Hello everyone and happy Friday. It's Shanna here to bring you the latest in sports news as you prepare for the weekend. Hockey fans, get excited, because we are talking NHL playoffs today. Let me know on Twitter which NHL teams you think will surprise in the playoffs and if you're bold enough, pick a Stanley Cup winner. You have a 1/16 chance of being correct.
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We'll also talk about ARod (not specifically his breakup ... though I will touch on that!), college hoops, and much more on this episode of "The Newsletter" on CBS.
Let's get going.
📰 What you need to know
1. Why Kentucky is probably going to be great next season 🏀
Kentucky men's basketball team secured a commitment from five-star point guard TyTy Washington this week. Washington is a top 25 prospect in the Class of 2021. His addition to the Wildcats has helped the program move up in our latest Top 25 and 1 rankings.
John Calipari, who has found success at Kentucky in part thanks to elite prospects and point guards, struggled last season without one. The team went 9-16 -- Cal's worst record as a college coach in over 30 years.
As our college hoops expert Gary Parrish wrote in the rankings, Washington is going to quickly turn the team around.
Parrish: "TyTy Washington gives Kentucky the type of talented point guard that didn't exist on last season's roster. He'll pair with three proven transfers -- Kellan Grady, Oscar Tshiebwe and CJ Frederick -- and should help the Wildcats return to the NCAA Tournament after missing the Field of 68 in 2021"
Washington will likely be Kentucky's starting point guard next season.
Davion Mintz, Keion Brooks, Dontaie Allen, Jacob Toppin, Lance Ware are notable players expected to return to the squad, on top of the incoming recruits and transfers mentioned above.
2. The Stanley Cup Playoffs are nearly here 🏒
The Stanley Cup playoffs are arguably the greatest playoffs in sports, and they will be here in just one day.
Pardon our excitement. The playoffs will begin with Game 1 between the Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins on Saturday.
This regular season has looked different due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the league realigning the divisions to have one with all Canadian team due to the country's travel restrictions. The Central and East divisions have completed their regular seasons, the West finished theirs yesterday and the North wraps up on May 19.
Despite the North finishing late, the seedings for the playoffs are all set set. You can check out the entire first round schedule here.
To get you ready for tomorrow, here's a look at the playoff structure:
- The first two rounds will take place within the division
- The first place faces the fourth-place team and the second-place team will face the third-place team
- Winners of that round will then face off in the second round
- The four advancing teams in the second round will be re-seeded using regular season point total
3. Alex Rodriguez's ownership group is reportedly buying the Timberwolves and Lynx 🏀
Alex Rodriguez has had quite the week. No, I'm not talking about Jennifer Lopez getting back together with her ex-fiance Ben Affleck (who is a Red Sox fan by the way 😈) I'm talking about reports that ARod's ownership group reached an agreement to buy the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx.
Some people cut their hair after a breakup, some go out with their friends ... some buy a billion-dollar NBA franchise.
- The ownership group, which also includes entrepreneur Marc Lore as an equal partner in the purchase, is buying the franchise from Glen Taylor for $1.5 billion, according to The Athletic
- Taylor purchased the Wolves in 1994 for about $90 million and has owned the Lynx since 1999
- Before it becomes officially official, the NBA' Board of Governor needs to approve the purchase
- The ownership group signed a letter of intent on April 10, but a deal wasn't made in the 30 days they get to complete the negotiations. No other group was able to come in and make a deal, however, so Rodriguez's group is purchasing the team
Rodriguez is not the only one who showed interest in owning the team during the entire process, though. Former Timberwolves star Kevin Garnett also looked into buying it a few months ago, but animosity between Taylor and the former NBA star resulted in no deal being reached.
4. Pac-12 hires George Kliavkoff as commissioner 🏈
The Pac-12 has a new commissioner -- and it's probably the first time you've heard his name. It was announced on Thursday that George Kliavkoff, who has been president of entertainment & sports for MGM Resorts International since 2018, will replace Larry Scott.
This change in commissioner also comes at a difficult time for the conference, which has struggled to keep up with its counterparts. The Pac-12 has not had a team represented in the College Playoff since 2016 and in general doesn't have the impact in athletics that the SEC, Big Ten and ACC have.
Here's more about Kliavkoff:
- He got the job after unanimous support from all 12 conference presidents and chancellors and will begin the role on July 1
- The hire might be surprising, but Kliavkoff does have sports experience. He was a member of the WNBA's Board of Governors and was the executive vice president of business with MLB Advanced Media
- Scott was the commissioner since 2009 before being let go in January of 2021
Kliavkoff explained on Thursday that he is up to the fairly big challenge in front of him.
Kliavkoff: "I am thrilled to be the Pac-12 Commissioner. This is a challenging time for intercollegiate athletics, but I believe these challenges also create significant opportunities. I loved being a student-athlete, and I'm passionate about the doors that college sports and higher education open for young women and men. My job at the Pac-12 will be to help manage the balance between continued academic excellence, student-athlete well-being and an even higher level of athletic achievement."
📝 Odds & Ends
- Miami's Udonis Haslem was ejected minutes into his season debut after an altercation with Dwight Howard
- Tom Brady compared playing the Patriots to when your high school friends meet your college friends
- The Ravens signed Lamar Jackson's top high school receiver as an undrafted free agent
📺 What to watch this weekend
🏀 Cavaliers vs. Wizards, 7 p.m. | WASH -345 | TV: NBA League Pass
⚾ Yankees vs. Orioles, 7:05 p.m. | BAL +165 | TV:MLB.TV
🏇 Preakness Stakes, 6:50 p.m. | TV: NBC
🏒 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Bruins vs. Capitals, 7:15 p.m. | TV: NBC
🏀 Celtics vs. Knicks, 1 p.m. | TV: ESPN
🏀 Lakers vs. Pelicans, 9 p.m. | TV: NBA League Pass
Best thing I saw on the internet 🏅
One of the things I love about the NFL schedule release is how creative teams get with their announcements. The Carolina Panthers crushed it and did their schedule as Adam Sandler outfits. It's perfectly random.