Having led his team to the NCAA Division I FCS Championship Game last season, Jacksonville State coach John Grass summed up the national playoffs best on Sunday:A team must keep the focus high because it will keep facing great opponents throughout a deep playoff run.A lot of those teams will come from the power conferences as the Big Sky, CAA Football, Missouri Valley and Southern Conference collected four qualifiers each while combining for two-thirds of the 24-team field announced Sunday. Leading the way was No. 1 seed North Dakota State, which seeks to add to its NCAA-record five straight national titles.Through the playoffs, its all (about) how your team plays, Grass said on the ESPNU selection show. I think our guys have some experience there. Its an interesting deal that everybody raises their level of play up and youve got to be ready for that.The single-elimination playoffs begin at campus sites next Saturday and culminate with the FCS championship game Jan. 7 in Frisco, Texas.As long as North Dakota State (10-1), the Missouri Valley co-champ, and No. 2 seed Eastern Washington (10-1), the Big Sky co-champ, remain alive, they are guaranteed home games through the semifinals.Thats particularly noteworthy to North Dakota State -- and the Bison competition, for that matter -- as their dynasty has only had home games at the Fargodome prior to the past five championship games.Our fan base really amps it up when we get to the playoffs, coach Chris Klieman said. I know theyre excited (that) as long as were playing, its going to be at Gate City Bank Field. We look forward to a great playoff.Jacksonville State (10-1), the Ohio Valley Conference champ, earned the No. 3 seed and CAA champ James Madison (10-1) was seeded fourth. Southland Conference champ Sam Houston State (11-0), which enters the playoffs as the only unbeaten FCS team, was the No. 5 seed, followed by SoCon champ The Citadel (10-1), Big Sky co-champ North Dakota (9-2) and Missouri Valley co-champ South Dakota State (8-3). The eighth-seeded Jackrabbits earned the Valleys automatic bid because of a 19-17 win over North Dakota State at the Fargodome.Ten conferences have automatic bids in the playoffs. While the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference relinquished its bid last year to begin sending its champion to the Celebration Bowl, its runner-up, North Carolina A&T (9-2), earned one of the 14 at-large bids.The last teams to miss on at-large bids were Albany (7-4) and Fordham (8-3), selection committee chair Brian Hutchinson said.Interestingly, the last eight FCS champions are in the field with NDSU (2011-15), Eastern Washington (2010), Villanova (2009) and Richmond (2008). Four-time champ Youngstown State (1991, 1993-94, 1997) and James Madison (2004) help combine on 13 past champions.Yup, as Grass said, there are plenty of great teams in the FCS playoffs.2016 NCAA DIVISION I FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP(Campus sites until the championship game)(All times ET)FIRST ROUNDSaturday, Nov. 26Saint Francis (7-4) at Villanova (8-3), 2 p.m. (ESPN3)Weber State (7-4) at Chattanooga (8-3), 2 p.m. (ESPN3)Lehigh (9-2) at New Hampshire (7-4), 2 p.m. (ESPN3)Charleston Southern (7-3) at Wofford (8-3), 2 p.m. (ESPN3)North Carolina A&T (9-2) at Richmond (8-3), 2 p.m. (ESPN3)Illinois State (6-5) at Central Arkansas (9-2), 3 p.m. (ESPN3)Samford (7-4) at Youngstown State (8-3), 5 p.m. (ESPN3)San Diego (9-1) at Cal Poly (7-4), 7 p.m. (ESPN3)SECOND ROUNDSaturday, Dec. 3Lehigh/New Hampshire winner at No. 4 seed James Madison (10-1), 2 p.m. (ESPN3)Samford/Youngstown State winner at No. 3 seed Jacksonville State (10-1), 2 p.m. (ESPN3)Saint Francis/Villanova winner at No. 8 seed South Dakota State (8-3), 3 p.m. (ESPN3)Weber State/Chattanooga winner at No. 5 seed Sam Houston State (11-0), 3 p.m. (ESPN3)San Diego/Cal Poly winner at No. 1 seed North Dakota State (10-1), 3:30 p.m. (ESPN3)Illinois State/Central Arkansas winner at No. 2 seed Eastern Washington (10-1), 4 p.m. (ESPN3)Charleston Southern/Wofford winner at No. 6 seed The Citadel (10-1), 6 p.m. (ESPN3)North Carolina A&T/Richmond winner at No. 7 seed North Dakota (9-2), 6 p.m. (ESPN3)QUARTERFINALSFriday, Dec. 9 and Saturday, Dec. 10Second-round winners, TBA (ESPN Networks)SEMIFINALSFriday, Dec. 16Quarterfinal winners, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)Saturday, Dec. 17Quarterfinal winners, 6:30 p.m. (ESPNU)CHAMPIONSHIPSaturday, Jan. 7Toyota Stadium in Frisco, TexasSemifinal winners, noon (ESPN2) Canucks Jerseys From China
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. -- Canadian Andrew Wiggins got the ball on the wing, made a nifty spin move and then let go with a soft floater from about 10 feet that swished through the net in Allen Fieldhouse. RIO DE JANEIRO -- The Latest on the Olympics being held in Rio de Janeiro (all times local):12:50 p.m.Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross advanced to the quarterfinals of the Olympic beach volleyball tournament.The Italians led in each set, but the Americans rallied to put them away 21-10, 21-16 in just 35 minutes. That made it an early night -- of sorts -- for the fans who came out to watch the three-time gold medalist play at midnight.It was the third time in four Olympic matches that Walsh Jennings and Ross were slotted for the midnight match -- the better to showcase them on American television. While previous matches had pockets of empty seats -- this one was packed.Among those in the stands: U.S. comedian and Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones, who draped an American flag around her shoulders and led her section in cheering.---12:20 p.m.Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo have won an all-Italian battle for a spot in the beach volleyball quarterfinals.The two Italians wearing white beat Adrian Carambula and Alex Ranghieri, in blue, 21-12, 23-21 on Friday night.Carambula wowed the crowd with his high, spinning Skyball serve. Trailing 20-18 with the match on the line, though, he delivered three straight regular jump serves for winners.Nicolai and Lupo then came back to take a 22-21 lead and won it after a challenge determined a spike went out of bounds without being touched.---11:45 p.m.Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica showed off a spectacular new hairdo during track and field 100 meters heats and ended up the only woman to beat 11 seconds.The yellow-and-green-haired Fraser-Pryce will be trying to become the first woman to win the same individual Olympic athletics events at three Olympics in a row.Two others werent able to accomplish the feat Friday. Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia took bronze in the 10,000 meters and Valerie Adams of New Zealand finished with silver in the shot put.In the outside lane late Friday, Fraser-Pryce crossed in 10.96 seconds, with Michelle-Lee Ahye of Trinidad and Tobago setting the second best time of 11.00. All the favorites advanced, with Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands, Elaine Thompson of Jamaica and Americans Tianna Bartoletta, English Gardner and Tori Bowie also winning their heats.---11:25 p.m.Over halfway home, and Britains Jessica Ennis-Hill is where she wants to be -- leading the heptathlon after four of seven events.With a blistering 200 meters, the defending champion overtook surprise early leader Nafissatou Thiam of Belgium to regain the momentum going into the final day.With a time of 23.49, Ennis-Hill pushed up her total to 4,057 points, the only woman to break the 4,000-mark. Thiam only set the 24th best time over the 200 meters and fell back to second with 3,985.Akela Jones of Barbados was third with 3,964.The heptathlon was supposed to be a battle between Ennis-Hill and Brianne Theisen-Eaton but the Canadian was disappointing throughout the day and was in sixth position with 3,871 points.---11:20 p.m.Switzerlands Martina Hingis and Timea Bacsinszky will face Russias Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina for the tennis gold medal in womens doubles Sunday. Two Czech teams will play for bronze Saturday.Hingis and Bacsinszky, seeded fifth, beat sixth-seeded Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka 5-7, 7-6 (3), 6-2 on Friday, while the seventh-seeded Russians defeated Lucie Safarova and Barbora Strycova 7-6 (7), 6-4.---11:05 p.m.Sixteen years after winning his first individual gold medal at the Olympics, Anthony Ervin picked up his second with a furious dash from one end of the pool to the other.Completing a remarkable journey in the blink of an eye, the oldest member of the U.S. swimming team touched first in the 50-meter freestyle, edging the defending Olympic champion, Florent Manaudou of France, by a mere hundredth of a second.Another American, Nathan Adrian, took the bronze.The 35-year-old Ervin won his first gold at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, tying teammate Gary Hall Jr. for the top spot. Then, Ervin walked away from swimming, skipping the next two Olympics while he embarked on a journey to find his purpose in life.Turns out, it was swimming all along. He returned to make the American team in 2012, but failed to win a medal in London. Now, improbably, hes back on the top of the podium again.---11:05 p.m.MEDAL ALERT: Michelle Carter of the United States upset favorite Valerie Adams in womens shot put with a throw of 20.63 meters. Adams had been trying to win the event for the third straight Olympics.---10:50 p.m.MEDAL ALERT: Anthony Ervin of the United States has won the gold medal in the 50-meter freestyle at the Rio Olympics. Florent Manaudou of France claims silver and Nathan Adrian of the United States gets bronze.---10:50 p.m.Katie Ledecky has delivered another dominating performance at the Rio Games, handily breaking the world record in the 800 freestyle.Ledecky joined Debbie Meyer as the only women to sweep the three longer freestyle events at the same Olympics. Meyer took the 200, 400 and 800 at the 1968 Mexico Games, and Ledecky matched that performance with a couple of world records as well.Ledecky was merely racing the clock as she powered away from the field to touch in 8 minutes, 4.79 seconds, eclipsing the mark 8:06.68 that she set at a grand prix meet in Texas back in January.Then she waited for the rest of the field to finish.Jazz Karlin finally touched in 8:16.17 to claim the silver, just ahead of Hungarys Boglarka Kapas grabbing the bronze in 8:16.37.Some 23 seconds after Ledecky touched the wall, the last of the eight finalists finally got to the end of the grueling race.---10:45 p.m.Britains track and field Super Saturday is still on -- barely.Defending long jump champion Greg Rutherford was a jump away from elimination after two fouls, but he scraped through on his last attempt with a mark of 7.90 meters for 10th best position as only a dozen were allowed into Saturdays final.Rutherford won the long jump in London, within that crazy hour of athletics when fellow-Britons Mo Farah won the 10,000 meters and Jessica Ennis-Hill the heptathlon for one of the greatest moments in British sporting history.All three could do it again on Saturday.Ennis-Hill is leading the heptathlon after four of seven events. And Farah is a strong favorite to extend his title.---10:45 p.m.LaShawn Merritt, Kirani James and Wayde van Niekerk all came through their track and field heats comfortably in the 400 meters, an event thats shaping up to be a titanic battle between those three.Merritt, the 2008 Olympic champion, looked good in winning his heat in 45.28 seconds from lane eight.The American didnt seem to mind the sparse crowd at Rio de Janeiros Olympic Stadium, saying 45.2, not too much energy put out. Great track, nice atmosphere. I feel good.Defending Olympic champion Kirani James ran the fastest time of the heats with 44.93. Van Niekerk, the South African who surprised those two to win the world championships last year, won heat two in 45.26 and was relieved. He said he was a little nervous before his Olympic debut.---10:30 p.m.MEDAL ALERT-WORLD RECORD: Katie Ledecky of the United States has set a world record to win the 800-meter freestyle, her fourth gold medal at the Rio Olympics. Jazz Carlin of Britain gets silver, while Boglarka Kapas of Hungary claims bronze.---10:30 p.m.Maya DiRado of the United States has denied Katinka Hosszus bid to become a four-time gold medalist at the Rio Olympics.Hosszu got off to a blistering start and led almost the entire race. But DiRado rallied furiously on the final lap and got Hosszu at the touch to win in 2 minutes, 5.99 seconds.Hosszu settles for silver in 2:06.05, while Canadas Hilary Caldwelll took the bronze in 2:07.dddddddddddd.54.DiRado couldnt believe what she had done in her one and only Olympics. She put her hands on her cap in disbelief when she saw he name on top of the scoreboard.---10:25 p.m.A stunner at the Rio Olympics: Michael Phelps has been beaten.Joseph Schooling of Singapore built a big lead on the opening lap and easily held off the hard-charging Phelps to win gold in the 100-meter butterfly. So, unless Phelps decides to come out of retirement again, his final individual race at the Olympics will go down as a silver. He still has a chance to win his 23rd gold medal in his final race of the Olympics, the 4x100 medley relay.Phelps was sixth at the turn and Schooling -- almost exactly a decade younger than the 31-year-old American -- wouldnt let him pull off one of his patented comebacks on the return lap. The winning time was 50.39 seconds.Phelps shared the silver with two other longtime rivals, Chad le Clos of South Africa and Laszlo Cseh of Hungary. They all touched in 51.14.---10:15 p.m.UPSET ALERT: Michael Phelps has been beaten in the 100-meter butterfly at the Rio Olympics. Joseph Schooling of Singapore takes the gold, while Phelps ties for the silver with Laszlo Cseh of Hungary and Chad le Clos of South Africa.---10:10 p.m.MEDAL ALERT: Maya DiRado of the United States has won gold in the womens 200-meter backstroke at the Rio Olympics. Hungarys Katinka Hosszu takes the silver, while Canadas Hilary Caldwell claims bronze.---10 p.m.Belgiums Nafissatou Thiam swept into the lead of the heptathlon after three events, winning the shot put on top of the high jump earlier Friday.With a throw of 14.91 meters, Thiam reach 3,107 points for an edge of 80 points over defending champion Jessica Ennis-Hill.Ennis-Hill was again well below her best with a shot put mark of 13.86.Brianne Theisen-Eaton is surprisingly 199 points of the lead, and her shot put result of 13.45 was only 17th best.The 200 meters concludes the program on Friday before the hepathletes have long jump, javelin throw and the concluding 800 meters on Saturday.---9:45 p.m.MEDAL ALERT: Rafael Nadal and Marc Lopez of Spain won the first tennis gold medal of the Rio Olympics tennis competition, beating Florin Mergea and Horia Tecau of Romania 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 in the mens doubles final.Nadal and Lopez won the last three games Friday night after trailing 4-3 in the third set.Its the second Olympic gold of Nadals career. He was the singles champion at Beijing in 2008. Its the first medal for Lopez.Steve Johnson and Jack Sock won the bronze for the United States.---9:40 p.m.Venus Williams is one victory away from her record-tying fifth Olympic tennis medal -- and she got there by beating the woman who halted her sisters bid for a calendar-year Grand Slam.The 36-year-old American and Rajeev Ram reached the Rio Games mixed doubles semifinals with a 6-3, 7-5 victory Friday against Roberta Vinci and Fabio Fognini of Italy.It was Vinci who pulled off one of the biggest upsets in tennis history by defeating Serena Williams in the 2015 U.S. Open semifinals.Venus Williams owns one singles gold and three doubles golds.Kathleen McKane won five Olympic tennis medals -- one gold -- in the 1920s.Williams and Ram face Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna of India on Saturday for a berth in the mixed doubles final.---9:25 p.m.Kyrie Irving scored 15 points and the U.S. mens basketball team survived its second straight strong challenge in the Rio Games, edging Serbia 94-91.The Americans won their 48th consecutive international tournament game, but it was anything but easy.Serbias Bogdan Bogdanovic missed a 3-pointer from the left wing with 2 seconds left that would have tied it, and Kevin Durant grabbed the rebound to keep the Americans unbeaten. They barely escaped against Australia on Wednesday.Seeking their third straight gold medal, the Americans built an early 18-point lead on Friday but couldnt put away the Serbians, who lost by 29 to the U.S. in the 2014 Basketball World Cup final.DeAndre Jordan scored 13 and Carmelo Anthony 12 for the U.S., which will close pool play on Sunday against France.Nikola Jokic scored 25 and Miroslav Raduljica 18 before fouling out for Serbia.---9:25 p.m.Sophie Schmidt scored in the 56th minute and Canada advanced to the womens soccer semifinals at the Rio Games with a 1-0 upset France on Friday night.The tenth-ranked Canadians, who won the bronze medal at the London Olympics, had not dropped a match in Brazil but faced a tough quarterfinal against No. 3 France.Canada will play Germany on Tuesday in Belo Horizonte.Canada also defeated France in the bronze medal match in London.---9:25 p.m.The Netherlands has one team through to the quarterfinals in the mens bracket at the Copacabana beach volleyball venue.Reinder Nummerdor and Christiaan Varenhorst beat Mexico 21-18, 21-15 in the opening round of the knockout stage on Friday. Nummerdor is at his third Olympics, and hes never finished worse than fifth.The other Dutch mens team will play on Saturday. If it beats Canada, there will be an all-Dutch matchup for a spot in the semifinals.Italy is already going head-to-head later on Friday with the two mens teams meeting in the round of 16.Nummerdor said: Its not nice in the Olympics that you compete with your own country.---9:20 p.m.MEDAL ALERT-WORLD RECORD: Iran opened its account in Rio with a gold medal and a world record as Kianoush Rostami outmuscled his rivals to win the mens 85-kilogram weightlifting class.Rostami knelt and kissed the platform before adopting a position of prayer after his lift of 217 kilograms in the clean and jerk, which when added to his 179 from the snatch gave him a winning total of 396 -- one kilo above the world record he had set in May.The silver went to Chinas Tian Tao on 395. Tian had a high-risk strategy of attempting 217 on his last lift after twice failing at 210, thus risking finishing last if he didnt make the lift.Bronze went to Romanias Gabriel Sincraian on 390. Sincraian only returned last year from a two-year ban for doping.---9:05 p.m.Tirunesh Dibaba already clinched a track and field bronze in the 10,000 meters early Friday. Now it is time for younger sister Genzebe to step forward in thec for the semifinals of the 1,500 late Friday, distancing opposition with a kick a lap from home and coasting from then on.But she was so relaxed that she swerved closely to the inside rail and had to take a corrective step to get back in line. It was her only problem toward a time of 4 minutes 10.61 seconds, more than 20 seconds off her world record.The semifinal is Sunday and the final on Tuesday.---8:05 p.m.MEDAL ALERT: Russia won the mens team foil event Friday for its sixth fencing medal of the Rio Games.Russia rallied from five points down to beat France 45-41, capturing its third gold medal in fencing so far. Hungary and the United States are second in the sports medal count with three.The Russians were trailing 35-30 when Artur Akhmatkhuzin scored 10 quick points to help clinch the bout.---7:50 p.m.Steve Johnson and Jack Sock have won the mens doubles bronze for the United States, the first medal of the Rio Olympics tennis competition.Johnson and Sock beat the Canadian pair of Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil 6-2, 6-4 on Friday night.Sock and Pospisil won the Wimbledon doubles championship together in 2014.Rafael Nadal and Marc Lopez of Spain are facing Florin Mergea and Horia Tecau of Romania in the gold-medal match.-----Follow more on the Olympics at http://summergames.ap.org
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