👋 Good morning! Hope you had the best weekend.
🚨 Breaking: Russia has been handed a four-year ban from all major sporting events, including next summer's Olympic Games in Tokyo. We'll go deeper tomorrow.
Today's word count: 1,460 (6 minutes)
Jalen Hurts, Joe Burrow, Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields. Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
After three-plus months of chaos, championship weekend brought clarity to the top of college football, and delivered two semifinal matchups that are, at least stylistically, about as good as it gets.
The debate: With no other one-loss teams in the top 10, this year's picks feel immune to controversy. In fact, the only thing truly worth debating is whether the committee got the No. 1 seed right, which matters more than usual because of the clear drop-off from the top three teams to No. 4 Oklahoma.
What to watch:
See the bottom of the newsletter for a full list of every bowl game.
Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Luka Dončić just passed Michael Jordan for the most consecutive games since the NBA/ABA merger with at least 20 points, five rebounds and five assists (19). Reminder: He's 20 years old.
By the numbers: Here are the best seasons by a 20-year-old in NBA history, according to their player efficiency rating (PER):
Why it matters: We appear to be watching the emergence of an all-time great, and Dončić's historic start could forever change how overseas players are viewed.
"On draft day Doncic was likely to be an All-Star for a very good team one day. That he has, so quickly, done in this league what he did in Europe two seasons ago, tells us how similar the European leagues are to the NBA. After the top 50 or so players here, there isn't much separating the talent. Doncic's success will help pave the way for more guys to make the jump."— David Thorpe, TrueHoop (subscribe)
Photo: Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images
After 90 minutes of regulation and two overtime periods went scoreless, Stanford beat North Carolina on penalty kicks (5-4) to win the D-I women's soccer national championship yesterday, the program's second title in three years.
More college soccer:
Marvin Miller, speaking in 1972. Photo: Bettmann/Getty Images
Last night, the Baseball Hall of Fame announced that groundbreaking union leader Marvin Miller and former catcher Ted Simmons were voted into Cooperstown by the 16-person Modern Era Committee.
Go deeper: Miller's election was a long time coming, to say the least.
How high could the dollars go in the Gerrit Cole auction? $280 million, per The Athletic's Jayson Stark (subscription), which would crush the previous record for a pitcher (David Price: $217 million). Top contenders: Yankees, Angels, Dodgers.
In men's college hoops, defending champ Virginia beat North Carolina for the fifth straight time last night (final score: 56-47), the Cavaliers' longest winning streak over the Tar Heels since 1918-20.
Jay Berwanger. Photo: Bettmann/Getty Images
84 years ago today, University of Chicago running back Jay Berwanger won the first-ever Downtown Athletic Club Trophy, which was renamed the Heisman Trophy the following year.
What happened next: In 1936, the Philadelphia Eagles drafted Berwanger with the No. 1 pick, making him the first player ever drafted into the NFL. But due to contract disputes, he never played a down.
"He was unimpressed by his football fame. For years, he had no space at home for the Heisman Trophy, so it sat in his aunt's home. She used it to keep the front door open, allowing cool breezes into the house."— From Berwanger's 2002 obituary
Stanford's Andrew Chun blocks a shot attempt by Pacific's Engin Ege Colak. Photo: Timothy Nwachukwu/NCAA Photos via Getty Images
Stanford beat Pacific, 13-8, to win the men's water polo national championship yesterday, the program's 11th title and first since 2002.
Interim head coach Mike Miller is the seventh different person to coach the Knicks this decade.
Answer at the bottom.
The argument against bowl games is that they are relatively meaningless exhibition games designed to make money — mostly for Disney, which not only broadcasts but actually owns many of them.
Go deeper: Predictions for every game (ESPN)
Kendall "Stanford athletics coming in hot" Baker
Trivia answer: David Fizdale (2018-19), Jeff Hornacek (2016-18), Kurt Rambis (2016), Derek Fisher (2014-16), Mike Woodson (2012-14), Mike D'Antoni (2008-12)