Super-Big Big East: Nova Plays for Another Maybe-Record Crowd at Syracuse

Super-Big Big East: Nova Plays for Another Maybe-Record Crowd at Syracuse

Like a game between two top-ten teams that happen to be historic division rivals, each coming off tough losses, wasn't going to be big enough to begin with. For their much-anticipated Saturday match up a year ago, 34,616 showed up to the Carrier Dome to witness the grudgematch, an NCAA record. The number is starting to creep up to that high again for the rematch this year, with gate sales of 33K being reported as of Wednesday. ('Cuse has even added extra seats to the Dome to accommodate possible further demand, apparently.)

Hopefully the Wildcats will give the however-many in attendance a reason to hold their breath a little more this time. In the team's last matchup, Syracuse led by ten at halftime on a 20-6 and never looked back, causing 17 Villanova turnovers on their way to a 95-77 victory, which cemented them at the time as the #1 team in the country. Neither team are likely to be playing for those honors today, as both teams lost to Big East rivals on MLK Day--Nova to UConn and Syracuse to Pitt, the latter the Orange's first loss of the season. The two will at least be playing for second in the Big East, and perhaps a share of first in the unlikely event of a Pitt loss today at DePaul.

12:00 tip from the Carrier Dome. In ex-Wildcat news, the Springfield Armor recently traded a future first-round pick to the Tulsa 66ers in exchange for one-time Nova star and NBA-undrafted pro Scottie Reynolds. "This was an extremely exciting trade for this organization and the team as a whole," said Armor coach Dee Brown (!!!). "Bringing an All-American like Scottie Reynolds to Springfield is a big step for us and we're looking forward to seeing him display his skills in the MassMutual Center this season." Good to see Scottie back stateside, in any event.

Sixers reach respectable spot in ESPN's latest NBA power rankings

Sixers reach respectable spot in ESPN's latest NBA power rankings

Everything seemed status-quo in ESPN’s Marc Stein’s most updated NBA power rankings. As expected the Warriors, Spurs, and Cavaliers occupied the top spots. But when you venture down to number 15, you may gasp. 
  
Yes, the Sixers (15-27) are gracing the middle of the power rankings at number 15. Stein is starting to "trust the process" after the team’s recent 8-2 stint. It isn’t just Joel Embid making headlines with his record-breaking numbers and internet love life, but the team is now getting its due.  
  
“Philly is doing plenty of interesting things,” Stein wrote. “Ersan Ilyasova and Robert Covington have combined to drain 51 threes over the past 10 games. The Sixers, as a team, have moved into the league's top 10 in defensive efficiency.”

Covington and Ilyasova are part of a new-look starting five along with Embiid, and guards T.J. McConnell and Nik Stauskas. McConnell and Stauskas had spent the majority of the season coming off the bench, but Stauskas has started the last 12 and McConnell 10 of the last 11 (McConnell was sidelined for one game with a wrist injury). The Sixers are 7-3 with that starting guard duo.
 
Despite the most recent loss to the Hawks, the Sixers have won four of their last eight victories by one possession. Giving them plenty of momentum to jump up ten spots from the last power ranking. 
 
The Sixers will be at home to play the Clippers this Tuesday night at 7 p.m. They will be without Joel Embid who continues to rest his injured left knee. 
 

Jim Gaffigan warned Pope Francis not to mention Santa Claus in Philly

Jim Gaffigan warned Pope Francis not to mention Santa Claus in Philly

Comedian Jim Gaffigan opened up for Pope Francis when he visited Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families back in 2015.

That would seem like an odd opener for the Supreme Pontiff. And Gaffigan admits as much.

Gaffigan was a guest of Stephen Colbert's on Friday on his Late Show and talked about the surreal experience of warming up the crowd in Philly.

"I'm not a good Catholic," Gaffigan says. "If there was a test for Catholics, I would fail. But most Catholics would fail which is probably why there's not a test."

The comedian also got in a few low level digs at our town.

"'Philadelphia: the City of Brotherly Love,' which if you've been to Philly you know they mean that sarcastically," he says. "I mean, I love Philly but they mean that the same way they say 'Syria: the place for peace.'"

Meh.

"I was nervous at the sound check so I had to come up with some Philadelphia jokes. What do I know about Philadelphia? I know about the Liberty Bell, I know the cheesesteak, and I had just watched this ESPN 30-for-30 about Eagles fans throwing snowballs at Santa. Not on the brand of Brotherly Love. So when I was finally introduced there was still nobody there, I figured I'd just do my set. So I said, 'It's good to be here in Philadelphia,' and I heard a roar from crowd on the highway, so I thought I'd play to the crowd in the highway. 'Philly loves the Pope!' and I got another roar. 'Not that I was worried but you guys weren't that nice to Santa Claus.' Nothing. Silence. And then I heard something that sounded like booing... because it was booing. It wasn't everybody, maybe ten percent, so like 100,000 people booing my Santa joke before they saw their religious leader who was going to talk about mercy."

"Eventually I got a chance to meet the Pope and I was in this room and everybody was saying something to the Pope and I didn't know what to say. So when it finally came my turn, I said, 'Don't bring up the Santa incident.' The Pope didn't say anything but he gave me a look like, 'Dude, I would never bring that up.'"

The ESPN film that Gaffigan mentioned was actually a spoof. It was just kind of okay. You can watch it here.

The Pope part starts around the 5:10 mark in the below video. You can also catch Gaffigan's new standup special titled "Cinco" on Netflix.