Preview: MSU men’s hoops to tip off Battle 4 Atlantis


After winning three straight, Michigan State men’s basketball is set to take on Loyola Chicago in the first game of the Battle 4 Atlantis at Paradise Island, Bahamas. 

The Battle 4 Atlantis, an early-season staple since it’s inception in 2011, boasts another loaded field this year: reigning national champion Baylor, Arizona State, Syracuse, Auburn, VCU, Loyola Chicago and Michigan State. Making his first appearance in Atlantis, Head Coach Tom Izzo lauded the strength of his competitors and said he’s excited for this opportunity with his team.

“Anytime you can travel together and spend time together and do some things together…it’s always a positive,” he said. 

Now, after weathering what Izzo called a “brutal” start to the season, Michigan State is now in for their most demanding test so far. Izzo said the challenge of a condensed schedule with little turnaround time provides nearly invaluable preparation for further conference play and the NCAA Tournament. 

“Three games in three days is very difficult on a coaching staff but it’s even more difficult for the players,” Izzo said on Tuesday. “What we can pick up for this…you won’t be able to measure it. It’s really going to help you later on, win, lose or draw.” 

Scouting Loyola 

Michigan State tips off on Wednesday against Loyola Chicago (4-0), one of the established top mid-major programs in the country. There’s a noteworthy connection at hand here, too: the Ramblers are coached by first-year Head Coach Drew Valentine, a Lansing native and former Michigan State graduate manager who worked under Izzo from 2013 to 2015. 

Izzo said he doesn’t like to play former assistants but is proud of Valentine for reaching this stage of his career as the youngest head coach in Division I college basketball. Regardless, he indicated that their relationship won’t detract from the competition at hand. 

“I just pull for these guys to win every game except the one I’m playing in,” he said.

As for Valentine’s squad, Izzo called them the “oldest team in captivity” and cited experience as their greatest asset. Loyola returns four starters from a 2020-21 campaign that saw them post a 26-5 record and advance to the Sweet Sixteen, with graduate student guard Lucas Williamson (10.8 points per game) and graduate student forward Aher Uguak (13.5 points per game) leading the way in their final seasons in Rogers Park. 

For as much as they return, Loyola added one crucial piece that’s played a big role thus far. Princeton transfer and senior forward Ryan Schweiger joined the Ramblers this offseason and leads the team in scoring (14.8 points per game) while only averaging 18 minutes per game. 

Valentine has also instituted some changes among the Ramblers, namely a higher emphasis on shooting from the arc. Loyola has the fourth best three point shooting percentage (45.2%) in all of college basketball with Schweiger (50%) and Williamson (38.1%) leading the way (minimum ten attempts on the season). 

For the most part, Michigan State’s defense has been strong this season but if they have one weakness, it’s giving up a disproportionate amount of threes. Izzo said it’s crucial they defend the shot better than they did in their most recent outing against Eastern Michigan to have success against a Ramblers team that packs a balanced punch.

On the rest of the field 

Baylor (4-0) lost two key contributors in Davion Mitchell and Jared Butler to the NBA Draft but returned more than enough talent to still be true contenders in a strong Big 12. Senior guard Matthew Mayer and junior guard Adam Flagler are back as the stalwarts of a team that won it all with ferocious defense and a lightning rod offense that thrived on the perimeter but sophomore guard L.J. Cryer (18.5 points per game) and freshman guard Kendall Brown have more than come into their own in the early going. The Bears aren’t just leaning on a championship pedigree to be considered consummate favorites in the Battle 4 Atlantis; they’ve got the talent, coach and scheme to make a serious run at it. 

Arizona State (2-2) is one of the more puzzling teams in this year’s field. Senior forward Kimani Lawrence (16 points per game, 10 rebounds per game) is thriving once again but narrow losses to San Diego State and UC Riverside are cause for some valid concerns in Tempe. Expect the Sun Devils to lean on their seasoned frontcourt of Lawrence and junior forward Jalen Graham this week as they continue to piece together a cohesive backcourt with only Ohio State transfer and redshirt junior guard Luther Muhammed firmly in the mix. 

UConn (4-0) is one of the trendier picks to finish second to Villanova in a red-hot Big East and this tournament will provide them with their first taste of high major competition. However unproven they might be, it’s a near certainty that sophomore forward Adama Sanogo (15.8 points per game) will draw much of the opposition’s attention with his dangerous combination of size and strength after taking a big step forward this offseason. The Huskies also boast four other double digit scorers in graduate student guard R.J. Cole, senior guard Tyrese Martin, graduate student forward Tyler Polley and junior guard Jalen Gaffney all while playing tenacious defense and rebounding extremely well; if they can rectify their recent problems with slow starts, UConn could be in it for the long haul on Paradise Island. 

After last year’s disappointing season, Auburn (3-0) wisely bolstered their frontcourt with freshman forward Jabari Smith and North Carolina transfer and sophomore center Walker Kessler. Kessler’s offensive output hasn’t been outstanding so far but Smith (13.3 points per game, 8.7 rebounds per game) has shined as a key contributor early in his college career and is well on his way to earning further NBA buzz. Sophomore guards K.D. Johnson and Wendell Green Jr. also chip in a combined 26.3 points per game as just the tip of the iceberg on a Tigers team that will look to lean on their considerable depth this week. 

Syracuse (2-1) recently suffered one of the worst losses of any team this season with a shocking 100-85 loss to Colgate, a team they haven’t lost to since 1962. Anomaly? The Orange will find out this week as they ride some veteran scoring talent with headlining senior guard Buddy Boeheim (20 points per game), junior guard Joseph Girard III, graduate student forward Jimmy Boeheim and senior forward Cole Swider. And while they’ve been markedly better on offense than defense to start the year, nobody knows not to count out their vaunted 2-3 zone better than Izzo. 

“Anytime Syracuse is here with (Head Coach Jim Boeheim) with that zone, there’s going to be problems there,” Izzo said. 

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On the surface, VCU (2-2) might be the clear-cut weakest team of the bunch after posting some putrid results, particularly a 48-37 win over Vanderbilt and 58-44 loss to Wagner. There’s not as much to like here when compared to the other teams in Atlantis but this defense is no joke and senior forward Vince Williams Jr. (12.3 points per game) looks to be more than up for the challenge provided on Paradise Island. 

Michigan State tips off against Loyola Chicago at 12 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN. 

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No. 6 Baylor beats Arizona State 75-63 at Battle 4 Atlantis


PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) — Baylor’s balance is giving coach Scott Drew plenty of options to start the season.

The sixth-ranked Bears had five players score in double figures in their 75-63 win over Arizona State on Wednesday night that wrapped up first-round play at the Battle 4 Atlantis. L.J. Cryer led that group with 15 points, marking the fifth time in as many games that the Bears have had at least four double-figure scorers.

“It’s definitely beautiful,” said Adam Flagler, who had 13 points. “We’re always just trying to play for each other, trying to get the best shot always down the floor, and go 1-0.”

So far, that plan has worked for a team charged with replacing four starters from last year’s national championship squad. That group was led primarily by three lead scorers in Jared Butler (16.7 points), MaCio Teague (15.9) and Davion Mitchell (14.0).

Coming in, Cryer was averaging a team-high 18.5 points while four other players were averaging at least 10.3 points. The Bears (5-0) nearly had a sixth double-figure scorer in James Akinjo, who finished with nine points and seven assists.

“It’s critical because every game is not going to be your night,” Drew said, adding: “On nights that aren’t your shooting night, it’s great to have others you can depend on and go to. That’s the great thing about having a great rotation, a great bench. We go to the bench, and we normally get better.”

D.J. Horne scored 20 points to lead the Sun Devils (2-3), including a jumper and a pair of 3-pointers in the opening 2 1/2 minutes. Arizona State led by six early and was tied with 8 1/2 minutes left in the half, only to see Baylor put together a 19-4 burst — highlighted by 3s from Akinjo, Flagler and freshman Kendall Brown — to take a 42-27 lead.

That lead grew to 22 points, and the Sun Devils never got within single digits again.

While knocking down shots against Baylor’s defense was a challenge, Arizona State didn’t help itself with 15 turnovers. Eleven of those came in the opening half to help Baylor build its lead, leading to a dozen points, after Arizona State had averaged 11 turnovers over its last three games.

“That hurt us,” Sun Devils coach Bobby Hurley said. “We knew coming in we couldn’t allow our offense to help them generate points. And we did that a little bit too much.”

BIG PICTURE

Arizona State: It’s been a bumpy start for the Sun Devils, with two early losses by a combined three points. They lost a game on a three-quarter-court heave to UC Riverside on Nov. 11, followed by a defeat at San Diego State on Saturday. And sophomore Marcus Bagley (10.0 points) didn’t travel to The Bahamas due to a lingering knee issue. Arizona State was trying for its first win against a ranked nonconference opponent since beating top-ranked Kansas in December 2018.

Baylor: The Bears are back in the tournament for the first time since winning it in 2016 and boast a reshaped lineup after losing four starters, including Mitchell as the No. 9 overall NBA draft pick. Coming off Saturday’s blowout win against Stanford, they had relatively little trouble stretching out the lead on another Pac-12 team.

“Really it’s hard to knock any one area for them and see a weakness that’s pretty obvious,” Hurley said.

TAPED UP

Flagler, a junior guard, missed the Stanford game with a hand injury. He played this one with tape around his left wrist and thumb, along with his ring and pinky fingers taped together. Flagler said afterward the tape was precautionary.

TIP-INS

Arizona State shot 36% and made 10 of 27 3-pointers. … Matthew Mayer had 14 points and combined with Cryer to make 5 of 9 3s while the rest of the Bears were 3 for 15. … Horne was the only Sun Devils player to score in double figures. The rest of the team shot 13 of 46 (28.3%). … Baylor has won 11 straight games dating to its title run in the Indianapolis bubble last spring.

UP NEXT

Arizona State: The Sun Devils face Syracuse, which lost to VCU earlier Wednesday, in Thursday’s consolation bracket.

Baylor: The Bears face VCU in Thursday’s semifinals.

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Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at https://twitter.com/aaronbeardap

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More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25





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My 4 Favorite Places For Traditional Czech Cuisine In Prague


I recently had the opportunity to spend some time in Prague (Praha) in the Czech Republic. Whenever I visit a city, I am immediately drawn to the food culture. You can learn so much about the history of a people by exploring their cuisine. As you venture away from the classic tourist areas, the restaurant menus reveal tidbits about the people, their history, and their cherished traditions. Below are four of my favorite spots around Prague to eat traditional Czech cuisine and delve into the world of the city’s culinary explosion.

The restaurants are listed in no particular order, each one has its own unique and sensational dishes. My suggestion, stay in Prague for several days and try each establishment, you will be enhanced with the city and it’s foodie culture.

Cestr steakhouse beef and dumplings, Prague, Czech Republic
beef and dumplings (Photo Credit: Sandi Barrett)

Eat In Prague Like A Local

My favorite places to eat traditional Czech food in Prague were discovered when I met Markéta Podrabská and allowed her to lead me around her beautiful city. It is abundantly clear she loves her job.

“We love to show our guests how the food scene in Prague has improved over the years, to tell more about the transition from communism to modern democratic society,” she said. “Prague is a very vibrant city that we love and we want to share all the amazing new openings, pop-ups, groups oriented towards high quality and perfect delivery both in the food and liquid department as well. We love to show different neighborhoods, off the beaten path places and general vibe of the city because we believe Prague doesn’t have only the looks and great beer, but so many more layers and spending a few hours with the locals can show you at least a little bit about what’s behind the curtain.”

Markéta is an amazing tour guide with Taste of Prague. She is charming and funny, loves her city, adores the cultural cuisine, and is dedicated to foodie explorers she serves. From the moment our group met on a quiet back street on the edges of Old Town where she sent us off to our varied hotels like a mother hen sending her chicks off to bed, our tour of Prague was more than a random eating excursion, it was deeply personal. We were completely under her spell, ready to taste and explore all the gourmet goodies showcased in the various neighborhoods that make up this fascinating city.

Their Prague Foodie Map is one of the most comprehensive restaurant guides you will find on the planet. It is a must for visitors outlining restaurants, pubs, cafes, and more. Use it in conjunction with one of their foodie tours and you will be well fed.

Prague Old Town Square Czech Republic, sunrise city skyline at Astronomical Clock Tower empty nobody.
Noppasin Wongchum / Shutterstock.com

A Brief History Of Traditional Czech Food

The history of traditional Czech food has an inauspicious background steeped in the “sameness” that typifies a Communist government. According to Radio Prague International, the Czech working-class families typically ate only once each day. This meant their meals needed to be large and calorie dense. Filled with legumes, mashed potatoes, and dumplings and flavored with classic Czech spices like marjoram and lovage, dinner was satisfying but uneventful. In 1990, the Czech Republic emerged from Communist rule which kept the food culture in a state of bland sustenance where every household and pub only had access to a limited variety of food options.

As the political realm developed into a republic and restrictions were loosened or erased, new generations were free to explore the world. This exploration led to a food revolution of sorts. Young Czech chefs began experiencing the global food culture with gusto. They returned to their homeland and began the task of elevating traditional Czech cuisine. This food revolution has spawned a burgeoning dining culture in Prague.

Visitors to Prague need to step out of the beautiful, but touristy area of Old Town Square and explore the wonderful culinary gifts Prague chefs have to offer.

potatoes in ash at Eska.
Potatoes in ash (Photo Credit: Sandi Barrett)

1. Eska

In the suburb of Karlin, Eska is the place to dine. This restaurant/bakery/cafe is completely at home in its urban chic, renovated factory. The name of the game is gorgeous baked bread all day long. When you have fresh local ingredients, foraged goodies, and intriguing fermentation, you have an intriguing menu of inspired Czech dishes.

Foodies searching for those unique dishes that make your tastebuds sing with joy will love Eska’s offerings. Its potatoes in ash with smoked carp, dried egg yolk, and kefir is a feast for the eyes and the belly. The subtle smoky flavor pairs beautifully with the silky kefir; it is a must-order dish.

Bread 66 is a sourdough loaf made with 66 percent rye flour for a sturdy bread with a beautifully crispy crust. Eska adds roasted cumin for a wonderful smoky back note. It is perfect with creamy butter or your favorite cheese spread. No matter what you order, plan to have it served with bread, it is divine.

The house made tonic water with a sharp juniper note makes a super flavorful gin and tonic, perfectly refreshing on a hot summer night. You will find a few Czech Republic wines on the menu next to offerings from Germany, Italy, and Austria to complement your dinner.

Dessert is amazing, this is a bakery after all. The chocolate cake, Likérová špička, vanilka, is an elevated twist on the traditional Czech likérová špička. It is divine, sweet, and a perfect ending to your dinner.

Prague’s subway is user friendly, you can easily hop over to the Karlin suburb on the Yellow Line for a delicious meal at Eska. The neighborhood is lively and will show you a local side of Prague you won’t see in Old Town.

Cestr steakhouse, Prague, Czech Republic.
Čestr (Photo Credit: Sandi Barrett)

2. Čestr

Čestr in the city center area is a beautifully designed, upscale steakhouse near the horse-riding statue of Saint Wenceslas. It focuses on Czech heritage breeds including Fleckvieh (Čestr) cattle and Přeštík pig. The restaurant is a masterpiece of contemporary decor and modern cuisine. The hip urban design with an open kitchen gives diners the feeling of being guests in a friend’s chic, uptown flat.

OK, the potato puree served with the smoked tri-tip and mushroom gravy is heavenly. It is like grandma’s best traditional Czech dish elevated to a higher calling. The braised beef is succulent and cooked to absolute perfection. I’m not entirely sure how they prepared the potato puree, but it is the best potato puree I have ever tasted. The chanterelle mushroom gravy was the crowning glory of the dish and we were all fighting over who would get the very last drop.

The brioche dumplings and the ragout with cumin paired perfectly with their dark draft beer, nefiltrovaný Kozel (unfiltered Kozel), for a smoky, salty, unctuous bite. Each absolutely delicious dish is delivered on its beautiful house china as the waitstaff details the highlights of the offerings.

Čestr’s extensive wine list pairs beautifully with the expertly prepared dishes. You will adore eating at Čestr. This restaurant needs to be on your menu when you visit Prague.

Lokal family style servings.
family style (Photo Credit: Sandi Barrett)

3. Lokal

Sometimes you just want to get out of the house and enjoy a nosh with some friends. Lokal is a chain of neighborhood pubs located throughout the city. It offers guests great Pilsner Urquell, easy to share small plates, and a lively spot to gather. The classic Czech bar food often served at beer halls is exactly what you crave when you are out for the evening with great friends. The Lokal’s version of traditional pub grub is delicious and satisfying, just what you want when planning for a night out of pint lifting.

Ham served with whipped horseradish, the classic frankfurter sausages with mustard, fried cheese (oh, yeah), and soused carp with onions are perfect accompaniments to the classic Czech beer, Pilsner Urquell. These traditional dishes are served up simply letting the beer and conversation take center stage.

When you are visiting Prague, a stop at one of the Lokal pubs is a definite must. If you visit in the afternoon, it will be quiet and you should be able to get a table quickly. If you choose to visit later in the evening, be prepared to wait, the tables aren’t turned around at the same rate as they are here in the states. When locals go to the pub, they are planning on staying for the evening.

beef and tarter at Kantyna, Prague.
beef tarter (Photo Credit: Sandi Barrett)

4. Kantýna

Kantýna, the Canteen, is not only the best butcher shop in Prague, it is the prime spot for upscale gatherings and plate sharing dinners. Located in a converted bank, Kantýna is a popular hip spot that is all about the meat. You can order your steak as you enter, then have it expertly prepared while you enjoy a lovely glass of regional wine and an appetizer. The Beef Tartar from dry-aged beef on crusty toast smeared with glorious garlic was the freshest and most flavorful nibble of tartar ever. Add the Sweet and Sour Veggies as a side to cut through the rich beef and you have an absolutely delicious starter.

Kantýna’s wonderful dishes to explore include the minced pork schnitzel, the succulent pork belly, and, of course, a fabulous ribeye steak. Sharing a meal with old friends or new acquaintances is the best way to enjoy the delicious food you will find in this converted bank. There is a charming coziness that you don’t expect when surrounded by all the marble and stainless steel. It must be the constant conversation buzz of the happy patrons enjoying gorgeous plates that give Kantýna its desirable cachet.

Pro Tip: When you travel to a new city, seek out a highly rated food tour, preferably a walking tour so you can work off all the amazing food. You will learn about the area’s culinary traditions, get an impromptu tour of the area, meet some wonderful fellow foodies, and enjoy a variety of dishes instead of having to choose just one dish for your lunch or dinner.

When you are in Prague, and you want to explore its traditional Czech cuisine dished up in a modern presentation, check out one or more of these fabulous restaurants. Prague is a charming city that is easy to explore; visit our Prague destination guide to plan out your visit.

Some other things to consider before you visit Prague:



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Preview: MSU men’s hoops to tip off Battle 4 Atlantis


After winning three straight, Michigan State men’s basketball is set to take on Loyola Chicago in the first game of the Battle 4 Atlantis at Paradise Island, Bahamas. 

The Battle 4 Atlantis, an early-season staple since it’s inception in 2011, boasts another loaded field this year: reigning national champion Baylor, Arizona State, Syracuse, Auburn, VCU, Loyola Chicago and Michigan State. Making his first appearance in Atlantis, Head Coach Tom Izzo lauded the strength of his competitors and said he’s excited for this opportunity with his team.

“Anytime you can travel together and spend time together and do some things together…it’s always a positive,” he said. 

Now, after weathering what Izzo called a “brutal” start to the season, Michigan State is now in for their most demanding test so far. Izzo said the challenge of a condensed schedule with little turnaround time provides nearly invaluable preparation for further conference play and the NCAA Tournament. 

“Three games in three days is very difficult on a coaching staff but it’s even more difficult for the players,” Izzo said on Tuesday. “What we can pick up for this…you won’t be able to measure it. It’s really going to help you later on, win, lose or draw.” 

Scouting Loyola 

Michigan State tips off on Wednesday against Loyola Chicago (4-0), one of the established top mid-major programs in the country. There’s a noteworthy connection at hand here, too: the Ramblers are coached by first-year Head Coach Drew Valentine, a Lansing native and former Michigan State graduate manager who worked under Izzo from 2013 to 2015. 

Izzo said he doesn’t like to play former assistants but is proud of Valentine for reaching this stage of his career as the youngest head coach in Division I college basketball. Regardless, he indicated that their relationship won’t detract from the competition at hand. 

“I just pull for these guys to win every game except the one I’m playing in,” he said.

As for Valentine’s squad, Izzo called them the “oldest team in captivity” and cited experience as their greatest asset. Loyola returns four starters from a 2020-21 campaign that saw them post a 26-5 record and advance to the Sweet Sixteen, with graduate student guard Lucas Williamson (10.8 points per game) and graduate student forward Aher Uguak (13.5 points per game) leading the way in their final seasons in Rogers Park. 

For as much as they return, Loyola added one crucial piece that’s played a big role thus far. Princeton transfer and senior forward Ryan Schweiger joined the Ramblers this offseason and leads the team in scoring (14.8 points per game) while only averaging 18 minutes per game. 

Valentine has also instituted some changes among the Ramblers, namely a higher emphasis on shooting from the arc. Loyola has the fourth best three point shooting percentage (45.2%) in all of college basketball with Schweiger (50%) and Williamson (38.1%) leading the way (minimum ten attempts on the season). 

For the most part, Michigan State’s defense has been strong this season but if they have one weakness, it’s giving up a disproportionate amount of threes. Izzo said it’s crucial they defend the shot better than they did in their most recent outing against Eastern Michigan to have success against a Ramblers team that packs a balanced punch.

On the rest of the field 

Baylor (4-0) lost two key contributors in Davion Mitchell and Jared Butler to the NBA Draft but returned more than enough talent to still be true contenders in a strong Big 12. Senior guard Matthew Mayer and junior guard Adam Flagler are back as the stalwarts of a team that won it all with ferocious defense and a lightning rod offense that thrived on the perimeter but sophomore guard L.J. Cryer (18.5 points per game) and freshman guard Kendall Brown have more than come into their own in the early going. The Bears aren’t just leaning on a championship pedigree to be considered consummate favorites in the Battle 4 Atlantis; they’ve got the talent, coach and scheme to make a serious run at it. 

Arizona State (2-2) is one of the more puzzling teams in this year’s field. Senior forward Kimani Lawrence (16 points per game, 10 rebounds per game) is thriving once again but narrow losses to San Diego State and UC Riverside are cause for some valid concerns in Tempe. Expect the Sun Devils to lean on their seasoned frontcourt of Lawrence and junior forward Jalen Graham this week as they continue to piece together a cohesive backcourt with only Ohio State transfer and redshirt junior guard Luther Muhammed firmly in the mix. 

UConn (4-0) is one of the trendier picks to finish second to Villanova in a red-hot Big East and this tournament will provide them with their first taste of high major competition. However unproven they might be, it’s a near certainty that sophomore forward Adama Sanogo (15.8 points per game) will draw much of the opposition’s attention with his dangerous combination of size and strength after taking a big step forward this offseason. The Huskies also boast four other double digit scorers in graduate student guard R.J. Cole, senior guard Tyrese Martin, graduate student forward Tyler Polley and junior guard Jalen Gaffney all while playing tenacious defense and rebounding extremely well; if they can rectify their recent problems with slow starts, UConn could be in it for the long haul on Paradise Island. 

After last year’s disappointing season, Auburn (3-0) wisely bolstered their frontcourt with freshman forward Jabari Smith and North Carolina transfer and sophomore center Walker Kessler. Kessler’s offensive output hasn’t been outstanding so far but Smith (13.3 points per game, 8.7 rebounds per game) has shined as a key contributor early in his college career and is well on his way to earning further NBA buzz. Sophomore guards K.D. Johnson and Wendell Green Jr. also chip in a combined 26.3 points per game as just the tip of the iceberg on a Tigers team that will look to lean on their considerable depth this week. 

Syracuse (2-1) recently suffered one of the worst losses of any team this season with a shocking 100-85 loss to Colgate, a team they haven’t lost to since 1962. Anomaly? The Orange will find out this week as they ride some veteran scoring talent with headlining senior guard Buddy Boeheim (20 points per game), junior guard Joseph Girard III, graduate student forward Jimmy Boeheim and senior forward Cole Swider. And while they’ve been markedly better on offense than defense to start the year, nobody knows not to count out their vaunted 2-3 zone better than Izzo. 

“Anytime Syracuse is here with (Head Coach Jim Boeheim) with that zone, there’s going to be problems there,” Izzo said. 

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On the surface, VCU (2-2) might be the clear-cut weakest team of the bunch after posting some putrid results, particularly a 48-37 win over Vanderbilt and 58-44 loss to Wagner. There’s not as much to like here when compared to the other teams in Atlantis but this defense is no joke and senior forward Vince Williams Jr. (12.3 points per game) looks to be more than up for the challenge provided on Paradise Island. 

Michigan State tips off against Loyola Chicago at 12 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN. 

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Tipoff Times Adjusted for WBB Games on Dec. 4, Jan. 29


PORTLAND, Ore. — The tipoff times for two upcoming Portland State women’s basketball games have been adjusted.

The Vikings will now tip off at 12 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4, against Weber State. The game had originally been scheduled for 2 p.m., but was moved up to accommodate Weber State’s travel plans.

 

Additionally, the Vikings’ game against Northern Arizona on Saturday, Jan. 29, will now tip off at 6 p.m. The Vikings had originally been scheduled to play at 2 p.m., but wanted the game pushed back since they’ll be playing on the road at Southern Utah the Thursday before.

 

All game times listed on GoViks.com reflect the recent changes.

 





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CDC’s Level 4 countries: Should we travel to one during delta?


There are also travel apps that can help you keep tabs on pandemic concerns, such as TripIt. Once you plug in your itinerary, TripIt provides a link to a “COVID-19 Summary” showing coronavirus restrictions, guidelines, infection and vaccination rates, as well as vaccination requirements, among other details for the place you’re going to visit.



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Villanova Travels to #4 Maryland Friday Night


Villanova will play its first road game of the young season on Friday, Nov. 12, when the Wildcats travel to College Park to take on the No. 4 ranked Maryland Terrapins. Tip-off at the Xfinity Center is set for 7 p.m.
 
Maryland enters play 1-0 on the year, while the Wildcats are 0-1. The Terrapins earned a 97-67 win over Longwood on Tuesday in their season opener. Villanova suffered a 59-42 setback to the Princeton Tigers in a game played at the Finneran Pavilion on Wednesday.
 
In the Princeton loss, senior forward Brianna Herlihy led the Wildcats with 12 points, while junior forward Maddy Siegrist added 10 points and nine rebounds. Herlihy was 4-of-9 from the field and 2-of-3 from three-point range. Princeton was paced Abby Meyers with 21 points and Julia Cunningham who had 11 points. Ellie Mitchell chipped in with six points and a game-high 10 caroms. For the game, Villanova shot 15-of-57 from the field (26.3%), 5-of-22 from three-point range (22.7%) and 7-of-10 from the foul line (70.0%), while the Tigers shot 34.9 percent from the floor (22-of-63), 36.4 percent from long distance (4-of-11) and 78.6 percent from the charity stripe (11-of-14). Princeton owned a 47-39 advantage on the backboards.
 
Villanova will play its next three games away from home. After traveling to Maryland on Friday, the road stretch continues at Saint Joseph’s on Nov. 20 and at Penn on Nov. 22. The Wildcats next home game is set for Saturday, Nov. 27, against the Temple Owls.
 
Siegrist received another national honor this past week when she was named to the Wade Trophy Watch List. The Wade Trophy, now in its 45th year, is the oldest and most prestigious national player of the year award in college women’s basketball. Siegrist is one of 30 players named to the List. Villanova has had one Wade Trophy winner in its program history. For her efforts during the 1986-87 season, Shelly Pennefather won the honor as the top player in the country.
 
The Wildcats have added five freshmen to the 2021-22 roster. The five rookies include guards Zanai Jones, Kaitlyn Orihel, Lucy Olsen, Anahi-Lee Cauley and forward Christina Dalce. The Villanova roster breakdown includes one graduate student, three juniors, three sophomores
and five freshmen.
 





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Level 4 destinations and more


While the US is among the countries recording the highest numbers of new COVID-19 cases worldwide, Europe is fast becoming a COVID-19 hotspot. Last week the region accounted for 60% of all new coronavirus cases worldwide, the New York Times reports, but some countries are faring worse than others, including the Netherlands. It was designated a “high-risk” country due to rising cases and deaths, and Americans are now urged to avoid traveling there, regardless of vaccination status. The UK also has some of the highest new case numbers and it remains at Level 4 in the latest round of travel advisory updates, as well as popular destinations such as Ireland, Greece and Costa Rica.

The advisories aim to inform US residents about risks associated with traveling overseas, so people can make better-informed decisions about travel and enjoy relatively safe trips. If you plan to travel soon, here’s what you need to know about the latest travel guidelines.

Walking boulevard with colourful stores in Camaguey
Cuba is reopening to tourists next week but it remains at Level 4 ©Fotos593/Shutterstock

What is a travel advisory?

The ongoing risks associated with COVID-19, particularly as new variants emerge, present challenges and uncertainties for travel. To make the experience a little less confusing, the Department of State has aligned its security travel advisories with the CDC’s science-based Travel Health Notices to warn travelers about dangers and COVID-19 threats overseas.

Level 4 travel advisory

Level 4 is the highest alert. Countries that register more than 500 new cases of COVID-19 over the past 28 days per 100,000 population are designated to the CDC’s Level-4 list. Under CDC guidelines, people are asked to “avoid travel” to Level 4 destinations—but if they must travel, they should be fully vaccinated.

The Department of State takes this information into account, also looking at factors such as political instability, natural disasters and the threat of terrorism or violent crime. “[Level 4] is the highest advisory level due to greater likelihood of life-threatening risks,” the Department explains. In the context of COVID-19, Americans are urged to avoid travel to these places due to increased infection rates and COVID-19 variants.

What countries are at Level 4?

Netherlands

The Dutch government is meeting today to discuss reintroducing lockdown measures to curb rising COVID-19 infection rates as per Dutch News. The publication reports that case numbers “are reaching record levels” and some entertainment venues could close, while hospitality businesses could be forced to cut back operating hours. As of October 22, 2021, the Netherlands only permits vaccinated Americans to enter.

Singapore

From October 19, Singapore has permitted quarantine-free entry to travelers from the US, UK, Canada, France and more as its vaccination rates nudges closer to 85%. But while Singapore is welcoming travelers, the US government is advising Americans not to go. That’s because case numbers have hit the “high-risk” threshold in recent weeks.

Greece

Other destinations at Level 4 include the Ireland, the UK, Cuba, Costa Rica, Israel, Switzerland, Turkey, Barbados, Belize, Aruba, French Polynesia, the Cayman Islands, Faroe Islands, Luxembourg and more.

 View of Whitehall crowed with Tourist and Commuters at Sunset
The UK remains a “high-risk” desintation ©Albert Pego/Shutterstock

Level 3 advisory

The CDC advises unvaccinated Americans to avoid nonessential travel to Level 3 destinations, where risks associated with COVID-19 remain high. Some popular destinations designated Level 3 include Italy, Cyprus, Canada, the Netherlands, Morocco, Chile, Croatia, Colombia, Egypt, Sweden, Mexico, Japan, New Zealand, Sweden, Denmark, Australia and—most recently—Thailand, Panama, Portugal, Spain, and Brazil.

Level 2 advisory

Level 2 places are considered “COVID-19 moderate” destinations by the CDC. When traveling to these places people are asked to “practice enhanced precautions”. The CDC also urges unvaccinated people who are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 to avoid nonessential travel to Level 2 destinations. Some countries currently at Level 2 include Peru, South Korea, India, Zimbabwe, the Czech Republic, Nepal and the United Arab Emirates.

Level 1 advisory

Level 1 destinations are considered “low-risk” countries. People traveling to these places are asked to “exercise normal precautions” by the Department of State. Given the scale of the pandemic, not many countries are considered low-risk. Some countries at Level 1 include Djibouti, Senegal and Rwanda, which recently relaxed entry rules for vaccinated arrivals.

A solo travellers flight has been cancelled. She is standing in front of the departures board. She is wearing a protective face mask
Travel advisories are intended to help people make better-informed decisions about travel ©Getty Images

Should I cancel my trip to a Level 4 country?

The answer is up to you. Travel advisories are guidelines, not rules. You are still permitted to travel to these places, but if you choose to go a country the government is advising you to avoid, you do so at your own risk. In some extreme cases—that is, countries where there is civil unrest, widespread violence and political instability—the Department warns that some consular services may not be available to you and advises travelers to “always have a contingency plan for emergency situations”.

If I do travel, do I need to quarantine?

It depends on your destination. These travel advisories and travel health notices are set out by the US government and the CDC, not the governments of the individual countries. For example, Ireland is at Level 4 but the Irish government is permitting Americans to travel there.

Will my travel insurance cover me in a Level 4 country?

How often do these advisories change?

The Department of State confirms it reviews and updates travel advisories “as needed, based on security and safety information.”

How to resist the urge to travel during the coronavirus pandemic

Anyone considering heading abroad should read the entire travel advisory for their destination at Travel.State.gov; in addition to the destination’s border restrictions and entry requirements—and stay up-to-date on local public health guidelines.

This article was first published on August 6, 2020 and updated on November 11, 2021



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Planning a Wintertime Trip? 4 Ways to Save


Many people like to take vacations during the summer, when the weather is warm and school’s not in session. But wintertime travel can be rewarding in its own right, too. If you’re gearing up to take a trip this winter, here are a few ways to spend less in the process.

1. Avoid the holidays

Traveling during the holidays often means paying a premium for flights, hotels, and rental cars. Of course, if the purpose of your winter vacation is to see family for the holidays, then this tip won’t apply to you. But if you’re taking a trip to go skiing or visit a theme park, booking your plans outside of late November and late December could save you a bundle.

Along these lines, aim to avoid holiday weekends during the winter, like Presidents’ Day weekend. Many people try to capitalize on those free days off, and that uptick in demand tends to send travel costs soaring.

2. Book your flights in the middle of the week

It’s more common for people to travel on a Friday or Monday than on a Tuesday or Wednesday. If your travel schedule is flexible, you could save yourself money by booking both your flights and your hotel rooms at the right time.

3. Consider a private vacation home over a hotel

One of the biggest expenses you might encounter in the course of your travels is food. Restaurant meals can be very expensive, especially if there are multiple people in your party. And that’s just one reason it pays to book a private vacation rental instead of staying at a hotel.

When you stay at a private home, it’ll almost always come with a functional kitchen that will allow you to prepare your own meals. And if you do decide to go out for the occasional dinner (it is vacation, after all), you’ll have a full fridge to store your leftovers for a bonus meal the next day. Plus, booking a private home could result in more space and a more comfortable stay.

4. Use the right credit cards

Being strategic about the credit card you use for your travels could save you money and help you snag extra rewards or cash back. Say you’re planning to book a flight to your destination. If you have a travel rewards credit card that offers you free checked bags, you can reap some instant savings. Plus, some travel cards offer generous rewards for hotel stays, so it pays to see what perks your cards come with.

In fact, you may even want to consider applying for a new credit card before booking your trip. This especially makes sense if there’s a card with a generous sign-up bonus you can easily snag based on the spending requirements.

If you’re planning a trip this winter, you might as well keep your costs as low as possible. These tips could shave a chunk of money off of your next vacation — and afford you the option to book another trip soon after.



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4 Side Hustles for Morning People


You may be interested in working a side hustle so you can scrounge up extra money for travel. Or, you may need the money to pay off debt or build your savings.

If you’re a morning person who’s up earlier than most, you may be able to give yourself an edge. There are certain job opportunities that hinge on being available early in the day, and if you’re willing to set your alarm at the right hour, you could end up boosting your income nicely. Here are some side hustles that are ideal for morning people.

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1. Driving for a rideshare company

People need to be shuttled around at all hours of the day. Sometimes, it can be challenging to find a ride early in the morning. That’s where you might come in.

Whenever you sign up to drive for a ride-hailing company, you effectively have to beat out other drivers when fare requests come in. That can make earning money through one of these gigs a challenge. If you’re up earlier than most, you have a prime opportunity to snag fares when people need a ride to the airport for an early flight, or a ride to the train station when there’s no parking available.

2. Delivering breakfast orders for a local restaurant or cafe

Some food establishments do most of their business in the morning and need extra help fulfilling orders before most people’s workday begins. If you’re up early enough, you might manage to do pretty well delivering breakfast orders. Not only might you get a nice hourly wage from the restaurant that hires you, but the recipients of those orders may be inclined to tip nicely.

3. Being a dog-walker

People who work long hours often don’t have time to walk their own dogs. You may find clients nearby who need to outsource that first walk of the day to an outside party. That outside party could be you.

Sites like Rover make it easy for local people to find you, so if you love dogs, consider creating a profile. You can also advertise that you’re available via social media, or ask local veterinarians if they’re willing to let you put up a flyer to cater to people nearby.

4. Being a crossing guard

Some schools start well before the standard workday begins — a fact often bemoaned by full-time working parents. Many towns employ crossing guards so that children who walk to school on their own can cross busy streets safely.

If you’re generally up early, it pays to see if there’s an opening in your neighborhood. You could end up getting paid generously for a relatively short shift, since some crossing guards only have to show up for 20 or 30 minutes before the school day starts.

Being an early riser could work to your benefit when it comes to boosting your income with a side hustle. That said, these are just some of the gigs you might do well with if you’re a morning person, so it pays to explore different options based on your interests and skills.



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