Happy Friday, everyone! Chris Bengel in once again for again for Zachary Pearles, and we’ve finally made it to the weekend.
Let’s not waste any time and dive right into the news.
Good morning to everyone but especially to…
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FANS
It was certainly a banner day for many of the world’s fans that root for UEFA Champions League clubs as on Thursday, the draw for the 2022 Champions League was announced.
Champions League group stage matches will begin on Sept. 6-7. All six rounds of those group stage matches will have to be completed before teams break for the 2022 World Cup, which will begin on Nov. 20 in Qatar.
Here are the group pairings:
Group A: Ajax, Liverpool, Napoli, Rangers
Group B: Porto, Atletico Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen, Club Brugge
Group C: Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Viktoria Plzen
Group D: Eintracht Frankfurt, Tottenham Hotspur, Sporting Lisbon, Marseille
Group E: AC Milan, Chelsea, RB Salzburg, Dinamo Zagreb
Group F: Real Madrid, RB Leipzig, Shakhtar Donetsk, Celtic
Group G: Manchester City, Sevilla, Borussia Dortmund, FC Copenhagen
Group H: PSG, Juventus, Benfica, Maccabi Haifa
CBS Sports soccer writer Chuck Booth points out that Group C can be considered the “Group of Death.”
- Booth: “Sure, the Lewandowski-Bayern Munich homecoming will headline the group, but expect Inter Milan and Viktoria Plzen to bring tough tests. Inter Milan have gotten stronger with Romelu Lukaku’s return from Chelsea and keeping Milan Skriniar will improve their outlook. The third-placed team in the group will certainly be among the favorites to win Europa League and there’s a chance that all four teams could win their domestic leagues by the end of the season, which should keep everyone on their toes.”
- Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell wants to be dealt to the Heat, Knicks, or Nets if he’s traded.
- The Vegas Golden Knights and forward Phil Kessel agreed to one-year deal.
And not such a good morning for…
The Oklahoma City Thunder were dealt a brutal blow before the 2022-23 season even got underway. On Thursday, the team announced that the No. 2 overall draft pick, Chet Holmgren, will miss the entire 2022-23 season after suffering a Lisfranc injury to his right foot.
- Holmgren suffered the injury while playing in former NBA guard Jamal Crawford’s “The Crawsover Pro-Am” in Seattle this past weekend. The former Gonzaga standout was defending LeBron James at the rim when the injury occurred.
- Holmgren immediately left the game following the injury.
The Thunder forward had a stellar start to his professional career as he posted a stat line of 23 points, seven rebounds, four assists, and six blocks in his first game in the Salt Lake City Summer League last month. The 20-year old also put together averages of 12.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.3 steals, and 2.0 blocks in three games in the Vegas Summer League.
CBS Sports NBA writer Jack Maloney adds that there were durability concerns surrounding Holmgren leading up to the NBA Draft.
- Maloney: “Heading into the draft, one of the few concerns about Holmgren was in regards to his body. Many had questions about how his spindly, 7-foot, 195-pound body would hold up to the rigors of the professional game. Some may use this injury as proof that they were right, but it’s worth noting this was a fluke play and landing on someone’s foot under the basket can happen to anyone.”
Not so honorable mentions
- Aaron Donald was seen swinging a helmet as a brawl erupted during a joint practice between the Rams and Bengals.
- Russell Westbrook could reportedly be traded or sent home after the Lakers acquired Patrick Beverley.
- Novak Djokovic will miss the US Open due to being unvaccinated against COVID-19.
Bettors aren’t backing the Bucs 🏈
After a brief retirement for quarterback Tom Brady, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are running it back with the majority of the same roster from the 2021 season. Despite the Bucs success since Brady arrived, a large amount of gamblers are thinking twice about Brady and the Buccaneers being among the NFL’s elite entering this season.
In fact, 52.7 percent of the tickets and 84.9 percent of the money are on the Bucs having under 11.5 wins.
- One bettor placed an $18,000 wager on the Bucs to have under 11.5 wins while another bettor placed a $13,800 bet on the Bucs’ under wins total.
- There are also a significant amount of bets on the Bucs to have the league’s worst record. Only the Bears, Browns, Seahawks, and Steelers have more money wagered on them to have the NFL‘s worst mark.
- One Virginia bettor has placed a $300 bet at 350-to-1 odds for the Buccaneers to have the worst record and would win $105,000.
- Meanwhile, a Louisiana bettor placed a $250 wager at 450-to-1 odds on the Buccaneers to have the worst record and would win $112,500.
However, CBS Sports NFL writer John Breech isn’t going to be one of those foolish enough to bet against the greatest signal caller to ever play the game.
- Breech: “As for me, my rule of thumb is to never bet against Tom Brady because betting against Tom Brady almost always ends up costing you money, so I will not be betting Tampa Bay’s under or on the Buccaneers to have the worst record.”
Bryce Harper set to return on Friday ⚾
The Philadelphia Phillies are about to get a huge boost for the stretch run of the Major League Baseball season. Phillies interim manager Rob Thomson confirmed on Thursday that star slugger Bryce Harper will make his return to the team on Friday.
Harper had missed two months after having surgery to repair a fractured thumb. The reigning National League MVP was hit by a pitch from San Diego Padres pitcher Blake Snell back on June 25.
Earlier this week, Harper began a rehab assignment with the Phillies’ Triple-A affiliate, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.
- Harper was originally scheduled to play with the IronPigs from Tuesday through Saturday. However, after only two games — in which Harper went went 5-for-8 with two home runs, six RBIs, two doubles, and a pair of walks — the Phillies determined that he is ready to return to the big club.
- Harper will serve as the Phillies’ designated hitter for the remainder of the 2022 season. He suffered an injured elbow earlier this season and can’t throw as a result.
Now Philadelphia will have Harper back in the lineup with 37 games left in the regular season. Surprisingly, as CBS Sports MLB writer Matt Snyder says, the Phillies have enjoyed a great deal of success without Harper.
Snyder: “The Phillies have actually played well since his injury. They are 32-20 after he went down, putting them 70-55 on the season and in the second NL wild card slot. They are two games ahead of the Padres for the second spot and 3 1/2 clear of the Brewers, meaning they still have a fight just to make the playoffs.”
Early Bracketology for the 2022-23 season 🏀
Even with the college basketball season a little over two months away it’s never too early to start predicting the 68-team March Madness field with a late-August edition of Bracketology.
CBS Sports senior college basketball writer Jerry Palm does point out that it’s not an exact science at this point. A good amount of the country’s programs have yet to release their complete team schedules.
Here are Palm’s top eight seeds:
- No. 1 seeds: Gonzaga (West), Houston (Midwest), North Carolina (East), and Kentucky (South)
- No. 2 seeds: UCLA (West), Kansas (Midwest), Baylor (East), and Creighton (South)
Palm is very confident that Gonzaga will be among the nation’s elite once again with the return of much last year’s talent, including star big man Drew Timme. Gonzaga went 28-4 during the 2021-22 season, but lost to Arkansas in the Sweet Sixteen.
- Palm: “The Zags will be trying to secure a No. 1 seed for the fifth time in the last six NCAA Tournaments. They are bolstered by the return of six of their top eight scorers, including 2022 second team All-American Drew Timme. They have also added the 2022 Southern Conference Player of the Year Malachi Smith from Chattanooga. Look for Gonzaga to dominate the West Coast Conference again this season.”
What we’re watching this weekend 📺
(All times eastern)
🏈 Seahawks at Cowboys, 8 p.m. on NFL Network
⚾ Braves at Cardinals, 8:15 p.m. on MLB Network
⚾ Yankees at Athletics, 9:40 p.m. on Amazon Prime
🏈 Nebraska at Northwestern, 12:30 pm. on FOX
🏈 Rams at Bengals, 6 pm. on NFL Network
🏈 Vikings at Broncos, 9 p.m. on NFL Network
⚾ Guardians at Mariners, 10:10 p.m. on FS1
🏈 Vanderbilt at Hawaii, 10:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network
🏈 Giants at Jets, 1 p.m. on NFL Network
🏀 Storm at Aces, 4 p.m. on ESPN
🏈 Lions at Steelers, 4:30 p.m. on CBS
🏀 Sun at Sky, 8 p.m. on ESPN2
⛳ Tour Championship final round, 12 p.m.-1:30 p.m. on Golf Channel; 1:30 p.m. on NBC