Yahoo Sports AM: The final eight

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🚨 Headlines

🏈 Caleb declares: USC QB Caleb Williams has officially declared for the NFL draft. Up next: the debate over whether he’ll be the No. 1 pick (and whether the Bears should trade that pick or keep it).

πŸ€ Last one standing: The South Carolina women are the only undefeated team left in D-I basketball (men or women) following losses by the UCLA and Baylor women.

⚾️ Dusty’s back: Dusty Baker is returning for a third stint with the Giants, this time as a special assistant in the front office.

πŸ€ D-Wade statue: The Heat will build a bronze statue of franchise legend Dwyane Wade outside their arena later this year, the team announced Sunday.

πŸ’ 10 straight wins: The Oilers won their franchise-record 10th straight game on Saturday as they continue to put their terrible start (5-12-1) firmly in the rearview mirror (now 23-15-1).

🏈 Recap: Super Wild Card Weekend

(Henry Russell/Yahoo Sports)

The Detroit Lions won a playoff game. Prior to Sunday, that sentence had never been written on a smartphone, the now-ubiquitous device first invented in November of 1992.

32 years of suffering: Detroit’s 24-23 win over the Rams was the franchise’s first playoff victory since January 1992, and just their second since 1957.

The roar was primal. It was visceral. It was generational. It felt like it couldn’t get louder, and then it did. It felt like it couldn’t last, and then it never waned. It rattled the beams of Ford Field and poured out of television sets across the country.

These magical January nights, these playoff runs, have a way of galvanizing communities. They transcend city and suburb, boss and employee. They bridge races and religions and political persuasions.

They cause old friends to text and new ones to be made. They connect those who moved away with a sense of home. They bring parents and kids, no matter the age, in front of the same screen.

β€” Dan Wetzel, Yahoo Sports

Elsewhere: The Chiefs won in the cold, the Bills won in the snow, the Cowboys and Eagles collapsed, and the Texans kept their surprise season alive.

  • Packers 48, Cowboys 32: The Cowboys choking in the playoffs has become an American tradition. Consider this: Green Bay now has more postseason wins at AT&T Stadium (3) than Dallas does (2).

  • Chiefs 26, Dolphins 7: The fourth-coldest game in NFL history (-4 degrees, -27 wind chill) drew 23 million viewers on Peacock, making it the most-streamed event in U.S. history.

  • Bills 31, Steelers 17: Bills fan shoveled snow at Highmark Stadium and Josh Allen took care of the rest, throwing 3 TDs and running for another in a dominant performance.

  • Buccaneers 32, Eagles 9: A complete and utter collapse for the Birds, who finished 1-6 after a 10-1 start. Get ready for some all-time rants on 94.1 WIP-FM (Philly sports radio) this week.

  • Texans 45, Browns 14: C.J. Stroud’s sensational rookie season continues. He’s the youngest QB (22 years, 102 days old) and highest-drafted rookie QB (No. 2 pick) to ever win a playoff game.

Weekend notes…

  • DΓ©jΓ  vu in Dallas: The Cowboys are the first team in NFL history to win 12 games in three straight seasons and fail to make a single conference championship.

  • Young QBs steal the show: Stroud and Jordan Love finished with almost identical stat lines and near-perfect passer ratings in their playoff debuts.

  • First to ever do it: The Packers are the first No. 7 seed to win a postseason game since the playoffs expanded in 2020. No. 7 seeds had been 0-6.

  • Miami hates the cold: The Dolphins have lost 10 consecutive games in cold weather (sub-40 degrees).

  • NFC East bows out: For the fifth time in the Super Bowl Era, a division sent multiple teams to the playoffs only to have both never hold a single lead. The last time it happened? The same two teams (Cowboys and Eagles) in 2021.

What to watch: Cowboys eyeing Belichick?

πŸ€ Men’s AP poll: UConn back on top; Zags fall out

(Yahoo Sports)

(Yahoo Sports)

For the first time since March 2009, UConn men’s basketball is the No. 1 team in the country.

  • And to show you just how much that matters/doesn’t matter…

  • The Huskies have won three national titles in that time (2011, 2014, 2023).

January madness: The defending champs jumped from No. 4 to No. 1 after an incredibly chaotic week that saw eight top-10 teams lose to unranked opponents and 15 of 25 ranked teams lose at least once.

  • Biggest risers: No. 9 Baylor rose five spots, while No. 7 Duke, No. 11 Wisconsin, No. 16 Utah State and No. 18 Creighton rose four spots.

  • Biggest fallers: No. 15 Oklahoma and No. 17 Marquette fell six spots, while No. 12 Arizona and No. 14 Illinois fell four spots.

Notably absent: Gonzaga dropped out of the poll after being ranked for 143 straight weeks (2017-24), tied with Duke (1987-95) for the 10th-longest streak ever. The only teams with more consecutive weeks in the AP top 25:

  1. Kansas: 231 (2009-21)

  2. UCLA: 221 (1967-80)

  3. Duke: 200 (1997-2007)

  4. UNC: 172 (1991-2000)

  5. UNC: 171 (1973-83)

  6. Duke: 167 (2008-16)

  7. Marquette: 166 (1970-80)

  8. Kentucky: 164 (1991-2000)

  9. Kansas: 145 (1991-99)

The new longest active streak: Houston has appeared in the last 75 polls dating back to 2020.

⚾️ A rare change: Hitter to pitcher

(Brandon Sloter/Image Of Sport/Getty Images)

(Brandon Sloter/Image Of Sport/Getty Images)

After 11 MLB seasons as a utility man, Charlie Culberson will attempt a second career β€” as a pitcher.

The news: Culberson, 34, is set to attend minor league camp with the Braves as a relief pitcher.

  • The 11-year vet hit .248 across 586 games with the Giants, Rockies, Dodgers, Rangers and Braves.

  • He’s seen some action on the mound, pitching to a 1.73 ERA and topping out at 94 mph in 7.1 innings of mop-up duty.

A rare change: While plenty of MLB hitters pitched in high school and even college, almost none make this transition mid-career. That said, there is some recent precedent.

  • Jason Lane played outfield for the Astros and Padres from 2002-07 before throwing 10.1 innings with a 0.87 ERA for San Diego in 2014.

  • Anthony Gose had a 3.90 ERA over 27.2 innings for the Guardians in 2021-22 after previously playing outfield for the Blue Jays and Tigers from 2012-16.

Pitcher to hitter: There’s also the famous case of Rick Ankiel, who switched from pitcher to hitter after developing the “yips.”

πŸ€ Pickup hoops at the airport?

(Indianapolis Airport Authority)

(Indianapolis Airport Authority)

A full-length basketball court has been installed at the Indianapolis International Airport ahead of next month’s NBA All-Star Weekend.

  • Sadly, travelers aren’t permitted to play basketball on the court, which is located in the airport’s main lobby (Boo!!!).

  • That didn’t stop the internet from pondering what “pickup hoops at the airport” might be like.

Funny tweets…

@SeanYoo β€” Imagining a world where Group 1 plays Group 5 to 21 to see who boards first.

@LDolengowski β€” “I dropped you off 2 hours early, how’d you miss your flight??” “We started running 5s in the Indianapolis Airport and my team kept winning, had to stay on the court.”

@Oliviawitherite β€” So many men in their 30s are about to be hobbling to their flights with torn ACLs and ruptured achilles.

@Chad_Beyler β€” “Babe, why are you packing basketball shoes for vacation?” “We got a 4-hour layover in Indy.”

Did you know? Indianapolis has been named the best airport in North America by Airports Council International for 11 years in a row. It also topped J.D. Power’s 2023 list of the best medium-sized airports.

🌎 The world in photos

(Emily Curiel/The Kansas City Star/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

(Emily Curiel/The Kansas City Star/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Kansas City β€” It was so cold at Arrowhead on Saturday that Patrick Mahomes’ helmet broke on impact. What a photo.

(Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

(Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

Ann Arbor, Michigan β€” All five members of the “Fab Five” reunited on Monday for the first time in three decades, then watched Juwan Howard lead their alma mater to a 73-65 win over rival Ohio State.

(Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

(Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Melbourne, Australia β€” New mom Naomi Osaka lost in her return to Grand Slam tennis, falling to Caroline Garcia in the first round of the Australian Open after 15 months away from the sport.

(MB Media/Getty Images)

(MB Media/Getty Images)

Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast β€” Senegal kicked off its Africa Cup of Nations title defense with a comfortable 3-0 win over The Gambia, the tiny country it surrounds.

πŸ“† Jan. 16, 1896: Chicago 15, Iowa 12

University of Chicago players demonstrating basketball, circa 1910. (Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)

University of Chicago players demonstrating basketball, circa 1910. (Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)

128 years ago today, the University of Chicago beat host Iowa, 15-12, in the first five-on-five college basketball game.

The backdrop: Some colleges played games before this one, but they all used nine players per side, as basketball’s inventor James Naismith had when he organized the very first game in 1891.

More on this day:

*Third time’s the charm: Prior to the Bulls, the Windy City had two-short lived NBA teams in the Chicago Stags (1946-50) and the Chicago Packers/Zephyrs (1961-63), who moved to Baltimore and later became the Washington Wizards.

πŸ“Ί Watchlist: Battle of MVPs

(Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

The NBA takes center stage tonight with a must-see doubleheader on TNT.

  • Nuggets at 76ers (7:30pm ET): Joel Embiid (2023 MVP) and Nikola JokiΔ‡ (2021-22 NBA MVP) face off in Philly.

  • Thunder at Clippers (10pm): It’s the vets (LA) vs. the youngsters* (OKC) in a battle of West contenders.

More to watch:

  • 🎾 Tennis: Australian Open (7pm, ESPN+/ESPN2) … Live and primetime coverage as the first round concludes.

  • πŸ€ NCAAM: Florida at No. 6 Tennessee (5pm, ESPN); No. 2 Purdue at Indiana (7pm, Peacock); No. 3 Kansas at Oklahoma State (9pm, ESPN)

  • πŸ€ NCAAW: Wisconsin at No. 2 Iowa (9pm, Peacock) … Don’t miss an all-new episode of the Caitlin Clark Show.

*Average age: The Thunder (23.8 years old) are the second-youngest team in the NBA. The Clippers (29.1) are the oldest.

πŸ† Playoff trivia

(Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

(Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

With the Lions advancing for the first time since 1992, which major sports team (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL) now has the longest active drought without winning a playoff round?

Hint: Their primary color is red.

Answer at the bottom.

🍿 Baker’s Dozen: Top 13 plays of the weekend

Damian Lillard's buzzer-beater to down the Kings. (John Fisher/Getty Images)

Damian Lillard’s buzzer-beater to down the Kings. (John Fisher/Getty Images)

  1. πŸ€ Dame Time

  2. πŸ’ What is this sorcery?

  3. 🎾 Incredible shot

  4. πŸ€ Wild buzzer-beater

  5. 🀚 Handball highlight!

  6. πŸ’ Filthy finish

  7. πŸ€ No-look assist

  8. 🏈 Khalil Shakir!

  9. ⚽️ The beautiful game

  10. 🏈 Allen to the house

  11. πŸ€ Another buzzer-beater

  12. ⛳️ 39-footer for the win

  13. πŸ€ Thunderous slam

Watch all 13 plays.

Trivia answer: Reds (last won a playoff round in 1995)

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