Bros. following the sudden exit of CEO Kevin Tsujihara on Monday.

Related: Disney CEO Bob Iger

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During its annual shareholder meeting on March 7, Iger confirmed they’ll keep the Fox name on at least some of its newly-acquired assets. “We will continue to make the movies under the Fox brand and Fox Searchlight brand. FX will keep its name too.”

The acquisition of Fox’s film studio also means that key Marvel properties — including the X-Men, Deadpool and Fantastic Four — are finally back under Marvel Studio’s control, as the comic book powerhouse charts its course after next month’s “Avengers: Endgame.” That film is widely expected to be the last movie for some of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s key actors including Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr.

Other key Fox properties that Disney now owns include the “Avatar” and “Alien” franchises, and TV series “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy.”

Hulu will become part of Disney’s three-pronged effort in the streaming arena, to go along with the upcoming Disney+ and the sports offering ESPN+, which launched last April and has already surpassed 2 million paid subscribers. Hulu figures to be the home for most of the Fox programming assets that don’t fit under Disney’s family-friendly brand. This will be the first the streaming service is majority owned by a single company, with Comcast and WarnerMedia collectively owning the other 40 percent (though both are launching their own streaming services within the next two years).

Disney now has 90 days to find a buyer for the 22 regional sports networks it gained from Fox, which was part of its agreement with the Department of Justice to sign off on the deal. Known bidders for the networks include MLB, Amazon, TEGNA and Sinclair Broadcasting. Disney already sold one of them, when the New York Yankees — along with Amazon and Sinclair – reportedly agreed to buy the YES Network.

Fox and Disney had originally agreed on a $54.2 billion all-stock deal in Dec. of 2017, before Comcast offered an unsolicited bid in an attempt to outflank Disney, which eventually upped its offer by almost $20 billion in a cash-stock split. Fox’s stake in European pay-TV company Sky PLC was supposed to be part of the deal, but Comcast ended up out-bidding Fox for control of the company. Fox, with Disney’s sign-off, eventually sold its stake to Comcast.

Read original story Disney Finally Closes Its $71.3 Billion Acquisition of 21st Century Fox At TheWrap

Article source: https://www.aol.com/article/finance/2019/03/20/disney-closes-billion-dollar-acquisition-21st-century-fox/23696503/

Trump rejects idea of expanding U.S. Supreme Court

WASHINGTON, March 19 (Reuters) – President Donald Trump on Tuesday ruled out the idea of expanding the nine-member U.S. Supreme Court, using a question about “court packing” to criticize Democrats in a preview of a likely attack line for the 2020 election.

Trump said he “wouldn’t entertain that,” when asked about expanding the size of the court at a news conference.

“The only reason they’re doing that is they want to try to catch up, so if they can’t catch up through the ballot box by winning an election they want to try doing it in a different way,” the Republican president added, referring to Democrats.

Trump has appointed conservative Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch to the court since taking office in 2017, cementing its 5-4 conservative majority. Supreme Court justices are appointed for lifetime terms, and both his appointees potentially could serve for decades.

In response to Trump’s appointments, a handful of liberal activists have argued that if Democrats win the White House in the November 2020 presidential election, they should expand the number of Supreme Court justices to tip the balance of control toward liberals.

When asked, some candidates seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination have said they would consider adding more justices to the court or other reforms. However, they have not made it a central part of their policy proposals, and other Democrats have opposed such an idea. Long-shot liberal candidate Pete Buttigieg has mentioned a Supreme Court composed of 15 justices that implements other reforms to ensure partisan parity.

Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, center, speaks with attendees during a campaign stop in Ankeny, Iowa, U.S., on Friday, Feb. 8, 2019. A flurry of proposals to slap new taxes on the ultra-wealthy, extend Medicare to all Americans and make college debt-free reflect a rapidly changing Democratic Party that sees a sharp left turn as the path to defeating President Donald Trump. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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Trump’s pledge to place conservative justices on the court was a key campaign promise. Republicans have found that talking about the court galvanizes their conservative political case, given the court’s influence over contentious issues including abortion, gay rights and immigration policy. The composition of the Supreme Court also is a major issue for liberals.

When Trump was elected in 2016, there was a court vacancy because of the death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia and the Republican-led Senate’s refusal to consider Democratic President Barack Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland.

Some Democrats have accused Republicans of “stealing” a seat, pointing to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s move to block consideration of Garland and keep the position vacant until the following year so the next president could make the appointment. McConnell’s action, with little precedent in U.S. history, enabled Trump to nominate Gorsuch in 2017, with the Republican-led Senate voting to confirm him.

Expanding the court – by either party – would be difficult.

Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt in 1937 proposed expanding it to as many as 15 justices. Critics accused him of a “court-packing” scheme aimed at changing its ideological composition. The proposal went nowhere in Congress.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Writing by David Alexander; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Will Dunham)

Article source: https://www.aol.com/article/news/2019/03/19/trump-rejects-idea-of-expanding-us-supreme-court/23696082/

Trump rejects idea of expanding U.S. Supreme Court

WASHINGTON, March 19 (Reuters) – President Donald Trump on Tuesday ruled out the idea of expanding the nine-member U.S. Supreme Court, using a question about “court packing” to criticize Democrats in a preview of a likely attack line for the 2020 election.

Trump said he “wouldn’t entertain that,” when asked about expanding the size of the court at a news conference.

“The only reason they’re doing that is they want to try to catch up, so if they can’t catch up through the ballot box by winning an election they want to try doing it in a different way,” the Republican president added, referring to Democrats.

Trump has appointed conservative Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch to the court since taking office in 2017, cementing its 5-4 conservative majority. Supreme Court justices are appointed for lifetime terms, and both his appointees potentially could serve for decades.

In response to Trump’s appointments, a handful of liberal activists have argued that if Democrats win the White House in the November 2020 presidential election, they should expand the number of Supreme Court justices to tip the balance of control toward liberals.

When asked, some candidates seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination have said they would consider adding more justices to the court or other reforms. However, they have not made it a central part of their policy proposals, and other Democrats have opposed such an idea. Long-shot liberal candidate Pete Buttigieg has mentioned a Supreme Court composed of 15 justices that implements other reforms to ensure partisan parity.

Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, center, speaks with attendees during a campaign stop in Ankeny, Iowa, U.S., on Friday, Feb. 8, 2019. A flurry of proposals to slap new taxes on the ultra-wealthy, extend Medicare to all Americans and make college debt-free reflect a rapidly changing Democratic Party that sees a sharp left turn as the path to defeating President Donald Trump. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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Trump’s pledge to place conservative justices on the court was a key campaign promise. Republicans have found that talking about the court galvanizes their conservative political case, given the court’s influence over contentious issues including abortion, gay rights and immigration policy. The composition of the Supreme Court also is a major issue for liberals.

When Trump was elected in 2016, there was a court vacancy because of the death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia and the Republican-led Senate’s refusal to consider Democratic President Barack Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland.

Some Democrats have accused Republicans of “stealing” a seat, pointing to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s move to block consideration of Garland and keep the position vacant until the following year so the next president could make the appointment. McConnell’s action, with little precedent in U.S. history, enabled Trump to nominate Gorsuch in 2017, with the Republican-led Senate voting to confirm him.

Expanding the court – by either party – would be difficult.

Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt in 1937 proposed expanding it to as many as 15 justices. Critics accused him of a “court-packing” scheme aimed at changing its ideological composition. The proposal went nowhere in Congress.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Writing by David Alexander; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Will Dunham)

Article source: https://www.aol.com/article/news/2019/03/19/trump-rejects-idea-of-expanding-us-supreme-court/23696082/

U.S.-backed forces capture Syria suspects tied to American deaths

WASHINGTON, March 19 (Reuters) – U.S.-backed forces have captured Islamic State fighters tied to a January suicide bombing in Syria that killed four Americans, U.S. officials say, generating concrete leads for Washington about the deadliest attack to date there against U.S. personnel.

The bombing killed Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jonathan Farmer, Navy Chief Cryptologic Technician Shannon Kent and Scott Wirtz from the Defense Intelligence Agency. It also killed Ghadir Taher, a naturalized U.S. citizen working as a civilian interpreter for a U.S. contractor.

One of the officials told Reuters the number of people detained was in the “single digits.” A second official said there were several “initial detentions” made in February, without offering a specific number. The detentions have not been previously reported.

**Click through the following slides to see reaction to President Donald Trump’s announcement that strikes were underway in Syria.**

(MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

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“Those initial detentions have provided some leads and opportunities that we are continuing to exploit,” the second official said, speaking on condition of anonymity and declining to offer additional details.

“The investigation is ongoing as are efforts to bring all of those terrorists responsible to justice.”

The attack was the worst single incident involving U.S. personnel in Syria since they deployed on the ground there in 2015 and took place at a cafe in the town of Manbij, which was controlled by a militia allied to U.S.-backed Kurdish forces.

The bombing occurred nearly a month after President Donald Trump confounded his own national security team and allies with a surprise decision on Dec. 19 to withdraw all 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria, declaring Islamic State had been defeated there.

Critics seized on the killings as clear evidence that the Islamic State still posed a threat.

Trump backtracked in February, agreeing to leave a small U.S. presence to help keep pressure on Islamic State during what the U.S. military believes will be a critical stabilization phase in Syria. The United States is seeking contributions from allies including Britain and France to remain in Syria.

INSURGENCY THREAT

The U.S. military has warned that Islamic State may still count tens of thousands of fighters, dispersed throughout Iraq and Syria, with enough leaders and resources to present a menacing insurgency in the months ahead.

The Pentagon’s own internal watchdog released a report last month saying Islamic State remained an active insurgent group and was regenerating functions and capabilities more quickly in Iraq than in Syria.

“Absent sustained (counterterrorism) pressure, ISIS could likely resurge in Syria within six to 12 months and regain limited territory,” the report from the Pentagon’s inspector general said. The report, citing information from U.S. Central Command, said Islamic State would portray the withdrawal as a “victory” and conduct attacks on American personnel during the pullout process.

A report by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that Islamic State has transformed into a covert network, but is still a threat with centralized leadership, up to $300 million at its disposal and thousands of fighters. It said the group was interested in attacking aviation and using chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials and that there were up to 18,000 Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, including up to 3,000 foreign fighters. (Reporting by Phil Stewart Editing by Tom Brown)

Article source: https://www.aol.com/article/news/2019/03/19/us-backed-forces-capture-syria-suspects-tied-to-american-deaths/23695539/

Kylie Jenner and YouTuber David Dobrik surprise strangers at the mall

Over the weekend, Kylie Jenner teamed up with YouTube personality David Dobrik to give a few strangers quite the surprise. 

In a video posted to YouTube on Saturday, Jenner hides in the backseat as Dobrik gives rides to unsuspecting fans, who are quizzed about their Kardashian-Jenner knowledge, like which sister is their favorite and what they know about Jenner’s successful cosmetics brand

One fan reveals his favorite Kardashian sibling is Khloe only to find out Jenner is sitting behind him. “I was just about to say you were my favorite,” he says to uproarious laughter from Dobrik and Jenner.

Later, a young female fan freaks out when Dobrik tells her to congratulate Jenner on her success, only to discover the mogul is sitting behind her. “Bro, you f**king kidding me,” she exclaims as she covers her shocked face. “What the f**k!”

The video continues this way until one fan fumbles over his Jenner knowledge, much to Dobrik’s confusion. “Are we talking about the right Kylie?” he asks his passenger, who clarifies he’s indeed a fan of Jenner’s. 

When she finally pops up behind him, he tells Jenner she’s “f**king fire” and receives a hug from the superstar. 

Fans can’t seem to get enough of the surprises, with the video racking up over 6.3 million views and counting. Watch the full clip below. 

The playful video comes amid drama surrounding Jenner, who has been slow to rebuild her friendship with Jordyn Woods after it was revealed the Kardashian pal hooked up with Khloe Kardashian’s now-ex-boyfriend, Tristan Thompson. The revelation has caused a rift between the two longtime friends. 

A source previously told ET that the two friends “have communicated, but not much,” with Jenner “still figuring out where [Woods] fits into her life.” For more on that story, check out our full coverage below. 

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Article source: https://www.aol.com/article/entertainment/2019/03/18/kylie-jenner-and-youtuber-david-dobrik-surprise-strangers-at-the-mall/23695224/

Ranking the 2019 NCAA tournament contenders, from 1 to 68

We began with 353. Across 49 states and a federal district, 353 universities, teams, groups of kids and young adults, all with dreams.

They were partitioned into 32 conferences, as always, the idea to apportion excellence somewhat evenly over a broad landscape. And for decades, the conference concept had done just that. In the first 40 years of NCAA tournament seeding – a format introduced in 1978-79 – only once did a single league claim three No. 1 seeds. And none of the Big East’s three that year (2009) was the nation’s dominant team.

But in Season 41, the one whose March is about to get Mad, distributions skewed. Balance became imbalance. It was not a season-long storyline, because it was not a season-long trend. But heading into the 2019 NCAA tournament, for quite possibly the first time ever, the three best teams in college basketball come from a single conference: The ACC.

[Best bracket wins $1M: Enter our free contest now! | Printable bracket]

With 353 trimmed to 68, those three teams lead our nowannual 1-68 ranking of national championship contenders – grouped into 10 tiers, ordered from most to least likely to snip nets in Minneapolis on April 8. They are North Carolina, Duke and Virginia, the top three overall seeds, the 2018-19 ACC Triumvirate. And they are Tier 1 of 10 – your 2019 NCAA tournament favorites.

Tier 1: The ACC Triumvirate

(Region, seed and first matchup in parentheses)

1. North Carolina (M1; vs. Iona) — On the surface, Carolina is admittedly a strange choice at No. 1. It has neither Duke’s star power nor Virginia’s numerical might, nor a win over either at full-strength. But these Tar Heels, more so than their fellow ACC rulers, were constructed to win six straight over three weekends against a diverse succession of challengers.

They are No. 1 because of variety and versatility; because they do so many things well that they can win without doing all of them well. They pound the offensive glass, but their offensive might is no longer reliant on it. They break off made baskets like Roy Williams’ best teams of the late 00s did, and share the ball like the 2005 champs did. They have a two-big combo for every situation, a point guard who can score on anybody, an off-guard who can stop anybody, and a 6-foot-9 wing who can shoot over anybody. They have the ideal blend of youth and experience, an upward trajectory, and a Hall of Fame coach. They’re the complete package – and would be more widely recognized as such if they had simply hit five of their 26 3-point attempts in a one-point ACC semifinal loss to Duke instead of four.

CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 15: North Carolina Tar Heels guard Cameron Johnson (13) drives through Duke Blue Devils forward RJ Barrett (5) and Duke Blue Devils forward Cam Reddish (2) during the ACC basketball tournament between the Duke Blue Devils and the North Carolina Tar Heels on March 15, 2019, at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, NC. (Photo by William Howard/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

2. Duke (E1; vs. play-in winner) — Of the 32 teams that have won national championships since the NCAA introduced a 3-point line in 1986, only six have made less than 35.5 percent of their long-range attempts. Only three have been below 34 percent. None has been worse than 32.9.

In other, simple words: No team has ever won a national title shooting as poorly from the perimeter as the 2018-19 Duke Blue Devils.

Their 30.2 percentage from beyond the arc is the worst in the entire tournament, and is one of several Blue Devil flaws. Among the others are depth and youth. There are more reasons to feel uneasy about a team that will undoubtedly be America’s most popular title pick than many realize.

On the other hand, few players have ever masked flaws as convincingly as Duke’s rim-eviscerating, sprint-winning, rebound-gobbling, shot-swallowing, needle-threading human pogo/wrecking ball/brick wall, Zion Williamson. He makes an absurd 76 percent of his 2-point field goals. He isn’t just the most hyped college basketball player in decades. He’s the most impactful, the clearest-cut National Player of the Year in some time, a supernatural force that can propel the ACC tournament champions to another, bigger crown.

3. Virginia (S1; vs. Gardner-Webb) — Have they evolved since last year’s nightmare? Slightly. Not much. (Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Eisenberg will have more on this later in the week.) But who says they have to in order to contend for a national title?

Even if you subscribe to the theory that the Cavs’ methodical style makes them more susceptible to upsets – the argument being that fewer possessions = fewer opportunities to exert superiority – that doesn’t apply beyond the NCAA tournament’s first weekend. So free your mind from recency bias. Escape thoughts of last year’s once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. Recognize that this is the best program in college basketball over the past six years, and have faith in Virginia.

Tier 2: The true contenders

4. Gonzaga (W1 vs. play-in winner) — With a full-strength Killian Tillie, this is the nation’s best frontcourt. And before a stunning WCC final loss to St. Mary’s, this was a Tier-1 team. Heck, it still might be. Vegas says it is. Gone are the days of Gonzaga skepticism. An 89-87 November win over Duke – which felt like an NBA game in a high school gym – further squashed it. And Tillie returned from a foot injury last week, giving Mark Few his complete eight-man rotation for the Big Dance.

But the fact that the Zags have only played one tourney team since Dec. 15 isn’t irrelevant. When competition ramps up, can Brandon Clarke shoot 70 percent, and the collective a Division I-high 62.3 percent inside the arc? Can the guards puncture stronger defensive shells off the dribble? And can a team whose tallest healthy contributor is 6-foot-8 keep mammoth major-conference opponents off the glass? (Duke and North Carolina each rebounded more than 46 percent of their own misses against the Zags earlier this season.)

The point of asking those questions isn’t to presume negative answers. It’s to point out that they are, in fact, still questions, unanswered by WCC play. Gonzaga can win a national championship. But it hasn’t proven as much as the ACC Triumvirate.

5. Kentucky (M2; vs. Abilene Christian) — Can we, once and for all, bottle up the wrongheaded take that John Calipari is a great recruiter but mediocre basketball coach and launch that take into the sun?

There was a time not too long ago when this Kentucky team looked set to whiff on the lottery, and produce only one first-round NBA draft pick, for the first time under Coach Cal. And at that same time, the Wildcats did not look like true contenders. But the young core – PJ Washington, Keldon Johnson, Tyler Herro and Ashton Hagans – has developed as individuals and a unit. Kentucky is peaking at the right time. There’s no Anthony Davis- or Karl-Anthony Towns-level talent that would equate this year’s team to Calipari’s best. But the 2011 Final Four squad might be a decent comparison.

6. Tennessee (S2; vs. Colgate) — If you believe experience is necessary in March – and last year’s Final Four, with only three freshman starters across four participants, would support that belief – Tennessee is your squad. The top six players in Rick Barnes’ rotation are upperclassmen. The moxie that accompanies their maturity was on display in the last three minutes of an SEC semifinal that felt like a Final Four duel. The Vols erased an eight-point deficit to knock off Kentucky. And charismatic star Admiral Schofield’s message to his team in the midst of that comeback – “Why shy away now?” ­– might as well apply to Tennessee’s postseason run as well.

7. Florida State (W4; vs. Vermont) — The Seminoles are deep and balanced beyond belief. Eight players average at least than six points per game, with the leader of the eight coming off the bench. They have a 7-foot-4 dude who moves decently well; a skilled 6-foot-10 change-of-pace when he doesn’t move well enough; a seemingly endless stable of long-tentacled wings who reach into offense’s dreams and make them nightmares; a couple tough upperclassmen guards; and an underrated coach who’s 70 going on 50.

They’re one of two teams to beat Virginia (the other is Vegas’ title pick). They’re 14-2 in their last 16. They’re a better, more seasoned version of last year’s Noles, who sunk top-seeded Xavier and Gonzaga. They’re a legitimate national title contender.

8. Michigan State (E2; vs. Bradley) —They’re big. They’re strong. They’re old. They’re tough. Unfortunately, they aren’t healthy. Junior center Nick Ward doesn’t yet look himself. There’s a Joshua Langford-sized hole in the wing rotation. And one of the players doing his best to fill it, Kyle Ahrens, was stretchered off during the Big Ten title game with an ankle injury. Sparty can hang with anybody in the country, and should still snap the longest second-weekend drought of Tom Izzo’s career. But it lacks the top gear of its Tier 1 and 2 brethren.

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 17: Michigan Wolverines forward Ignas Brazdeikis (13) battles with Michigan State Spartans forward Xavier Tillman (23) and Michigan State Spartans forward Kenny Goins (25) during a Big Ten Tournament Championship game between the Michigan Wolverines and the Michigan State Spartans on March 17, 2019, at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

9. Texas Tech (W3; vs. Northern Kentucky) — An anomalous Big 12 quarterfinal loss to West Virginia aside, Tech played Final Four-caliber basketball over the season’s final month-plus. Already the nation’s most bucketproof defense, the Red Raiders scored 1.27 points per possession over their final seven regular-season games, which included a visit from Kansas and a trip to Iowa State. Chris Beard should be the coach of the year, Jarrett Culver will be a lottery pick, and shooters and shot-blockers surround him. The only reason for hesitancy: Tech hasn’t played a fellow Final Four contender since December.

10. Michigan (W2; vs. Montana) — The offense, statistically, is better than last season’s. Freshman Iggy Brazdeikis arrived as an already-certified baller. Zavier Simpson has reinvented the sky hook as a 6-foot, below-the-rim point guard. And the defense – the second-stingiest in Division I in adjusted efficiency terms, Michigan’s fourth consecutive year-over-year improvement – rubber-stamps John Beilein’s latest evolution as a coach.

The big difference, however, between this team and last year’s national runner-up is the absence of a big German. Mo Wagner was a matchup nightmare that forced opponents out of their defensive comfort zones. These Wolverines don’t have an individual who does that.

Tier 3: The fringe Final Four contenders

11. Virginia Tech (E4; vs. Saint Louis) ­— The Hokies would be more fun and more dangerous with point guard Justin Robinson – who remains out indefinitely with a foot injury. But doubt a water-bottle-karate-chopping coach and a 39.4-percent, high-volume 3-point shooting team at your own risk.

12. Purdue (S3; vs. Old Dominion)

13. Auburn (M5; vs. New Mexico State) — The eye test labels the Tigers “streaky as hell.” The numbers connect the dots. Bruce Pearl’s guard-oriented team launches almost 50 percent of its field goals from beyond the 3-point line – and makes 38 percent of them. It also forces turnovers more often than anybody else in the country, on more than a quarter of opponent possessions. Two high-variance strategies producing frequent fluctuations in performance? Yep, checks out.

So when Auburn is good, as it was at the SEC tournament, it’s really good. And when it’s not? No need to go there, because these rankings are about ceilings, not floors. Auburn’s is high.

14. Houston (M3; vs. Georgia State) — Last year’s Cougs were a 30-foot buzzer-beater away from halting Michigan’s run to the national championship before it really got started. This year’s Cougs lost two of their top three scorers … and got better.

15. Kansas (M4; vs. Northeastern) — All five starters, and seven of nine rotation players, are newcomers. Would-be cornerstones are injured (Udoka Azubuike), ineligible (Silvio De Sousa) and no longer with the team (Lagerald Vick). The byproduct of the upheaval was the end of the streak, and is, frankly, an inconsistent, mediocre-by-Jayhawk-standards team – because it’s a team Bill Self never expected to put on the floor.

16 Kansas State (S4; vs. UC Irvine) — Dean Wade’s status – questionable with a foot injury – significantly mutes K-State’s upside. The Wildcats can win without him, as they did en route to last year’s Elite Eight. But the 6-foot-10 stretch-five – the team’s best shooter, and arguably its best facilitator – makes the (104th-ranked) offense far more potent.

Tier 4: The wiretapped

17. LSU (E3; vs. Yale) – On the eve of its outright SEC regular-season title clincher, LSU suspended head coach Will Wade after a Yahoo Sports report revealed the FBI had intercepted calls between Wade and a middleman discussing a “strong-ass offer” for a recruit. That recruit, (presumably) current Tiger guard Javonte Smart, was held out of one game, but returned for the SEC tournament. The Wade situation, however, remains at a standstill.

How will it affect the Tigers in the NCAA tourney? That’s anybody’s guess. For what it’s worth, LSU lost its SEC quarterfinal to unranked Florida. Interim coach Tony Benford, in his only prior head coaching gig, never finished above .500 in five seasons at North Texas. And these Tigers weren’t as good as their outright conference title would suggest in the first place. They won it with offense, and their offense sustains itself on ferocious rebounding. Keep them to one shot – as Yale might just be able to do – and they’re a relatively ordinary team.

Tier 5: The lurkers

18. Iowa State (M6; vs. Ohio State) — If the Cyclones can win two games and get to Hilton South – the cite of their Big 12 tournament triumph – for the regional … watch out.

19. Villanova (S6; vs. Saint Mary’s) — Buried beneath the many glorious offshoots from last year’s triumph was an inconvenient one: The players expected to step from secondary roles into primary roles stepped instead to the NBA. The departures of Omari Spellman and Donte DiVincenzo accelerated the developmental treadmills under the entire roster. Those two were supposed to be the guys; instead, the guys are last year’s fifth and sixth options. The Wildcats have neither the talent nor the polish required for a repeat run.

20. Wofford (M7; vs. Seton Hall) — Fletcher Magee might be the greatest shooter in college basketball history. At the very least, he’s currently the closest thing college hoops has to JJ Redick. And … uh … his team’s 3-point percentage (41.6) is higher than his (41.3).

Seriously.

Wofford guard Fletcher Magee (3), guard Nathan Hoover (10), center Matthew Pegram (50), guard Ryan Larson (11) and guard Trevor Stumpe (15) celebrates their team's 70-58 win over UNC-Greensboro for the Southern Conference tournament championship, Monday, March 11, 2019, in Asheville, N.C.  (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)

21. Buffalo (W6; vs. Arizona State/St. John’s) — Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel wrote a fantastic feature on Bulls head coach Nate Oats, who six years after teaching high school math is one of the hottest commodities in college basketball. And his trio of seniors, led by CJ Massinburg, will make 30-win Buffalo a tough out.

22. Nevada (W7; vs. Florida) — The Pack have played one tournament team all year. Their reputation continues to live off last year’s inconceivable comeback against Cincinnati and a preseason top-10 ranking. They’ll go as the Martin twins and Jordan Caroline go, which will be fast and furious, but could very well result in a first-round wreck.

23. Louisville (E7; vs. Minnesota) — Not only did the NCAA (break bracketing principles to) give us Kid Pitino vs. School That Fired Dad Pitino In Disgrace. It conveniently put it at 12:15 ET on Thursday – 6:15 Eastern European Time – all but asking Rick to auction off an all-expenses-paid trip to Greece to watch the game with him. All proceeds go to charity. Guarantee the bidding would reach five figures.

24. Wisconsin (S5; vs. Oregon) — Ethan Happ is one of the best players in college basketball – and has been since the Obama presidency. The 6-foot-10 senior is the best, according to Ken Pomeroy’s ratings. But he’s also one of the most perplexing. He’s not significantly better than his sophomore self. He’s had a few stinkers in February and March. He’s deteriorated as a shooter rather than improved. And his 46.5-percent free throw mark makes him a liability in crunch time. Greg Gard occasionally has to bench his offense’s focal point late in close games. That’s a recipe for March Sadness.

9. 1993: North Carolina 77, Michigan 71

This would spell the conclusion of the “Fab Five” era at Michigan, and it did not end gracefully. The Wolverines were making their second straight appearance in the national championship game after losing by 20 points to Duke in 1992. This result was even more heartbreaking.

With 11 seconds left and Michigan trailing the Tar Heels by two, leading scorer and future No. 1 overall NBA draft pick Chris Webber found himself trapped in a corner and called a timeout his team didn’t have. The colossal error gave North Carolina two free throws and possession of the ball, essentially ending the game.

While UNC had only two future NBA journeymen on its roster in Eric Montross and George Lynch, Michigan boasted future stars Chris Webber, Jalen Rose and Juwan Howard in addition to talented contributors Ray Jackson and Jimmy King (with future Lakers GM Rob Pelinka coming off the bench as a sharpshooter). Webber’s mistake is a source of much angst for Michigan fans, but it made for one of the most memorable March Madness moments ever and bookmarked both an exciting game and an unforgettable era.

Photo credit: NCAA Photos via Getty Images

8. 1957: North Carolina 54, Kansas 53 (3 OT)

UNC finished off an undefeated season and nabbed its first NCAA tournament title by overcoming a favored Kansas team that featured national player of the year Wilt Chamberlain down low. Despite the towering presence of the 7-foot Chamberlain, who had a sizable height advantage over everyone on North Carolina’s roster, the Tar Heels managed to win their second straight triple-overtime game following a nail-biter in the national semifinal over Michigan State.

Kansas overcame an early 12-point deficit – practically an insurmountable advantage in this low-scoring era – to take a late lead before the Tar Heels tied it up in the final minute. After two periods of overtime in which some miserable offense led to four total points being scored (which affects this game’s place in this ranking), UNC center Joe Quigg made two free throws in the closing seconds to seal the game.

Photo credit: Rich Clarkson/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

7. 1987: Indiana 74, Syracuse 73

Junior college transfer Keith Smart helped Hoosiers coach Bobby Knight win his third and final national championship by scoring 12 of Indiana’s 15 final points, including the game winner with less than 5 seconds left on a pull-up jumper along the left baseline. He also stepped in front of Syracuse’s full-court desperation heave to clinch the tightly contested contest, which featured 19 lead changes and 10 ties. 

Orange freshman Derrick Coleman blew a chance to give Syracuse some more breathing room in the final moments when he missed the front end of a one-and-one directly before Smart’s last-gasp heroics. Coleman went on to become the No. 1 pick in the 1990 NBA Draft, but is largely regarded as a bust after appearing in just one All-Star Game in 1994.

Photo credit: Bettman via Getty Images

6. 1989: Michigan 70, Seton Hall 69 (OT)

Senior Glen Rice set a record that still stands for most points scored in a single NCAA tournament (189), averaging 31.5 points per game to lead Michigan. But it was Rumeal Robinson who landed on the cover of Sports Illustrated with the nickname of “Mr. Clutch” after the point guard walked up to the charity stripe with three seconds left in overtime and the Wolverines down by one, then proceeded to knock down a pair of free throws to ice the game.

Seton Hall had its own potential hero in John Morton, whose three-pointer with 25 seconds left in regulation tied the game and sent it to overtime. But Michigan held strong in the extra period to complete a remarkable coaching job by Steve Fisher, who had just been thrown into the fire of March Madness for his first games as a collegiate head coach.

Predecessor Bill Frieder was dismissed after announcing he would depart to coach Arizona State after the season was over, which prompted athletic director Bo Schembechler to push him out the door early. In deciding to relocate to Tempe, where he totaled three NCAA tournament victories in eight seasons, Frieder squandered a chance at finishing the job with a championship-caliber team.

Photo credit: Getty Images

5. 1985: Villanova 66, Georgetown 64

The lowest-seeded team to ever win it all had to take down defending national champion and No. 1 seed Georgetown to do it. The Hoyas had won their first five tourney games by an average of 15.6 points behind future NBA Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing, but No. 8 seed Villanova shocked its Big East rivals on April Fool’s Day.

In the last game in Division I history contested without a shot clock, the Wildcats took their time in crafting what would come to be known as the Perfect Game. They took just 18 shots in the first half, making 13 to stake a one-point lead heading into halftime. Their offense was even more deliberate in the second half, converting 9 out of 10 shots to shoot 78.6 percent overall for the game — a tournament record.

Harold Jensen’s jumper with 2:40 left put Villanova up 55-54, and after Georgetown turned it over on the ensuing possession, the Wildcats closed out the school’s first title at the free-throw line. It was a fairy tale ending for the biggest Cinderella to ever be crowned the champions of the Big Dance, but points must be taken off for an agonizing pace of play and lack of any standout classic moment.

Photo credit: Villanova University/Collegiate Images/Getty Images

4. 2008: Kansas 75, Memphis 68 (OT)

This game is remembered for Mario Chalmers’ buzzer-beating three at the top of the key — or as Kansas fans refer to it, Mario’s Miracle. But some might not remember that shot only tied the game to send it to overtime, where the Jayhawks rode the momentum by scoring the period’s first six points to take control and coast to the finish line.

It was a stunning collapse by Memphis, which led by nine with 2:12 remaining in regulation. Leading up to that comeback, freshman Derrick Rose played like the No. 1 draft pick he’d become later that summer, capping a 14-point binge in eight minutes by nailing a ridiculous fadeaway that the play-by-play announcer instantly called “the shot of the tournament.”

It wasn’t. The Tigers — ranked 339th of the country’s 341 teams with 59 percent free-throw shooting, according to ESPN — sunk just 1 out of 5 free throws in the game’s final 90 seconds to open the door for the true shot of the tournament, courtesy of Chalmers.

Photo credit: Brett Wilhelm/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

3. 1982: North Carolina 63, Georgetown 62

The 1982 championship served as a reminder that even though college basketball features some of the country’s premier athletes, these players are still young guys with somewhat limited game experience. In this instance, one of the most star-studded finals of all time ended in one of the most bone-headed plays to ever decide a championship.

After 19-year-old Michael Jordan hit a jumper with 17 seconds left to give UNC a one-point lead, Georgetown guard Fred Brown got confused when Carolina’s James Worthy jumped into the backcourt and delivered the ball right to him.

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With no three-point line enacted at the time, that should’ve been all she wrote for Georgetown. But Worthy, a future Los Angeles Laker legend, inexplicably missed both free throws to give the Hoyas another shot. It was wasted when a desperation heave fell short, as the Tar Heels clinched their first title under coach Dean Smith.

Photo credit: Bettmann via Getty Images

2. 1983: N.C. State 54, Houston 52

Though the 1985 Villanova Wildcats were the lowest seed to ever win the NCAA Tournament, many (myself included) consider the North Carolina State Wolfpack squad from two years earlier to be the greatest underdog story in March Madness history.

Their opponents, the Houston Wildcats, were loaded with talent in the form of Akeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler, who’d combine to make 22 All-Star teams in the NBA. “Phi Slama Jama” changed the way the game was played, ushering in an era of athleticism and highlight-reel dunks.

But it was the Lorenzo Charles of the “Cardiac Pack” who thundered home the most important dunk of the tournament, a game-ending alley-oop of sorts born from Dereck Whittenburg’s desperate heave from 30 feet out. That provided perhaps the most iconic moment in tournament lore, sending coach Jim Valvano on a desperate quest to find anyone who’d hug him.

Photo credit: Bettman via Getty Images

1. 2016: Villanova 77, North Carolina 74

It’s not just recency bias. The roller coaster of a game between these two blue-bloods in 2016 was the best title decider in NCAA basketball history — and the only one to end on a three-pointer at the buzzer.

To set the stage: Villanova entered having stunned No. 1 overall seed Kansas in the Elite Eight, then demoralized Oklahoma and national player of the year Buddy Hield with the biggest blowout in Final Four history, a 95-51 laugher. Meanwhile, North Carolina won both the ACC regular season title and conference tournament before running roughshod through their side of the bracket, winning all five matchups by double digits with an average margin of 16.2 points to tie a record with their 19th Final Four (which they broke this year).

Senior point guard Marcus Paige led the Tar Heels on a furious comeback that cemented his place in Carolina lore, loss or not. Villanova led by 10 with less than five minutes left, but UNC cut that down to three on a trey from Paige with 1:30 left. A minute later, he rebounded his own missed layup to bring the Heels to within one. Then, on Carolina’s final possession, he knocked down a miraculous, double-clutch three-pointer to tie things up.

The Wildcats came right back at the Heels, however, unfazed by the dizzying sequence. Ryan Arcidiacono dribbled down the court and shovel passed it to Kris Jenkins, who launched from well beyond the arc as time expired.

As Villanova coach Jay Wright coolly put it: Bang.

Photo credit: Matt Marriott/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

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Tier 6: Boeheim in March

25. Syracuse (W8; vs. Baylor) — Jim Boeheim has, somewhat secretly, been a very ordinary regular-season coach over the past five years. His teams have been shallow and inconsistent. Their average ACC finish over that span? Ninth, at 9-9.

Yet Boeheim hasn’t lost a first-round NCAA tournament game since 2006. The five superficially middling years have yielded multiple March upsets, two Sweet 16s and a Final Four. There are logical explanations – the zone that befuddles unfamiliar opponents on short notice, for example; and Boeheim’s record in close games. But just as convincing is some strange, intangible Orange voodoo that, for example, made Michigan State shoot 17-of-66 in last year’s Round of 32. Syracuse hasn’t been a better team than a few immediately below it on this list. But it’s Syracuse.

Tier 7: Meh

26. Florida (W10; vs. Nevada) — The Gators looked like a Sweet 16 squad in Nashville. And in two losses to close the regular season. And at various other points throughout a disappointing but deceiving 15-loss season. The two-senior, three-frosh backcourt rotation could spur a second-weekend run.

27. Cincinnati (S7; vs. Iowa)

28. Mississippi State (E5; vs. Liberty)

29. Maryland (E6; vs. Belmont/Temple)

Tier 8: Major mediocrity, mid-major intrigue

30. Marquette (W5; vs. Murray State) — Before losing five of six to close the season, the Golden Eagles were overrated. Now they’re just … uh, how should we say this … not very good.

31. Utah State (M8; vs. Washington)

32. Minnesota (E10; vs. Louisville) — The day Richard Pitino made 6-foot-8 junior Amir Coffey a point guard is the day Minnesota became a problem. Unfortunately, Coffey has only one (1) 30-percent-or-better 3-point shooter around him.

33. Baylor (W9; vs. Syracuse)

34. Seton Hall (M10; vs. Wofford)

35. VCU (E8; vs. UCF) — Leading scorer Marcus Evans is expected to play after leaving VCU’s A-10 quarterfinal loss with a knee injury. With or without him, this will not be a pleasant two hours for UCF. The Rams guard like their life depends on it.

36. Ole Miss (S8; vs. Oklahoma)

37. St. Mary’s (S11; vs. Villanova)

38. Oregon (S12; vs. Wisconsin) — A week ago, the Ducks weren’t anywhere near the tourney. Now they’re 1-point favorites over Wisconsin! (Ken Pomeroy has the line at Wisconsin -5, the second-largest disparity between his numbers and Vegas’.)

39. UCF (E9; vs. VCU) — 7-foot-6 Tacko Fall’s tourney debut – Friday at 9:40 ET, unfortunately – is must-watch television. VCU’s tallest starter is 6-foot-8.

40. Ohio State (M11; vs. Iowa State)

41. New Mexico State — The Aggies play 10 guys, bombard the offensive and defensive boards, and are growing antsy for a tourney win. This is their ninth invite to the Big Dance since 2007. They’ve yet to score a second date.

42. Oklahoma (S9; vs. Ole Miss)

43. Belmont (E11; First Four vs. Temple) — Rick Byrd has won 804 career games … and zero in the Division I NCAA tournament. That changes on Tuesday!

44. Iowa (S10; vs. Cincinnati)

45. Murray State (W12; vs. Marquette) — The Smart Basketball Man take is that this is “more than a one-man team.” But … nah. If there’s a one-man team in the 2019 NCAA tournament, it’s the Racers. (And that one man is Ja Morant, whose name you’ll hear a lot this week, over the next few months, and possibly over the next decade.)

EVANSVILLE, IN - MARCH 09: Belmont Bruins Guard Grayson Murphy (2) squares off with Murray State Racers Guard Ja Morant (12) during the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) Championship college basketball game between the Murray State Racers and the Belmont Bruins on March 9, 2019, at the Ford Center in Evansville, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

46. Arizona State (W11; First Four vs. St. John’s)

47. Vermont (W13; vs. Florida State) — A popular upset pick spoiled by a brutal draw.

48. Temple (E11; First Four vs. Belmont)

49. Washington — I will unrelentingly stan for this year’s Pac-12 over the 2011-12 mess as the worst power conference ever. Three bids flattered it. It was hideous. (As is Washington’s offense.)

50. Yale (E14 vs. LSU) — No. 1 on our list of potential Cinderellas – a list that led with Loyola last year.

51. St. John’s (W11; First Four vs. Arizona State)

52. Liberty (E12; vs. Mississippi State) — Junior forward Scottie James: excellent at basketball, not so excellent at the late-second-half #NeymarChallenge:

53. UC Irvine (S13; vs. Kansas State) — Irvine’s joint-top scorer in a Big West final blowout of Fullerton? His last name is Welp, and he looks like the high school math whiz whose friends convinced him to play JV to make up numbers. Except he’s 6-foot-9 and can ball. As can the five upperclassmen who comprise the starting lineup. The Anteaters are potentially frisky.

54. Northeastern (M13; vs. Kansas) — Not going to ask you to remember the name Vasa Pusica, or to type it into a search bar just yet. But make mental note; register it; store it away, just in case.

Tier 9: Long-shot Cinderellas

55. Saint Louis (E13; vs. Virginia Tech)

56. Georgia State (M14; vs. Houston) — Four experienced 40-plus percent 3-point shooters around lead guard D’Marcus Simonds sounds like a recipe for an upset. Houston, beware.

57. Northern Kentucky (W14; vs. Texas Tech)

58. Old Dominion (S14; vs. Purdue)

59. Montana (W15; vs. Michigan)

60. Bradley (E15; vs. Michigan State) — Barred (and later reversed course under media pressure) a longtime beat reporter for “not promoting the Bradley brand” – which, uh, was non-existent until the petty ploy! So … congrats, Bradley! You now have a brand!

61. Colgate (S15; vs. Tennessee)

Tier 10: No-shot Cinderellas

62. Gardner-Webb (S16; vs. Virginia)

63. Iona (M16; vs. North Carolina)

64. North Dakota State (E16; First Four vs. NC Central)

65. Abilene Christian (M15; vs. Kentucky)

66. Fairleigh Dickinson (W16; First Four vs. Prairie View AM)

67. Prairie View AM (W16; First Four vs. Fairleigh Dickinson)

68 North Carolina Central (E16; First Four vs. North Dakota State) — The upset of Norfolk State that punched Central’s ticket was its first win over a KenPom top-300 foe all season. And that would include any intrasquad scrimmages. The Eagles themselves rank 303.

Article source: https://www.aol.com/article/news/2019/03/18/ranking-the-2019-ncaa-tournament-contenders-from-1-to-68/23694762/

Here are this year’s five biggest NCAA tournament snubs

When the NCAA tournament bracket was unveiled on Sunday evening, there was one pleasant surprise.

The committee actually awarded a deserving mid-major instead of allowing bubble teams from the big conferences to gobble up all the available spots.

Belmont defied projections that it would be one of top teams left out of the NCAA tournament, snagging one of this year’s final at-large bids. The Ohio Valley Conference co-champs are an 11 seed in the East Region and will meet fellow bubble team Temple in the First Four.

The inclusion of Belmont bucks a troubling trend that has emerged in recent years. The committee has valued the number of top 50 or quadrant 1 wins above all else, inherently hindering mid-majors and favoring power-conference teams who have many more opportunities in those types of games.

Of the 36 NCAA tournament bids awarded to at-large teams in 2018, all but three went to programs hailing from the five football power leagues, the Big East and the American Athletic Conference. Same with the year before. And the year before that.

This March, teams from outside college basketball’s top seven leagues landed four at-large bids, incremental progress, albeit not cause for celebration. Joining Belmont in the field were Gonzaga, Nevada and VCU.

Of course, not every bubble team received good news on Sunday like Belmont. Here’s a look at the five biggest snubs from this year’s NCAA tournament:

1. TCU (20-13, 7-11, NET 52, KenPom 48)

Q1 record: 3-9

Q2 record: 6-4

Best wins: Iowa State (2), Florida, Baylor, Texas (2)

Q3, Q4 losses: 0

TCU would have been a poster child for power-conference mediocrity had it landed one of the final at-large bids. The Horned Frogs had numerous opportunities to notch meaningful victories and capitalized just enough times to remain NCAA tournament relevant. They swept two games from Iowa State, won single games against Baylor and Florida and avoided damaging losses, but overall they went 7-11 in the Big 12 and 3-9 in Quadrant 1 games. Ultimately, not holding a second-half lead against Dean Wade-less Kansas State in the Big 12 quarterfinals might have doomed TCU to the NIT. The Horned Frogs badly needed a conference tournament run to solidify their shaky resume.

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2. NC STATE (22-11, 9-9, NET 33, KenPom: 32)

Q1 record: 3-9

Q2 record: 5-0

Best wins: Auburn, Syracuse, Clemson (2)

Q3, Q4 losses: 2 (Georgia Tech, at Wake Forest)

To say that North Carolina State scheduled poorly this season is a gross understatement. The Wolfpack’s non-conference schedule was dead last out of 353 Division I teams, a product of a remarkable eight games against teams 275th or worse in the NET rankings. Given the committee’s longtime emphasis on teams challenging themselves out of conference, NC State left itself vulnerable to being snubbed unless it did something special in the rest of its games. That didn’t happen. The Wolfpack went a pedestrian 9-9 in the ACC and beat only two projected NCAA tournament teams — Auburn and Syracuse. The omission of NC State is evidence the committee did not just blindly follow the NET rankings, the new metric that replaced the RPI as the primary tool for gauging the strength of teams. The Wolfpack’s No. 33 NET ranking suggested they were good enough to make the field, but close inspection of their resume indicated otherwise.

3. INDIANA (17-15, 8-12, NET 54, KenPom 42)

Q1 record: 6-9

Q2 record: 2-6

Best wins: Michigan State (2), Wisconsin, Louisville Marquette

Q3, Q4 losses: 0

For a team that was only 17-15 overall, Indiana had a decent argument to make the NCAA tournament. The Hoosiers boasted the most Quadrant 1 wins of any bubble team including a season sweep of Big Ten champion Michigan State and three other victories over opponents projected to be seeded seventh or better in the NCAA tournament. Archie Miller’s second season in Bloomington was a year of wild swings as Indiana leaped out of the starting blocks 12-2, then endured a rash of injuries and dropped 12 of its next 13. They nearly salvaged their season with a late winning streak before a crushing loss to Ohio State in the opening round of the Big Ten tournament. Ultimately, the committee decided Indiana’s uneven overall body of work wasn’t good enough even though there was precedent for teams similar to the Hoosiers being selected. Alabama snagged an at-large bid last March with 15 losses, as did Vanderbilt the previous season. Villanova and Georgia also both received at-large bids at 16-14 in 1991 and 2001, respectively.

4. UNC GREENSBORO (28-6, 15-3 NET 60, KenPom 81)

Q1 record: 2-6

Q2 record: 2-0

Best wins: Furman (2), East Tennessee State (2)

Q3, Q4 losses: 0

Some bubble teams on this list had more than a dozen chances against power-conference foes bound for the NCAA tournament. UNC Greensboro, on the other hand, only had two, both on the road against top 10 opponents. The Spartans lost by six to LSU in Baton Rouge and pushed Kentucky for 35 minutes in Lexington. UNC Greensboro’s margin for error for an at-large bid was miniscule after those losses, and the Spartans couldn’t quite do enough to thread that needle. In a top-heavy Southern Conference featuring four of the nation’s best mid-majors, UNC Greensboro went 4-1 against Furman and East Tennessee State but lost to eventual league champ Wofford all three times they played. Only one of their six losses came against a team outside the NET top 15, but they also lacked noteworthy wins.

5. TEXAS (16-16, 8-10, NET 38, KenPom 30)

Q1 record: 5-10

Q2 record: 4-5

Best wins: North Carolina, Purdue, at Kansas State, Kansas, Iowa State

Q3, Q4 losses: 1 (Radford)

Never before had a team earned an at-large bid with a .500 record or 16 losses, but Texas had reason to maintain hope of being the first. A ridiculous 19 of Texas’ 32 games came against opponents in the NET top 50 this season and the Longhorns won seven of those, notching victories over North Carolina, Purdue, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, Baylor and Oklahoma. They were also top 40 in the NET and top 30 in KenPom, which compared favorably to other bubble teams. It was always a long shot that Texas would make the NCAA tournament because of the precedent it would set, but the committee had incentive to give the Longhorns a hard look. Including them would have sent the message that the committee rewards a tough non-conference schedule, something that is good for the health of the sport.

Article source: https://www.aol.com/article/news/2019/03/17/here-are-this-years-five-biggest-ncaa-tournament-snubs/23694457/

‘Now Apocalypse’ star Beau Mirchoff talks ‘always playing the dumb character’ (Exclusive)

Beau Mirchoff is back to playing “the idiot” (his words, not ours) on Gregg Araki’s “Now Apocalypse” — and he’s okay with that.

As the actor explained to AOL’s Gibson Johns during a sit-down interview at Sundance Film Festival, Mirchoff, 30, has become comfortable in the comedic archetype, having perfected it through five seasons on MTV’s “Awkward.” Though he is objectively not “dumb,” it’s the core value of “the dumb character” that Mirchoff has been able to tap into time and time again.

“I’m always playing the dumb character, and I love the dumb character,” he said with a smile. “It’s so fun to play. I’m pretty genuine just in life, and that’s the core value of the dumb character.”

On “Now Apocalypse,” which airs on Starz Sundays at 9 p.m., Mirchoff takes the role to a new extreme through his portrayal of Ford Halstead, a struggling screenwriter in Los Angeles who takes himself very seriously, more often than not to comedic effect. Amping it up is Ford’s very active sex life and chiseled physique, which result in plentiful nudity throughout the series for Mirchoff. 

That, combined with Araki’s storied body of work, left the actor “intimidated” to take on this latest role. We talked to Beau Mirchoff about filming “Now Apocalypse,” his love of comedy, getting in shape for those countless nude scene and whether or not his mother has seen the show. Check out our conversation below:

PASADENA, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 12: (Top L-R) Tyler Posey, Karley Sciortino, Avan Jogia, Kelli Berglund, and (Bottom L-R) Katrina Weidman, Beau Mirchoff, and Gregg Araki of Travel Channel’s ‘Portals to Hell’ pose for a portrait during the 2019 Winter TCA at The Langham Huntington, Pasadena on February 12, 2019 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Corey Nickols/Getty Images)

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First off, what attracted you to “Now Apocalypse”? The show has a very specific tone, lots of nudity and has a pretty surreal premise.

Basically, as an actor, a script comes and you either go for it or you don’t. Down the line, it starts becoming more real and I knew I was a frontrunner. The writing is fantastic on this show. Once a year you find a script like this. So, I was up for it and they were like, “Make sure you read these ten episodes before you agree, because it’s pretty risqué and out there.” I was like, “Oh, come on.” Then I start reading and I was blushing, and I didn’t know if I wanted to do it. I was like, “This is terrifying.” Just the subject matter and everything. Ultimately, though, I also had a smile on my face, so I went with it.

SEE ALSO: On ‘Now Apocalypse,’ Tyler Posey plays his first-ever gay character

What exactly made you blush when reading the script?

Dude, it just keeps progressing to the point of constant nudity and very compromising positions. It’s kind of liberating, and what’s so great about this show is that it doesn’t take itself so seriously. That’s what’s so great about acting sometimes is that it parallels your life. I’m trying to let go more in my life and not give a s–t, because who cares? It’s life, and we’re going to be dead in 50 years. I have a body and there’s something underneath my clothes, Oh my God!

There is a tone of nudity in this show. Did you have to do a lot of prep and working out before filming started?

That was another thing. I wasn’t in the best of shape. I mean, I was in fine shape, but the script says that this character is “a statue of David in impeccable shape.” I had been traveling around a lot at the time, and Gregg was really worried that I wouldn’t be able to get in shape. I was like, “How much time do we have? Six weeks? Perfect, don’t worry about it.” So, I lived at the gym. I was doing two-a-days and a diet of basically high protein and counting my calories. Eating clean.

What was it like working with Gregg Araki? He directed all 10 episodes.

That was interesting, block shooting the whole season: So day one you’re shooting episodes 10 and 2. I enjoyed it because you get to do all the work beforehand and know exactly what’s happening. I was intimidated to work with Gregg because of his previous work, and he’s an auteur and there’s this aura about him and reputation, if you will. I’ve auditioned for him in the past, and he didn’t seem too keen on me. [Laughs] Even for this, after I auditioned he just stared at me. I don’t think I was what he envisioned, but once he saw my take on the character, he saw that it could work. But, yeah, he’s amazing and the ease with which he works is incredible. He’s laughing all the time, and he’s not serious. He has the edit in his head already, too, so you don’t overshoot anything. Most scenes are two-person scenes, so we would shoot it really quickly. 

Who is this show for? Who is the ideal audience?

My mother. She’s going to love it! [Laughs

Has your mom seen it?

No, but I think she will. It’s not too… I don’t know. I told her to beware. But, I think it’s for millennials. It will strike a chord with them, and I’m not sure an older audience will get it. That’s what is so refreshing about it: It’s surreal, tongue-in-cheek and funny. Stoners will also love it.

You’ve cultivated a huge fanbase throughout your career, primarily from your five years on MTV’s “Awkward.” Have those fans been following you to other projects?

I think so, yeah. I actually just posted something on Instagram and 98 percent of [the response] is really awesome. I’ve never really gotten any hate messages. But it’s so funny because of my beard people are telling me I’m aging. They’re overwhelmingly positive and fervent fans. It’s really great.

At its core, “Now Apocalypse” is a story about struggling actors and writers in L.A. In what ways do you relate to that theme?

Zero, because I’m at Sundance! [Laughs] No, but you’re constantly searching for a job and getting rejected. I’m an aspiring writer, so I know what that’s like and wanting people to read your stuff and like it and being precious about your work. Anyone trying to climb any sort of ladder can relate to that. You have to be vulnerable.

Where did you draw from for your character on “Now Apocalypse,” Ford?

I played a similar character in a pilot called “Good Fortunes.” I played an idiot. I’m always playing the dumb character, and I love the dumb character. It’s so fun to play. I’m pretty genuine just in life, and that’s the core value of the dumb character. He’s like a puppy.

What attracts you to comedy? You seem to have a lot of fun with it and really throw yourself into comedic projects.

It’s fun, most superficially. It’s a challenge, and I like making people laugh. I also think that it gets really dark in the later episodes for Ford, and it’s not funny. In comedy, you just heighten the reality and play it serious. 

This interview has been edited and condensed.

“Now Apocalypse” airs on Starz on Sundays at 9 p.m. EST

Article source: https://www.aol.com/article/entertainment/2019/03/17/now-apocalypse-beau-mirchoff-interview/23693472/

Gwen Stefani shares why she isn’t taking the opportunity to do her Las Vegas residency lightly (Exclusive)

For Gwen Stefani, getting the chance to headline a Las Vegas residency show is an experience she isn’t taking for granted.

ET’s Keltie Knight spoke with the pop songstress at the ribbon cutting celebration for Cure 4 the Kids Foundation’s new state-of-the art patient exam room, named in Stefani’s honor, at the foundation’s facility in Las Vegas, and she opened up about the amazing experience of getting to hit the stage at, night after night.

According to Stefani, performing in front of the cheering crowd at the Zappos Theater, inside Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino, always seems daunting at first.

 “I get up and think, ‘What am I? Who am I? What am I doing? But then something just clicks in and I just have this need for attention from these people,” she reflected.

While she says she loves “being up there every single night” that she performs, it’s not an easy task.

“It feels like a marathon! It’s so psychical, it’s so emotional, it’s so draining, but it’s so rewarding,” Stefani reflected. “I feel so honored…. It’s been pretty magic. I’m pretty lucky.”

Stefani also admits that the pressure of a residency show can be intimidating, but that she’s up for the challenge.

“Everyone is coming to you from all over the world and it’s just  tall order. You’re up against Vegas, and all the other shows and all the other activities, and people like flew in and are having a weekend, and it’s a big deal,” she shared. “I feel really blessed. I know they’re not just handing [residency shows] out to anyone.”

One other thing that makes her show particularly special is its philanthropic efforts. $1 of every ticket purchased to Stefani’s residency show goes to the Cure 4 the Kids Foundation, Nevada’s only nonprofit childhood cancer treatment center. and it was because of this generous partnership that the organization was able to fund its new exam room.

“I walked through [the facility] today and it’s so inspiring and [I was] so blown away by the fighters, the brave kids, the families, the parents,” Stefani marveled. “I feel really blessed to be here.”

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Article source: https://www.aol.com/article/entertainment/2019/03/16/gwen-stefani-shares-why-she-isnt-taking-the-opportunity-to-do-her-las-vegas-residency-lightly-exclusive/23693262/

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