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March 22, 2019

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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

The spotlight of the NCAA Tournament shifts to Zion Williamson and No. 1 overall seed Duke. Along with the other 31 teams playing in first-round games Friday. By Basketball Writer Dave Skretta. UPCOMING: 870 words, photos by 4 a.m.

BKC--NCAA-BIG TEN-STRONG START

Michigan State survived against a resilient Bradley team, and now the No. 2 seed Spartans must play Minnesota. Yes, really. These two familiar foes are meeting in the second round of the East Region, the earliest matchup ever among Big Ten teams in the NCAA Tournament. By Dave Campbell. UPCOMING: 790 words, photos by 4 a.m.

BKW--NCAA WOMEN-TIPPING OFF

NEW YORK _ It’s going to be tough to top last season’s NCAA women’s tournament after one of the most exciting Final Four in the sports’ history. Yet if the regular season is any indication, this could be a wild three weeks. By Basketball Writer Doug Feinberg. UPCOMING: 550 words, photos by 4 a.m.

BBA--MARINERS-ICHIRO

TOKYO _ Ichiro Suzuki says “sayonara.” The 45-year-old Seattle Mariners star retires shortly after waving goodbye at the Tokyo Dome. He goes 0 for 4 and salutes his adoring fans when pulled from right field in the eighth inning. His walk to the dugout signals the end of a great career. By Stephen Wade and Tom Booth. SENT: 1,100 words, photos.

PATRIOTS OWNER-PROSTITUTION CHARGE

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. _ Patriots owner Robert Kraft and other men charged in a massage parlor prostitution investigation are asking a judge to block the release of video recordings police say shows them engaging in sexual acts. By Terry Spencer: SENT: 700 words, photos.

SPORTS SHOWCASE

BKN--BUCKS-FROM VERY DEEP

It’s not uncommon for Brook Lopez to hoist shots from beyond 30 feet. In fact, he has taken more 3s this season than any 7-footer in history. And his long-distance shooting is a big reason why Milwaukee has been the NBA’s top success story this season. By Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds. SENT: 850 words, photos.

NCAA TOURNAMENT

Men:

BKC--NCAA-EAST REGION PREVIEW

COLUMBIA, S.C. — All eyes are on Duke’s Zion Williamson at the NCAA Tournament — much as they’ve been throughout his remarkable freshman season. By Pete Iacobelli. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

BKC--NCAA-SOUTH REGION PREVIEW

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Virginia has watched the motivational pick-me-up videos. The players have relived the loss when they are too tired to do one more drill at practice. And the Cavaliers have finally answered the last question about being the first No. 1 seed to lose in a NCAA Tournament game before getting a chance to redeem themselves. By Jeffrey Collins. SENT: 950 words, photos.

BKC--NCAA-MIDWEST REGION PREVIEW

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Utah State and Washington didn’t think it would take so long to get back to the NCAA Tournament. Both schools are making their first appearances since 2011, and they happen to be playing each other in a first-round game. By Mitch Stacy. SENT: 730 words, photos.

BKC--NCAA-WEST REGION PREVIEW

TULSA, Okla. — Buffalo coach Nate Oats has mixed feelings about facing his former boss. Oats’ sixth-seeded Bulls will face Arizona State and former Buffalo coach Bobby Hurley in an NCAA Tournament West Region matchup Friday. By Cliff Brunt. SENT: 770 words, photos.

Thursday Games

BKC--NCAA-MURRAY STATE-MARQUETTE

HARTFORD, Conn. _ The game was in hand for Murray State and sensational point guard Ja Morant, who dominated Marquette in every way. With a chance to make some NCAA Tournament history, Morant’s coach told him to hit the boards and grab the rebound that would push him to an elusive triple-double. By College Sports Writer Ralph D. Russo. SENT: 830 words, photos.

BKC--NCAA-YALE-LSU

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. _As LSU’s comfortable lead started to disappear, most of the crowd at Veterans Memorial Arena turned on the Tigers. Underdog Yale became the hometown team in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. Skylar Mays heard the cheers — and then silenced them. By Mark Long. SENT: 780 words, photos.

BKC--NCAA-MINNESOTA-LOUISVILLE

DES MOINES, Iowa _ Minnesota found its elusive 3-point stroke just in time to give coach Richard Pitino the NCAA Tournament win he’d been seeking for years. By Luke Meredith. SENT: 710 words, photos.

BKC--NCAA-NORTHEASTERN-KANSAS

SALT LAKE CITY _ Kansas, with all its ups and downs this season, was a popular pick to be one of the NCAA Tournament’s first big upsets. Instead, the Jayhawks soared into the next round. By Basketball Writer John Marshall. SENT: 790 words, photos.

_ Game stories moved for the first-round games: Vermont-Florida State, Saint Mary’s-Villanova, Old Dominion-Purdue, Belmont-Maryland, Abilene Christian-Kentucky, Seton Hall-Wofford, Bradley-Michigan St., Florida-Nevada, Montana-Michigan, New Mexico St-Auburn, Farleigh Dickinson-Gonzaga, Syracuse-Baylor.

BKC--NCAA-NADI’S BUCKET

SALT LAKE CITY _ Nobody should ever say Nadi Beciri’s biggest moment came in garbage time. It was a bucket as beautiful as they come for the Fairleigh Dickinson senior. His basket at the end marked his first points following a 33-game layoff because of an injured back. He only wanted to suit up for the NCAA Tournament. Turns out he got in, and scored his team’s final points of the season. By National Writer Eddie Pells. UPCOMING: 440 words, photos by 4 a.m.

BKC--NCAA-SLOW IT DOWN

SAN JOSE, Calif. _ When fans settle in to watch the NCAA Tournament games at the Shark Tank this weekend they should have plenty of extra time to check their phones after baskets to see what’s happening at other sites around the country. While some teams may prefer to run and gun and launch shots as quickly as possible, the eight teams sent to San Jose on the opening weekend are among the slowest-paced teams in the entire tournament. By Josh Dubow. SENT: 810 words, photos.

BKC--NCAA-UCF-TACKO’S TIME

COLUMBIA, S.C. _ The tallest man in college basketball is finally on the game’s grandest stage — 7-foot-6 Tacko Fall is set for the NCAA Tournament. By Pete Iacobelli. SENT: 600 words, photos.

Women:

BKW--NCAA-PICKING THE BRACKET

NEW YORK _ For the first time in a long time there’s no clear-cut favorite to win the women’s championship. There are a half-dozen teams, including defending champion Notre Dame, that could be cutting down the nets in Florida on April 7. Last year, the Irish needed last-second shots by Arike Ogunbowale to win their first title since 2001. Can they repeat? By Basketball Writer Doug Feinberg. SENT: 2,300 words, photos.

BKW--NCAA-GRADUATE TRANSFERS

STARKVILLE, Miss. _ Mississippi State’s Anriel Howard and Clemson’s Simone Westbrook are among the growing number of graduate transfers in the women’s game. They have taken advantage of the NCAA rule that allows players who have completed their bachelor’s degree the opportunity to transfer and play immediately without sitting out a season. It’s not a new rule, but it’s been more prevalent in the men’s game. By David Brandt. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 4 a.m.

BKW--NCAA-BAYLOR-MULKEY

Kim Mulkey’s two children were on the ladder with her when she cut the net after Baylor won its first national title in 2005. They are now young adults, one her staff. She is also a grandmother now. One thing hasn’t changed _ the Lady Bears are still among the nation’s best. By Stephen Hawkins. By Stephen Hawkins. SENT: 800 words, photos.

BKW--NCAA-STORRS PREVIEW

STORRS, Conn. _ UConn comes into this year’s NCAA Tournament feeling a little disrespected and that could be bad news for the rest of the field. By Pat Eaton-Robb. SENT: 790 words, photos.

BKW--NCAA-STARKVILLE PREVIEW

STARKVILLE, Miss. _Mississippi State has earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year and is now trying to embark on a third straight trip to the national championship game. By David Brandt. SENT: 860 words, photos.

_ Previews for Friday games from six other venues: Charlotte, N.C.; College Station, Texas; Coral Gables, Fla.; Eugene, Ore.; Iowa City, Iowa; Louisville; Ky.

BASEBALL

BBN--METS-ESPN-MENDOZA

NEW YORK _ Jessica Mendoza views herself as an ESPN employee first and a New York Mets employee second, and ESPN executive Mark Gross says viewers will judge whether she shows bias during broadcasts. By Baseball Writer Ronald Blum. SENT: 550 words, photos.

_ Also:

_ BBO--SPRING STANDOUTS _ Top performances from this week’s spring training. By David Brandt. SENT: 460 words, photos.

_ BBO--SPRING TRAINING RDP _ SENT: 700 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

NFL

FBN--REPPING YOUR SON

It didn’t take long for TJ Linta to select an agent for a potential pro football career: JL SPORTS. The agent there is one Joe Linta, TJ’s father. And also his coach in high school. Joe Linta doesn’t have a huge NFL clientele, but he’s one of the most respected people in the field because of his background as a coach and scout. By Football Writer Barry Wilner. UPCOMING: 940 words by 4 a.m.

GOLF

GLF--VALSPAR CHAMPIONSHIP

PALM HARBOR, Fla. _ The PGA Tour event that doesn’t have Tiger Woods this year instead has the Leaping Cougar. That’s a childhood nickname for Joel Dahmen, who took advantage of gentle, morning conditions on a tough Copperhead course for a 5-under 66 and a share of the lead with Austrian-born Sepp Straka in the Valspar Championship. By Golf Writer Doug Ferguson. SENT: 890 words, photos.

GLF--LPGA TOUR

PHOENIX _Na Yeon Choi feared the worst Thursday in her return from a back injury. She ended up high on the Founders Cup leaderboard. By John Nicholson. SENT: 780 words.

_ Also:

_ GLF--MAYBANK CHAMPIONSHIP _ Marcus Fraser, Nacho Elvira share lead after first round of European tour event in Malaysia. SENT: 300 words, photos.

NBA

BKN--PACERS-WARRIORS

OAKLAND, Calif. _Kevin Durant established Golden State’s defensive energy by swatting away shots early. Eventually, the Warriors got going on the other end as they almost always do. Durant had 15 points, six assists and three blocks after losing a close friend earlier in the day, and the Warriors ran away from the Indiana Pacers 112-89 on Thursday night. By Janie McCauley. SENT: 850 words, photos.

_ BKN--SHAQ’S FUN HOUSE _ Shaquille O’Neal coming back to play in Miami _ music, that is. By Tim Reynolds. SENT: 360 words, photos.

NFL

FBN--RAMS-MATTHEWS

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. _ Clay Matthews is eager to come home after a decade with the Green Bay Packers. The pass-rushing veteran and former USC star joins the Los Angeles Rams with dreams of making another Super Bowl run. By Greg Beacham. SENT: 700 words, photos.

FIGURE SKATING

FIG--WORLDS

SAITAMA, Japan _ Olympic champion Alina Zagitova will be aiming for her first world title in the women’s free skate at the figure skating world championships. Zagitova was in the lead after the short program and was followed by Japanese national champion Kaori Sakamoto. By Jim Armstrong. UPCOMING: 400 words, photos by 10 a.m..

SOCCER

SOC--ECUADOR-US

ORLANDO, Fla. _Gregg Berhalter’s vision for the U.S. national team started to unfold as the Americans passed the ball from side to side, played diagonal balls long and short. Possession is his key to success. The style was more pleasing. But the only goal of night was pretty weird. By Ronald Bum. SENT: 880, words, photos.

_ Also

_ SOC--EUROPEAN QUALIFYING ROUNDUP _The stars of last year’s World Cup had to dig deep as European Championship qualifying began Thursday. By James Ellingworth. SENT: 840 words, photos.

AUTO RACING

CAR--INDYCAR CLASS

AUSTIN, Texas _ From the time the first piles of dirt and rock were moved to start paving a new Formula One track in Texas, the owners of the Circuit of the Americas eyed a future with IndyCar. By Jim Vertuno. SENT: 890 words, photos.

TENNIS

_ TEN--MIAMI OPEN _ Three-time tournament champion Venus Williams won her opening match at the Miami Open. SENT: 150 words, photos.

OTHER

_ IDITAROD-DOG TEAM QUITS _ The Iditarod musher who was hours ahead in the Alaska race when his dogs refused to keep running is dismissing critics who say he ran them too hard. By Mark Thiessen. SENT: 750 words, photos.

CAPSULES

_ BKC--NCAA TOURNAMENT CAPSULES

_ BKN--NBA CAPSULES

_ HKN--NHL CAPSULES

___

Friday Time Schedule (EDT)

Men’s NCAA Tournament

(First Round)

At Columbia, S.C.

Mississippi vs. Oklahoma, 12:40 p.m.

Virginia vs. Gardner-Webb, 3:10 p.m.

Duke vs. North Dakota State, 7:10 p.m.

VCU vs. UCF, 9:40 p.m.

At Columbus, Ohio

Cincinnati vs. Iowa, 12:15 p.m.

Tennessee vs. Colgate, 2:45 p.m.

Utah State vs. Washington, 6:50 p.m.

North Carolina vs. Iona, 9:20 p.m.

At Tulsa, Okla.

Texas Tech vs. Northern Kentucky, 1:30 p.m.

Buffalo vs. Arizona State, 4 p.m.

Houston vs. Georgia State, 7:20 p.m.

Iowa State vs. Ohio State, 9:50 p.m.

At San Jose, Calif.

Kansas State vs. UC Irvine, 2 p.m.

Wisconsin vs. Oregon, 4:30 p.m.

Mississippi State vs. Liberty, 7:27 p.m.

Virginia Tech vs. Saint Louis, 9:57 p.m.

Women’s NCAA Tournament

(First Round)

At Charlotte, N.C.

South Carolina vs. Belmont, 1:45 p.m.

Florida State vs. Bucknell, 30 minutes after first game

At Iowa City

Iowa vs. Mercer, 2 p.m.

Missouri vs. Drake, 30 minutes after first game

At Starkville, Miss.

South Dakota vs. Clemson, 7 p.m.

Mississippi State vs. Southern U., 30 minutes after first game

At Coral Gables, Fla.

Arizona State vs. UCF, 7 p.m.

Miami vs. Florida Gulf Coast, 30 minutes after first game

At Eugene, Ore.

Texas vs. Indiana, 7 p.m.

Oregon vs. Portland State, 30 minutes after first game

At College Station, Texas

Marquette vs. Rice, 2 p.m.

Texas A&M vs. Wright State, 30 minutes after first game

At Louisville, Ky.

Louisville vs. Robert Morris, Noon

Michigan vs. Kansas State, 30 minutes after first game

At Storrs, Conn.

Rutgers vs. Buffalo, 4:30 p.m.

UConn vs. Towson, 30 minutes after first game

NBA

Memphis at Orlando, 7 p.m.

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

L.A. Clippers at Cleveland, 7:30 p.m.

Oklahoma City at Toronto, 7:30 p.m.

San Antonio at Houston, 8 p.m.

Miami at Milwaukee, 8:30 p.m.

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

NHL

Minnesota at Washington, 7 p.m.

San Jose at Anaheim, 10 p.m.

PRESEASON BASEBALL

Pittsburgh vs. Tampa Bay at Port Charlotte, Fla., 1:05 p.m.

St. Louis vs. N.Y. Mets (ss) at Port St. Lucie, Fla., 1:10 p.m.

Arizona vs. L.A. Dodgers at Glendale, Ariz., 4:05 p.m.

Texas vs. Chicago Cubs (ss) at Mesa, Ariz., 4:05 p.m.

Cincinnati vs. Milwaukee at Phoenix, 4:05 p.m.

Chicago White Sox vs. L.A. Angels (ss) at Tempe, Ariz., 4:10 p.m.

Detroit vs. Atlanta at Kissimmee, Fla., 6:05 p.m.

Boston vs. Minnesota at Fort Myers, Fla., 6:05 p.m.

N.Y. Mets (ss) vs. Houston at West Palm Beach, Fla., 6:05 p.m.

Baltimore vs. Toronto at Dunedin, Fla., 6:07 p.m.

Philadelphia vs. N.Y. Yankees at Tampa, Fla., 6:35 p.m.

Washington vs. Miami at Jupiter, Fla., 7:05 p.m.

San Francisco (ss) vs. Kansas City at Surprise, Ariz., 9:05 p.m.

Chicago Cubs (ss) vs. Cleveland at Goodyear, Ariz., 9:05 p.m.

San Diego vs. Colorado at Scottsdale, Ariz., 9:40 p.m.

L.A. Angels (ss) vs. Seattle at Peoria, Ariz., 9:40 p.m.

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