TIME NCAA March Madness

Duke Back in Final Four After Defeating Gonzaga

Duke v Gonzaga
Ronald Martinez—Getty Images Justise Winslow #12 of the Duke Blue Devils drives to the basket against Angel Nunez #2 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs during the South Regional Final of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at NRG Stadium on March 29, 2015 in Houston.

The Blue Devils are heading to Indianapolis after a 66-52 win

A special group of freshmen is taking Duke and Coach K back to the NCAA Final Four.

The Blue Devils and their trio of freshmen starters are going to their 16th Final Four, a record-matching 12th for coach Mike Krzyzewski, after a 66-52 win Sunday in the South Regional over Gonzaga.

Justise Winslow, the freshman playing home in Houston, had 16 points, including a big 3-pointer in the closing minutes. Matt Jones had also had 16 points while freshman Tyus Jones had 15 points, while Jahlil Okafor nine points and eight rebounds.

Duke (33-4), the region’s No. 1 seed, is going to Indianapolis to play Michigan State in the Final Four. The other national semifinal game Saturday matches undefeated Kentucky and Wisconsin.

Krzyzewski is going to the Final Four for the 12th time, matching UCLA’s John Wooden for the most by a head coach and five more than anyone else.

No. 2 seed Gonzaga (35-3) had taken a 38-34 lead less than 4 minutes into the second half, putting the Blue Devils in their largest deficit of this tournament.

These young Blue Devils responded with nine straight points and never trailed again. They had stretched it to 60-51 when Winslow made a 3-poitner from the left wing with 2:28 left.

TIME Internet

Tom Brady Scares Fans With Waterfall Dive

All of Boston just held its breath

Tom Brady nearly gave Patriots’ fans a collective heart attack on Saturday when he posted a video of himself diving off a cliff.

The Super Bowl MVP posted the vacation footage, in which his wife Gisele Bündchen encourages him as he leaps, to his personal Facebook page. The comments section quickly became a treasure trove of gifs and collective gasps posted by the quarterback’s fans.

Don’t worry. His arm is just fine.

TIME ice skating

Why Americans Aren’t Winning Figure Skating Medals Anymore

FSKATE-CHN
GOH CHAI HIN—AFP/Getty Images Ashley Wagner of the US competes in the ladies' free skating of the 2015 ISU World Figure Skating Championships at the Shanghai Oriental Sports Center in Shanghai on March 28, 2015.

The women extended their nine-year drought

American female singles skaters failed to make the podium for the ninth year in a row at the World Championships on Saturday, while the U.S. men also failed to medal for a sixth year running. It’s the longest medal drought in American figure skating history.

To their credit, Ashley Wagner and Gracie Gold just barely missed the podium finishing fourth and fifth, respectively, and they both improved on their previous performances. Nineteen-year-old Gold was second in the free skate Saturday and moved from eighth place to fourth overall. Wagner, 23, also jumped from 11th to fifth this weekend.

Still, the Americans had a perfect opportunity to break their losing streak this year with reigning Olympic champion Adelina Sotnikova and three-time World Champion Mao Asada both sitting out.

Perhaps it’s a dated Cold War mentality, but women’s figure skating fans have always expected America to be on top—or at least make it to the podium. Even after Team U.S.A. lost 16 members in a 1961 plane crash, the program didn’t have such a long dry spell. (Peggy Fleming won bronze for the U.S. in 1965.) In 1991 when Kristi Yamaguchi, Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan took home all three medals from the worlds, American figure skating seemed unstoppable. And American women medaled every year from 1995 to 2006.

But now the Russians are dominating the scene.

In part, Russia’s success can be attributed to the Russian government decision to increase funding for ice skating by a factor of 10 in 2006—the last time the American women medaled. Meanwhile American skaters, like many other American athletes, largely have to fund their expensive training on their own.

It’s also possible that the less cutthroat American training system is finally taking its toll. Whereas Russian skating programs encourage competition at a young age, mercilessly cut those who cannot execute and relocate promising athletes to top skating schools, American programs tend to be more lenient. Young U.S. skaters are rated in a non-competitive setting and are permitted re-skates if they fail at certain skills. Some coaches have suggested that these child-friendly practices don’t ingrain the mental toughness needed under extreme pressure, as Rolling Stone pointed out earlier this week.

That mental toughness and perfectionism is essential in the current judging system. Until 2005, skaters were given two scores—one for technical merit and one for presentation—on a 0 to 6.0 scale. Crowd-pleasing spins were prioritized over perfect execution.

But after a cheating scandal in 2002, the International Skating Union instituted a new, complicated judging system that scrutinizes every move and gives it a numerical ranking for both difficulty and execution. Skaters are encouraged to be technically perfect and less creative, and, to make a generalization, Russian skaters have tended to be better at the details than American ones.

That doesn’t mean that America’s luck couldn’t turn around. It just takes a few standouts: back in the days when Michelle Kwan and Tara Lipinski were duking it out, they pushed one another to the top of the rankings both at home and abroad. If skaters like Gold and Wagner can do that for each other in competition, they’ll have a better chance of getting America onto the podium.

TIME College Basketball

5 Things That Make Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes Off-Court Star of NCAA Tournament

Wisconsin Badgers forward Nigel Hayes during the a game against Oregon Ducks in Omaha, Neb. on March 22, 2015.
William Purnell—AP Wisconsin Badgers forward Nigel Hayes during the a game against Oregon Ducks in Omaha, Neb. on March 22, 2015.

He's got some endearing quirks

Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes in the most interesting character in the NCAA tournament. The sophomore forward is averaging 13.7 points per game thus far in the tournament, but it’s his off-court antics that have made him a star. Let’s take a look back at five things that make him the tournament’s most lovable player.

He’s fascinated by the press conference stenographer

Here’s how Hayes opened his press conference after the Badgers’ win over Coastal Carolina:

Q. Nigel, obviously if you look just statistically, you’ve taken quite a leap in the 3-point shooting, to whatever, and in other areas. Can you describe just the steps you took to kind of, you know, raise those parts of your game?
NIGEL HAYES: Hello, it works now. Before I answer that question, I would like to say a few words, cattywampus, onomatopoeia and antidisestablishmentarianism. (Laughs). Now, back to your question. It was just a lot of hard work, teammates giving me great confidence, and when you play with players that are very unselfish like the two next to me who also give you that confidence and involve the team, it’s a lot easier to get things done.

Q. Why did you start off saying those things and then I have to followup.
NIGEL HAYES: Well, the wonderful young lady over there, I think her job title is a stenographer, yes, okay. And she does an amazing job of typing words, sometimes if words are not in her dictionary, maybe if I say soliloquy right now, she may have to work a little bit harder to type that word, or quandary, zephyr, Xylophone, things like that, that make her job really interesting.

He might be a little too fascinated with one stenographer in particular

Hayes tried to whisper to Frank Kaminsky that he thought the stenographer in Los Angeles was “beautiful,” but he didn’t realize his mic was on. He looked like he wanted to disappear, which is hard when you’re 6’8″.

He made sure to apologize to the stenographer in question

Hayes realized that his gaffe might have been as embarrassing for the stenographer as it was for him, so he apologized to her on Twitter.

She was totally cool with it, though.

He wants to sleep in Kobe Bryant’s locker

Hayes is sharing Kobe’s locker this week, and hopes to gain some of Bryant’s skills by osmosis.

“Here we are in Kobe’s locker,” Hayes told reporters, according to WKBT. “I will probably sleep in this locker tonight so that way I can absorb Kobe powers and ability tonight and hopefully it will help me play well.”

He’s been doing stuff like this his entire college career

During last year’s tournament, Hayes started interviewing teammates as “Nigel Burgundy.” The videos were a hit, so he kept the act going after the season was over. In May, he helped keep things light during finals week by interviewing students in the library.

How can you not root for the Badgers?

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

TIME Football

Michael Sam Says There Are Other Gay Athletes in the NFL

Michael Sam attends the premiere of ABC's "Dancing With The Stars" season 20 in West Hollywood, Calif. on March 16, 2015.
Alberto E. Rodriguez—Getty Images Michael Sam attends the premiere of ABC's "Dancing With The Stars" season 20 in West Hollywood, Calif. on March 16, 2015.

"There is a lot of us," says Michael Sam

Free-agent defensive end Michael Sam says that he is not the only gay player in the NFL.

Sam became the first openly gay player selected in the NFL draft when the St. Louis Rams chose him in the seventh round of the 2014 NFL Draft.

He was cut at the end of training camp after making three sacks during the preseason and was signed by the Dallas Cowboys to their practice squad, spending seven weeks with the team before he was released in October.

“I am not the only gay person in the NFL,” Sam said, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I’m just saying there is a lot of us. I respect the players that did reach out to me and had the courage to tell me that they were also gay, but they do not have the same courage as I do to come out before I even played a down in the NFL.”

Last month, Sam told Sports Illustrated‘s Robert Klemko that there were other gay players in the NFL.

Sam worked out at the veterans combine in Arizona last weekend, running a 4.99 40-yard dash. He admits coming out was a “risky move” and didn’t think it was going to be a big deal.

“Maybe I was naive,” Sam said. “Maybe I thought it was 2014, and people will understand that there’s gay NFL players. There’s gay athletes everywhere. But I was clearly wrong. It was a huge deal.”

Sam is currently competing on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.”

“Dancing with the Stars is my employer,” Sam said. “That’s my main source of income.… I’m unemployed, and I don’t believe I’m out of the NFL because I’m gay. But if it was a reason, it can hurt their livelihood, and you don’t want to take that chance.”

Sam says he has not talked to his father since February 2014, when the New York Times published a story detailing Sam’s upbringing in Hitchcock, Texas.

Sam sent his father a text saying he was gay, prompting Michael Sam, Sr. to tell the newspaper, “I’m old school…. I’m a man-and-a-woman type of guy.”

The younger Sam says those comments and others made in the article were “unforgivable.”

“I still love him, but I can love him from afar,” Sam said.

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

TIME Basketball

Washington Wizards Let 13-Year-Old With Brain Cancer Join the Team for a Day

Nitin Ramachandran's wish came true

The Wizards had a very special guest at their 110-107 double-overtime win over the Hornets on Friday. The team signed Nitin Ramachandran, a 13-year-old boy from Virginia with brain cancer, to a one-day contract. He got to hang out with the team throughout the day and even got introduced as part of the starting lineup.

Nitin watched shoutaround and helped coach up the big men.

John Wall better hope Nitin doesn’t take his spot permanently.

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

TIME College Basketball

That Last-Second Free-Throw in the Duke-Utah Game Cost Vegas Millions

during a South Regional Semifinal game of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at NRG Stadium on March 27, 2015 in Houston, Texas.
Tom Pennington—2015 Getty Images Quinn Cook #2 of the Duke Blue Devils and Delon Wright #55 of the Utah Utes battle for a rebound during a South Regional Semifinal game of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at NRG Stadium on March 27, 2015 in Houston, Texas.

The whistle was ignored in the stadium but heard loud and clear by bettors

A seemingly meaningless free-throw shot in the Duke-Utah Sweet 16 game cost Vegas big bucks Friday night.

When the buzzer sounded, Duke was up five points 62-57. That was bad news for bettors who picked Duke. Since most sportsbooks had Duke as a 5-point favorite, Duke would have to win by more than 5 points for those bettors to get paid. But after players had already left the court, officials said they had called a last-second foul. Putting 0.7 seconds back on the clock, Duke guard Quinn Cook sank one free-throw that cost casinos thousands because they were forced to pay the three-quarters of bettors who had placed their money on Duke.

Exactly how much money casinos lost is still unclear, but it’s probably in the millions. “It caused a million-dollar swing with parlay liability, to the bad,” MGM vice president of race and sports Jay Rood told ESPN.

Here’s what happened: Duke led 62-57 with 10 seconds left in the game when Cook rebounded a missed shot by Utah forward Jordan Loveridge. Cook wrestled for the ball with Utah defenders in what could have been a jump ball call. But the whistles stayed silent, and Cook dribbled out of trouble.

With the game seemingly over, the Utes began to head back to the locker room as the Blue Devils celebrated. But officials said they called a foul on Utah guard Brandon Taylor who grabbed Cook as he was dribbling away with 0.7 seconds left. Officials called the Utes back to the court so Cook could shoot what seemed to the players to be pointless free-throws. Duke came away with its 6-point victory.

According to ESPN, 77% of spread bettors were on Duke on Friday night. Las Vegas sportsbook operator CG Technology said they had a six-figure swing after the free-throw, according to ESPN.

Bettors tweeted their fury and joy—depending upon where they placed their bets:

Watch the last-second foul below:

Read next: Crazy Long Shot March Madness Bet Looks to Pay Off Big Time

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Education

Boy With Special Needs Told He Can’t Wear Varsity Letter Jacket

The high school student was told to take his jacket off

A Kansas mom is outraged after her son, who has special needs, was forced by his school to remove his varsity letter jacket.

Jolinda Kelley of Wichita, Kansas, bought a varsity letter for her son Michael’s letter jacket after he was recognized for participation for playing basketball, but she says when Michael wore it to school he was asked to take it off.

“Another parent, from what I’ve been told, was upset that my son was wearing his letter jacket,” Kelley told Wichita’s KSNW.

She said Michael took off the jacket and was given a girl’s sweatshirt to wear instead…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Boxing

Justin Bieber Will Be Floyd Mayweather’s Good Luck Charm at Boxing Match

The pop star will accompany Mayweather to his fight against Manny Pacquiao

Floyd Mayweather is always confident in his abilities, but he will still be bringing his good luck charm, Justin Bieber, with him to the ring for his May 2 bout against Manny Pacquiao.

Bieber was leaving a Hollywood bar on Thursday night when TMZ hectored him with questions about being part of the undefeated boxer’s escort to the ring and the pop star said he would be while trying to shield himself from the cameras.

The May 2 fight is expected to be the highest grossing in the history of the sport, with the gate alone reportedly bringing in $74 million.

TIME College football

USC AD Pat Haden: Documents Confirm NCAA Sanctions Unfair

USC Trojans Athletic Director Haden stands on the sidelines during the NCAA football game against the Hawaii Warriors in Los Angeles
Danny Moloshok—Reuters Pat Haden stands on the sidelines during the NCAA football game against the Hawaii Warriors in Los Angeles on Sept. 1, 2012

USC athletic director Pat Haden says private emails between NCAA committee on infractions members that were made public as part of a lawsuit filed by former Trojans running backs coach Todd McNair confirm the school was treated unfairly in the NCAA’s handling of the Reggie Bush case.

The NCAA released almost 500 pages of documents on Tuesday after losing a court battle to keep them sealed. The documents relate to McNair’s defamation suit against the NCAA.

“I think these documents are cause for concern about the NCAA’s own institutional controls,” Haden said Wednesday in a statement. “It should be concerning to all schools that the NCAA didn’t appear to follow its own rules.”

The NCAA investigated the school to determine whether Bush and former basketball player O.J. Mayo received improper benefits and whether USC coaches knew about the players’ violations.

USC’s football program received a postseason ban, lost 30 scholarships and was forced to vacate 14 victories in which Bush played from December 2004 through Bush’s 2005 Heisman Trophy winning season after NCAA investigators concluded that Bush and his family received cash and gifts from sports marketers in 2004 and 2005.

“We are extremely disappointed and dismayed at the way the NCAA investigated, judged and penalized our university throughout this process,” Haden said. “USC hopes that the transparency in this case will ultimately lead to review and changes so that all member institutions receive the fair and impartial treatment they deserve.”

The investigative report also criticized McNair, slapping him with a one-year “show-cause penalty” prohibiting him from recruiting and other sanctions.

McNair sued the NCAA in June 2011, saying the NCAA investigation was one-sided and seeks unspecified damages for libel, slander and breach of contract. McNair’s contract was not renewed by the school after the show-cause penalty was handed down.

The NCAA said McNair lied about his knowledge of extra benefits being provided to Bush and his family.

In the unsealed documents, the NCAA criticized the school for hiring Lane Kiffin as its head coach. Kiffin, now the offensive coordinator at Alabama, was the coordinator of the USC offense while Bush was playing.

“Lack of institutional control … (and do we add the hiring of Lane Kiffin?), is a very easy call for me,” committee member Roscoe Howard wrote.

NCAA committee member Rodney Uphoff also compared the evidence against McNair to the case surrounding the 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City. Uphoff said the case against McNair was stronger than that against Terry Nichols, who was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for his role in the bombing.

This story originally appeared on SI.com

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