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BC-AP Sports Digest

March 20, 2019

The supervisor is Rebecca Miller, followed by Ben Nuckols at 5 p.m. and Bob Lentz at 1 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

BBA--MARINERS-ATHLETICS-SCENE

TOKYO _ Talk about a serious home-field advantage. Ichiro Suzuki had it on a night to celebrate all things Ichiro _ “Ichiromania” in other words _ as he started for the Seattle Mariners against the Oakland Athletics in MLB’s opening game of the season. About 45,000 voices in a sellout crowd at the Tokyo Dome chanted his name as he took his place in right field. By Stephen Wade. SENT: 730 words, photos.

With:

_ BBA--MARINERS-ATHLETICS _ Ichiro cheered at Tokyo Dome, Mariners top A’s 9-7 in opener. SENT: 700 words, photos.

_ BBO--OPENING DAY-FIRST _ Jay Bruce gets 1st hit of 2019 MLB season, Stephen Piscotty 1st home run. SENT: 130 words, photo.

BKC--NCAA TOURNAMENT GUIDE

The NCAA Tournament somehow seems to be getting better every year, almost as if each bracket is extending from the previous one. Last year was one of the maddest of Marches. Surely it can’t get any better, right? Don’t bet against it. By Basketball Writer John Marshall. SENT: 630 words, photos.

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. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 6 p.m.

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.

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. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 6 p.m.

With:

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

SPORTS SHOWCASE

OLY--BRIDGE’S TROUBLED WATERS

PARIS _ When the world’s top bridge player tested positive for one of the steroids Lance Armstrong used to cheat the Tour de France, it was easy to snigger. Juicing in cards? Ha! But within the game recognized as a bona fide sport by the International Olympic Committee many are seething, angry not with the player, Geir Helgemo, but with the anti-doping regime that bridge signed up to in its fruitless chase for a spot in the Olympic Games. By John Leicester. SENT: 940 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. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 5 p.m.

BKC--TIM DAHLBERG-BOOKIE’S BACK

The biggest dice game around was just a few miles down the road when Jimmy Vaccaro was growing up in the Pittsburgh area. So was Comet News in Braddock, where those in the know slipped behind the green door into a back room where bookies offered action on both ponies and games. The longtime Las Vegas oddsmaker still likes to drive by the now shuttered Comet when he has time. It reminds him of his youth, and how much things have changed in his lifetime. And change they have, more than Vaccaro ever thought possible. By Sports Columnist Tim Dahlberg. SENT: 800 words, photos.

NCAA TOURNAMENT

Men:

Features:

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. UPCOMING: 700 words by 7 p.m.

BKC--NCAA-OLD DOMINION-CANCER FIGHT

HARTFORD, Conn. _ Old Dominion’s quest to reach the NCAA Tournament came as its coach, Jeff Jones, was fighting cancer. By Pat Eaton-Robb. UPCOMING: 500 words by 7 p.m.

BKC--NCAA-DUKE-JONES

DURHAM, N.C. _ 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

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. _ Joe Golding hopes his team holds up better than his suit in the NCAA Tournament. Golding ripped his pants celebrating Abilene Christian’s seeding and wasn’t able to get them repaired before leaving for Florida. The 15th-seeded Wildcats face Kentucky in the opening round. By Mark Long. SENT: 550 words, photos.

BKC--NCAA-LOUISVILLE-MACK

DES MOINES, Iowa _ Louisville is back in the NCAA Tournament behind first-year coach Chris Mack, who has the rebuilt Cardinals trending upward. By Luke Meredith. UPCOMING: 500 words by 8 p.m.

BKC--NEVADA-CAROLINE

DES MOINES, Iowa _ At 6-foot-7 and 235 pounds, Jordan Caroline has a football player’s build, just like dad. The son of former NFL defensive end Simeon Rice and grandson of ex-Chicago Bear J.C. Caroline is making a name for himself as Nevada’s top scorer and rebounder. By Eric Olson. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos by 9 p.m.

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. UPCOMING: 650 words, photos by 6 p.m.

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. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 8 p.m.

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. UPCOMING: 700 words by 7 p.m.

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. UPCOMING: 700 words by 7 p.m.

First Four Games (Dayton, Ohio):

_ BKC--NCAA-NC CENTRAL-NORTH DAKOTA ST. By Mitch Stacy. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos. Game starts 6:40 p.m.

_ BKC--NCAA-ST JOHN’S-ARIZONA STATE. By Joe Kay. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos. Game starts no earlier than 9:10 p.m.

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:

_ Previews of all other AL teams.

_ BBO--SPRING TRAINING RDP _ UPCOMING: 900 words, photos by 8 p.m.

NBA

BKN--CELTICS-76ERS

PHILADELPHIA _ Joel Embiid gets his last chance during the regular season to beat Boston when the 76ers host the Celtics. The Celtics knocked the Sixers out of the playoffs last season, spoiled their opening game in this one and then ruined their Christmas with another nationally televised victory. Boston has won 17 of the last 19 regular-season meetings. UPCOMING: 650 words, photos. Game starts at 7 p.m.

NHL

HKN--LIGHTNING-CAPITALS

WASHINGTON _ The Presidents’ Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning visit the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals. By Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos. Game starts at 7:30 p.m.

HKN--AROUND THE NHL

Many NHL teams have plenty to play for down the final stretch of the regular season, trying to get in the playoffs or to improve their positioning, before 16 teams compete for the Stanley Cup. Some players have a lot at stake, too. By Larry Lage. SENT: 710 words, photos.

GOLF

GLF--VALSPAR CHAMPIONSHIP

PALM HARBOR, Fla. _ Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm are at the Valspar Championship for the first time and had the same impression: It might be Spring Break in Florida, but Innisbrook is hard work. By Golf Writer Doug Ferguson. SENT: 760 words, photos.

GLF--LPGA TOUR

PHOENIX _ The LPGA Tour hits the desert for the Founders Cup, the event honoring the women who founded the tour. By John Nicholson. UPCOMING: 600 words by 8 p.m.

SOCCER

SOC--US-BERHALTER

DAVENPORT, Fla. _ U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter is trying to transform the Americans with a possession-based, ball-circulating mindset. By Ronald Blum. UPCOMING: 650 words by 7 p.m.

With:

_ SOC--US-PULISIC _ Christian Pulisic wants opponents to fear U.S., knows it will take time. By Ronald Blum. SENT: 770 words, photos.

SOC--EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFIERS

After a terrible 2018, Germany is aiming for revenge against the Netherlands in European Championship qualifying. By James Ellingworth. SENT: 770 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 _ Olympic champion Alina Zagitova produces a season-best score to take the lead after the short program on the opening day of the world figure skating championships. Zagitova opened her routine with a triple-lutz, triple-loop combination and added a double axel and a triple flip for 82.08 points. SENT: 340 words, photos.

OTHER

WRE--NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS-PREVIEW

Penn State is poised to send out another senior class as four-time national champions _ and cement its status as the pre-eminent collegiate powerhouse of the past decade. The Nittany Lions (14-0) 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. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos by 6 p.m.

Also:

_ FBC--ESPN-AMERICAN _ AP source: American Athletic Conference makes 12-year TV deal with ESPN. By Pat Eaton-Robb. SENT: 460 words.

_ MMA--UFC-DILLASHAW _ TJ Dillashaw gives up UFC 135-pound title because of drug test. SENT: 210 words, photo.

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

_ TEN--MIAMI-OPEN _ Rain-delayed Miami Open begins play at new site, the Dolphins’ stadium complex. UPCOMING: 150 words by 8 p.m.

CAPSULES

_ BKN--NBA CAPSULES

_ HKN--NHL CAPSULES

_ BKC--NCAA TOURNAMENT CAPSULES

___

Wednesday Time Schedule (EDT)

NBA

Boston at Philadelphia, 7 p.m.

Milwaukee at Cleveland, 7 p.m.

New Orleans at Orlando, 7 p.m.

Utah at New York, 7:30 p.m.

Houston at Memphis, 8 p.m.

Washington at Chicago, 8 p.m.

Miami at San Antonio, 8:30 p.m.

Toronto at Oklahoma City, 9:30 p.m.

Dallas at Portland, 10 p.m.

NHL

Toronto at Buffalo, 7 p.m.

Tampa Bay at Washington, 7:30 p.m.

Ottawa at Vancouver, 10 p.m.

Winnipeg at Anaheim, 10 p.m.

Men’s NCAA Tournament

First Four (Dayton, Ohio)

N.C. Central vs. North Dakota State, 6:40 p.m.

Arizona State vs. St. John’s, 9:10 p.m.

Men’s NIT (First Round)

Campbell (20-12) at UNC-Greensboro (28-6), 7 p.m.

Lipscomb (25-7) at Davidson (24-9), 7 p.m.

Hofstra (27-7) at NC State (22-11), 7 p.

St. Francis (Pa.) (18-14) at Indiana (17-15), 7 p.m.

Wichita State (19-14) at Furman (25-7), 7 p.m.

San Diego (21-14) at Memphis (21-13), 8 p.m.

Arkansas (17-15) at Providence (18-15), 9 p.m.

South Dakota State (24-8) at Texas (16-16), 9 p.m.

Loyola of Chicago (20-13) at Creighton (18-14), 9 p.m.

Dayton (21-11) at Colorado (21-12), 11 p.m.

Exhibition Baseball

Pittsburgh vs. Minnesota at Fort Myers, Fla., 1:05 p.m.

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

N.Y. Yankees vs. Houston at West Palm Beach, Fla., 1:05 p.m.

Miami vs. St. Louis at Jupiter, Fla., 1:05 p.m.

Atlanta vs. Toronto at Dunedin, Fla., 1:07 p.m.

Cincinnati vs. Texas at Surprise, Ariz., 4:05 p.m.

Arizona vs. Chicago White Sox at Glendale, Ariz., 4:05 p.m.

Milwaukee vs. San Diego at Peoria, Ariz., 4:10 p.m.

Boston vs. Baltimore at Sarasota, Fla., 6:05 p.m.

L.A. Angels vs. Cleveland (ss) at Goodyear, Ariz., 9:05 p.m.

Kansas City vs. Colorado at Scottsdale, Ariz., 9:40 p.m.

Cleveland (ss) vs. San Francisco at Scottsdale, Ariz., 10:05 p.m.

L.A. Dodgers vs. Chicago Cubs at Mesa, Ariz., 10:05 p.m.