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BC-AP Sports Digest

March 21, 2019

The supervisor is Bob Lentz, followed by Fred Lief at 9 a.m. The New York sports desk can be reached at 800-845-8450, ext. 1630. Sports photos, ext. 1918; graphics, ext. 7636; agate, ext. 1635. For up-to-the-minute information on AP’s coverage, visit Coverage Plan at https://newsroom.ap.org For access to AP Newsroom and other technical issues, contact AP Customer Support at apcustomersupport@ap.org or 877-836-9477. All times EDT.

ESPN analyst Jay Bilas thinks the NCAA selection committee did a decent job, with one exception. He tells PodcastOne Sports Now co-hosts Jim Litke and Tim Dahlberg that matching Rick Pitino’s son _ who coaches Minnesota _ against his father’s former team is not a storyline the tournament needs.

https://www.podcastone.com/ap-sports-weekly-podcast

TOP STORIES

BKC--NCAA-TIPPING OFF

Reigning national champion Villanova will be in action along with Michigan, the runner-up from a year ago, while Belmont and Murray State open the NCAA Tournament as trendy upset picks as things get going with a full slate of games. Also in action are perennial powers Kansas and Michigan, along with Ja Morant and Murray State. By Dave Skretta. UPCOMING: 950 words, photos by 4 a.m.

BKC--NCAA TOURNAMENT-DIRTY BRACKET

SALT LAKE CITY _ We can’t tell you who is going to be in the Final Four, but here’s a list of scandal-plagued programs participating in March Madness _ and taking millions out of the NCAA Tournament. Every region has multiple teams dealing with infractions, poor sportsmanship and outright crimes. By National Writer Eddie Pells. UPCOMING: 1,400 words, photos by 4 a.m.

Also:

First Four Games:

_ BKC--NCAA-NC CENTRAL-N DAKOTA ST. _ North Dakota State advances to play East Region No. 1 seed Duke on Friday in Columbia, South Carolina. By Mitch Stacy. SENT: 620 words, photos.

_ BKC--NCAA-ST JOHN’S-ARIZONA STATE _ Arizona State advances to play Mid-American Conference champion Buffalo on Friday in the West Region, By Joe Kay. SENT: 820 words, photos.

BBA--MARINERS-ATHLETICS

TOKYO _Yusei Kikuchi is expected to make his first start for the Seattle Mariners against the Oakland Athletics in the second game of the teams’ season-opening set at the Tokyo Dome. Game scheduled for 5:35 a.m. By Stephen Wade. UPCOMING: 750 words, photos.

BBA-ANGELS-TROUT

ANAHEIM, Calif. _ Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday night announced their 12-year contract, a record deal that ties baseball’s top player to the club for what likely will be the rest of his career. By Greg Beacham. SENT: 620 words, photos.

AP POLL-SPORTS BETTING

A majority of Americans wants their states to allow legal gambling on professional sports, but they look differently at betting on college sports, according to a new poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research ahead of the start of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. By Wayne Parry and Emily Swanson. SENT: 860 words, photos.

COMMENTARY

TEN--ON TENNIS-SO MANY CHAMPIONS

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. _ There have been 19 ATP tournaments so far in 2019 _ and 19 men have earned one trophy each. There’s been the same sort of unprecedented parity on the WTA, with 13 winners at 13 events. No season in the Open era ever started this way for the men or women, let alone both. By Tennis Writer Howard Fendrich. SENT: 820 words, photos.

NCAA TOURNAMENT

Men:

Features:

BKC--NCAA-SHOOTING SYSTEM

ANN ARBOR, Mich. _ As the nation’s top teams compete in the NCAA Tournament, games will be won and lost from the 3-point line and the foul line. In an effort to improve their shooting, some teams use an innovative system from a company called Noah Basketball. The high-tech setup can measure both the arc and accuracy of a player’s shots _ an attempt to blend old-fashioned repetition with analytics and technology as players strive to improve their shooting. By Noah Trister. UPCOMING: 880 words, photos by 4 a.m.

BKC--NCAA-HOWARD VS MORANT

HARTFORD, Conn. _ Murray State point guard Ja Morant is future NBA lottery pick. Marquette point guard Markus Howard is the Big East player of the year. Two of the top-10 scorers in the country meet in a 5-12 NCAA Tournament game in the West Region, but don’t expect a lot of one-on-one matchups between the stars. By Ralph D. Russo. SENT: 770 words, photos.

BKC--NCAA-RUI’S RISE

SALT LAKE CITY _ Rui Hachimura watched from the bench when Gonzaga played North Carolina in the national title game. He could help the Zags cut down the nets this year. By Basketball Writer John Marshall. SENT: 730 words, photos.

Also:

_ BKC--NCAA-OLD DOMINION-CANCER FIGHT _ Old Dominion’s quest to reach the NCAA Tournament came as its coach, Jeff Jones, was fighting cancer. By Pat Eaton-Robb. SENT: 580 words, photos.

_ BKC--NCAA-DUKE-JONES _ Tyus Jones led a top-seeded Duke team to a national title four years ago. Now, younger brother Tre wants to do the same thing. By Joedy McCreary. SENT: 650 words, photos.

_ BKC--NCAA-BUSTED SEAMS _ Joe Golding hopes his team holds up better than his suit in the NCAA Tournament. By Mark Long. SENT: 550 words, photos.

_ BKC--NCAA-LOUISVILLE-MACK _ Louisville is back in the NCAA Tournament behind first-year coach Chris Mack. By Luke Meredith. SENT: 630 words, photos.

_ BKC--NEVADA-CAROLINE _ Jordan Caroline, son of former NFL defensive end Simeon Rice, is making a name for himself as Nevada’s top scorer and rebounder. By Eric Olson. SENT: 630 words, photos.

Previews:

BKC--NCAA-SOUTH REGION PREVIEW

HARTFORD, Conn. _ Defending national champion Villanova enters this NCAA Tournament with a different perspective. The Wildcats are a No. 6 seed, their lowest since 2013. They open defense of their title against St. Mary’s on Thursday. By Ralph D. Russo. SENT: 900 words, photos.

BKC--NCAA-EAST REGION PREVIEW

DES MOINES, Iowa _ After three consecutive first-weekend exits, second-seeded Michigan State looks to make an NCAA Tournament run starting Thursday against Bradley. By Luke Meredith. SENT: 950 words, photos.

BKC--NCAA-MIDWEST REGION PREVIEW

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. _ Kentucky is a trustworthy team in the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats have advanced past the opening round all eight times under coach John Calipari and made it to the Sweet 16 or further in seven of those. By Paul Newberry. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

BKC--NCAA-WEST REGION PREVIEW

SALT LAKE CITY _ Gonzaga’s team this season has been called more talented than the one that reached the NCAA title game two years ago. The Zags get their chance to prove it starting Thursday against Fairleigh Dickinson. By Basketball Writer John Marshall. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

Women:

Features:

BKW--NCAA-ONE-BID WONDERS

After watching two of her older sisters play in multiple Final Fours for Stanford, Rice’s Erica Ogwumike is about to get her own chance to experience the NCAA Tournament. Ogwumike heads a list of women’s players from one-bid conferences who bear watching this week. By Steve Megargee. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

BKW--NCAA-GRATEFUL TENNESSEE

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. _ Tennessee remains the only women’s basketball program to appear in every NCAA Tournament after getting one of the last available at-large spots in this year’s field. Now that they’re in, the Lady Vols want to avoid capping a disappointing season with an early exit. By Steve Megargee. SENT: 660 words, photos.

BKW--NCAA-SOUTH CAROLINA’S STRUGGLES

COLUMBIA, S.C. _ South Carolina coach Dawn Staley hopes her so-so season takes a final upward swing in the NCAA Tournament. By Pete Iacobelli. SENT: 710 words, photo.

BASEBALL

BBA--ANGELS PREVIEW

ANAHEIM, Calif. _ The Los Angeles Angels are about to make Mike Trout the highest-paid athlete in North American team sports history. This franchise’s cornerstone is cemented in place. It’s time to construct a championship team on top of that cornerstone, and the Angels plan to continue the work all summer long. By Greg Beacham. SENT: 680 words, photos.

BBA--RED SOX PREVIEW

BOSTON _ Red Sox manager Alex Cora thinks he can squeeze more production out of outfielder Mookie Betts this year by batting him second. Betts won the AL MVP last season but batted in just 80 runs as a leadoff hitter. Boston begins its World Series championship defense on March 28 in Seattle. By Jimmy Golen. SENT: 660 words, photos.

Also:

_ BBA--RED SOX-BETTS _ AL MVP Mookie Betts says he expects to become a free agent in late 2020. SENT: 460 words, photos.

_ BBN--PHILLIES-HARPER _ Bryce Harper gets first spring training hit with Phillies, ending an 0-for-9 start. SENT: 300 words, photos.

_ Previews of all other AL teams.

_ BBO--SPRING TRAINING RDP _ SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

NBA

BKN--CELTICS-76ERS

PHILADELPHIA _Boston’s recent dominance of the Philadelphia 76ers has been frustrating for Joel Embiid. So when Marcus Smart angrily shoved the star big man to the ground, Embiid had finally had enough. SENT: 720 words, photos.

BKN--ROCKETS-GRIZZLIES

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — James Harden did everything he could to bring the Houston Rockets back from a big deficit in the fourth quarter. He got them to overtime, but his 57 points weren’t enough. All because of a last-second free throw. SENT: 740 words, photos.

Also:

_ BKN--THUNDER-COLLISON _ Nick Collison’s No. 4 jersey was retired by the Oklahoma City Thunder. SENT: 300 words, photos.

NHL

HKN--LIGHTNING-CAPITALS

WASHINGTON _ Andrei Vasilevskiy piled up the saves, and the Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals traded blows in a thrilling potential playoff preview. By Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno. SENT: 900 words, photos.

Also:

_ HKN--WINTER CLASSIC-COTTON BOWL _ The NHL is headed south for its next Winter Classic when the Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators play in Cotton Bowl Stadium. SENT: 300 words, photos.

AUTO RACING

CAR--INDYCAR-PATRICK AFTER RACING

CHARLOTTE, N.C. _ Danica Patrick choked back tears after crashing out of her final Indianapolis 500, that one last trip around the historic speedway that launched her career had come to such a disappointing close. She’s not been back to a race track in the 10 months since and hasn’t looked back even once. By Auto Racing Writer Jenna Fryer. SENT: 780 words, photos.

With:

_ CAR--INDYCAR-INDY 500-PATRICK _ Danica Patrick to join NBC’s Indy 500 team. SENT: 620 words, photo.

GOLF

GLF--VALSPAR CHAMPIONSHIP

PALM HARBOR, Fla. _ Dustin Johnson is peaking. The Masters is nearing. And he was talking Wednesday about an injury from the stairs. At least this time it was his brother. By Golf Writer Doug Ferguson. SENT: 840 words, photos.

GLF--LPGA TOUR

PHOENIX _David Whelan has tried to teach Nelly Korda that she doesn’t need to be perfect to win on the LPGA Tour. By John Nicholson. SENT: 620 words.

SOCCER

SOC--US-BERHALTER

DAVENPORT, Fla. _ Gregg Berhalter prepares for U.S. national team matches like a CEO getting ready for a deal. By Ronald Blum. SENT: 800 words, photos.

Also:

_ SOC--2023 WOMEN’S WORLD CUP BIDDING _ FIFA will not allow artificial fields at 2023 Women’s World Cup. By Soccer Writer Rob Harris. SENT: 560 words, photos.

FIGURE SKATING

FIG--WORLDS

SAITAMA, Japan _ Two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu will be the favorite in the men’s short program at the figure skating world championships. The Japanese skater is coming off an ankle injury as he bids for his third world title. UPCOMING: 400 words, photos.

OTHER

WRE--NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS-PREVIEW

PITTSBURGH _ Penn State is poised to send out another senior class as four-time national champions and cement its status as the college powerhouse of the past decade. The Nittany Lions are the prohibitive favorites to claim the team title at this weekend’s NCAA Championships for the eighth time in nine years and for the fourth year in a row. By Luke Meredith. SENT: 640 words, photos.

Also:

_ FBC--ESPN-AMERICAN _ AP source: American Athletic Conference makes 12-year TV deal with ESPN. By Pat Eaton-Robb. SENT: 480 words.

_ MMA--UFC-DILLASHAW _ TJ Dillashaw gives up UFC 135-pound title because of drug test. SENT: 260 words, photo.

_ RAC--PIMLICO-LAWSUIT _ Baltimore sues to block move of Preakness Stakes. By David McFadden. SENT: 700 words, photo.

_ TEN--MIAMI-OPEN _ Three-time champion Victoria Azarenka won the first match on the stadium court at the new site of the Miami Open. SENT: 150 words.

CAPSULES

_ BKN--NBA CAPSULES

_ HKN--NHL CAPSULES

_ BKC--NCAA TOURNAMENT CAPSULES

___

Thursday Time Schedule (EDT)

MLB

Seattle vs. Oakland at Tokyo, 5:35 a.m.

NBA

Denver at Washington, 7 p.m.

Minnesota at Charlotte, 7 p.m.

Utah at Atlanta, 7:30 p.m.

Dallas at Sacramento, 10 p.m.

Detroit at Phoenix, 10 p.m.

Indiana at Golden State, 10:30 p.m.

NHL

Tampa Bay at Carolina, 7 p.m.

Boston at New Jersey, 7 p.m.

Arizona at Florida, 7 p.m.

N.Y. Islanders at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.

Detroit at St. Louis, 8 p.m.

Pittsburgh at Nashville, 8 p.m.

Colorado at Dallas, 8:30 p.m.

Philadelphia at Chicago, 8:30 p.m.

Columbus at Edmonton, 9 p.m.

Ottawa at Calgary, 9 p.m.

Winnipeg at Vegas, 10 p.m.

San Jose at Los Angeles, 10:30 p.m.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

NCAA TOURNAMENT

FIRST ROUND

At Hartford, Conn.

Florida State vs. Vermont, 2 p.m.

Marquette vs. Murray State, 4:30 p.m.

Villanova vs. Saint Mary’s, 7:20 p.m.

Purdue vs. Old Dominion, 9:50 p.m.

At Jacksonville, Fla.

LSU vs. Yale, 12:40 p.m.

Maryland vs. Belmont, 3:10 p.m.

Kentucky vs. Abilene Christian, 7:10 p.m.

Wofford vs. Seton Hall, 9:40 p.m.

At Des Moines, Iowa

Louisville vs. Minnesota, 12:15 p.m.

Michigan State vs. Bradley, 2:45 p.m.

Nevada vs. Florida, 6:50 p.m.

Michigan vs. Montana, 9:20 p.m.

At Salt Lake City

Auburn vs. New Mexico State, 1:30 p.m.

Kansas vs. Northeastern, 4 p.m.

Gonzaga vs. Fairleigh Dickinson, 7:27 p.m.

Syracuse vs. Baylor, 9:57 p.m.

PRESEASON BASEBALL

Atlanta vs. Tampa Bay (ss) at Port Charlotte, Fla., 1:05 p.m.

Houston vs. Detroit at Lakeland, Fla., 1:05 p.m.

N.Y. Yankees vs. St. Louis (ss) at Jupiter, Fla., 1:05 p.m.

Toronto vs. Philadelphia at Clearwater, Fla., 1:05 p.m.

Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh at Bradenton, Fla., 1:05 p.m.

Miami vs. N.Y. Mets at Port St. Lucie, Fla., 1:10 p.m.

Kansas City vs. Cincinnati (ss) at Goodyear, Ariz., 4:05 p.m.

San Francisco vs. Chicago Cubs at Mesa, Ariz., 4:05 p.m.

Cleveland vs. Texas (ss) at Surprise, Ariz., 4:05 p.m.

L.A. Dodgers vs. Milwaukee at Phoenix, 4:05 p.m.

Texas (ss) vs. Chicago White Sox at Glendale, Ariz., 4:05 p.m.

L.A. Angels vs. Arizona at Scottsdale, Ariz., 4:10 p.m.

Tampa Bay (ss) vs. Boston at Fort Myers, Fla., 6:05 p.m.

St. Louis (ss) vs. Washington at West Palm Beach, Fla., 6:35 p.m.

Cincinnati (ss) vs. Seattle at Peoria, Ariz., 9:40 p.m.