Read Grantland's Zach Lowe Just Gush over the Philadelphia 76ers' Name

Read Grantland's Zach Lowe Just Gush over the Philadelphia 76ers' Name

Art by Milton Un for Grantland.

You're not going to find the 76ers in the Top 5 of many lists this offseason. Unless it's a list for potential Top 5 picks in the 2014 draft or maybe teams who are the furthest under the salary floor. In Hinkie we trust!

But fret not Sixers fans. You have a new reason to puff out your chest in the month of August, and it doesn't involve Adam Aron, Andrew Bynum's hair of the ghost of Jason Richardson. (In fairness, the Sixers' floor spacing was substantially better with J-Rich than without J-Rich last year, and I feel a strange, sincere and wholly inexplicable yearning to pay him the $6.6 million he could command by exercising his 2014-15 option).

More to the point, Grantland NBA aficionado Zach Lowe, as a follow up to his highly controversial "Let's give the Pelicans" a nickname treatise, has compiled a list of the National Basketball Association's best team names from No. 30 to No. 1.

And at No. 2 -- much like in the 2010 draft (I'm practically giddy about the impending Evan Turner-Sam Hinkie "hey, how about my $8.7 million qualifying offer?" meeting) -- your team, your town, your ... Philadelphia 76ers.

Lowe:

What a magical nickname — a combination of numbers and letters that sounds so nice, with all those "S" sounds. It carries a shorthand in "Sixers" that is just as good, evokes the city's monumental place in U.S. history, and stands out as one of the great creative nicknames in sports.

The name is obviously a reference to the signing of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia in 1776, an event worth loud and proud commemoration, and "Seventy-Sixer" has the Knickerbocker effect of working as a shorthand for people from Philadelphia. Most major highways that run through and around the city include the number "76," the Liberty Bell is there, the Founders signed the Constitution there, and the city served as the nation's capital at times during and after the American Revolution.

In other words: Go crazy with the kick-ass historical references, Philly. You deserve it. The inherent patriotism of the name has allowed the Sixers to play with red, white, and blue color schemes and to toss some flag elements into their logo designs. The minimalist white basketball with blue trim, a red "7," and a circle consisting of 13 stars (for the original 13 colonies) is high basketball art.

Alas, the Sixers have struggled to come up with a workable mascot — the downside of the Knickerbocker-style name. The team mercy-killed Hip-Hop the sunglasses-wearing rabbit after the lockout, sending out a bogus press release indicating Hip-Hop had "fallen in love" and left the franchise — not all that different from the time Poochie died on the way back to his home planet. They then asked fans to choose a new mascot form three options — a generic goofy dog (Poochie II?), a basketball-playing moose (getting warmer), and a hooping Ben Franklin (ding!), but the franchise ultimately chose none of the above. Get this right, and the Sixers may ascend to the throne.

No. 1 on the list? The Portland Trail Blazers, which is plainly acceptable to all of us who grew up playing Oregon Trail.

Alright, let's turn this into something. Give us favorite and/or least favorite names in sports.

This Deadspin piece from 2012 NBA Finals is a continued source of entertainment.

LINKS:
>>The Definitive Guide to NBA Team Names, Part 2 [Grantland]
>>The Definitive Guide to NBA Team Names, Part 1 [Grantland]
>>The Thunder Are A Matchup Nightmare For Copy Editors. So Is The Heat. [Deadspin]

Penn State uses dominant second half to top No. 6 Wisconsin for Big Ten title

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USA Today Images

Penn State uses dominant second half to top No. 6 Wisconsin for Big Ten title

INDIANAPOLIS — Penn State’s offense rewrote the Big Ten Championship’s offensive record book Saturday night but its 38-31 victory over Wisconsin wasn’t secure until the final minute.

And Linebacker U. got the game-saving play from the secondary.

Wisconsin, armed with a pair of timeouts and lining up for a fourth-and-1 play from the Nittany Lions’ 24, called on Corey Clement. Clement, who’d already racked up 166 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, got the ball but never got close to the marker.

Grant Haley made sure of it.

The junior cornerback wrapped up Clement’s legs and safety Marcus Allen kept Clement from leaning forward and the game was over. Penn State (11-2) has the 2016 Big Ten title and, at worst, will play in the Rose Bowl for the first time since 2009.

“They ran [a counter] early in the game and split it for a touchdown,” Haley said of the final play. “I saw them set the edge, so I got triggered really well and Marcus finished off the play.”

Haley and company watched the Badgers run wild in the first half; 164 yards and three touchdowns, including Clement’s 67-yard scamper. Wisconsin, one of the conference’s best rushing teams this season, managed less than half that total (77) in the second half.

“They really weren’t running that many plays,” Haley added. “We just came out in the second half and had a jolt. 

“We just had the energy going into the second half.”

Wisconsin got the ball twice in the fourth quarter but managed only 65 yards - 51 of which came on its final drive.

“Give credit to Penn State for coming out in the second half and making those adjustments and allowing those big plays to happen,” Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said. 

Give plenty of credit, too, to the Nittany Lions’ offense. 

Quarterback Trace McSorley was named the game’s most valuable player after completing 17 of his 25 passes for 319 yards and four touchdowns - both championship game records. He helped Penn State complete the biggest comeback in the game’s six year history after his team fell behind 28-7 in the first half and also finished the regular season with 3,360 yards and 25 touchdown passes, both school records.

Saeed Blacknall had six catches for a Big Ten Championship-record 155 yards and two touchdowns and DaeShean Hamilton finished with 118 yards on eight grabs.

Tailback Saquon Barkley, injured in last weekend’s victory over Michigan State, returned with 88 yards and a touchdown on the ground and caught an 18-yard scoring pass from McSorley early in the fourth quarter to put the Nittany Lions ahead for good.

Penn State, in its first-ever trip to this game, is coming home from it with just its second outright Big Ten title. It’s on a nine-game winning streak that has seen it average 40 points per contest.

It also could present the College Football Playoff selection committee with a bit of quandary. The Nittany Lions, who were ranked seventh by the committee last week, topped the No. 6 Badgers and claimed a conference championship, something likely playoff teams Alabama, Clemson and Washington all boast.

On the flip side, Penn State’s last defeat was a lopsided 49-10 loss at Michigan, which sits at No. 5 in the rankings and likely won’t move into the top four after losing last week to No. 2 Ohio State.

Penn State coach James Franklin stated his team’s case after Saturday night’s win, but also made it clear he and his team won’t be moping their way to Pasadena, Calif., where the conference champion is slotted if it is not chosen for the playoff.

“We’ve got great options in front of us,” he said. “I hear people on TV talking about they feel like maybe the playoff has taken away from the bowls. 

“Are you kidding me? The Rose Bowl? It doesn’t get a whole lot better than that.”

Report: Jordan Matthews (ankle) not expected to play vs. Bengals

Report: Jordan Matthews (ankle) not expected to play vs. Bengals

Jordan Matthews will not play Sunday against the Bengals after missing practice all week with an ankle sprain, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Matthews is the Eagles' leading receiver with 57 catches for 686 yards and three touchdowns. The team has called him a game-time decision.

Second-year receiver Nelson Agholor will reportedly be inserted back into the lineup. If Matthews doesn't play the Eagles will have only four healthy receivers active on Sunday: Agholor, Dorial Green-Beckham and undrafted rookies Bryce Treggs and Paul Turner.