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Florida State vs. Virginia line, prediction: Take the Seminoles

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Florida State vs. Virginia line, prediction: Take the Seminoles

The ACC’s top two teams will go at it in Tallahassee on Monday when Florida State plays host to the Virginia Cavaliers, who are looking to pick up their 12th win in their last 13 games.

Virginia is known for its slow tempo and strong defense, and that reputation deflects from this team ranking eighth in the country in points scored on a per-possession basis while rating sixth in 3-point shooting percentage and third in fewest turnovers per game.

Florida State’s offense has been at its best in ACC play, leading all schools in conference play averaging 79 points and making 40.9 percent of its 3-pointers. Leading scorer M.J Walker is connecting on 44.4 percent of his 3s.

On the shots they have missed, the Seminoles have done a good job of getting second chances, rebounding 34.7 percent of their misses, which ranks 10th in the country.

Florida State ranks 29th in the country in opponent 2-point shooting percentage and is blocking 8.9 percent of shots on defense, which ranks 13th in the country.

With Virginia ranking 300th in the country in steals per game, Florida State should get tons of clean possessions and protect home court against the conference-leading Cavaliers.

The Play: Florida State, +1.

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Purdue vs. Penn State line, prediction: Take Boilermakers

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Purdue vs. Penn State line, prediction: Take Boilermakers

The Purdue defense has been one of the most rock-solid units in the nation in 2021, giving up 72 points or fewer in every game this calendar year. On Friday, the Boilermakers will visit a Penn State squad looking for revenge after an 80-72 defeat in West Lafayette, Ind., in January.

The Penn State offense has sputtered in February, scoring more than 68 points twice in their seven games, averaging 64.7 points per game. The Nittany Lions are shooting 31.6 percent from 3-point range in this stretch after making 36.6 percent from distance in their first 13 games, a problem considering Purdue is giving up the fewest points per game on 2-point shots among the 14 Big Ten teams in conference play.

Purdue ranks 21st in the country in rebound rate in true road games and should own the paint against a Penn State team that is allowing opponents to make 54.8 percent of its 2-point shots, which ranks 318th. Trevion Williams is the Boilermakers’ leading scorer at 16 ppg and also their top rebounder at 9.1 per game.

The Boilermakers have covered the spread in eight of their past 11 games, and with Penn State ranking 244th in country in points given up on a per-possession basis, Purdue’s covering ways should continue on Friday.

The play: Purdue, -1.

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Teams leaving Texans trade voicemails

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Teams leaving Texans trade voicemails

Maybe teams can try sliding into the Texans’ DMs.

According to a NFL Network report, the Texans front office is so dug in that they are not taking phone calls from teams interested in acquiring Deshaun Watson.

Tom Pelissero reported that some teams have even “resorted to leaving voicemails with trade offers.”

Watson has officially requested a trade and said behind that scenes that he will never take another snap for the Texans again.

Houston’s latest attempt to persuade him was a meeting with new coach David Culley, but Watson’s stance remains unchanged.

Watson signed a four-year, $156 million extension last season, but has felt disrespected by the Texans not consulting him on key decisions, such as hiring Nick Caserio as GM.

This could drag on for some time, though.

A separate NFL Network report stated that the Texans don’t view the start of free agency (March 17) or the 2021 NFL Draft (April 29) as any sort of deadline to deal Watson.

And the report added that the teams who are interested in Watson —  the Jets, Dolphins and Panthers have been most prominently mentioned in the rumor mill — “don’t expect” Watson to be traded. That could have something to do with their phone calls going unanswered.

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Mike King will start in Yankees’ spring training opener

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Mike King will start in Yankees' spring training opener

Observations from Thursday’s Yankees workout:

King for a day

Aaron Boone announced Mike King will start Sunday’s Grapefruit League opener against the Blue Jays at George M. Steinbrenner Field. The right-hander is fighting for a spot in the rotation.

Icy reception

Justin Wilson’s arrival to Tampa was delayed by the winter storm that hit Texas and crippled much of the state. He stayed with his wife and children while they were without power for 30 hours then attempted to drive to Florida. He was slowed by bad road conditions, which forced him to stay in a hotel in Louisiana before finally making it. “It was an interesting few days.”

Caught my eye

Mike Tauchman snapped his bat over his leg after flying out against Domingo German and then came back to homer off Gerrit Cole during live BP. Boone is confident the outfielder is healthy and will bounce back after a disappointing 2020 season.

Friday’s schedule

Workouts for pitchers, catchers and position players as the team prepares for Sunday’s Grapefruit League opener.

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