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College basketball rankings: Gonzaga, UCLA lead way-too-early top 25 for 2021-22 season

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Gonzaga basketball since 1999: Inside the numbers of unlikely rise from Cinderella to blue-blooded powerhouse

Trying to select a preseason top 25 in such proximity to the college basketball season ending always has seemed as challenging as flying a jet plane blindfolded. You’ve got the auto-pilot to help, but it still would be nice to have some idea where you’re going, you know?

Four of the top 30 prospects in the 2021 recruiting class still have not chosen whether they will play in college. Some of those committed likely will have to decide whether to accept lucrative offers to join the G League Ignite program. Senior players will have to decide whether to take advantage of the extra year of eligibility offered by the NCAA. Many of those currently on college rosters will enter the draft, and some will remain even if they are unlikely to be chosen. And, now, the avalanche of veteran players in the transfer portal will make choices about where to play, and many who choose new colleges are likely to be eligible to compete next autumn.

MORE: Baylor reminds Gonzaga how tough it is to win it all

All of these are unknowns. There are more variables this season than in any previous season in which we’ve projected the following year’s top teams during Final Four weekend.

So understand: This is our best projection for now, but it’s not our last.

Way too early top 25 college basketball rankings

1. Gonzaga

2020-21 finish: 31-1, NCAA runner-up

Overview: Ha, you thought they were going away! Well, some of the Zags will, but they likely still will include promising power forward Anton Watson and young big man Oumar Ballo and guard Dominick Harris. Top-10 guard prospect Hunter Sallis committed last month, and the No. 1 prospect in the 2021 recruiting class, Chet Holmgren, is expected to place his name on the roster soon. What a boost it would be, as well, if veteran Andrew Nembhard chose to stick around and serve as the primary point guard.

2. UCLA

2020-21 finish: 22-10, Final Four

Overview: Coach Mick Cronin made a point several times during the tournament that the Bruins were advancing without a senior on their roster. Does that mean everyone, or most everyone, will return for a shot at greater glory in 2022? Even if they do, there still will need to be an upgrade in frontcourt depth and perimeter shooting. One had to think this will be an even more attractive destination after what viewers saw relative to how the Bruins competed in the 2021 NCAA Tournament — and how they reacted to their elimination.

3. Purdue

2020-21 finish: 18-10, NCAA first round

Overview: If Trevion Williams chooses to play another college season, this becomes a strong national championship contender. A little more shooting wouldn’t hurt; that was what kept the Boilers from advancing in the 2021 NCAA Tournament. But Jaden Ivey is going to be a star, and there is a tremendous core of young role players.

4. West Virginia

2020-21 finish: 19-10, NCAA second round

Overview: This has a chance to be one of the most capable teams to return for Huggins in a decade (2009-10) or two (1999-2000). The most important players are All-Big 12 forward Derek Culver and scoring star Miles McBride. If they and their teammates are back, Morgantown could be hopping once again next winter. If they too add to the roster, though, it likely will be through the better side of the transfer portal.

5. Maryland

2020-21 finish: 17-14, NCAA second round

Overview: Maybe the only programs that had better months than the Terps were the squads that reached the Final Four. Maryland got commitments from two ready-made starters, guard Fatts Russell of Rhode Island and center Qudus Wahab of Georgetown. If the Terps keep the rest of their group intact, they could be a legit title contender.

6. Texas

2020-21 finish: 19-8, NCAA first round

Overview: Welcome to Texas, Chris Beard. The great expectations commence immediately, depending on how much of the roster you are able to retain. There are veterans in the backcourt and up front who could push the Longhorns into college basketball’s elite, to where NCAA Tournament achievement would be likely.

7. Villanova

2020-21 finish: 18-7, Sweet 16

Overview: The Wildcats’ continued dominance of the Big East seems unlikely to end soon. They’ve won or shared seven of the eight regular-season titles since the league was reimagined in advance of the 2013-14 season. Guard Justin Moore is positioned to be the program’s next star. Their frontcourt will need work, with Jeremiah Robinson-Earl headed to the NBA and Cole Swider transferring. Jay Wright figures to find a way.

8. Kansas

2020-21 finish: 21-9, NCAA second round

Overview: It will be an interesting mix of old and new on the Jayhawks roster. Their lone transfer to date is a former Division II star, Cam Martin of Missouri Southern. They signed two four-star forwards and a four-star point guard, which means the depth likely will be strong. But they’ll need most of the 2021 starters to return by choice to hold this position.

9. Michigan State

2020-21 finish: 15-13, NCAA First Four

Overview: The Spartans’ ability to become a fluid, functioning unit was impacted by the struggle of Rocket Watts to embrace and flourish in the role of point guard. They still had a truckload of talent, and that made the season frustrating for everyone involved. Northeastern transfer Tyson Walker could solve that problem in the way Mike Smith managed the point at Michigan.

10. Duke

2020-21 finish: 13-11, no NCAA Tournament

Overview: The most pleasant development of the Blue Devils’ season was the play of freshman big Mark Williams. So now the Devils will have five-star freshman Paolo Banchero to join the inside game, with possibly more to come. There’s a five-star wing prospect in AJ Griffin. Even with the loss of freshman guard DJ Steward, there are capable young players on the perimeter. Mike Krzyzewski will show that 2021 was an aberration.

BENDER: Baylor’s championship is a Texas-sized storybook finish

11. Michigan

2020-21 finish: 23-5, Elite Eight

12. Baylor

2020-21 finish: 28-2, NCAA champion

13. Florida State

2020-21 finish: 18-7, Sweet 16

14. Virginia Tech

2020-21 finish: 15-7, NCAA first round

15. Ohio State

2020-21 finish: 21-10, NCAA first round

16. Tennessee

2020-21 finish: 18-9, NCAA first round

17. Kentucky

2020-21 finish: 9-16, no NCAA Tournament

18. Houston

2020-21 finish: 28-4, Final Four

19. LSU

2020-21 finish: 19-10, NCAA second round

20. St. Bonaventure

2020-21 finish: 16-5, NCAA first round

21. Oregon

2020-21 finish: 21-7, Sweet 16

22. Connecticut

2020-21 finish: 15-8, NCAA first round

23. Syracuse

2020-21 finish: 18-10, Sweet 16

24. Arkansas

2020-21 finish: 25-7, Elite Eight

25. Drake

2020-21 finish: 26-5, NCAA first round

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Anthony Edwards has no idea who Alex Rodriguez, potential Timberwolves owner, is

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Anthony Edwards has no idea who Alex Rodriguez, potential Timberwolves owner, is

Anthony Edwards, meet Alex Rodriguez: Your potential future boss. Oh, and only one of the most singularly talented, charismatic and controversial MLB players this millennium.

As Rodriguez and e-commerce billionaire Marc Lore continue to finalize a deal with current Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor to take over the Minnesota franchise, reporters began asking current players their thoughts on their potential new boss.

But Edwards, the rookie out of Georgia, has no idea who Rodriguez is, as this exceptionally funny video showcases:

MORE: Rodriguez, Marc Lore negotiating deal to buy Timberwolves

Hey, at least he’s honest. And the explanation that he simply doesn’t watch baseball — as if only MLB fans know Rodriguez — is pure comedy. It’s not as if Edwards doesn’t understand the sport of baseball, either. In the video below, he describes how he was talented enough as a multi-athlete star to play in MLB had he decided to take that career route:

To be fair, Edwards, 19, wasn’t even born yet when Rodriguez began his MLB career in 1994 with the Seattle Mariners. And he was just 15 years old when Rodriguez hung up the cleats for the final time after the 2016 season.

Still, you’d think he would have at least heard of someone who was a 14-time All-Star selection, three-time AL MVP, two-time Gold Glove Award winner and 10-time Silver Slugger Award winner, among other accolades. And that’s to say nothing of his controversial PED use, which cost Rodriguez the entirety of the 2014 season due to suspension.

Look at it this way: If Rodriguez ends up gaining ownership of the Timberwolves, Edwards will have plenty of future opportunities to learn more about his new boss.

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Aaron Rodgers has perfect response for ‘Jeopardy!’ contestants who whiff on Packers question

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Aaron Rodgers has perfect response for 'Jeopardy!' contestants who whiff on Packers question

Who are the Green Bay Packers?

Only one of the most historic franchises in the history of the NFL, owner of 13 championships and four Super Bowl victories and the current team of “Jeopardy!” guest host Aaron Rodgers. Oh, and a question on Tuesday’s episode.

MORE: ‘Jeopardy!’ contestant leaves guest host Aaron Rodgers laughing with troll-tastic response

Unfortunately, all three contestants whiffed on the question after Rodgers’ introduction: “In the 1960s, these Midwesterners earned five NFL championship trophies.” Rodgers, of course, referred to Vince Lombardi’s Packers, who won titles in 1961, ’62, ’65, ’66 and ’67 — the latter two Super Bowl victories.

To make matters worse, one of the contestants then managed to correctly guess the Boston Celtics as the team to win the NBA title every year from 1959-66.

At the very least, it afforded viewers the opportunity to watch Rodgers show off his comedic chops. He clearly has picked up a few tricks from his discount double check and State Farm ad appearances. It certainly will do nothing to curb his enthusiasm for hosting the show full-time — while also serving as quarterback for the Packers.

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Jake Paul accused of sexual assault by TikTok star

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Jake Paul accused of sexual assault by TikTok star

YouTube personality-turned-boxer Jake Paul has been accused of sexual assault.

Paul’s accuser, Jasmine Paradise, posted a 20-minute YouTube video on Friday in which she claimed Paul sexually assaulted her at his Team 10 house in Los Angeles. Paradise is a TikTok star with more than 525,000 followers.

In the video, Paradise focused on events she said occurred in June and July 2019; she said she met Paul at his home in July of that year after visiting his house several times with friends starting in June. In the video, Paradise said she and Paul had several awkward encounters at first, but that one night he pulled her into a corner of his studio area and began kissing her. She said she “was fine with that. I did think he was cute.”

Afterward, however, Paradise said Paul took her into his room and began to show frustration at her reluctance to have sex with him. She said he forced her to have oral sex after she told him “No” several times.

“Sex is very special and very important to me,” Paradise said in the video. “But I haven’t had sex with that many people. Normally, everybody respects me when I don’t want to do sexual things, so I thought that it was fine if I went in his room. I thought it would be fine to kiss him, because I thought he would stop if I didn’t want to do anything else.

“He didn’t ask for consent or anything. He knew I didn’t want to do anything with him because he said, ‘If nothing is gonna happen, what’s the point?’ Then he shoves himself in me.

“That’s not okay. On no level at all is that okay.”

Paradise also posted several text conversations between her and Paul, as well as photos and videos of her at his Team 10 house, as proof of her allegations in the video.

Daniel E. Gardenswartz, Paul’s lawyer, said his client “categorically denied” Paradise’s claims in a statement (via the New York Post).

“Our client is aware of the recent allegation against him. While others have already begun to debunk the claim alleged against him, our client categorically denies the allegation and has every intention of aggressively disproving it and pursuing legal action against those responsible for the defamation of his character.”

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