👋 Good morning! Dabo Swinney didn't know his real name until he was 8. "This is honest to God truth," he said. "I had no idea my name was even William until the third grade because of those scantrons."
👀 In today's edition: The NFL's divisional round is full of teams that love to run the ball; men's and women's Wooden Award watch lists; Monday Night Esports and much more. All in 1,355 words (5 minutes).
Driven by rule changes and schematic innovations, as well as a correlation between pass-happy offenses and winning, the NFL is in the midst of an aerial revolution. And yet — most of the remaining playoff teams love to run the ball.
By the numbers:
Between the lines: Despite gaining so many rushing yards, the divisional-round's best rushing teams look nothing like the "ground-and-pound" offenses of yesteryear (outside of maybe the Titans).
The bottom line: The golden age of superstar RBs has clearly passed, but dual-threat QBs like Lamar Jackson, Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson are all the rage, and its changing how we think about rushing offense.
Go deeper: What each remaining QB says about the NFL (The Ringer)
Photo: Justin Casterline/Getty Images
Dayton sophomore Obi Toppin — who has transformed himself from a lightly recruited teenager into a high-flying NBA lottery pick — was one of five names added to the Wooden Award midseason watch list, which was also trimmed from 50 players to 25.
What they're saying: The Athletic's Brian Bennett on why Toppin has been the player of the year so far (subscription):
"While no one has come close to Zion-izing the sport, Toppin is the first guy who comes to mind when I think of the 2019-20 season. He has been remarkably consistent and stellar in every aspect. He has led a team few were talking about in the preseason to a top-10 NET ranking, and he provides a couple of ridiculous highlights each game."
🎥 Go deeper: Toppin's season highlights (YouTube)
Ruthy Hebard (front) and Sabrina Ionescu (back) playing defense. Photo: Joe Scarnici/Getty Images
More than half the players on the midseason women's Wooden Award watch list (13 of 25) come from one of five teams:
More women's hoops:
LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND — National flags cover the Olympic Village ahead of the 2020 Winter Youth Olympics, which begin today with the Opening Ceremony, followed by curling and figure skating tomorrow.
ATLANTA — James Harden recorded his 15th career 40-point triple-double (second-most ever) in Houston's 122-115 win over Atlanta, while Trae Young recorded the first-ever 40-point triple-double by a Hawk. It's the first game in NBA history to feature two 40-point triple-doubles.
FRISCO, TEXAS — Jerry Jones officially introduced Mike McCarthy as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys yesterday. "I heard bells," Jones said of his new general manager-coach marriage.
Photo: Borja B. Hojas/Getty Images
Taking a page out of the NFL's playbook, the League of Legends Championship Series — one of a handful of esports leagues built around popular game titles — will air a marquee matchup every Monday night this season.
What they're saying: "The overwhelming feeling was, let's carve out a space where nobody else is," LCS commissioner Chris Greeley told WashPost, alluding to the fact that Monday nights are relatively quiet in the months following the NFL regular season.
The big picture: Every esports competition has drawn inspiration from traditional sports leagues, but 2020 is poised to be the year they really start to look like them.
⚾️ All 30 teams
In 1964, pitcher Masanori Murakami became MLB's first Japanese player. Since then, all 30 MLB teams have had at least one — except the Reds. That changed this week when they signed outfielder Shogo Akiyama to a three-year, $21 million deal.
🏟 16 venues
With the World Cup field expanding to 48 teams in 2026, there will be a record 16 venues used during the tournament: three in Canada, three in Mexico and 10 in the U.S. (selected from this list of candidate venues).
🏀 108 players
There were 108 foreign-born players on opening-night NBA rosters this season. Two of the best went head-to-head last night, as Serbia's Nikola Jokić (33-7-6) led the Nuggets past Slovenia's Luka Dončić (27-9-10) and the Mavericks, 107-106.
48 years ago today, future Laker Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the Milwaukee Bucks snapped Wilt Chamberlain and the L.A. Lakers' 33-game winning streak, which remains the longest in major American sports history.
Zoom out ... Here are the five longest single-season winning streaks in NBA history:
Some 44,000 fans descended upon Neuchatel, Switzerland last month to watch the Women's World Floorball Championship, which concluded with Sweden winning its seventh straight title.
How it works: Floorball is basically hockey minus the ice — and with a ball (that looks like a whiffle ball) instead of a puck. It's popular in Scandinavia, and NHL players have been known to play it in the offseason to work on their stick-handling skills.
Here's another photo to give you an idea...
Go deeper: The rules of floorball, explained (YouTube)
The Patriots (.781) had the NFL's best winning percentage last decade, followed by the Packers (.644), Steelers (.641) and Seahawks (.628).
Answer at the bottom.
The 16-day gap between the College Football Playoff semifinals and next Monday's title game has felt excruciatingly long — and was not exactly by design.
Reads while you wait...
Kendall "Fiending for college football" Baker
Trivia answer: Saints (.625)