It's said that the only constant in life is change. That is magnified in sports and all the careers involved – even in the media.

I write this as a fond farewell to Sports Tonight.

Starting tonight, I am shifting jobs to become the beat writer for Villanova basketball and other local college sports.

The fourth-ranked Wildcats (8-0) will face their biggest challenge thus far when they play 12th-ranked Gonzaga (7-1) in the Jimmy V Classic at 7 in Madison Square Garden on ESPN.

Led by juniors Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges, Nova is coming off impressive wins over Big 5 rivals Penn and Saint Joseph's. The shot-making Wildcats are shooting 50.5 percent from the floor and 40.6 percent (84 of 207) on three-pointers.

Gonzaga lost its top three and four of its top five scorers from last season's NCAA Tournament runners-up, but the Bulldogs have been built into a program that overcome losses like that. Senior Jonathan Williams leads in scoring with 15.9 points, but the Zags are a balanced squad with five other players scoring in double figures and sophomore Rui Hachimura almost there at 9.8 ppg.

Gonzaga's lone loss was to fifth-ranked Florida, and the Bulldogs are coming off a victory over Big East member Creighton.

From left, Connecticut Huskies guards Christian Vital (1), Jalen Adams (4) and Antwoine Anderson (0).
Brad Horrigan / Hartford Courant
From left, Connecticut Huskies guards Christian Vital (1), Jalen Adams (4) and Antwoine Anderson (0).

Old Big East rivals back at MSG

When the original Big East was in its heyday, a matchup between Syracuse and Connecticut in Madison Square Garden typically meant a marquee encounter in the conference tournament.

The Orange and Huskies played 13 times in the Big East Tournament before Syracuse moved to the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2013.

With all the realignment in college basketball, many classic rivalries went by the wayside. Still, Syracuse and UConn, which is now in the American Athletic Conference, just couldn't quit each other. They've played in three of the four seasons since the 'Cuse went to the ACC.

After the Villanova-Gonzaga game finishes, the Huskies (6-2) and Orange (6-1) will meet for 94th time in the second game of the Jimmy V Classic on ESPN. In an ode to long-gone days of the "original" Big East, the rivals are back in MSG for the first time since the quarterfinals of the 2012 Big East tournament.

The Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds, second from right, celebrates his goal with teammates as Flames goalie Mike Smith looks on during the second period Monday in Calgary.
Jeff McIntosh / The Canadian Press
The Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds, second from right, celebrates his goal with teammates as Flames goalie Mike Smith looks on during the second period Monday in Calgary.

What I’m reading

Staff writer Sam Carchidi details the changes and adjustments and big plays the Flyers needed to end their 10-game losing streak.

Manager Gabe Kapler and young players Rhys Hoskins and J.P. Crawford are considered the Phillies' future. Staff writer Matt Breen says they've made good first impressions.

They say coaching isn't "rocket science," but staff writer Tom Avril says the Eagles could have used some refreshers in physics on the controversial pass or lateral by Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson.

Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke writes that UCLA got the best result possible with LaVar Ball pulling middle son LiAngelo off the basketball team because he had been suspended for causing an embarrassing international incident.

Arizona State's hiring of Herm Edwards as football coach seemed odd, and Kevin Skiver at cbssports.com writes that things got really weird at the introductory press conference.

Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict lies on the field after an apparent injury in the second half against the Steelers on Monday.
FRANK VICTORES / AP
Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict lies on the field after an apparent injury in the second half against the Steelers on Monday.

The riff

Considering almost every player in the history of the NFL has had at least three years in college, the stereotype of the "big dumb jock" was never accurate. Among all professional athletes, football players are among the most educated as a whole.

But intelligence doesn't equate to common sense, and for NFL players to pick this time to start acting like fools during games shows a blatant ignorance of what is happening around them.

This weekend alone, Rob Gronkowski of New England was suspended for a game for an intentional late hit, and the Monday Night game between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati is national news because of several vicious hits that resulted in injuries and likely more fines.

This comes just a couple of weeks after two ugly on-field fights.

Yo, NFL players, whether it's fair or not, your Q-rating is at an all-time low because of the attacks from President Trump. Ratings are down, and many fans side with the POTUS's claim that you are unpatriotic and disrespectful of what America has "gifted" to you.

You're losing a public relations war, and now is a time to be on your best behavior and not acting like jackasses.

With that, I'm all riffed out.

Today’s schedule

TV/Radio

NHL
Rangers at Penguins, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
Wild at Kings, 10 p.m. (NBCSN)

NBA
Suns at Raptors, 7:30 p.m. (NBA TV)
Wizards at Trail Blazers, 10 p.m. (NBA TV)

Men's College Basketball
Villanova vs. Gonzaga, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
Texas at VCU, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
Virginia at West Virginia, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
Vermont at Marquette, 7 p.m. (FS1)
Syracuse vs. Connecticut, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
Texas A&M vs. Arizona, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
St. Francis (Pa.) at Duke, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
Utah at Butler, 9 p.m. (FS1)
St. John's vs. Grand Canyon, 11:30 p.m. (ESPNU)

Golf on Golf Channel
Ladies European Tour: Dubai Masters, 4:30 a.m. Wednesday

Women's Hockey
USA Hockey vs. Hockey Canada, 8 p.m. (NHL Network)

Soccer
Champions League: Barcelona vs. Sporting CP, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)

Local Events

Horse Racing
Parx Racing, 12:25 p.m., Bensalem