The No. 8 University of Wisconsin volleyball team is looking to continue their four-game win streak heading into their last weekend of regular season play.Wisconsin will face off against two Big Ten teams on their final weekend road trip, starting with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. The Knights (6-25, 0-18 Big Ten) are searching for their first conference win and first overall win since Sept. 15.Volleyball: No. 7 Wisconsin completes weekend sweep of Ohio State, Maryland in dominant fashionThe No. 7 University of Wisconsin women’s volleyball team (20-6, 13-5 Big Ten) won two matches on the road over Read…The Knights traveled to Wisconsin in September, where they scored a total of only 32 points through three sets. The Badgers dominated Rutgers in every statistical category, including eight team aces. Madison Duello led the way for the Badgers with 11 kills, while Dana Rettke had six blocks and Molly Haggerty recorded 10 digs from the back row.The Badgers will look to handle Rutgers once again and move to a five-game win streak, which would tie their longest win streak of the season. The game will be at New Brunswick Friday at 1 p.m. and is being broadcasted on 100.9 FM.The second part of this final road trip will take the Badgers to University Park, PA, to face the No. 7 ranked Penn State Nittany Lions. Penn State, on a two-game win streak, will have to face off against the No. 3 ranked Minnesota Gophers Friday, and then host the Badgers Saturday. This could be a tough weekend for Penn State, and Wisconsin will want to take advantage.Women’s hockey: Badgers outscore Bemidji State 8–0 in dominant weekend sweepThe No. 1 Wisconsin women’s hockey team continued its commanding 2018 campaign over the weekend, sweeping the Bemidji State Beavers Read…This will be the first time this season these two teams will face off against each other, and Penn State has not been an easy opponent to put away. Their last three losses have all been in five sets and to ranked opponents. Though the Badgers are no stranger to a five-set match, this one is bound to be a tough battle.The Badgers will have to shut down the Penn State hitting core of Jonni Parker, Taylor Leath and Nia Reed. All three of these Penn State players have recorded over 200 kills on the season so far.The game is set for Saturday at 7 p.m., and will be available on the Big Ten Network and 100.9 FM.
This offseason, we’ll look at players around the majors whose 2019 seasons were overlooked for various reasons. This week’s edition focuses on White Sox third baseman Yoán Moncada. Few players in baseball made bigger steps forward from 2018 to 2019 than Yoán Moncada. In one season, he flipped the “Is this guy a bust?” narrative and effectively silenced those questions. But despite posting a .315/.367/.548 slash line, Moncada didn’t garner an All-Star nod in 2019, and seemingly few paid enough attention to how well he was doing. Moncada is hardly unfamiliar to baseball fans; he was one of the centerpieces of the 2016 trade that sent Chris Sale to Boston and played his first games with the White Sox in 2017. Still, his stellar 2019 season deserves more discussion.FAGAN: Assessing the AL Central’s most problematic contractsMoncada was among the best in baseball in average exit velocity (92.8 mph) and WAR (5.7, per FanGraphs), and he finished third in the American League batting title race while putting together a .915 OPS.And Moncada did all this while playing a new position on defense. He had only dabbled as a third baseman while with the Red Sox three years ago, but since going to Chicago, Moncada spent all his time at second base. But a move to the hot corner didn’t slow him; in fact, Moncada was arguably among the top-10 best position players in baseball.Why did we sleep on this guy?So how, despite all the success, did we overlook the year Moncada had? A lot of it might have been his colleague on the left side of the infield. Tim Anderson made national headlines for a bat flip in April that sparked a skirmish with the Royals, then he went on to win the AL batting title. He was outspoken early in the season about his desire to infuse more fun into the game, even likening his pioneering baseball spirit to that of Jackie Robinson.But though Anderson won the batting title by a healthy margin, Moncada was Anderson’s better by more than two wins above replacement. And by several measures, Moncada was also better on defense. Another factor is the reality that the White Sox have been divisional cellar dwellers for years. This season, they finished third in the AL Central, the highest in the division they’ve been since 2012. The White Sox have not reached the postseason since 2008, when Moncada was still pubescent. Sure, a robust farm system and the promise of a rebuild can be exciting, but it can sometimes mean that really good players at the major league level get overlooked.And even when the White Sox are good, they are almost always playing second fiddle to the Cubs. Decades upon decades of a World Series drought only helped to make Chicago’s northsiders more endearing, while the White Sox have typically gotten the Catelyn Stark to Jon Snow treatment.What’s ahead in 2020?Things are trending in the right direction for Moncada in nearly every way. His top-notch average exit velocity in 2019 was up more than 2 mph from his 2018 average. His OPS jumped by more than 200 points, and his wRC+ went from just below average at 97 in 2018 to what FanGraphs deems a great season at 141 in 2019. He made more high-quality contact and pulled the ball less and upped his extra-base hit totals in almost 100 fewer plate appearances.Moncada is a switch-hitter, and in 2018 the difference between how well he did from the left side compared with the right was almost enough to negate his ambidextrousness. He hit close to 40 points lower from the right side in 2018, but this year Moncada cut the difference almost in half. It helps that overall his batting average was 80 points higher from last year to this one, but consider that Moncada went from hitting .209 from the right side in 2018 to .299 this season. In 2018, Moncada’s biggest nemesis was a ghastly strikeout rate of more than 33 percent that led to a league-leading 217 Ks. On a more granular level, Moncada suffered from perhaps too good of an eye, as he struck out looking 85 times in 2018. But as Moncada told Sporting News in April, one of the ways he adjusted was by being more aggressive. It worked. This season, Moncada trimmed his K total to 154 with a 6 percent decrease in his strikeout rate, and he struck out looking just 39 times in 2019. That was significantly less than Ronald Acuña Jr., Joey Votto, Matt Chapman and Aaron Judge. Moncada dropped his pitches per plate appearance from 4.35 when he made his debut with the Red Sox in 2016 to 3.96 this season, and the difference in how often he’s looking at a third strike is telling.And where Anderson is probably due for some regression in 2020, it’s reasonable to expect that Moncada maintains something close to his 2019 performance. His improvements are more sustainable. So while we might be forgiven for sleeping on Moncada’s 2019 performance because he didn’t play with the flair of Anderson and because — for now — his team isn’t so good, let’s not make the same mistake next season.
Join DAZN and watch more than 100 fight nights a yearDon’t count Amanda Nunes among those who are looking to lace up a pair of boxing gloves.The current baddest woman on the planet and two-division UFC champion has no interest in stepping into the ring despite numerous reports suggesting a boxing match with the undefeated Shields is in the works. “No and never,” Nunes told Sporting News when asked if she had ever considered boxing. “I never even knew that this was a thing until recently.”Shields will be in attendance at UFC 245 on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas when Nunes defends her UFC women’s bantamweight title against Germaine De Randamie. Should Nunes defeat the Dutch kickboxer, she would have effectively cleared out the 135-pound division as well as the featherweight (145-pound) division with victories over Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate, Holly Holm and Cyborg.There is a prevailing thought that Nunes would seek out new challenges should she defeat De Randamie, and a boxing match with Shields, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and fellow two-division champion, could be just what the doctor ordered in that regard. The fight would also yield a massive payday and generate intrigue across both sports. UFC president Dana White told BT Sport that there have been talks about a potential clash between the fighters. Nunes is open to fighting Shields, but on her terms. “I’m not the type of fighter who is looking for new things,” Nunes said. “If she wants to see me, she has to come to my world. I’m an MMA fighter. If you want to see me, come grapple with me and strike with me in MMA. I’m not a boxer.”Nunes made it clear that she is “happy” with her current situation and looking forward to defending her featherweight title in 2020. If Shields wants a piece of her, Nunes said, then she had better begin training in MMA gyms to work on her grappling, takedown defense and MMA striking. LAS VEGAS — It has become the worst kept secret in combat sports: Mixed martial artists are looking to step into a boxing ring, not necessarily for the challenge, but for the pay that’s attached to doing so. Ever since Conor McGregor made a career-high payday by entering the squared circle with Floyd Mayweather Jr., many MMA fighters have sought to secure the proverbial bag by calling out some of the biggest names in boxing. Jorge Masvidal and Tyron Woodley have taken aim at Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou have taken a shot at Tyson Fury, Cris “Cyborg” Justino has challenged Claressa Shields and numerous other fighters have called out Mayweather. Until then, Nunes is perfectly fine with fending off all comers inside the Octagon. “We’ll see what happens after Saturday but Dana White always has some good ideas,” Nunes said. “We’ll sit down and talk about it.”But it won’t be boxing.”