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St. Peter’s run is already one of the greatest in NCAA tournament history

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The Peacocks are still alive in the NCAA Tournament.

The Peacocks are still alive in the NCAA Tournament.
Image: Getty Images

There have been six double-digit seeds to make the Final Four, and St. Peter’s – after a third straight stunning win Friday night, 67-64 over third-seeded Purdue in the East Regional semifinal in Philadelphia – is one win against North Carolina on Sunday from becoming the seventh.

Win or lose against the eighth-seeded Tar Heels, who dispatched East No. 4 UCLA, 73-66, it’s already worth considering whether the Peacocks’ run is the greatest Cinderella story since the NCAA expanded March Madness to 64 teams in 1985. The tiny school from Jersey City already is the first seed lower than 11 to reach a regional final.

One way to look at it is to add up the seeds that a team beat on its way to the Elite Eight. A pair of No. 11 seeds have beaten what adds up to “tougher” competition, but one was from the SEC, LSU in 1986, and the other was a semi-regular Midwestern power, Xavier five years ago.

Kent State in 2002 and Davidson in 2008 can match St. Peter’s with their wins over Nos. 2, 3, and 7 seeds, albeit in a different order. But there’s a huge difference between entering the tournament as a No. 10 seed and showing up as a No. 15 — a seed from which only two teams had previously even made the Sweet 16: Oral Roberts last year and Florida Gulf Coast in 2013.

These are the journeys of the double-digit seeds who have made regional finals.

11 – 1986 LSU (11): beat (6) Purdue, (3) Memphis State, (2) Georgia Tech, and (1) Kentucky*

11 – 2017 Xavier (11): beat (6) Maryland, (3) Florida State, (2) Arizona, lost to (1) Gonzaga

12 – 2002 Kent State (10): beat (7) Oklahoma State, (2) Alabama, (3) Pittsburgh, lost to (5) Indiana

12 – 2008 Davidson (10): beat (7) Gonzaga, (2) Georgetown, (3) Wisconsin, lost to (1) Kansas

12 – 2022 St. Peter’s (15): beat (2) Kentucky, (7) Murray State, (3) Purdue, vs. (8) North Carolina on Sunday

15 – 1999 Gonzaga (10): beat (7) Minnesota, (2) Stanford, (6) Florida, lost to (1) Connecticut

15 – 1990 Texas (10): beat (7) Georgia, (2) Purdue, (6) Xavier, lost to (4) Arkansas

16 – 2006 George Mason (11): beat (6) Michigan State, (3) North Carolina, (7) Wichita State, and (1) Connecticut**

16 – 2018 Loyola Chicago: beat (6) Miami, (3) Tennessee, (7) Nevada, and (9) Kansas State***

16: 1990 Loyola Marymount (11): beat (6) New Mexico State, (3) Michigan, (7) Alabama, lost to (1) UNLV

16 – 2001 Temple (11): beat (6) Texas, (3) Florida, (7) Penn State, lost to (1) Michigan State

17 – 2002 Missouri (12): beat (5) Miami, (4) Ohio State, (8) UCLA, lost to (2) Oklahoma

17 – 2021 Oregon State (1): beat (5) Tennessee, (4) Oklahoma State, (8) Loyola Chicago, lost to (2) Houston

19 – 2011 VCU (11): beat (6) Georgetown, (3) Purdue, (10) Florida State, and (1) Kansas****

19 – 2014 Dayton (11): beat (6) Ohio State, (3) Syracuse, (10) Stanford, lost to (1) Florida

20 – 2022 Miami (10): beat (7) USC, (2) Auburn, (11) Iowa State, vs. (1) Kansas on Sunday

22 – 2021 UCLA (11): beat (6) BYU, (14) Abilene Christian, (2) Alabama, and (1) Michigan*****

23 – 1997 Providence (10): beat (7) Marquette, (2) Duke, (14) Chattanooga, lost to (4) Arizona

33 – 2016 Syracuse (10): beat (7) Dayton, (15) Middle Tennessee, (11) Gonzaga, and (1) Virginia******

*LSU lost to (2) Louisville in the Final Four.

**George Mason lost to (3) Florida in the Final Four.

***Loyola Chicago lost to Michigan (3) in the Final Four.

****VCU also beat USC in a First Four game, and lost to (8) Butler in the Final Four.

*****UCLA also beat Michigan State in a First Four game, and lost to (1) Gonzaga in the Final Four.

******Syracuse lost to (1) North Carolina in the Final Four.

Incredibly, this is the fourth time that Purdue has been an upset victim for a double-digit seed going to the Elite Eight, and this one really has to sting for the Boilermakers, who headed to Philadelphia as the East’s lowest remaining seed, in search of their first Final Four bid since 1980.

Instead, Purdue is heading home once again, still with only three Elite Eight appearances (1994, 2000, 2019) – they’ve lost more games to regional finals-bound double-digit seeds in the past four decades than they’ve gotten there themselves.

Upsets can happen, obviously, including bigger ones like UMBC becoming the first and so far only No. 16 seed to topple a No. 1, and the sprinkling of No. 15s, including St. Peter’s, who have knocked off 2s. To then make the Sweet 16 is even more special, but again, you understand how it happens, where a team gets a shock win and their next opponent kind of thought they’d be facing that presumed title contender.

Purdue had all week to study up on St. Peter’s, a team that lost home games this season to St. Francis (N.Y.) and Rider. The Peacocks didn’t play a team seeded higher than fourth in their conference tournament, cruising past Fairfield and Quinnipiac before a 60-54 squeaker over Monmouth in the final. Regular season MAAC champion Iona got bounced in the conference quarterfinals in Atlantic City.

That the Boilermakers, out of what was the deepest conference in the country this year in the Big Ten, couldn’t take care of business against a squad that went a respectable but hardly dominant 14-6 in MAAC play? That’s a lot more surprising than Steph Curry scoring 40 against Gonzaga, 30 against Georgetown, and 33 against Wisconsin to carry Davidson to the 2008 Midwest Regional final, or LSU being able to score a pair of upsets on its own home court in the first two rounds in 1986.

This being the second straight year that a pair of double-digit seeds made it this far, you could fairly ask if it’s gotten easier, if the gap between the very top teams and the teams from 48-68 has closed. Maybe it has, but as much as that can explain UCLA and Oregon State last year (another explanation: the 2021 Pac-12 was underrated) and Miami this year, St. Peter’s ranked somewhere between 95 and 161 out of 358 Division I teams this season.

It’s not particularly close. This run from St. Peter’s is the most surprising string of upsets we’ve seen one team pull off in the NCAA tournament, and they’ve got a shot at another one Sunday against one of the greatest programs in the history of the sport.



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Mark Cavendish: Two men jailed over knifepoint robbery of cycling star and wife Peta at their home | News News

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Mark Cavendish and his wife Peta were victims of a knifepoint robbery at their home in November 2021

Mark Cavendish and his wife Peta were victims of a knifepoint robbery at their home in November 2021

Two men have been jailed for robbing Olympic cyclist Mark Cavendish and his wife Peta of their high-value watches in a knifepoint raid at their home.

Intruders wearing balaclavas broke into their home in Ongar, Essex at about 2.30am on November 27, 2021 and threatened to stab the athlete, a trial at Chelmsford Crown Court heard.

They took items including two Richard Mille watches with a combined value of £700,000.

Romario Henry, 31, of Bell Green, Lewisham, south-east London, denied two counts of robbery but was found guilty following a trial and sentenced on Tuesday to 15 years in prison.

Ali Sesay, 28, of Holding Street, Rainham, Kent, admitted two counts of robbery and was jailed for 12 years.

“This was serious organised crime,” Judge David Turner KC told the defendants as he sentenced them. “This was no run-of-the-mill domestic burglary by opportunist amateurs.

“This was planned, targeted, orchestrated, ruthless offending aimed at an internationally known sportsman and his wife who happened to be brand ambassadors for exceptionally valuable Richard Mille watches.”

The trial was told that Sesay’s DNA was found on Mrs Cavendish’s phone, which was taken and found outside the property.

The charges were that the accused men robbed Cavendish of a watch, phone and safe, and robbed his wife of a watch, phone and suitcase.

Mrs Cavendish, who like her husband was naked during the robbery, had told jurors she had heard a noise that woke her in the night and went downstairs to investigate.

She said she could see “men’s figures in balaclavas, and they were running towards the bottom of the stairs”, and that she believed there were “between three and five” people.

Court artist sketch of Peta Cavendish giving evidence, watched by Judge David Turner, at Chelmsford Crown Court

Court artist sketch of Peta Cavendish giving evidence, watched by Judge David Turner, at Chelmsford Crown Court

She told the court she ran back to the bedroom shouting “get back” or “get in” to her husband, who was unable to activate a panic alarm.

Mrs Cavendish said one of the intruders “dragged” Cavendish “from his feet and started punching him”.

One had her husband in a headlock, she said, adding: “One of them held a large black knife to his throat and they said ‘where’s the watches?’ and ‘do you want me to stab you?”‘. She agreed with a suggestion that it was a Rambo-style knife.

Mrs Cavendish said that at the time her husband had been “out of hospital for four days, maybe” after a cycling crash which left him with three broken ribs and a tear to his left lung.

She said that when she went downstairs after the intruders had left, she saw that a patio door was smashed, and Cavendish cut his feet on the broken glass.

Edward Renvoize, prosecuting, said Henry had a previous conviction for supplying drugs in 2012, and for perverting the course of justice in 2013 by “assisting in burning out a vehicle that had been used in a murder as part of a gang enterprise”.

Archangelo Power, for Henry, said the defendant’s brother had been murdered three and a half months before the robbery and that had a “significant bearing on the psychological make-up of the defendant”. Mr Power said Henry had been “on the verge of committing suicide”.

Mark Cavendish and his wife had high-value watches stolen in the robbery

Mark Cavendish and his wife had high-value watches stolen in the robbery

Mr Renvoize said that Sesay had admitted at an earlier hearing to six unrelated firearms offences over the possession of two guns and ammunition, when he had been prohibited by a previous sentence from possessing such items.

The prosecutor said Sesay was arrested at an address in Thornton Heath, south London, on December 16 2021 and officers “had to use a chainsaw to gain access” and saw items, later found to be firearms, being thrown from a window to a neighbouring garden.

The judge jailed Sesay for eight years for the firearms offences, consecutive to the 12-year prison sentence for the robbery, making a total of 20 years. The judge said Sesay had previous convictions including for supply of cocaine and heroin in 2017.

Graeme Molloy, for Sesay, said the defendant was “truly sorry for his role” in the robbery and had admitted his involvement.

Speaking about the firearms offences, Mr Molloy said Sesay claimed the guns were not his but that he had thrown them from the window. Mr Molloy said the guns “were loaded but the cartridge wasn’t in the firing chamber”.

Jurors were told that two other men, Jo Jobson, from Plaistow, east London, and George Goddard, from Loughton in Essex, have been named as suspects in the robbery but have not been apprehended. Jobson was 25 and Goddard 26 at the time of a police appeal last March.

Oludewa Okorosobo, 28, of Flaxman Road, Camberwell, south London, denied two counts of robbery and was cleared by jurors after a trial.





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Eagles’ Nick Sirianni asked if Super Bowl is a ‘must win’ game

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Gotta be a gag, right?

Gotta be a gag, right?
Image: Getty Images

In the Eagles’ Nick Sirianni’s first Super Bowl as a head coach, he experienced one of the true jewels of Super Bowl week: Being asked one of the most ridiculous questions that he will ever hear.

One of the best things that the NFL does is credential almost any and everybody for the artist formerly known as Super Bowl Media Day. Of course no dollar can be left on the table, so since 2016 it has been a Monday primetime event known as Super Bowl Opening Night.

Fortunately, even though the day and name has changed, the spirit of the event remains the same. Some head-shaking questions are asked out of ignorance. Others are from someone trying to be the class clown in a large group.

There has been no Opening Night for the previous two Super Bowls due to the pandemic. The evening was back in full effect on Monday night, and somebody came out swinging. From somewhere in the scrum of people on the floor at the Footprint Center, someone asked the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles if the Super Bowl was a must-win game.

Someone asked what?

The championship game. The final game of the season. The highest rated broadcast on the American television calendar. The game that Rihanna has decided to take her jersey down from rafters and — while worth a billion dollars and also a new mom — spend time rehearsing to perform at.

Sirianni was able to keep a straight face and quickly move past might either the most asinine or possibly the most hilarious question that will be asked all evening

If the person who asked this is mocking the event, then by all means continue. Ask Jalen Hurts if he is happy that the Eagles won the NFC. Maybe ask Travis Kelce if he knows how to spell his last name. Or even better, ask Patrick Mahomes if State Farm truly is the best choice for car insurance.

Either make an artistic display with silly questions, or be escorted out by security. If you’re going to waste peoples’ time at least do it with a sense of humor.



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Chelsea FC: Brilliant Badiashile leading way for new signings as Thiago Silva partnership blossoms

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C

helsea have not conceded a goal in the first 270 minutes that Benoit Badiashile has been on the pitch since his £35million move from Monaco.

His promising early form at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea will hope, hint at better times to come through their new signings.

The arrival of French centre-back Badiashile at the start of last month kick-started a record January spending spree of more than £300m.

After Chelsea were sent spiralling into crisis with defeats by Manchester City and Fulham, Badiashile made his debut in a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace.

After the Blues claimed a further two clean sheets in 0-0 draws away at Liverpool and at home to Fulham, he is building an impressive partnership with Thiago Silva.

Impressive start: Benoit Badiashile has formed a promising partnership with Thiago Silva

/ Getty Images

Badiashile was one of five new signings to feature in Friday’s 0-0 draw with Fulham. He started alongside £106.8m Enzo Fernandez, who started well but faded over 90 minutes, £89.5m Mykhailo Mudryk, who struggled over 45 minutes while carrying a cold, and £30m Noni Madueke, who was bright after being brought on at half-time.

“What a waste of money” was the regular chant from the Fulham fans in the away end.

That felt harsh in Badiashile’s case. With his size and speed, he looks like a perfect partner for 38-year-old veteran Silva.

In addition, he showed the ability to play brilliantly out of Fulham’s well-drilled press and he coped in his duels against Aleksandar Mitrovic.

There is still adaption to be done, as Graham Potter barked instructions about his positioning in relation to Silva.

However, using French to communicate with the former Paris Saint-Germain captain, Badiashile has helped steady the ship in the absence of the injured Wesley Fofana, and with Kalidou Koulibaly out of form.

While still only averaging just 1.05 goals per game in the Premier League, Chelsea will draw more than they win unless their new midfielders and forwards step up.

Arriving in the weeks after Badiashile, the likes of Fernandez, Joao Felix, Mudryk and Madueke have not had as much time to adapt to their surroundings.

With Chelsea still in 10th place and increasingly falling behind in the race to qualify for Europe, they must follow Badiashile’s lead and hit the ground running before time runs out.



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