2019 NFL Draft Kicks Off In Nashville

For the first time in its history, the NFL Draft takes its newfound traveling show to the streets of Nashville, Tennessee. The three-day event kicks off at 8:00 pm ET on Thursday, April 25, and promises to include plenty of drama around the country between pick one and pick 254.

Potential Number One Pick

All eyes will initially be on the Arizona Cardinals, as they possess the first overall pick. First-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury and the Cardinals’ front office could make a major splash by selecting reigning Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray at number one. This could create a ripple effect on the rest of the league, as several teams may be interested in trading for Arizona’s second-year quarterback Josh Rosen. If the Cardinals ultimately decide that Rosen is their quarterback of the future, they may be willing to trade their top pick on draft night.

2019 Draft Class Strengths

While the quarterback position often dominates the talk leading up to the NFL Draft, the strength in this year’s class belongs to the interior defensive lineman and outside pass rushers. Ohio State edge rusher Nick Bosa has been atop several draft boards despite missing most of his final season of college football last fall. Kentucky’s Josh Allen (this year’s Chuck Bednarik Award winner), Florida State’s Brian Burns and Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat are fellow sack machines who could all be selected within the top 15.

On the inside, two former Outland Trophy winners look to crack the top 10. Alabama’s Quinnen Williams, the 2018 winner, looks to be the first defensive tackle selected in 2019. Houston standout Ed Oliver, who won the annual award given to the country’s best interior defensive lineman in 2017, was a first-team All-American in all three of his collegiate seasons.

It should come as no surprise to college football fans that the defending champion Clemson Tigers boast the most defensive lineman prospects in this year’s NFL Draft. Dexter Lawrence and Christian Wilkins project as two of the top DTs to be selected, DE Clelin Ferrell is a top talent and fellow end Austin Bryant helped form a starting line that combined for 56.5 tackles for a loss and 27 sacks in 2018. Lawrence, Wilkins and Ferrell may all be first-round picks in Nashville.

Which QBs Will Go In The First Round?

The quarterbacks always seem to grab most of the attention on draft weekend and it starts with Murray. The former Oklahoma signal-caller had an incredible season in his lone year as a starter in Norman, amassing over 4,000 yards passing and another 1,000 yards rushing. Scouts can critique his 5-ft. 10-in. frame, but his production speaks for itself as he continues to climb up draft boards.

Former Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins threw for 4,831 yards and 50 touchdown passes in his only year as a starter in 2018 and Missouri’s Drew Lock tossed for more than 12,000 yards and 99 career touchdowns in four SEC seasons. Both standouts hope to hear their names called on Thursday night’s first round. Former Duke QB Daniel Jones looks to sneak into round one after three solid seasons starting for the Blue Devils.

The question surrounding the quarterbacks is which teams will ultimately choose to take these promising players in the first round. Will the Cardinals draft Murray and trade Rosen? Will the Giants draft a QB if all of them are available at the sixth pick? Will the Broncos finally find their franchise signal-caller at number 10? Do the defending champion New England Patriots have a replacement for Tom Brady lined up in this draft? These questions and more will make for plenty of theater in Tennessee.

The Biggest Show In Music City

New York had been the exclusive home city of the NFL Draft from 1964–2014 until Chicago hosted in 2015 and 2016. Philadelphia hosted in 2017 and Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, was the site of the draft last year.

Downtown Nashville will be at the center of this year’s festivities, as a stage will be set up at the end of lower Broadway. Fans can attend all three days of the NFL Draft free of charge and can claim their spots on a first come, first serve basis. The league also plans to set up their NFL Draft Experience next to Nissan Stadium (home of the Tennessee Titans) where an array of interactive games, food trucks and live music will be featured for the delight of all fans.

Only the first round will be selected on April 25. The second and third round will be on Friday, April 26, beginning at 7:00 pm ET and rounds 4-7 will commence at 12:00 pm ET on Saturday, April 27. NFL Network and ESPN will have coverage of all three days.


Islanders Own Home Ice For First Time Since 1988

In an achievement 31 years in the making, the New York Islanders will have home-ice advantage in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Isles, who last made a playoff appearance in 2016, will battle the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference First Round. The seven-game series will begin at 7:30 ET on Wednesday, April 10, at NYCB LIVE, home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Off to a Good Start

In what was expected to be a rebuilding year, the Islanders saw immediate success after shaking up the organization. Coming off a 2017-18 campaign that saw them go 35-37-10, the team replaced their general manager, head coach, and captain and improved their record to 48-27-7. Their 103 regular season points this season is the franchise’s most since 1983-1984.

Former longtime New Jersey Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello hit the ground running this past offseason when he was hired as the Isles president of hockey operations. Lamoriello named himself general manager, replaced last year’s head coach Doug Weight with Stanley Cup-winner Barry Trotz, and saw newly installed captain Anders Lee lead the team in goals for a third consecutive season with 28.

The Islanders defense made substantial improvements in just one year. The team went from allowing an NHL-high 296 goals in 2017-18 to winning the William M. Jennings Trophy by allowing a league-low 196. Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss became the first Isles goaltenders to claim the Jennings Trophy since Billy Smith and Roland Melanson won the award in 1982-83 (en route to the team’s fourth consecutive Stanley Cup). Lehner went 25-13-5 with a 2.13 GAA (3rd in NHL) while Greiss was 23-14-2 with a 2.28 GAA (4th in NHL). The goalies combined for a single-season club record 11 shutouts.

Evenly Matched in the First Round

New York will square off with the Penguins in the First Round, who were just three points behind them in the Metropolitan Division standings (44-26-12, 100 points). Pittsburgh is led by star center Sidney Crosby’s team-leading 100 points (35 goals, 65 assists), which was fifth-best in the NHL. The teams split their four regular season games, with both teams winning once in regulation and once in a shootout.

Though the Islanders split home games between the Barclays Center and NYCB Live, home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, the team will play all of their first round games at the Coliseum. The Coliseum is where the Isles last held home-ice advantage in a playoff series in 1988 and where the team called home for all four of their Denis Potvin-led Stanley Cup championship runs between 1980-83. Any subsequent rounds that the team qualifies for this season will be played at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs begin with five games on the evening of Wednesday, April 10. The playoffs feature four rounds: three rounds of conference matchups before the Stanley Cup Final. All series are best-of-seven and follow a 2-2-1-1-1 format.

The Tampa Bay Lightning, the Eastern Conference top seed, hosts the Columbus Blue Jackets at 7:00 ET to begin the action on Wednesday. The defending champion Washington Capitals begin their quest for consecutive championships at 7:30 ET on Thursday, April 11 against the Carolina Hurricanes.

New York Islanders vs. Pittsburgh Penguins First Round Schedule

Game 1: Wednesday, April 10 – Penguins at Islanders – 7:30 ET (NBCSN)
Game 2: Friday, April 12 – Penguins at Islanders – 7:30 ET (NBCSN)
Game 3: Sunday, April 14 – Islanders at Penguins – 12:00 ET (NBC)
Game 4: Tuesday, April 16 – Islanders at Penguins – 7:30 ET (NBCSN)
Game 5: Thursday, April 18 – Penguins at Islanders**
Game 6: Saturday, April 20 – Islanders at Penguins**
Game 7: Monday, April 22 – Penguins at Islanders**

**TBD if necessary

Get your tickets to New York Islanders games played at NYCB LIVE, home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum here at Attendee.com.


Villanova basketball team

2019 NCAA Tournament Guide

Let the madness begin!

From the First Four to the Final Four, fans of all ages will be tuning in to watch all the college basketball drama, buzzer beaters, and upsets that embody the magic of the NCAA Tournament. Without any further ado, allow us to guide you through the next three weeks of mayhem.

The Atlantic Coast Conference reigned on Selection Sunday, as three of its schools (Duke – East Region, North Carolina – Midwest Region, and Virginia – South Region) were given No. 1 seeds. Rounding out the top seeds was Gonzaga, who sits atop the West Region bracket. Since the Big Dance expanded to 64 teams in 1985, all four No. 1 seeds have advanced to the Final Four only once, in 2008.

East Region

The top-seeded Duke Blue Devils are led by freshmen forward phenoms Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett. Known for his unique blend of size and athleticism (and his sneaker blowout), Williamson is averaging 22.1 points per game at the incredible rate of shooting 69.3% from the field. Barrett leads the team in scoring at 22.9 points per contest. Williamson and Barrett are as dangerous of a 1-2 punch as anybody in the country.

Winners of the Big Ten regular season and conference tournament championship, the Michigan State Spartans look to be the toughest obstacle in a potential Elite Eight matchup with the Blue Devils. Junior guard and Big Ten Player of the Year Cassius Winston leads the Spartans with 18.9 points per game and 7.6 assists per game.

Also poised to make a run are the third-seeded LSU Tigers, who won the SEC regular season championship, fourth-seeded Virginia Tech, who is making their third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, and sixth-seeded Maryland. The Terps feature sophomore center Bruno Fernando, who is widely considered to be a top pro prospect and is averaging 13.7 points per game and 10.4 rebounds per game.

The upset-minded No. 9 seed UCF Knights feature center Tacko Fall, who stands at 7-feet 6-inches and is currently the tallest player in college basketball.

Potential upset: No. 12 Liberty Flames over No. 5 Mississippi State Bulldogs
Best nickname: Saint Louis Billikens
Player to watch: Zion Williamson, Duke
Regional champ: Duke Blue Devils

West Region

The Gonzaga Bulldogs, led by junior forward Rui Hachimura, are the 1-seed in a very balanced region. Hachimura averages 20.1 points per game and 6.6 rebounds per game on a Zags squad that ranks first in the country in points per game (88.8) and field goal percentage (53.6%). Despite the Bulldogs rattling off 21 consecutive wins, their streak came to an end in their conference championship game, falling to Saint Mary’s 60-47.

The second-seeded Michigan Wolverines, last year’s runner-up, have the rare pleasure of opening their tournament with the same team they played in last year’s first round (No. 15 Montana Grizzlies). The Wolverines are poised for another March run as they feature freshman phenom Ignas Brazdeikis (15.1 points per game, 5.1 rebounds per game) and the third best scoring defense in the country.

There are several teams who can play spoiler in this year’s West Region. Florida State, who had a strong showing in the ACC Tournament, looks to improve off of last year’s Elite Eight performance. Buffalo, led by MAC player of the year and senior guard C.J. Massinburg, has been ranked throughout the year.

Two teams look to regain their edge: No. 3 Texas Tech, who won a share of the regular season Big 12 Championship but were upset early in the conference tournament, and No. 5 Marquette, who have lost five of their last six games.

Potential upset: No. 12 Murray State Racers over No. 5 Marquette Golden Eagles
Best nickname: Arizona State Sun Devils
Player to watch: Ja Morant, Murray State
Regional champ: Michigan Wolverines

South Region

The Virginia Cavaliers are once again a top seed in the Big Dance, but last year’s historic upset loss to No. 16 UMBC will be on the minds of many. Fortunately for the Cavaliers, they have the top scoring defense in the country and the third best three-point shooting percentage. Led by guards Kyle Guy (junior, 15.6 points per game) and De’Andre Hunter (sophomore, 15.1 points per game), UVA looks to make their first Final Four since 1984.

At No. 2 in the South is the Tennessee Volunteers. The Vols boast five players scoring in double figures, led by junior forward and SEC Player of the Year Grant Williams (19.0 points per game), and are fourth in the nation in assists per game. Tennessee has won five of their last seven games and hope to carry that momentum into the tournament.

Third-seeded Purdue’s offensive prowess (junior guard Carsen Edwards averages 23.0 points per game), No. 4 Kansas State and No. 5 Wisconsin’s stifling defenses, and Big East champion Villanova’s championship pedigree (winners of two of the last three national championships) make cases that upsets may be brewing in the South.

Potential upset: No. 13 UC Irvine Anteaters over No. 4 Kansas State Wildcats
Best nickname: UC Irvine Anteaters
Player to watch: Ethan Happ, Wisconsin
Regional champ: Villanova Wildcats

Midwest Region

The North Carolina Tar Heels headline arguably the deepest region in the field. Winners of eight of their last nine games, UNC is led by senior guard Cameron Johnson (16.9 points per game), freshman guard Coby White (16.3 points per game) and double double machine, senior forward Luke Maye (14.7 points per game, 10.5 rebounds per game). The Heels are the top rebounding team in the country and are third in points per game.

No. 2 seed Kentucky has already defeated fellow Midwest Region foes UNC and Kansas this season. The Wildcats are led by sophomore forward P.J. Washington’s 14.8 points per game and 7.5 rebounds per game and freshman guard Tyler Herro’s 14.2 points per game. Though they had success with the Tar Heels and Jayhawks, a potential second round matchup with a team they lost to in December looms with No. 10 Seton Hall.

Winners of the AAC regular season, third-seeded Houston has exceeded all expectations but still have something to prove on the national scale. Fourth-seeded Kansas may not be at full strength, but are still a formidable opponent in March. No. 5 Auburn won the SEC Tournament, No. 6 Iowa State won the Big 12 Tournament, and No. 7 Wofford hasn’t lost since December 19.

Potential Upset: No. 11 Ohio State Buckeyes over No. 6 Iowa State Cyclones
Best nickname: Iowa State Cyclones
Player to watch: Corey Davis, Houston
Regional champ: North Carolina Tar Heels

Attendee.com Picks

What would an NCAA Tournament viewer’s guide be without Final Four picks?

We’ll take Duke over Michigan and North Carolina over Villanova, with Duke defeating North Carolina to win the National Championship in Minneapolis.

Enjoy the games!


Keith Mitchell

Keith Mitchell Wins the Honda Classic

A challenging course, wind angles and a “Bear” couldn’t stop a young golfer from winning his first professional tournament.

Coincidentally, Keith Mitchell used experience in the final round of The Honda Classic to seal his first ever PGA Tour victory. The 27-year-old’s 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole gave him a final round 67 to finish at -9, surpassing Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler by one stroke.

“I’ve been close and I let my emotions take over,” Mitchell told NBC Sports’ Steve Sands. “And today (Sunday), I bogeyed the first two holes and I was like ‘I’m not going to let this happen again. I’m going to stick it out. I’m going to use what I’ve learned over the past couple years.’ And I was able to do it and I just played great coming down the stretch.”

Mitchell’s mental fortitude allowed him to shoot four-under-par in the last seven holes at the daunting PGA National course, which includes the menacing three hole “Bear Trap.” The former University of Georgia collegiate birdied the 15th hole and made par on the 16th and 17th holes to work through the pivotal stretch.

Mitchell shot 271 for the tournament (68, 66, 70, 67). The win in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida earns him over $1.2 million, 500 FedExCup points and a spot to play at Augusta in the 2019 Masters.

Before Mitchell’s clutch putt, it appeared likely that The Honda Classic would be decided by a three-way playoff between Mitchell, Koepka and Fowler. Nine of the previous 46 Classic winners were decided by a playoff, but it was not meant to be in 2019. Koepka shot a fourth round 66 and Fowler finished at 67 to split second place. Both golfers walked away with 245 FedExCup points.

Much of the talk in the middle of the mid-80 degree day in South Florida was if Ryan Palmer’s -7 overall score would hold up to win the tournament. Palmer tied a course record by shooting 29 after the front nine on Sunday. The 42-year-old finished the day at 63, tied for fourth place.

“I actually got the holes that were gettable, which is what you need to do, which allowed me to shoot 29 on the front,” said Palmer. “It’s so hard to back up a low round like that on the front to the back. And you can kind of feel a little tension creeping in, but I was able to have some great par saves. And to finish the way I did, very memorable.”

Wyndham Clark, the leader after round 3, bogeyed four times between holes 7-12 en route to a final round 72. Clark finished tied for 7th place at -5 for the tournament. He was paired with 56-year-old veteran Vijay Singh, who’s last PGA Tour victory came in 2008. His chances of becoming the oldest winner ever on the Tour were thwarted as he followed up his third round 65 with a final round 70, finishing him in 6th place.

Sunjae Im, with whom Mitchell shared The Honda Classic lead with at -6 after 36 holes, shot a 77 in the third round and a 71 in the fourth to finish tied for 51st at +2. Jhonattan Vegas, who led after Thursday’s first round, finished tied for 16th place at -2.

NOTABLES:

Jim Furyk and Sergio Garcia were among those tied for 9th place at -4.

Justin Thomas, last year’s winner at PGA National, finished tied for 30th place at even par.

Tiger Woods, who returned to the Honda last year after a three-year hiatus, did not participate.

The PGA Tour heads to Orlando this week for the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Tickets can be purchased here.