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There are a lot of good fights on the schedule for the rest of 2021, but there are a lot of good matchups still waiting to be made — some fights that have been talked about, and some that haven’t.

Former two-division world champion and current ESPN boxing analyst Timothy Bradley Jr. picked 10 fights that he would like to see, based on the type of matchups that could help these fighters solidify their legacies.

“Sugar Ray Leonard didn’t become great until he had the right matchups,” Bradley said. “Muhammad Ali didn’t become ‘The Greatest’ until he got the right matchups. It’s not about just winning fights, it’s who you beat, that’s what legacy is all about. I think some of the matchups I picked are for that, fighters that need each other to give great fights and build or solidify their legacy. This is what boxing should be and I believe these fights are the type of matchups that could make fighters legends.”

1. Terence Crawford vs. Errol Spence Jr. at welterweight

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Terence Crawford says a megafight with Errol Spence Jr. is inevitable and vows to defeat the unified champion when the time comes.

Overview: The winner will be the No. 1 welterweight in the world, and have a strong case to be called the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

Crawford, stylistically, is the best fighter on the planet. Spence, as of right now, is considered by a lot of people to be the best welterweight on the planet. He can move, he can fight southpaw, he can switch things up, he has power on both hands, he has supreme timing. Spence is bigger, some would say stronger and has the will to win, just as much as Crawford does. Spence has supreme determination, excellent conditioning, throws punches in volume and lands with heavy shots. Spence is very dangerous with a lot of power in his hands.

Who wins: This is a 50-50 fight. I would have to go with the guy that does more inside the ring, and that’s “Bud” Crawford. Spence is a big southpaw, yes, and we saw Spence alter his game when he fought Mikey Garcia, but I think Crawford is a little smarter inside the ring than Spence.


2. Canelo Alvarez vs. Andre Ward, at super middleweight or light heavyweight

Overview: Alvarez recently showed that he’s levels above anyone near his weight class, anywhere from 168 to 175 pounds, and his skill set has improved immensely over the last few years. I remember talking a few years back about Canelo not being able to deliver a KO for the fans, and in 3 of his last 4 fights, he has produced knockouts against Billy Joe Saunders, Avni Yildirim and Sergey Kovalev.

It’s going to take a guy just as good as he is to beat him. A guy that boxes the same way inside the ring, not only fighting on the outside, but fighting inside. A guy that’s a little bigger than he is. And I think that guy is Andre Ward — he’s a guy that when his back is against the wall, he will deliver. Ward is 6-foot, cerebral and confident enough to withstand whatever Alvarez is dishing out.

Right now, Ward has been out of the game for some time (his last fight was in June 2017), so I’m sure many people will question me saying Ward can compete with Alvarez. But I’ve known Andre since he was a kid, I’ve been in the ring with him as an amateur, I’ve seen him grow. I’ve seen him capture his Olympic gold medal in 2004. Everything he does is calculated. Before Canelo, Ward was dominating the 168 and 175 divisions.

Who wins: Getting Andre back in the ring is another question. This is a fantasy fight for me, but I would love to see it happen.And if Ward comes back and has a tune-up fight or some sort of an exhibition fight where he can get his feet wet and then fight Alvarez, I would pick Ward over Alvarez.


3. Tyson Fury vs. Anthony Joshua at heavyweight

Overview: This fight has to happen, I mean it doesn’t matter if there are belts on the line. This is for British bragging rights, it’s the two best heavyweights in boxing and it could be the biggest fight in British boxing history.

The matchup is very interesting. Many people will pick Fury off the bat because he can just do more. He just backed up Deontay Wilder, he told everybody what he was going to do beforehand, and then delivered.

Then you have Joshua. He was an Olympic gold medalist, and I know amateur fights are different from pro fights, but between his pro career and the amateurs Joshua has beaten a lot of top quality guys, including Wladimir Klitschko.

Joshua’s a boxer-puncher, and he showed just how dangerous he can be when he knocked out Kubrat Pulev. But he can change his game, too. There were questions after he lost to Andy Ruiz Jr. in their first fight, but I always say, it’s how you come back from a loss that makes a great champion. He showed that versatility and ability when he fought Ruiz the second time and he boxed around him for 12 rounds.

Joshua jabs well to set up his right hand, underneath or over the top, and that’s typically his kill shot right there. He has that kind of power he can turn your lights out with one punch.

Who wins: Great fight, but I would favor the man with the most skills, who can do a little bit of everything. I have to go with Fury, who is also the bigger guy. I think Fury can back down Joshua and beat him.


4. Gervonta Davis vs. Ryan Garcia at lightweight

Overview: You have two young, exciting guys. One at the top of his game in Davis, and one that could be someone special, but still hasn’t proven it in Garcia. Garcia has the hype around him, the followers on social media. He has speed, and he has a size advantage over Davis. Garcia also has a tremendous left hook; he seems to be getting better training under the tutelage of Eddy Reynoso and Canelo Alvarez’s camp.

Garcia got caught with a punch that he didn’t see against Luke Campbell, but the way he responded afterwards, that takes a lot of heart and mental toughness to get back in the fight.

I think Davis and Garcia need each other. I don’t think we’ve seen the best of Davis. I don’t think we’ve seen the best of Garcia. I think they can bring out the best of each other if they fight, because both have something to fear. Fear can take you to do great things, do something that you didn’t know you had in you.

I don’t think we have ever seen “Tank” Davis hurt or even down before, so how will he react if he’s put on the canvas?

Who wins: I have to go with the guy with more experience at a higher level and that’s Davis. “Tank” will set him up, he will play defense and lure Garcia in and he will find a way to land that kill shot and hurt Garcia. Davis is one of the best finishers in boxing, and once he hurts you, it’s over.


5. Teofimo Lopez vs. Vasiliy Lomachenko 2 at lightweight

Overview: After what we saw with Lomachenko against Masayoshi Nakatani back in June, I think everybody wants to see this rematch with Lopez.

Nakatani was coming off the biggest win of his career, against Felix Verdejo, and Lomachenko knocked him out in spectacular fashion. Lomachenko made it look easy, because he started sooner and didn’t sit back. The biggest problem in the first fight with Lopez was that Lomachenko started to pick up the pace too late.

If he starts sooner against Lopez, can Lomachenko gas out Lopez and take him to deep waters? Lomachenko almost had Lopez in the 11th round of their first fight, before Lopez came out blazing for Round 12.

Lomachenko’s shoulder injury going into the fight was real, but I would take nothing away from Lopez, because he came into that fight with an injury to his foot as well. But when you look at this rematch, stylistically, you have a young fighter in Lopez who hasn’t fought since he beat Lomachenko. He had COVID, which postponed his fight against George Kambosos Jr. four days out from the scheduled date. We have to see if that has any long-term effects.

Who wins: I’ve been thinking about this for a while. Even with Lomachenko starting faster against Nakatani, it was against a fighter that was perfectly made for his style of fighting. That’s not going to happen against Lopez. Going back to their first fight, I saw Lopez spinning with Lomachenko. Every time Loma was trying to get an angle, Lopez would spin with him, which is not an easy thing to do.

I saw Lopez landing some good punches on Lomachenko. The openings are still there against Loma. And if Loma gets too aggressive, he can get caught with those shots. It comes down to how Lopez is feeling by the time this fight happens. Realistically, I could see either of these two fighters winning, in a number of different ways.


6. Oscar Valdez vs. Shakur Stevenson at junior lightweight

Overview: People are going to judge Stevenson based on his last fight against Jeremia Nakathila, which Stevenson won, but he didn’t look too good. Stevenson was masterful with his boxing, but the one thing I saw was that Shakur didn’t like the power of Nakathila. You could tell he didn’t want to get touched and he wanted no part in mixing it up with Nakathila.

Then you have a guy like Valdez, who has punching power in both hands, plus a tremendous amount of experience. He’s also undefeated, and just knocked out the boogeyman of the division in Miguel Berchelt. Trainer Eddy Reynoso has turned Valdez into a boxer/puncher, but he can still come forward, can maul you, be aggressive, and that’s why I love this matchup.

But Stevenson doesn’t get hit that much, and he could make things very difficult and frustrating for Valdez. Valdez doesn’t mind the contact at all, and when he can’t land punches he gets more aggressive round after round — and could that become his demise? It could, because Stevenson is a sharpshooter. He’s gonna pick his spots, he’s OK with making a fight boring, staying on the outside.

Who wins: Last time I went against Valdez, when he fought Berchelt, I got embarrassed. And this is a tough one. I see this as a 50-50 fight. When a guy like Valdez gets against the wall, that’s fuel for him, too. But I have to go with the sweet science, and that favors Stevenson. I hate to do it, but I think Stevenson is disciplined enough to do what he needs to do and get the win.


7. Naoya Inoue vs. Nonito Donaire 2 at bantamweight

Overview: It’s crazy how you see a guy like Donaire get better with time. It’s about his experience and the way he takes care of himself outside of the ring. He knew how good Inoue was when he fought him in 2019, but that fight also made Donaire believe in how good he still was. He took Inoue out to deep waters, broke his face, and did a lot of damage to Inoue, who was kind of untouchable at the time.

Inoue knows what he’s up against the second time around. The one thing I saw after watching the first fight and studying that film, was the adjustments Inoue made during the fight, which changed the outcome. After he got hit by the left hook a few times, Inoue was able to take it away from Donaire, and that minor adjustment made all of the difference.

Both guys have punching power and great balance. Inoue generates his power from the ground out, like a baseball player. And when I think of Donaire, I think of a wizard. He’s smart, confident and calm, and that’s threatening. Both these guys are lethal.

Who wins: I would have to go with Inoue. Rematches are based on minor adjustments, not big ones. I think Inoue knows what he has to do in the rematch to stay away from that Donaire left hook. I think he figured it out in the second part of their first fight.


8. Emanuel Navarrete vs. Oscar Valdez at junior lightweight

Overview: Any Navarrete fight is going to be incredible. Navarrete’s fight against Christopher Diaz was unreal, and it was a throwback. Navarrete has shown he carries his power in whatever weight class he fights in. He knows how to maximize his leverage with every shot, and even though it looks very unorthodox, Navarrete makes it work for him. He has his own off rhythm type of style that, honestly, no one can match.

But the thing about Navarrete is that he gets hit, and gets hit often. If you hit a rock in the same spot over and over, eventually it is going to crack open. And I think that with the defensive flaws Navarrete has, even though he can punch with both hands, it would be an explosive fight, because these two guys have power.

Valdez can punch, and he can hurt Navarrete. I think the first couple of rounds would be very interesting. I think Valdez starts early with his good jab, his good hand speed, moving and covering up. But I can also see him getting in trouble trying to pressure Navarrete. Navarrete knows how to fight when pressured — he has the ability to do that, like we saw against Diaz. He was losing the fight and then suddenly he changed the whole rhythm and pace and the fight changed. He landed huge uppercuts, the left hook coming around. I can see the same thing against Valdez.

Who wins: You can call me out on this, but I’m gonna have to favor Navarrete on this one. I honestly haven’t seen many guys that can throw with the kind of ferocity and awkwardness Navarrete has, and be so accurate. It’s hard to dance with someone that doesn’t know how to dance. That’s Navarrete, he’s that guy at 130. He’s hard to dance with, hard to reach. It’s hard to face a fighter that doesn’t do things the “right way”.


9. Teofimo Lopez vs. Josh Taylor at junior welterweight

Overview: Taylor is as legit a champion as they come. Anybody that can deal with the relentlessness, power, pressure of a guy like Jose Ramirez and actually hurt him has my respect. And then you have a guy like Lopez, who is fast, twitchy, speedy, and likes to have his way on the outside. He likes to control range with big shots, time guys well when they move him in, and he mixes things a bit.

Lopez doesn’t fight a whole lot on the inside, while Taylor can do a little bit of everything. He’s bigger, taller, longer, can box on the outside, can press on the inside, can punch in spots. Taylor has a very good chin, and he showed that against Ramirez.

Who wins: In the past I would’ve picked Lopez, but right now I have to go with Taylor. He has shown me that he not only has the ability to adapt inside the ring, he showed me he’s also mentally strong. Against Ramirez he picked his spots wisely and fought on the outside. He was able to set up his left hand, that pull-counter off his feint, and caught Ramirez as he came in. That’s just brilliant stuff.


10. Canelo Alvarez vs. David Benavidez at super middleweight

Overview: We have to see this fight. More than 70,000 people saw Canelo beat Billy Joe Saunders at AT&T Stadium in Texas. If you want to sell out that stadium, this is the fight to do it. You want to put a warrior like David Benavidez against Alvarez. Benavidez’s a pressure fighter who likes to stay in front of his opponents, he has very quick hands, he throws very quick combinations, and can take punches well.

Against Benavidez, Canelo will have to bite down a little bit. I don’t think Benavidez is going to be afraid of Canelo, and he’s gonna let his hands go. Benavidez believes he has what it takes to beat Alvarez — and that matters.

I just think this matchup is explosive. You have the pressure and the hand speed of Benavidez, with his size and his length, against the savvy, quick on the feet, quick on the trigger, boxer-puncher, defensive type master in Alvarez.

Benavidez is still young, at 24, but he can hurt Alvarez. This is the fight I want to see right now. I just want to see if Canelo can deal with that pressure and size. Benavidez has very good hand speed and likes to throw punches when he has his opponent against the ropes, and we know that Canelo likes to hang against the ropes in a defensive position, which could be a perfect opportunity for Benavidez to let his hands go.

Who wins: I have Canelo winning. He’s a different kind of fighter, and he’s delivering spectacular KOs. It’s not just about winning, it’s how you win that’s important when it comes to being a star. Canelo is dominating the competition and that’s why he’s one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.

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Frozen Four: How BC, BU, Denver and Michigan can win it all

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Frozen Four: How BC, BU, Denver and Michigan can win it all

The men’s NCAA hockey tournament, which started with 16 teams looking to earn a trip to St. Paul, Minnesota, is down to the Frozen Four, with some of the sport’s blue bloods vying for the national championship.

Three of the four No. 1 seeds — Boston College, Boston University and Denver — emerged from the regionals, with Michigan, a 5-2 winner over Michigan State, the fourth top seed, rounding out the field.

The Wolverines made their third straight Frozen Four with a 5-2 win over their Big Ten rivals Sunday at Maryland Heights, Missouri.

BC, the No. 1 overall seed, fought off defending national champion Quinnipiac, 5-4, in overtime to win the Providence (Rhode Island) Regional earlier in the day.

On Saturday, Boston University, the top seed in the Sioux Falls (South Dakota) Regional, and Denver, No. 1 in the Springfield (Massachusetts) Regional, punched their tickets with wins over Minnesota and Cornell, respectively.

The final four teams have won a combined 28 national titles, with Denver and Michigan tied for the most of all time with nine each, and Hockey East rivals BC and BU winning five each. Denver won the championship in 2022, BC’s last title came in 2012, BU’s in 2009 and Michigan’s in 1998.

The national semifinals are set for April 11 and the championship game April 13 at the Xcel Energy Center. Every game of the tournament will be aired on the ESPN family of networks and streamed on ESPN+.

Below is the tournament schedule, which will be updated with results as games are played. (An interactive bracket that will be updated can be found here.) Additionally, we have a look at the four contenders, including what each teams needs to do take home the championship.

Every game of the NCAA men’s hockey tournament, including the Frozen Four and championship game, will be available on ESPN+. Subscribe to watch!

Frozen Four schedule

All times Eastern

at Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, Minnesota

National semifinals, April 11

Denver vs. Boston University, 5 p.m. (ESPN2, ESPN+)

Boston College vs. Michigan, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN2, ESPN+)

National championship game, April 13
Semifinal winners, 6 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN+)


Teams at a glance

Boston College (33-5-1)

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Caps’ prospect Ryan Leonard buries goal for Boston College

Capitals’ draft prospect Ryan Leonard breaks the 1-1 tie with a nice goal for Boston College.

How the Eagles got here: The defending national champs had the No. 1 overall seed on the ropes as Quinnipiac took a 4-3 lead over Boston College in the first minute of the third period and nearly made it hold up. But the Eagles tied it with 4:44 remaining and won in overtime when Jack Malone poked home a loose puck after a scramble in front of the Quinnipiac net.

Entering the game, BC was clearly the hottest team in the country and had won its three postseason games (Hockey East, NCAA) by a combined 20-4 score. But when faced with the considerable pushback of Quinnipiac, the Eagles were up to the task, showing how adept they are at taking advantage of their scoring chances and how hard it is to keep them down for 60 minutes.

“It was a good game for us in terms of handling that adversity that coach is talking about and being down and not getting out of the fight,” Malone said. “There’s a lot of benefits and a lot of positives that we can take away from this game moving forward.”

History lesson: BC qualified for its 26th Frozen Four, second most all time behind Michigan. The Eagles have won their past 14 games to match the program record for wins in a season (33). BC has won five national titles, the last in 2012. Ryan Leonard had a pair of two-goal games at Providence, giving him 31 on the season to break the BC freshman record (Brian Gionta, 1997-98).

Providence takeaways

How BC can win it all in St. Paul: The key for the Eagles may be for them to not start showing their age now. BC is the youngest team in the country (Denver and BU are not far behind), but the Eagles aren’t only young, they rely heavily on underclassmen. Their five top scorers, with an astounding 291 combined points, are freshmen or sophomores, and 74.2% of the team’s points come from underclassmen. Goalie Jacob Fowler also is a freshman. The group already has played in a lot of big games (seven BC players won gold for the U.S. at world juniors, plus their 1 vs. 2 matchups with BU and the Hockey East tournament at sold-out TD Garden), but the Eagles certainly were on the ropes against Quinnipiac, a veteran team with national title experience. In recent years, that’s the sort of team that has had the most success in the Frozen Four.

Quinnipiac’s blueprint: Coach Rand Pecknold has built a fantastic program at Quinnipiac — five straight NCAA berths, nine in the past 11 years, three Frozen Fours and a national championship last season. While the Bobcats came up short in defending their title — a goal that led defensemen CJ McGee and Jayden Lee to return for a fifth season — the culture lives on. “It’s a brotherhood. It’s more than that,” Lee told College Hockey News. “Since the first day I stepped onto campus I’ve just been able to grow as a person and as a hockey player.” McGee said, “We never get to put this jersey on again and play games here. That’s really just unfortunate. It stinks.” — Steve Richards


Boston University (28-9-2)

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Lane Hutson notches go-ahead goal for Boston University

Lane Hutson sneaks the puck into the net to give Boston University a lead they don’t relinquish.

How the Terriers got here: On the surface, BU had the easiest time in the regionals, but that certainly doesn’t mean it was a breeze. After cruising past RIT, the Terriers fell into a 2-0 hole against Minnesota before battling back to take a 4-3 lead with less than five minutes left in the second period. BU then put the clamps on the Gophers’ attack in the third period before icing the win with a pair of empty-net goals.

“When you are up by a goal in the third period, you expect the other team to push,” BU coach Jay Pandolfo said. “But we played on our toes. We kept pushing, played on our toes. And when they did have a little push, we were there to sacrifice our bodies to block some shots.”

The Terriers showed off their star power against Minnesota with Lane Hutson scoring the go-ahead goal and Macklin Celebrini contributing three assists, including a pair of beauties to spark the comeback rally. Celebrini, the 17-year-old phenom, has 32 goals and 32 assists.

History lesson: In its 24th Frozen Four, BU is making back-to-back appearances for the first time in 27 years. The Terriers lost to Minnesota in the national semifinals in 2023. BU has won the national title five times, the last in 2009.

Sioux Falls takeaways

How BU can win it all in St. Paul: After Minnesota jumped out to a 2-0 lead, BU showed great patience in sticking to its game, getting on the board late in the first period, then scoring three times in the second. That dedication to the game plan will serve the Terriers well if they can maintain it during the Frozen Four. With 12 goals in their two regional games, they showed why they are the overall No. 2 seed and why Denver will have its hands full.

Disappointment for Minnesota: The Gophers played in two of the most dramatic games of the tournament, coming from behind against Omaha in the third period, then jumping out to the lead against BU. Jaxon Nelson scored three straight goals over the two games and almost willed the Gophers to the Frozen Four, where Minnesota would have had a nice home-ice advantage. — Andrew Raycroft


Denver (30-9-3)

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Sam Harris scores power-play game-winning goal vs. Cornell

Denver’s Sam Harris gets the win with a power-play goal to head to the NCAA men’s hockey Frozen Four.

How the Pioneers got here: Denver, the highest scoring team in the country, entered the NCAA tournament averaging 4.85 goals per game. In two games combined — 7½ periods in fact — at Springfield, the Pioneers failed to reach that mark. Entering the regional, Denver hadn’t won a game all season in which it scored fewer than three goals. But back-to-back 2-1 wins over UMass (double OT) and Cornell earned the Pios a trip to the Frozen Four.

That ticket was in doubt until the very end of the regional final, as Denver goalie Mark Davis held off a furious Cornell rally, making a game-saving save on Ryan Walsh in the closing seconds. The pair of tight, physical wins exemplified the improvement of the Pioneers defense, which was an issue the first half of the season but has allowed fewer than three goals in eight of their last 11 games.

“You look at our team, we’re comfortable playing any type of game now,” Denver coach David Carle said. “We have a lot of confidence regardless of the style of play.”

History lesson: This is Denver’s 19th Frozen Four appearance and its fifth in the past eight tournaments. The Pioneers’ nine national titles are tied with Michigan for the most all-time; they last won in 2021 and also took the title in 2017. They’ve reached 30 wins for the third consecutive season, a first in program history.

Springfield takeaways

How Denver can win it all at St. Paul: The Pioneers had to be encouraged by winning in the tough, physical style that typifies the NCAA tournament, but to win you have to put the puck in the net. In Springfield, Denver flashed its speed and skill when it found some room to work with — and the Pios don’t need a lot — and to win another title, they’ll have to take advantage of their opportunities. Those chances likely will continue to be scarce in St. Paul.

Hats off to the working folks: Day 1 in Springfield was a long one — more than seven hours of hockey, with puck drop shortly after 2 p.m. for Denver-UMass and the Cornell-Maine nightcap ending around 9:30 p.m. That meant a whole lot of overtime for the staff at the Mass Mutual Center, who surely were thankful the NCAA has added an off day before the regional final. — Steve Richards


Michigan (23-14-3)

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Frank Nazar III’s incredible between-the-legs pass sets up Michigan goal

Michigan extends its lead over Michigan State as Frank Nazar III sends an unbelievable pass to Gavin Brindley for a goal.

How the Wolverines got here: A trip to the Frozen Four seemed unlikely in mid-February when Michigan was 15-12-3 and had slipped to No. 17 in the USCHO poll. But since then, the Wolverines are 8-2, showing an uncanny ability to win tight games — six of those wins have come in one-goal games.

All those nail-biters bring a lot of pressure on the goaltender, but Michigan’s Jake Barczewski has seemed right at home. He was, in fact, right at home in the regionals as he grew up about 20 minutes from the arena. Barczewski, a grad transfer from Canisius, made 38 saves against Michigan State after keeping North Dakota at bay while his teammates overcame a sluggish start in their opener.

“Just like all of us, Barzs has been through his ups and downs,” Michigan coach Brandon Naurato said. “And throughout that whole time, everyone believes in him.”

History lesson: Michigan is in the Frozen Four for a record 28th time. It’s the Wolverines’ third straight appearance, something they last accomplished in 2001-03. While their nine national titles match Denver for the most in NCAA hockey history, they haven’t won it all since 1998 and have just two titles since 1964. Michigan is 1-8 in its last eight Frozen Four appearances.

Maryland Heights takeaways

How Michigan can win it all in St. Paul: The Wolverines outscored their opponents 7-2 in the third period of their two regional games, showing the closing ability that is key to winning championships. Michigan provided two upsets, on paper at least, in knocking off North Dakota 4-3 and taking down in-state rival Michigan State 5-2, and will face an even bigger challenge in Boston College, the unquestioned No. 1 overall seed. The Wolverines will look to avoid losing their fourth straight Frozen Four semifinal (vs. Quinnipiac last year, vs. Denver in 2022, vs. Notre Dame in 2018) — it’s great to get this far, but you want to win too. Dylan Duke paced Michigan at Maryland Heights with four goals and one assist.

A hot ticket: Besides the drama on the ice, ticket prices were the talk in St. Louis. With three programs with some of the biggest fan bases in the country playing in a 2,500-seat arena, tickets were scarce. This was the most competitive bracket on paper, and it lived up to the hype. All three games in the regional were up for grabs with less than 10 minutes left in the third period. — Andrew Raycroft

Regionals recap

Springfield (Massachusetts) Regional

Semifinals

Denver 2, UMass 1 (2OT)
Cornell 3, Maine 1

Final

Denver 2, Cornell 1

Denver wins Springfield Regional


Sioux Falls (South Dakota) Regional

Semifinals

Boston University 6, RIT 3
Minnesota 3, Omaha 2

Final

Boston University 6, Minnesota 3

Boston University wins Sioux Falls Regional


Providence (Rhode Island) Regional

Semifinals

Boston College 6, Michigan Tech 1
Quinnipiac 3, Wisconsin 2 (OT)

Final

Boston College 5, Quinnipiac 4 (OT)

Boston College wins Providence Regional


Maryland Heights (Missouri) Regional

Semifinals

Michigan State 5, Western Michigan 4 (OT)
Michigan 4, North Dakota 3

Final

Michigan 5, Michigan State 2

Michigan wins Maryland Heights Regional

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How Ippei Mizuhara descended into a sports betting nightmare

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How Ippei Mizuhara descended into a sports betting nightmare

In their complaint filed Thursday, federal investigators said they had conducted forensic reviews of the phone of Shohei Ohtani‘s former interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, as well as devices belonging to “Bookmaker 1,” assumed to be Southern California bookie Mathew Bowyer, and “Bookmaker 2,” an associate of Bowyer’s.

Prosecutors accused Mizuhara of bank fraud and said he stole more than $16 million over several years from Ohtani. Before he was fired by the Los Angeles Dodgers on March 20, Mizuhara had interpreted for Ohtani since the superstar moved to the United States in 2018.

Texts among the parties, as laid out in the 37-page complaint, depict Mizuhara’s apparent descent into an uncontrolled sports betting addiction, and the bookie who kept extending his credit as long as Mizuhara covered his losses.

Getting started

Mizuhara has said he met Bowyer at a poker game in San Diego in 2021. According to the complaint, on or about Sept. 8, 2021, “Bookmaker 2” provides Mizuhara an account number, password and URL for an illegal betting website. About two weeks later, Mizuhara messages Bookmaker 2: “Ive just been messing around with soccer, theres games on 24/7 lol. I took UCLA but they lost outright!!!”

The same day, Mizuhara messages Bookmaker 2: “How does the withdrawing and paying work?” Bookmaker 2 responds later that day, “He pays and collects as the week ends Sunday night[.] Whatever you are up or down Sunday night you pay or receive[.] Last week you were down and he rolled it as hes ok with it[.] I say have a settle figure[.] Meaning pick a number you want to settle at either way[.]”

On Oct. 27, 2021, Bookmaker 2 messages Mizuhara: “[Bowyer] asked me to reach out to you . . . he sees you playing and wants to settle this by tomorrow[.] I can meet you or one his runners can.” Mizuhara responds, “I’m back in Anaheim now, is there any way to pay [Bowyer] via credit or debit card . . . I can wire the amount to his bank account. Do you know what bank he uses?”

Through the fall, text traffic indicates Mizuhara struggling to transfer funds to cover his debt because of bank limits or other issues. On or about Nov. 9, he tells Bookmaker 2: “tried almost every option possible and none of it is working. … this is super stressing.”

The next day, he tells Bookmaker 2 that he is “able to send 40k,” adding that it looks as if the method works “but I can only send 40k at a time.”

Losses mount

The federal complaint indicates Mizuhara’s losses mounted almost immediately. He repeatedly asks the bookies to “bump” his account, or increase his line of credit.

On Jan. 2, 2022, Mizuhara asks Bookmaker 2 if [Bowyer] could “reload my account? I lost it all.” Bookmaker 2 responds, “[Bowyer] bumped you 50k.” Thirteen days later, Mizuhara texts Bookmaker 2 again: “F— I lost it all lol . . . can you ask [Bowyer] if he can bump me 50k? That will be my last one for a while if I lose it.”

By Feb. 4, 2022, Mizuhara texts: “I made another transfer for 300k today since I lost the other 100k already.” Later that day, he confirms, “Wire went through!”

Over the next two years, according to the complaint, Mizuhara averaged 25 bets per day, ranging from $10 to $160,000 per bet, between December 2021 and this January — some 19,000 bets in all. His texts during this time show increasing desperation to catch up.

Some highlights of that time:

March 10, 2022: Mizuhara messages Bowyer asking him to reduce his credit from $300,000 to $100,000. “I’ll get too reckless with 300,” he says.

May 2022: Text messages from Mizuhara indicate he’s on a “bad run.” Despite Mizuhara owing Bowyer over $1 million, Bowyer continually increased Mizuhara’s betting limits, investigators said.

Nov. 14, 2022: Mizuhara texts Bowyer: “I’m terrible at this sport betting thing huh? Lol . . . Any chance u can bump me again?? As you know, you don’t have to worry about me not paying!!”

Dec. 9, 2022: Mizuhara texts Bowyer: “Can u bump me last 200? I swear on my mom this will be the last ask before I pay it off once I get back to the states. Sorry for keep on asking. . . .” Bowyer responds: “Np done bud. Merry Christmas.”

May 20, 2023: Bowyer texts Mizuhara: “I know you’ve been on a bad run. I don’t mind bumping u, I just want to verify that you can send at least 2M on June 1.”

June 22, 2023: Mizuhara texts Bowyer: “I got my ass kicked again lol . . . . Any chance I can get one last bump? This will be my last one for a while if I lose it. . . .” Bowyer responds: “Ok bud. I just want to be able to communicate with my partner so he knows expectations. If I can assure him that minimum 500 will be sent every week I can do the bump to whatever you want? It’s just imperative that the 500 is sent every week as you can imagine the figures are very high and just don’t want to not be able to deliver what I tell him[.] FYI I have already paid out of my pocket to him half of the balance that is on the account so whatever is lost every week I have to give him half of the balance that’s why I’m asking these direct important questions.”

June 24, 2023: Mizuhara texts Bowyer: “I have a problem lol. . . . Can I get one 13 last last last bump? This one is for real. … Last one for real[.]” Bowyer responds, “Done. I have the same problem. To be honest with you Ippie, as long as you can guarantee the 500 every Monday I’ll give you as much as you want because I know you’re good for it[.] again I just have to clean it up with my partner and that’s one reason why I was asking before.”

In the complaint, an investigator testified that wagers for Mizuhara’s account, “35966” as reflected on a bookie’s spreadsheet, reflect total winning bets of about $142 million, total losing bets of about $183 million, leaving a total negative balance of about $40.7 million.

Paybacks and veiled threats

According to the complaint, Mizuhara was attempting to pay back his debt from Ohtani’s account in a series of weekly $500,000 transactions, but after making some payments he stops and the tenor of texts with Bowyer shifts.

On June 20, 2023, he texts Bowyer: “It looks like I can only send 500 per week. … I put in a wire for 500 earlier today so it should be in your account by tomorrow. . . . does 500/week work for you?”

Federal authorities raid Bowyer’s house in October and seize cash, computers and phones, according to a search warrant obtained by ESPN. On or about Nov. 17, 2023, Bowyer texts Mizuhara: “Hey Ippie, it’s 2 o’clock on Friday. I don’t know why you’re not returning my calls. I’m here in Newport Beach and I see [Ohtani] walking his dog. I’m just gonna go up and talk to him and ask how I can get in touch with you since you’re not responding? Please call me back immediately.”

Two days later, Mizuhara texts Bowyer: “I’m gonna be honest, I ended up losing a lot of money on crypto the last couple years and I took a huge hit obviously with the sports too. . . . Just wanted to ask, is there any way we can settle on an amount? I’ve lost way too much on the site already . . . of course I know it’s my fault.”

On Dec. 15, Bowyer texts Mizuhara, stating “I know ur busy but u Need to show some respect. I put my neck out here. Call me by Tonight. I don’t care what time or how late it is.” Mizuhara responds the same day: “I’m so sorry bro . . . I really don’t mean to disrespect you at all I promise . . . it’s just been super super busy . . . and I’ve got other issues on the side going on too. everything has just been really really tough recently.”

This past Jan. 6, the complaint states, Bowyer texts Mizuhara: “you’re putting me in a position where this is going to get out of control. If I don’t hear from you by the end of the day today it’s gonna [sic] be out of my hands.” Mizuhara responds: “My bad man. . . . I just got back from Japan two days ago and I’m leaving tomorrow again . . . I’ll be back in mid January. To be honest with you, I’m really struggling right now and I need some time before I start to make payments.”

From January to March, Mizuhara spends about $325,000 of Ohtani’s money on approximately 1,000 baseball cards, and has them mailed to the Dodgers clubhouse under the alias “Jay Min,” the filing says. Mizuhara buys the memorabilia, which included cards for Yogi Berra, Juan Soto and Ohtani, with the intent to resell it, according to the affidavit.

On March 20, news breaks that at least $4.5 million was transmitted from Ohtani’s account to Bowyer’s operation. Mizuhara first tells ESPN that Ohtani paid his debts before changing his story hours later to say Ohtani had no knowledge of his gambling. Mizuhara asks Bowyer if he has seen the media reports. Bowyer responds, “Yes, but that’s all bulls—. Obviously you didn’t steal from him. I understand it’s a cover job I totally get it,” Mizuhara responds, “Technically I did steal from him. it’s all over for me.”

ESPN’s Tisha Thompson contributed to this report.

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NHL playoff watch: Red Wings-Penguins is Thursday’s main event

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NHL playoff watch: Red Wings-Penguins is Thursday's main event

Although six teams have clinched a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference half of the 2024 Stanley Cup playoffs bracket, there is a fierce battle being contested for those final two spots among five teams. Two of them play against each other Thursday.

The Detroit Red Wings visit the Pittsburgh Penguins (7 p.m. ET, NHL Power Play on ESPN+), with both attempting to overtake the Washington Capitals, who play the Buffalo Sabres (7 p.m. ET, NHL Power Play on ESPN+).

Prior to Thursday’s games, the Capitals hold the second wild-card position, with 85 points and 29 regulation wins through 78 games; the Red Wings (84 and 27 through 78 games) and Penguins (84 and 31 through 78 games) are right on the Caps’ heels, and the Philadelphia Flyers (83 and 28 through 79 games) are just behind them (although their recent 1-6-3 stretch has torpedoed their playoff chances, generally). The Flyers face the tall task of skating against the juggernaut New York Rangers on Thursday night (7 p.m. ET, NHL Power Play on ESPN+).

For all of the non-Detroit teams, another avenue to the playoffs exists by way of the No. 3 seed in the Metro Division. The New York Islanders hold that position, with 87 points and 27 regulation wins through 78 games ahead of their game against the Montreal Canadiens (7:30 p.m. ET, NHL Power Play on ESPN+).

As has been the case seemingly every night for the past two weeks, expect some major movement in the chaotic Eastern wild-card race tonight!

As we traverse the final stretch of the regular season, it’s time to check in on all the playoff races — along with the teams jockeying for position in the 2024 NHL draft lottery.

Note: Playoff chances are via Stathletes.

Jump ahead:
Current playoff matchups
Clinching scenarios
Thursday’s schedule
Wednesday’s scores
Expanded standings
Race for No. 1 pick

Current playoff matchups

Eastern Conference

A1 Boston Bruins vs. WC1 Tampa Bay Lightning
A2 Florida Panthers vs. A3 Toronto Maple Leafs
M1 New York Rangers vs. WC2 Washington Capitals
M2 Carolina Hurricanes vs. M3 New York Islanders

Western Conference

C1 Dallas Stars vs. WC2 Vegas Golden Knights
C2 Colorado Avalanche vs. C3 Winnipeg Jets
P1 Vancouver Canucks vs. WC1 Nashville Predators
P2 Edmonton Oilers vs. P3 Los Angeles Kings


Clinching scenarios

1. The Los Angeles Kings will clinch a playoff berth with a win against the Calgary Flames in any fashion.

2. The Dallas Stars will clinch the Central Division title with a win over the Winnipeg Jets in any fashion.


Thursday’s games

Note: All times ET. All games not on TNT or NHL Network are available via NHL Power Play, which is included in an ESPN+ subscription (local blackout restrictions apply).

Washington Capitals at Buffalo Sabres, 7 p.m.
New Jersey Devils at Toronto Maple Leafs, 7 p.m.
Ottawa Senators at Tampa Bay Lightning, 7 p.m.
Columbus Blue Jackets at Florida Panthers, 7 p.m.
Philadelphia Flyers at New York Rangers, 7 p.m.
Detroit Red Wings at Pittsburgh Penguins, 7 p.m.
Montreal Canadiens at New York Islanders, 7:30 p.m.
Winnipeg Jets at Dallas Stars, 8 p.m.
San Jose Sharks at Seattle Kraken, 10 p.m.
Calgary Flames at Los Angeles Kings, 10:30 p.m.


Wednesday’s scoreboard

St. Louis Blues 5, Chicago Blackhawks 2
Edmonton Oilers 5, Vegas Golden Knights 1
Arizona Coyotes 4, Vancouver Canucks 3 (OT)


Expanded standings

Atlantic Division

Points: 107
Regulation wins: 35
Playoff position: A1
Games left: 3
Points pace: 111
Next game: @ PIT (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 104
Regulation wins: 40
Playoff position: A2
Games left: 3
Points pace: 108
Next game: vs. CBJ (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 101
Regulation wins: 33
Playoff position: A3
Games left: 4
Points pace: 106
Next game: vs. NJ (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 95
Regulation wins: 36
Playoff position: WC1
Games left: 4
Points pace: 100
Next game: vs. OTT (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 84
Regulation wins: 27
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 4
Points pace: 88
Next game: @ PIT (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 33.2%
Tragic number: 7

Points: 79
Regulation wins: 31
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 3
Points pace: 82
Next game: vs. WSH (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: 1

Points: 72
Regulation wins: 24
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 4
Points pace: 76
Next game: @ TB (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 72
Regulation wins: 20
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 4
Points pace: 76
Next game: @ NYI (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E


Metropolitan Division

Points: 110
Regulation wins: 42
Playoff position: M1
Games left: 3
Points pace: 114
Next game: vs. PHI (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 107
Regulation wins: 42
Playoff position: M2
Games left: 3
Points pace: 111
Next game: @ STL (Friday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 87
Regulation wins: 27
Playoff position: M3
Games left: 4
Points pace: 92
Next game: vs. MTL (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 83.5%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 85
Regulation wins: 29
Playoff position: WC2
Games left: 4
Points pace: 89
Next game: @ BUF (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 44.4%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 84
Regulation wins: 31
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 4
Points pace: 88
Next game: vs. DET (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 34.5%
Tragic number: 8

Points: 83
Regulation wins: 28
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 3
Points pace: 86
Next game: @ NYR (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 4.4%
Tragic number: 4

Points: 79
Regulation wins: 32
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 3
Points pace: 82
Next game: @ TOR (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: 1

Points: 64
Regulation wins: 20
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 3
Points pace: 66
Next game: @ FLA (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E


Central Division

Points: 109
Regulation wins: 39
Playoff position: C1
Games left: 3
Points pace: 113
Next game: vs. WPG (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 104
Regulation wins: 41
Playoff position: C2
Games left: 3
Points pace: 108
Next game: vs. WPG (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 102
Regulation wins: 42
Playoff position: C3
Games left: 4
Points pace: 107
Next game: @ DAL (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 95
Regulation wins: 36
Playoff position: WC1
Games left: 3
Points pace: 99
Next game: @ CHI (Friday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 89
Regulation wins: 30
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 3
Points pace: 92
Next game: vs. CAR (Friday)
Playoff chances: 0.5%
Tragic number: 3

Points: 83
Regulation wins: 30
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 4
Points pace: 87
Next game: @ VGK (Friday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 73
Regulation wins: 27
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 3
Points pace: 76
Next game: @ EDM (Friday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 51
Regulation wins: 17
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 4
Points pace: 54
Next game: vs. NSH (Friday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E


Pacific Division

Points: 105
Regulation wins: 42
Playoff position: P1
Games left: 3
Points pace: 109
Next game: @ EDM (Saturday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 101
Regulation wins: 38
Playoff position: P2
Games left: 5
Points pace: 108
Next game: vs. ARI (Friday)
Playoff chances: 100%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 93
Regulation wins: 35
Playoff position: P3
Games left: 4
Points pace: 98
Next game: vs. CGY (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 99.9%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 92
Regulation wins: 32
Playoff position: WC2
Games left: 4
Points pace: 97
Next game: vs. MIN (Friday)
Playoff chances: 99.6%
Tragic number: N/A

Points: 79
Regulation wins: 27
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 5
Points pace: 84
Next game: vs. SJ (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 75
Regulation wins: 29
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 5
Points pace: 80
Next game: @ LA (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 57
Regulation wins: 20
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 3
Points pace: 59
Next game: vs. CGY (Friday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

Points: 45
Regulation wins: 13
Playoff position: N/A
Games left: 4
Points pace: 47
Next game: @ SEA (Thursday)
Playoff chances: 0%
Tragic number: E

p — clinched Presidents’ Trophy
y — clinched division
x — clinched playoff berth
e — eliminated from playoff contention


Race for the No. 1 pick

The NHL uses a draft lottery to determine the order of the first round, so the team that finishes in last place is not guaranteed the No. 1 selection. As of 2021, a team can move up a maximum of 10 spots if it wins the lottery, so only 11 teams are eligible for the draw for the No. 1 pick. Full details on the process can be found here. Sitting No. 1 on the draft board for this summer is Macklin Celebrini, a freshman at Boston University.

Points: 45
Regulation wins: 13

Points: 51
Regulation wins: 17

Points: 57
Regulation wins: 20

Points: 64
Regulation wins: 20

Points: 72
Regulation wins: 20

Points: 72
Regulation wins: 24

Points: 73
Regulation wins: 27

Points: 75
Regulation wins: 29

Points: 79
Regulation wins: 27

Points: 79
Regulation wins: 31

Points: 79
Regulation wins: 32

Points: 83
Regulation wins: 28

Points: 83
Regulation wins: 30

Points: 84
Regulation wins: 27

Points: 84
Regulation wins: 31

Points: 89
Regulation wins: 30

* The Penguins’ first-round pick was traded to the Sharks as part of the Erik Karlsson trade. However, it is top-10 protected.

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