INDIANA BOYS SEMI-STATE PAIRINGS

AT LAFAYETTE JEFF 

CLASS A: GARY 21ST CENTURY (23-4) VS. LAFAYETTE CENTRAL CATHOLIC (19-9), 1 P.M.

CLASS 4A: CHESTERTON (28-0) VS. KOKOMO (19-7), 3 P.M.

AT ELKHART

CLASS 2A: CENTRAL NOBLE (27-2) VS. CARROLL (FLORA) (24-1), 4 P.M.

CLASS 3A: MISHAWAKA MARIAN (23-3) VS. LEO (21-5), 6 P.M.

AT WASHINGTON

CLASS 3A: BEECH GROVE (20-6) VS. SULLIVAN (25-2), 1 P.M. 

CLASS 4A: CATHEDRAL (24-6) VS. BLOOMINGTON NORTH (24-3), 3 P.M.

AT SEYMOUR…GAMES BROADCAST ON IHSAATV.org (Powered by Indiana SRN)

CLASS A: JAC-CEN-DEL (22-5) VS. NORTH DAVIESS (25-3), 4 P.M.

CLASS 2A: EASTERN HANCOCK (22-5) VS. PROVIDENCE (19-6) | 6 P.M.

ALL-MARION COUNTY BOYS BASKETBALL TEAMS

FIRST TEAM

RYAN CONWELL, PIKE, SR.

TAE DAVIS, WARREN CENTRAL, SR.

CJ GUNN, LAWRENCE NORTH, SR.

BILLY SMITH, BREBEUF JESUIT, SR.

ZANE DOUGHTY, BEN DAVIS, JR.

SECOND TEAM

JAVON TRACY, DECATUR CENTRAL, SR.

A.J. DANCLER, SOUTHPORT, JR.

JOEY BROWN, NORTH CENTRAL, JR.

ANTHONY BALL, BEECH GROVE, JR.

SHERIDAN SHARP, BEN DAVIS, JR.

THIRD TEAM

JOSH MICKENS, LAWRENCE CENTRAL, JR.

K.J. WINDHAM, BEN DAVIS, SOPH.

JERMAINE COLEMAN, PARK TUDOR, JR.

DAVID LLOYD, NORTH CENTRAL, SR.

OMAR COOPER, LAWRENCE NORTH, SR.

HONORABLE MENTION

BEECH GROVE: JEREMIAH ALEXANDER

DECATUR CENTRAL: KC BERRY, BRANDON SMITH

FRANKLIN CENTRAL: LYNA BROOKS, RYNELL ECHOLS

NORTH CENTRAL: DAVIS OLSON

PERRY MERIDIAN: PATRICK SCHOTT

RONCALLI: LUKE KEGERREIS, NOLAN TUNNY

SOUTHPORT: NICKENS LEMBA, KEYON MILLER

WARREN CENTRAL: CHANDLER JACKSON

SPEEDWAY: NATE MATELIC

LAWRENCE CENTRAL: DAJOHN CRAIG

LUTHERAN: MITCHELL LEE

PARK TUDOR: JORDAN BOWLES

PIKE: DEVON WOODS

NCAA MEN’S TOURNAMENT

Wright State 93 Bryant 82

Notre Dame 89 Rutgers 87 OT

NCAA MEN’S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT TV GUIDE

First round: March 17

No. 6 Colorado State vs. No. 11 Michigan – 12:15 p.m.; CBS

No. 4 Providence vs. No. 13 South Dakota State – 12:40 p.m.; truTV, Sling TV

No. 8 Boise State vs. No. 9 Memphis – 1:45 p.m.; TNT, Sling TV

No. 1 Baylor vs. No. 16 Norfolk State – 2 p.m.; TBS, Sling TV

No. 3 Tennessee vs. No. 14 Longwood – 2:45 p.m.; CBS

No. 5 Iowa vs. No. 12 Richmond – 3:10 p.m.; truTV, Sling TV

No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 16 Georgia State – 4:15 p.m.; TNT, Sling TV

No. 8 North Carolina vs. No. 9 Marquette – 4:30 p.m.; TBS, Sling TV

No. 5 UConn vs. No. 12 New Mexico State – 6:50 p.m.; TNT, Sling TV

No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 15 Saint Peter’s – 7:10 p.m.; CBS

No. 5 Saint Mary’s vs. No. 12 Indiana/Wyoming – 7:20 p.m.; TBS, Sling TV

No. 8 San Diego State vs. No. 9 Creighton – 7:27 p.m.; truTV, Sling TV

No. 4 Arkansas vs. No. 13 Vermont – 9:20 p.m.; TNT, Sling TV

No. 7 Murray State vs. No. 10 San Francisco – 9:40 p.m.; CBS

No. 4 UCLA vs. No. 13 Akron – 9:50 p.m.; TBS, Sling TV

No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 16 Texas Southern/Texas A&M-Corpus Christi – 9:57 p.m.; truTV, Sling TV

First round: March 18

No. 7 Ohio State vs. No. 10 Loyola-Chicago – 12:15 p.m.; CBS

No. 2 Auburn vs. No. 15 Jacksonville State – 12:40 p.m.; truTV, Sling TV

No. 3 Texas Tech vs. No. 14 Montana State – 1:45 p.m.; TNT, Sling TV

No. 3 Purdue vs. No. 14 Yale – 2 p.m.; TBS, Sling TV

No. 2 Villanova vs. No. 15 Delaware – 2:45 p.m.; CBS

No. 7 USC vs. No. 10 Miami – 3:10 p.m.; truTV, Sling TV

No. 6 Alabama vs. No. 11 Notre Dame/Rutgers – 4:15 p.m.; TNT, Sling TV

No. 6 Texas vs. No. 11 Virginia Tech – 4:30 p.m.; TBS, Sling TV

No. 4 Illinois vs. No. 13 Chattanooga – 6:50 p.m.; TNT, Sling TV

No. 2 Duke vs. No. 15 Cal State Fullerton – 7:10 p.m.; CBS

No. 6 LSU vs. No. 11 Iowa State – 7:20 p.m.; TBS, Sling TV

No. 1 Arizona vs. No. 16 Bryant/Wright State -7:27 p.m.; truTV, Sling TV

NIT

DAYTON 74 TOLEDO 55

VIRGINIA 60 MISSISSIPPI STATE 57

WAKE FOREST 74 TOWSON 64

SMU 68 NICHOLLS 58

NORTHERN IOWA 80 ST. LOUIS 68

BYU 93 LONG BEACH STATE 72

FLORIDA 79 IONA 74

CIT

COASTAL CAROLINA 66 MARYLAND EASTERN SHORE 42

FLORIDA GULF COAST 95 DETROIT 79

SOUTH ALABAMA 70 SE. LOUISIANA 68

YOUNGSTOWN STATE 70 MORGAN STATE 65

SOUTHERN UTAH 83 KENT STATE 79

WOMEN’S NCAA TOURNAMENT

Howard 55 Incarnate Word 53

Dayton 88 DePaul 57

WOMEN’S NIT

KENT STATE 68 YOUNGSTOWN STATE 59

COLUMBIA 80 FULLY CROSS 69

LIBERTY 50 CAMPBELL 44

PURDUE 82 SOUTHERN ILLINOIS 60

MARQUETTE 93 BALL STATE 70

NEW MEXICO 92 GRAND CANYON 72

NBA SCOREBOARD

PHOENIX 129 HOUSTON 112

MINNESOTA 124 LA LAKERS 104

UTAH 125 CHICAGO 110

MILWAUKEE 135 SACRAMENTO 126

SAN ANTONIO 122 OKLAHOMA CITY 120

BOSTON 110 GOLDEN STATE 88

TORONTO 103 LA CLIPPERS 100

CHARLOTTE 116 ATLANTA 106

DENVER 127 WASHINGTON 109

PHILADELPHIA 118 CLEVELAND 114

DALLAS 113 BROOKLYN 111

NEW YORK 128 PORTLAND 98

NHL SCOREBOARD

COLUMBUS 4 OTTAWA 1

MINNESOTA 4 BOSTON 2

CALGARY 6 NEW JERSEY 3

TAMPA BAY 4 SEATTLE 1

TOP NATIONAL HEADLINES

Wright State beats Bryant 93-82 for NCAA Tournament win

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) Tanner Holden had 37 points and 11 rebounds and Wright State beat Bryant 93-82 on Wednesday night for its first NCAA Tournament victory.

Playing inside the University of Dayton Arena just 12 miles from its home court, Wright State (22-13) advanced to play top-seeded Arizona in San Diego on Friday in the West Region.

“It was a frantic-paced game,” Wright State coach Scott Nagy said. “We haven’t had many teams this year come at us like that just after every make and miss and turnover.”

Holden was 11 of 15 from the field. Tyler Calvin added 21 points, and Grant Basile had 14.

Peter Kiss, the NCAA’s leading scorer, led Bryant (22-10) with 28 points.

“Our guys played hard enough to win, we just didn’t play well enough to win,” Bryant coach Jared Grasso said.

The Raiders led 44-42 at halftime behind 20 points from Holden.

Both teams were seeded 16th.

GUARDING THE NATION’S BEST

Kiss entered the game averaging 25.1 points per game.

Wright State guard Tim Finke drew the assignment of guarding Kiss. Finke forced Kiss to make four turnovers and shoot below his season average of 45.6% from the field.

“Tim’s a fantastic defender. We’ve known that all year,” Basile said. “He made him work for it.”

HOLDEN’S HOT HAND

Holden made a season-high 14 free throws, including a perfect 8-for-8 clip in the first half. He finished just one point shy of tying his career high.

“I think it was definitely a good booster for us,” Holden said. “Emotionally, I thought the crowd did a great job being energetic and getting into it. It’s awesome to be able to do this, like Grant said, in your backyard.”

HOMETOWN HEROS

Located east of Dayton, Wright State made its fourth NCAA Tournament appearance. The Raiders won the Horizon League Tournament in 2018 but lost to No. 3 Tennessee in the first round.

After navigating off-the-court adversity in which five players were impacted by the deaths of a parent or grandparent, Wright State etched program history while banding behind the mantra, “Brotherhood over Basketball.”

“This is the first one and will always be the first one,” Nagy said. “Where we did it, how we did it, all those things, I mean, it’s a lifetime moment for these guys.”

BIG PICTURE

Bryant: The Bulldogs shot a season-low 16.7% from 3-point range, going 1 for 13 in the second half.

Wright State: The Raiders had 44 rebounds, their second-most of the season. They have 13 offensive rebounds.

UP NEXT

Wright State: Vs. No. 1 Arizona on Friday in San Diego.

“I think we’re all confident and we’re going there to win,” Holden said. “We’re not just going there for the experience of March Madness.”

MLB drops regular COVID tests, can move games for health

NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball is dropping regular COVID-19 testing for all but symptomatic individuals while maintaining an ability to move games if the public health situation in an area deteriorates.

MLB and the players’ association finalized their 2022 coronavirus protocols on Tuesday, easing pandemic restrictions five days after reaching a collective bargaining agreement. Some on-field issues have not yet been addressed, such as whether to continue the pandemic rule calling for “ghost runners” at second base in extra innings.

“MLB has the right during the championship season to relocate club(s) to neutral sites, spring training sites or other clubs’ home ballparks, and/or reschedule games contained in the 2022 championship season schedule, if necessary, for health/safety reasons, to comply with governmental restrictions or to complete the schedule,” the 18-page protocols state.

“With the consent of the MLBPA (which shall not be unreasonably withheld), MLB also has the right to conduct some or all of the 2022 postseason in neutral sites (including other clubs’ home ballparks), or to delay the start of the postseason in order to reschedule championship season games following the completion of the championship season.”

The protocols provide that “MLB intends to postpone games only if necessary to protect the health and safety of club personnel, players and umpires. Games will not be postponed for competitive reasons provided the club has a sufficient number of players available to substitute those players on the active roster who are unavailable to play as a result of COVID-19.”

The sides agreed that “with regard to outdoor games postponed due to COVID-19 during the first 30 days of the championship season, MLB and the clubs will, where practicable, avoid rescheduling such games as a split doubleheader prior to April 30.”

Protocols are less strict than during the past two seasons.

Restrictions, such as wearing facemasks in dugouts, were eased during the 2021 season when a team reached 85% vaccination among players, coaches and other staff with field and clubhouse access.

Six of the 30 teams did not reach 85% last year: Arizona, Boston, the Chicago Cubs, Kansas City, the New York Mets and Seattle.

The requirement for tracing wristbands that were used last year is omitted.

Players still be will tested upon intake in 2022 but will then be tested only when showing signs or reporting symptoms.

Anyone placed on the COVID-19 injured list will not count against a team’s active roster. If a player tests positive while designated for assignment, the designation shall be negated and he would go on the COVID-19 IL.

AP source: Freeman, Dodgers agree to $162 million, 6-yr deal

(AP) — Freddie Freeman is headed home to Southern California and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The first-time free agent and the Dodgers have agreed to a $162 million, six-year contract, according to a person familiar with the deal. The person spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity late Wednesday night because the deal had not yet been announced by the team.

Freeman was the 2020 National League MVP. The first baseman helped the Atlanta Braves to their fourth straight NL East title last season and their first World Series championship since 1995.

Royals, Reds Swap Mike Minor For Amir Garrett

The Royals have traded left-handed starter Mike Minor and cash to the Reds in exchange for left-handed reliever Amir Garrett, per announcements from both teams.

Minor, 34, is headed into the second season of a two-year, $18MM contract originally signed with Kansas City. He’s due $10MM this season, plus a $1MM buyout on a mutual option for the 2023 season. MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand tweets that the Royals are covering that $1MM buyout. Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer adds that Kansas City is also covering $500K of Minor’s salary. That leaves the Reds on the hook for about $7.3MM in additional salary commitments, when factoring in the projected $2.2MM (via MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz) that would’ve gone to the arbitration-eligible Garrett.

It’s frankly bizarre to see Cincinnati take on cash to acquire a struggling veteran starter, considering they commenced their offseason by placing a highly productive veteran starter, Wade Miley, on outright waivers — content to just give him away in order to save the same $10MM salary that is owed to Minor. The move to add Minor, who has an ERA north of 5.00 in each of his past two seasons, is a clear downgrade over simply keeping Miley. One can also imagine that if the goal was to add a veteran to the staff after trading Sonny Gray, there were options in free agency at a similar or even lesser price point.

Minor has been a durable source of innings over the past four years, starting at least 28 games in each full season and another 11 during the shortened 2020 campaign. However, he posted a 5.05 ERA in Kansas City through last year’s 158 1/3 innings, punching out 22.3% of his opponents against a strong 6.1% walk rate. Metrics like FIP (4.29) and SIERA (4.20) feel Minor’s strikeout and walk rates ought to have yielded a better ERA, but it’s quite a bet for him to bounce back when factoring in how the change of scenery could adversely impact Minor. As a fly-ball pitcher whose biggest Achilles heel during that time has been a susceptibility to home runs (1.43 HR/9 since 2018), the move to Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park seems like a poor fit (particularly at a time when the National League is adding the designated hitter).

AP source: Slugger Kris Bryant signing with Colorado Rockies

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) Veteran slugger Kris Bryant has agreed to a $182 million, seven-year deal to join the Colorado Rockies, according to a person familiar with the agreement.

The person confirmed the deal to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Wednesday because its completion is pending a successful physical.

Bryant is headed to his third team in eight months after spending his first six major league seasons with the Chicago Cubs, who traded him to San Francisco last July.

The 2016 NL MVP and World Series champion batted a combined .265 with 25 homers and 73 RBIs last season, and he pounded out eight hits in the Giants’ five-game playoff loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Despite a midseason slump that precipitated the trade, Bryant earned his fourth career All-Star selection during a solid rebound from a rough year at the plate in 2020.

The Rockies clearly liked what they saw: Bryant landed a huge free-agent deal to move to Colorado as a middle-of-the-order bat and a fielder who can play third base, first base or in the outfield – his most likely position with the Rockies, who have Ryan McMahon at third and C.J. Cron at first. Bryant also is an obvious candidate to join Charlie Blackmon among the Rockies’ designated hitters.

Bryant is a career .278 hitter with 167 homers, 487 RBIs and an .880 OPS, but he is about to get the full benefits of playing at hitter-friendly Coors Field, where he has batted .263 (15-for-57) with two homers, nine RBIs and a .757 OPS in his career.

The 2015 NL Rookie of the Year’s right-handed swing will offset the left-handed slant to the outfield lineup for the Rockies, who haven’t won a playoff game since 2009.

The signing indicates Colorado still wants to be competitive in the NL West despite its roster upheaval over the past year-plus, including last year’s trade of Nolan Arenado and the impending probable departure of Trevor Story.

The Rockies signed free agent shortstop Jose Iglesias to a one-year deal on Wednesday, seemingly an acknowledgement that Story’s productive tenure with the club is over. The two-time All-Star hit 158 homers for Colorado.

Iglesias hit .271 with 27 doubles, nine homers and 48 RBIs last season with the Los Angeles Angels and Boston. After several seasons as one of the majors’ top defensive players at shortstop, Iglesias curiously struggled in the field last year in Anaheim, committing a career-high 16 errors before the Halos released him in September.

“In 2012, he was the flashiest, funnest guy to watch I had ever seen in the field,” said Rockies right-hander Daniel Bard, who played with Iglesias in Boston. “It was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, if he can just piece it together, he’s Omar Vizquel.’ He’s like a magician with his hands. He also brings an energy. He’s pieced together a really awesome career. I’ve been impressed with him since the day I met him.”

The Rockies also agreed to a one-year contract with longtime Pittsburgh right-hander Chad Kuhl, now a top candidate to fill the spot in the starting rotation vacated when Jon Gray signed a four-year, $56 million free-agent deal with Texas.

“I believe in myself,” Kuhl said. “I’m committed to being a starter, but I’ve always been a team guy. It’s always been my nature to try to win, so whatever I can do to help is what I am going to do. But I believe that is going to be to start. I believe I add a lot of value as a starter.”

Kuhl went 5-7 with a 4.82 ERA last season, making 14 starts and 14 relief appearances. He is 25-30 in five major league seasons with the Pirates, although he missed the 2019 season after undergoing Tommy John ligament replacement surgery in late 2018.

Blue Jays acquire 3B Matt Chapman from Oakland for 4 players

TORONTO (AP) All-Star third baseman Matt Chapman was acquired by the Toronto Blue Jays from the payroll-shredding Oakland Athletics for four players on Wednesday.

A five-year veteran and three-time Gold Glove winner, Chapman hit .201 with 27 home runs and 72 RBIs in 151 games for the Athletics last season. He was a first-time All-Star in 2019.

Since the end of the lockout, the A’s also dealt All-Star righty Chris Bassitt to the New York Mets and first baseman Matt Olson to Atlanta. The three trades cut Oakland’s projected payroll by about $30 million.

Oakland received right-hander Gunnar Hoglund, Toronto’s top pick in the 2021 amateur draft, minor league left-hander Zach Logue, left-handed reliever Kirby Snead, and infielder Kevin Smith.

Chapman is eligible for arbitration this season and next. He earned $6.54 million in 2021, including a $50,000 bonus for Gold Glove.

Chapman is the latest addition in a busy offseason for the Blue Jays, who went 91-71 last year but finished one game behind Boston and New York in the AL wild-card race. Toronto also signed right-hander Kevin Gausman, left-hander Yusei Kikuchi, and right-handed reliever Yimi Garcia.

The Blue Jays have had success in the past with former Oakland infielders. Josh Donaldson won the 2015 AL MVP award after being acquired from the Athletics the previous offseason, while Marcus Semien starred for Toronto last year before signing with Texas.

After choosing college over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2018 amateur draft, Hoglund went 10-5 in three seasons at Mississippi before signing with Toronto last summer. He had elbow ligament replacement surgery in May 2021 and has not pitched as a professional.

AP source: Schwarber, Phils agree to deal for about $80M

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Kyle Schwarber is coming to Philadelphia, agreeing Wednesday to a four-year deal with the Phillies worth about $80 million, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the agreement was subject to a successful physical.

A 29-year-old slugging outfielder, Schwarber split last season with Washington and Boston. Schwarber agreed to a $10 million, one-year contract with Washington last January that included a $7 million salary and an $11.5 million mutual option with a $3 million buyout. He was traded to the Red Sox in July.

He hit .266 with 32 home runs and belted a grand slam for the Red Sox in the AL Championship Series.

Schwarber will likely spend time as the Phillies designated hitter with time in the outfield and first base.

Reigning NL MVP had stumped for the Phillies to sign Schwarber. Bryce Harper said this week it would be a “downer” if the Phillies didn’t sign Kris Bryant, Nick Castellanos or Schwarber. The teams needs a left fielder and President Dave Dombrowski said Sunday ownership hasn’t given him any limitations on spending money.

Harper said at the Phillies spring training complex in Clearwater, Florida he was thrilled with the move.

“It’s huge for us. It gives us another bat in the lineup,” Harper said. “He’s a proven winner everywhere he’s gone. He’s done a really good job. He gives us a huge opportunity to fill that void out in left field.”

The Phillies finished 82-80 last season, their first winning record since 2011, but extended their postseason drought to an NL-worst 10 years.

“I know the fans want us to be a winning team and this organization wants us to be a winning team,” Harper said. “Being able to add somebody like that is going to help us that much more.”

Schwarber won a World Series with the Cubs in 2016.

The Phillies finalized their one-year contract with outfielder Odubel Herrera. He played in 124 games for the Phillies in 2021, batting .260 with 27 doubles, two triples, 13 home runs, 51 RBI, 59 runs scored and six steals. He made starts at each outfield position, 92 of which came in center field.

Since the lockout ended, the Phillies have added a pair of late-inning relievers, signing right-hander Jeurys Familia and lefty Brad Hand. A day earlier the Phillies finalized a $6 million, one-year deal with Hand and a $6 million, one-year contract with Familia.

Familia can earn $600,000 for games pitched: $150,000 each for 50, 55, 60 and 65. He also can earn $400,000 for innings: $200,000 apiece for 60 and 65.

“Hopefully, we’re not done and we can go out and get another guy,” Harper said. “We’ll see where we go from there.”

AP source: Cubs, Seiya Suzuki agree to $85M, 5-year deal

CHICAGO (AP) The Chicago Cubs and star Japanese outfielder Seiya Suzuki have agreed to an $85-million, five-year deal, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The person, confirming several reports, spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal was pending a physical.

The agreement signals the Cubs hope to speed up the rebuilding process after breaking up their 2016 championship core before last season’s trade deadline.

The 27-year-old Suzuki was a five-time All-Star and Gold Glove winner over nine seasons with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp in Nippon Professional Baseball. He batted .317 with 38 home runs and 88 RBIs in 132 games last season and had nearly as many walks (87) as strikeouts (88). He is a career .315 hitter with 182 homers and 562 RBIs for Hiroshima.

Suzuki plays right field, a position five-time Gold Glove winner Jason Heyward has manned for the Cubs since signing a $184 million, eight-year contract before the 2016 World Series championship season.

The Cubs also have Ian Happ, Clint Frazier and Rafael Ortega in the outfield, with prized prospect Brennen Davis in the system. The advent of the designated hitter in the National League gives manager David Ross more flexibility.

The Cubs are looking to regroup after finishing fourth in the NL Central at 71-91 in 2021 and missing the playoffs for the second time in three years. They traded ace Yu Darvish to the San Diego Padres before last season, then dealt championship core players Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez once the team went into a slump after a strong start.

Red Sox ace Sale (rib stress fracture) to miss opener again

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) Boston Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale has a stress fracture in his rib cage and will miss the start of the season.

Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom said Wednesday morning that Sale had the problem when he reported to the team’s spring training complex at the end of the lockout.

“He’s not throwing, basically, at this point,” Bloom said. “We’re talking weeks, not days, until we can get a baseball in his hands.”

A seven-time All-Star, Sale spent all of 2020 and the first 4+ months of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery. He made five starts in 2021 before testing positive for COVID-19 a second time.

He went 5-1 with a 3.16 ERA in nine starts, and also made three starts in the postseason, including a loss in Game 5 of the AL Championship Series against Houston.

The injury means Sale, who said he remains unvaccinated, probably will avoid the uncomfortable position of sitting out the Red Sox series in Toronto April 25-28. Canada requires a player to be fully vaccinated to enter the country.

Chicago Cubs owners launching bid to buy EPL club Chelsea

LONDON (AP) The owners of the Chicago Cubs said Wednesday that they will make a bid to buy Premier League club Chelsea.

The Ricketts family went public with its interest in the buyout with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich forced to sell up after he was sanctioned by the British government and banned by the Premier League over his links to Russian President Vladimir Putin amid the war on Ukraine.

In a statement released by a London-based communications firm, the Ricketts family said it was leading an investment group that will make its formal bid for the reigning world and European champions on Friday.

“As long-time operators of an iconic professional sports team, the Ricketts family and their partners understand the importance of investing for success on the pitch, while respecting the traditions of the club, the fans and the community,” the statement said. “We look forward to sharing further details of our plans in due course.”

The British government is allowing Chelsea, as a frozen asset of Abramovich’s, to continue playing under restrictions of a special license. The government now has oversight of the buyout process which the Raine Group, an investment bank, has been working on since Abramovich last week announced, before having his assets frozen, that the west London club was up for sale.

Anther consortium weighing a bid features Todd Boehly, part owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss and Jonathan Goldstein, a London-based property investor who is CEO of Cain International. British property developer Nick Candy has also expressed an interest in bidding.

The Ricketts family bought the Cubs for $845 million in 2009, and in 2016 the franchise won its first World Series title since 1908. The family fortune was made by Joe Ricketts as chairman of electronic trading platform TD Ameritrade. His son, Tom Ricketts, serves as Cubs chairman.

Chelsea has lost sponsors since Abramovich was sanctioned. Jersey backer Three, a communications firm, expressed unease Wednesday its logo has yet to be removed from the Nike-produced clothing.

“We understand from discussions with Chelsea FC that there are ongoing issues with removing the Three logo from the shirts, as a result of kit supply issues and license restrictions,” Three said in a statement. “We have requested that Chelsea reverts with a solution to this issue as soon as possible.”

Buck, Aikman going from Fox to ESPN’s ‘Monday Night’ booth

(AP) — On the first day of the new league year, one of the NFL’s top broadcasting teams is moving from Fox to ESPN.

ESPN announced on Wednesday a move that has been in the works for nearly a month – Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will be broadcasting “Monday Night Football.”

Buck and Aikman have been doing games together since 2002, when they became Fox’s top crew. They will tie Pat Summerall and John Madden’s record for the longest NFL booth pairing this year at 21 seasons.

“When you have the opportunity to bring in the iconic, longest-running NFL broadcasting duo, you take it, especially at a time when we are on the cusp of a new era in our expanding relationship with the NFL,” said ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro in a statement.

“The NFL continues to ascend, and we now have more games than ever before, providing additional opportunities for Joe, Troy and our deep roster of commentators.”

Pitaro finally has an all-star booth for the longtime primetime franchise. He tried to get Peyton Manning for years to join the “Monday Night Football” booth since he retired after the 2015 season.

Pitaro’s patience paid off last year when the Manningcast with Peyton and Eli Manning debuted to rave reviews. The 10-game “Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli” package runs through 2024.

Steve Levy, Brian Griese and Louis Riddick have done the main broadcast the past two seasons. Griese left earlier this month to join the San Francisco 49ers coaching staff.

The MNF booth has had frequent changes since Mike Tirico left for NBC in 2016. Tirico was the play-by-play voice for 10 seasons (2006-15) and teamed with Jon Gruden for the last seven. Sean McDonough took over for Tirico for 2016 and ’17 and worked with Gruden.

After Gruden left to take over as Raiders coach and McDonough sought to move back to college football, ESPN went with the three-man booth of Joe Tessitore, Jason Witten and Booger McFarland in 2018. Witten struggled as an analyst and decided to return to the playing field in 2019.

The only stable part of ESPN’s booth has been Lisa Salters, who will return for her 11th season reporting from the sidelines.

Aikman had been with Fox since 2001, but there had been rumblings the past couple of months that the Hall of Fame quarterback had been looking to move on.

Many thought that Aikman would join Al Michaels at Amazon, which takes over “Thursday Night Football” next season. Instead, it is ESPN.

“The opportunity to be a voice on `Monday Night Football’, adding to its legacy and being a part of the future of the NFL on ESPN, has me motivated and reflective. As a kid in California, the voices of Frank Gifford, Howard Cosell, and my mom’s personal favorite, Don Meredith, echoed throughout our living room each week,” Aikman said in a statement. “I am looking forward to the next several years with ESPN and all our new teammates.”

Buck’s Fox contract had a year remaining, but the network allowed him to pursue the opportunity to remain with Aikman. Buck has a long history with “Monday Night Football,” often going on trips with his father – Hall of Fame broadcaster Jack Buck – to watch him call Monday night games on radio with Hank Stram.

“I never thought that I could end up there and well, here he we are. I didn’t see it coming and gosh, I’m glad it did,” Buck said in a video on Twitter after ESPN made the announcement.

Buck had been with Fox Sports since it began in 1994. He had also been the network’s top baseball voice and called 24 World Series.

“Troy Aikman and Joe Buck have been a part of some of the greatest football moments in FOX Sports history,” Fox Sports CEO and executive producer Eric Shanks said. “Buck’s voice, as an original member of the network, has also been the soundtrack for a generation of baseball fans. The pair will forever be a part of the network’s DNA and as they embark on their next chapter, we wish them and our friends at ESPN all the best.”

Besides “Monday Night Football”, Buck and Aikman will both contribute content to the ESPN+ streaming service.

ESPN will have 22 games this season, including an exclusive MNF game on ABC and an international game on ESPN+. Adding in the Week 18 doubleheader which began this past season, ESPN will have three weeks with multiple games this season. The package jumps to 25 games beginning in 2023.

ABC will also have the 2027 Super Bowl, marking its return to televising the NFL’s championship game for the first time since 2006.

Fox could bump Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen up to the top team or it could make a run at former New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton. Burkhardt would also be one of the top contenders to replace Buck on baseball along with Joe Davis.

If Olsen was promoted, he would follow the same path as Aikman – one year on the No. 2 team before moving up. Whoever succeeds Aikman, it will be an important choice for Fox since it has the 2023 and 2025 Super Bowls.

Amazon also hasn’t announced its booth for “Thursday Night Football”, even though there are indications it is trending toward Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit. Mike Tirico is expected to move into the play-by-play role for NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” when Michaels’ contract expired after last month’s Super Bowl.

AP source: Titans releasing 7-time Pro Bowler Julio Jones

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) A person familiar with the move says the Tennessee Titans will be releasing seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Julio Jones in a move to clear salary cap space.

Jones will be designated as a post-June 1 release with the Titans carrying the cap hit until June 1. That’s according to the person who spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday on the condition of anonymity because the move has not been announced.

ESPN first reported the move.

The Titans traded for Jones last June in a move that gave Atlanta salary cap space. Tennessee needed another top wide receiver to pair with A.J. Brown, but Jones started only 11 games, counting the postseason. Jones finished with a career-low 31 catches for 434 yards and one touchdown.

That ranked Jones fourth in catches on the Titans and third in yards. The lone touchdown came in the regular- season finale.

Brown thanked Jones in a post on social media for teaching him a lot in a short period of time and being grateful to be a part of the veteran’s journey.

“You’re the reason why I started to begin to play this game,” Brown wrote. “HOF receiver is what you are and what I strive to be one day. Thank you, I’ll take it from here! Salute!”

Jones is the fifth player to be released by the Titans, who had to create space not only before the new league year started Wednesday and to keep outside linebacker Harold Landry and center Ben Jones off the free agent market.

Those deals are cap friendly costing the Titans only $8.4 million this season. Spotrac.com estimated the Titans with $720,675 of cap space. The Titans still need to upgrade their wide receiving group and find a No. 1 tight end among other needs.

Jones, who turned 33 in February, came to Tennessee having averaged 95.5 yards receiving per game through 135 games, tops in NFL history. Only Pro Football Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss (15.6) averaged more yards per catch than Jones (15.2) among NFL players with at least 848 receptions.

Jones set Atlanta records with 848 catches for 12,896 yards, and his 60 touchdowns ranked second. He had a career-best 136 catches for 1,871 yards in 2015. That hamstring injury snapped a streak of six straight seasons with more than 1,300 yards receiving.

Tennessee reworked quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s contract to free up space for Jones. The trade also cost the Titans a second-round pick in the April draft and a fourth-round selection in 2023.

The Titans also agreed to terms with running back and special teams player Trenton Cannon, according to a person familiar with the deal who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the contract has not been announced.

Cannon was a sixth-round pick in 2018 out of Virginia Tech by the New York Jets, and he played 11 games last season with San Francisco after starting the season with Baltimore. The Titans will be his fifth NFL team.

Bills make it Von Miller-time in Buffalo; sign Howard, too

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) It’s Von Miller time in Buffalo.

The two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year and coming off his second Super Bowl title agreed to a six-year contract with the Bills on Wednesday. Miller is an 11-year NFL veteran who spent his first 10-plus seasons in Denver before being traded to the Los Angeles Rams last season and winning the NFL championship.

At 32, Miller brings a veteran presence to a young group of starting linebackers made up of Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano. With Buffalo playing a hybrid style defense, there’s a chance for Miller to provide an outside pass-rushing presence. He has 115 1/2 career sacks.

Though listed as a linebacker throughout his career, Miller was referred to as a defensive end by Buffalo.

The Bills also announced reaching a one-year agreement to sign tight O.J. Howard, who spent his first five seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The splashy additions came on the opening day of free agency, and were made by the two-time defending AFC East champions who had very little room to maneuver under the salary cap. The Bills opened the day by restructuring the contract of safety Micah Hyde to free up about $4.5 million in salary cap space.

Miller joins a defense which allowed the fewest yards in the NFL last season, but unraveled in a 42-36 overtime loss to Kansas City in an AFC divisional playoff game. With 13 seconds remaining, Buffalo allowed the Chiefs to gain 31 yards on two plays to set up Harrison Butker’s 49-yard field goal as time expired.

Kansas City then opened overtime by marching 75 yards on eight plays to win the game on Travis Kelce’s 8-yard touchdown catch.

Miller had four sacks in four playoffs games with Los Angeles, including two in the Rams’ 23-20 Super Bowl win over Cincinnati.

The rebuilding Broncos traded Miller to Los Angeles on Nov. 2 while he had been nursing an ankle injury. He forced a fumble and had five sacks in eight starts with Los Angeles.

Miller joins a new-look Bills defense which added bulk up front by agreeing to sign defensive tackles JaQuan Jones and Tim Settle in free agency. The two replace the loss of Harrison Phillips.

Miller’s addition also makes it uncertain whether the Bills will re-sign pass rusher Jerry Hughes, who completed the final year of his contract after spending the past nine seasons in Buffalo.

Buffalo also wound up with additional space under the cap when free-agent running J.D. McKissic reversed his decision to sign with the Bills to instead remain in Washington.

Howard adds a pass-catching presence to an offense that stands to lose receivers Emmanuel Sanders, who is contemplating retirement, and Cole Beasley, who has been granted permission to negotiate a trade.

Howard had 14 catches for 135 yards and a touchdown last season while overshadowed mostly by Rob Gronkowski’s presence. A former first-round draft pick out of Alabama, Howard’s best season came in 2018, when he 34 catches for 565 yards and five TDs.

He has the potential of lining up opposite Dawson Knox, who is coming off a career year with 49 catches, 587 yards and nine touchdowns.

AP source: Browns signing Walker, Grant, releasing Hooper

CLEVELAND (AP) While awaiting word from Deshaun Watson, the Browns addressed needs by agreeing Wednesday to terms on contracts with free agent linebacker Anthony Walker Jr. and Pro Bowl returner Jakeem Grant, a person familiar with the deals told The Associated Press.

Cleveland also plans to release tight end Austin Hooper, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because teams can’t make free agency signings or other moves until the new NFL league year begins at 4 p.m.

Walker will sign a one-year contract to return for a second season with Cleveland, his agent Drew Rosenhaus confirmed to AP.

Grant, chosen as a Pro Bowler with the Chicago Bears last season, is getting a three-year deal worth up to $13.8 million.

And, Hooper, who has not lived up to the four-year, $42 million contract he signed as a free agent two years ago, is being designated as a post-June 1 release, which will allow the Browns to spread out his dead salary cap hit over two years, the person said.

Hooper twice made the Pro Bowl in four seasons for Atlanta. Since coming to Cleveland, he’s caught 84 passes for 780 yards and seven touchdowns.

The Browns recently placed a franchise tag on tight end David Njoku and also have Harrison Bryant under contract. Coach Kevin Stefanski favors multiple-tight end formations, so it’s likely the Browns will either sign or draft another player at the position.

On Tuesday, a contingent from Cleveland flew to Houston and visited Watson to make a recruiting pitch to the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback to possibly join the Browns.

Watson didn’t play last season because of lawsuits from 22 women who have accused him of sexual assault or harassment, and he still faces civil lawsuits after a grand jury declined to indict him last week.

Watson has a no-trade clause in his contract and would have to agree to any deal before the Texans can trade him.

Watson has also met with Carolina and New Orleans, and is reportedly meeting with Atlanta before making a decision. The Texans are seeking a bevy of draft picks, including three first-rounders, for one of the NFL’s elite QBs.

The Browns’ courtship with Watson has soured the team’s relationship with quarterback Baker Mayfield. He posted a letter late Tuesday night expressing that he doesn’t know where he’ll play next and thanked Cleveland fans for their support.

The No. 1 overall pick in 2018, Mayfield has had a turbulent four seasons with Cleveland. He took the Browns to the playoffs in 2020, but struggled last season after injuring his left shoulder in Week 2.

Still, Browns general manager Andrew Berry and Stefanski have said this offseason they expect Mayfield to “bounce back” in 2022.

However, it appears Mayfield’s days in Cleveland are over.

Walker provided leadership on a revamped Browns defense last season after signing as a free agent. He had 113 tackles in 13 games.

The 5-foot-7 Grant averaged 11.9 yards on 26 punt returns – one a 97-yard touchdown – in 2021. He averaged 23.4 yards on 23 kickoff returns.

The Browns’ return game hasn’t produced much the past two seasons and needed an upgrade.

Grant could also see time at wide receiver. The Browns need more depth at the position after releasing Jarvis Landry earlier this week. They agreed Saturday to a trade with Dallas for Amari Cooper, who will be the team’s No. 1 receiver.

The Browns also released center JC Tretter, the NFL Players Association president, to clear $8.2 million in salary cap space.

AP source: Rams CB Darious Williams headed to hometown Jags

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) The Jacksonville Jaguars wasted little time spending the money they saved by cutting veteran linebacker Myles Jack.

And they gave it to a hometown guy.

The Jaguars and Los Angeles Rams cornerback Darious Williams agreed Wednesday to a three-year, $30 million contract that includes $18 million guaranteed, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because free-agent deals can’t be formalized until the new league year begins.

Williams and six others are expected to officially agree to terms with the Jaguars when free agency begins Wednesday afternoon. Jacksonville has committed $260 million – more than $155 million guaranteed – to the seven newcomers during the league’s legal tampering window.

Williams will give the Jaguars a third starting-caliber cornerback. He joins veteran Shaquill Griffin and second-year pro Tyson Campbell in the defensive backfield, along with safeties Rayshawn Jenkins and Andre Cisco.

Williams, who was born and raised in Jacksonville, had 71 tackles and nine pass break-ups for the Super Bowl champions last season. He signed with the Rams in 2018 as an undrafted rookie from University of Alabama-Birmingham.

The Jaguars created $8.35 million in salary-cap space by releasing Jack, who started 82 games over the last six seasons. The team might not be done parting with aging veterans, either. They want to primarily build through the draft, though, which explains why so many of the free-agent deals are relatively short-term contracts.

The other pending newcomers:

– Arizona receiver Christian Kirk is signing a four-year, $72 million contract that includes $37 million guaranteed.

– Washington guard Brandon Scherff is getting a three-year, $49.5 million deal that includes $30 million guaranteed.

– New York Giants tight end Evan Engram is landing a one-year, $9 million contract that includes $8.25 million guaranteed.

– Las Vegas receiver Zay Jones is signing a three-year, $24 million deal that includes $14 million guaranteed.

– Atlanta linebacker Foyesade Oluokun is getting a three-year, $45 million contract that includes $28 million guaranteed.

– New York Jets defensive tackle Folorunso “Foley” Fatukasi is landing a three-year, $30 million deal that includes $20 million guaranteed.

Titans propose adding 2-point conversion to win in overtime

(AP) — Proposals to change the rules for overtime have been submitted by three NFL teams, with Tennessee seeking to include 2-point conversions as part of the process of deciding the winner, the league announced Wednesday.

The Titans have recommended that both teams possess the ball in overtime unless the team receiving the kickoff scores a touchdown and a 2-point conversion. That would end the game.

Indianapolis and Philadelphia have proposed that both teams must have an opportunity to possess the ball in overtime.

Under current rules, the 10-minute overtime in the regular season ends if the team getting the first possession scores a touchdown, even though the team kicking off never has the ball. Should the side receiving the kickoff make a field goal, the team that first played defense gets a possession in which it can score a touchdown and win, or kick a field goal and play would continue – if time allows.

In the postseason, the rules are the same except that overtimes continue until someone has more points.

All overtimes would end if the team that kicks off earns a safety on the opening possession. Games in recent years when overtime contests ended after one series – notably the 2017 Super Bowl, when James White ran 2 yards for a touchdown about four minutes into OT and New England came back from 25 points down for a 34-28 win over Atlanta, and the 2019 AFC championship game, when the Patriots marched down the field on a 13-play drive that concluded with Rex Burkhead’s two-yard TD run to give New England a 37-31 victory over the Chiefs – have sparked debate whether the current rules are fair to both teams.

Under the Tennessee proposal, a team would not be required to go for the 2-point conversion after scoring a TD on the opening series of OT. But going for it and being successful would win the game.

Since the current overtime rule was instituted for the regular season in 2012, the team that wins the coin toss has won the game half of the time (76 of 152 games). However, both teams have had at least one possession in 82% of the games (124 of 152).

Those numbers change a bit in the postseason. Since 2010, when the current rule was instituted for the playoffs, seven of the 12 overtime games have been won on an opening possession touchdown, and 10 of 12 have been won by the team that won the coin toss.

The league’s powerful competition committee, which presents all rule proposal amendments to the 32 owners, will announce its suggestions next week. The owners meetings are in Palm Beach, Florida, from March 27-30.

Mayfield thanks city of Cleveland after Browns reportedly meet with Watson

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield fueled speculation about his future after thanking the city of Cleveland on social media Tuesday.

Mayfield posted his message hours after the Browns reportedly met with Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, who’s been looking for a trade destination this offseason.

“The past four years have been nothing short of truly life-changing since I heard my name called in the draft to go to Cleveland,” Mayfield wrote. “This is not a message with hidden meaning. This is strictly to thank the city of Cleveland for embracing my family and me. We have made many memories and shared growing in this process through all the ups and downs.

“I have no clue what happens next, which is the meaning behind the silence I have had during the duration of this process. I can only control what I can, which is trusting in God’s plan throughout this process.

“I have given this franchise everything I have. … And that will not change wherever I take my next snap. Whatever happens, I just want to say thank you to the fans who truly embraced who I am and the mentality that aligned so well with this city’s hard-working people.”

The Browns’ reported interest in Watson came as a surprise this year. General manager Andrew Berry said earlier this offseason that he fully expects Mayfield to be the team’s starter in 2022.

Mayfield hasn’t lived up to expectations since being selected first overall in 2018. He helped the Browns make the playoffs in 2020 after tossing 26 touchdowns to eight interceptions but took a step backward last year. The Oklahoma product finished the 2021 campaign with only 17 touchdowns against 13 interceptions while posting a 6-8 record.

Overall, Mayfield is 29-30 as a starter.

Watson reportedly has also met with the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers. The 26-year-old, who has a no-trade clause in his contract, is also expected to speak with the Atlanta Falcons on Wednesday.

Report: Raiders, Chandler Jones finalizing 3-year, $51M deal

The Las Vegas Raiders and free-agent pass-rusher Chandler Jones are finalizing a deal, sources told Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.

Jones will receive a three-year contract worth about $51 million, a source told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

The Raiders reportedly freed up a starting spot for Jones by trading Yannick Ngakoue to the Indianapolis Colts for cornerback Rock Ya-Sin.

Jones has been one of the NFL’s most dominant edge defenders over the past decade. He racked up double-digit sacks in five of six seasons with the Arizona Cardinals and was twice named a first-team All-Pro (2017, 2019).

The 32-year-old produced 10.5 sacks, 26 quarterback hits, and a team-high six forced fumbles in 15 starts last campaign.

Las Vegas will pair Jones with Maxx Crosby, a 2021 second-team All-Pro, to give it one of the strongest pass-rushing duos in the NFL.

The AFC West has made some of the biggest moves involving pass-rushers this offseason. The Los Angeles Chargers reportedly traded for Khalil Mack, and the Denver Broncos signed Randy Gregory to a five-year, $70-million deal.

Curry injures left foot in Warriors blowout loss to Celtics

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Stephen Curry went down with a left foot injury late in the first half and Golden State coach Steve Kerr didn’t like Marcus Smart’s lunging move at the reigning NBA scoring champ.

Smart got an earful from Kerr, then they chatted again after the Boston Celtics beat the Warriors 110-88 on Wednesday night.

“I thought it was a dangerous play. I thought Marcus dove into Steph’s knee,” Kerr said. “That’s what I was upset about. Lot of respect for Marcus, he’s a hell of a player, gamer, competitor. I coached him in the World Cup a few summers ago. We talked after the game, we’re good. I thought it was a dangerous play, just let him know.”

Curry was injured with 4:19 remaining in the second quarter along the sideline while scrambling for a loose ball as Smart made a diving lunge on the play and landed on the reigning scoring champion’s leg. Curry grimaced in pain and got up but hobbled along before exiting on the next dead ball moments later.

That came when Smart made another aggressive play, receiving a Flagrant 1 foul 4:09 before halftime when he leapt and caught his leg on Klay Thompson’s shooting arm.

Kerr said Curry, who had three points on 1-for-4 shooting, was having an MRI exam. Rookie Moses Moody also injured his right shoulder.

Warriors forward Juan Toscano-Anderson said Smart wanted the ball but might have been able to use more caution.

“I don’t think it was a dirty play,” Toscano-Anderson said. “… We all know that’s Marcus Smart, though, that’s how he plays, he’s gritty.”

Draymond Green was whistled for a technical for arguing a foul called on Thompson against Smart at the 1:48 mark, with Green throwing his arms up in the air in disgust and yelling.

Jayson Tatum had 26 points and 12 rebounds to lead Boston, while Jalen Brown scored 14 of his 26 points in the first half. Smart wound up with 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting and eight assists.

The Warriors couldn’t keep up in their fourth straight home defeat to the Celtics and sixth of seven matchups in the Bay Area.

Boston’s stingy, top-rated defense held Golden State to a cold 29.3% in the first half and 37.2% overall as the Warriors were limited to 19 assists. Jordan Poole was 1 of 8 but recovered to scored a team-high 29 points.

This was a tough blow for Curry two days after he dazzled for 47 points on his 34th birthday in a 126-112 win against the Wizards on Monday.

Green came off the bench for a second straight game as he regains his strength from a back injury, his minutes increased from 20 to 22.

WISEMAN WORKS

Second-year center James Wiseman returned from his assignment with the G League Santa Cruz Warriors and will continue to build up his conditioning. He started all three games and averaged 17.3 points — going 22 of 42 for 52.4% — 9.7 rebounds and 1.67 blocks over 20.7 minutes.

He hasn’t played since April 10 last year while recovering from right knee surgery.

“The main thing is he’s healthy and he’s moving well and that’s the biggest thing,” Kerr said. “That was our biggest concern going in. Can he build the momentum, sustain it and continue to work on his conditioning, timing and so far, so good. Happy to see him out there.”

TIP-INS

Celtics: Derrick White was 0 for 8 missing all five of his 3-point tries. … Former Warriors assistant Aaron Miles, now with Boston, made the rounds saying hello to familiar faces before the game. … Boston improved to 4-7 on the road vs. the Western Conference.

Warriors: Poole has scored 20 or more points in eight straight games. … Andrew Wiggins and Nemanja Bjelica were both out with a non-COVID illness, the second straight game Wiggins missed. … Golden State would have been the first team this season to reach 30 home victories. The Warriors won the first meeting in Boston 111-107 on Dec. 17. … The Warriors shot 7 for 21 in the first quarter.

UP NEXT

Celtics: At Sacramento on Friday night.

Warriors: Host San Antonio on Sunday night.

Towns, Timberwolves rout reeling Lakers

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Timberwolves have been gobbling up wins against struggling teams, including this one against the uncharacteristically reeling Los Angeles Lakers.

The next stretch for Minnesota, closing in on just the second postseason appearance for the franchise in 18 years, will provide a much tougher test.

Karl-Anthony Towns scored 16 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter to help the Timberwolves beat the Lakers 124-104 on Wednesday night for their ninth win in the last 10 games.

Anthony Edwards had 20 of his 27 points in the second quarter to lead the early surge by the Timberwolves, who never trailed on their way and stayed within 1 1/2 games of Denver for sixth place in the Western Conference.

Their next seven opponents are all in the top seven in either conference, ending with an April 1 road game against the Nuggets.

“We need that right now, a check underneath the hood, if you will,” coach Chris Finch said.

Minnesota had a 25-point second-quarter lead whittled to four by the Los Angeles bench in the fourth quarter, but Towns — who had a franchise-record 60 points in the last game — helped the Timberwolves steady themselves. Patrick Beverley pitched 18 points and plenty of pep.

“We made the game competitive. We can’t do that. We can’t play with our food out there,” said Towns, who had 13 of Minnesota’s 51 rebounds.

LeBron James, playing through knee soreness, had just 19 points on 8-for-21 shooting to lead the Lakers. He totaled 111 points over the previous three games. The Lakers, who have had Anthony Davis sidelined by a foot injury for the last 11 games, have lost 16 of their last 21 games.

“It’s easy to be comfortable when you’re winning. I’ve never been that guy. It’s all about, ‘How comfortable can you be when things become uncomfortable?’ I’m OK with that, too,” James said. “It’s just testing my patience more than any season in the last few years, just because of the way we’re playing.”

Carmelo Anthony had 16 points for the Lakers, who fell a season-worst 11 games under the .500 mark at 29-40. James has not played on a team that far below even since his rookie year, when Cleveland finished the 2003-04 season at 35-47.

According to ESPN, this is also the first time in James’ career that his team has trailed by 25 or more points in three straight games. The Lakers are only one game ahead of 10th-place New Orleans, precariously close to the cut for the play-in tournament.

When Russell Westbrook shot an airball on a 3-pointer with 3:58 left and a 111-94 deficit, Towns ambled over to the baseline where the ball bounced away and, looking at the crowd, put his hand against his forehead as he mockingly pretended to try to find it.

“When you’re up, everything’s going great. When you’re down, they’ll kick you,” Lakers guard Wayne Ellington said. “So right now, we’re being kicked.”

The Timberwolves took a 67-46 advantage into the locker room at halftime, but the Lakers made a game of it for a bit. Westbrook froze his follow-through hand in place while posing after a 3-pointer that brought the Lakers within 73-64 with 6:03 left in the third quarter.

D.J. Augustin drained a 3 at the third-quarter buzzer and dropped in a layup early in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 89-85. Nearly every time the Lakers hit a big shot, though, they followed with a defensive lapse.

BACK AND FORTH

The Minnesota bench was trash-talking Westbrook all night.

“Nobody over there has done anything in this league that makes me put my eyes up like, ‘Oh, they’re talking to me. Let me respond,’” Westbrook said. “No, that’s fine. They’re good. They won a game. Happy for them. Move on to the next one.”

Said Finch: “I like the fact that we have confidence, the fact that we play with a lot of emotion. We also have to realize we have to mature a little bit and act like we’ve been there before.”

TIP-INS

Lakers: Dwight Howard returned to the starting lineup after missing the last game for family reasons. He had just two points in 16 minutes. … The Lakers went 0 for 10 in the first quarter and 2 for 21 from 3-point range in the first half.

Timberwolves: This was their 11th victory of the season by 20-plus points, one short of the franchise record set in 2013-14. … Jayden McDaniels, who sprained his left ankle in the previous game, will miss a minimum of two weeks before re-evaluation … With McDaniels and Naz Reid (back spasms) out, Nathan Knight had four points and eight rebounds in 14 minutes.

UP NEXT

Lakers: At Toronto on Friday night.

Timberwolves: Host Milwaukee on Saturday.

Antetokounmpo scores 36 points, Bucks hold off Kings 135-126

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo had 36 points and 10 rebounds, Wesley Matthews made a clutch 3-pointer with 1:32 remaining, and the Milwaukee Bucks held off the Sacramento Kings 135-126 on Wednesday night.

Khris Middleton added 32 points, eight rebounds and eight assists to help Milwaukee win its eighth in nine games. Jrue Holiday scored 21 points and Bobby Portis Jr. had 12.

The defending NBA champions pulled within two games of idle Miami for the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

“They’ve got a belief,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “You can’t feel it — but you can feel it. There’s an excitement about we’re getting closer to the end of the season, the playoffs, and those guys are eager to get going again.”

Antetokounmpo had his fifth straight game with 30 points or more as he chases Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s franchise scoring record. The two-time MVP shot 12 of 23, made 12 of 16 free throws and dominated a stretch late in the third quarter when he scored Milwaukee’s final 12 points.

“Believe it or not, he’s hungrier,” Matthews said. “He’s greedy, in a good way. He wants everything. He wants to win a championship this year. He wants to win a championship next year. He wants to be better than he was last year. That’s just how he is. That’s how he’s wired.”

The Bucks didn’t pull away until late in the fourth.

After De’Aaron Fox’s three-point play gave Sacramento a 123-120 lead, Holiday and Middleton made consecutive 3s. Fox answered with a 3-pointer to tie it before Matthews hit his go-ahead shot from beyond the arc.

Antetokounmpo followed with a hook shot and two free throws, and Portis sank two free throws.

“That’s the beauty of this team, it’s not always me,” Antetokounmpo said. “Everybody has to come in and do their part. One day it’s going to be Jrue. One day it’s going to be Khris. One day it’s going to be me. That’s how our team is built. You never know who it’s going to be.”

Domantas Sabonis had 22 points for the Kings. Fox added 21 points on 8-of-23 shooting.

Sacramento fell to 3-8 since the All-Star break.

“We did a good job of challenging shots but they are a good 3-point shooting team and were able to knock down some,” Kings interim coach Alvin Gentry said. “Give them a lot of credit for jumping up and making them.”

The Bucks fell behind early, tied the game midway through the second quarter on a pair of 3s from Middleton and then went ahead 51-50 when Middleton made a free throw after Fox was called for a technical.

Antetokounmpo brought the Bucks’ bench to its feet when he grabbed a defensive rebound and raced past several Kings players to throw down a one-handed dunk. Matthews followed with two free throws to put Milwaukee up by seven at halftime.

DEFENSIVE GEM

Donte DiVincenzo made a leaping steal of an inbounds pass near Milwaukee’s basket and tipped it to Davion Mitchell, who went the other way and scored a breakaway layup to pull Sacramento to 108-105.

METU’S MOMENT

After making a 3-pointer to put the Kings ahead by five in the second quarter, Chimezie Metu sprinted back and blocked a shot attempt under the basket by Antetokounmpo.

COURTSIDE KINGS

Former Green Bay Packers quarterback and Hall of Famer Brett Favre attended the game and sat courtside, not far from Kings owner Vivek Ranadive and former Kings general manager Vlade Divac. The 52-year-old Favre, who retired from the NFL in 2010, wore a bright yellow Southern Miss beach volleyball shirt — an ode to his alma mater. Former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell sat next to Favre in the second half.

TIP-INS

Bucks: Antetokounmpo needs 135 points to pass Abdul-Jabbar’s team record of 14,211.

Kings: Sacramento has lost 12 straight to Milwaukee dating to 2016.

UP NEXT

Bucks: End their four-game road trip against the Timberwolves on Saturday. Minnesota never trailed when the teams played in October.

Kings: Host the Celtics on Friday. The Kings lost at Boston in January but have won the last two meetings at home.

AP All-America team includes milestone for Kentucky’s Howard

NEW YORK (AP) — Rhyne Howard has joined an exclusive group by becoming a three-time Associated Press All-American.

The Kentucky senior became the ninth player in women’s basketball history to earn first-team honors three times, getting a spot on the team announced Wednesday.

“That’s huge. Definitely selective company. To be a three-time, and one of nine, now that’s something you had to work for,” Howard said. “I don’t know how to explain it. I was glad I was able to accomplish that.”

Howard was joined on the first team by South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston, Iowa’s Caitlin Clark, Baylor’s NaLyssa Smith, Michigan’s Naz Hillmon and Stanford’s Haley Jones. Hillmon and Jones tied for the fifth spot.

Boston, Clark and Smith were unanimous choices from the 30-member national media panel that votes in the AP Top 25 each week. It was the first time that there has been a tie for the first team since the AP started honoring women’s All-Americans in 1995.

The last player to be a three-time All-American was Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu. Boston could join the club next year.

South Carolina’s A’ja Wilson, Baylor’s Brittney Griner, Tennessee’s Chamique Holdsclaw, Duke’s Alana Beard, Oklahoma’s Courtney Paris, and UConn’s Breanna Stewart and Maya Moore are the only other players to earn first-team honors at least three times. Paris and Moore did it four times.

Howard helped Kentucky get on a roll at the end of the regular season and win the SEC Tournament. She averaged 20.6 points this season to go with 7.3 rebounds and 2.4 steals for the Wildcats.

“She is the most versatile player I have ever coached,” Kentucky coach Kyra Elzy said. ”What sets her apart from everyone else is that she can play every position on the floor and be offensively and defensively exceptional at each.”

Boston has been dominant on both ends of the floor to help South Carolina go wire-to-wire as No. 1 in the AP poll and earn the top overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. The junior post averaged 16.8 points, 12.0 rebounds and set an SEC record for consecutive games with a double-double.

“Aliyah is a great player, a generational player having an exceptional season because she dedicated her offseason to putting herself in this position,” South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said. “Her ability to not just affect but dominate a game every minute she’s on the court is special.”

Clark put up eye-popping numbers for the second straight year and became the first female player to lead the country in both scoring and assists. She averaged 27.4 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.9 assists to help Iowa win both the Big Ten regular season and tournament championships.

“Her repeat selection to such a prestigious team demonstrates her consistency and commitment to growth,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. ”To lead the country in points and assists for two years is absolutely remarkable.”

Smith earned first-team honors for the second consecutive season. Baylor’s senior forward averaged 22.5 points and 11.5 rebounds while shooting 55% from the field. She helped the Bears win a 12th consecutive Big 12 regular-season championship.

“NaLyssa is an versatile and elite athlete who excels in the lane but has consistently faced up and knocked down jump shots this season,” Baylor coach Nicki Collen said. “She has rebounded and defended at a high level and seems to always play her best in the biggest moments.”

Hillmon became the first Michigan player ever to earn first-team honors, a year after being on the second team. She helped Michigan to its highest ranking ever and averaged 21.0 points and 9.4 rebounds.

“She obviously makes such an impact on the court for our program and has helped elevate Michigan women’s basketball,” Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said. “It’s not what just she does on the court, but it’s also her impact in the community and her ability to continue to use her voice for change that are such a huge part of her legacy at Michigan.”

Jones, who was the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four last year when Stanford won the national championship, averaged 13.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists this year.

“Haley is a deserving member of the Associated Press’ All-America team,” Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer said. “She affects all facets of a game and can alter the trajectory of a matchup in ways that few others can, while seeming to play her best in the big moments.”

Howard, Clark, Boston, Smith and UConn’s Paige Bueckers made up the preseason All-America team. Bueckers missed two months with a knee injury, but earned honorable mention honors. This was the first time since 2007 that no UConn players were on an AP All-America team.

SECOND TEAM

The AP second team was headlined by Kansas State’s Ayoka Lee, who scored 61 points earlier this season to set a new NCAA women’s single-game scoring record. She was joined by Ashley Joens of Iowa State, Aneesah Morrow of DePaul, Khayla Pointer of LSU and Elissa Cunane of N.C. State. It’s the third year that Cunane has been either the second or third team.

THIRD TEAM

The AP third team was Virginia Tech’s Elizabeth Kitley, Villanova’s Maddy Siegrist, Northwestern’s Veronica Burton, Stanford’s Cameron Brink and Maryland’s Angel Reese. It’s the first time Virginia Tech, Northwestern and Villanova have had a player on one of the AP All-America teams.

Djokovic, Russian players expected to compete at French Open

(AP) — Novak Djokovic will be allowed to play at the French Open even if he is not vaccinated against COVID-19 as long as the coronavirus situation in France remains stable, organizers said Wednesday.

Russian tennis players, including top-ranked Daniil Medvedev, will also be admitted to play in the tournament but as neutral athletes because of the war started by their country in neighboring Ukraine.

Organizers said there is nothing at the moment preventing Djokovic from defending his title at the clay-court Grand Slam. France this week lifted measures requiring the need to wear face masks in most settings and allowing people who aren’t vaccinated back into restaurants, sports arenas and other venues.

“At this stage there is nothing to stop him returning to the courts,” French Open director Amelie Mauresmo said at a news conference.

Djokovic was deported from Australia in January after a legal battle over whether he should be allowed to enter the country, forcing him to miss the Australian Open. He told the BBC last month that he was willing to miss upcoming Grand Slam tournaments as well if they required him to get vaccinated.

Djokovic has won the French Open twice and has a total of 20 major titles, one short of the record held by Rafael Nadal after the Spaniard won this year’s Australian Open.

French tennis federation president Gilles Moretton said that although Djokovic is now free to play, French authorities might be forced to introduce new restrictions if the virus situation deteriorates before the tournament starts on May 22.

“It is not up to us,” Moretton said. “Today there is a little virus that is going around. We are quite confident that the lights are green, but we are all cautious about what has happened over the last two years.”

Asked whether Russian tennis players will be allowed to compete at the tournament in the light of the war in Ukraine, organizers said they plan to stick to decisions suspending Russia and ally Belarus but allowing their players to compete as neutral athletes.

The seven groups that run the sport around the world have condemned the war; canceled events in Russia and Belarus; kicked those two nations out of the Billie Jean King Cup and Davis Cup team competitions; and announced on March 1 that players from those countries will be allowed to compete in WTA, ATP and Grand Slam tournaments but not under the name or flag of Russia or Belarus.

“We are holding this line,” said Amelie Oudea-Castera, the French tennis federation director general.

Other sports, including track and field, soccer and figure skating, have barred Russian and Belarusian athletes from competition.

Wimbledon organizers are having conversations with the British government about whether Russian players should be allowed to compete at the grass-court tournament this year if they don’t distance themselves from President Vladimir Putin.

Oudea-Castera said French organizers don’t plan to start a detailed and individualized analysis of players’ individual situations, which “can be extraordinarily dependent on the family situations experienced by each of them.”

Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, the day Medvedev was assured of moving atop the ATP rankings for the first time while competing at the Mexico Open.

“Watching the news from home, waking up here in Mexico, was not easy,” Medvedev said then. “By being a tennis player, I want to promote peace all over the world. We play in so many different countries; I’ve been in so many countries as a junior and as a pro. It’s just not easy to hear all this news. … I’m all for peace.”

Without any outdoor restrictions in place, Moretton said he expects the Roland Garros venues to be used at “maximum capacity” this year after the previous two editions were affected by the pandemic. Tickets went on sale this month, and Moretton said about 500,000 seats out of the 600,000 available for the day sessions have already been sold.

For the 10 night sessions on Court Philippe Chatrier, only 50,000 tickets remain available from the 150,000 on sale.

“We will be very happy to be back together, we are delighted,” Moretton said.

9 dead in Texas crash involving U. of Southwest golf teams

(AP) — Nine people died in a fiery, head-on collision in West Texas, including six students and a coach from a New Mexico university who were returning home from a golf tournament, authorities said.

A pickup truck crossed the center line of a two-lane road in Andrews County, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) east of the New Mexico state line on Tuesday evening and crashed into a van carrying members of the University of the Southwest men’s and women’s golf teams, said Sgt. Steven Blanco of the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Six students and a faculty member were killed in the crash along with the driver and a passenger in the pickup truck, Blanco said. Two students were taken in critical condition by helicopter to a hospital in Lubbock, about 110 miles (180 kilometers) to the northeast.

Family members confirmed freshman Laci Stone was among those who died in the crash. Stone graduated from Nocona High School in Texas in 2021, where she played golf, volleyball and softball.

“She has been an absolute ray of sunshine during this short time on earth,” her mother, Chelsi Stone, said on Facebook. “. We will never be the same after this and we just don’t understand how this happened to our amazing, beautiful, smart, joyful girl.”

Laci Stone was majoring in global business management, according to her biography on the golf team’s website.

The National Transportation Safety Board will send a 12-member “go team” to the crash site, including experts in human performance, vehicle and motor carrier factors and accident reconstruction, agency spokesman Eric Weiss said. The team is expected to arrive late Wednesday afternoon or early evening, he said.

“We’ll try to find out not only what happened, but why it happened, so we can possibly prevent things like this from happening in the future,” he said.

The University of the Southwest is a private, Christian college located in Hobbs, New Mexico, near the state’s border with Texas.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said on Facebook that she is “deeply saddened” by the loss of life.

“This is a terrible accident. As we await additional information from authorities, my prayers are with the community and the loved ones of all those involved,” she said.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also expressed sympathy.

“We grieve with the loved ones of the individuals whose lives were horrifically taken too soon in this fatal vehicle crash near Andrews last night,” Abbott said.

The teams were taking part in a golf tournament at Midland College, about 315 miles (505 kilometers) west of Dallas.

“We are still learning the details about the accident but we are devastated and deeply saddened to learn about the loss of our students’ lives and their coach,” University President Quint Thurman said in a statement.

The university said on Twitter that it was working to notify family members of those involved in the crash, and that counseling and religious services would be available on campus.

Midland College, which hosted the golf tournament, said Wednesday’s play would be canceled because of the crash. Eleven schools are participating in the event.

“All of the players and their coaches from the participating schools met together early this morning,” Midland College athletic director Forrest Allen said in a statement Wednesday. “We were all shocked to learn of this tragedy, and our thoughts and prayers are with USW as they grieve this terrible loss.”

****TOP INDIANA SPORTS NEWS/RELEASES****

COLTS NEWS

The Colts have agreed to trade defensive back Rock Ya-Sin to the  Raiders in exchange for Pro Bowl edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue.

Ngakoue has 55 sacks since he entered the league as a third-round pick out of Maryland in 2016.

LOYER NAMED GATORADE PLAYER OF YEAR IN INDIANA

Homestead senior Fletcher Loyer has been named the Indiana Gatorade player of the year.

Loyer led Homestead to a 22-5 record and Class 4A regional semifinal appearance. He averaged 26.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.2 steals as a senior. He is headed to Purdue.

Grace Berger Named Associated Press All-American Honorable Mention

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Senior guard Grace Berger has been named a 2022 Associated Press All-American honorable mention, announced on Wednesday by the organization.

Berger has guided Indiana to its third-straight NCAA Tournament appearance, its highest ever NCAA seed at No. 3 and trip to the Big Ten Championship game in 20 years during her senior campaign in 2021-22. She averages a team-high 16.3 points per game with two double-doubles and 27 games in double figures this season. Doing a little bit of everything. Berger also averages 6.2 rebounds, a team-high 4.9 assists, 1.5 steals and holds a +2.0 assist-to-turnover ratio. The Louisville, Ky. native shoots 44.8 percent from the floor and 80.2 percent from the free throw line.

She earned her third-consecutive All-Big Ten first team honors in 2021-22 and was on the top 10 watchlist for the 2022 Cheryl Miller Award for nation’s top small forward. This marks Berger’s third All-American honor in her career, pulling in WBCA All-American honorable mention and USWBA All-American honorable mention in 2021. This season, she was also on watch lists for the 2022 Wooden Award and 2022 Wade Trophy, awards that honor the nation’s top player. She joins Mackenzie Holmes (2021) as the program’s two AP All-American selections.

Berger and the 3-seed Hoosiers (22-8) will open NCAA Tournament play on Saturday, March 19 at 1:30 p.m. ET against 14-seeded Charlotte inside Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

Jaden Ivey Voted First-Team All-American by NABC

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue sophomore guard Jaden Ivey was voted a first-team All-American by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC), the organization announced today.

The NABC is one of four entities that make up the All-American awards, joined by the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA), the Associated Press and the Sporting News. He was named a second-team honoree by the Sporting News and Associated Press. A player is considered a consensus All-American if named to all four lists.

Ivey becomes the third first-team All-American under head coach Matt Painter (JaJuan Johnson, Caleb Swaningan) and is just the second underclassmen (freshman or sophomore; Swanigan) to be named a first-team All-American in any of the four major services in the last 92 years (John Wooden was consensus All-American as a sophomore in 1930).

Ivey has led the Boilermakers to a 27-7 record and a No. 3 seed in this week’s NCAA Tournament. The 6-foot, 4-inch South Bend, Indiana, native is averaging 17.4 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game while also adding 31 steals and 19 blocked shots. He is one of just two players nationally (Duke’s Paolo Banchero) with 575 points, 150 rebounds, 100 assists, 30 steals and 15 blocked shots.

He was named a finalist for the Jerry West Award and named to the Big Ten All-Tournament Team after averaging 19.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game in Indianapolis.

Ivey has played his best against ranked teams, averaging 19.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.6 assists in eight games. He was outstanding in a win over No. 18 North Carolina with 22 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, then added 10 points, seven rebounds and seven assists against No. 5 Villanova.

He then had one of the signature moments of the college basketball season in an 81-78 win over No. 16 Ohio State, hitting a fadeaway 25-footer as the clock expired for the buzzer-beating victory. Three games later, he tallied 26 points with six assists and four rebounds to finish a season sweep of Illinois. He also had 25 points with four assists in a big win over a Rutgers team that had won four straight games against nationally-ranked teams.

Ivey tied a school record for most 3-pointers made without a miss with a 6-of-6 performance against Butler in the final edition of the Crossroads Classic.

Ivey has scored in double-figures in 31 of his 33 games played (missed one game with an injury) and has a team-best 13 games of 20 or more points, including double-doubles against North Carolina (22 points, 10 rebounds) and Minnesota (21 points, 10 rebounds).

The Boilermakers will face Yale in Friday’s NCAA Tournament first-round contest in Milwaukee.

No. 3 Seed Purdue Begins NCAA Quest Friday vs. Yale

GAMEDAY INFORMATION – NCAA FIRST ROUND

[3] Purdue (27-7) vs. [14] Yale (19-11)

Friday, March 18 | 2 p.m. ET | Fiserv Forum

TBS (Spero Dedes, Debbie Antonelli, A.J. Ross)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The No. 3-seed Purdue Boilermakers begin their March Madness journey on Friday in Milwaukee, when it battles the Ivy League champion and No. 14-seed Yale at the Fiserv Forum, beginning at 2 p.m. ET / 1 p.m. CT on TBS. The Boilermakers are looking to win a first-round game for the fourth time in their last five tournaments, while Yale will look to replicate its magic from 2016, when it knocked off Baylor in the first round.

Purdue is 27-7 overall with a 14-7 quad-1 and 2 record. Yale is 19-11 with a 1-5 quad-1 and 2 record, with its best win over Princeton (NET 102).

The contest will be televised on TBS with Spero Dedes, Debbie Antonelli and A.J. Ross on the call. On the radio waves, Rob Blackman and Bobby Riddell will be courtside on the 22-station Purdue Radio Network and online on the Varsity Sports Network (app). Jason Benetti and Will Perdue will handle the Westwood One broadcast. Social updates will be provided on Purdue’s official Twitter account (@BoilerBall).

THE NOTES TO KNOW

1) Purdue is making its seventh straight NCAA Tournament appearance, the sixth-longest streak in the country.

2) Matt Painter’s 13 NCAA Tournaments while at Purdue are the fifth most by a Big Ten coach in league history, behind Bob Knight, Tom Izzo, Gene Keady and Bo Ryan. His 15 NCAA Tournament wins are seventh in league history.

3) Jaden Ivey has been named an All-American, giving Purdue four All-American honors in the last six years — the sixth most in the country.

4) Purdue owns a 12-7 record against the NCAA Tournament field and is tied with Wisconsin for the most wins in the country against the NCAA Tournament field having played 11 teams. Every loss for Purdue this season has been to a team in the NCAA Tournament field.

5) Purdue is one of five teams nationally whose only losses this year were to NCAA Tournament teams (Gonzaga, Kentucky, Tennessee, Villanova).

6) Purdue has made three of the last four Sweet 16s, one of six schools that can say that (Gonzaga, Michigan, Florida State, Kentucky, Oregon).

7) Purdue and Kansas are the only schools in America to have a top-five seed in each of the last six NCAA Tournaments.

8) Purdue spent the entire season ranked inside the AP top 10, for just the second time in school history (1986-87 season).

9) Purdue has won nine more games this season than last year, the seventh-best improvement in school history and the best since 2006 to 2007.

10) Purdue is 24-0 in games it scores 70 or more points. In games held under 70 points, Purdue is 3-7.

11) Jaden Ivey, Trevion Williams and Zach Edey are averaging a combined 43.1 points per game, accounting for 54.1 percent of Purdue’s points. The trio has each scored in double-figures in 15 of the 34 games.

PURDUE’S NCAA TOURNAMENT HISTORY

• This is Purdue’s 33rd NCAA Tournament in school history, ranking 17th all-time among Division I schools in both apperances and wins (42).

• Purdue has reached the Elite Eight four times and has advanced to two Final Fours, coming in 1969 and 1980.

• Purdue’s seven straight appearances mark the second-longest streak of consecutive NCAA appearances in school history (8 – 1993 to 2000; 7 – 2015 to 2022).

SERIES HISTORY

• This will be just the third meeting between the two teams, with Purdue owning a 2-0 series advantage.

• This will be the first meeting in almost 60 years between the two teams. No one in the world was alive the first time Purdue and Yale played (1902).

• The Bulldogs and Boilermakers were scheduled to play a game in Mackey Arena around Christmas in 2020, but the Covid-19 pandemic canceled that game and it has not been rescheduled for the foreseeable future.

MORE ABOUT THE SERIES

• Yale and Purdue have no common opponents this season. This will be Purdue’s first game against an Ivy League opponent during the Matt Painter era, last playing an Ivy League opponent on Dec. 6, 1996, against Cornell, a 69-55 victory. Yale last played a Big Ten team on Nov. 23, 2019, a 58-56 loss to Penn State.

CONNECTIONS BETWEEN THE SCHOOLS

• Yale senior Jameel Alausa and Purdue senior Trevion Williams are both from Chicago, but it’s a big city and they didn’t know each other.

• Purdue head coach Matt Painter and Yale head coach James Jones have both been active in USA Basketball.

• Purdue had an Ivy League transfer in the 2019 and 2020 seasons, as former Ivy League Rookie of the Year Evan Boudreaux played at Purdue for two seasons.

• Purdue has an IVEY (Jaden Ivey), while Yale plays in the IVY LEAGUE.

MISCELLANEOUS NCAA TOURNAMENT NOTES

• This marks Purdue’s sixth tournament as the No. 3 seed. Purdue last was a No. 3 seed in 2019, when it reached the Elite Eight.

• Purdue’s last apperance in the East Region, came in 2018 when it reached the Sweet 16 in Boston.

Purdue Moves On In WNIT With 82-60 Win Over SIU

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Back in the postseason for the first time since 2018, the Purdue women’s basketball team ran to a wire-to-wire win 82-60 win over Southern Illinois in the first round of the WNIT on Wednesday at Mackey Arena.

The Boilermakers (17-14) shot 56.9% from the field and dished out 21 assists on 33 made field goals. Purdue put a trio of players in double figures topped by a career-high 27 points from Brooke Moore. Rokia Doumbia matched her career high with 13 points, and Jeanae Terry added 10 points.

Several Boilermakers flirted with double-doubles on the night. Doumbia had 13 points and eight rebounds. Terry finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and eight assists. Abbey Ellis chipped in nine points and nine rebounds.

Purdue tallied 48 points in the paint and scored 24 points off fastbreaks. The Boilermakers’ bench outscored SIU 40-6.

The Boilermakers set the tone in the first half shooting a blistering 62% on 18-of-29 shooting. Doumbia and Moore combined to score 23 points over the opening 20 minutes, matching the entire score for Southern Illinois (21-10).

Purdue scored the first six points of the game and kept the Salukis off the board for nearly the first three minutes. The guests never allowed the Boilermakers to build the lead to more than seven in the opening frame.

The Boilermakers added to the lead in the second, outscoring the Salukis 26-12 in the frame with 19 combined points coming from Doumbia and Moore. The 26 points were the most in a second period this season. Purdue shot 11-of-16 in the second quarter from the field and knocked down three triples.

Up 20 out of the break, the Salukis chipped the gap down to 17 before Ava Learn tallied all nine of her points, including seven straight for Purdue, to extend the lead to a game-high 25 late in the third.

The Boilermakers cooled a bit in the second half to shoot 51.7% over the final 20 minutes. Southern Illinois pulled within 15 midway through the fourth, before the Boilermakers closed out the game making seven of their final eight shots.

OFF THE BENCH

Purdue notched 40 points off the bench, good for second most this season behind a 44-point outing in the regular season finale against Wisconsin. In addition to Moore’s 27 points, Learn added nine and both Jayla Smith and Ajah Stallings scored two points. Moore is the only player from the Big Ten with three 20-point games off the bench this season.

DROPPING DIMES

Purdue notched 21 assists on 33 made field goals for their sixth game with 20 helpers or more. As usual, Terry led the way with eight. Doumbia added four, Cassidy Hardin and Abbey Ellis chipped in three and Moore, Smith and Nyagoa Gony added one.

QUOTE

Head coach Katie Gearlds …

We ran. We ran with good pace. I think Rokia and Brooke pretty hard. They were special there in the open floor. We went small, and Rokia went out there running. We were able to get some stops. We didn’t want to play in the halfcourt with SIU. They’re really good defensively. We needed to get in the open floor and we did that tonight.

NOTES

• Purdue leads the all-time series 6-5 and is 2-1 against Southern Illinois

• The Boilermakers dominated the glass and won the rebounding battle 42-31.

• Purdue’s 24 points in transition matched a season high set in the win over Miami on Dec. 19.

• Moore went 10-of-15 from the field, setting a new career high for field goals made.

• Doumbia matched her career high with 13 points set previously when she was at Arkansas against Vanderbilt on Jan. 19, 2020.

• Purdue has had more assists than turnovers in 15 games this season.

• Ajah Stallings scored her first points of the season in the fourth quarter.

UP NEXT

Purdue will travel to Marquette for the second round of the 2022 WNIT. Tipoff is set for Monday, March 21, at 8 p.m. (ET).

No. 19 Purdue Set for Home & Home 4-Game Set with ISU

HOME & HOME WEEKEND SERIES INFORMATION

No. 19 Purdue (15-0) vs. Illinois State (6-6)

March 17 & 18 at ISU / March 19 & 20 at Purdue

Thursday at 6 p.m. ET & Friday at 3 p.m. ET / Watch on ESPN+

Duffy Bass Field / Normal, Illinois

Saturday & Sunday at 1 p.m. ET / Watch on B1G+

Alexander Field / West Lafayette, Indiana

SERIES HISTORY

All-Time: Purdue leads 18-15

All-Time in Normal: Tied 8-8

All-Time in West Lafayette: Purdue leads 10-5

Last Meeting: ISU 10, Purdue 2 (April 2016 in Normal)

Last Meeting in West Lafayette: Purdue 9, ISU 6 (April 2015 in West Lafayette)

Last Season with Multiple Meetings: 2010 – Road Team Won Both Games

PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS

Game 1: Jackson Smeltz (R-Jr, LHP) vs. ISU’s Derek Salata (Jr, RHP)

Game 2: TBA for Purdue vs. ISU’s Justin Foy (Jr, RHP)

Game 3: TBA for Both Teams

Game 4: Troy Wansing (Fr, LHP) vs. ISU’s Sean Sinisko (R-So, LHP)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – No. 19 Purdue baseball continues its stretch of 21 consecutive games played in the states of Illinois and Indiana with a four-game, home-and-home weekend series vs. an Illinois State team coached by a pair of former Purdue assistants.

The first two games of the series – Thursday at 6 p.m. ET and Friday at 3 p.m. ET – are set for ISU’s Duffy Bass Field in Normal. Both teams then travel east to Alexander Field for Saturday and Sunday matinees at 1 p.m. ET. The Boilermakers have not played the same team in two different cities in the same weekend since taking on Bradley, the Redbirds’ Missouri Valley Conference rival, in Peoria and West Lafayette in March 2011.

As the final undefeated team nationally, Purdue has won its first three home games for the first time since opening its 2012 home season 4-0. That was the final year at Lambert Field and also the last time the Boilermakers earned a national ranking in March.

Illinois State is led by former Purdue assistants Steve Holm (2017-18) and Wally Crancer (2014-18). They made the move west to Bloomington-Normal in the summer of 2018 after helping the Boilermakers qualify for an NCAA Regional as the runner-up in the conference standings and at the Big Ten Tournament. Purdue head coach Greg Goff was the third assistant coach for that memorable season, which featured a 21-2 hot stretch during the second half. Meanwhile, both teams’ operations directions have also worked at both schools. After breaking Purdue’s single-season saves record under Holm’s guidance, Ross Learnard joined the ISU staff for two seasons before returning to West Lafayette in the summer of 2021. Ryan Henry currently handles operations for ISU after serving three years (2017-19) as a team manager while earning his bachelor’s degree from Purdue.

Wrestling Set for NCAA Championships

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The Purdue wrestling team heads to Detroit this week for the 2022 NCAA Championships, hosted at Little Caesars Arena beginning Thursday. The Boilermakers qualified seven individuals for the national tournament, earning four automatic bids at the Big Ten Championships and three more at-large bids last Tuesday.

NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP NOTES

• Purdue is making its 92nd appearance at the NCAA Championships.

• The Boilermakers’ seven national qualifiers marks their fifth straight season with at least seven, Purdue’s longest stretch in program history. The previous mark was back-to-back seasons in 2003-04.

• Tony Ersland has taken at least seven wrestlers to NCAA’s in six of his eight seasons as Purdue’s head coach.

• The program now has 274 all-time national qualifiers and 58 All-Americans.

• Purdue has crowned four NCAA Champions in program history with Charles Jones last climbing to the top of the podium at 167 pounds in 1992.

• With the No. 9 seed at 125 pounds, Devin Schroder is the fourth wrestler in program history to earn three national top-10 seeds. He joins Bob Marshall (1960-62), Ryan Lange (2002-04) and Chris Fleeger (2002-03, 2006).

PURDUE LINEUP & RANKINGS

Purdue wrapped up the season at No. 16 in the NWCA Coaches Poll, and were a consensus top-20 dual team across all ranking services. The Boilermakers made huge jumps in the final tournament rankings of the season, climbing to No. 25 via InterMat and No. 26 on FloWrestling. All seven national qualifiers earned individual rankings, including Schroder at No. 6 at 125 pounds and junior Thomas Penola earning a top-10 mark from FloWrestling at 197 pounds.

PURDUE NOTES

• Head coach Tony Ersland is in his eighth season at Purdue and is 70-55 in dual competition with the Boilermakers.

• Ersland wrestled for the University of Iowa from 1992-97, qualifying for the NCAA Tournament at 177, and competing on the highest scoring team at the NCAA Championships in history (170).

• Purdue’s season-opening win at Drexel marks eight straight seasons that the Boilermakers have won their first dual of the year under Ersland.

• Purdue opened dual competition 6-0 for the first time since 2008-09.

• The Boilermakers’ win at No. 9 Nebraska marked the program’s first top-10 ranked victory since 2004 (a 21-20 win on criteria over Arizona State), and the first top-10 career dual victory for Ersland as a head coach.

• Purdue held its annual “Hammer Down Cancer” event on January 21 vs. Illinois, and auctioned off its special edition singlets, donated by Rudis, to raise over $4,600 for the Purdue Center for Cancer Research.

• The Boilermakers’ win over then 14th-ranked Minnesota on February 6 snapped a streak of 12 straight losses to the Golden Gophers, dating to 2004. Purdue won 6-of-10 weights, including wins over higher-ranked opponents at 125, 133, 165 and 184.

• Devin Schroder and Max Lyon capitalized on the NCAA’s COVID extension waiver, returning for an extra year of eligibility in 2021-22.

• Schroder is tied for fourth in the nation in Division I with six technical falls on the season

• Schroder ranks second in program history in back points, with 522 in 131 career matches, is 15th all-time at Purdue with a .733 win percentage (96-35), and is 19th in program history for career wins.

• 49 of Schroder’s 96 career wins have come via bonus points (.510), including 27 technical falls, while 43 of his career victories are shutouts (.448).

• Matt Ramos won the 2018 Cadet Freestyle World Championship for the U.S., capturing the 51 kg title in Zagreb, Croatia.

• Ramos’s two wins to open the season were his first official folkstyle matches since his senior year of high school at Lockport HS (Illinois) in 2019, winning by technical fall and fall in the two bouts.

• Parker Filius leads the team with 32 matches and 21 victories on the season, including an 12-3 dual record and seven bonus-point wins.

• Kendall Coleman surpassed the 60-career match at CKLV, and earned a spot on Purdue’s career win- percentage record list, coming in at No. 14 (.737, 56-20).

• Coleman surpassed the 200 career takedown mark at Big Ten Championships, amassing 213 in 76 career matches, including 71 this season. 

• Gerrit Nijenhuis has the highest-ranked win of any Boilermaker this season, topping No. 3 Mikey Labriola at Nebraska on Jan. 7. Thirteen of his 26 matches this season have come against ranked opponents, earning wins against six of them.

• Max Lyon has cracked the top-20 for career takedowns at Purdue, scoring 227 to date in his career.

• Lyon has wrestled 40 of his last 53 matches against ranked opponents.

• Thomas Penola leads the team in takedowns (78) and total points (227), and nearly half of his scoring this season has come in the third-period, where he’s outscoring opponents 100-47.

• Penola has faced a team-high 20 ranked opponents in 29 matches this season, including a team-most 13 wins against ranked foes.

Event Schedule

Thursday, March 17

12 p.m.: Session 1 (Pigtails, Round of 32)

7 p.m.: Session 2 (Second Round, Consolation Pigtails and First Round)

Friday, March 18

11 a.m.: Session 3 (Quarterfinals, Consolation Second and Third Round)

8 p.m.: Session 4 (Semifinals, Round of 12, Consolation Quarterfinals)

Saturday, March 19

11 a.m.: Session 5 (Consolation Semifinals, Third, Fifth and Seventh-Place Matches)

7 p.m.: Session 6 (Finals)

2022 NCAA Championships

Detroit, Michigan * Little Caesars Arena

125: #9 Devin Schroder (R-Senior)

First Round: #24 Sam Latona (Virginia Tech)

133: #26 Matt Ramos (R-Freshman)

First Round: #7 Lucas Byrd (Illinois)

141: #20 Parker Filius (R-Senior)

First Round: #13 Ian Parker (Iowa State)

157: #19 Kendall Coleman (R-Junior)

First Round: #14 Jake Keating (Virginia)

174: #25 Gerrit Nijenhuis (Sophomore)

First Round: #8 Michael O’Malley (Drexel)

184: #30 Max Lyon (R-Senior)

First Round: #3 Trent Hidlay (North Carolina State)

197: #11 Thomas Penola (R-Junior)

First Round: #22 Owen Pentz (North Dakota State)

Numbers represent national seeds

4 Divers Set to Represent the Purdue Women at NCAAs

NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP MEET INFORMATION

Purdue Women at the NCAA Championships

Thursday to Saturday, March 17 to 19 / ESPN3

Diving prelims during noon hour / Finals sessions at 6 p.m. ET

Georgia Tech’s McAuley Aquatic Center / Atlanta, Georgia

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A quartet of divers are set to represent Purdue women’s swimming & diving this week on the national stage of the NCAA Championships.

Sophie McAfee, Maggie Merriman, Jenna Sonnenberg and Maycey Vieta earned the right to compete at the national championship meet. McAfee qualified in all three diving events as a freshman, assuring the Boilermakers will have an entry in every diving event.

Sonnenberg will make her debut at NCAAs on 3-meter Friday. Merriman and Vieta are also in the mix for Saturday’s platform competition after the All-Americans finished among the top four in the event at NCAAs last year.

Among a field of 74 divers, McAfee is one of 20 to qualify for NCAAs in all three events. That’s a feat Emily (Bretscher) Pfeiffer also accomplished in both 2019 and 2021. McAfee is Purdue’s first true freshman to accomplish the feat since Casey Matthews in 2009. Michelle Cabassol also did it as a redshirt freshman in 2013.

Vieta, Merriman and Pfeiffer were all championship finalists on platform at NCAAs a year ago, giving Purdue three of the eight All-Americans in the event. It was a big reason the Boilermakers earned a meet-high 56 team points in the diving events. Vieta, Merriman and McAfee all finished top five on the tower at the Big Ten Championships last month. Vieta and Merriman were also top four on 10-meter at the USA Diving Winter Nationals in December.

Merriman has qualified for the NCAA Championships for the third time in her career, every time she’s been able to compete at the Zone C Championships qualifier. She and Vieta were also recognized as All-Americans in 2020 in the wake of NCAAs being canceled by the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.

Purdue has had at least one women’s diver earn All-America honors at the NCAA Championships in 16 of the last 17 years the meet has been held. That run dates back to 2004, with 2012 being the only year a Purdue diver did not qualify for the national championship meet. Last season, Pfeiffer became Purdue’s third female diver – and first since 2007 – to claim full-fledged (top 8) All-America honors on a springboard and the platform in the same year. McAfee has an opportunity to duplicate the feat this week.

Georgia Tech’s McAuley Aquatic Center is hosting both men’s and women’s NCAA Championships this month. Purdue qualified 10 student-athletes for the men’s meet next week, including all five divers. Georgia Tech also hosted both national championship meets in 2016.

The top 16 finishers in the preliminaries clinch All-America honors and advance to finals. The top eight compete for the national championship in the evening finals. Diving is traditionally the final individual event of the finals sessions and begins in a window of approximately 7:45 to 8:15 p.m. ET. Consolation finals for diving are held a few minutes after the prelims end. Springboard prelims begin at 12:30 p.m. – with 1-meter Thursday and 3-meter Friday. Saturday’s platform prelim gets underway at 12:15 p.m.

PURDUE SCHEDULE AT NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS

• Thursday, March 17 – Sophie McAfee on 1-Meter

…Prelims at 12:30 p.m., Finals Session at 6 p.m.

• Friday, March 19 – Sophie McAfee, Jenna Sonnenberg on 3-Meter

…Prelims at 12:30 p.m., Finals Session at 6 p.m.

• Saturday, March 20 – Sophie McAfee, Maggie Merriman, Maycey Vieta on Platform

…Prelims at 12:15 p.m., Finals Session at 6 p.m.

Notre Dame beats Rutgers in double-OT to cap First Four

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) Paul Atkinson Jr. was in the right place at the right time for Notre Dame as the clock wound down in the second overtime period against relentless Rutgers.

Atkinson rebounded a missed shot by Blake Wesley and put back a layup with 1.4 seconds left to give the Irish an 89-87 win in a wild First Four game and put them into a first-round West Region contest on Friday in San Diego.

“Well, let me start by saying Happy St. Patrick’s Day to everyone here,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “And you notice that Paul’s shot went in at 12:02 (EST) on St. Patrick’s Day, so maybe there was a little bit of karma there.”

Atkinson, a graduate transfer from Yale and former Ivy League Player of the Year, capped his finest game of the season, leading the Irish with 26 points and six rebounds.

“Blake, I saw him driving to the rim,” Atkinson said. “I knew he was going to go hard, either get a foul or make a bucket. I just wanted to follow up if it was a miss and no call. I just wanted to chase after the ball. Got it up and got a good bucket.”

Ron Harper Jr. had tied it with a long 3-pointer for Rutgers with 22 seconds left in the second OT before Atkinson won the scrum under the basket and put up the winner.

“They were one possession better,” Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell said.

Nate Laszewski had 18 and Cormac Ryan 16 for the Irish (23-10).

“I haven’t felt like this in a long time,” Atkinson said. “It’s amazing. Bunch of cameras on you. Big spotlight, last game of the night. Definitely got my teammates to cheer with. It’s just awesome. Got family up in the stands. Couldn’t ask for anything better.”

Caleb McConnell, the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, had a career-high 23 points and Harper had 22 for the Scarlet Knights (18-11), who had knocked off five ranked teams on their conference schedule.

Both teams shot a respectable 51% for the game.

McConnell scored 18 points on 8-of-9 shooting from the floor as Rutgers built a 41-36 lead at the half. He put the finishing touches on the scoring before intermission, going the length of the court and putting up a fast-break layup at the buzzer.

Rutgers went up by eight to open the second half on Harper’s 3-pointer, but Notre Dame chipped away. The Irish got up by as many as five late before the game got tight again.

Geo Baker’s 3-pointer tied it at 69 for Rutgers with 1:24 left. Rutgers got the ball back, but Harper and Baker both missed shots that would have given the Scarlet Knights the win in regulation.

“We have an unbelievably gritty group,” Ryan said. “We don’t quit. I mean, so proud of how we played and battled. And our fight, man, you really can’t teach that.”

QUOTABLE

“If there’s a better game in the NCAA Tournament, I gotta see it,” Brey said. “That was an unbelievable college basketball game. And they’re really good. And tough. And fearless. And I’m really proud of our group because we just kept hanging in. We’ve grown a lot in the mental toughness area.”

BIG PICTURE

Notre Dame: Fought back from a halftime deficit, wouldn’t go away and finally found a way to win it.

Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights played well enough to win, but didn’t take advantage of chances to put away the Irish.

UP NEXT

Notre Dame advances to a first-round game Friday against No. 6 Alabama in San Diego.

NCAA TOURNAMENT PREVIEW: THE GREEN IS BACK

NORMAN, Okla. – The Notre Dame women’s basketball team is back in the NCAA Tournament, making the program’s 27th appearance to be exact. The Fighting Irish were named a five-seed in the Bridgeport Regional, but first must travel to Norman, Oklahoma for the first and seconds rounds. Up first, a matchup against 12-seed UMass on Saturday, March 19, at 7:30 pm ET on ESPN2. If successful, the Irish will advance to play the winner of four-seed Oklahoma versus 13-seed IUPUI. The second matchup will take place on Monday, March 21, at a later determined time.

Tickets are available and can be purchased online by clicking here.

NCAA HISTORY

Notre Dame will be competing in its 27th NCAA Tournament. Their streak of 24 straight appearances came to an end in March of 2021. It was the fourth longest active streak in the country and fifth best all-time.

The Irish are 67-24 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, as their 67 wins rank fourth all-time.

Notre Dame joins Louisiana Tech and USC with two NCAA titles behind UConn (11), Tennessee (8), Baylor (3) and Stanford (3). Notre Dame is one of three schools (Tennessee & UConn) to reach seven NCAA Title games. Their nine Final Four appearances are the fifth-most of any school behind UConn (19), Tennessee (18), Stanford (14) and La Tech (10).

The Irish have reached 10 Elite Eights and have advanced to 17 Sweet 16s.

COACH IVEY TURNAROUND IN YEAR 2

Just her 2nd year with the program but her first true full calendar year with the team – Coach Ivey already has the program back on the national scene in one of the biggest turnarounds. Around this time last year, Notre Dame finished 10-10 overall and didn’t make the NCAA tournament for the first time in a quarter of a century. Then Coach Ivey worked her magic.

Notre Dame is currently 22-8 overall and ranked 21st in the nation after starting the year unranked (was ranked as high as 14th). Only three other Power-Five teams posted a +12 win differential or higher from last year:

– Kansas +13

– Utah +15

– LSU +16

They went 13-5 in a loaded ACC and claimed the No. 3 seed, after being projected to finish in 6th place.

Notre Dame enters the NCAA Tournament with a NET ranking of No. 20 (an improvement of 36 spots from last year). The Irish are 3-3 against the NET top-25 and 7-6 against the NET Top-50. They have zero losses outside the top-100.

Coach Ivey boasts five ranked wins on the year which include No. 16 Georgia Tech on the road and No. 3 NC State at home.

AWAY FROM HOME AS THE FIVE-SEED

Notre Dame is 5-3 all-time as a No. 5 seed. Their best finish from this position was Sweet 16’s in both 2004 and 2008 – as the latter marked the last time they were a five-seed. 2009 (a seven-seed) was the last time Notre Dame didn’t host in the NCAA Tournament.

The Irish are 22-4 all-time in the First Round and 17-5 in the Second Round.

Notre Dame has never played UMass or IUPUI in the Big Dance, while they are 2-1 against Oklahoma –> last squaring off in the Sweet 16 in 2011.

CAN I HAVE THIS DANCE?

After the 2019 NCAA runner-up finish, Notre Dame made WNBA Draft history with all five starters being drafted in the top-20. The 2022 NCAA Tournament will be the program’s first since that major event. 

When looking around at that roster, only senior Abby Prohaska has experienced what it takes to make deep runs in March. Prohaska was the lone guard option off the bench during the team’s 2019 NCAA Tournament run. So it will mark the NCAA Tourney debuts for Miles, Citron, Brunelle, Peoples, Mabrey and Westbeld. Ironically enough, Dodson’s last NCAA Tournament appearance was an Elite 8 loss to Notre Dame in 2019.

ACC ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Guard Sonia Citron claimed ACC Freshman of the Week 6 times and then took the crown for ACC Rookie of the Year.

Citron tied 2019 alumna Brianna Turner for the program record with six ACC FOTW honors. Going back into the program’s Big East days, both Jacqueline Batteast (01-02) and Alicia Ratay (99-00) were each six-time winners as well.

In addition, she becomes the program’s third ACC Rookie of the Year in 9 years in the league, joining Maddy Westbeld (2021) and Turner (2015).

When it came to Freshman-Only ACC rankings — Citron ranked 2nd in scoring, 1st in rebounding and 3rd in assists – making her the only freshman in the top-3 in all three. In fact, Citron had the highest PTS+REB+AST/Game of any ACC freshman with her 20.7. Citron also boasted the most double-doubles of any ACC freshman with five.

Lastly, Citron is 1-of-2 freshmen in the entire country averaging at least 11 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists and 1.5 steals. The other one being Harvard’s Harmoni Turner.

WHO’S HOT?!

Maya Dodson has notched 14 double-digit scoring performances over the last 17 games. She’s raised her shooting percentage to .479, which ranks fourth in the league. In addition, she’s collected 21 blocks over the last six games.

Sonia Citron is coming on strong down the stretch – posting double figures in 14 of her last 15 games. She’s also recorded two double-doubles over the last five.

NANCY LIEBERMAN AWARD TOP-FIVE FINALIST

Pretty impressive that an 18-year old freshman played her way onto the Nancy Lieberman Award Top-5 finalist list.

Notre Dame’s point guard ranks 2nd in the NATION in assists per game, averaging 7.2/game. However, Miles is more than just stylish assists and great vision, she’s a dynamic playmaker.

Miles leads the ranked Irish in scoring (13.7), she’s 5th in the ACC in steals (1.9) and also reels in 5.5 boards/game.

Miles and Iowa’s Caitlin Clark are the only players in the country averaging at least 13 points / 5 rebounds / 7 assists.

And by the way, she boasts eight double-doubles on the year, which ranks 5th in the ACC. And of those eight, one of them is a triple-double, as Miles became just the 2nd Irish freshman in program history to do so.

FRESHMEN DUO SENSATION

Therefore, Notre Dame doesn’t just have one, but two super freshmen in Citron and Miles who will be the building blocks for years to come.

ESPN Women’s Hoops put both Miles and Citron on their midseason top-10 freshman list. Miles was ranked No. 2, while Citron checked in at No. 6. Notre Dame was the only program with two freshmen on the list. 

In fact, Notre Dame is the only Power-Five school with two freshmen averaging double figures. Furthermore, there’s only one other school in Division I with 2 freshmen averaging at least 11 ppg – Pacific – Anaya James and Elizabeth Elliot.

A 6-1 guard, Citron does it all for Coach Ivey and is arguably the most versatile player on the team. She’s averaging 11.5 points while ranking 2nd on the team in rebounds (6.7), 3rd in assists (2.3) and 2nd in steals (1.6).

Then there’s Olivia Miles, who has already been detailed above. Ultimately, Miles ranks in the top-15 in the ACC in 6 different stat categories: Scoring, FG%, Assists, Steals, A/TO Ratio and Defensive Rebounds. Best of any Irish player.

ND’s 2 freshmen are its top two in Defensive-Rebounds/Game — Miles (5.0) & Citron (5.0) — as both rank in the ACC in the top-8. The two are also the team’s top two steal getters as Miles averages 1.9 while Citron checks in with 1.6.

DODSON ALL-ACC DEFENSIVE TEAM

Dodson’s teammates might joke she’s the grandma of the team but the emphasis was on the first half of the word – Grand. She’s averaging 2.8 blocks/game, which ranks 8th in the nation and leads the ACC. In addition, she’s collected 21 blocks over the last six games.

She’s also a difference-maker on the glass, ranking 30th in the nation in offensive rebounds/game with 3.6.

MILES NAMED AP ALL-AMERICA HONORABLE MENTION

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame freshman point guard Olivia Miles continues to add her name alongside Irish greats in just her first full season. The Associated Press announced on Wednesday that Miles received All-America Honorable Mention honors. She becomes the 20th different Irish player all-time to earn A.P. All-America distinction and the first since 2019.

Just add this special distinction along with her Nancy Lieberman Award Top-5 honor, which recognizes the top-5 point guards in the country. Notre Dame’s point guard ranks 2nd in the nation in assists per game, averaging 7.2/game. However, Miles is more than just stylish assists and great vision, she’s a dynamic playmaker.

Miles leads the fifth-seeded Irish in scoring (13.7), ranks 5th in the ACC in steals (1.9) and also reels in 5.5 boards/game. In addition, Miles and Iowa’s Caitlin Clark are the only players in the country averaging at least 13 points / 5 rebounds / 7 assists.

By the way, Miles boasts eight double-doubles on the year, which ranks 5th in the ACC. Of those eight, one of them is a triple-double, as Miles became just the 2nd Irish freshman in program history to do so.

Lastly, Miles became the fifth different Irish player to dish out over 200 assists in a season. She currently sits at 215.

Men’s Volleyball Host Daemen in a Non-Conference Match

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The Purdue Fort Wayne men’s volleyball team returns home for a non-conference matchup against Daemen College on Thursday, March 17 at the Gates Sports Center on the Arnie Ball Court.

Thursday vs Daemen

WHEN: Thursday, March 17 | 7 p.m. ET

WHERE: Fort Wayne, Ind. | Gates Sports Center

LIVE STATS: Link

ESPN+: Link

SERIES HISTORY: First meeting

Know Your Foe

Thursday’s match will be the first time the ‘Dons and Wildcats face off. The ‘Dons are 16-2 all time against Independent schools, including a 7-1 record under head coach Ryan Perrotte.

Daemen enters Thursday’s match with an 11-3 overall record. This will be the third of four road matches in a six day stretch for the Wildcats. Daemen lost to Loyola Chicago 3-1 on Sunday, March 13 and defeated Benedictine 3-0 on Monday, March 14. The fourth and final match of this stretch is against Mount Union in Alliance, Ohio on Friday, March 18.

The Wildcats suffered five-set losses against Sacred Heart on the road on Jan. 22, and against St. Francis Brooklyn on Jan. 29. The ‘Dons defeated both Sacred Heart and St. Francis Brooklyn earlier in the season.

Leading the way on offense for the Wildcats is Zach Schneider. He leads in total kills (142) and kills per set (3.23) while hitting .295. Jake Couzens is another key member of the Wildcats offense. He is second in total kills (92), second in kills per set (2.00), and leads in hitting percentage (.471) and blocks per set (0.72). Michael Krueger and Robert Patzer have split time at setter. Krueger has played in six matches, but leads in total assists (215), and assists per set (9.77). Patzer has 193 total assists and averages 4.20 assists per set. Ryan Parker leads in digs per set (1.73).

Fast Starts

The ‘Dons have won the first set 12 times in matches this year. In those 12 matches, they boast an 11-1 record.

Coming Up

MIVA play resumes for the Mastodons this weekend. The ‘Dons will host Loyola Chicago on Saturday, March 19 (5 p.m.) at the Gates Sports Center on the Arnie Ball Court. Loyola defeated the ‘Dons in straight sets in Chicago on March 4.

MACEE WILLIAMS NAMED AP ALL-AMERICAN HONORABLE MENTION

NEW YORK – IUPUI standout Macee Williams was named AP All-American Honorable Mention today after an impressive season leading the Jaguars to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since the 2020 tournament was canceled.

Williams is the four-time Horizon League Player of the Year and is only the fourth Division 1 women’s basketball student-athlete to be named conference Player of the Year four times. She collected four Horizon League Player of the Week awards this season to bring her career total to 13 awards with the Jags.

The graduate student out of Veedersburg, Ind. recorded ten double-doubles during the regular season and averages a double-double with 18.7 points and 10.6 rebounds per game in 26 games played. Williams led the league in rebounds per game and field goal percentage at 64.9 percent. She also averages 2.1 assists and 1.4 steals per game.

She was recently named one of the ten semifinalists for the 2022 Becky Hammon Mid-Major Player Player of the Year and was selected as a finalist for the 2021-22 Senior CLASS Award today for her consistently impressive performance on and off the court.

Williams will go down in IUPUI history as she is the Jaguar’s all-time leader in rebounds and scoring. Williams and the Jags will get a second chance in the NCAA Tournament after 2020 was canceled due to Covid-19. IUPUI travels to Norman, Oklahoma to face No. 4 Oklahoma on Saturday at 10 PM ET in the first round.

The full list of honorable mentions is below. For more information go to bit.ly/3teMi0X.

HONORABLE MENTION (alphabetical order)

Shakira Austin, Mississippi; Kierstan Bell, Florida Gulf Coast; Katie Benzan, Maryland; Grace Berger, Indiana; Paige Bueckers, UConn; Nia Clouden, Michigan State; Jennifer Coleman, Navy; Zia Cooke, South Carolina; Monika Czinano, Iowa; Jasmine Dickey, Delaware; Emily Engstler, Louisville; Dyaisha Fair, Buffalo; Shaylee Gonzales, BYU; Destanni Henderson, South Carolina; Rori Harmon, Texas; Jordan Horston, Tennessee; Abby Meyers, Princeton; Olivia Miles, Notre Dame; Ashley Owusu, Maryland; Cate Reese, Arizona; Taylor Robertson, Oklahoma; Jacy Sheldon, Ohio State; Christyn Williams, UConn; Macee Williams, IUPUI; Katelyn Young, Murray State.

Three-Time Evansville Metro Player Of The Year Anslinger Transferring To UE

EVANSVILLE, Ind. –Former High School All-America Watch List member and three-time Evansville Courier & Press Metro Player of the Year Ryleigh Anslinger (Evansville, Ind./Memorial) has announced that she will continue her playing career at the University of Evansville beginning this fall.  She will have three years of eligibility remaining.

Anslinger, who played her freshman year at Indiana University, will return home to Evansville where she had a star-studded career at nearby Memorial High School. Anslinger was a two-time first-team all-state selection for the Tigers, while earning three Metro Player of the Year honors.  She was also three-time all-district and led the city of Evansville in both goals and assists in 2018-19.  Anslinger helped Memorial to a state title in 2017, while also helping the Indiana Fire Juniors South to a state club title as well.

“Ryleigh’s resume speaks for itself and what she has accomplished in Evansville,” said Pfau.  “To have her come back home and play at UE is incredible.

“I believe that there is even more in Ryleigh and the best is yet to come.  She can play nearly anywhere on the field and change the game.”

At UE, Anslinger will team with fellow Evansville native Kaylee Woosley in the Purple Aces’ incoming class.  Woosley earned three first-team all-city honors at nearby Evansville North High School, while being the 20th-ranked recruit in the Great Lakes Region according to Top Drawer Soccer.

“To have both Anslinger and Woosley attend UE and play soccer is not only exciting for UE, but also exciting for the Evansville community,” said Pfau.  “The Evansville community will be able to continue to watch these incredibly talented players that they have followed throughout their high school careers.

“Both players believe in what we are trying to accomplish on and off the field.  They both believe that they have the talent to continue to push our program.  I want to build something special at UE, and I believe in order to do that, we need to keep talented local players like Anslinger and Woosley at UE.”

Anslinger and Woosley join a diverse recruiting class for Pfau and the Purple Aces, featuring Indiana natives Amy Velazquez (Avon, Ind./Avon HS) and Ella McAndrew (Greendale, Ind./Lawrenceburg HS), first-team all-Ohio standout Paige Radel (Metamora, Ohio/Evergreen), Southwest stars Chrysta Vasquez (Henderson, Nev./Coronado HS) and Isabel Valdez (Phoenix, Ariz./Desert Vista HS), Texas native Kathryn Tyler (Lantana, Texas/Liberty Christian HS), and Floridian Joelle Haines (Jacksonville, Fla./IMG Academy).

“This incoming class is an incredibly talented and deep class that UE and our soccer program has been able to attract,” said Pfau.  “We were ranked for most of the year, and as high as fifth for part of the year, and this group of players coming in wants to build on that success.

“With the strong academic reputation of the University, it shows that our program can attract some of the best student-athletes in the Evansville area, as well as across the country.  That is a credit to President Pietruszkiewicz, the administration and the faculty at the University of Evansville.”

Evansville is coming off of a season in which the Purple Aces began with the best start in program history, ranked as high as #5 in the United Soccer Coaches Midwest Region poll, and earned a spot in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament finals.

McKown Repeats as DII Men’s Diving Coach of the Year

NORFOLK, Va.—The College Swimming and Diving Coaches Associations of America (CSCAA) announced its Division II award postseason awards this week, with UIndy’s Dave McKown earning Men’s Diving Coach of the Year accolades for the second straight season.

The UIndy diving program has reached new heights under McKown’s tutelage. At the recently-completed 2022 NCAA DII Swimming & Diving Championships, the Greyhound men peppered the diving podiums with three All-America performances on both the 1-meter and 3-meter boards. The Hounds went 1-2-3 on the 1-meter, highlighted by a national championship by Cade Hammond – UIndy’s first-ever diving event title.

All told, McKown has mentored 11 divers to a total of 43 All-America First Team or Honorable Mention accolades in his time at UIndy.

Softball Ready For Start of MVC Play This Weekend

Valparaiso (8-9, 0-0 MVC)

March 19 – at Indiana State (12-10, 0-0 MVC) – 11 a.m. CT DH

March 20 – at Indiana State – 11 a.m. CT

Next Up in Valpo Softball: Missouri Valley Conference action gets underway for the Valpo softball team this weekend, as the Beacons make their way downstate to open the conference slate with a three-game series at Indiana State.

Previously: Valpo posted a 1-3 record last weekend at the Bluegrass Challenge in its final pre-conference tuneups, beating Central Michigan and falling to Louisville, Eastern Kentucky and #9/12 Kentucky. Valpo’s weekend finale against Buffalo was canceled due to cold.

Looking Ahead: Valpo will briefly step back from conference action mid-week next week with a non-conference game Wednesday afternoon at Western Michigan. The Beacons then return to MVC play next weekend at Missouri State.

Following Valpo Softball: All three of this weekend’s games will have live stats available via ValpoAthletics.com.

Head Coach Amanda Eberhart: Amanda Eberhart was hired as head coach of the Valpo softball program in July of 2021. She brings seven years of head coaching experience at the Division I level, most recently spending the last three years as the head coach at Omaha and previously leading the IUPUI program for four seasons. Eberhart, who owns 139 career victories as a head coach, also has eight seasons of experience on staffs at Big Ten programs.

Series History: Indiana State holds a 16-5 advantage in the all-time series, including wins in all four meetings last season – three in the regular season and one in the MVC Tournament. Since Valpo joined the Valley, the Sycamores have won eight of 10 matchups. The meeting in the MVC Tournament last season, a 9-5 ISU win, featured Regi Hecker’s first collegiate home run.

Scouting the Opposition: The Sycamores enter MVC play with a 12-10 record, most recently splitting four games last weekend at the Golden Eagle Classic as they beat Quinnipiac twice and lost to Bellarmine and to Tennessee Tech. Lexi Benko, who no-hit Quinnipiac in one of the wins last weekend, leads ISU in the circle with a 6-5 record and a 2.75 ERA. At the plate, Bella Peterson paces the Sycamores in numerous categories, hitting .351 with 16 runs scored.

What’s Back: Valpo returns 14 of 19 letterwinners from last season’s squad for the 2022 campaign. In all, 77.6% of Valpo’s plate appearances are back for this season and 89.8% of last season’s inning pitched return as well.

Who’s New: After redshirting due to injury last season, Kylie Millhorn looks for her first collegiate action this spring. In addition, four true freshmen – Addi Weaver, Cheyenne Nietz, Kaiah Fenters and Lauren Sena – round out Valpo’s 19-player roster.

The Long and Winding Road: This weekend’s games continue a long and winding road for the Beacons before they finally get the chance to play at the Valpo Softball Complex. After playing four weekends away from home in the pre-conference, Valpo’s first two weekends of MVC play are on the road as well, with a non-conference game at Western Michigan thrown in there too. All told, Valpo’s first 24 games of the year are scheduled away from home, as the home opener comes on April 2 – matching last year for the latest home opener since the 2003 season.

Conference Openers: Valpo will look to reverse its recent history in the opening series of conference play this weekend at Indiana State. In its first three seasons of MVC play, Valpo has posted a 2-7 record on the opening weekend of the Valley slate. That includes falling three times at Indiana State to open the 2018 conference schedule.

Putting the Ball in Play: Valpo enters MVC play with easily the fewest strikeouts at the plate of any Valley team. The Beacons have struck out just 70 times through the season’s first 17 games, bettering Indiana State’s total of 93 strikeouts, the second-fewest so far this year by an MVC team. Valpo is averaging just 4.1 strikeouts/game at the plate this year after striking out 5.9 times/game last season. On the flip side, the Beacons have only 37 combined walks/hit by pitches this year, also a conference low.

Running Wild: This year’s team has stolen 22 bases in 24 attempts through the season’s first 17 games, already matching last year’s team total for stolen bases. Four different Beacons have swiped four or more bags, led by Jaina Westphal and Kayla Skapyak, who have each stolen five bases apiece without being caught.

Slowing Down the Opposition: While Valpo has been super-efficient when it comes to stealing bases, it has turned the tables on the opposition when they attempt to run. The Beacons’ opponents this year are just 16-for-26 attempting to steal bases, compared to last year, when opponents were 66-for-80 on the basepaths. Valpo currently ranks third in the conference in caught stealing percentage as a team, led by Addi Weaver, who has thrown out six of 13 runners attempting to steal on her.

Slugging Away: Junior Ryan Milkowski has been the Beacons’ biggest power threat at the plate through four weekends of play this season. Milkowski is hitting .302, with seven of her 13 hits going for extra bases. She ranks in the top-10 in the Valley entering conference play in slugging percentage (.581, 8th), OPS (.985, 9th) and RBIs (12, 10th).

Seib Stands Out: Junior Easton Seib had another big effort in Valpo’s opener last weekend at the Bluegrass Challenge, tossing a three-hit shutout as the Beacons beat Central Michigan, 5-0. It was Seib’s second complete-game shutout of the year, and also featured nine strikeouts from the junior – easily a new career best in the category. With five wins in the circle so far this year, Seib is tied for fourth among MVC pitchers.

Reeling Off Wins: Valpo won each of its first four games at the Charleston Invitational en route to posting the tournament’s best record. Combined with the tournament-closing win over Western Michigan on opening weekend, the Beacons won five in a row – the program’s longest winning streak since a six-game winning streak late in the 2018 season. Valpo’s first three wins at Charleston were all by a single run, the first time since late 2013 the program has won three in a row, all by one run.

TODAY IN BASEBALL HISTORY

1899       In Charlotte (NC), the Phillies take the field wearing new sweaters trimmed with green in commemorating St Patrick’s Day. The new look is a preview of the team’s new uniform colors this season which will feature white suits trimmed in green, a white cap with a green peak, and stockings of two-inch stripes of white and green. (Ed. Note: Philadelphia abandons the new style next season before bringing the color green back for the 1910 season. -LP)

1907       After yesterday’s alleged vicious attack on the groundskeeper’s wife by his troubled outfielder, Tigers owner Frank Navin makes an all-out effort to trade Ty Cobb. Indian skipper Nap Lajoie turns down a straight swap for former league batting champ Elmer Flick, calling the ‘Georgia Peach’ a problem player, and Connie Mack of the A’s, given his already strong outfield, shows only a passing interest.

1936       Twenty-one-yearold Joe DiMaggio makes his Yankee debut in a big way, collecting four hits, including a triple, in an 8-7 exhibition loss to the Cardinals at Miller Huggins Field in St. Petersburg (FL). The two-time American League MVP and future Hall of Fame outfielder will play 13 seasons with the Bronx Bombers, appearing in ten Fall Classics, in which the team wins nine World Championships.

1940       At Plant Field in Tampa, a capacity crowd sees the National League beat the AL in an interleague exhibition all-star game. The charity contest, which is heard nationally on the Mutual Broadcasting System, raises over $20,000 to help feed, clothe, and house the non-combatant citizens of Finland, whose country was recently attacked in November by the Soviet Union.

1946       In Dayton Beach, the only city that allows him to play, Triple-A Montreal Royals’ infielder Jackie Robinson makes his preseason debut at City Island Ball Park, which the municipality renamed after him in 1990. In the first-ever integrated spring training game, the former Negro League standout goes 0-for-3 against the Dodgers but is encouraged by the crowd’s reception.

1953       The Braves’ spring training game against the Yankees in Bradenton (FL) will prove to be the team’s last full one representing the city of Boston. During the sixth inning of tomorrow’s exhibition contest, the club learns of the National League’s approval of its shift to Milwaukee, unlike the Junior Circuit’s decision two days ago denying Bill Veeck permission to move his Browns to Baltimore due to the short amount of time left before Opening Day.

1953       The Milwaukee County Board, which oversees County Stadium, tears up their three-year deal with its minor league team and offers the use of the ballpark to the Boston Braves at the reduced rate of $1,000 for the first two years. In exchange, the city would receive five percent of the gate receipts and the majority of the concession sales for the first three seasons.

1965       Jackie Robinson continues to break barriers, becoming the first black to be a member of a national network broadcasting team when he signs on to announce games with ABC. The Hall of Fame infielder will make his Game of the Week debut next month at Fenway Park, teaming with Merle Harmon, the radio voice of the Milwaukee Braves.

1966       Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale play hardball when negotiating with the Dodgers. The duo signs movie contracts, showing they are serious about retiring from baseball if Los Angeles doesn’t agree to their salary demands.

1969       The Braves trade Joe Torre, a spring training holdout publicly feuding with team GM Paul Richards, to the Cardinals for 1967 National League Most Valuable Player Orlando Cepeda. The All-Star catcher/infielder will play six years in St. Louis, compiling a .308 batting average for the Redbirds that includes a major league-leading .363 in his 1971 MVP season.

1976       All clubs will comply within forty-eight hours to Commissioner Kuhn’s orders to open spring training camps as soon as possible, abruptly ending the 17-day work stoppage. The lockout, initiated by the owners over their concerns about free agency and the free-entry draft, will not impact the start of the regular season.

1977       In a decision seen as one of the most influential and precedent-setting cases in the history of American jurisprudence in regards to professional sports, a federal court rules in favor of Bowie Kuhn’s decision to void the 1976 sale of A’s players by Charlie Finley. The Oakland owner sued the commissioner for illegal restraint of trade when his deals to send Joe Rudi and Rollie Fingers to the Red Sox for $2 million and Vida Blue to the Yankees for $1.5 million were invalidated “in the best interests of baseball.”

1978       On St. Patrick’s Day, the Reds wear green uniforms, becoming the first team to start a tradition many other clubs will copy. After taking batting practice in their usual garb, Cincinnati, not promoting their green surprise, stun the Yankees and the spring training crowd taking the field sporting their iconic Irish look.

1986       During a Cactus League contest, Carney Lansford is credited with an unusual two-run inside-the-park homer in the fourth inning of the A’s 5-3 victory over the Indians in Phoenix. The infielder circles the bases when Mel Hall’s shirt gets stuck on the fence, preventing the outfielder from playing the ball, that is just barely out of reach, with shortstop Julio Franco, closest to the play, unable to help because he is so incapacitated with laughter.

1999       In a rare dismissal of a manager in spring training, the Blue Jays, after deciding he has lost all his credibility, fire Tim Johnson, replacing him with Jim Fregosi. In the offseason, the former Toronto skipper, after claiming he had seen combat in Vietnam, reveals he lied about his military service, causing many players on his team to lose all respect for him as their field boss.

2001       Joe Randa agrees to a two-year contract extension keeping him in Kansas City until the 2003 season. The Royals’ third baseman batted .304 and knocked in 106 runs for the Royals in 155 games last season.

2005       During 11+ hours of the Committee on Government Reform hearing concerning the use of steroids in major leagues, Mark McGwire refuses to talk about the past and does not deny taking performance-enhancing drugs. Other players testifying included Curt Schilling, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, and former big leaguer Jose Canseco, whose recent book prompted the congressional hearing.

2008       The Dodgers lose to the Astros, 12-10, in their last contest at Dodgertown, the team’s spring training home since 1948. Eighty-one year old Carl Erskine, who pitched the first game that occurred at Holman Stadium 55 years ago, plays the national anthem on his harmonica before the contest.

2010       In a rare spring training ruling, major league baseball suspends a player as a result of an incident that occurs in an exhibition game. Cliff Lee, the Mariners’ much-hyped acquisition, is fined and suspended for the first five games of the regular season after throwing a pitch over the head of Chris Snyder in a Cactus League contest against Arizona.

2020       An Oakland fan named Justin, who tweeted a picture of himself wearing an A’s hat while in a hospital bed after testing positive for the Coronavirus, receives an invitation from team president Dave Kaval to throw out the first pitch on Opening Day at the Coliseum. In his Twitter post, the 39-year-old COVID-19 patient issued a plea to take the pandemic seriously, saying, “don’t be a moron, stay home!

BASEBALL’S BEST PITCHERS

Charles Albert Bender
Inducted to the Hall of Fame in: 1953
Primary team: Philadelphia Athletics
Primary position: Pitcher

The winningest manager in baseball history saw his share of outstanding big-game pitchers. But when Connie Mack had everything on the line, Chief Bender was his guy.

“If everything depended on one game, I just used Albert – the greatest money pitcher of all time,” said Mack of Charles Albert Bender, a full-blooded Ojibwa Indian who pitched for Mack for the Philadelphia Athletics from 1903-14. “I’d tell Albert when I planned to use him in a crucial series. Then I relaxed. He never let me down.”

Born Charles Albert Bender on May 5, 1884 in Crow Wing County, Minn., Bender prepped at the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania. While pitching indoor batting practice at the age of 16, he caught the eye of Glenn “Pop” Warner, an innovative coach in the young sport of football. Warner was also Carlisle’s baseball coach – and upon witnessing Bender’s talent immediately assigned the lanky right-hander to the varsity squad.

In 1902 while playing for a semi-pro team down the road from Carlisle in Harrisburg, Pa., Bender caught Mack’s eye after beating the Chicago Cubs in an exhibition game. By 1903, Bender was in the major leagues.

As a 19-year-old rookie, Bender went 17-14 with 29 complete games and a 3.07 earned-run average. Two years later, Bender was 18-11 with the pennant-winning A’s, capturing Philadelphia’s only victory in that year’s World Series while losing his other start in the Fall Classic to Christy Mathewson.

Bender continued to improve over the next few years, peaking in 1910 with a 23-5 record and 1.58 ERA – the eighth season in a row where he lowered his ERA from the previous campaign. The A’s won the World Series in 1910, 1911 and 1913, with Bender winning five of his seven Fall Classic starts in that stretch.

In 1914, Bender went 17-3 – leading the AL in winning percentage for the third time in five seasons. But the A’s lost to the Boston Braves in that World Series, and soon after Mack dismantled his dynasty in the face of surging salaries brought on by competition with the new Federal League.

Bender jumped to the Baltimore Terrapins of the FL in 1915, but went 4-16 with a 3.99 ERA. He returned to Philadelphia to pitch for the Phillies in 1916 and 1917, then made his last big league appearance in 1925 with the White Sox.

Bender retired with a career record of 212-127, good for a .625 winning percentage.

Bender was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1953. He passed away on May 22, 1954.

BASEBALL’S BEST HITTERS

Lucius Benjamin Appling
Inducted to the Hall of Fame in: 1964
Primary team: Chicago White Sox
Primary position: Shortstop

He was a line-drive machine for 20 seasons, a man who had more career extra-base hits (587) than strikeouts (528).

Luke Appling had a reputation for nagging injuries, but his career numbers illustrate a player who was remarkably durable and consistent.

Appling broke into the big leagues with the Chicago White Sox in 1930 and became entrenched at shortstop the following season. By 1936, Appling won his first All-Star Game selection en route to a .388 batting average – the top single-season mark ever by a modern-era shortstop. That same season, Appling drove in 128 runs while hitting just six homers – the second-best RBI total ever for anyone with less than 10 home runs in a season.

Appling also had one of the best batting eyes in the game, averaging about 87 walks and just 35 strikeouts per season en route to a career on-base percentage of .399. All this came despite a variety of maladies that earned Appling the nickname “Old Aches and Pains.”

“Few were better or more deadly with two strikes than Appling,” wrote Arthur Daley of The New York Times. “He just waited for the pitch he wanted and lashed into it. If there was a good pitch he didn’t want, he artistically spoiled it by fouling it off.”

Appling finished his career in 1950 with a .310 career batting average, two batting titles, seven All-Star Game selections and 2,749 hits. He played each of his 20 big league seasons with the White Sox and was named the Sox’s greatest player by Chicago fans in 1969.

Appling was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1964. He passed away on Jan. 3, 1991.

TV THURSDAY

COLLEGE BASKETBALL – MENTIME ETTV
(11)MICHIGAN VS (6)COLORADO STATE12:15PMCBS
(13)SOUTH DAKOTA STATE VS (4) PROVIDENCE12:40PMTRUTV
(9)MEMPHIS VS (8) BOISE STATE1:45PMTRUTV
(16)NORFOLK STATE VS (1)BAYLOR2:00PMTBS
(14)LONGWOOD VS(3)TENNESSEE2:45PMCBS
(12)RICHMOND VS (5)IOWA3:10PMTRUTV
(16)GEORGIA STATE VS (1)GONZAGA4:15PMTNT
(9)MARQUETTE VS (8)NORTH CAROLINA4:30PMTBS
(12)NEW MEXICO STATE VS (5)UCONN6:50PMTNT
(15)SAINT PETER’S VS (2)KENTUCKY7:10PMCBS
(12)INDIANA VS (5)ST. MARY’S7:20PMTBS
(9)CREIGHTON VS (8)SAN DIEGO STATE7:27PMTRUTV
(13)VERMONT VS (4)ARKANSAS9:20PMTNT
(10)SAN FRANCISCO VS (7)MURRY STATE9:40PMCBS
(13)AKRON VS (4)UCLA9:50PMTBS
(16)TEXAS SOUTHERN VS (1)KANSAS9:57PMTRUTV
COLLEGE BASKETBALL – WOMENTIME ETTV
MOUNT ST. MARY’S VS. LONGWOOD7:00PMESPN2
FLORIDA ST. VS. MISSOURI ST.9:00PMESPN2
GOLFTIME ETTV
PGA TOUR: VALSPAR CHAMPIONSHIP1:00PMGOLF
NBATIME ETTV
DETROIT AT ORLANDO7:00PMNBATV
BALLY SPORTS
NHLTIME ETTV
CAROLINA AT TORONTO7:00PMBALLY SPORTS
SPORTSNET
DALLAS AT MONTREAL7:00PMBALLY SPORTS
SPORTSNET
NASHVILLE AT PHILADELPHIA7:00PMBALLY SPORTS
NBCS-PHI
NY ISLANDERS AT NY RANGERS7:00PMMSG
MSG+
WASHINGTON AT COLUMBUS7:00PMBALLY SPORTS
NBCS-WSH
PITTSBURGH AT ST. LOUIS8:00PMATTSN-PIT
BALLY SPORTS
BUFFALO AT EDMONTON9:00PMMSG-BUF
SPORTSNET
SAN JOSE AT LOS ANGELES10:00PMESPN+
HULU
DETROIT AT VANCOUVER10:00PMBALLY SPORTS
SPORTSNET
FLORIDA AT VEGAS10:30PMBALLY SPORTS
ATTSN-RM

NBA STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
ATLANTIC DIVISION
 WLPCTGBHOMEROADDIVCONFLAST 10STREAK
PHILADELPHIA4226.61819-1523-116-826-167-31 W
BOSTON4228.6001.024-1218-169-630-168-21 W
TORONTO3930.5653.517-1522-157-523-197-35 W
BROOKLYN3634.5147.014-1922-159-626-185-51 L
NEW YORK2940.42013.514-1915-214-1014-264-61 W
 
CENTRAL DIVISON
 WLPCTGBHOMEROADDIVCONFLAST 10STREAK
MILWAUKEE4426.62924-1220-149-326-188-22 W
CHICAGO4128.5942.525-1016-189-426-173-72 L
CLEVELAND3930.5654.521-1218-188-523-194-61 L
INDIANA2347.32921.015-208-272-1311-343-72 L
DETROIT1851.26125.511-237-285-814-284-64 L
 
SOUTHEAST DIVISION
 WLPCTGBHOMEROADDIVCONFLAST 10STREAK
MIAMI4624.65725-921-1511-230-137-31 W
CHARLOTTE3535.50011.017-1718-186-722-226-43 W
ATLANTA3435.49311.522-1312-228-621-236-41 L
WASHINGTON2939.42616.017-1812-216-722-212-85 L
ORLANDO1852.25728.08-2510-272-1110-345-52 L
 
WESTERN CONFERENCE
NORTHWEST DIVISION
 WLPCTGBHOMEROADDIVCONFLAST 10STREAK
UTAH4326.62325-1118-1513-128-156-41 W
DENVER4228.6001.520-1322-155-925-197-32 W
MINNESOTA4130.5773.023-1218-1811-428-189-13 W
PORTLAND2642.38216.517-189-241-1211-302-82 L
OKLAHOMA CITY2049.29023.09-2611-234-814-312-87 L
 
PACIFIC DIVISION
 WLPCTGBHOMEROADDIVCONFLAST 10STREAK
X-PHOENIX5614.80029-827-67-433-97-33 W
GOLDEN STATE4723.6719.029-818-1510-328-164-61 L
LA CLIPPERS3636.50021.020-1516-217-721-245-52 L
LA LAKERS2940.42026.520-179-233-1116-272-83 L
SACRAMENTO2546.35231.516-219-255-717-283-71 L
 
SOUTHWEST DIVISION
 WLPCTGBHOMEROADDIVCONFLAST 10STREAK
MEMPHIS4822.68624-1024-128-531-147-34 W
DALLAS4326.6234.523-1220-1412-230-158-23 W
NEW ORLEANS2841.40619.516-2012-215-819-235-51 L
SAN ANTONIO2743.38621.014-2213-214-717-233-71 W
HOUSTON1752.24630.510-237-293-109-352-83 L
 

X – CLINCHED PLAYOFF SPOT,  Y – CLINCHED DIVISION,  Z – CLINCHED CONFERENCE

NHL STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
 GPWLOTLPTSROWGFGAHOMEROADL10
FLORIDA PANTHERS6041136883924817526-6-015-7-66-3-1
CAROLINA HURRICANES5941135874019813923-4-218-9-37-2-1
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING6039156843720417219-5-420-10-26-4-0
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS6038175813622318121-7-217-10-36-3-1
NEW YORK RANGERS6038175813418415720-5-318-12-26-4-0
PITTSBURGH PENGUINS6136169813419816417-9-519-7-45-4-1
BOSTON BRUINS6137195793518416518-10-219-9-37-2-1
WASHINGTON CAPITALS61331810763020117215-11-518-7-56-3-1
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS6131273652720322317-12-314-15-04-4-2
10 NEW YORK ISLANDERS5724249572315516114-12-410-12-55-4-1
11 DETROIT RED WINGS6024297552117522816-12-48-17-32-7-1
12 NEW JERSEY DEVILS6122345492018522014-14-38-20-24-6-0
13 BUFFALO SABRES6020328481816221211-16-49-16-44-6-0
14 PHILADELPHIA FLYERS59183011471814820611-15-67-15-53-5-2
15 OTTAWA SENATORS6021345472015819811-19-210-15-32-8-0
16 MONTREAL CANADIENS601636840141502308-18-28-18-66-3-1
 
WESTERN CONFERENCE
 GPWLOTLPTSROWGFGAHOMEROADL10
COLORADO AVALANCHE6143135914023617024-3-319-10-26-3-1
CALGARY FLAMES6037167813521014619-5-518-11-27-2-1
ST. LOUIS BLUES5934178763221116520-7-314-10-55-3-2
MINNESOTA WILD5935204743022219518-7-117-13-34-5-1
LOS ANGELES KINGS6233218743017817615-13-318-8-55-4-1
EDMONTON OILERS6033234703020019217-12-016-11-45-4-1
NASHVILLE PREDATORS6035214743319416718-11-017-10-47-3-0
VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS6232264682819519016-13-316-13-13-7-0
DALLAS STARS5832233672917017320-8-112-15-25-4-1
10 VANCOUVER CANUCKS6130247672717917714-11-416-13-37-2-1
11 WINNIPEG JETS61282310662718919016-11-212-12-86-3-1
12 ANAHEIM DUCKS63272511652318320116-11-411-14-72-6-2
13 SAN JOSE SHARKS5926258602415618514-13-412-12-44-3-3
14 CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS6122309531916221011-15-511-15-44-5-1
15 ARIZONA COYOTES602036444191592169-20-111-16-37-3-0
16 SEATTLE KRAKEN6218386421616022410-18-38-20-32-6-2
 

EIGHT TEAMS IN EACH CONFERENCE QUALIFY FOR THE DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF FORMAT.  THE TOP THREE TEAMS FROM EACH DIVISION MAKE UP THE FIRST SIX SPOTS.   THE TWO REMAINING TEAMS WITH THE HIGHEST POINTS, REGARDLESS OF DIVISION, QUALIFY FOR THE FINAL TWO WILD CARD SPOTS.  

X – CLINCHED PLAYOFF SPOT, Y – CLINCHED DIVISION, Z – CLINCHED CONFERENCE