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Saturday, December 31, 2016
Many nations have a rest from most sports today, in commemoration of the New Year's holidays, with some great exceptions.
In International Cricket, while you were sleeping, Bangladesh 236/9 (50 ov) was beaten by New Zealand 239/2 (41.2/50 ov). New Zealand won by 8 wickets (with 52 balls remaining). New Zealand whitewashed Bangladesh with a crushing eight-wicket victory in the third ODI in Nelson. Their 179-run stand, which came after Martill Guptill had retired injured on 6 because of a hamstring strain, helped the hosts ace their chase of 237 with 52 balls to spare. New Zealand were also aided by poor shot selection from Bangladesh, who suffered a collapse of 7 for 77 after opting to bat on a slow surface.
After Tamim Iqbal and Imrul Kayes put on 102 for the first wicket, their middle and lower order fell away. That the visitors lasted 50 overs and reached 236 for 9 was due to rookie Nurul Hasan's cameo of 44 off 39 balls.
In Scotland: Scottish Premier League Soccer: Rangers vs. Celtic are playing right now, and are tied 1-1.
United, who have won their last four Premier League games, host Middlesbrough, a team which has lost three of their last four. The visitors are resilient -- they have the fourth-best defense in the league, but some believe them to be doomed... Liverpool vs. Man City: It's a massive match at the top of the Premier League to close 2016 as Liverpool host Manchester City on New Year's Eve, scrapping for the title. Man City has only won twice at Liverpool since 1956, but some expect them to snatch a victory from the jaws of impending defeat.
USA: College Game Day broadcasts bright and early as NCAA Football Bowl Season reaches a crescendo this holiday weekend:
The Citrus Bowl features LSU (7-4) vs. Louisville (9-3) at Orlando, Florida. The Tigers allowed just 16.4 points per game this season, but face a test in Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson and the nation's highest-scoring offense (an astounding 45.3 points per game). This is the programs' first-ever meeting.
The TaxSlayer Bowl features Georgia Tech (8-4) vs. Kentucky (7-5) in Jacksonville, Florida. The Kentucky Wildcats are in a bowl for the first time in six years, and feature two 1000-yard. They have bounced back from last year's 3-9 season which had snapped an 18-year run of bowl appearances. Welcome back.
In Atlanta, the Peach Bowl features Washington (12-1) vs. Alabama (13-0) in a CFP semifinal in Atlanta. Huskies speedy Quarterback Jake Browning will undoubtedly push the tempo on offense, but they face the nation's top defense (247 yards per game) in the Crimson Tide, who are going for their 26th straight win. Alabama won the national title last year after shutting out Michigan State in a semifinal. Everyone's real question this year: Is the Crimson Tide unstoppable or can Washington take out 'bama?
If that were not enough, Arizona's Fiesta Bowl features Ohio State (11-1) vs. Clemson (12-1) in a CFP semifinal in Glendale, Ariz. Dynamic QBs J.T. Barrett and Deshaun Watson are on display as these recent finalists look to punch their ticket to Tampa for the Jan. 9 title game. OSU won the last Fiesta Bowl and are making their seventh postseason appearance in Arizona in 15 years. Clemson won the programs' last meeting in the 2013-14 Orange Bowl, 40-35.
NCAA College Basketball also features some great lineups today: Xavier at Georgetown, Duke at Virginian Tech, Louisville vs. Indiana at Indianapolis, Villanova at Creighton, Virginia hosting Florida State, and Temple at Central Florida, among others.