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BC-AP Sports Digest

March 17, 2019

The supervisor is Ben Nuckols, followed by John Nicholson at 5 p.m. and Dennis Waszak Jr. 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.

With the deaths of two great sports writers, co-hosts Jim Litke and Tim Dahlberg discuss on the PodcastOne Sports Now how athletes are now covered in the era of instant news and how Dan Jenkins and Hugh McIlvanney gave the kind of insight increasingly hard to find these days. https://www.podcastone.com/ap-sports-weekly-podcast

TOP STORIES

BKC--NCAA TOURNAMENT

A look at who’s in, who’s out, and what to watch for during the 2019 tournament. By National Writer Eddie Pells. UPCOMING: 800 words. Brackets released at 6 p.m.

BKC--NCAA TOURNAMENT-PICKING THE BRACKET

Here’s what you need to know before filling out your brackets for the NCAA Tournament this year: Anything can happen, and you’re going to be wrong a lot over the next three weeks. So let us help. By Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds. UPCOMING: 900 words, photos by 9 p.m.

With:

_ NCAA TOURNAMENT-EAST REGION _ Duke or Virginia is expected to be the top seed in the East region of the NCAA Tournament, which goes through the nation’s capital. By Stephen Whyno. UPCOMING: 750 words, photos. Developing from 6 p.m. bracket announcement.

_ NCAA TOURNAMENT-SOUTH REGION _ If Kentucky plays in the South Region of the NCAA Tournament, it could find itself playing on its top rival’s floor in Louisville for a ticket to the Final Four. By Teresa M. Walker. UPCOMING: 750 words, photos. Developing from 6 p.m. bracket announcement.

_ NCAA TOURNAMENT-MIDWEST REGION _ The Midwest Region will go through the Sprint Center, but after once-No. 1 Kansas flopped this season, who gets assigned to the region is anyone’s guess. By Dave Skretta. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos. Developing from 6 p.m. bracket announcement.

_ NCAA TOURNAMENT-WEST REGION _ The West Region will be played at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. By Basketball Writer John Marshall. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos. Developing from 6 p.m. bracket announcement.

BKC--T25-B10-MICHIGAN-MICHIGAN STATE

CHICAGO _ Rivals meet as No. 6 Michigan State and No. 10 Michigan face off in the Big Ten Tournament final. The Spartans have five championships _ more than any other program. Michigan hopes to become the first to win it three years in a row. By Andrew Seligman. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos. Game starts at 3:30 p.m.

GLF--PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. _ Jon Rahm of Spain has a one-shot lead over Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood going into the final round of The Players Championship. By Golf Writer Doug Ferguson. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 7 p.m.

CAR--NASCAR-FONTANA

FONTANA, Calif. _ Kyle Busch attempts to tie Richard Petty’s NASCAR record when he goes for his 200th career victory across the three major race series. Busch swept last weekend’s races in Phoenix, but finished second in Saturday’s Xfinity race on Fontana’s weathered asphalt. By Greg Beacham. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos. Starts at 3:30 p.m.

TEN--INDIAN WELLS

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. _ Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu plays Angelique Kerber for the women’s title at the BNP Paribas Open. Roger Federer goes for a record sixth title in the desert against Dominic Thiem. By Beth Harris. UPCOMING: 500 words, photos.

SKI--WORLD CUP FINALS

SOLDEU, Andorra _ Another race won, another crystal trophy earned, another World Cup record written by Mikaela Shiffrin. Shiffrin won a giant slalom Sunday to seal the season-long standings title and, shedding a few tears while sitting in the finish area, lifted a record-tying fourth World Cup crystal globe in the same season. SENT: 560 words, photos.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Men:

BKC--T25-SEC-AUBURN-TENNESSEE

NASHVILLE, Tenn. _ Eighth-ranked Tennessee has never been a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and the Vols’ lone Southeastern Conference Tournament title was 40 years ago. No. 22 Auburn won its only tournament title back in 1985. One drought ends Sunday in the championship game. By Teresa M. Walker. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos. Game starts at 1 p.m.

BKC--T25-AAC-CINCINNATI-HOUSTON

MEMPHIS, Tenn. _ No. 11 Houston can pair an American Athletic Conference Tournament title with the Cougars’ regular season championship Sunday when they play No. 24 Cincinnati. By Clay Bailey. UPCOMING: 650 words, photos. Game starts at 3:15 p.m.

BKC--SUN BELT-GEORGIA ST-TEXAS-ARLINGTON

NEW ORLEANS _ Georgia State meets Texas-Arlington in the Sun Belt Conference tournament final with an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament at stake. By Brett Martel. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos. Game starts at 2 p.m.

BKC--A-10-Saint Louis-St. Bonaventure

NEW YORK _ Fourth-seeded St. Bonaventure and No. 6 seed Saint Louis meet in the Atlantic 10 Tournament championship, with the winner earning an NCAA bid. By Ralph D. Russo. UPCOMING: 700 words, with photos. Game starts at 1 p.m.

BKC--IVY-YALE-HARVARD

NEW HAVEN, Conn. _ Harvard faces Yale for the Ivy League championship. By Pat Eaton-Robb. Upcoming: 600 words, photos. Developing from noon start.

Also:

_ NIT _ The National Invitation Tournament announces its 32-team field. By John Kekis. UPCOMING: 450 words by 11 p.m.

Women:

NCAA IN VEGAS

LAS VEGAS _ Women’s basketball fans were treated to quite a show this week in Las Vegas with four conference tournaments played there. Could an NCAA regional be in the cards down the road _ or even a Super Regional? Consider the coaches, administrators and players big proponents of the idea. By Basketball Writer Doug Feinberg. SENT: 1,000 words.

Tournament finals (automatic NCAA bid):

_ Patriot _ American vs. Bucknell, noon.

_ Northeast _ St. Francis (Pa.) vs. Robert Morris, 2 p.m.

_ Southland _ Texas A&M-CC vs. Abilene Christian, 2 p.m.

_ Big South _ Campbell vs. Radford, 2 p.m.

_ MVC _ Missouri State vs. No. 21 Drake, 3 p.m.

_ ASUN _ Liberty vs. Florida Gulf Coast, 3 p.m.

_ Ivy _ Pennsylvania vs. Princeton, 4 p.m.

NBA

BKN--76ERS-BUCKS

MILWAUKEE _ The Philadelphia 76ers, who moved into third place in the Eastern Conference on Friday, visits the NBA’s top team in Milwaukee. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos. Game starts at 3:30 p.m.

BKN--RAPTORS-PISTONS

DETROIT _ The playoff-chasing Pistons host coach Dwane Casey’s former team when they take on the Raptors. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos. Game starts at 4 p.m.

NHL

HKN--FLYERS-PENGUINS

The Pittsburgh Penguins try to bounce back from a lopsided home loss to St. Louis when they host Philadelphia on Sunday night. By Will Graves. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos. Game starts at 7:30 p.m.

BASEBALL

BBA--HITLESS ICHIRO

TOKYO _ Ichiro Suzuki’s struggles at the plate have followed him to Japan. Ichiro went hitless in three at-bats on Sunday when his Seattle Mariners beat the Yomiuri Giants 6-4 in an exhibition game ahead of their MLB season-opening series against the Oakland A’s. Ichiro arrived in Japan hitting just .080 in spring training this season and couldn’t break out with a hit before a near-sellout crowd of 46,315 at Tokyo Dome. By Jim Armstrong. SENT: 500 words, photos.

Also:

_ BBO--SPRING TRAINING RDP _ UPCOMING: 900 words, photos by 10 p.m.

SOCCER

SOC--ENGLISH ROUNDUP

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND _ Liverpool can return to the top of the Premier League above Manchester City by beating relegation-threatened Fulham. Also, Chelsea visits Everton aiming for a win to boost its top-four hopes. By Steve Douglas. UPCOMING: 500 words, photos by 3 p.m.

Also:

_ SOC-FULHAM-LIVERPOOL _ Liverpool required an 81st-minute penalty from James Milner to secure a 2-1 win at relegation-threatened Fulham and return to the top of the Premier League on Sunday. SENT: 230 words, photos.

_ SOC-ITALIAN ROUNDUP _ Without Cristiano Ronaldo, Juventus fell to its first Serie A defeat of the season as it lost 2-0 at Genoa on Sunday. By Daniella Matar. SENT: 290 words, photos.

_ SOC-GERMAN ROUNDUP _ Max Kruse opened and finished the scoring for Werder Bremen to beat Bayer Leverkusen 3-1 away in the Bundesliga and boost its European qualification hopes on Sunday. SENT: 180 words.

_ SOC-FRENCH ROUNDUP _ Spurred on by in-form Moussa Dembele, Lyon bounced back from its Champions League elimination, and revived its hopes of direct qualification for Europe’s top competition next season, after beating Montpellier 3-2 in the French league on Sunday. SENT: 230 words; will be updated.

MOTOR SPORTS

CAR--F1-AUSTRALIAN GP

MELBOURNE, Australia _ Valterri Bottas can’t really explain how he got from playing the loyal lieutenant to Lewis Hamilton and failing to win a race last season, to upstaging his Mercedes teammate for victory in Formula One’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix. A lot of soul-searching over the winter break, some rally car driving and a few drinking sessions helped transform Bottas’ approach to racing in 2019, with an immediate and profound result. The 29-year-old Finn surged from No. 2 on the grid to beat five-time world champion Hamilton to the first corner, and stayed in front of his teammate the whole way Sunday to win by 20.886 seconds. It was his fourth GP title, and first since 2017. By John Pye. SENT: 810 words, photos.

With:

_ F1-AUSTRALIAN GP-RED BULL _ With one overtaking maneuver and consistent speed, Red Bull driver Max Verstappen showed that the 2019 Formula One season is unlikely to descend into another two-team race. SENT: 570 words, photos.

_ F1-AUSTRALIAN GP-FERRARI _ The Ferraris were touted as the fastest cars on the F1 circuit when Sebastian Vettel arrived with the intention of winning his third consecutive Australian Grand Prix title. SENT: 370 words, photos.

BOXING

BOX--CONLAN-HERNANDEZ

NEW YORK _ Irish boxing star Michael Conlan fights for the third straight year on St. Patrick’s Day at Madison Square Garden, facing Ruben Garcia Hernandez. By Brian Mahoney. UPCOMING: 400 words. Main event about 8:30 p.m.

SPORTS BETTING

SPORTS BETTING-MOBILE DEVICES

PROVIDENCE, R.I. _ For states looking to profit off the new world of legal sports betting, there’s an app for that. The question for state lawmakers: Should they allow it? As state legislatures across the U.S. decide whether to authorize sports gambling, lawmakers are debating whether the bets — like almost everything else in daily life _ should be allowed to happen online or made only in-person. By Jennifer McDermott and Geoff Mulvihill. SENT: 1,050 words, photos.

GOLF

_ GLF--KENYA OPEN _ Guido Migliozzi of Italy won his first European Tour title with a one-stroke victory at the Kenya Open on Sunday.

CAPSULES

_ BKN--NBA CAPSULES

_ HKN--NHL CAPSULES

_ BKC--T25-TOP 25 CAPSULES

_ SOC--MLS CAPSULES

_ GLF--GOLF CAPSULES

___

Sunday Time Schedule (EDT)

NBA

L.A. Lakers at New York Knicks, noon

Charlotte at Miami, 1 p.m.

Philadelphia at Milwaukee, 3:30 p.m.

Toronto at Detroit, 4 p.m.

Atlanta at Orlando, 6 p.m.

Chicago at Sacramento, 6 p.m.

Minnesota at Houston, 9 p.m.

Brooklyn at L.A. Clippers, 9 p.m.

NHL

New Jersey at Colorado, 3 p.m.

St. Louis at Buffalo, 5 p.m.

N.Y. Islanders at Minnesota, 6 p.m.

Vancouver at Dallas, 7 p.m.

Philadelphia at Pittsburgh, 7:30 p.m.

Florida at Anaheim, 9 p.m.

Edmonton at Vegas, 10 p.m.

College Basketball (Top 25)

Men

No. 6 Michigan State vs. No. 10 Michigan at the United Center, 3:30 p.m.

No. 8 Tennessee vs. No. 22 Auburn at Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tenn., 1 p.m.

No. 11 Houston vs. No. 24 Cincinnati at FedEx Forum, Memphis, Tenn., 3:15 p.m.

Women

No. 21 Drake vs. Missouri State at TaxSlayer Center, Moline, Ill., 3 p.m.

MLS

Los Angeles FC at New York City FC, 3 p.m.

Portland at Cincinnati, 5 p.m.

Philadelphia at Atlanta, 7 p.m.

New England at Toronto FC, 7:30 p.m.

Sporting Kansas City at Colorado, 9 p.m.

Motorsports

F1, Australian Grand Prix, Melbourne, 1:10 a.m.

NHRA, Gatornationals finals eliminations, Gainesville, Fla., 11 a.m.

NASCAR Monster Energy, Auto Club 400, Fontana, Calif., 3:30 p.m.

Exhibition Baseball

Oakland vs. Nippon (Japan) at Tokyo, 6:05 a.m.

Tampa Bay vs. Boston (ss) at Fort Myers, Fla., 1:05 p.m.

N.Y. Mets vs. Washington at West Palm Beach, Fla., 1:05 p.m.

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

N.Y. Yankees (ss) vs. Baltimore at Sarasota, Fla., 1:05 p.m.

Boston (ss) vs. Pittsburgh at Bradenton, Fla., 1:05 p.m.

Houston vs. Atlanta (ss) at Kissimmee, Fla., 1:05 p.m.

Atlanta (ss) vs. Detroit at Lakeland, Fla., 1:05 p.m.

N.Y. Yankees (ss) vs. Philadelphia at Clearwater, Fla., 1:05 p.m.

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

Arizona (ss) vs, Texas at Surprise, Ariz., 3:05 p.m.

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

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

Kansas City vs. San Francisco at Scottsdale, Ariz., 4:05 p.m.

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

L.A. Angels vs. San Diego at Peoria, Ariz., 4:10 p.m.

Chicago White Sox vs. Arizona (ss) at Scottsdale, Ariz., 4:10 p.m.

Oakland vs. Nippon (Japan) at Tokyo, 11:05 p.m.