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March 26, 2019

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TOP STORIES

BBO--SALARIES

NEW YORK _ Even with huge new contracts for Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and Nolan Arenado, Major League Baseball’s average salary is on track to drop on opening day for an unprecedented second straight season, according to projections by The Associated Press. By Baseball Writer Ronald Blum. UPCOMING: 1,300 words, photos by 4 a.m.

MMA--MCGREGOR ANNOUNCEMENT

NEW YORK _ Superstar UFC fighter Conor McGregor has announced on social media that he is retiring from mixed martial arts. McGregor’s verified Twitter account had a post early Tuesday that said the former featherweight and lightweight UFC champion decided to retire. SENT: 240 words, photo. Will be updated. Timing uncertain.

BKC--NCAA-REGIONAL RESET

RALEIGH, N.C. _ Duke, Virginia, North Carolina and Gonzaga won’t have easy roads to the Final Four in a Sweet 16 filled with high seeds. In all, 14 of the top 16 seeds reached the second weekend, including all of the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 seeds. By Basketball Writer Aaron Beard. SENT: 900 words, photos.

BKW--NCAA-MISSOURI ST-IOWA ST

AMES, Iowa — Missouri State has become a small-school outlier in an NCAA Tournament largely dominated by chalk. The Lady Bears are playing like they belong among the giants of the women’s game. Alexa Willard scored 17 points to help 11th-seeded Missouri State stun third-seeded Iowa State 69-60, becoming the only double-digit seed to reach this year’s Sweet 16. By Luke Meredith. SENT: 820 words, photos.

FBN--NFL MEETINGS

PHOENIX _ As part of the celebration of its 100th season, the NFL will break from tradition and feature the Packers vs. the Bears in its season opener Sept. 5. By Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner. SENT: 700 words, photos.

SPORTS SHOWCASE

BKC—NCAA-TOURNAMENT MONEY

There are 32 conferences in Division I basketball. For those leagues outside the wealthiest, having a team pull an NCAA Tournament upset or land an at-large bid to the Big Dance is like winning the lottery. At the mid-major level, that money often funds conference-wide initiatives to improve the quality of basketball, giving teams in those leagues a better chance to be the next Cinderella team. But those windfalls are becoming harder to come by as power conferences hoard tournament revenue. By College Sports Writer Ralph D. Russo. UPCOMING: 1,500 words, photos, video by 4 a.m. Data distribution also available. An abridged version of 850 words will also move.

With:

_ BKC--NCAA-TOURNAMENT MONEY-HOW IT WORKS _ What’s an NCAA Tournament unit worth? Millions. By College Sports Writer Ralph D. Russo. 750 words, photos by 4 a.m.

Data distribution: The Associated Press is sharing more than 20 years’ worth of tournament payout data on data.world, which members can use to explore the amount a school’s wins have earned for its conference and the amount a school has received relative to its production. If your news organization is not yet licensed to access our data distribution, please contact apdigitalsales@ap.org for enrollment details.

The data.world link: https://data.world/associatedpress/ncaa-conference-payouts

OLY--JOHN LEICESTER-WEIGHTLIFTING’S WOES

PARIS _ The initial picture that emerged from weightlifting’s world championships seemed positive: All of the drug tests initially came back negative, offering hope that the troubled sport’s efforts to change its doping culture and lift the threat of being kicked out of the Olympic Games might be bearing fruit. But then sophisticated computer algorithms got to work on reanalyzing the results. That high-tech additional screening revealed a grim picture of continued doping, including by reigning Olympic champions, that will be presented to the International Olympic Committee this week. Given that weightlifting was already on probation, this should be the last straw: The time has now come give weightlifters’ Olympic spots to athletes from other sports that offer a more believable, more inspiring example. By Sports Columnist John Leicester. UPCOMING: 900 words, photos by 5 a.m.

COMMENTARY

CAR--NASCAR-IN THE PITS

CHARLOTTE, N.C. _ Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway will not be part of next year’s NASCAR schedule. But NASCAR promises changes. The release of the 2020 schedule will show just how seriously it has been listening to fans. By Auto Racing Writer Jenna Fryer. SENT: 900 words, photos.

NCAA TOURNAMENT

Men:

BKC--NCAA-TENNESSEE-BARNES

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. _ Tennessee coach Rick Barnes heads to his first Sweet 16 in over a decade looking for another win against an opponent the Volunteers beat last season to signify their emergence as a national contender. By Steve Megargee. SENT: 730 words, photos.

BKC--NCAA-BUSTED BIG 12

Bill Self stood in a room just off the court in Allen Fieldhouse on Selection Sunday and lamented that the Big 12 managed to squeak only six schools into the NCAA Tournament. Well, so much for all of that. The first weekend of the NCAA Tournament was a slap in the face to a league that habitually considers itself the toughest in college basketball. By Dave Skretta. SENT: 970 words, photos.

Also:

_ BKC--NCAA TOURNAMENT RATINGS _ TV ratings across four networks for first week up 8 percent from last year. SENT: 140 words, photos.

Women:

BKW--NCAA WOMEN’S SWEET 16 SET

NEW YORK _ The Sweet 16 is set and Missouri State is crashing the party for the first time in 18 years. The 11th-seeded Lady Bears, who last made it this far in 2001 when the team made its historic Final Four run, are the only double-digit seed to reach the regional semifinals. It’s the ninth time in 10 years that a team seeded 10 or lower has reached the Sweet 16. Missouri State knocked off Iowa State on the Cyclones’ home court to advance. By Basketball Writer Doug Feinberg. UPCOMING: 580 words, photos by 4 a.m.

BKW--NCAA-CALIFORNIA-BAYLOR

WACO, Texas _Talk about a sweet recipe for No. 1 overall seed Baylor — defense, rebounding and depth. Add it all together and the perennial Big 12 champion Lady Bears are going to their 11th consecutive women’s NCAA Sweet 16 after another lopsided win over California. By Stephen Hawkins. SENT: 910 words, photos.

BKW--NCAA-MICHIGAN ST-NOTRE DAME

SOUTH BEND, Ind. _Coach Muffet McGraw, top-seed Notre Dame and the home fans held their collective breaths when Jackie Young lost hers during Monday’s 91-63 victory over No. 9 Michigan State in a second-round NCAA Chicago Regional game. SENT: 820 words, photos.

BKW--NCAA--UCLA-MARYLAND

COLLEGE PARK. Md. _For UCLA, missed shots are merely part of the game. What really matters is what the Bruins do after the ball clangs off the rim. UCLA snagged a whopping 27 offensive rebounds against No. 3 seed Maryland and squeezed out an 85-80 victory to earn its fourth consecutive berth in the Sweet 16 of the women’s NCAA Tournament. By David Ginsburg. SENT: 890 words, photos.

Also:

_ Stories on four other second-round games.

BASEBALL

BBO--OPENING DAY STARTERS

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. _ In this data-driven age in baseball, when analytics and analysis are supposed to replace “gut feel” and sentiment, granting an opening day start to a pitcher because of his status rather than his stats is a remnant of a bygone era. By Howard Fendrich. SENT: 700 words, photos.

BBN--NATIONALS-ROBLES’ TURN

WASHINGTON _ Every team has a “next big thing” in the minors, and Washington Nationals fans have been hearing about speedy outfielder Victor Robles for years. Now it’s finally his turn for a chance to play a full season in the big leagues. By Howard Fendrich. SENT: 650 words, photos.

BBN--PADRES-PADDACK

SEATTLE _ When Andy Green walked to the mound on Monday night, the plan was put in motion. He congratulated Chris Paddack on finishing off his brilliant spring training with the Padres, then let Paddack’s teammates inform the pitcher he had made San Diego’s rotation to start the season. By Tim Booth. UPCOMING: 550 words by 4 a.m.

Also:

_ BBA--TWINS-LIVING WALL _ Twins plant new trees past outfield wall to resolve problem over hitters’ background. By Dave Campbell. SENT: 450 words, photos.

___

A paginated preview of the MLB season, with the first full day of regular-season games starting March 28, is available in AP Newsroom by searching for “Sports Extra” or “SE” under the Graphics tab. The pages look at some of the biggest players who have switched teams since last season as well as the top prospects and dates of note. For questions, contact Barry Bedlan at bbedlan@ap.org

NBA

BKN--76ERS-MAGIC

ORLANDO, Fla. _ A little desperation went a long way for the Orlando Magic. The Magic shut down the Philadelphia 76ers in the second half of a 119-98 victory that moved them within a half-game of eighth place in the Eastern Conference. SENT: 640 words, photos.

BKN--SUNS-JAZZ

SALT LAKE CITY _ Devin Booker scored from all over the court. Rudy Gobert and a host of Utah Jazz players did their damage from much closer to the rim. Gobert dunked his way to a season-high 27 points and set the single-season NBA dunk record to fuel Utah to a 125-92 victory Monday night over the Phoenix Suns, who got 59 points from Booker. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

LAW

MICHAEL AVENATTI-ARREST

LOS ANGELES _Michael Avenatti, the pugnacious attorney best known for representing porn actress Stormy Daniels in lawsuits against President Donald Trump, was arrested Monday on charges that included trying to shake down Nike for as much as $25 million by threatening the company with bad publicity. By Brian Melley and Larry Neumeister. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

COLLEGE ADMISSIONS-BRIBERY

BOSTON _ Athletic coaches charged in a sweeping college admissions scam pleaded not guilty Monday to taking bribes from wealthy parents in exchange for helping students get into elite universities such as Georgetown. By Alanna Durkin Richer. SENT: 680 words, photos.

Also:

_ SUPREME COURT-MICHAEL JORDAN-IMAGE _ High court won’t hear copyright dispute over Michael Jordan images. By Jessica Gresko. SENT: 300 words, photos.

_ FBC--GEORGIA-BAR FIGHT _ Two Georgia football players facing charges of disorderly conduct. By Charles Odum. SENT: 300 words.

NHL

HKN--CAPITALS-WHITE HOUSE

WASHINGTON _ President Donald Trump welcomed Alex Ovechkin and the reigning NHL champion Washington Capitals to the Oval Office on Monday to congratulate them for winning the Stanley Cup in June. By Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno. SENT: 740 words, photos.

GOLF

GLF--MATCH PLAY

AUSTIN, Texas _ Tiger Woods is at another new golf course for a World Golf Championships event and faces another player he doesn’t know. Woods, who arrived Monday and played nine holes at Austin Country Club, opens the Dell Technologies Match Play against Aaron Wise, an NCAA champion from Oregon and the PGA Tour rookie of the year. By Golf Writer Doug Ferguson. SENT: 580 words, photos.

TENNIS

TEN--MIAMI OPEN

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. _Roger Federer finished with a flurry of aces and advanced to the fourth round of the Miami Open, while three-time Miami champion Venus Williams lost to No. 2-seeded Simona Halep. By Steven Wine. SENT: 500 words, photos.

SOCCER

SOC--EUROPEAN QUALIFYING

An injury to Cristiano Ronaldo exacerbated Portugal’s frustrating start to its European Championship title defense. Things couldn’t be going much better for free-scoring England and France. By Steve Douglas. SENT: 700 words, photos.

With:

_ SOC--CATALONIA-VENEZUELA _ Venezuela followed its win over Lionel Messi’s Argentina by losing to Catalonia 2-1 in a friendly. SENT: 260 words, photos.

COLLEGE BASEBALL

BBC--COLLEGE BASEBALL RDP

North Carolina State is the hottest team in college baseball. The Wolfpack lead the nation in wins, have come from behind to win 12 times and are coming off their first sweep of Miami. By Eric Olson. SENT: 740 words, photos.

OBITUARY

_ BKN--OBIT-RAMSEY _ Former Knicks, NYU player Cal Ramsey dies at 81. SENT: 160 words, photos.

_ SKI--OBIT-CHERYAZOVA _ Russia’s Lina Cheryazova, the first woman to win an Olympic aerials skiing gold medal, dies at 50. SENT: 280 words.

CAPSULES

_ BKN--NBA CAPSULES

_ HKN--NHL CAPSULES

_ BKW--NCAA TOURNAMENT CAPSULES

___

Tuesday Time Schedule (EDT)

NBA

Boston at Cleveland, 7 p.m.

San Antonio at Charlotte, 7 p.m.

Chicago at Toronto, 7:30 p.m.

Orlando at Miami, 7:30 p.m.

Atlanta at New Orleans, 8 p.m.

Houston at Milwaukee, 8 p.m.

L.A. Clippers at Minnesota, 8 p.m.

Sacramento at Dallas, 8:30 p.m.

Detroit at Denver, 9 p.m.

Washington at L.A. Lakers, 10:30 p.m.

NHL

N.Y. Islanders at Columbus, 7 p.m.

Carolina at Washington, 7 p.m.

Buffalo at Ottawa, 7:30 p.m.

Florida at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.

Los Angeles at Edmonton, 9 p.m.

Chicago at Arizona, 10 p.m.

Anaheim at Vancouver, 10 p.m.

PRESEASON BASEBALL

Detroit vs. Tampa Bay at St. Petersburg, Fla., 12:35 p.m.

Cincinnati vs. Atlanta at Atlanta, GA, 1:10 p.m.

Colorado vs. Minnesota at Fort Myers, Fla., 2:05 p.m.

Cleveland vs. Texas at Arlington, TX, 2:05 p.m.

Pittsburgh vs. Houston at Houston, TX, 2:10 p.m.

Boston vs. Chicago Cubs at Mesa, Ariz., 3:05 p.m.

Chicago White Sox vs. Arizona at Phoenix, 3:40 p.m.

San Diego vs. Seattle at Seattle, WA, 4:10 p.m.

Milwaukee vs. Toronto at Montreal, QB, 7:05 p.m.

Oakland vs. San Francisco at San Francisco, CA, 9:45 p.m.

L.A. Angels vs. L.A. Dodgers at Los Angeles, CA, 10:10 p.m.