Harris' 19 points lead Virginia past Tar Heels

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Harris' 19 points lead Virginia past Tar Heels

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) Joe Harris scored 19 points and sparked a 15-2 second-half run and Virginia rallied to beat North Carolina 61-52 in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both schools on Sunday night.

Harris' 3-pointer sparked the game-changing burst for Virginia (11-3, 1-0), which had just gone behind 34-26 after North Carolina opened the half on a 9-2 run.

Reggie Bullock scored 22 points for the Tar Heels (10-4, 0-1), who lost for the first time in five visits to John Paul Jones Arena.

Bullock's final basket came with 3:11 to play, pulling the Tar Heels within 51-50, but Harris scored on a short bank, Paul Jesperson made a driving layup and Virginia hit 6 of 8 free throws before P.J. Hairston scored again for North Carolina, making a free throw with 20 seconds left.

North Carolina scored on its first four possessions of the second half, and Bullock's 3-pointer capped a 9-2 run that gave the Tar Heels a 34-26 lead. After an exchange of baskets, Harris came free for a wide-open 3-pointer, sparking a 10-0 run for Virginia, and when Evan Nolte soon followed with back-to-back 3-pointers, Virginia's lead was 46-40 and the Tar Heels never quite caught up again.

The game marked the return of Virginia captain and point guard Jontel Evans, who had missed nine of the first 13 games with a foot injury. Teven Jones started in his place and made two early 3-pointers as Virginia hit four of its first five baskets from behind the arc, and Evans played in short bursts.

He finished with eight points and six assists, and had a steadying influence.

North Carolina led 25-24 after a very physical, but bizarre first half. Neither team led by more than five, and the Cavaliers were whistled for seven personal fouls before the Tar Heels got their first.

Once North Carolina got called for one, five more quickly followed, to the delight of a near-sellout crowd, but the Tar Heels finished 7-for-12 from the line, the Cavaliers 2-for-4.

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MLB Postseason 2017: Projected Bracket

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MLB Postseason 2017: Projected Bracket

A week from today, the 2017 MLB postseason is scheduled to take off with the American League Wild Card game.

Still with six or less games remaining for every team, there is little that we know in terms of the exact positioning of each team in the postseason.

As of Tuesday morning, there are seven teams that are guaranteed to be in the playoffs. Three spots, the NL Central and a Wild Card spot in each league, are still up for grabs.

RELATED: IN-DEPTH LOOK AT THE WILD CARD RACE

Besides the NL Central, only the AL East is the other division that has not announced a division winner.

Also up for grabs is overall home field throughout the World Series. Without the MLB All-Star Game determining who starts as the host of the series, whichever team finishes with a higher record will have home field. That race is alive and well.

Right now it is the Los Angles Dodgers (100-57), who have leveled out after a rough August stretch, that leads the charge. Right behind them is the Cleveland Indians (1.5 GB), the Houston Astros (3.5 GB) and the Washington Nationals (4.5 GB). Surprisingly enough the Nationals face the easiest competition against the Phillies and Pirates to end the season. It will be tough for the Dodgers to keep up the pace finishing the season playing the Rockies who are still trying to claim the second NL Wild Card.

For the final three remaining postseason spots, there are nine teams mathematically alive as of Tuesday morning.

Since the last bracket update on September 22, the New York Yankees have clinched a postseason spot and the Arizona Diamondbacks have clinched the top Wild Card spot in the National League.

NATIONAL LEAGUE:

Leveling out and winning five of their last 10, the Dodgers are limping into the playoffs. Ultimately, with no push from the Nationals, Los Angeles will go on to claim the top spot in the National League.

With that, the Nationals will be regulated to second place as they have been resting their top players for over a week. Still the team is waiting for Bryce Harper to come back from what could have been a devastating injury. He is expected to be back in the line-up at some point this week.

Having a scary schedule to end the season, the Chicago Cubs (88-68) took care of business winning three of four against the Brewers this past weekend. It has garnered a magic number of now one for Chicago to claim the division and also the No. 3 seed in the postseason.

MORE NATS: WOULD YOU RATHER TAKE THE CUBS OR BREWERS?

The Arizona Diamondbacks are the only team in the postseason to know their fate once the season ends. They will be hosting the National League Wild Card Game on Oct. 4, clinching the first Wild Card spot.

Essentially, the only race in the National League is for the second Wild Card. Colorado holds the edge but only slightly as they play the Marlins and then host the Dodgers to end the year. The Brewers (1.5 GB) and Cardinals (-2.5 games) stay alive but have to win and hope for the Rockies to lose. Click here for an in-depth look at the NL Wild Card race.

If the season were to end today, here is how the National League bracket would look:

Wild Card Round (Winner-take-all):

No. 5 Colorado Rockies (84-73) at No. 4 Arizona Diamondbacks (90-67)

National League Divisional Series (Best-of-5):

No. 1 Los Angeles Dodgers (100-57) vs. Wild Card Round Winner
No. 2 Washington Nationals (95-61) vs. No. 3 Chicago Cubs (88-68)

Wild Card Race:

Colorado Rockies:             ---
Milwaukee Brewers:        -1.5
St. Louis Cardinals:          -2.5

AMERICAN LEAGUE:

Every year it seems that as the season comes to a close, the American League East is still up for grabs. Both the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox have already clinched a playoff spot, but with New York’s win and Boston’s loss on Monday, the race has opened up once again. It ultimately will be the difference between the No. 3 seed and the Wild Card play-in game, but likely the Red Sox are not going to relinquish the division crown.

Both the Indians (AL Central Division Winner) and the Astros (AL West Division Winner) now have a heated battle for the top seed in the American League. Neither team appears to be conceding to rest players either. The lead for Cleveland is currently at 2.0 games. The remaining schedule favors the Indians as the Astros face the Rangers and the Red Sox to end the year, all on the road.

By the end of the night, the Minnesota Twins, who have a magic number of two, could wrap up the second Wild Card. A win over Cleveland and a loss by the Angels against the White Sox is all they need to clinch a postseason berth. The only saving grace for Los Angeles is that the Twins do have a three game series with Cleveland who has won 29 of their last 31. Click here for an in-depth look at the AL Wild Card race.

If the season were to end today, here is how the American League bracket would look:

Wild Card Round (Winner-take-all):

No. 5 Minnesota Twins (82-74) at No. 4 New York Yankees (87-69)

American League Divisional Series (Best-of-5):

No. 1 Cleveland Indians (98-58) vs. Wild Card Round Winner
No. 2 Houston Astros (96-60) vs. No. 3 Boston Red Sox (91-65)

Wild Card Race:

New York Yankees:     +5.0
Minnesota Twins:           ---
Los Angeles Angels:     -5.0
Texas Rangers:             -6.0
Kansas City Royals:      -6.0
Tampa Bay Rays:          -6.0

All records and standings are as of Thursday morning at 9:00 am.

MORE NATS: NATS’ COSTUMES FROM PLAYER’S GAME OF THRONES NIGHT

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MLB Postseason 2017: Updated Wild Card Standings, 6 days remaining

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MLB Postseason 2017: Updated Wild Card Standings, 6 days remaining

Monday was not a good day if you were sitting just outside of the 2017 MLB Wild Card race. Every team that needed a win came up short.

Combined teams were 0-5 on Sept. 25 that were still alive, but chasing a postseason spot.

No positioning changed and no one locked up a playoff spot other than the St. Louis Cardinals being eliminated from the NL Central race.

Still, three postseason slots remain open, the NL Central title and a Wild Card spot on each side. Positioning in the AL East tightened and the race in the NL Central widened.

RELATED: FULL MLB POSTSEASON UPDATE

AMERICAN LEAGUE

It was a great opportunity for teams to catch up to the Minnesota Twins (82-74) on Monday for the second Wild Card spot. Minnesota was off, preparing for a massive series against Cleveland that could determine the American League Wild Card.

No team in the race took advantage though, every trailing team lost.

If any team benefited from the idle day from the Twins, it was the New York Yankees (87-69) padding their lead for the top Wild Card. The Yankees clobbered the Kansas City Royals (76-80) who are still mathematically alive. In that contest, Aaron Judge became the first MLB rookie to smash 50 homeruns in a season.

Most disappointing was the Los Angeles Angels (77-79) who fell to the lowly White Sox on the road. It does not sink their ship yet, but they definitely need some help from the Twins if they want to have any postseason shot.

The Texas Rangers (76-80), facing the Houston Astros, Kansas City Royals (76-80) playing the Tigers, and Tampa Bay Rays (76-80) traveling to the Yankees, all face must win scenarios to make the MLB postseason.

Magic number for the Yankees to clinch the top Wild Card spot is down to one. The Twins can clinch a Wild Card spot with a win and a Los Angeles loss on Tuesday. 

AL WILD CARD RACE (AS OF SEPT 26):

New York Yankees:     +5.0           
Minnesota Twins:           ---                        
Los Angeles Angels:     -5.0                     
Texas Rangers:             -6.0                      
Kansas City Royals:      -6.0                     
Tampa Bay Rays:          -6.0                      

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Arizona, Colorado, and St. Louis all lost on Monday. With the Brewers being idle, they were the only team in the National League Wild Card race that did not lose.

It does not matter how the Arizona Diamondbacks (90-67) finish the year. They are going to be the No. 4 seed in the National League Postseason and host the Wild Card game on Oct. 4.

Losing though to the Miami Marlins, the Colorado Rockies (84-73) could not afford to lose. Fortunately for them, the St. Louis Cardinals (81-75) fell to the Cubs and knocked the Cards out of their divisional race.

The Milwaukee Brewers (82-74) now play Cincinnati after gaining half of a game on the Rockies. St. Louis continues their tough series against the Cubs with three more games on the horizon.

NL WILD CARD RACE (AS OF SEPT 26):

#4 Arizona Diamondbacks:  +6.0                       
Colorado Rockies:                    ---               
Milwaukee Brewers:              -1.5              
St. Louis Cardinals:                -2.5              

RELATED: NATS’ COSTUMES FROM PLAYER’S GAME OF THRONES NIGHT