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Expected settlements leave NCAA as lone defendant in O’Bannon lawsuit (UPDATED)

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And then there was one defendant remaining in the lawsuit against the NCAA, EA Sports and Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC) filed by a number of former college athletes. On Thursday it was reported that EA Sports, which also announced that it will not produce its popular college football video game next season, and the CLC have settled all claims brought against them by the plaintiffs. According to the New York Times the entities will reportedly pay in upwards of $40 million to settle the case.

With this announcement more than 100,000 former athletes are expected to receive funds, with there still being questions as to whether or not the settlement will impact current student-athletes. Just as important in all of this is the fact that the NCAA is the lone remaining defendant in the lawsuit. So while today’s news may not qualify as a watershed moment for collegiate athletics, it means that we’re going to find out just how hard both sides of the suit are willing to fight to either force change of maintain the status quo.

The settlement also allows the legal representation of the plaintiffs to focus all of their efforts on battling the NCAA, which could result in their case becoming even stronger.

“We hold that the NCAA intentionally looked the other way while EA commercialized the likenesses of students, and it did so because it knew that EA’s financial success meant a bigger royalty check to the NCAA,” Steve Berman, lead attorney in the suit brought about by former Arizona State/Nebraska quarterback Sam Keller, said in a statement.

“We are looking forward to presenting our case against the NCAA to a jury at trial,” Berman added. “We believe the facts will reveal a startling degree of complicity and profiteering on the backs of student athletes.”

The NCAA has entertained no such plans of settling, and why would they since what’s at stake means much more for the governing body of collegiate athletics than it does either of the other two defendants. According to Steve Berkowitz of USA Today the NCAA has made moves to bolster its legal team, and they’re prepared to take the battle all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if need be.

In concert with the NCAA’s position, [NCAA chief legal officer Donald] Remy said the association has retained one new law firm for the purpose of trial and another to handle appeals. Asked whether the likely cost of such additions to the NCAA’s legal team had been approved by association governing panels involved with oversight of the NCAA’s finances, Remy said: “This strategy has been discussed by all appropriate bodies and endorsed. The membership supports this handling of the case.”

It’s rather obvious that we’re nowhere near having this lawsuit resolved, and there’s obviously a lot on the line. But what will the future of collegiate athletics be? Despite the scenarios thrown around by folks on both sides of the equation, it’s difficult to say that there’s a surefire answer at this point.

VIDEO: Duke’s Grayson Allen beats No. 7 Virginia at the buzzer

Duke's Grayson Allen (3) and Marshall Plumlee (40) react during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Louisville in Durham, N.C., Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. Duke won 72-65. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
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Notre Dame’s Steve Vasturia sparks come-from-behind win over No. 13 Louisville

Notre Dame’s Steve Vasturia (32) goes up for a shot over Boston College’s Idy Diallo (4) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, in South Bend, Ind. (AP Photo/Robert Franklin)
(AP Photo/Robert Franklin)
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Demetrius Jackson scored 20 of his 25 points in the first half and Steve Vasturia scored 15 of his 20 points in the final 20 minutes as Notre Dame landed a 71-66 win over No. 13 Louisville on Saturday afternoon.

The Fighting Irish trailed by as many as 11 points early in the second half, but Vasturia’s hot shooting combined with Notre Dame holding Louisville to just 15 points in the final 15 minutes made all the difference.

The Fighting Irish are not as good as they were last season, but they are built in a similar mold. Jackson, as we expected, as become one of the nation’s most dynamic point guards, impossible to slow-down in isolation and ball-screen actions. Steve Vasturia emerging as a legitimate secondary option offensively and Zach Auguste is one of the nation’s most underrated big men and one of the most dangerous as the roll-man in ball-screens.

Combine all of that with a handful of shooters creating space and Bonzie Colson’s emergence as a force on the offensive glass, and Mike Brey once again has one of the nation’s most lethal offensive attacks.

Where they struggle is on the defensive end of the floor, which is what makes the end of Saturday’s win so meaningful. The Irish entered the day ranked 232nd in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric, which more or less means they’re as good as a bad mid-major program at keeping their opponents from scoring.

But they don’t have to be great to be able to win games.

They have to be good enough and they have to get important stops.

That’s precisely what happened on Saturday.

Whether or not that actually becomes a trend for this group will be something to monitor — it happened for Duke during last year’s NCAA tournament — but the bottom-line is this: Notre Dame does something better than just about anyone else in college basketball, and that’s score the ball.

On the nights they are able to gets some stops, they are going to be able to win some games. In the last eight days, they’ve proven that, beating North Carolina, Clemson on the road and Louisville.

And that makes them dangerous in March.