⭐️ Stars Align

Jokic vs. Embiid, Matthews vs. McDavid, Australian Open preview, and more...

Rise and Shine! The stars aligned last night in the NBA and NHL, as both leagues’ past two MVPs squared off in a pair of must-see matchups. The results? Utter awesomeness. And the big names didn’t stop there, as Kevin Durant led the Suns on an improbable 4th-quarter comeback while Caitlin Clark continues to shatter records in the college ranks. Speaking of which, yet another top-10 team went down in men’s college hoops thanks to a golden game-winner in the Octagon of Doom, and a single Volunteer mauled a pack of Gators. Finally, a fairly important tennis tournament is underway Down Under, and we have everything you need to know in our Australian Open Preview. Oh, also, for those who purposefully avoided all sports coverage yesterday, we’ll be re-recapping the Cowboys and Eagles games from Wild Card Weekend. (Lol sorry, Philly and Dallas readers, I’m just kidding.) But everything else is true. So, let’s go!

WTF Stat: In Monday’s win against the Steelers, Bills QB Josh Allen became the first player in NFL history to throw three touchdown passes while also rushing for 70-plus yards and a touchdown in a single postseason game.

Written By: Ian Dardani

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🏈 Eagles C Jason Kelce, 36, is reportedly retiring from the NFL after 13 seasons, all of which came with Philadelphia - a sixth-round pick in 2011, Kelce was named a first-team All-Pro six times and won Super Bowl 52 with the Eagles

🏈 Steelers HC Mike Tomlin told his players during a team meeting Tuesday that he plans to be their head coach next season - Tomlin, who just completed his 16th season with the team and is entering the final year of his contract, abruptly left Monday’s postgame presser after being asked about his future with Pittsburgh

🏈 Falcons announced they have interviewed Michigan HC Jim Harbaugh for their head coaching vacancy, one day after interviewing former Patriots HC Bill Belichick for the same position - Harbaugh also interviewed with the Chargers on Monday

Photo: Oil Riggin! | Source: USA Today

NHL - Top Games

  • Edmonton Oilers 4, Toronto Maple Leafs 2: Throw out the record books when these two get together! (Well, actually don’t because there’s a lot of important stuff in there). The 2022 MVP Auston Matthews (1 G, 1 A) netted his league-leading 33rd goal of the season just 27 seconds into the game, and the Leafs took a 2-0 lead midway through the 2nd period, but Ryan McLeod (1 G, 1 A), Leon Draisaitl (1 G), and the Oilers reeled off four unanswered goals to extend their franchise-record winning streak to 11 games - last year’s MVP, Connor McDavid (1 A), assisted McLeod on the go-ahead goal with 3:05 remaining, and Edmonton (24-15-1) is now 19-3-0 in their last 22 games!

  • Dallas Stars 5, Los Angeles Kings 1: Roope Hintz (1 G) and Blitzer Joe Pavelski (1 G) both notched their 18th goals of the season to share the Stars team lead, and Jake Oettinger (32 SV) outclassed fellow Western Conference All-Star Cam Talbot (23 SV) between the pipes to hand the Kings their ninth loss in ten games - Dallas (26-12-5) and Los Angeles (21-12-8) are each third in their respective divisions, and Wyatt Johnston (1 G) scored a neat goal

  • New York Rangers 5, Seattle Kraken 2: Igor Shesterkin (29 SV) was clinical, and Kaapo Kakko (1 G) put the Rangers up 4-1 in his second outing after missing 21 games with a lower-body injury before Blake Wheeler (2 G) put the game away with an empty-netter, giving the Blue Shirts a timely win over Jared McCann (1 G) and the streaking Kraken - it’s Seattle’s second loss in a row after winning nine straight, and New York’s second win in a row after losing four straight

  • Winnipeg Jets 4, New York Islanders 2: Connor Hellebuyck (35 SV) brought his A-game, Mason Appleton (1 G) snapped his 25-game scoring drought, and the Jets peppered Ilya Sorokin (40 SV) from the opening puck drop to rebound from Saturday’s loss to the Flyers, which ended their franchise-record, nine-game win streak - Kyler Connor (1 G) cashed an empty-netter in his first game back after missing over a month with a knee injury

See the full NHL scoreboard here and the current standings here.

NBA - All Games

  • Philadelphia 76ers 126, Denver Nuggets 121: Joel Embiid’s 16-game streak of scoring 30 or more points while hauling in 10 or more rebounds has come to an end. What a loser! The good news for Philly is that Embiid (41 PTS, 7 REB, 10 AST) is still on an absolute tear and outdueled Nikola Jokic (25 PTS, 19 REB, 3 AST) in crunch time to power the Sixers past the Nuggets in a matchup featuring the last two MVPs - Jokic is the favorite to win this year’s MVP at +250 odds, followed by the Thunders’ Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (+260) and Embiid (+300)

  • Phoenix Suns 119, Sacramento Kings 117: In one of the best 4th-quarter comebacks you’ll see all season, the Suns trailed by as many as 22 in the final frame and were down 113-96 with 5:11 remaining before closing the game on an electric 23-4 run, led by a barrage of triples from Grayson Allen (29 PTS, 9-14 3PT, 6 AST), Kevin Durant (27 PTS, 4-8 3PT, 5 REB, 4 AST), and Eric Gordon (13 PTS, 3-7 3PT) before Durant knocked down a pair of free throws with 1.8 seconds left to stun De’Aaron Fox (33 PTS, 6-10 3PT, 6 AST) and the Kings in the Valley - it’s Phoenix’s (22-18) third straight win and Sacramento’s (23-17) third straight loss

  • Los Angeles Clippers 128, Oklahoma City Thunder 117: Don’t look now, but the Clippers collection of All-Stars is starting to look like a bonafide basketball team. Kawhi Leonard (16 PTS, 6 REB, 6 AST) and James Harden (16 PTS, 5 REB, 8 AST) poured in 16 apiece, and Paul George (38 PTS, 6-12 3PT, 7 REB, 5 AST) dropped 18 of his season-high 38 points to lift Los Angeles over Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (19 PTS, 6-16 FG, 4 AST) and OKC at Crypto.com Arena, marking the Clips ninth dub in 11 games - the Clippers (26-14) are a game back of the Thunder (27-13) and Nuggets (28-14) for the second-best record in the West

See the full box scores here and the current NBA standings here.

College Basketball - Top Games

  • NCAAM | Kansas State 68, #9 Baylor 64 (OT): Your daily reminder that college basketball rocks. The Bears suffered their first defeat of Big 12 play as K-State erased a six-point deficit with three minutes left in regulation to force overtime, where Arthur Kaluma (12 PTS, 10 REB) nailed a three and got the foul with 20 ticks left for the elusive game-winning, four-point play, sending the Octagon into oblivion!

  • NCAAM | #6 Tennessee 85, Florida 66: If you didn’t know his name, you do now! After dropping 36 in a win over Georgia on Saturday, Tennessee’s Dalton Knecht (39 PTS, 13-23 FG, 8 REB) continued to set the knet ablaze last night (get it?) and scorched Florida in Knoxville to become the first SEC player in 25 years with 35-plus points in back-to-back games

  • NCAAM | Penn State 87, #11 Wisconsin 83: Entering Tuesday with an 8-9 record, Penn State needed a marquee win badly, and they got it as Kanye Clary (27 PTS, 4 REB, 3 AST) said to the Badgers, “You can’t tell me nothing!” and staved off a late Wisconsin run to give the Nittany Lions their first ranked win of the season

  • NCAAM | #2 Purdue 87, Indiana 66: After losing their top spot in the polls thanks to last week’s loss to unranked Nebraska, Zach Edey (33 PTS, 14 REB) and the Boilermakers didn’t waste any time messing around the Hoosiers, as they took a 51-29 lead into the half to rout a solid Indiana club in Bloomington - Purdue is now 16-2 with their other loss coming against Northwestern on Dec. 1

  • NCAAW | #2 Iowa 96, Wisconsin 50: As some of you may recall, Brittney Griner was a pretty good college basketball player. Well, Caitlin Clark (32 PTS, 6-14 3PT, 7 REB, 5 AST) went ballistic again last night to overtake Griner’s No. 4 spot on the all-time Division I women’s scoring list, and the Hawkeyes rocked the Badgers to improve to 18-1 on the season - Clark now has 3,306 career points and trails Missouri State’s Jackie Stiles (3,393) for the third-most all time

See the full men’s scoreboard here and the current rankings here. See the full women’s scoreboard here and the current rankings here.

🎾 Australian Open Preview

Photo: Rod Laver Arena | Source: USA Today

Need to Know

  • The first Grand Slam of 2024 is officially here as the Australian Open got underway Sunday from Melbourne, Australia, and will conclude with the men’s singles final on Sunday, Jan. 28 - the women’s singles final will take place Saturday, Jan. 27

  • The Australian Open, which includes men's and women's singles and doubles tournaments, as well as mixed events, is one of four annual Grand Slams (French Open, Wimbledon, US Open), also known as “majors,” and, like the US Open, is played on courts - the Australian Open is also referred to as "The Happy Slam," a nickname dubbed by Roger Federer

  • A total of 128 players will compete in both men’s singles and women’s singles, of which 104 have qualified directly, while 16 other players earned their spot through qualifying rounds, and eight final players were given wild-card bids - as with all Grand Slams, the singles bracket is seven rounds of single elimination

  • Unseeded singles players are randomly placed throughout the bracket, while the two top seeds are placed at opposite sides to ensure they don’t face each other until the final - the other 23 seeded players are then randomly plugged in to fill the first-round matches

  • This year, the tournament boasts a record $80.6 million in prize money. Each round, the earnings increase, with first-round singles winners receiving $120,000 and the tournament champions pocketing $3.15 million - doubles champions will take home $730,000

Top Storylines

Will Novak Djokovic complete the drive for 25? 

  • The 36-year-old enters Melbourne seeking history as he’s currently tied with Margaret Court’s longstanding record of 24 Grand Slam titles, the most in men’s and women’s singles. Djokovic, the reigning champion, has won the last four Australian Opens that he’s been a part of and has a record 10 titles at Melbourne. His victory at the French Open in June was his 23rd major championship, breaking a tie with Rafael Nadal for the most Grand Slams in men's singles history, and then he finished the year by taking the US Open, his third Grand Slam title of 2023.

  • Now, the Joker says he’s eyeing the fabled “Golden Slam,” which would make him the first man to ever win all four major titles and Olympic gold in the same year. The Serbian is riding a 29-match winning streak at the Australian Open and is the clear favorite to repeat as champion. However, Djokovic enters Melbourne nursing a sore wrist, which he aggravated earlier this month in a surprise defeat to Alex de Minaur at the United Cup, and looked somewhat vulnerable on Sunday in a (6-2, 6-7, 6-3, 6-4) first-round win against 18-year-old Dino Prizmic, who was making his Grand Slam debut. Still, it’s hard to bet against the Grand Slam King.

Can Carlos Alcaraz and the younger generation knock off Djokovic?

  • The last time Djokovic lost a match at the Australian Open was in 2018, when Carlos Alcaraz was just 14 years old. Since then, the Joker has won 12 of the 20 majors he’s contested, but a new generation of stars has entered the fold to challenge his dominant reign, most notably the 20-year-old Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz.

  • The generation that was supposed to overtake Djokovic and Nadal – Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev – has largely failed. But Alcaraz beat him in last year’s Wimbledon final and has a 2-3 career record against the Serbian. The 20-year-old Danish star Holger Rune is also 2-3 against Djokovic, and 22-year-old Italian Jannik Sinner took him down in the Davis Cup in November. Alcaraz and Rune wouldn’t see Djokovic until the final, but a handful of younger players could have a chance to knock off the Grand Slam in the earlier rounds, including Sinner, Tsitsipas, Ben Shelton, and Frances Tiafoe.

Can Coco Gauff cement herself at the top of the sport?

  • The next great female American tennis player is none other than 19-year-old Coco Gauff. After a year of questions regarding whether she had the fortitude to seize a Slam, Gauff rose to the occasion in September to win her first major at the US Open, and a second straight Grand Slam title may solidify her as the best women’s player in the world.

  • Currently ranked No. 4, the Floridian has never reached the quarterfinals at the Aussie Open but is fresh off her second straight title in Aukland, New Zealand. Gauff’s athletic brand of tennis makes her incredibly difficult to combat on hard surfaces, given her court coverage and aggressiveness, and she now enters Melbourne brimming with confidence.

Is the comeback crowd too rusty to make a charge?

  • Although a hip injury will keep Rafael Nadal out of his fourth consecutive Grand Slam, a handful of notable names are making their major returns after lengthy absences, most notably on the women’s side. Unfortunately, four of the biggest stars’ comebacks have already been spoiled. Former Australian Open winners Naomi Osaka and Angelique Kerber were each making their Grand Slam debuts following 16-plus months of maternity leave but were sent home early with first-round defeats. Amanda Anisimova came back from a lengthy mental health break but was also ousted on opening weekend. And, the 2016 Australian Open winner, Caroline Wozniacki, who came out of retirement for last summer’s US Open, looked to be rekindling some magic in Melbourne after a first-round win but lost last night.

  • On the men’s side, Denis Shapovalov was ousted Sunday after missing the second half of last year with a bad knee, but Gael Monfils, who played his first Grand Slam in 12 months at the US Open, is also back in Melbourne and through the first round. Many fans hoped to see the polarizing Australian Nick Kyrgios return after missing nearly the entire 2023 season with a series of injuries, but the electrifying Aussie is still rehabbing from wrist surgery and will be serving as a guest commentator instead for ESPN rather than serving aces on the court.

Men’s Singles Champion Odds

  • Novak Djokovic (+105)

  • Carlos Alcaraz (+330)

  • Jannik Sinner (+650)

  • Daniil Medvedev (+1100)

  • Alexander Zverev (+2800)

  • Holger Rune (+3000)

  • Alex De Minaur (+3500)

  • Ben Shelton (+4000)

  • Girgor Dimitrov (+4000)

  • Stefanos Tsitsipas (+6500)

  • Casper Ruud (+6500)

  • Andrey Rublev (+6500)

Women’s Singles Champion Odds

  • Iga Swiatek (+240)

  • Aryna Sabalenka (+400)

  • Elena Rybakina (+400)

  • Coco Gauff (+450)

  • Mirra Andreeva (+1200)

  • Jessica Pegula (+2500)

  • Emma Raducanu (+3500)

  • Jelena Ostapenko (+3500)

  • Mirra Andreeva (+3500)

  • Quinwen Zheng (+3500)

  • Caroline Garcia (+4000)

  • Elina Svitolina (+4000)

  • Maria Sakkari (+4000)

Yesterday’s Top Results - Rounds 1 & 2

  • Men’s R2 | #4 Jannik Sinner def. Jesper de Jong (6-2, 6-2, 6-2)

  • Men’s R1 | #2 Carlos Alcaraz def. Richard Gasquet (7-6, 6-1, 6-2)

  • Men’s R1 | #6 Alexander Zverev def. Dominik Koepfer (4-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-3)

  • Women’s R2 | Mirra Andreeva def. #6 Ons Jabeur (6-0, 6-2)

  • Women’s R2 | #4 Coco Gauff def. Caroline Dolehide (7-6, 6-2)

  • Women’s R1 | #3 Elena Rybakina def. Karolina Pliskova (7-6, 6-4)

  • Women’s R1 | #5 Jessica Pegula def. Rebecca Marino (6-2, 6-4)

See the full Australian Open scoreboard here, the men’s singles bracket here, and the women’s singles bracket here.

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When was the last time a non-European man won the Australian Open?

A. 2006

B. 2003

C. 2001

D. 1998

Photo: “The Kick” | Source: Yahoo Sports

On January 17, 1997, the NBA suspended Bulls F Dennis Rodman indefinitely for kicking a cameraman. Two days prior, during a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Rodman tripped over a cameraman named Eugene Amos while battling for a rebound with Kevin Garnett and hit the deck. The Worm apparently took exception to the accident and aggressively kicked Amos in a rather vulnerable area. Amos was immediately writhing in agony and had to be stretchered off the court and taken to a nearby hospital. Though Rodman was not assessed a technical foul at the time, Amos filed a lawsuit against the Bulls enforcer, and Rodman ultimately paid Amos a $200,000 settlement. Rodman ended up missing 11 games without pay for the incident, costing him nearly $800,000 in game checks - however, Rodman would bounce back by winning his second championship with Chicago later that season.


  • Milwaukee Bucks @ Cleveland Cavaliers 7:30pm ET, ESPN

  • San Antonio Spurs @ Boston Celtics 7:30pm ET, Local

  • Dallas Mavericks @ Los Angeles Lakers 8:30pm ET, ABC

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  • Detroit Red Wings @ Florida Panthers 7:00pm ET, NHLPP / ESPN+

  • Montreal Canadiens @ New Jersey Devils 7:00pm ET, NHLPP / ESPN+

  • Chicago Blackhawks @ Buffalo Sabres 7:30pm ET, TNT

College Basketball

  • NCAAM: #18 Creighton @ #1 UConn 7:00pm ET, FS1

  • NCAAM: Mississippi State @ #8 Kentucky 7:00pm ET, ESPN2

  • NCAAM: USC @ #12 Arizona 10:00pm ET, ESPN

  • NCAAM: Full Schedule

  • NCAAW: #18 Ohio State @ Maryland 7:00pm ET, Peacock

  • NCAAW: #9 UConn @ Seton Hall 8:30pm ET, Local

  • NCAAW: Full Schedule

ATP Australian Open

  • Men’s & Women’s Singles: Round 2 3:00am-7:00am ET, ESPN2

  • Men’s & Women’s Singles: Round 3 7:00pm-2:00am ET, ESPN2

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Trivia Time Answer

B. 2003. The last non-European to win the Australian Open in men’s singles was the United States’ Andre Agassi in 2003. Agassi also won in Melbourne in 2001, 2000, and 1995. Since ‘03, only two players not named Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, or Rafael Nadal have won the Australian Open: Marat Safin (2005) and Stan Wawrinka (2005) - Sofia Kenin was the last American woman to win the Australian Open, doing so in 2020.

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