UConn Women’s Basketball Team Pauses Activities After Positive COVID-19 Test | Bleacher Report

Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma during an NCAA college basketball game in the American Athletic Conference tournament quarterfinals at Mohegan Sun Arena, Saturday, March 7, 2020, in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

Jessica Hill/Associated Press

The Connecticut women’s basketball team won’t be tipping off the season this week. 

The school announced a member of the program tested positive for COVID-19, forcing the Huskies to pause team activities for at least 14 days.

They were scheduled to play Quinnipiac on Saturday and then either Maine or Mississippi State on Sunday in the Basketball Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge. Their Dec. 4 encounter with Louisville has been canceled as well, while the conference meeting with Seton Hall on Dec. 6 has been postponed.

Connecticut is back in the Big East, having left when the conference dissolved in 2013.

The level of competition will be higher in the Big East compared to the AAC, but many expect UConn to not only claim a conference title but also challenge for the Final Four. Geno Auriemma’s squad sits third in both the Associated Press Top 25 and Coaches Poll.

The Huskies lost Megan Walker and Crystal Dangerfield from their 2019-20 roster, but they welcomed in a freshman class that included Paige Bueckers, Aaliyah Edwards and Mir McLean. Evina Westbrook is eligible to suit up as well after having redshirted due to her transfer from Tennessee.

Expectations are particularly high for Bueckers, who has already built a national profile after racking up a number of individual accolades and assembling an impressive highlight reel.

The Hopkins, Minnesota, native was one of two freshmen along with Louisville’s Hailey Van Lith to be named to the Naismith Player of the Year watch list.

With Monday’s announcement, the earliest UConn will suit up is Dec. 15 against Butler.

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Who Is Most Likely to Win Men’s and Women’s WWE Royal Rumble 2021 Matches? | Bleacher Report

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    Royal Rumble

    Royal RumbleWWE.com

    On Nov. 22, WWE will host its final Big Four pay-per-view of 2020, Survivor Series. Afterward, the company will move on to the Road to WrestleMania heading into January. The first stop on that journey is arguably its most popular show, the Royal Rumble.

    For many fans, the titular stipulation matches are the most exciting of the year. That’s in part because the Royal Rumble acts as a culmination of storylines from the year prior and a starting point for new ones. It gives the event a level of finality, as well as uncertainty. After all, Rumbles are so entertaining because it feels like anyone can win.

    Nevertheless, it’s fun to speculate and try to predict who could outlast 29 other men or women to earn a match against the champion of their choice on the Grandest Stage of Them All. So let’s take a look at some early picks to win both the men’s and women’s Royal Rumble matches.

    First, we will select a dark horse and a wild card for each match. Then we will predict the favorites to win both matches based on ongoing stories and their trajectories. Feel free to leave a comment and let us know your early picks.

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    No one would have predicted that Jey Uso would become a competent main eventer over the last few months. He and his twin brother, Jimmy, have already proven themselves as one of the best tag teams in the company. However, the current Bloodline storyline with Roman Reigns has given Jey the chance to stand out as a singles competitor. 

    In what is quickly becoming a breakout year, Uso proved he could hang with Reigns in two surprising compelling matches. He has also picked up three massive wins over AJ Styles, Daniel Bryan, and Kevin Owens on SmackDown. In the most recent episode, the San Francisco native went toe to toe with another former world champion, Drew McIntyre, in the main event. 

    Uso ultimately fell victim to a sudden Claymore Kick but he held his own for most of the match. Furthermore, Reigns technically still hasn’t beat him. In their first encounter at Clash of Champion, Jimmy threw in the towel for him. At Hell in a Cell, The Tribal Chief targeted his brother to force him to say “I quit” and fall in line. Up until that point, Uso withstood everything his cousin dealt out. 

    Clearly, this rivalry isn’t over just yet and it has been so engaging that it wouldn’t be a terrible idea to have Uso to challenge Reigns again. That makes him an intriguing sleeper pick heading into Royal Rumble 2021. 

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    Since NXT superstars started making appearances at Royal Rumble, many fans have wondered if a debuting wrestler from the black and gold brand could win the match. It seems inevitable as WWE continues to sign high profile names that are recognizable to their fanbase.

    Rhea Ripley could conceivably be the

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AP Women’s College Basketball Poll 2020: Complete Preseason Rankings Released | Bleacher Report

South Carolina's Aliyah Boston (4) returns to the bench during the second half of a quarterfinal match against Georgia at the Southeastern women's NCAA college basketball tournament in Greenville, S.C., Friday, March 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)

Richard Shiro/Associated Press

South Carolina will open the 2020-21 women’s college basketball season as the No. 1 team in the country.

The Gamecocks earned 29 of the 30 first-place votes in the Associated Press’ preseason Top 25 poll. Stanford, Connecticut, Baylor and Louisville rounded out the top five.

The NCAA canceled the 2020 NCAA tournament because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but South Carolina could lay claim to a de facto national title after having finished first in both the final AP Top 25 and Coaches Poll.

         

Associated Press Preseason Women’s Basketball Top 25

1. South Carolina

2. Stanford

3. Connecticut

4. Baylor

5. Louisville

6. Mississippi State

7. Arizona

8. North Carolina State

9. UCLA

10. Oregon

11. Kentucky

12. Maryland

13. Texas A&M

14. Arkansas

15. Iowa State

16. Indiana

17. Northwestern

18. Oregon State

19. DePaul

20. Ohio State

21. Gonzaga

22. Notre Dame

23. Syracuse

24. Missouri State

25. Michigan

            

Last season was supposed to be a retooling season for South Carolina, which had to replace Te’a Cooper and rely on four true freshmen. 

Aliyah Boston nearly averaged a double-double (12.5 points, 9.4 rebounds, while Zia Cooke put up 12.0 points per game. Together, they helped put the Gamecocks ahead of schedule. That’s why Dawn Staley can lose two first-round draft picks (Mikiah Herbert Harrigan and Tyasha Harris) and still be widely considered the top team in the country.

Connecticut, on the other hand, did take a step backward after Katie Lou Samuelson and Napheesa Collier moved on to the WNBA.

The Huskies compiled a 29-3 record, but lopsided losses to Baylor, Oregon and South Carolina showed how reaching a 13th straight Final Four would’ve been a challenge.

Megan Walker and Crystal Dangerfield moved on to the WNBA, but UConn is welcoming in a freshman class headlined by star guard Paige Bueckers. Bueckers has the potential to be the team’s best talent since Breanna Stewart.

Iowa State was the biggest riser in the preseason poll, having failed to crack the Top 25 upon the conclusion of 2019-20. The Cyclones return their top four scorers, most notably guard Ashley Joens, who averaged 21.1 points and 10.7 rebounds in 27 appearances.

Baylor casts a large shadow in the Big 12. The Lady Bears won the conference tournament in nine of the previous 10 years before the pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2020 installment.

Claiming a Big 12 title will be a tall order for Iowa State, but reaching the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2010 could be on the cards.

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Hikaru Shida Beats Nyla Rose, Retains AEW Women’s World Title at Full Gear 2020 | Bleacher Report

FILE - In this Friday, Oct. 4, 2019, file photo, Nyla Rose, from left, Chris Jericho, Brandi Rhodes, Jon Moxley, Awesome Kong and Jungle Boy attend New York Comic Con to promote TNT's

Charles Sykes/Associated Press

Hikaru Shida beat Nyla Rose at AEW Full Gear on Saturday to retain the AEW Women’s World Championship.

Shida survived a diving knee drop from Rose:

The champion later countered with a falcon arrow and knees to Rose’s head:

The knees ultimately worked, and Shida got the pin for the win.

Saturday’s bout was a rematch from Double or Nothing in May, where Shida beat Rose in a No Disqualification, No Count-out match to win the AEW Women’s World title for the first time.

After that, Shida went on a remarkable run by beating every challenger placed in front of her. Because of that, she entered Full Gear with a nearly 170-day reign to her credit.

Shida defended the AEW Women’s Championship three times between Double or Nothing and Full Gear, earning victories over Penelope Ford, former NWA Women’s champion Thunder Rosa and Big Swole.

Meanwhile, Rose faded to the background to some degree, although she did make a big move by hiring Vickie Guerrero to be her manager.

She also won every singles match she was involved in between Double or Nothing and Full Gear, many of which were virtual squash matches on Dynamite and AEW Dark.

With Shida essentially beating all other legitimate challengers and nobody else stepping up, Rose was named No. 1 contender before Full Gear and given the opportunity to become the first two-time AEW Women’s World champion.

There wasn’t much of a storyline heading into Full Gear with regard to Shida and Rose, but the fact that Shida beat Rose for the title at Double or Nothing added some intrigue.

It can be argued that the Double or Nothing bout between Shida and Rose was AEW’s best women’s match to date, so there was some excitement surrounding the rematch.

With Shida retaining on Saturday, it may finally be time for AEW to give a heel Britt Baker a chance to feud with Shida and vie for the AEW Women’s title.

Listen to Ring Rust Radio for all of the hot wrestling topics. Catch the latest episode in the player below (warning: some language NSFW).

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WWE SmackDown Ratings Down Despite Sasha Banks vs. Bayley Women’s Title Match | Bleacher Report

Photo credit: WWE.com.

Ratings were down for Friday night’s episode of SmackDown on Fox, which featured a SmackDown Women’s Championship match between Sasha Banks and Bayley.

According to Showbuzz Daily, this week’s SmackDown averaged 2.209 million viewers in the overnight ratings on the heels of last week’s show garnering 2.286 million viewers. Friday’s SmackDown also did a 0.65 rating in the 18-49-year-old demographic, which was No. 1 for the night.

The most significant match or moment of SmackDown opened the show, as Banks defended the SmackDown Women’s Championship against Bayley after beating Bayley for the title at Hell in a Cell two weeks ago.

Bayley tried to get inside Sasha’s head by reminding her that she had never successfully defended a singles title on the main roster before, but Banks still managed to win a hard-fought and entertaining match by making Bayley tap out.

The Boss’ celebration was short-lived, though, as Carmella made her long-awaited return and took Banks out with a superkick on the stage.

SmackDown’s main event was a singles match between Jey Uso and Kevin Owens. Universal champion Roman Reigns got the match made because of his belief that Owens had disrespected Uso backstage.

It was a back-and-forth match until Reigns’ music hit and distracted Owens, which allowed Uso to hit him with a low blow and then a splash off the ropes for the win. Reigns congratulated his cousin as SmackDown went off the air.

SmackDown also featured a few qualifying matches for the men’s and women’s Survivor Series elimination matches coming up later this month.

On the men’s side, King Corbin beat Rey Mysterio and Seth Rollins defeated Otis to qualify, while Ruby Riott won a Triple Threat over Natalya and Zelina Vega to qualify for the women’s team.

The dramatic storyline involving the Mysterio family and Murphy continued as well. After Murphy showed up at ringside for Rollins vs. Otis, distracted Otis and pledged allegiance to Rollins, Aalyah Mysterio yelled at Murphy.

While the optics looked bad, Murphy assured Aalyah that he knows what he is doing.

     

Listen to Ring Rust Radio for all of the hot wrestling topics. Catch the latest episode in the player below (warning: some language NSFW).

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Sasha Banks Beats Bayley, Retains SmackDown Women’s Title on WWE SmackDown | Bleacher Report

Photo credit: WWE.com.

In her first title defense since beating Bayley for the SmackDown Women’s Championship at Hell in a Cell, Sasha Banks defeated her former friend Friday night to retain the title after getting the challenger to tap out to the Bank Statement.

Bayley nearly pulled off the win after hitting Banks with a Backstabber and belly-to-belly suplex combination:

However, Banks was simply too strong at the end of a match, and Bayley took a ton of punishment:

It was Carmella who ultimately got the last laugh, though, as she attacked the champion before she went to the back:

After several months of the two running roughshod over the SmackDown women’s division and even imposing their will on Raw and NXT at times, their relationship exploded in September when Bayley turned on her former teammate.

The Role Model briefly put Banks on the shelf by injuring her neck with a steel chair, but The Boss worked her way back and challenged her rival to a Hell in a Cell match at the same-titled pay-per-view.

After initially refusing to sign the contract, Bayley was forced to do so when Banks attacked her and used a steel chair. Knowing the only way to stop the onslaught was to sign on the dotted line, she put pen to paper.

Banks and Bayley went on to have one of the best matches of the year in WWE at the PPV on Oct. 25 and arguably one of the greatest women’s and Hell in a Cell matches in company history.

While Bayley pushed Banks to the limit, The Boss prevailed by making her opponent tap to the Bank Statement, thus becoming SmackDown women’s champion for the first time and ending The Role Model’s remarkable 380-day reign.

The win made Banks only the third Grand Slam women’s champion in WWE history, joining Bayley and Asuka as the only Superstars to hold the NXT, Raw and SmackDown women’s titles, as well as the WWE Women’s Tag Team titles.

Banks celebrated her win on the following episode of SmackDown, but Bayley interrupted and made every attempt to get inside her former pal’s head. She accurately pointed out The Boss had failed in her first title defense after each of her Raw title wins, which is an albatross she has carried throughout her career.

With Bayley poking and prodding her, Banks agreed to put the SmackDown title on the line at a weekly show rather than waiting for a future pay-per-view.

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Ronda Rousey’s Rumored Return Would Rescue WWE Raw’s Ailing Women’s Division | Bleacher Report

Cast member Ronda Rousey attends a

Jordan Strauss/Associated Press

The last time anyone saw Ronda Rousey in a WWE ring, she had her shoulders pinned to the mat in the main event of WrestleMania 35 in what served as the coronation of Becky Lynch as the top star in the company.

According to a report by Sean Ross Sapp at Fightful Select (h/t Cageside Seats), The Baddest Woman on the Planet is currently training for a return to McMahonland.

A return that would instantly enhance a Raw women’s division in desperate need of star power and credible challengers to Asuka’s women’s title.

      

Name Value

Fans unfamiliar with pro wrestling know who Rousey is.

Furthermore, she has real fight credibility, thanks to her dominance in the Octagon. That star power and credibility, was essential to Lynch’s journey to the top of WWE in 2019 and helped hammer home that The Man was now the woman in professional wrestling.

Rousey’s contributions from that perspective are invaluable and would be absolutely key to the reinvention of a Raw women’s division that has undergone quite a few changes since she last set foot inside a squared circle.

Beginning with its face, the current women’s champion, Asuka.

    

A Battle of the Badasses

There is no denying the talent on the Raw women’s roster. Everyone, from Nia Jax to Peyton Royce to Lana, is valuable assets but have not necessarily been utilized in a manner that elevates the most prestigious prize the brand has to offer.

As a result, Asuka has been left to wallow in mediocrity, her title reign currently impacted by the lack of credible challengers to her throne. Rousey’s return would instantly provide her with a fellow badass that fans could believe would be able to defeat her and take the title.

Furthermore, it would provide fans a fresh match that they have not seen in any grand or spectacular form to this point.

Rousey previously ran through the Raw women’s division over the course of her 231 days as champion. She defeated everyone from Jax to Alexa Bliss to Natalya, but she never tapped out or pinned The Empress of Tomorrow, a fact that could easily add gravity to a potential showdown.

Theirs is a match that could also realistically headline a pay-per-view event, something Asuka has not had the opportunity to do since she made history as the first Women’s Royal Rumble match.

Coincidentally, the same night Rousey debuted and immediately stole Asuka’s spotlight.

A potential feud writes itself while Asuka instantly sees her title reign elevated in importance by working with someone with the crossover, pop culture appeal of Rousey.

    

Elevating Others and Rekindling Friendships

Naomi, Dana Brooke, Mandy Rose, Lacey Evans and Peyton Royce are all women who would benefit from working with Rousey, too. Even if they were involved in one-week one-offs, sharing the ring with Rousey would provide them the additional spotlight.

And then there is the elephant in the room: her very real friendship with Shayna Baszler and a potential Four Horsewomen

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Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler Retain Women’s Tag Team Titles on WWE Raw | Bleacher Report

Credit: WWE.com

The quartet of Nia Jax, Shayna Baszler, Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke is set to be on the same side at Survivor Series. On Monday, Jax and Baszler had to defeat Rose and Brooke in order to remain the women’s tag team champions.

It looked like Rose and Brooke might steal the titles after the latter had rolled Baszler up. Baszler kicked out and placed the Kirifuda Clutch on Brooke for the win.

This was Jax and Baszler’s first successful defense since beating The Riott Squad on the Oct. 5 edition of Raw.

That match was originally scheduled for Clash of Champions, but WWE announced on the night of the show that the champions weren’t medically cleared to compete.

Baszler and Jax have been the definition of an odd couple since joining forces in order to fight against common enemies. They stopped dead in their tracks while fighting each other several weeks ago and set their sights on Sasha Banks and Bayley, which led to a title match between the two teams at Payback.

It was at that event Baszler and Jax won the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships for the first time when Baszler locked Sasha and Bayley into a submission at the same time, forcing Bayley to tap.

Banks and Bayley received a rematch on SmackDown, but Jax pinned them both after hitting them with a crossbody. Baszler and Jax retained, while Bayley and Banks broke up, as Bayley viciously attacked The Boss following their defeat.

With Sasha and Bayley in the rearview mirror, Baszler and Jax turned their attention to The Riott Squad, which looked like a legitimate threat entering Clash of Champions. Now, they have dispatched of not only The Riott Squad but also the pair of Rose and Brooke.

The question going forward is whether the Raw team can remain cohesive at Survivor Series on Nov. 22.

     

Listen to Ring Rust Radio for all of the hot wrestling topics. Catch the latest episode in the player below (warning: some language NSFW).

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Fixing the Failing Women’s Division on WWE Raw and SmackDown | Bleacher Report

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    Photo credit: WWE.com

    On Sunday, Bayley and Sasha Banks proved what the WWE women’s division is capable of at its best in an amazing SmackDown Women’s Championship match at Hell in a Cell.

    When given the time and an engaging story, stars such as Banks, Bayley, and Asuka have knocked it out of the park. However, the company hasn’t exactly utilized the women on Raw and SmackDown well.  

    The blue brand has been in search of a top protagonist for over a year. The Legit Boss will probably assume that role now as champion, but there aren’t many legitimate contenders for her title. And WWE’s flagship show has a similar problem as there aren’t many credible threats to Asuka’s second reign.

    The company has a bit of a problem on its hands because both divisions are struggling. Outside of a handful of women, WWE hasn’t taken the time to showcase just how good its current roster is. Honestly, that’s inexcusable because this is the deepest and most diverse collection of women in the history of WWE.

    With that in mind, it’s hard to understand why so many talented women on Raw and SmackDown seem so directionless. There has to be more WWE can do to capitalize on the popularity of women’s wrestling and the wealth of talent at its disposal.

    Let’s take a look at some ways it can improve the women’s division on Raw and SmackDown. 

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    First and foremost, WWE has to produce some compelling storylines outside of the main title programs.

    This is an issue that has plagued the company for decades. It was even worse when there was only one prize at stake, so one would assume there would be more opportunities now that there are three women’s championships.

    On the surface, there are more possibilities than ever before thanks to the brand split and the introduction of various stipulation matches for women to compete in for the first time. However, it’s hard to invest in anyone who isn’t in contention for a title, because WWE doesn’t have a consistent midcard for these performers. 

    In fact, that’s the biggest problem at the moment, because it makes it difficult to give anyone a chance to develop a character or enough support from the fans to move up the card.

    Many hoped that establishing the women’s tag titles would help remedy this issue, but it has instead created a new one.

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    Speaking of the Women’s Tag Team Championship, WWE has done a poor job making these titles feel significant.

    This December, the company will celebrate the two-year anniversary since Vince McMahon announced the reintroduction of the secondary belts on the Christmas episode of Raw. 

    The Boss ‘n’ Hug Connection, Bayley and Sasha Banks, became the inaugural champions at Elimination Chamber in 2019, but the titles have had varying degrees of success since. 

    There have been five sets of champions so far, and most of them delivered some great matches during

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Cam Newton Responds to Jeff Garcia’s Criticism About His Fashion After Benching | Bleacher Report

New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton watches from the sideline after being replaced by Jarrett Stidham in the second half of an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Charles Krupa/Associated Press

Former NFL quarterback Jeff Garcia had the incredibly strange take on Sunday that Cam Newton’s poor play meant that the New England Patriots quarterback shouldn’t be wearing the clothes that he does, because they call attention to himself. 

On Monday, Newton took the high road when responding to the remarks: 

Here were Garcia’s thoughts, which included him saying he would try to hide in something called a “jock sock cart” to escape media attention if he was playing as poorly as Newton (h/t TMZ Sports): 

“You go into this game, what, two touchdowns and four interceptions? You throw, what, three more interceptions? You get yanked in the second half. There’s nothing good going your way. Why are you dressing like that, to bring more attention to yourself? I’d be trying to ask the equipment managers, ‘Put me in your jock sock cart and sneak me in the back door and I’ll show up on the field and do the best that I can.'”

Here was the fit that got him riled up:

There’s little doubt that Newton is struggling, with just two touchdowns and seven interceptions on the year. The Patriots are struggling in general, with a 2-4 record. It’s just hard to imagine any of it has anything to do with Newton’s fashion choices. 

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