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Update on the latest sports

March 26, 2019

NCAA-TOURNAMENT MONEY

Money Madness: AP analysis shows growing gap in NCAA payouts

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — March Madness has been a bonanza for the Ohio Valley Conference.

The league placed two teams in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament for the first time in 32 years. Then Murray State and Belmont both won games, making them darlings for underdog-loving fans everywhere.

The big payoff for the conference’s 12 schools comes over the next six years, a windfall of at least $6.77 million that starts in 2020 with a $1.1 million payment from the NCAA.

The NCAA distributes millions each year to conferences based on teams that make the tournament and win. Last year, the payouts were $216 million.

An AP analysis of more than $3 billion in payments distributed over more than 20 years shows a bigger portion of funds going toward the five most powerful conferences in college sports.

Windfalls like the one the heading toward the Ohio Valley have become tougher to come by.

MLB-SALARIES

AP study: MLB average salary on track for 2nd straight drop

NEW YORK (AP) — According to projections by The Associated Press, 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.

The 872 players on rosters and injured lists on Monday evening averaged $4.36 million, down from $4.41 million at the start of last season and $4.45 million on opening day in 2017, according to AP studies.

Back-to-back drops follow consecutive slow free-agent markets that saw salaries slashed for many veterans, and top pitchers Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel remain unsigned as openers approached.

This year’s exact figure could rise or fall when teams set opening-day rosters Thursday. The number will be impacted by how many players go on the injured list and how many lower-priced replacements are put on active rosters.

NBA-SCHEDULE

Rockets-Bucks highlight busy night on the hardwood

UNDATED (AP) — Two of the NBA’s elite teams meet in Milwaukee tonight, highlighting a 10-game slate.

The Bucks own the best record in the league with 55 wins against just 19 losses. They get a visit from James Harden and the Rockets tonight. Houston secured its postseason berth with a win Sunday in which six Rockets scored at least 10 points, led by Harden’s 28.

In Miami, we get an all-Florida struggle for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference playoff field, when the Heat host the Magic. Orlando trails Miami by just half a game.

Right behind them are the Charlotte Hornets. They’ll take on a playoff-bound San Antonio team in Charlotte tonight.

Detroit looks to maintain its position in the east, when it visits Denver tonight. The Nuggets go for their 50th win of the season, which would put them in a tie with Golden State for the top spot in the Western Conference.

The rest of the NBA schedule includes three games with playoff-bound teams taking on teams that will be going straight home once the regular season ends. Boston is at Cleveland, Toronto visits Chicago, while the L.A. Clippers are in Minnesota to face the Timberwolves.

Finally, we have three matchups featuring six non-playoff teams, with Atlanta at New Orleans, Sacramento at Dallas and Washington visiting the L.A. Lakers.

NHL -SCHEDULE

Metropolitan chase highlights seven-game slate

UNDATED (AP) — Little is settled in the NHL’s Metropolitan Division with the season winding down and five of its eight teams battling for playoff position.

The Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals are in first, but only by a point. They host a Carolina Hurricanes team that holds the first wild-card spot, but would love to move up. Meanwhile, Columbus is two points outside of the playoff picture and getting a visit from the Islanders. New York is one of two teams - the Penguins are the other - trailing the Caps by one point in the Metro.

In Montreal, the Canadiens cling to the second wild card in the Eastern Conference. The Habs will be looking to keep the Blue Jackets in their rear view when they host the Florida Panthers tonight.

Out West, the Arizona Coyotes are trying to catch Colorado in the wild-card race. They get a visit from the Blackhawks.

The rest of the schedule features six teams mulling future glory and how to achieve it. Buffalo is at Ottawa, while the Kings visit Edmonton and the Ducks travel to Vancouver.

MMA-MCGREGOR ANNOUNCEMENT

Conor McGregor announces retirement on social media

NEW YORK (AP) — 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 was making a “quick announcement.”

The tweet says: ” I’ve decided to retire from the sport formally known as “Mixed Martial Art” today.” The note wishes his colleagues well going forward and said that he would “join my former partners on this venture, already in retirement. Proper Pina Coladas on me fellas!”

The 30-year-old McGregor also announced retirement on Twitter in April 2016, saying he decided to retire young, though he quickly reversed that amid a dispute with his promoters about how much he should be obligated to tout a fight scheduled with Nate Diaz that was postponed.

Earlier this month, McGregor was arrested in South Florida for stealing the cellphone of someone who was trying to take his photo, authorities said. McGregor was charged with robbery and criminal mischief. His attorney described the altercation as minor.

McGregor, who’s from Ireland, returned to UFC last fall after a hiatus during which he made his boxing debut, a loss to Floyd Mayweather. He was suspended from UFC for six months and fined $50,000 for a brawl after his loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov in October.