Today's biggest winners: (1) Ohio State, (2) Blackhawks, (3) Russell Westbrook, (4) Terrell Sinkfield, (5) Von Miller, (6) Regis.
*Ohio State beats Indiana in Bloomington: ESPN.com's Eamonn Brennan nailed this -- a road win over an elite team was the remaining hole on Ohio State's resume. Time to add the Buckeyes to the short list of teams with the potential to win four straight in late March and make the Final Four.
(As for Indiana, they are still on the list, but -- yep -- those are doubts creeping in. Losing at home on Senior Night is what the old, pre-revived Hoosiers would do.)
*Blackhawks extend point streak: That's 20-0-3 on the season, 29 straight games with a point (extending back to last season) and 10 straight wins. The most must-follow team in sports keeps it going -- at this point it is folly to try to predict when this ride will end.
*Thunder thump the Lakers: Russell Westbrook (37 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists) with a reminder of why he is among the Top 5 most must-see players in the NBA and the X-factor in OKC's run for a second straight West title. Even Kobe tweeted out compliments after the game.
*Name to Know: Terrell Sinkfield, the Northern Iowa wide receiver who dropped by the pre-draft "Pro Day" at the University of Minnesota and ran a reportedly blistering 4.19 (and if that seems too good to be true, he also reported ran a 4.27, which is hardly slouching). Speed alone isn't enough to make it in the NFL -- but it sure helps.
*Von Miller says the Broncos are going to win the Super Bowl: Whatever his motivation, isn't that exactly what you want any player on a contender to say? Like he's supposed to say "We'll try our best!" or "Next year: Making the AFC title game or bust!" The fact that he was inspired by his 6-year-old cousin emerging from a coma makes it all the more inspired. If any player is allowed to make that kind of boast, it should be someone in the argument for best defensive player in the AFC.
*Regis Philbin was the headliner of the official promotion for Fox Sports' new ESPN competitor, Fox Sports 1. Regis will host a daily talk show head-to-head with ESPN's flagship daily shows PTI and Around the Horn -- that won't end well for Regis. It is unclear that Regis resonates with a younger audience, but it is easy to understand the interest in bringing in a "brand name."
The key will be the co-host that they pair with Regis -- the sports version of Kelly Ripa. (It's not without precedent: Michelle Beadle was largely unknown before being paired with Colin Cowherd on ESPN's SportsNation show, where she quickly established herself as the real star of the show.)
In the end, sports talk shows are fun, but sports networks make their money (cable fees and advertising) on showing live events. Fox has the existing assets -- and certainly the deep pockets -- to be competitive when it comes to securing live sports rights (like, say, Big East basketball).
*Tweet of the Day: "Kid Blake: Who are you? Future Blake: you from the future... Don't
listen to anything else I've told you just start wearing a cup." (from Blake Griffin, in response to Serge Ibaka merely earning a $25K fine for his groin shot on Griffin from Sunday).
*ICYMI: Don Van Natta's #longread on NFL commissioner Roger Goodell -- the newsy bit was that Goodell's biggest fear is a player dying on the field, but that feels like Goodell's shiny object meant to distract you from the actual issue -- the thousands of hits to the head that, over time, trigger CTE and other brain injuries that inevitably overtake players long after they have put themselves at immediate risk on the field.
*Johnny Football Watch: If Johnny Manziel's family wants an insurance policy
for the remaining year he plays college football before going pro, he
should just drop out now and work with George Whitfield or another
NFL-prep QB coach for the year...
*College football hot stove: Michigan's chances of being nationally relevant in 2014 got a big boost with incumbent starting QB Devin Gardner getting an extra year of eligibility.
Michigan's offense got better when he took over for Denard Robinson,
and two years from now, he should be an elite QB nationally.
*Conference realignment: For selling their league name and giving up their marquee basketball teams, the Football League Soon To Be Formerly Known As The Big East is going to make a cool $100M. And that's on top of the cash from their TV deal. Not bad...
And the farthest thing from a winner: Man U. fans, watching their side bounced from Champions League by Real Madrid after an entirely iffy red card.