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Hits by Phillies in 3 of their last 4 games

Eric Fisher’s weekly column on a variety of topics. This week Eric serves up opinions on Pat Quinn’s legacy, Peter Forsberg entering the Hockey Hall of Fame and Mo’ne Davis writing her memoir.

Despite concerns about Nerlens Noel’s inconsistency, he’s playing better in January. Eric Fisher also provides good news and bad news about two 20-year-olds who are supposed to be part of the Sixers’ future, tells us which teams are moving up toward playoff position and examines the Sixers’ upcoming schedule.

The Phillies’ payroll is almost double the Royals’ payroll, but the biggest difference between the World Series-bound Royals and the Phillies is the qualities they value in players while building their respective teams.

Archive for December, 2016

Putting it on the Line

Posted by Eric Fisher On December - 31 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

Before I get to Week 17, I would like to pat myself on the back for one specific selection during Week 16. I had a winning week, was correct on my “best bet” (9-5-2 for the season) and went 3-1 in my “other top picks,” but my proudest selection was the Browns (+6) over the Chargers.

Not only was I correct in picking a winless team to cover the spread, but I was confident enough to make the Browns one of my top picks. I even suggested that the Brown may get their first win of the season. They did. I got this pick right for all the right reasons.

Week 17, the final full week of the season, is a tough one for selections because many teams have little left to play for in terms of the standings. How do you evaluate the Bills (-3½) at the Jets? Or the Jaguars at the Colts? What about the Vikings vs. the Bears, featuring the epic ex-Eagles quarterback clash between Sam Bradford and Matt Barkley?

For my “best bet” and “other top picks,” I’ve attempted to stick with teams with something tangible to play for, which is why the Chiefs (-4½), who are trying to catch the Raiders in the AFC West and earn a first-round bye, are my “best bet” over the Chargers, whose disappointing season got worse last Sunday with a loss to the Browns.

My exception to the rule among my top picks is the Eagles (-5½) over the visiting Cowboys. The Cowboys (13-2), who have clinched homefield advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, have little incentive to do well Sunday. The Eagles, however, have more to play for as they try to build toward next season.

Here are the rest of my Week 17 selections:

(Home team in CAPS)

(Winning team against the line in bold)

TITANS -3½ vs. Texans

Ravens pick ‘em at BENGALS

Bills -3½ at JETS

Giants +7½ at REDSKINS

Jaguars +4½ at COLTS

Packers -3 at LIONS

EAGLES -5½ vs. Cowboys

VIKINGS -6 vs. Bears

BUCS -4 vs. Panthers

STEELERS -5½ vs. Browns

Saints +7½ at FALCONS

Patriots -9½ at DOLPHINS

Cardinals -6½ at RAMS

Chiefs -4½ at CHARGERS

Seahawks -9½ at 49ERS

BRONCOS -1½ vs. Raiders

Best bet: Chiefs -4½ at CHARGERS

Other top picks: Packers -3 at LIONS; STEELERS -5½ vs. Browns; BUCS -4 vs. Panthers; EAGLES -5½ vs. Cowboys

Week 16: 9-7 (111-120-8 overall)

Best Bet: 1-0 (9-5-2 overall)

Other top picks: 3-1 (30-32-2 overall)

 

College Notebook: Top Cats don’t miss a beat

Posted by Eric Fisher On December - 28 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

Villanova has picked up right where it left off.

The Wildcats, the defending national champions, are 12-0 and have been ranked No. 1 in the nation for four straight weeks. They have won 18 straight games, including six in last season’s NCAA Tournament, which establishes a program record for consecutive victories.

Villanova has also won 18 straight Big 5 games. The current seniors have never lost a Big 5 game, with all 16 of their wins being by double digits. That’s an unprecedented level of domination in the Big 5.

The Wildcats have been led by senior guard Josh Hart, who has emerged a leading player of the year candidate. Hart is averaging 20.1 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. His assist to turnover ratio is nearly 3:1. Even more impressively, Hart seems to make big plays when Villanova needs it the most.

Hart isn’t a one-man team, though. Kris Jenkins, Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges are all averaging in double figures. And the Wildcats have done all of this with guard Phil Booth limited to three games by a knee injury.

The Wildcats, who need a comeback to beat Notre Dame, should be tested again this week. They host DePaul on Wednesday (6:30 p.m.) before traveling to Creighton for a game Saturday (1 p.m.). If Creighton beats Seton Hall on Wednesday and the Wildcats beat DePaul, Saturday’s game will be a matchup of unbeaten teams.

*****

BALANCED OWLS: Temple has used balanced scoring to produce a 9-4 record this season. The Owls have five players averaging at least 9.4 points, which is compensating for guard Josh Brown being limited to five games as he recovers from Achilles injury.

Freshman Alani Moore II joined the scoring act with 26 points during an 83-77 victory over Yale. He was named the American Athletic Conference’s rookie of the week.

The Owls have a difficult challenge Wednesday against 23rd-ranked Cincinnati at Liacouras Center.

*****

WORKING OVERTIME: La Salle entered its holiday break on a high note, outlasting Mercer in triple overtime, 98-96. Jordan Price lead the Explorers with 26 points. B.J. Johnson and Pookie Powell contributed 26 and 23 points, respectively, with Powell making some crucial baskets during the third overtime. La Salle(6-44), which has won two straight games, returns to action Friday (6 p.m.) at Dayton.

*****

NEIGHBORHOOD BATTLE: Penn, which hasn’t played in two weeks, hosts Drexel on Wednesday (4 p.m.). The Quakers (4-5) picked up an impressive 58-49 victory at Central Florida in their final game before their break. A.J. Brodeur and Matt Howard lead the Quakers with 13.9 and 13.1 points per game. The Dragons (6-6) are paced by Rodney Williams (17.1 points per game).

*****

MARTELLI A ‘GOOD GUY:’ Saint Joseph’s head coach Phil Martelli will receive the Good Guy Award from the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association at its annual dinner and awards ceremony on Feb. 3.

*****

YEAR OF THE CATS: Not surprisingly, Villanova’s national championship team will receive the Team of the Year Award from the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association at its annual dinner and awards ceremony on Feb. 3. The Wildcats would have been a worthy choice regardless of the competition, but, let’s face it, there wasn’t a lot of competition for that award this year.

*****

OWLS TO HALL: Temple inducted three new members into its Hall of Fame, honoring them during the Dec. 17 victory over NJIT. Entering the hall were Jay Norman (Class of ’58), Bill “Pickles” Kennedy (’60) and Bruce Drysdale (’62).

1 year ago: NBA Draft lottery