The two nations were drawn in Group D along with Austria, Serbia, Moldova and Georgia. The winners will qualify automatically for the finals in Russia, with the runners-up having to take part in a play-off. Northern Ireland will have to face world champions Germany in Group C along with the Czech Republic, Norway, Azerbaijan and San Marino. Press Association England and Scotland will also meet each other after they were drawn in Group F with Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania and Malta. Northern Ireland were among the third seeds, while Martin O’Neill’s Republic of Ireland side were in the pot of fourth seeds. Northern Ireland’s last appearance in a World Cup was in 1982 and the Republic of Ireland’s in 2002. The Republic of Ireland and Wales will clash in the qualifying competition for the 2018 World Cup after being drawn in the same group.
Follow Yasmeen on Twitter @YasmeenSerhan Ranked No. 23, USC and crosstown rival UCLA tied on the 2014 U.S. News and World Report National University Rankings released Monday night, according to the Los Angeles Times. Both schools increased one spot higher from last year, sharing the ranking with Carnegie Mellon, the University of Virginia and Wake Forest University. Last year, both Los Angeles schools shared the No. 24 ranking with the University of Virginia.Rankings are determined using multiple criteria, including acceptance rates, graduation rates, faculty and freshmen retention. However, U.S. News and World Report said their methodology for determining this year’s rankings has changed, putting less emphasis on freshmen academics and adding more emphasis to factors such as graduation rate performance and incoming freshmen SAT and ACT exam scores.Overall, the magazine said these changes have had a minimal effect on the top 50 rankings.
With the conversion of Staples Center from hockey rink to basketball court, the Clippers didn’t get a chance to have a true shootaround before Saturday’s game against Utah.Coach Doc Rivers seemed to prefer it that way, sensing that his players are still not fully recovered from the recent stretch of nine games in nine different cities.“We’re going through a heck of a point in the schedule and I’ve been around long enough to know when you practice tired, you don’t learn anything from that, you don’t get better from that,” said Rivers, who gave his team Friday off. “I’ve said it for years, if I have a choice between the head and the legs, I’m taking the legs. I need legs. You’re not going to win without those in the games.”The Clippers have already played 12 of their 17 back-to-back games on their schedule. When Rivers looked at the slate before the season and saw their current stretch of games, he didn’t figure they would truly be able to recuperate until after Wednesday’s home game against Miami. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error “I don’t think you recover quickly from that,” Rivers said of the schedule. “In the second half (of the season), we have a more favorable schedule, more practice time, I think we’ll be able to improve as a team. “I don’t know if we’ll win more or less, but I know we’ll have a chance to be a better basketball team in the second half of the year.”The Clippers did get a film session and a walk-through in the locker room before the game. They marked the floor with tape and went through the game plan.“You still go over the same plays, just no rim involved,” Rivers said. “Sometimes that helps.”Record watch Today in Milwaukee, an NCAA record held for eight years by Clippers guard J.J. Redick could fall.Senior Travis Bader of Oakland University in Rochester, Mich., needs only three 3-pointers to surpass the record of 457 Redick set while at Duke.Redick and the Clippers have already sent along a congratulatory video they made for Bader, and Redick plans on calling the 6-foot-5 senior after he surpasses the record.“I just found an article the other day about him, so I learned a little bit about him, a skinny little kid coming into college and he works his butt off, that he’s a good representation of his school,” Redick said. “I heard something this summer, someone said something about it to me, so I knew it was going to be broken this year.”Redick, who recalled the mental and emotional strain his own chase for the record put on him, has resisted reaching out to Bader so far.“I thought about texting him the other day, telling him to stop being such a head case,” Redick said, smiling. “I’ll just wait ‘til he breaks it.”
Six Nations 2019: Adam Beard replaces Cory Hill (ankle) for Wales’ clash with Scotland He was considered in the running to take on the Azzurri on Saturday but limped out of training Tuesday after hurting the same knee.Ewels has 10 caps to his name, his last coming in November against Australia. Related News England has called up Charlie Ewels to their squad to face Italy as injury cover for Maro Itoje.Second row Itoje missed the win over France and the loss to Wales in Cardiff that ended England’s Six Nations Grand Slam hopes with a knee injury sustained in the tournament opener against Ireland on Feb. 2. Gloucester’s Ollie Thorley has also been named to the squad as injury cover for Jack Nowell, who suffered a shoulder stinger against Wales.