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BC-AP Sports Digest

March 11, 2019

The supervisor is Fred Lief, followed by Ben Nuckols at 5 p.m. and Brian Mahoney 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.

Orel Hershiser isn’t worried about how analytics affects pitching. The Los Angeles Dodger great tells PodcastOne Sports Now co-hosts Tim Dahlberg and Jim Litke that managers will figure out how to play situational baseball with their pitching staffs soon enough, and wholesale changes aren’t needed in the way the game is played. https://www.podcastone.com/podcastone-sports-now

TOP STORIES

FBN--FREE AGENCY 2019

The biggest names _ Le’Veon Bell, Nick Foles, Teddy Bridgewater _ play on offense. Unquestionably, though, defense is the area with the most depth in this year’s free agency class. Proof? Look at the list of players hit with the franchise tag: pass rushers galore. By Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 6 p.m.

BKC--ACC TOURNAMENT PREVIEW

RALEIGH, N.C. _ This week’s ACC tournament is all about the heavyweights. Virginia and North Carolina shared the regular-season title while Duke hopes to have freshman star Zion Williamson after a knee injury and show it is indeed the team that spent time at No. 1 this season. By Basketball Writer Aaron Beard. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 4 p.m.

SOC--2022 WCUP-EXPANSION

LONDON _ A FIFA study concludes the 2022 World Cup can expand to 48 teams by using at least one of Qatar’s neighbors as an additional host, leading to an additional $400 million in revenue. The AP obtained a copy of the report. By Global Soccer Writer Rob Harris. SENT: 1,050 words, photos.

CAR--NASCAR--BUSCH’S BRILLIANCE

PHOENIX _ Joe Gibbs has been around Super Bowl winners and Hall of Fame football players, so he ought to know something about athletic brilliance. And make no mistake, Gibbs says, Kyle Busch has it. By Dave Skretta. SENT: 800 words, photos.

SPORTS SHOWCASE

BKC--T25-MARQUETTE-CREATIVE HOWARD

Markus Howard is the nation’s fifth-leading scorer thanks to an array of step-back 3-pointers, floaters in the lane and slithering drives to the basket. Marquette’s 5-foot-11 junior guard learned how to get shots off against bigger players by shooting against his older brothers. By Basketball Writer John Marshall. SENT: 700 words, photos.

AP POLLS

BKC--COLLEGE BKB POLL

RALEIGH, N.C. _ Gonzaga, Virginia and North Carolina remain 1-2-3 in the men’s poll. Kentucky and Duke complete the top five. Preseason No. 1 Kansas falls to No. 17 for its lowest ranking since the 2013-14 season. By Basketball Writer Aaron Beard. SENT: 750 words, photos.

BKW--WOMEN’S BKB POLL

NEW YORK _ Baylor, winners of 22 in a row, remains a unanimous No. 1 in the women’s Top 25, the seventh straight week they have led the rankings. The Lady Bears are followed by UConn, Notre Dame, Mississippi State and Louisville. By Basketball Writer Doug Feinberg. SENT: 300 words, photos.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Men:

BKC--T25-SOCON-UNC GREENSBORO-WOFFORD

ASHEVILLE, N.C. _ No. 22 Wofford looks for its fifth Southern Conference championship of the decade when it plays UNC Greensboro for a spot in the NCAA field. Greensboro beat Furman 66-62 in the semifinals. By Steve Reed. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos. Game starts 7 p.m.

BKC--T25-WCC-PEPPERDINE-GONZAGA

LAS VEGAS _ Top-ranked Gonzaga goes for its 21st straight victory when it takes on Pepperdine in the semifinals of the West Coast Conference tournament. The Bulldogs are undefeated in conference play this season. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos. Game starts 9 p.m.

_ Other conference finals (automatic NCAA bid):

_ Metro Atlantic Athletic _ Iona vs. Monmouth at Albany, N.Y. (9 p.m.).

_ Also:

_ BKC--NIAGARA-CASEY FIRED _ Niagara coach Chris Casey fired after 13-19 season. SENT: 120 words.

_ BKC--FAIRFIELD-JOHNSON FIRED _ Fairfield coach Sydney Johnson after 9-22 season. SENT: 100 words.

Women:

BKW--T25-B12-IOWA STATE-BAYLOR

OKLAHOMA CITY _ No. 1 Baylor plays No. 19 Iowa State in the Big 12 championship game. The Lady Bears, coming off an 88-60 romp over Kansas State in the semifinals, are going for their ninth tournament title in 11 years. Iowa State is in its first league title game since 2013. By Cliff Brunt. UPCOMING: 650 words, photos. Game starts 9 p.m.

BKW--T25-UCF-UConn

No. 2 UConn tries to win a sixth straight American Athletic Conference title when it faces UCF in the championship game. The Huskies (0-2) have reached 30 wins for 14th consecutive seasons. The Bulls have been hit by injuries and have lost to UConn in five straight AAC tournaments. By Pat Eaton-Robb. UPCOMING: 650 words, photos. Game starts 7 p.m.

_ Other conference finals (automatic NCAA bid):

_ Metro Atlantic Athletic _ Quinnipiac vs. Marist at Albany, N.Y. (2:30 p.m.)

NBA

BKN--AROUND THE NBA

With the Lakers all but out of the playoff chase, the NBA postseason will begin for the first time in 14 years without anyone wondering how far LeBron James can carry his team. It will be nine years the NBA Finals are played without James. Friends say the break may help him. By Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds. SENT: 1,050 words, photos.

BKN--HORNETS-ROCKETS

HOUSTON _ The Rockets go for their ninth straight victory when they play the Charlotte Hornets. Houston is completing a back-to-back after a 94-93 win over Dallas in which Eric Gordon led the Rockets in scoring. James Harden had been the top scorer in his previous 43 games. By Kristie Rieken. UPCOMING: 750 words, photos. Game starts 8 p.m.

BASEBALL

BBN--BRAVES-FOLTYNEWICZ

KISSIMMEE, Fla. _ Bothered by a sore elbow, Mike Foltynewicz will not be ready to pitch for the Atlanta Braves on opening day. The All-Star right-hander has yet to appear in a spring training game. The elbow discomfort began about two weeks ago and is not believed to be serious. SENT 650 words, photos.

_ Also:

_ BBN--DODGERS-KERSHAW _ Clayton Kershaw has first bullpen session in two weeks. UPCOMING: 300 words by 9 p.m.

_ BBN--CARDINALS-OZUNA _ Marcel Ozuna, coming back from shoulder surgery, plays first game in outfield. UPCOMING: 300 words by 6 p.m.

_ BBN--REDS-LORENZEN _ Michael Lorenzen to pitch, play outfield, hit in spring game. UPCOMING: 300 words by 9 p.m.

_ BBO--SPRING TRAINING RDP _ UPCOMING: 900 words, photos by 9 p.m.

SOCCER

SOC--ENGLAND-DISORDER

LONDON _ The head of soccer policing in England and a top Premier League executive discuss safety at games a day after a fan ran on the field and punched Aston Villa’s captain in the jaw. By Global Soccer Writer Rob Harris. UPCOMING: 800 words, photos by 4 p.m.

SOC--REAL MADRID-ZIDANE

MADRID _ Zinedine Zidane returns to coach Real Madrid, the club he led to three straight Champions League titles. The former France great succeeds Santiago Solari. The change comes less than a week after two losses eliminated Madrid from the Champions League. By Tales Azzoni. SENT: 100 words, photos. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos by 5 p.m.

AUTO RACING

CAR--F1-SEASON PREVIEW

After collapsing under pressure in the past two seasons, Sebastian Vettel may have his last chance to show he can deliver a long-awaited Formula One title for Ferrari. Otherwise the Italian manufacturer may throw its backing behind young Charles Leclerc. By Jerome Pugmire. SENT: 950 words, photos.

_ With:

_ CAR--F1-HAMILTON BEEFING UP _ Beefed-up Lewis Hamilton food binged in preparation for sixth F1 title bid. By Joseph Wilson. SENT: 600 words, photos.

_ CAR--F1-BOTTAS BID _ Valtteri Bottas boasts he’s “going to beat everyone this year.” By Daniella Matar. SENT: 550 words, photos.

TENNIS

TEN--INDIAN WELLS

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. _ Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka, the world’s top-ranked players, and Venus Williams highlight Day 6 of the BNP Paribas Open. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos by 8 p.m.

COLLEGE BASEBALL

BBC--COLLEGE BASEBALL RDP

Arizona State, at 15-0, is one of two unbeaten teams left in Division I baseball and just eight wins from matching its 2018 total. By Eric Olson. UPCOMING: 650 words, photos by 6 p.m.

OTHER

_ BOX--OBIT-GEORGE FOREMAN’S DAUGHTER _ Freeda Foreman, daughter of former heavyweight champ and herself a boxer, dies at 42 in Texas home. SENT: 130 words, photos.

_ IDITAROD _ Alaska musher Pete Kaiser takes Iditarod lead after dogs quit on Nicolas Petit’s team. By Mark Thiessen. SENT: 130 words, photos. UPCOMING: 400 words, photos by 6 p.m.

_ ATH--IAAF-RUSSIAN DOPING _ Russia remains banned from international track for doping. SENT: 550 words.

_ SKI--DOPING RAIDS-ESTONIA _ Estonian ski coach faces investigation in doping ring. SENT: 140 words.

CAPSULES

_ BKN--NBA CAPSULES

_ HKN--NHL CAPSULES

_ BKC--T25-TOP 25 CAPSULES

_ BKW--T25-TOP 25 CAPSULES

___

Monday Time Schedule (EDT)

NBA

Sacramento at Washington, 7 p.m.

Toronto at Cleveland, 7 p.m.

Detroit at Brooklyn, 7:30 p.m.

Charlotte at Houston, 8 p.m.

Oklahoma City at Utah, 9 p.m.

Boston at L.A. Clippers, 10:30 p.m.

NHL

Ottawa at Philadelphia, 7 p.m.

Tampa Bay at Toronto, 7 p.m.

Columbus at N.Y. Islanders (Nassau Coliseum), 7 p.m.

San Jose at Minnesota, 8 p.m.

Arizona at Chicago, 8:30 p.m.

N.Y. Rangers at Edmonton, 9 p.m.

Carolina at Colorado, 9 p.m.

College Basketball (Top 25)

Men

No. 1 Gonzaga vs. Pepperdine at Las Vegas, 9 p.m.

No. 20 Wofford vs. UNC Greensboro at Asheville, N.C., 7 p.m.

Women

No. 1 Baylor vs. No. 13 Iowa State at Oklahoma City, 9 p.m.

No. 2 UConn UCF at Uncasville, Conn., 7 p.m.

No. 12 Gonzaga vs. Saint Mary’s at Las Vegas, 3 p.m.

No. 13 Marquette vs. Georgetown at Chicago, 4 p.m.

Exhibition Baseball

Pittsburgh vs. Atlanta at Kissimmee, Fla., 1:05 p.m.

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

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

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

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

Cincinnati vs. Cleveland at Goodyear, Ariz., 4:05 p.m.

L.A. Angels vs. Texas (ss) at Surprise, Ariz., 4:05 p.m.

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

Chicago White Sox vs. Milwaukee at Phoenix, 4:05 p.m.

Oakland vs. Colorado at Scottsdale, Ariz., 4:10 p.m.

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

Kansas City (ss) vs. Texas (ss) at Surprise, Ariz., 10:05 p.m.