Consecutive wins for Sixers, who host Timberwolves on Saturday

The scary possibility of a Chiefs-Cowboys Super Bowl is a nightmare Eagles fans hope to avoid during this postseason.

Eric Fisher’s weekly column about a variety of topics. This week Eric serves up opinions on the Soul trying to repeat as Arena Football League champions, the Mayweather-McGregor fight and a ridiculous decision by ESPN.

With apologies to Dr. Seuss, Eric Fisher roasts Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie with “Silent Sam I Am.”


A quick look at 10 sports stories in the news…  

1. Wildcats put away Mountaineers Jalen Brunson pours in 27 points, Omari Spellman adds 18 points, 8 rebounds as East Region top seed Villanova battles past 5th-seeded West Virginia, 90-78, to reach Elite Eight of NCAA Tournament. Mountaineers force 9 first-half turnovers, trail by 2 points at halftime. West Virginia takes 6-point lead midway through 2nd half, but Wildcats go on 11-0 run to regain lead, which they never relinquish. Mikal Bridges contributes 16 points for Wildcats, who make 13 of 24 3-pointers. Villanova, which has made 44 3-pointers in its 3 tournament games, will face 3rd-seeded Texas Tech, a 78-65 winner over 2nd-seeded Purdue, on Sunday (2:20 p.m.), with winner advancing to Final Four.

2. Warrant issued for Eagles DE Bennett Newly acquired Eagles DE Michael Bennett indicted for felony in Texas for incident related to Super Bowl LI. Bennettt, whose brother Martellus played for Patriots, allegedly injured 66-year-old paraplegic woman while he “shoved his way to the field” to join the postgame celebration, according to release from Harris County District Attorney’s office. Houston police chief Art Acevedo opened lock doors and pushed his way to get to the field after being told to take different route to field access.

3. Sixers win 5th straight Ersan Ilyasova scores 18 points, Joel Embiid adds 17 as Sixers cruise to 118-98 triumph over host Magic to extend winning streak to 5 games. Sixers (41-30) pull within 1 game of Cavaliers, currently 3rd seed in Eastern Conference, guarantee they won’t have losing record for first time since 2010-11 season. Robert Covington, Marco Belinelli add 15 points apiece. Sixers could clinch playoff berth tonight (6 p.m.) when they host Timberwolves.

4. Flyers fend off Rangers Travis Konecny scores twice, Claude Giroux registers 3 assists for 2nd straight game as Flyers fight off challenge by visiting Rangers, 4-3. Flyers remain 1 point behind Blue Jackets, who help Flyers by defeating Panthers. Blue Jackets, Penguins tied for 2nd place in Metropolitan Division. Goalie Alex Lyon makes 33 saves, including several huge saves during 3rd period. Jakub Voracek, Oskar Lindblom also score for Flyers. Brandon Manning returns to lineup, leaving Robert Hagg as healthy scratch. Flyers (88 points) visit Penguins on Sunday (12:30 p.m.).

5. Jayhawks, Blue Devils reach Elite 8  Midwest Region top seed Kansas fends off 2nd-half challenge from 5th-seeded Clemson, 80-76, to advance to Elite 8. Jayhawks will face 2nd-seeded Duke, which fends off another upset bid by 11th-seeded Syracuse, 69-65, on Sunday (5:05 p.m.). Sweet 16 of NCAA Tournament kicked off Thursday with 11th-seeded Loyola of Chicago slipping past 7th-seeded Nevada, 69-68,  to reach Elite 8 in upset-filled South Region. Ramblers will face 9th-seeded Kansas State, a 61-58 winner over 5th-seeded Kentucky, tonight (6:09 p.m.). In West Region tonight, 3rd-seeded Michigan trounces 7th-seeded Texas A&M, 99-72, to earn Elite 8 meeting tonight (8:49 p.m.) with 9th-seeded Florida State, a 75-60 winner over 4th-seeded Gonzaga.

6. Franco, Nola power Phillies Maikel Franco hits 2 home runs, including grand slam, to power Phillies to 8-2 victory over host Pirates in Grapefruit League game. Aaron Nola, making final start before Opening Day, strikes out 5 during 4 shutout innings. Cesar Hernandez, Rhys Hoskins, Aaron Altherr contribute 2 hits apiece. On Thursday, Jake Arrieta, who signed 3-year deal reportedly worth $75 million for 3 years, gives up 2 runs in 2 innings during 6-2 loss to Tigers in his Phillies debut. Arietta strikes out first 2 batters he faces before Miguel Cabrera slams opposite-field home run. Tigers add run in 2nd inning. Arrieta threw 31 pitches in simulated 2-inning game Saturday, then threw bullpen session Tuesday. Odubel Herrera produces 2 hits for Phillies. Zach Eflin allows 3 hits, 2 runs in 2/3 inning. Phillies to visit Tigers today (1 p.m.).

7. Eagles sign WR Wallace Eagles sign free agent WR Mike Wallace to 1-year contract reportedly worth $2.5 million. Wallace, 31, caught 52 passes for 748 yards last season with Ravens.

8. Explorers, Giannini part ways La Salle parts ways with Dr. John Giannini, who spent 14 seasons as Explorers head coach. Explorers were 212-226 during Giannini’s tenure. Their only NCAA Tournament appearance was 2012-13 season, when they won three games to reach Sweet 16. La Salle, which finished with 13-19 record this season, has only had 1 winning season since NCAA Tournament appearance.

9. Leiter goes on DL Phillies pitcher Mark Leiter Jr. will start season on disabled list due to mild flexor strain in right forearm. Leiter, primarily a long reliever, expected to be sidelined until late April or early may. Starting pitcher Jerad Eickhoff expected to miss 6-8 weeks with upper back strain, described as strained lat muscle behind right shoulder. Phillies grant infielders Ryan Flaherty, Adam Rosales their unconditional release. Flaherty, who has opt-out clause in his contract if Phillies didn’t put him on roster by Thursday, batted .351 during spring training. Rangers claim first baseman Tommy Joseph off waivers from Phillies. Joseph was sent to minors to make room on 40-man roster for pitcher Jake Arrieta.

10. Giants trade Pierre-Paul Giants trade DE Jason Pierre-Paul, 4th-round draft pick this year to Buccaneers for 3rd- and 4th-round picks in this year’s NFL Draft.

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Sixers 108, Hornets 94
Spring training

Red Sox 6, Phillies 5
Women’s Basketball
Second round
St. John’s 53, Penn 48

Detroit 5, Flyers 4 (OT)
Spring training
Phillies 2, Blue Jays 0

Sixers 119, Grizzlies 105
Spring training
Phillies 7, Blue Jays 7

Flyers 4, Rangers 3
Sixers 118, Orlando 98
Spring training
Tigers 6, Phillies 2

Spring training

Phillies 8, Pirates 2
Men’s Basketball
NCAA Tournament
Sweet 16
Villanova 90, W.Virginia 78

Timberwolves at Sixers, 6 p.m.
Spring training
Phillies at Tigers, 1 p.m.

Flyers at Pittsburgh, 12:30 p.m.
Spring training
Orioles at Phillies 1 p.m.
Men’s Basketball
NCAA Tournament

Villanova vs. Texas Tech, 2:20 p.m.
(at Boston)


Brunson, Wildcats climb another mountain

West Virginia challenged top-seeded Villanova, twice taking the lead during the second half, but Jalen Brunson (pictured) scored 27 points while calmly leading the Wildcats past the Mountaineers, 90-78, to reach the Elite 8. ***** When the going got tough, Villanova got ...
Brunson, Wildcats climb another mountain

Villanova prediction

How far will Villanova advance in the NCAA Touranment? Will the Wildcats get past their customary second-round stumbling block? Share your thoughts in Voice of the Phanatics.

Michigan holds the key

Ari Dardik’s once-comfortable lead has nearly disappeared in PhillyPhanatics.com’s Bracket Madness. Kevin Walder is just one point behind. Ted Williams is three points behind. If Michigan wins tonight, Ted would pass Ari and Kevin and clinch the championship. If Michigan loses, all eyes shift to Duke-Kansas on Sunday.

Fish ‘n Chips

Eric Fisher’s weekly column about a variety of topics. This week Eric serves up opinions on a terrific few weeks in Philadelphia sports, why Scott Kingery should start the season in the major leagues and the sustained excellence of Penn State’s wrestling program.

Tournament runs

Will Villanova earn another spot on PhillyPhanatics.com’s top 10 list of men’s college basketball postseason runs by local teams? Check out our list to find out.

Heel Turns: Bryan is back!

March - 22 - 2018 Reporter: Achilles Heel Respond

The Greek God of Wrestling explains why the announcement that Daniel Bryan has been cleared to wrestle was so emotional. In an information-packed edition of Heel Turns, Achilles Heel also reviews the excellent Fastlane, reveals the cards for Ring of Honor’s and Combat Zone Wrestling’s events during WrestleMania weekend, and analyzes potential directions for WWE’s Mixed Tag Challenge.

College Notebook: Disappointing season

March - 21 - 2018 Reporter: Eric Fisher Respond

The 2017-18 season was disappointing for most of the City Six teams, particularly Fran Dunphy’s (pictured) Temple Owls. Eric Fisher examines the reasons for each team’s disappointment, praises Penn for its terrific season, summarizes Villanova’s play in the NCAA Tournament and recalls Virginia being on the wrong side of another historic upset prior to losing to UMBC.

Bridges, DiVincenzo too sweet for Tide

March - 17 - 2018 Reporter: Eric Fisher Respond

Donte DiVincenzo and Mikal Bridges (pictured) dominated the first and second half, respectively, as Villanova, the top seed in the East Region, defeated Alabama, 81-58, to reach the Sweet 16.

Wildcats start off on Wright foot

March - 15 - 2018 Reporter: Eric Fisher Respond

Villanova lives up to its billing as the East Region’s  top seed by breezing past 16th-seeded Radford for an 87-61 victory in the Wildcats’ NCAA Tournament opener. Jalen Brunson leads a balanced attack with 16 points.

Beasts of the East

March - 11 - 2018 Reporter: Eric Fisher Respond

Villanova, led by guard Jalen Brunson, earned the top seed in the East Region of the NCAA Tournament by winning the Big East. Penn, the Ivy League champion, was awarded a 16th seed in the Midwest.

Sixers Notebook: Clear path to playoffs

March - 11 - 2018 Reporter: Eric Fisher Respond

The Sixers’ relatively easy remaining schedule not only provides a clear path to the playoffs, but it also provides the Sixers with a golden opportunity to improve their playoff seeding. Eric Fisher also expresses concern that fatigue is becoming an issue for Joel Embiid, praises the addition of Ersan Ilyasova and examines Robert Covington’s production issues.

Chris Long, Lane Johnson lead E-A-G-L-E-S chant