INDIANA BOYS BASKETBALL SEMI-STATE MATCH-UPS
FORT WAYNE WAYNE (21-4) VS. KOKOMO (22-4)
PENN (27-1) VS. HAMMOND CENTRAL (26-1)
BROWNSBURG (21-4) VS. JENNINGS COUNTY (24-2)
BEN DAVIS (30-0) VS. BLOOMINGTON NORTH (19-5)
DELTA (18-9) VS. JOHN GLENN (17-10)
NORTHWOOD (25-2) VS. FORT WAYNE DWENGER (13-13)
SCOTTSBURG (21-5) VS. NORTH DAVIESS (24-5)
GUERIN CATHOLIC (18-8) VS. BEECH GROVE (17-6)
GARY 21ST CENTURY (21-5) VS. FORT WAYNE BLACKHAWK (24-3)
WAPAHANI (25-1) VS. LEWIS CASS (19-7)
BROWNSTOWN CENTRAL (23-4) VS. INDIANAPOLIS SCECINA (18-6)
PARKE HERITAGE (19-9) VS. LINTON-STOCKTON (27-1)
SOUTHWOOD (13-12) VS. FOUNTAIN CENTRAL (23-4)
MARQUETTE CATHOLIC (20-7) VS. KOUTS (17-9)
INDIANAPOLIS LUTHERAN (17-7) VS. LOOGOOTEE (20-7)
JAC-CEN-DEL (18-9) VS. ROCK CREEK ACADEMY (11-14)
INDIANA HIGH SCHOOL COACHES ASSOCIATION ALL-STAR TEAMS
SOUTH ALL-STARS: https://ifca.net/download/2023-IFCA-All-Star-South-Roster_2.pdf
NORTH ALL-STARS: https://ifca.net/download/2023-IFCA-All-Star-North-Roster.pdf
INDIANA HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL PRE-SEASON POLLS
1)PENN H.S 0-0 (224)
2)LAKE CENTRAL H.S. 0-0 (198)
3)CENTER GROVE H.S. 0-0 (174)
4)FISHERS H.S. 0-0 (170)
5)ZIONSVILLE H.S. 0-0 (102)
6)EVANS. NORTH H.S. 0-0 (100)
7)CARMEL H.S. 0-0 (82)
8)CASTLE H.S. 0-0 (56)
9)FLOYD CENTRAL H.S. 0-0 (54)
10)MOORESVILLE H.S. 0-0 (52)
Evans. Reitz H.S., F.W. Snider H.S., Homestead H.S., Indpls Cathedral H.S., Jeffersonville H.S., Laporte H.S., Mishawaka H.S., Mt. Vernon H.S. (Fortville), Munster H.S., New Albany H.S., Noblesville H.S., Westfield H.S.,
1)ANDREAN H.S. 0-0 (222)
2)WESTERN H.S. 0-0 (192)
3)JASPER H.S. 0-0 (164)
4)SILVER CREEK H.S. 0-0 (140)
5)GLENN H.S. (JOHN GLENN) 0-0 (128)
6)CRAWFORDSVILLE H.S. 0-0 (74)
7)EVANS. MEMORIAL H.S. 0-0 (42)
7)FAIRFIELD H.S. 0-0 (42)
7)BATESVILLE H.S. 0-0 (42)
7)SOUTH BEND ST.JOE H.S. 0-0 (42)
Beech Grove H.S., Brebeuf H.S., Connersville H.S., Guerin Catholic H.S., Hanover Central H.S., Indian Creek H.S., Indpls Chatard H.S., Lebanon H.S., Madison H.S., Mishawaka Marian H.S., New Prairie H.S., Northwestern H.S., Norwell H.S., Scottsburg H.S, West Vigo H.S.,
1)ILLIANA CHRISTIAN HS 0-0 (238)
2)WAPAHANI H.S. 0-0 (200)
3)CARROLL (FLORA) H.S. 0-0 (166)
4)UNIVERSITY HIGH SCHOOL 0-0 (146)
5)SEEGER H.S. 0-0 (128)
6)FOREST PARK H.S. 0-0 (118)
7)SOUTH CENTRAL H.S. (UNION MILLS) 0-0 (104)
8)DELPHI H.S. 0-0 (66)
9)EASTSIDE H.S. 0-0 (42)
9)HERITAGE CHRISTIAN SCHOOL 0-0 (42)
Bremen H.S., Eastern (Greene) H.S., Eastern (Greentown) H.S., F.W. Bishop Luers H.S., Frankton H.S., Hagerstown H.S., Mitchell H.S., Providence H.S., Southwestern H.S. (Hanover), Triton Central H.S., Westview H.S.,
1)LAFAYETTE CENTRAL CATHOLIC H.S. 0-0 (232)
2)TECUMSEH H.S. 0-0 (184)
3)BORDEN H.S. 0-0 (154)
4)BARR-REEVE H.S. 0-0 (150)
5)INDPLS Lutheran H.S. 0-0 (148)
6)RISING SUN H.S. 0-0 (66)
7)NORTH DAVIESS H.S. 0-0 (62)
8)SOUTH CENTRAL (ELIZABETH) H.S 0-0 (54)
9)LOOGOOTEE H.S. 0-0 (36)
9)NORTH MIAMI H.S. 0-0 (36)
Bloomfield H.S., Covington H.S., Cowan H.S., Daleville H.S., F.W. Blackhawk Christian H.S., Fremont H.S., Morgan Twp. H.S., North Decatur H.S., Oldenburg Academy, Orleans H.S., Riverton Parke H.S., Rossville H.S., Shakamak H.S., South Decatur H.S., Washington Twp. H.S.
MEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL POLLS/RANKINGS
|1||Alabama 29-5||1508 (48)||4|
|2||Houston 31-3||1404 (9)||1|
|3||Purdue 29-5||1367 (3)||5|
|7||UCLA 29-5||1209 (1)||2|
|15||Kansas State 23-9||709||12|
|16||Miami (FL) 25-7||581||14|
|17||Texas A&M 25-9||562||18|
|18||San Diego State 27-6||550||20|
|19||Saint Mary’s 26-7||426||16|
|25||Florida Atlantic 31-3||99||NR|
|1||Houston 31-3||777 (21)||1|
|2||Alabama 29-5||759 (8)||5|
|3||Purdue 29-5||728 (2)||3|
|5||Kansas 27-7||652 (1)||4|
|13||Kansas State 23-9||370||12|
|15||Miami (FL) 25-7||342||13|
|17||Texas A&M 25-9||289||18|
|18||San Diego State 27-6||266||20|
|19||Saint Mary’s 26-7||240||16|
|25||Florida Atlantic 31-3||54||NR|
|5||San Diego State 27-6||0.6380||5|
|10||Florida Atlantic 31-3||0.6256||10|
|12||Saint Mary’s 26-7||0.6220||12|
|13||Utah State 26-8||0.6208||13|
|18||Boise State 24-9||0.6092||17|
|21||Oral Roberts 30-4||0.6010||21|
|23||Miami (FL) 25-7||0.6009||23|
|23||Texas A&M 25-9||0.6009||20|
NCAA MEN’S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT TUESDAY
SOUTH – NO. 16 TEXAS A&M-CORPUS CHRISTI VS. NO. 16 SOUTHEAST MISSOURI STATE
MIDWEST – NO. 11 MISSISSIPPI STATE VS. NO. 11 PITTSBURGH
WEST – NO. 11 ARIZONA STATE VS. NO. 11 NEVADA
EAST – NO. 16 TEXAS SOUTHERN VS. NO. 16 FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON
WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL POLLS/RANKINGS
|1||South Carolina 32-0||700 (28)||1|
|4||Virginia Tech 27-4||596||4|
|10||Notre Dame 25-5||412||11|
|12||Ohio State 25-7||401||12|
|17||Iowa State 22-9||214||NR|
|20||North Carolina 21-10||169||19|
|23||Washington State 23-10||112||22|
|1||South Carolina 32-0||800 (32)||1|
|5||Virginia Tech 27-4||677||6|
|11||Notre Dame 25-5||472||10|
|12||Ohio State 25-7||423||13|
|19||North Carolina 21-10||198||19|
|20||Iowa State 22-9||177||25|
|24||South Florida 26-6||102||20|
|1||South Carolina 32-0||0.7088||1|
|7||Virginia Tech 27-4||0.6581||7|
|10||Iowa State 22-9||0.6494||11|
|12||Notre Dame 25-5||0.6408||12|
|21||Middle Tennessee 28-4||0.6284||20|
|22||Washington State 23-10||0.6269||22|
|23||Ohio State 25-7||0.6268||23|
|24||North Carolina State 20-11||0.6204||24|
COLLEGE BASEBALL POLL/RECORD AND PREVIOUS RANKING
1 LSU 15-1 1
2 Tennessee 14-3 3
3 Ole Miss 14-2 4
4 Wake Forest 15-2 5
5 Florida 15-3 6
6 Vanderbilt 12-5 7
7 Arkansas 13-2 8
8 Louisville 14-1 9
9 Stanford 10-5 2
10 East Carolina 12-3 12
11 TCU 9-6 10
12 Oklahoma State 14-3 13
13 UCLA 12-3 16
14 Virginia 14-1 17
15 Texas A&M 12-4 15
16 South Carolina 16-1 20
17 Virginia Tech 12-4 11
18 North Carolina 12-5 14
19 Campbell 12-2 24
20 FGCU 14-3 NR
21 Florida State 11-4 21
22 Texas Tech 14-3 NR
23 NC State 14-2 19
24 Alabama 15-2 18
25 Southern Miss 10-5 22
DETROIT 117 INDIANA 97
MINNESOTA 136 ATLANTA 115
MEMPHIS 104 DALLAS 88
MIAMI 119 UTAH 115
HOUSTON 111 BOSTON 109
GOLDEN STATE 123 PHOENIX 112
MILWAUKEE 133 SACRAMENTO 124
BOX SCORES: HTTP://HOSTED.STATS.COM/NBA/SCOREBOARD.ASP
COLORADO 8 MONTRÉAL 4
BUFFALO 4 TORONTO 3
DALLAS 5 SEATTLE 2
BOX SCORES: HTTP://HOSTED.STATS.COM/NHL/SCOREBOARD.ASP
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL SCOREBOARD
ARIZONA 11 TEXAS 8
MILWAUKEE 8 CINCINNATI 0
LA DODGERS 11 CLEVELAND 4
LA ANGELS 8 SEATTLE 2
SAN FRANCISCO 11 SAN DIEGO 9
OAKLAND 8 COLORADO 7
BALTIMORE 11 DETROIT 7
MINNESOTA 1 NY YANKEES 0
ATLANTA 6 BALTIMORE 5
WASHINGTON 7 HOUSTON 6
TAMPA BAY 9 DETROIT 5
TORONTO 16 BOSTON 3
NY METS 9 MIAMI 3
BOX SCORES: HTTP://HOSTED.STATS.COM/MLB/SCOREBOARD.ASP
TV SCHEDULE TUESDAY
FS2 — World Baseball Classic Pool Play: Nicaragua vs. Venezuela, Pool D, Miami
FS2 — World Baseball Classic Pool Play: Canada vs. Colombia, Pool C, Phoenix
FS1 — World Baseball Classic Pool Play: Israel vs. Dominican Republic, Pool D, Miami
FS1 — World Baseball Classic Pool Play: Great Britain vs. Mexico, Pool C, Phoenix
6 a.m. (Wednesday)
FS2 — World Baseball: Australia vs. Cuba, Quarterfinal, Tokyo
BASKETBALL AFRICA LEAGUE
NBATV — Kwara vs. Stade Malien, Dakar, Senegal
SECN — Georgia Tech at Auburn
COLLEGE BASKETBALL (MEN’S)
TRUTV — NCAA Tournament: SE Missouri vs. Texas A&M-CC, First-Four, Dayton, Ohio
ESPN2 — NIT Tournament: Toledo at Michigan, First Round
ESPNU — NIT Tournament: Hofstra at Rutgers, First Round
ESPN2 — NIT Tournament: Villanova at Liberty, First Round
ESPNU — NIT Tournament: Yale at Vanderbilt, First Round
TRUTV — NCAA Tournament: Pittsburgh vs. Mississippi St., First-Four, Dayton, Ohio
ESPN — NIT Tournament: Bradley at Wisconsin, First Round
ESPN2 — NIT Tournament: Seton Hall at Colorado, First Round
ESPNU — NIT Tournament: Eastern Washington at Washington St., First Round
COLLEGE LACROSSE (WOMEN’S)
ACCN — Yale at Duke
PAC-12N — Syracuse at UCLA
MLBN — Spring Training: Boston vs. Toronto, Dunedin, Fla. (Taped)
MLBN — Spring Training: Seattle vs. LA Angels, Tempe, Ari. (Taped)
MLBN — Spring Training: Washington vs. NY Mets, Port St. Lucie, Fla.
MLBN — Spring Training: LA Angels vs. Cleveland, Goodyear, Ari.
MLBN — Spring Training: Cincinnati vs. Kansas City (Split Squad), Surprise, Ariz. (Taped)
12 a.m. (Wednesday)
MLBN — Spring Training: Atlanta vs. Philadelphia, Clearwater, Fla. (Taped)
3 a.m. (Wednesday)
MLBN — Spring Training: Minnesota (Split Squad) at Tampa Bay (Taped)
6 a.m. (Wednesday)
MLBN — Spring Training: Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh (Split Squad), Bradenton, Fla. (Taped)
NBATV — Denver at Toronto
NBATV — Milwaukee at Phoenix
ESPN — Washington at NY Rangers
FS2 — CONCACAF Champions League: Violette AC at Austin FC, Round of 16, Leg 2
FS2 — CONCACAF Champions League: CD Olimpia at Atlas, Round of 16, Leg 2
TENNIS — BNP Paribas Open-ATP/WTA Round of 16 —
TOP NATIONAL HEADLINES
MEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
OLE MISS HIRES FORMER TEXAS COACH CHRIS BEARD
OXFORD, Miss. (AP) Mississippi has hired Chris Beard as its basketball coach just over two months after his firing from Texas following a domestic violence arrest.
The Rebels announced Beard’s hiring on Monday and will introduce him Tuesday in a public event at the SBJ Pavilion. Beard is a four-time conference coach of the year and was AP’s national coach of the year in 2019.
But his two-year tenure at alma mater Texas ended abruptly in January, though felony domestic charges were ultimately dismissed on Feb. 15. A prosecutor said his office determined that the charge of assault by strangulation/suffocation-family violence could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Texas suspended Beard after his Dec. 12 arrest and fired him three weeks later when Texas officials told Beard’s attorney he was “unfit” to lead the program. Beard was arrested when his fiancée, Randi Trew, called 911 and told officers that Beard strangled, bit and hit her during a confrontation in his home.
She later said that Beard didn’t choke her, and was defending himself, and that she never intended for Beard to be arrested and prosecuted.
Beard replaces Kermit Davis, who was ousted on Feb. 24 after going 74-79 in nearly five full seasons.
“We thoroughly evaluated a number of outstanding candidates, and there is no doubt Coach Beard is one of the top coaches in the nation,” said Keith Carter, the school’s vice chancellor for athletics. “After conducting due diligence and speaking to a number of individuals on and off the court, it was evident he is the right person to guide our team to greatness.”
Beard has led three different programs to the NCAA Tournament since 2016, including an appearance in the 2019 championship game and an Elite Eight run the year before at Texas Tech. He is 237-98 as a head coach and 11-5 in the NCAA Tournament.
“I am honored to be joining the Ole Miss family and excited to get started at this great university,” said Beard, who was 29-13 at Texas. “I can’t express how grateful I am to Chancellor (Glenn) Boyce, Keith Carter and the rest of the search committee for their belief in me to lead this program. I am really looking forward to being an active part of the Oxford community.”
Beard spent five seasons at Texas Tech, going 112-55 at a program that had endured five losing seasons in the previous six years. The Red Raiders went to their first Elite Eight in his second season and made it to the national championship game in 2019.
Beard led Little Rock to a 30-5 record and a Sun Belt Conference title in his lone season, making the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
ALABAMA, HOUSTON TOP FINAL AP TOP 25 AHEAD OF MARCH MADNESS
(AP) — The overall No. 1 seed for March Madness is No. 1 in the final AP Top 25, too.
Alabama, fresh off an SEC Tournament title to go with its regular-season crown, ascended to the top spot Monday, earning 48 of 61 first-place votes to jump Houston, which lost in the American Athletic Conference final without star guard Marcus Sasser. Alabama also spent a week at No. 1 last month.
“We set goals over the summer: regular season, (league) tournament, obviously a national championship,” Crimson Tide guard Jahvon Quinerly said. “I’m going to make sure our guys are ready to go no matter who we match up with.”
That will be Texas A&M-Corpus Christi or Southeast Missouri State, who meet in a First Four game Tuesday night. The winner will play the Crimson Tide on Thursday in Birmingham, an hour down the road from their Tuscaloosa campus.
The top seed in the South Region, Alabama would face West Virginia or Maryland for a spot in the Sweet 16 with a win.
And how sweet that would be for a team that’s gone through the ringer: former teammate Darius Miles and another man have been indicted on capital murder charges for a January shooting, an investigator has testified star freshman Brandon Miller was asked by Miles to bring the gun that night and police have also said Jaden Bradley was at the scene.
“To beat the teams we had to beat to get here was not easy,” Alabama coach Nate Oats said last week. “So proud of the guys, proud of their effort, proud they were able to get really focused. Got a lot of mental toughness.”
Houston still received nine first-place votes and was No. 2 after losing to Memphis in the final of the AAC tourney, where Sasser hurt his groin in the semifinal round. He did not play in the championship and his status will be watched closely leading up to the Cougars’ NCAA opener against Northern Kentucky.
Purdue, seeded first in the East Region, earned three first-place votes and was third in the AP poll after the regular-season Big Ten champion won its conference tournament, too. Kansas, which expects to have Bill Self back for the NCAA tourney after a medical scare, was fourth after receiving the No. 1 seed in the West.
Texas routed the Jayhawks in the finals of the Big 12 Tournament and rounded out the top five.
Marquette remained at No. 6 after its Big East tourney title. UCLA earned one first-place vote and was seventh after losing in the Pac-12 Tournament final to Arizona, which was No. 8. Gonzaga and UConn rounded out the top 10.
“We have a special team. We’re not going to do what our past teams have done, which was to maybe get caught up in the wallow of losing,” said Huskies coach Dan Hurley, whose team fell to the Golden Eagles in the Big East tourney semifinals. “We’re going to get our minds right very quickly and get ready to make a run next week.”
RISING AND FALLING
Duke made the biggest jump in the final poll after beating Virginia for the ACC Tournament title, climbing nine spots to No. 12 – the highest the Blue Devils have been since the third week of the season. First-year coach Jon Scheyer has them seeded fifth in the East in the NCAA Tournament.
UCLA, seeded second in the West, fell five spots to No. 7 in the final poll.
IN AND OUT
Memphis was hardly receiving votes last week, but rolling to the AAC tourney title put Penny Hardaway’s crew into the poll for the first time this season at No. 24. Florida Atlantic, the Conference USA regular-season and tourney champ, returned at No. 25 after spending the first four weeks in the poll in school history in January and February.
The Tigers and Owls made the AP poll at the expense of Creighton, which was routed by Xavier in the Big East semifinals, and Kentucky, which fell to Vanderbilt in the SEC Tournament quarterfinal round.
Widely considered the toughest league in the nation, the Big 12 had two teams in the top five and five in the Top 25. The league has seven schools heading to the NCAA Tournament after Oklahoma State was left on the bubble.
The SEC, which tied the Big Ten for the most NCAA bids with eight, had four teams in the final Top 25. The Big East and ACC had three apiece, though the Big East had two in the top 10 and the leading ACC team was Duke at No. 12.
HERE’S WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE FILLING OUT YOUR MARCH MADNESS BRACKET
March Madness is here! Here is what to know, including the favorites and underdogs as well as key games and how to watch the NCAA Tournament:
TOP SEEDS The top four seeds in the tournament are Alabama, Houston, Kansas, and Purdue. Each is in a region, some tougher than others (on paper). We break them down for you: EAST REGION: The Boilermakers got a No. 1 seed for the fourth time after edging Penn State 67-65 in the Big Ten championship game, but they face potential hurdles in Memphis and surging Duke. Memphis (26-8) is fresh from a big upset of top-ranked Houston and led by Kendric Davis. Duke (26-8) shut down Virginia in a 59-49 ACC title game win. SOUTH REGION: Alabama is a No. 1 seed for the first time after sweeping the Southeastern Conference regular season and tournament titles behind league player of the year Brandon Miller, capped by an 82-63 romp over Texas A&M. They will open the tourney not far from home, in Birmingham, Alabama. Potential hurdles for the Crimson Tide could include Baylor, Arizona. There’s an intriguing early matchup between No. 5 seed San Diego State and No. 12 Charleston, which has 31 wins. Furman is making its first tourney appearance since 1980. MIDWEST REGION: Houston (31-3) got a top seed despite stumbling 75-65 against unranked Memphis in the American Athletic Conference title game, minus league player of the year Marcus Sasser (strained groin). They will open against Northern Kentucky (22-12). Potential hurdles could include Penn State, which took Purdue down to the wire in the Big Ten, and SEC Tournament runner-up Texas A&M. WEST REGION: The Jayhawks fell 76-56 to Texas in the Big 12 championship game and they wound up with the top seed in a stacked region. They will open against Howard (22-12), making its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1992. Potential hurdles include No. 6 TCU (21-12), which beat Kansas at Allen Field House 83-60 on Jan. 21, and Arkansas (20-13).
GAMES TO WATCH
No. 7 Texas A&M (25-9) vs. No. 10 Penn State (22-13)., Thursday, 9:55 p.m. ET (TBS) The Aggies, who felt snubbed last season, are making their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2018, and the Nittany Lions’ drought dated to 2011. Both flirted with league tournament titles and have been hot. Texas A&M went 19-4 after a loss to Wofford and Penn State has won eight of 10.
No. 8 Arkansas (20-13) vs. No. 9 Illinois (20-12), Thursday, 4:30 p.m. ET (TBS). The Razorbacks have made back-to-back trips to the Elite Eight. Top prospect and potential top NBA draft pick Nick Smith Jr. has only played in 14 games because of knee issues, but has scored 20-plus in half of the team’s last six. Illinois won the Big Ten season title before being ousted by Penn State in the first round of the league tournament. Illinois is led by transfers Terrence Shannon Jr. (Texas Tech) and Matthew Mayer, who helped lead Baylor to the 2021 national championship.
No. 5 Miami (25-7) vs. Drake (27-7), Friday, 7:35 p.m. ET (TBS). The game features two conference players of the year, Miami’s Isaiah Wong in the ACC for the regular-season co-champions, and Drake’s Tucker DeVries from the Missouri Valley Conference tournament champs. DeVries is averaging 19 points while Wong leads the team in scoring (16.2 points per game), assists and steals. Drake made the Elite Eight three years running, though it has been a while (1969-71).
No. 6 Kentucky (21-11) vs. No. 11 Providence (21-11), Friday, 7:10 p.m. ET. (CBS). Led by last year’s AP player of the year Oscar Tshiebwe, the Wildcats are trying to avoid back-to-back first-round exits after that infamous defeat to Saint Peter’s. The Friars, meanwhile, went to the Sweet 16 before losing to eventual champion Kansas. They’re led by Kentucky transfer Bryce Hopkins.
Texas Southern and Kennesaw State are in. North Carolina is not.
The Tar Heels are the first team since the bracket expanded to 64 teams in 1985 to start the season ranked No. 1 in The Associated Press Top 25 poll and finish it with an NCAA tourney airball.
Kennessaw State, three years removed from a 1-28 season, made the field. So did Southwestern Athletic Conference Tournament champion Texas Southern, which is 14-20. Southern Conference champ Furman is dancing for the first time since 1980 and MEAC winner Howard makes its first appearance since 1992.
HOW TO WATCH
Every game of the men’s tournament will be aired somewhere, either on CBS, TBS, TNT or TruTV and their digital platforms. CBS will have the Final Four semifinals and national title game this year.
There are multiple sites listing game times, channel and announcing team, including the NCAA and CBS. The NCAA will again stream games via its March Madness Live option and CBS games will be streamed on Paramount+.
Who’s going to win the national championship? With the regular season over, the betting favorites as of this week to reach the Final Four are Houston, Alabama, Kansas and Purdue, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
MARCH MADNESS CALENDAR Selection Sunday set the bracket matchup s for the First Four and first- and second-round games that stretch from Florida to California. Sweet 16 weekend will see games in New York City (East Region), Las Vegas (West), Kansas City, Missouri (Midwest), and Louisville, Kentucky (South). Where is the Final Four? In Houston, on April 1, with the championship game on April 3. Basketball aficionados, take note: The women’s NCAA Tournament will hold its Final Four in Dallas, a four-hour drive up the road from Houston.
WHEN FILLING OUT MARCH MADNESS BRACKET, WHO SHOULD YOU PICK?
If you’re like most of the country, you probably didn’t count on a No. 8 seed reaching the national title game last year — or a No. 15 seed making it to the Elite Eight.
Thank you North Carolina and Saint Peter’s, who made sure there’s nowhere to go but up trying to pick a winning bracket in 2023.
This season, of course, picking the March Madness bracket comes with its own set of potential pitfalls. How do you account for injuries at Houston and UCLA? Can defending champ Kansas make another run after losing handily in the Big 12 Tournament final? Is this the year you can trust the Big Ten?
Here’s one way to go with the bracket:
First Four: Texas A&M Corpus Christi over Southeast Missouri State.
First round winners: Alabama, West Virginia, San Diego State, Virginia, Creighton, Baylor, Utah State and Arizona.
Maryland was terrific at home this season and not very good on the road. At a neutral site, the Terrapins get a tough first-round matchup against a West Virginia team ranked 17th by Ken Pomeroy.
Second round winners: Alabama, Virginia, Baylor, Arizona.
The seeds hold in round two. Bob Huggins could have some tricks up his sleeve against the Crimson Tide, but Alabama should have an advantage playing in Birmingham.
Regional semifinal winners: Alabama, Baylor.
Tony Bennett’s Virginia team seems like the ideal group to slow down a run-and-gun team like Alabama, but first the Cavaliers have to get past the first round, which is never a certainty. Time to hedge a bit by putting Virginia in the Sweet 16 but having the Crimson Tide advance.
Regional champion: Alabama.
The Crimson Tide play fast and shoot a lot of 3s, and they’re also one of the top defensive teams in the country. Turnovers could be an issue, but they have enough different ways to win that they’ll do something their football team couldn’t this year — reach the Final Four.
First Four: Texas Southern over Fairleigh Dickinson.
First round winners: Purdue, Memphis, Duke, Tennessee, Providence, Kansas State, Southern California, Marquette.
At times this season the Big Ten felt like Purdue and about 11 bubble teams. That holds true in the first round of this region, with the Boilermakers advancing but Michigan State bowing out early against USC.
Second round winners: Purdue, Tennessee, Kansas State, Marquette.
Tennessee-Duke is a marquee second-round matchup between two of the better offensive rebounding teams around. As well as the Blue Devils have played recently, the Volunteers are ranked in the top five by Pomeroy and No. 8 in the country at ShotQuality.com.
Regional semifinal winners: Tennessee, Marquette.
Zakai Zeigler’s injury will catch up with the Volunteers eventually, but first they oust Purdue, avenging their overtime loss to the Boilermakers in the 2019 Sweet 16. (A refresher: Carsen Edwards was fouled on a 3-pointer in the final seconds and made two free throws to force OT.)
Regional champion: Marquette.
What a season for Shaka Smart, who coached Marquette to regular-season and tournament titles in the Big East. The Golden Eagles will force turnovers, and unlike some of Smart’s teams in the past, this is an efficient group offensively.
First Four: Mississippi State over Pittsburgh.
First round winners: Houston, Iowa, Drake, Kent State, Mississippi State, Xavier, Texas A&M, Texas.
Yes, that matchup between Texas and Texas A&M in the second round is happening. Also, Drake will be a popular upset pick after rolling through the Missouri Valley Tournament.
Second round winners: Houston, Drake, Mississippi State, Texas.
Texas is trying to follow in the footsteps of Steve Fisher’s 1989 Michigan team, which won the national title under an interim coach. It’ll be less of a surprise if the Longhorns pull it off, since we’ve already seen them win the Big 12 Tournament under Rodney Terry.
Regional semifinal winners: Houston, Mississippi State.
Yes, if this comes to fruition, Houston could make the Final Four by beating three double-digit seeds in four games.
Regional champion: Houston.
Obviously, the groin injury to Marcus Sasser is a big concern, but the Cougars should be able to make it through the first weekend even if he’s not at full strength, and assuming he returns before too long, Houston is the best team in this region.
First Four: Nevada over Arizona State.
First round winners: Kansas, Illinois, Saint Mary’s, UConn, TCU, Gonzaga, Northwestern, UCLA.
Rick Pitino vs. UConn certainly brings back some Big East memories. It’s a tough draw for 13th-seeded Iona.
Second round winners: Illinois, Saint Mary’s, Gonzaga, Northwestern.
The Big Ten always seems like a polarizing league in this event, so here’s a prediction: Zero Big Ten teams reach the Elite Eight, but Illinois and Northwestern take out the top two seeds in the West. Let the hot takes fly.
Regional semifinal winners: Saint Mary’s, Gonzaga.
The West Coast Conference’s moment of glory.
Regional champion: Gonzaga.
The Zags come into this tournament on a roll and without the huge expectations of seasons past. Pencil them in for yet another Sweet 16 — and a Final Four as well.
Semifinal winners: Alabama, Houston.
If Alabama makes it this far, the scrutiny may be even more intense for a program that’s been in the news for a lot of the wrong reasons lately. Former Alabama player Darius Miles and another man have been indicted on capital murder charges for the January shooting death of 23-year-old Jamea Harris. A police investigator testified last month that Miles texted Crimson Tide star Brandon Miller to bring him his gun that night. Miller has not been charged and has continued to play.
Houston-Gonzaga would be a fascinating matchup, but the Zags still aren’t great defensively. The Cougars are the more well-rounded team.
So that would set up an Alabama-Houston title game, with the Crimson Tide happy to push the tempo and the Cougars perfectly comfortable in a rock fight.
The Cougars are good enough defensively to beat the Crimson Tide, and 40 years after Phi Slama Jama’s heartbreaking loss to N.C. State in the title game, Houston wins it all.
MARCH MADNESS TOP TEAMS BRING TALENT AND, FOR SOME, BAGGAGE
Kansas and Alabama are no strangers to playing for national championships.
For the Jayhawks, another high-expectations trip to March Madness is a rite of spring. For the Crimson Tide, well, this path to glory travels through some unfamiliar ground — the basketball court.
Alabama rolls in as the top overall seed in an NCAA Tournament that feels both familiar and foreign this season. Yes, there are plenty of heartwarming stories and unbelievable upsets to come when the action begins Tuesday with the first of four play-in games.
But this was also a season clouded with police blotters at Alabama and Texas, injuries at Houston and UCLA, some unsightly losses at Kansas, and enough twists and turns at the top of the field to make this as unpredictable a bracket as ever.
“I’m not sure we would’ve predicted this,” Alabama coach Nate Oats said of the top seeding that belongs to the Crimson Tide for the first time.
Alabama’s ability to set aside distractions — namely, the inevitable questions that will be directed at its star, Brandon Miller, and others about an o ngoing murder case against a former member of the team — could have as big an impact on the Crimson Tide’s chances as anything.
But all these teams, especially at the top, have their issues.
It starts with Houston, the 1 seed in the Midwest, which was cruising along until Saturday, when its star guard, Marcus Sasser, fell awkwardly and left the game with a groin injury.
Sasser didn’t play in his team’s conference title game and Houston lost. How quickly he gets back to form could dictate whether the Cougars make the Final Four, which will take place at NRG Stadium, not far from their home arena.
Or take the Jayhawks, who looked like the top overall seed for a time. Two double-digit losses to Texas knocked them down a few notches. They are top seeded, but will play in the West, not the Midwest — one of those rare teams that might have preferred a possible trip down the road to Kansas City over a flight to Las Vegas for the Sweet 16. Not helping the situation was the recent illness of coach Bill Self, who was feeling chest tightness and checked himself into the hospital before the Big 12 Tournament. He was released Sunday and is expected to be with the Jayhawks this week.
“They mark it how they feel and we’re just going to do what we need to do to get where we need to be,” Kansas forward KJ Adams said.
There are issues one notch down the bracket, too.
No. 2 UCLA has been dealing with injuries all season. Most recently, guard Jaylen Clark (Achilles) and big man Adem Bona (shoulder) have gone down. Clark won’t be back; Bona might. It takes a hunk out of a team that still has the core of a roster that lost to Gonzaga on a buzzer-beater from near midcourt at the Final Four two years ago.
Another 2 seed, Texas, has had months to bounce back from the firing of coach Chris Beard, whose fiancee called in a domestic dispute that led to the coach’s arrest. Charges were eventually dropped. By then, Rodney Terry had taken over the team and it found its footing, though the ugliness of the episode is bound to be rehashed during basketball’s biggest month.
Back among the No. 1 seeds, Purdue has a 7-foot-4 playmaker, Zach Edey, leading the way and also has a little baggage of its own. Coach Matt Painter’s program has now made the tournament 14 times in his 18 years but has advanced as far as the Elite Eight only once. This is the first time one of Painter’s teams has come in as a top seed, though.
The coach is as aware as anyone how a trip to the Final Four might just cover up a lot of those old blemishes.
“Obviously, I know,” Painter said, “you get judged on what you do in the tournament.”
NCAA TOURNAMENT SUCCESS DEPENDS ON STRONG GUARD PLAY
Anyone trying to fill out their NCAA Tournament brackets ought to start by figuring out which teams have the best backcourts.
This has been a guard’s event for years.
When Kansas’ Ochai Agbaji helped the Jayhawks win the national title last season, he became the ninth straight guard to be selected as a Final Four’s most outstanding player. The list started with Duke’s Tyus Jones in 2015 and continued with Villanova’s Ryan Arcidiacono, North Carolina’s Joel Berry II, Villanova’s Donte DiVincenzo, Virginia’s Kyle Guy and Baylor’s Jared Butler.
Occasionally a big man can dominate the college basketball landscape the way Anthony Davis did while leading Kentucky to the 2012 title, but they’re the exceptions. The NCAA Tournament generally is all about guard play.
Here’s a look at six backcourts that merit watching.
BAYLOR: L.J. Cryer, Adam Flagler and Keyonte George.
Baylor won the NCAA Tournament two years ago behind its outstanding backcourt and will try to do it again with a different set of guards. All three of them score at least 14.5 points per game. Flagler was one of five finalists for the Jerry West Award given to the nation’s top shooting guard. He also earned AP first-team all-Big 12 honors. George, the best pro prospect in the trio, was a second-team all-Big 12 pick. Baylor ranks second in Division I in adjusted offensive efficiency, a metric measured by college basketball stats guru Ken Pomeroy that essentially translates to points scored per 100 possessions when adjusted for the level of competition.
HOUSTON: Marcus Sasser and Jamal Shead.
Sasser is one of 10 semifinalists for the Naismith Award given to the national player of the year He’s eager for this NCAA Tournament showcase after a foot injury ended his 2021-22 season after just 12 games. He injured his groin in the American Athletic Association Tournament and didn’t play in Sunday’s championship game, so it remains to be seen how close he is to full strength. Sasser has scored over 17 points per game each of the last two seasons. Shead has nearly three times as many assists as turnovers.
KANSAS: Gradey Dick, Dajuan Harris and Kevin McCullar Jr.
The defending national champions had to replace virtually their entire nucleus from last year but still put together an outstanding backcourt to complement forward Jalen Wilson, the AP Big 12 player of the year. Dick, a freshman, is a Jerry West Award finalist, scoring nearly 15 points per game; he arguably is more a small forward at 6-foot-8, but Kansas lists him as a guard. Dick and McCullar both were AP second-team all-Big 12 selections. McCullar, a Texas Tech transfer, has scored in double figures three straight seasons and is pulling down over 7 rebounds per game. Harris is dishing out over 6 assists per game and ranks third among all Division I players in assist-turnover ratio.
MARQUETTE: Kam Jones, Tyler Kolek and Stevie Mitchell.
Kolek, a Naismith Award semifinalist and the Big East player of the year, has 7.7 assists per game and has well over three times as many assists as turnovers. He was named the Big East Tournament MVP. Jones, a second-team AP all-Big East selection, leads Marquette in scoring and makes nearly three 3-pointers per game. Mitchell has over 7 points per game but is best known for his defense. This group helped Marquette win its first Big East outright regular-season title and first Big East Tournament championship.
MIAMI: Jordan Miller, Nijel Pack and Isaiah Wong.
This trio helped Miami win a share of the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title and earn the No. 1 seed in the ACC Tournament for the first time since 2013. Wong is a Jerry West Award finalist and AP first-team all-ACC pick. He was named ACC player of the year by a 75-member panel including coaches and media representatives. Wong, Miller and Pack are each scoring over 13 points per game.
XAVIER: Souley Boum, Colby Jones and Adam Kunkel.
This trio helped Xavier lead all Division I teams in assists per game. Boum and Jones are each averaging over 4 assists per game, while Kunkel has 3 per game. They’re also scoring about a combined 42 points per game. Boum, an AP first-team all-Big East selection, ranks second in the conference in scoring. Jones was an AP second-team all-Big East pick.
NCAA TOURNAMENT: MIDWEST REGION BREAKDOWN
This is the third time the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City has served as the Midwest Regional site. Expect a surprising regional champ if the first two occasions are any indication.
In 2019, fifth-seeded Auburn survived 12th-seeded New Mexico State by one point in the first round before blowing through blue bloods Kansas, North Carolina and Kentucky to reach the Final Four.
In 2017, top-seeded Kansas earned the chance to play in Tulsa and Kansas City on the road to the Final Four. The Jayhawks crushed UC-Davis, Michigan State and Purdue — only to suffer a 14-point Elite Eight loss to No. 3 seed Oregon before a heavily pro-Kansas crowd in KC.
Houston ranks as the nation’s No. 1 team according to the NET. Houston ranks as the nation’s No. 1 team according to KenPom. But the Cougars slipped to the No. 2 overall seed due to a 71-65 home loss to Alabama on Dec. 10. Houston’s chances to reach the Final Four in its hometown are directly correlated to Marcus Sasser’s health. Sasser (17.1 ppg) missed Sunday’s AAC title-game loss to Memphis after straining his groin Saturday, but told reporters Sunday he believes he’ll be 100 percent for the NCAA Tournament.
Second-seeded Texas proved it can thrive in Kansas City against the best when the Longhorns thrashed Kansas in Saturday’s Big 12 title game. Like Houston, the Longhorns expect to have a key player back for the NCAAs as Timmy Allen (10.5 ppg) missed the Big 12 tournament with a lower-leg injury.
When healthy, Houston and Texas both go nine-deep and there’s a ton of athleticism, physicality, intensity and skill at both ends of the floor. It would make for an incredible Elite Eight game if both can get there.
–GAMES TO WATCH
4 Indiana vs. 13 Kent State. Since 2018, the MAC’s NCAA entrant has gone 3-1 in the first round — and the only loser (Akron) missed a last-second, game-tying layup last year against UCLA. The Golden Flashes have great fifth-year guards (Sincere Carry and Malique Jacobs) to challenge IU freshman Jalen Hood-Schifino, but does Kent State have enough fouls to slow Trayce Jackson-Davis?
8 Iowa vs. 9 Auburn. The Tigers have gone 4-9 since Jan. 25 — but that includes five road losses by five points or less to NCAA teams. The Hawkeyes are the nation’s fifth-most efficient offensive team but also are struggling lately. Can they push the pace and hit enough 3s to frustrate Auburn and former Iowa assistant coach Bruce Pearl?
5 Miami vs. 12 Drake. The metrics say the ACC regular-season champion Hurricanes are way overseeded and should be closer to a 9 or 10. The Bulldogs aren’t the biggest, strongest or fastest mid-major, but they could be the oldest. Soph Tucker DeVries was the MVC’s Player of the Year, and he’s surrounded by four fifth-year seniors that include unflappable PG Roman Penn.
–GET TO KNOW
Indiana senior Trayce Jackson-Davis ranks third on KenPom’s national Player of the Year rankings. He leads the Hoosiers in scoring (20.8 ppg), rebounding (10.8 rpg), passing (4.1 apg) and blocks (2.7 bpg). IU is best when the offense flows through TJD and the lefty finds open men when double-teamed.
Penn State senior guard Jalen Pickett ranks eighth on KenPom’s list because he’s a triple threat (17.9 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 6.7 apg) who powers his way into the paint and sprays the ball to open shooters all around the 3-point arc. He’s why the Nittany Lions have their first bid since 2011.
Houston senior guard Marcus Sasser ranks ninth on KenPom’s list. He’s the Cougars’ go-to guy on offense (17.1 ppg), but he also smothers opposing guards as the tone-setter (1.7 spg) on the nation’s No. 4 defensive unit.
–SPREAD THE NEWS
Penn State’s last eight games have been decided by four points or less — so it makes sense that the 10th-seeded Nittany Lions are just a three-point underdog Thursday against No. 7 Texas A&M. But Penn State has a tight turnaround after playing four games in 72 hours in the Big Ten tournament, which makes this the ultimate teaser line between two hot teams.
Third-seeded Xavier (-12.5) has lost No. 2 scorer and top rebounder Zach Freemantle for the year, but this line seems a little light against a Kennesaw State squad enjoying its first winning season and first NCAA bid. On the other hand, KenPom predicts a 12-point Xavier win.
–OUT OF THE MIDWEST
There’s nothing Houston doesn’t do excellently. The Cougars defend to the death, lead the nation in blocks, rank third in offensive rebounds and won’t be outfought.
One potential Achilles’ heel? The Cougars love to play s-l-o-w.
But second-seeded Texas and third-seeded Xavier have the personnel to speed them up and knock them out.
NCAA TOURNAMENT: SOUTH REGION BREAKDOWN
Alabama is the tournament’s top overall seed and is set up to play two games in Birmingham. That home cooking is important after the Crimson Tide were regularly jeered away from home after police revealed star Brandon Miller transported the gun to what became a murder scene.
No. 2 seed Arizona reached the Sweet 16 last season before losing and figures to advance at least that far this time. Third-seeded Baylor won the NCAA title two years ago but is a prime team to be sent packing early this time after losing four of its last six games.
Tony Bennett-coached Virginia (No. 4 seed) can go either way — the Cavaliers won a title in 2019 and were the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed (UMBC) 12 months earlier.
Alabama (29-5) will be under pressure throughout March Madness due to the ugly incident in which Jamea Harris was shot and killed on Jan. 15. The school botched the public relations side and coach Nate Oats’ “wrong spot at the wrong time” comment regarding Miller assured this won’t be a feel-good title run. Miller (19.7 points, 8.3 rebounds per game) has kept up his high standard of play under the scrutiny and he will need help from Mark Sears (12.8 ppg) and Noah Clowney (10.3) during the expected tourney run. No matter how good this edition of the Crimson Tide looks, it can’t be forgotten that they were sent home by No. 11 seed Notre Dame in the first round last March.
No. 2 seed Arizona (28-6) is set up to make a deep run behind star big man Azuolas Tubelis (19.8 ppg, 9.3 rpg), sidekick Oumar Ballo (14.2 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 45 blocks) and three other double-digit scorers. The Wildcats share the ball superbly — three players have topped 100 assists — and have two long-range bombers in Courtney Ramey (83 3-pointers) and Kerr Kriisa (82). The Wildcats were a No. 1 seed last season when they were dispatched by Houston in the Sweet 16. Arizona opens its run against Princeton of the Ivy League.
GAMES TO WATCH:
4 Virginia vs. 13 Furman. A clash in styles as the Cavaliers prefer a slower pace and the Paladins look to run up and down the floor. Virginia often gets the slower pace it desires and that’s why it limited 17 of 32 opponents to 60 or fewer points. The “Dins” topped 90 points nine times while averaging 82.1 per game. A big key for the Cavaliers will be keeping Furman stars Mike Bothwell (18.0 ppg) and Jalen Slawson (15.7 ppg) in check. Do that and the score will be the type Virginia likes — low.
7 Missouri vs. 10 Utah State. The Tigers were streaking with five straight wins before losing to Alabama in the Southeastern Conference tournament semifinals and have the look of a team that could make a surprise dash. Having Kobe Brown (15.8 ppg) and D’Moi Hodge (14.8) both clicking would be preferable against a Utah State team that went 0-3 against Mountain West champ San Diego State and 26-5 against everyone else. The presence of star guard Steven Ashworth (16.3 ppg, 109 treys) makes the Aggies capable of slaying an SEC team.
3 Baylor vs. 14 UC Santa Barbara. The late-season slump makes the Bears beatable with the Gauchos of the Big West certainly feeling like they can notch an upset. While Baylor has three solid scorers in Keyonte George (15.8 ppg), Adam Flagler (15.5) and LJ Cryer (14.5), its defense has often sprung leaks and is allowing 70.3 points per game. Santa Barbara is red hot with seven straight victories and Big West Player of the Year Ajay Mitchell is ready to make some March Madness noise with averages of 16.4 points and 5.1 assists.
GET TO KNOW
–Ryan Kalkbrenner, Creighton: The 7-foot-1 center is averaging a team-best 15.4 points and leads the nation by shooting 71.4 percent from the field. All five Bluejays starters average over 11 points but nobody is more important to the team than Kalkbrenner. He also has added motivation because he injured a knee in the first-round victory over San Diego State in last year’s NCAA Tournament and missed the second-round loss against eventual champion Kansas.
–Erik Stevenson, West Virginia: The sharpshooter runs hot and cold and the Mountaineers could rack up two wins in Birmingham if the good version shows up. Stevenson (15.5 ppg, 77 treys) recently averaged 24.6 points over a five-game stretch immediately after averaging 5.3 over a three-game span. He also topped 30 points twice during a three-game stretch earlier in the season after being 18 of 67 (26.9 percent) from the field over the previous six contests.
–Nathan Mensah, San Diego State: The Aztecs annually take pride in their defense and the rock behind that philosophy is Mensah, who is the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year for the second time. With guard Matt Bradley (12.9 ppg) the only double-digit scorer, Mensah’s contributions (6.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 50 blocked shots) are as valuable as anyone’s on a 27-6 team. Mensah ranks third all-time in rebounding (860) and second in blocked shots (221) in San Diego State history.
SPREAD THE NEWS
–Creighton (-5.5) went 4-4 down the stretch and was whipped by 22 points by Xavier in the Big East semifinals. But North Carolina State finished 4-5 and was creamed by 26 by Clemson in the Atlantic Coast Conference quarterfinals. Look for the Bluejays to cover.
–Baylor (-10.5) hasn’t been playing like a Scott Drew-coached team as of late. Though the Bears should win the game, a hot team like Santa Barbara that hasn’t lost since Feb. 20 will likely cover the spread.
–West Virginia (-2) won four of its past six games with both losses coming against Kansas. Maryland has lost three of its last four games with two of the setbacks coming by double digits. Expect the Mountaineers to prevail.
OUT OF THE SOUTH: Arizona.
Will the pressure get to be too much for Alabama? Last season’s first-round loss is surely on the minds of some of the holdover players. Arizona has the look of a team ready to win this region. Virginia also is a club that could make a deep run. West Virginia could make an Elite Eight run if it is the club that knocks off the Crimson Tide.
NCAA TOURNAMENT: WEST REGION BREAKDOWN
In soccer, they call the toughest World Cup draw the “group of death.”
For this year’s NCAA Tournament, the West Region is seemingly the best.
The top five seeds in the West all finished in the top 11 in adjusted efficiency margin at KenPom.com. Top-seeded Kansas was ninth, No. 2 seed UCLA was second, No. 3 Gonzaga was eighth, No. 4 UConn was fourth and No. 5 Saint Mary’s was 11th.
Coach Bill Self is expected to rejoin the Jayhawks this week in preparation for the NCAAs. He missed the Big 12 tournament after being hospitalized because of chest tightness and balance concerns.
Consider that after meeting Howard in the first round, defending champion Kansas could potentially have to face Saint Mary’s or UConn in the Sweet 16 and either UCLA or Gonzaga in the Elite Eight in Las Vegas, where the Bruins and Bulldogs both played their respective conference tournaments.
Kansas was considered a potential No.1 overall seed until a 20-point loss to Texas in the Big 12 title game without Self and senior guard Kevin McCullar Jr. (back spasms). That knocked them down to the third No. 1 seed behind Alabama and Houston, costing them a shot to play the regional semifinals and final in Kansas City despite their impressive 17 Quad 1 victories. The Jayhawks are led by Big 12 player of the year Jalen Wilson.
Second-seeded UCLA lost a No. 1 seed when it was defeated 61-59 by Arizona in the Pacific-12 Conference championship. The Bruins played the entire tournament without guard Jaylen Clark (lower-leg injury), the conference’s defensive player of the year, and the finale without shot-blocking center Adem Bona (shoulder). “It is what it is,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin said. “Get some rest, get ready for the real tournament.” The Bruins are led by Pac-12 player of the year Jaime Jaquez Jr.
GAMES TO WATCH:
4 UConn vs. 13 Iona. The Huskies have been upset in the first round the past two seasons, first by Maryland and then by New Mexico State. The Gaels, under tourney-tested coach Rick Pitino, have won 14 games in a row.
5 Saint Mary’s vs. 12 VCU. This one won’t break any offensive records. The Gaels are one of the nation’s top defensive teams, allowing just 60.1 points per game, while the Rams are in the top 15 nationally in forcing turnovers (16.5 per game).
6 TCU vs. 11 Arizona St./Nevada winner
The Horned Frogs earned their first NCAA victory in 35 years last season but are facing off-court controversy as sophomore center Eddie Lampkin Jr. recently left the team and accused coach Jamie Dixon of “racial remarks.” Both Arizona State and Nevada were bubble teams and are happy to be in the big dance.
GET TO KNOW …
Gradey Dick, forward, Kansas. The 6-foot-8 freshman is expected to be a lottery pick in this June’s NBA draft. He’s an elite outside shooter who is athletic enough to get to the rim and has the length to excel defensively.
Drew Timme, forward, Gonzaga. Despite being perhaps the most productive player in college the past four seasons, Timme doesn’t leave NBA scouts drooling because he lacks the “metrics.” Still, his footwork in the post is remarkable.
Tyger Campbell, guard, UCLA. He doesn’t get the accolades of his teammates, but he’s the engine that keeps the Bruins chugging along. He scored a career-high 28 points against Oregon in the Pac-12 semifinals.
SPREAD THE NEWS:
No. 10 seed Boise State is actually a 1-point favorite over No. 7 Northwestern. Maybe that’s because the Wildcats are making just their second NCAA appearance in more than 100 years.
No. 2 UCLA (-19.5) is heavily favored over UNC Asheville, which isn’t a surprise. Considering the Bruins’ injury woes and uncertainty over who will be available, that line might seem a bit high.
No. 8 Arkansas (-2.5) has a slight edge over Illinois in a matchup of teams that struggled late in the regular season. The Razorbacks, under coach Eric Musselman, have reached the Elite Eight each of the past two seasons.
OUT OF THE WEST: Gonzaga could have Jalen Suggs at the point and Chet Holmgren patrolling the post — if they hadn’t left early for the NBA as top-five draft picks the past two seasons. These Bulldogs aren’t nearly as talented, but they’re still the top offensive team in the country and beat No. 1 overall seed Alabama 100-90 earlier this season in Birmingham, Ala. Don’t overlook the defending champion Jayhawks, who could rally behind their coach’s return to the bench.
NCAA TOURNAMENT: EAST REGION BREAKDOWN
The East Region could be one of the most unpredictable and exciting in this year’s bracket as there is plenty of depth beyond the top four seeds.
Tournament stalwarts such as Duke, Kentucky and Michigan State are out to prove they can still make national title runs. And upstarts like Florida Atlantic and Louisiana could bust some brackets.
The region features some of the nation’s best individual talents like Purdue’s Zach Edey and Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe. It also has veteran national championship-winning coaches — Kentucky’s John Calipari and Michigan State’s Tom Izzo — and others such as Purdue’s Matt Painter and Marquette’s Shaka Smart, who are each still chasing their first.
No. 1 seed Purdue won both the Big Ten regular-season and conference tournament championships for the first time in program history. The Boilermakers will head to Columbus, Ohio for the first weekend and Painter’s squad might be playing its best basketball of the season at the right time. Edey, who leads all Division I players with 26 double-doubles and eight games with at least 30 points and 10 rebounds, is the focal point. But the Boilermakers, who are chasing their first national title and first Final Four appearance since 1980, might go as far as their young guards, led by freshmen Fletcher Loyer and Braden Smith, take them.
No. 2 seed Marquette could be a great sleeper pick to make the Final Four coming off its first Big East tournament championship. The Golden Eagles finished the season on a nine-game winning streak capped with victories over UConn and Xavier. Smart, who guided VCU to a memorable run to the Final Four in 2011, leads a balanced scoring squad that can go nine-deep off its bench and is led by guards Kam Jones and Tyler Kolek, the Big East Player of the Year. Kolek predicted this Marquette run since the start of the season and is the conductor of the Golden Eagles’ offense, averaging 7.7 assists per game.
–GAMES TO WATCH
8 Memphis vs. 9 Florida Atlantic. Memphis’ Kendric Davis is averaging 21.8 points per game and is one of the more dynamic guards in the nation. Florida Atlantic is enjoying a dream season for its program, winning 31 games — already 10 more in one season than it had ever had before.
4 Tennessee vs. 13 Louisiana. Tennessee could be vulnerable to being one of the first upset victims of the tournament after losing guard Zakai Zeigler to a torn ACL. Louisiana forward Jordan Brown is a finalist for the Lou Henson Player of the Year Award, given annually to the top player at a mid-major program.
6 Kentucky vs. 11 Providence. In one of the juiciest storylines, Kentucky transfer Bryce Hopkins leads the Friars against his former team. The Wildcats have won five of their past seven games but exited the SEC tournament in the quarterfinals following a loss to Vanderbilt.
–GET TO KNOW
Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe (16.4 points, 13.1 rebounds per game) is a main event attraction if you like getting a glimpse at future NBA talent rivaled only by Edey at Purdue …
Max Abmas, one of the architects of Oral Roberts’ Cinderella run to the Sweet 16 in 2021, is still one of the nation’s top scorers (22.2 points per game) and looking to lead the Golden Eagles on another such run.
USC point guard Boogie Ellis could make a major impact for the 10th-seeded Trojans as he enters the tournament averaging 18 points and 3.7 assists.
–SPREAD THE NEWS
The 7-10 matchup (Michigan State -2.0) is close to a pick’em between two teams who distribute the ball well with USC’s Ellis and Michigan State’s A.J. Hoggard.
The 8-9 matchup (Memphis -2.0) is another, although slightly more cautious since now we’ll see how legit Florida Atlantic is following its Conference USA championship season.
Tennessee (-11.0) over Louisiana is a tempting bet to take the Ragin’ Cajuns with the points considering they have the potential to pull off an outright upset.
–OUT OF THE EAST
Marquette. How fitting would it be for Marquette to clinch a Final Four spot at Madison Square Garden, where it just won its first Big East crown?
There’s also reason to back Duke, which is on a nine-game winning streak and appears to have the size to compete with Edey if it faces Purdue in the Sweet 16. Or it could finally be Purdue’s time if its backcourt can complement Edey’s dominant presence inside.
GEORGIA TECH HIRES STOUDAMIRE AS HEAD COACH ON REPORTED 5-YEAR DEAL
Georgia Tech has named Boston Celtics assistant Damon Stoudamire as the new head coach of its men’s basketball team, the school announced Monday.
Stoudamire has agreed to a five-year deal with the Yellow Jackets, sources told ESPN’s Pete Thamel and Jeff Borzello.
The 49-year-old is returning to the college ranks after serving on Boston’s coaching staff for the past two years.
“I am humbled and honored to be the head coach at Georgia Tech,” Stoudamire said in a statement. “It is an incredible honor to be entrusted with leading such a tradition-rich program. I am excited to get to work with the goal of consistently having our team compete at the championship level that we all know we can and should compete at.”
Stoudamire replaces Josh Pastner, whom the Yellow Jackets dismissed last week after seven seasons at the helm. Georgia Tech has just one NCAA Tournament appearance in the last 13 campaigns.
Stoudamire previously coached at Pacific, amassing a 71-77 record across five seasons. His best campaign came in 2019-20 when he guided the Tigers to a 23-10 record and earned WCC Coach of the Year honors.
The 1996 NBA Rookie of the Year has also served as a college assistant at his alma mater Arizona and had two separate stints with Memphis.
WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
SOUTH CAROLINA WOMEN CAP WIRE-TO-WIRE NO. 1 RUN IN AP TOP 25
(AP) — South Carolina joined an exclusive group Monday, going wire-to-wire as No. 1 in consecutive years in The Associated Press Top 25 women’s basketball poll.
The defending national champion Gamecocks (32-0) became the third school to be the top team in the poll for the entire season in back-to-back years, equaling UConn and Louisiana Tech.
The Gamecocks, who are the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, have been atop the poll for 38 straight weeks, which is the second longest run behind UConn’s record 51-week streak (2008-10). Led by Aliyah Boston, the Gamecocks were once again a unanimous choice by the 28-member media panel.
“We have the best player in college basketball that puts our program in a position to be number one in consecutive seasons,” South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said.
Indiana switched places with Iowa in the final poll, moving back up to second after landing its first No. 1 seed in an NCAA tourney. Virginia Tech and Stanford, the other two top seeds, were fourth and fifth in the final Top 25.
UConn, which won the Big East Tournament last week, switched places with Maryland to follow the Cardinal. It’s the first time since 2006 that the Huskies didn’t finish the season in the top five in the poll. They have been in the top 10 in the final poll every year since 1994.
Utah, LSU and Villanova rounded out the top 10 teams.
Louisiana Tech had its 36-week run at No. 1 from 1980-82 while UConn’s was from 2008-10. The Huskies have gone wire-to-wire five other times. Texas (1985-86), Tennessee (1997-98) and Baylor (2011-12) are the only other teams to go one full season at No. 1.
JUMPING BACK IN
Iowa State ran through the Big 12 Tournament, winning three games in three days to re-enter the poll at No. 17.
“These are moments they’re going to remember,” Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said. “It’s not just winning. They’ll remember what this environment was like their whole life. We beat a great team, and it was a great three days for us.”
Middle Tennessee fell out of the rankings.
The Pac-12 finished the season with six teams in the Top 25, the most of any conference. The Big Ten was next with five while the ACC had four. The Big 12 and SEC each had three and the Big East two. The Mountain West and the West Coast Conference each had one.
MARCH MADNESS 2023: SOUTH CAROLINA WOMEN CHASING 3RD TITLE
March Madness is here! Here is what to know about the women’s NCAA Tournament, including the favorites and underdogs as well as key games and how to watch: TOP SEEDS
The top four seeds in the tournament are South Carolina, Indiana, Virginia Tech and Stanford. Each is in a region, some tougher than others (on paper). We break them down for you: SOUTH CAROLINA (32-0): The defending national champions are the No. 1 overall seed and the Greenville I Region breaks down favorably. It includes two teams in No. 2 seed Maryland (25-6) and No. 4 seed UCLA (23-9) who the Gamecocks beat earlier this season. South Carolina is loaded, with two-time Southeastern Conference player of the year Aliyah Boston and leading scorer Zia Cooke.
INDIANA (27-3): After a loss to Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament semis, some wondered if the Hoosiers might miss out on a top seed. They landed it in the Greenville II Region and start against either Tennessee Tech or Monmouth. Mackenzie Holmes leads Indiana with 22.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. Top challengers include No. 2 seed Utah, No. 3 seed LSU and No. 4 seed Villanova, which is led by scoring sensation Maddy Siegrist.
VIRGINIA TECH (27-5): The Hokies won their first ACC Tournament championship and will lead the Seattle 3 Region. Elizabeth Kitley has stepped things up down the stretch as Virginia Tech won its final eight games. Virginia Tech could have to navigate No. 4 seed Tennessee in the Sweet 16 and No. 2 seed UConn or No. 3 seed Ohio State after that.
STANFORD (28-5): The committee looked to Stanford’s steadiness for much of the season in giving it the top seed in the Seattle 4 Region. The Cardinal are led by Cameron Brink and Haley Jones, who have combined to score more than 28 points per game this season. Look for a potential high-wattage battle for the Final Four against No. 2 seed Iowa, led by national player of the year candidate Caitlin Clark.
GAMES TO WATCH
No. 3 seed Notre Dame (25-5) vs. No. 14 seed Southern Utah (23-6), Friday. The Fighting Irish’s chances for a deep run will certainly be affected by how seriously do-everything leader Olivia Miles is hurt. She left the ACC Tournament quarterfinals two weeks ago with a knee injury.
Monmouth (18-13) vs. Tennessee Tech (22-9), Thursday, ESPNU. Monmouth, surprise winners of the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament, have not played in the NCAA tourney since 1983 and get the chance to extend its stay in a First Four contest Wednesday. Either the Hawks or the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament champions in Tennessee Tech, both 16 seeds, will have to take on top-seed Indiana on Friday.
No. 5 seed Louisville (23-11) vs. No. 12 seed Drake (22-9), Saturday. The Cardinals were a Final Four team a season ago and start their journey back as a No. 5 seed. They’ll open things against Drake (22-9), which was seeded fourth in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament yet defeated Belmont to take the league’s automatic bid. Louisville is led by Hailey Van Lith, who’s averaged 19.2 points a game this season.
No. 4 seed Villanova (28-6) vs. No. 13 seed Cleveland State (30-4), Saturday. Villanova features one of the country’s best players in Maddy Siegrist, a two-time Big East player of year. The Wildcats are in a stacked region with top seed Indiana, No. 2 seed Utah and No. 3 seed LSU in front of them. Cleveland State won the Horizon League and made the NCAAs for the first time since 2010.
HOW TO WATCH
Every game of the women’s tournament will be available on ESPN’s networks or streaming, with fans encouraged to navigate to the “Watch” tab on ESPN’s sites. The NCAA will have a women’s basketball specific March Madness app by AT&T.
There are multiple sites listing game times and other details, including the NCAA site.
BETTING GUIDE Who’s going to win the national championship? The betting favorites as of this week to reach the Final Four are (in order): South Carolina, UConn, Stanford, Indiana, Iowa and LSU, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. The Gamecocks are a heavy favorite to become the first repeat champion in the women’s tournament since UConn won the last of four straight in 2016.
MARCH MADNESS CALENDAR Selection Sunday set the brackets for First Four games (March 15-16) and first- and second-round games (March 17-20) at multiple sites across the country.
Sweet 16 weekend brings a twist this year for the women’s teams: There will be two regional sites instead of four, with Greenville, South Carolina, and Seattle each hosting eight teams.
Where is the women’s Final Four? In Dallas, where the semifinals are March 31 and the championship game is April 2. As it happens, the men’s Final Four is a four-hour drive down the road in Houston that same weekend.
MARCH MADNESS HAS INTERNATIONAL FLAIR FOR MANY WOMEN’S TEAMS
STORRS, Conn. (AP) — When star guard Paige Bueckers went down with a season-ending knee injury last August, UConn went searching far and wide for a late addition to its roster.
The Huskies found one overseas in Inês Bettencourt, a point guard from Portugal’s mid-Atlantic Azores Islands. An assistant coach had noticed her playing at the Division B U18 European Championships.
A couple of months later, the Huskies announced the signing of a player they hope will be their next dominant forward: Jana El Alfy, who is 6-foot-4 and from Egypt. She enrolled in January and joined the team but will not play until next season.
The Big East champions are headed to the NCAA Tournament as a No. 2 seed with six international players on the roster after having just 10 others since Geno Auriemma began coaching the team in 1985.
“There was very little video of them back then,” Auriemma said. “Today, we have video and those kids have video of everything; they see everything. They watch every one of our games and we have a chance to see them during the summer more because there’s more international competitions.”
“It’s not the answer to everything,” he added. “But in certain situations it is, for us, the exact right way to go.”
It’s also a trend across women’s college basketball.
The NCAA, citing numbers provided by FIBA, said there were 731 international women playing Division I college basketball in 2022, up nearly 350% from 212 in 2012.
Pac-12 Tournament champion Washington State, a No. 5 seed, has nine international players on its roster, including all five starters.
Johanna Teder, a senior guard from Estonia, said she thinks there is something in the makeup of players willing to go halfway around the world to pursue their dreams that has contributed to her team’s success.
“It’s a big decision,” she said. “Us internationals, we’re more experienced and like independent, if that makes sense. So, maturity plays a big role.”
South Florida won the American Athletic Conference regular-season title and is a No. 8 seed in the NCAA tourney, with eight international players.
USF coach Jose Fernandez has been recruiting heavily overseas for the last two decades. He said he started looking to Europe and elsewhere because his program was having a hard time competing with bigger names in college basketball for top players in the U.S.
What he found, he said, is a bunch of very talented kids who were often more emotionally and intellectually prepared for college basketball than their American counterparts.
“I don’t think I’ve had an international player ever graduate with less than a 3.5 GPA, which is amazing with English being their second language,” he said. “There’s also there’s no entitlement, right? A lot of these international recruits they’re not getting two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight pairs of shoes, and four or five different jerseys and, and, and getting treated like American high school prospects are treated as eighth, ninth and 10th graders.”
He said he used to see three or four other U.S. college coaches and international competitions but now sees about 40 or 50. El Alfy began getting noticed by U.S. college coaches as a member of her national team, which is coached by her father, while attending camps sponsored by the NBA.
“They really helped me a lot with everything, especially with their camps all around the world, not just in Africa,” she said. “I was able to like go to Australia and also be on a different environment and different culture. I got to improve on myself and just getting the experience to be there is just something that I’m grateful for.”
The NBA, which has been running its residential NBA Academy for male international players for years, began sponsoring camps for elite international girls in 2018 and has held camps in India, Mexico, Senegal and the U.S.
Chris Ebersole, associate vice president of the NBA and head of the league’s Elite Basketball programs, said the idea is to gather the top talent from around the world and expose them to great coaching and opportunities while educating them about their options.
“We’ve seen that there’s actually a ton of untapped potential in terms of international women’s basketball, through those Basketball Without Borders camps in Africa, in Europe and Latin America and in Asia,” he said.
About 40 players in Division I have come through those camps, he said, including UConn’s El Alfy, Nika Mühl (Croatia) and Aaliyah Edwards (Canada).
Mühl said the camps helped her make the decision to attend college rather than go straight to professional basketball in Europe.
“It gave me a little glimpse of like, what life in America would be, you know, different people from different cultures playing together, which is what we have here,” she said. “But ultimately, the thing that made me come here is UConn itself and coach Geno Auriemma. There’s nothing else like the history and the culture of this place.”
Lou Lopez Sénéchal, a Mexican national who grew up in France, spent four years at Fairfield before transferring to UConn for a graduate season.
She said for her and other international players, the draw of playing in the United States had a lot to do with being able to stay in school and play with people her own age, rather than going pro and competing against older women.
“It comes also from being curious, wanting to travel, wanting to discover a new country, and not just wanting to stay in your own world and kind of like getting out of your comfort zone,” she said.
Fernandez said there are many things that make the U.S. more attractive for international players than playing for a club or professional team closer to home. He noted that “with ESPN+ and everything else,” parents can watch their kids from afar.
Dorka Juhász (Hungary), who transferred from Ohio State before the 2021-22 season, said the international students have formed a bond a UConn. The older ones, she said, help the younger ones deal with issues that arise, such as homesickness, doing taxes, visas and how to get celebrity endorsement deals without jeopardizing their status.
“It’s good to have somebody to rely on and you’re not the only one,” she said. “It’s also good to see that UConn loves international players. Just seeing so many other faces that are here from different countries, and how they’re loving it here. I think that’s just showing how much they care about us here.”
MICHIGAN STATE WOMEN’S HOOPS COACH SUZY MERCHANT STEPS DOWN
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Suzy Merchant has stepped down as Michigan State’s women’s basketball coach, citing health concerns.
“After much consideration and consultation with my health care providers, I have come to the difficult decision that it is in my best interest,” Merchant said in a statement released by the school on Monday.
The 53-year-old Merchant had not coached the Spartans since she was in a one-car crash after a medical incident in late January. Six seasons ago, she fainted and collapsed onto the court during a game and doctors later discovered she had a heart abnormality.
Associate head coach Dean Lockwood, who filled in for Merchant this season, will serve as the team’s interim coach while the school searches for a new leader for the program.
Merchant had a five-year rollover contract with a base salary of $700,000.
The 2011 Big Ten coach of the year won two Big Ten titles, earned 10 NCAA Tournament bids and reached the Sweet 16 in 2019. She was 327-186 over 16 seasons with the Spartans and 528-306 overall, including her records at Eastern Michigan and Saginaw Valley State.
Merchant, who is from Traverse City, was a four-year starter and three-time captain for Central Michigan’s basketball team.
“I would like to extend a special appreciation to (former athletic director) Mark Hollis and (former school president) Dr. Lou Anna Simon for giving a small-town kid from Northern Michigan the chance of a lifetime to live my dream as a Spartan,” Merchant said. “I’m eternally grateful.”
ATHLETES OF THE WEEK:
Hitting Athlete of the Week:
Andy Krajecki (Hampshire, Ill.) Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology | Senior- Krajecki batted .500 with a .556 on-base percentage and a .750 slugging average as Rose-Hulman went a perfect 4-0 by defeating Alma three times and Greenville once last week. Krajecki was 8-16 at the plate with one double, one home run and eight runs scored with three.
Pitching Athlete of the Week:
Marcus Goodpaster (Indianapolis, Ind.) Hanover College | Junior- Goodpaster posted a 1-0 week as he picked up a strong win over Millikin, 14-4. The junior pitched a complete game scattering just five hits with eight strikeouts. He posted an impressive 2.57 ERA.
- Zacheus Carr (Mahomet, Ill.) Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology | Sophomore- Zacheus appeared in two games and tossed 5.1 scoreless innings, allowing just one hit as part of Rose-Hulman’s perfect 4-0 week. Carr tossed two hitless innings against Greenville, then allowed just one hit in 3.1 scoreless innings against Alma. For the week, Carr pitched 5.1 innings, allowing one hit, zero runs, two strikeouts and held opponents to a .063 batting average.
- Jack Towell (Batavia, Ohio) Bluffton University | Senior- Towell hit .424 with 14 hits in 33 at bats as Bluffton went 4-4 at the Gene Cusic Classic in Fort Myers, Fla. He drove in 15 runs while slugging .606 with a homer and three doubles. Towell had a .462 on-base percentage and scored 6 runs
- Rocco Hanes (Ossian, Ind.) Manchester University | Sophomore- Over the weekend, Manchester swept Berea in two non-conference seven-inning games. The Spartans took game one 13-5 before defeating the Mountaineers in extra innings 2-1. Rocco Hanes drove in the game winning run in the 8th inning for MU, scoring Jared Holley on a single to right-center. Hanes went 4-8 from the plate, hitting two doubles, collecting one stolen base, and scoring three runs during Saturday’s doubleheader.
- Jake Danneman (Edgewood, Ky.) Hanover College | Sophomore- Danneman led the Panthers to a 2-3 week as they drew splits with both Hope and Millikin. The sophomore hit .333 with three extra base hits and three RBI. Jake charted five runs on seven hits with two walks.
- Sean Sullivan (Schereville, Ind.) Franklin College | Junior- Sullivan went 6-for-15 with seven runs scored and two RBI for Franklin last week. Sullivan went 3-for-4 with two RBI and four runs scored in a win over Albion on Saturday. Sullivan turned in another 3-for-4 performance with two more runs scored to help Franklin win the series on Sunday.
- Darius Boeke (Sidney, Ohio) Bluffton University | Senior- Boeke worked 6.2 scoreless frames across three games, allowing just four hits and three walks with three punchouts. He was 1-0 and held the opposition to a miniscule .174 batting average as the Beavers went 4-4 on the week.
- Charlie Jones (Portage, Ind.) Anderson University | Sophomore- Charlie Jones went 5-for-10 with a double, a triple, three RBI’s and three stolen bases for the week. Anderson went 2-2, which included a doubleheader split against No. 23 Aurora. Jones’s week was highlighted by his week against Thomas, where he went 3-for-3 with a double, a triple, a sacrifice bunt, three RBI’s and three stolen bases. On the week, Jones recorded a .500 batting average, a .500 on-base percentage and an .800 slugging percentage.
- Max Fries (Cleves, Ohio) Earlham College | Senior- Fries led the Quakers against Wilmington College with seven hits for five RBI. The senior kicked off the scoring for Earlham with a two-run double in the bottom of the third inning.
- Zach White (Logansport, Ind.) Manchester University | Graduate- During Manchester’s sweep against Berea on Saturday, Zach White pitched in game one for the Spartans, allowing one earned run, one walk, and three hits. White also struck out three batters in six innings pitched.
- Justin Schassburger (Dyer, Ind.) Anderson University | Sophomore-Schassburger started for the Ravens and threw four scoreless innings during Sunday’s 11-0 (F/7) win against Thomas on Sunday. Schassburger struck out seven batters, allowed three hits, issued four walks and gave up zero runs in four innings.
- Jackson Young (Greenwood, Ind.) Franklin College | Senior- Young put together a stellar pitching performance on Sunday afternoon as part of a 5-3 Franklin win over Albion that secured a home opening series win for the Griz. Young went seven innings against the Britons, giving up two runs on four hits with two walks and a strikeout.
- Hayden Scalf (Richmond, Ind.) Earlham College | First Year- Scalf earned his second winning decision of the season in the final game of the Quaker Bowl series against Wilmington College. The freshman went seven innings with just one earned run while scoring eight strikeouts.
- Brennan Perry (Louisville, Ky.) Transylvania University | Junior- In his one game this week Perry had an outstanding showing against Depauw where he pitched a season high seven innings, and a season high seven strike outs and a season high two hits. Perry won this game for Transy as it might not reflect in the stats but by stalling out Depauw until we got our hits.
- Aidan Post (Fairfield, Ohio) Mount St. Joseph University | Junior- Post shined on the mound for the Lions this weekend. Post went 5.1 innings allowing just two runs on six hits while walking just one hitter. Post struck out five en route to a MSJ 4-2 victory over St. Norbert.
ATHLETES OF THE WEEK:
Hitting Athlete of the Week:
Bobbi Adams (Delaware, Ohio) Bluffton University | Senior- Adams tore the cover off the ball, hitting .524 with 15 hits in 24 at bats as the Beavers went 4-4 on the week. She led Bluffton with 12 RBI, 2 homers and a .786 slugging percentage. Adams finished the week with a .533 on base percentage and struck out just once in eight games
Pitching Athlete of the Week:
Courtney Keller (Greenwood, Ind.) Mount. St. Joseph University | First Year- Keller was dominant in the circle for the Lions on Sunday. Keller pitched all seven innings allowing just two runs on five hits while striking out 10 batters. Keller finished the contest with no walks issued leading the Lions to a 7-2 victory over Plymouth St.
- Phoebe Worstell (Bicknell, Ind.) Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology | Sophomore- Phoebe batted 333 with an .833 slugging average as Rose-Hulman split a doubleheader with Greenville. Worstell was 2-6 at the plate with one home run, one run scored and three RBIs for the week.
- Kensie Bradley (Greenfield, Ind.) Hanover College | Senior- Kensie Bradley led the Panthers to a 2-2 week as they earned splits with both Centre and Capital. The senior hit an impressive .667 batting average with eight hits and four runs scored. She added two extra base hits with three RBI.
- Abby Frazier (Lascassas TN) Transylvania University | Senior- In 6 games, Abby Frazier played against stiff competition and high level softball institutions. This week she had six runs, seven hits, two second base hits, and a home run. She totaled 6 RBI’s this week where she got a season high in Runs batted in, home runs, runs scored, and hits against Millikin.
- Kaci Finchum (Mooresville, Ind.) Mount St. Joseph University | Junior- Finchum swung the bat well for the Lions this weekend. In a pair of games, Finchum hit .500 going 3-6 with a double and a RBI. Finchum also reached on a walk while scoring a run of her own leading the Lions to a pair of victories.
- Grace Filinger (Hinckley, Ohio) Bluffton University | Senior- Fillinger went 2-1 with a 2.33 ERA in 24.0 innings of work as the Beavers were 4-4 on the week. She fanned 11 and walked just six while limiting the opposition to a .255 batting average. Fillinger tossed three complete games and came out of the bullpen in a fourth.
- Ashley Pinkham (Leawood Kan.) Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology | Senior- Ashley pitched 3.1 innings in relief to pick up the win in Saturday’s Rose-Hulman victory at Greenville.
- Lauren Beaman (Indianapolis, Ind.) Hanover College | Sophomore- Lauren Beaman started two games this past week as Hanover posted a 2-2 overall week earning splits with Centre and Capital. The sophomore through 12 complete innings striking out seven. Beaman posted a 6.42 ERA.
- Sophie Moshos (Brazil, Ind.) Transylvania University | First Year- Moshos pitched in four games this past week playing top tier competition being Va. Wesleyan, Berry, Millikin, and Covenant. winning two of the four Moshos pitched 18.2 innings only allowing 23 hits, and striking out 16 people. Career high in single game strike outs with 10 against Covenant. Career high with zero hits against Millikin as well.
- Courtney Keller (Greenwood, Ind.) Mount. St. Joseph University | First Year- Keller was dominant in the circle for the Lions on Sunday. Keller pitched all seven innings allowing just two runs on five hits while striking out 10 batters. Keller finished the contest with no walks issued leading the Lions to a 7-2 victory over Plymouth St.
Athlete of the Week:
Rhian Seneviratne (New Albany, Ohio) Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology | Junior- Seneviratne provided two key wins as Rose-Hulman defeated Milwaukee School of Engineering 5-4 in last week’s only match. Seneviratne cruised to a 6-1, 6-1 win at the No. 3 singles flight and teamed for an 8-5 win with Owen Reynolds at the No. 1 doubles flight as Rose-Hulman improved to 5-4 on the season.
- Brennan Beachy (Goshen, Ind.) Manchester University | First Year- Over the weekend, Manchester competed against both Anderson and Franklin to begin conference play this spring. Against Franklin, Brennan Beachy picked up the Spartans’ lone win of the day at no. 3 singles, defeating his opponent by a score of 6-4, 6-1. Against Anderson, Beachy fought hard, falling 1-6, 3-6 to his opponent.
- Ilya Gromochenko (Tucson, Ariz.) Hanover College | First Year- Gromochenko led the Panthers a 1-1 week including a 1-0 start in HCAC action. The first year picked up the lone Panther win in the contest at DePauw, winning no. 6 singles 7-6 (7-5), 3-6, 1-0 (10-8). He then rounded out the weekend winning no. 6 doubles at Franklin 6-0, 6-1.
- Sarvar Muzaffarov (Tashkent, Uzbekistan) Anderson University | First Year – Muzaffarov won at both No. 1 Singles and No. 1 Doubles during Saturday’s match against Manchester. He partnered with Chakib Madcur to secure an 8-2 win against Manchester’s Austin Arnold/Reece Romer at No. 1 Doubles. Muzaffarov then claimed a 6-2, 6-3 victory against Arnold at No. 1 Singles.
- Lucas Densford (Sellersburg, Ind.) Franklin College | First Year- Densford went 2-0 in singles play at the No. 5 spot in the lineup and 1-1 in doubles action as Franklin went 1-1 in a pair of HCAC matches. Densford won 7-5, 7-5 in singles action on Saturday against Hanover and was a 6-0, 6-0 winner the next day against Manchester. Densford teamed with Ezra Schwier to win 8-1 at No. 2 doubles on Sunday.
Athlete of the Week:
Maddie Cherry (Las Vegas, Nev.) Earlham College | Sophomore- Cherry led the Quakers in a home win over Berea on Saturday. The sophomore won No.1 singles 6-1, 6-0, and won at No.1 doubles 8-2.
AP SOURCE: JIMMY GAROPPOLO AGREES TO DEAL WITH RAIDERS
HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) — Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has agreed to a three-year, $67.5 million contract with the Las Vegas Raiders, according to a person with knowledge of the deal.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal can’t be announced until Wednesday.
Garappolo’s contract includes $34 million in the guaranteed money, the person said.
Garappolo played for the San Francisco 49ers the past six seasons. He took the Niners to the Super Bowl in the 2019 season.
Before that, he played for the New England Patriots for three years under then-offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, now the Raiders coach.
FALCONS SIGN GUARD CHRIS LINDSTROM TO 5-YEAR EXTENSION
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) The Atlanta Falcons announced Monday that Pro Bowler Chris Lindstrom has signed a five-year contract extension, reportedly making him the NFL’s highest-paid guard.
ESPN reported the deal, which will keep Lindstrom with the Falcons through the 2028 season, is worth $105 million. It locks up another key member of the offensive line, with left tackle Jake Matthews under contract through 2026.
Lindstrom’s average of $21 million per season surpasses Indianapolis guard Quenton Nelson’s $20.2 million annual average, according to ESPN.
The 26-year-old Lindstrom was Atlanta’s top pick in 2019 out of Boston College. He has started 55 games over his four-year career, only missing time when he went down with a broken foot as a rookie.
Lindstrom was selected to his first Pro Bowl this past season after starting all 17 games at right guard and anchoring a line that opened up holes for the third-best rushing attack in the NFL. The Falcons averaged 159.9 yards per game on the ground.
Pro Football Focus said Lindstrom led all offensive players with a 95.0 grade. He was PFF’s top-graded offensive lineman during four weeks this past season.
Lindstrom has been called for only one holding penalty in his career.
The contract extension for Lindstrom is expected to be part of a big spending spree by the Falcons, who went into free agency with roughly $50 million of cap space.
Atlanta is looking to make a big move in 2023 after five straight losing seasons.
EAGLES’ JASON KELCE SET TO RETURN FOR 13TH SEASON
PHILADELPHIA (AP) Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce tweeted on Monday that he would return for a 13th NFL season.
Kelce has long been the heart of the Eagles and one of the top centers in the league. He played against his brother, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, in the Super Bowl. The Chiefs beat the Eagles 38-35 for the NFL title.
Kelce has been as durable as they come with the Super Bowl putting him at 149 consecutive games played. The 35-year-old Kelce was a sixth-round pick in the 2011 draft and is a five-time All-Pro.
“I have put much thought into whether it makes sense to play another season,” Kelce wrote. “After talking it over with my wife and many other friends and family, I have decided to return for another year. Thank you to all my supporters and detractors for fueling me, I ain’t done yet!”
The Eagles responded with a tweet of Kelce wearing a Batman mask from a game last season. Kelce was a free agent and can’t officially sign with the Eagles until Wednesday. The Eagles also tweeted a clip that said Kelce was back.
Kelce is a big fan favorite and has done it all outside the football field such as singing the national anthem at a 76ers game, partying with the Phanatic and pounding a beer to a roaring ovation at a Phillies playoff game.
But the moment that endeared him for life to the Philly faithful came at the 2018 Super Bowl parade when he dressed as one of Philadelphia’s famed Mummers and the ultimate underdog delivered a fiery, profane speech that whipped the crowd into a frenzy.
“No one likes us! No one likes us! No one likes us! We don’t care,” Kelce exclaimed. “We’re from Philly! No one likes us! We don’t care!”
Kelce made a cameo appearance this month on “ Saturday Night Live ” when Travis hosted.
AP SOURCE: PATRIOTS PLAN TO RE-SIGN CB JONATHAN JONES
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) The Patriots have taken a step toward maintaining some stability in their secondary, agreeing to terms on a new contract to retain free agent cornerback Jonathan Jones.
A person with knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press on Monday the 29-year-old intends to sign a two-year deal. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because new contracts can’t officially be signed until Wednesday.
Jones thrived last season after switching from primarily defending slot receivers to playing on the outside. He started 16 games, tying for the team lead with four interceptions. He led all Patriots with 11 pass breakups.
With veteran safety Devin McCourty announcing his retirement last week, Jones who has spent his entire seven seasons in New England since signing as an undrafted free agent in 2016, becomes the longest-tenured player in the Patriots secondary.
AP SOURCE: BROWNS RESTRUCTURE WATSON DEAL FOR FREE AGENCY
CLEVELAND (AP) The Cleveland Browns shifted some of the money they owe Deshaun Watson so they could spend more on players to help him.
The Browns restructured the quarterback’s record-setting $230 million contract to create salary-cap space ahead of NFL free agency, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Monday.
The Browns always have had the ability to convert Watson’s base salary ($46 million in 2023) to a signing bonus and created $36 million of room, according to the person who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the team is not publicly disclosing any information.
Teams may begin agreeing to contracts with free agents at noon. Following a 7-10 season, the Browns are expected to sign some defensive linemen and perhaps another wide receiver for Watson.
The restructuring was expected because it was the easiest way for the Browns to clear space after being roughly $14 million over the salary cap. General manager Andrew Berry recently said that the restructuring of Watson’s deal was “on the table.”
Berry had previously reworked kick returner Jakeem Grant Sr.’s contract and the Browns are releasing safety John Johnson III, who was entering the final season of a three-year, $33.75 million deal.
A three-time Pro Bowler, Watson initially rejected a trade from Houston to Cleveland a year ago but changed his mind after the Browns offered him a five-year, $230 million contract that was fully guaranteed.
The team was criticized for the deal given that Watson had been accused of sexual misconduct and harassment by 23 women in Texas. He has since settled 23 civil lawsuits brought by the massage therapists, who said the QB acted inappropriately during sessions.
Watson was suspended 11 games last season by the NFL for violating its personal conduct policy. He played in six games for Cleveland, posting a 3-3 record while looking rusty following a nearly two-year layoff.
BILLS REACH DEALS TO RE-SIGN P MARTIN, LB MATAKEVICH
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — The Buffalo Bills reached agreements on Monday to re-sign punter Sam Martin and linebacker Tyler Matakevich before they were eligible to become unrestricted free agents this week.
Martin agreed to a three-year contract following his first season in Buffalo, in which his 47.7 average yards per punt ranked third on the team’s single-season list. The 10-year veteran was signed by the Bills in September after the team abruptly released rookie Matt Araiza, who was accused in a civil lawsuit of being involved in the gang rape of a 17-year-old girl while at San Diego State.
The 33-year-old Martin spent his first seven NFL seasons in Detroit and two in Denver.
Matakevich is set to return for a fourth season in Buffalo after agreeing to a one-year contract. The seventh-year player, who spent his first four seasons in Pittsburgh, has spent a majority of his career being used in special team roles.
The agreements were reached in advance of the NFL’s signing period, which opens Wednesday.
AP SOURCE: 49ERS AGREE TO DEAL WITH JAVON HARGRAVE
(AP) — The San Francisco 49ers made a big addition to their stellar defense, agreeing to a four-year, $84 million contract with star defensive tackle Javon Hargrave.
A person familiar with the deal said the sides reached agreement on Monday on the first day teams were allowed to negotiate with free agents from other teams. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the contract can’t be finalized until the start of the league year on Wednesday.
The deal with Hargrave included $40 million in guarantees and gives the Niners a top interior pass rusher to team with AP Defensive Player of the Year Nick Bosa on the edge.
The Niners also filled another hole quickly, agreeing on a one-year deal with former first-round quarterback Sam Darnold, according to another person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal hadn’t been finalized.
The addition of Darnold gives San Francisco depth with Trey Lance working his way back from a broken ankle and Brock Purdy sidelined until at least August as he recovers from elbow surgery.
Darnold, the third pick in the 2018 draft by the Jets, has been a disappointment his first five seasons with New York and Carolina but now has a chance to revive his career in a QB friendly system under coach Kyle Shanahan.
The 30-year-old Hargrave is coming off his most productive season in seven years as a pro with a career-high 11 sacks that helped Philadelphia beat San Francisco in the NFC title game and reach the Super Bowl.
Hargrave ranked fourth among all interior pass rushers with 57 quarterback pressures last season, according to Pro Football Focus, and provides a big upgrade on one of the few weak spots on San Francisco’s defense that was ranked first in the NFL.
Arik Armstead led the Niners interior rushers with 20 pressures last regular season but had no sacks in nine games.
The 49ers had been hoping for 2020 first-round pick Javon Kinlaw to anchor their interior after trading away star DeForest Buckner following the 2019 season.
But Kinlaw has been slowed by knee injuries that have limited him to 24 games in three seasons and has been ineffective when he played. Kinlaw has 1 1/2 career sacks and was repeatedly pushed around by the Eagles line in the NFC title game loss.
Hargrave has been far more effective over his career since being drafted in the third round by Pittsburgh in 2016. He had 14 1/2 sacks in four seasons with the Steelers and stepped up his game after signing as a free agent with Philadelphia in 2020.
Hargarve has 11 pressures and 18 1/2 sacks the past two regular seasons for the Eagles.
The Niners also kept one of their own defensive lineman, agreeing to a one-year deal with Kevin Givens, who was eligible to be a restricted free agent.
Givens originally signed with the Niners as an undrafted free agent in 2019. He played 40 games with 12 starts with San Francisco, recording 57 tackles and three sacks. He had 20 tackles and two sacks in 13 games last season.
AP SOURCES: BEARS GET LIFT AT LB, ADD EDMUNDS, EDWARDS
CHICAGO (AP) The Chicago Bears made two big additions at linebacker, agreeing to contracts with Buffalo Bills two-time Pro Bowler Tremaine Edmunds and former Philadelphia Eagle T.J. Edwards, two people familiar with the situations said Monday.
Edmunds’ deal is worth $72 million over four years with $50 million guaranteed. Edwards is due $19.5 million over three years, with $12 million guaranteed.
The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because the agreements can’t be announced until the new league year opens on Wednesday.
Edmunds gives the Bears the playmaking outside linebacker they’ve been seeking since they dealt Roquan Smith to Baltimore prior to last season’s trade deadline. Chicago made that move after an impasse in contract negotiations.
Edmunds had 565 tackles in five seasons for Buffalo after being drafted out of Virginia Tech in 2018 with the No. 16 overall pick – eight spots after Smith was selected by the Bears.
Edmunds made Pro Bowls in 2019 and 2020. He had a career-low 102 tackles last season.
Edwards, who grew up about an hour north of Soldier Field in Lake Villa, Ill., played in 61 games and made 47 starts for Philadelphia after going undrafted out of Wisconsin in 2019.
Edwards had a breakout year for a dominant defense in 2022 that helped lead the Eagles to the Super Bowl. He led the team with a personal-best 159 tackles from his middle linebacker position and set career highs with 10 tackles for loss and seven passes defended. In the Super Bowl loss to Kansas City, he had six tackles and a pass defended.
The Bears set a franchise record for losses while finishing with a league-worst 3-14 record. They had one of the worst defenses in the NFL and, on offense, they had big issues in the passing game. But they’ve made some big moves since the end of the season.
The Bears agreed Friday to trade the No. 1 overall pick in the draft to Carolina, two people familiar with the deal said. Chicago addressed a big need for a playmaker to help quarterback Justin Fields by acquiring star receiver D.J. Moore from the Panthers along with the No. 9 and No. 61 overall picks in 2023, a first-rounder in 2024 and a second-rounder in 2025.
Chicago also hired Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren as team president and purchased a 326-acre plot of land in suburban Arlington Heights that the organization has been sizing up for a new enclosed stadium.
AP SOURCES: BRONCOS TO SIGN MCGLINCHEY, POWERS, STIDHAM
The Denver Broncos strengthened their offensive line on Monday, agreeing to deals with right tackle Mike McGlinchey and left guard Ben Powers, a person familiar with the moves told The Associated Press.
The Broncos have also agreed on a deal with quarterback Jarrett Stidham to be Russell Wilson’s backup, according to the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deals can’t be announced until Wednesday.
McGlinchey is getting an $87.5 million, five-year contract with $50 million guaranteed, one person familiar with the terms told the AP. McGlinchey was the ninth overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft. He started 69 games in five seasons for the San Francisco 49ers, helping pave the way for one of the league’s top rushing units over the past several years.
Powers receives a $52 million, four-year contract with $28.5 million guaranteed, according to a person familiar with those terms. Powers started 36 games in four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens.
Stidham’s deal is worth $10 million over two years, per a person familiar with the terms. Stidham started two games for the Las Vegas Raiders last season.
AP SOURCE: CHIEFS AGREE WITH OT TAYLOR ON 4-YEAR, $80M DEAL
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Jawaan Taylor has agreed to an $80 million, four-year contract with the Kansas City Chiefs to replace Orlando Brown Jr. as the blindside protector for Patrick Mahomes, a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press.
The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity Monday because the contract cannot become official until Wednesday, when the NFL’s new year officially starts and free agents can begin signing contracts.
The 25-year-old Taylor started all 66 games he’s played in since entering the league as a second-round pick of the Jaguars in the 2019 draft. While he primarily held down the right side of the line in Jacksonville, the expectation is that – much as Brown did when he arrived from Baltimore – Taylor will switch to the left side in Kansas City.
The Chiefs used the franchise tag on Brown a year ago, when they could not agree to a long-term deal with his new representative. He wound up playing the season for $16.7 million under terms of the tag, helping the Chiefs beat the Eagles in the Super Bowl, and the sides again worked on a long-term deal.
Chiefs general manager Brett Veach expressed some optimism in a contract at the NFL scouting combine.
Yet it quickly became evident that the sides were still far from a middle ground, and the price tag to put Brown on the franchise tag for a second year would have cost about $20 million. So the Chiefs, who are expected to lose right tackle Andrew Wylie in free agency, opted to move quickly on Taylor to fill the left tackle spot.
He gave up a league-leading 40 sacks from 2019 to 2021, but he experienced a breakout year protecting Trevor Lawrence in Jacksonville last season. He allowed only six sacks and had one of the league’s lowest pressure rates among tackles.
The Chiefs still would still have a hole at right tackle, but Lucas Niang could fill that role after dealing with a litany of injuries, and Veach has been successful in finding quailty offensive linemen in the NFL draft.
That includes center Creed Humphy and right guard Trey Smith, both of them draft picks two years ago, who along with left guard Joe Thuney have formed one of the most durable and successful interior lines in the league.
The Chiefs could be busy in free agency as they retool for a Super Bowl defense.
They’re poised to lose wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster, Mecole Hardman and Justin Watson, though there is mutual interest in bringing Smith-Schuster back after a successful season in Kansas City. The Chiefs also must find a replacement for veteran defensive end Frank Clark, whom they released to create some salary cap relief, and safety Juan Thornhill, who may have played himself into a longer-term deal than the Chiefs are willing to offer.
AP SOURCE: FORMER JETS QB MIKE WHITE SIGNING WITH DOLPHINS
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — The Miami Dolphins have agreed to sign former New York Jets quarterback Mike White to a two-year contract, a person familiar with the deal said Monday.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal had not been announced.
Miami on Friday picked up the fifth-year option on starting QB Tua Tagovailoa’s rookie contract, and the Dolphins are bringing in White as a backup. Teddy Bridgewater played behind Tagovailoa last season and started two games as Tagovailoa missed time with concussions.
White started four games for the Jets last season after New York demoted struggling starter Zach Wilson. White was 1-3 as a starter with 1,192 passing yards, three TDs and four interceptions in 2022. He missed two games late last season with fractured ribs after taking several hard hits in a Week 14 loss to Buffalo.
The Jets are pursuing a possible trade for Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
White, who turns 28 on March 25, is a South Florida native and played part of his college career at South Florida.
The Dolphins also added linebacker help, agreeing to a two-year deal with David Long, according to the same person with knowledge of the deal, speaking again on condition of anonymity because it had not been finalized.
Long was drafted in 2019 in the sixth round by the Tennessee Titans out of West Virginia, where he was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2018.
Before going on injured reserve with a hamstring injury last season, Long had 86 tackles, seven tackles for loss and two interceptions.
The 26-year-old Long has good coverage skills and fits well with the scheme of new Dolphins defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who was hired in January.
AP SOURCE: BENGALS AGREE TO RE-SIGN GERMAINE PRATT
The Bengals have agreed on a $21 million, three-year deal to keep linebacker Germaine Pratt in Cincinnati, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press on Monday.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal can’t be announced until Wednesday.
Pratt, one of the league’s top coverage linebackers, has started 54 games in four seasons.
The Bengals lost starting safeties Jessie Bates and Vonn Bell on the first day of free agency. Bates is heading to Atlanta and Bell is going to Carolina.
The team re-signed safety Michael Thomas to a one-year contract extension. Thomas joined the Bengals midway through the 2021 season. He mainly played special teams last season.
Cincinnati’s biggest move this offseason will come when the team extends quarterback Joe Burrow’s contract.
AGENT: LIONS AGREE TO $33M, 3-YEAR DEAL WITH CB CAM SUTTON
The Detroit Lions have addressed pressing needs in free agency by adding standout cornerback Cameron Sutton and retaining a veteran linebacker to bolster their lackluster defense.
The Lions and Sutton agreed to a three-year contract worth $33 million with $22.5 million guaranteed, his agent, David Canter, told The Associated Press on Monday.
Detroit also agreed to a $18.75 million, three-year deal with linebacker Alex Anzalone, according to a person familiar with the situation who spoke on condition of anonymity because the move had not been announced.
Sutton started 31 games for the Pittsburgh Steelers over the past two years, making five interceptions and 95 tackles. He broke up 15 passes last season, tying for sixth most among NFL leaders in the category.
Pittsburgh drafted the former Tennessee star in the third round six years ago and he has eight career interceptions and 168 tackles.
Anzalone started in every game for the Lions over the past two seasons. He had a team-high 125 tackles last year, a season after he made 78 tackles to rank fourth. New Orleans drafted the former Florida standout in the third round in 2017 and he has 326 tackles.
The Lions announced they re-signed defensive tackle Isaiah Buggs and running back Craig Reynolds earlier Monday, two days before the official start of NFL free agency.
Buggs is coming off the best year of his four-season career. He started in 13 games and was a backup four games, making 46 tackles with one sack and one forced fumble. The former Alabama standout started seven games and played in 46 games over the first three years of his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, making 31 tackles.
Reynolds backed up Jamaal Williams and D’Andre Swift last season, running 23 times for 102 yards with nine catches for 116 yards in his fourth NFL season. Williams is an unrestricted free agent, following the best year of his career, and might prove to be too costly to keep.
The Lions also kicked off the week tendering exclusive rights free agents: tight ends Shane Zylstra and Brock Wright, linebacker Anthony Pittman, defensive lineman Benito Jones and long snapper Scott Daly.
AP SOURCE: PANTHERS LAND S VONN BELL, DT SHY TUTTLE
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Carolina Panthers added help at safety and found an anchor for the middle of their defensive line on the first day that NFL teams were allowed to negotiate with free agents from other organizations.
The Panthers have agreed to terms on contracts with safety Vonn Bell and defensive tackle Shy Tuttle, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Monday. The person spoke to The AP on condition of anonymity because the deals won’t be made official until Wednesday, when the NFL’s new year starts.
ESPN reported that Tuttle’s deal was worth $19.5 million over three years and includes $13 million in guaranteed money, citing agent Drew Rosenhaus. No details have been released on Bell’s contract.
Both Bell and Tuttle are expected to be starters for the Panthers, who are switching to a 3-4 defensive scheme.
Bell has started 93 games and played in 109 over his seven-year NFL career, including 48 starts in the last three season for the Cincinnati Bengals. He played his first four seasons with the New Orleans Saints. The 28-year-old Bell has 636 career tackles with 15 forced fumbles and six interceptions since coming into the league as a second-round draft pick in 2016 out of Ohio State.
The 6-foot-3, 300-pound Tuttle is expected to play nose tackle in Carolina’s new base defensive front under defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, with Derrick Brown moving to defensive end. The Midway, North Carolina, native started 33 games during his four seasons with the Saints, including 29 in the past two seasons. The 27-year-old Tuttle has 143 career tackles with one interception and one fumble recovery.
The Panthers announced Monday they have placed a one-year tender on restricted free agent safety Sam Franklin that would pay him $2.627 million in 2023. Franklin has the option to sign an offer sheet with another team, but the Panthers would have the opportunity to match.
The Panthers went 7-10 last season and recently traded up to acquire to the first pick in the draft, which they plan to use on a quarterback.
COMMANDERS BEGIN OFFENSIVE LINE OVERHAUL WITH WYLIE, GATES
Defensive tackle Daron Payne is under contract long term, and now the Washington Commanders are starting to address their biggest need, the offensive line.
After signing Payne to a four-year contract worth $90 million with $60 million guaranteed, the Commanders spent Monday adding depth and versatility with former Kansas City Chiefs tackle/guard Andrew Wylie and ex-New York Giants center/guard Nick Gates.
A person with knowledge of the contract said Washington agreed to terms with Wylie on a $24, million, three-year deal. A person with knowledge of Gates’ deal said he got a three-year contract.
On the other side of the ball, another person said the Commanders agreed to terms with linebacker Cody Barton on a fully guaranteed contract for next season.
All three people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the contracts cannot be signed or become official until the new league year opens Wednesday. Washington did add a player without waiting Monday, claiming cornerback Cameron Dantzler off waivers from Minnesota.
“We got a bunch of young talent on our team, and we’re always just one little piece away from being good,” Payne said after signing his contract. “Hopefully we can put together some pieces and make a run.”
More pieces are coming into place.
Wylie, who turns 29 in August, started all 17 regular-season and all three playoff games for the Chiefs on their second Super Bowl run in four years. He played guard when they won it all during the 2019 season.
Gates, 27, brings similar position flexibility after splitting time at guard and center during his 42 games with the Giants over the past four seasons. Adding Gates is similar to Washington bringing in Wes Schweitzer for interior depth in 2020.
Wylie is the second player to follow new offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy to the Commanders from Kansas City. Wide receiver/special teams player Marcus Kemp signed not long after the Super Bowl when the Chiefs opted not to keep him.
Coach Ron Rivera and Bieniemy agreed the offensive line needed fixing after the Commanders allowed 48 sacks last season, eighth most in the league. The unit could have a few new starters in front of likely starting quarterback Sam Howell.
Linebacker was another area of need, whether multiyear starter Cole Holcomb returns following a foot injury that cut last season short. Barton, 26, started 11 and played in 17 games last season for Seattle.
Dantzler, who’s set to turn 25 before Week 1, was injured in the Vikings’ game at Washington last season. The Commanders assume his contract through next season after Minnesota waived him over the weekend.
Washington in free agency is still looking for a veteran to compete with, push or fill in for Howell if things go wrong for the 2022 fifth-round pick with just one game of NFL experience. That could be Taylor Heinicke if he returns.
There was little doubt Payne was coming back after leading the team with a career-high 11 1/2 sacks. The Commanders put the $18.9 million franchise tag on Payne last month in the hopes of hammering out a long-term deal, and that came to fruition Sunday.
“I’m just glad that we were able to get it done quickly and didn’t have to wait all through the summer and all that stuff,” Payne said.
It’s the second-biggest contract for a defensive tackle, behind only seven-time All-Pro Aaron Donald.
“It hasn’t hit me yet,” Payne said. “Probably when I actually see the change in my bank account, it’ll probably settle in. But it’s definitely a blessing.”
AP SOURCE: STEELERS AGREE ON A DEAL WITH PATRICK PETERSON
(AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers have agreed on a two-year contract with eight-time Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal can’t be announced until Wednesday. Peterson replaces Cam Sutton, who is going to the Detroit Lions. The Steelers cut William Jackson on Friday and benched Ahkello Witherspoon last season.
A three-time All-Pro, the 33-year-old Peterson spent his first 10 seasons with the Arizona Cardinals and past two in Minnesota. He had five interceptions for the Vikings last season.
Peterson made the Pro Bowl in each of his first eight seasons and was an All-Pro in three of his first five.
EDWARDS SCORES 32, TIMBERWOLVES BEAT HAWKS 136-115
ATLANTA (AP) Anthony Edwards scored 32 points in his hometown, Kyle Anderson had his third career triple-double and the Minnesota Timberwolves cruised to a 136-115 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night.
“It’s the first time I’ve beaten Atlanta, and it’s in Atlanta, so I’m super happy,” Edwards said. “I’m at a loss for words.”
Trae Young finished with 41 points for the Hawks, who dropped to 3-5 under new coach Quin Snyder and have lost four of six. Atlanta went 4 for 22 beyond the arc and handed out 17 assists compared to 39 for Minnesota.
Edwards, a former No. 1 overall draft pick who starred at Georgia and grew up in Atlanta, dazzled with several dunks, one of which put the Timberwolves up 91-67 midway through the third quarter. The lead soon swelled to a game-high 28 on a layup by Mike Conley, who finished with 21 points.
Anderson scored 12 of his 14 points in the third and had 12 assists and 10 rebounds for Minnesota, which snapped a two-game skid. Jaden McDaniels scored 19 points.
Edwards praised Anderson’s awareness.
“Every time that they made a run, he’d do something,” Edwards said. “He just knows the game. He makes it look so easy. Basketball, he knows the ins and outs.”
Atlanta went on a 19-7 run to trim the lead to 13 with 7 minutes to go, but Edwards hit an alley-oop layup to push the lead back to 17 at the 6:19 mark, and the Hawks never closed within single digits.
Edwards had a pair of 3s late in the fourth quarter to close out his third straight 30-point game.
“They kept making runs,” he said. “In the third quarter they made a run at the end and the beginning of the fourth they made a run, so I knew I was going to have to check back in.”
This matchup of teams that entered at 34-34 was all but decided early as the Timberwolves went on a 19-4 run to take a 31-17 lead in the first on Edwards’ layup at the 3:33 mark. Due in part to six Atlanta turnovers, Minnesota had a 13-0 advantage in fast-break points that early in the game. The Hawks gave up 40 points in the first quarter and trailed 51-31 on Jordan McLaughlin’s 3 early in the second.
“We started the game out wrong,” Young said. “I think that just set the tone. I’ve got to do better to start the game.”
The Timberwolves led 76-52 at halftime after the Hawks let the shot clock expire on their last offensive possession and Edwards hit two of three free throws with 1 second to go.
Edwards said he had “no idea” how many family members and friends came to watch him play. He was grateful to put on a good show and come out with a win.
“It’s dope. I play for the Minnesota Timberwolves and to come back to Atlanta and they still cheer for me,” the All-Star guard said. “I mean I was getting booed at the free throw line, but other than that it was dope to be around a lot of my family.”
Timberwolves: Rudy Gobert was a game-time decision with a left ankle sprain. He entered averaging 16.7 points on 66.1% shooting, 11.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks since the All-Star break. He finished with 14 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. … Reserve C Naz Reid missed the game with left calf soreness. … Reserve G Austin Rivers was sidelined with back spasms.
Hawks: Dropped to 2-7 when giving up at least 70 points in the first half. … Reserve C Onyeka Okongwu had 16 points and 14 rebounds. … Young was coming off his 10th game this season with at least 30 points and 10 assists, most in the Eastern Conference. He finished with seven assists. … Atlanta fell to 24-9 vs. Minnesota at home. The Hawks had won five straight over the T-Wolves.
ON THE MEND
Timberwolves C Karl-Anthony Towns, out since Nov. 28 with a right calf strain, wore a practice uniform and took some shots at the end of the morning shootaround but there is still no timetable for his return, coach Chris Finch said. Finch said Towns has been facing a defender in drills but has yet to participate in full team activities.
Timberwolves: Host Boston on Wednesday.
Hawks: Host Golden State on Friday.
GRIZZLIES BEAT MAVS AGAIN IN ANOTHER MEETING SANS ALL-STARS
DALLAS (AP) Desmond Bane scored 23 points and the Memphis Grizzlies won a second consecutive game against Dallas with all three All-Stars out, beating the Mavericks 104-88 on Monday night.
Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving were out for Dallas with injuries, and Ja Morant remained away from the Grizzlies because of his issues off the court.
Doncic is dealing with a left calf strain that required an MRI, which revealed no significant damage. Irving has right foot soreness.
With all three absent just as they were in Memphis’ 112-108 victory Saturday to start the home-and-home, rookie David Roddy played a big role for the Grizzlies again.
The 23rd overall draft pick scored 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting two nights after getting 17 of his career-high 24 points in the fourth quarter, when Memphis erased an 11-point deficit.
There was no need for a late rally in the rematch after the Grizzlies opened the second half with a 12-0 run and outscored Dallas 36-21 in the third quarter, when the Mavs shot 31%.
“I challenged the guys at halftime to understand we had just beaten this team two days ago,” Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said. “They were going to come in with a reinvigorated spirit to try to beat us on their home floor.”
Rookie Jaden Hardy scored 28 points for the Mavericks, who dropped under .500 for the first time since December. Josh Green was the only other Dallas player in double figures with 23.
The Mavs, who paired Irving with Doncic by giving up two starters and a first-round pick in the blockbuster trade with Brooklyn, are currently in the play-in tournament with 13 games remaining a year after reaching the Western Conference finals.
“We’ve got to play with the cards we had tonight, and we played a good half of basketball with a young backcourt that’s learning how to play the NBA game,” Dallas coach Jason Kidd said. “It’s just a matter of can we be healthy in time to make a stretch run. And if we’re not, that’s just the season. No one’s dying.”
The Grizzlies, comfortably in the top six in the West, won a third consecutive game after losing the first two of Morant’s sabbatical.
Morant is away from the team after posting a video recently in which the 23-year-old two-time All-Star appeared to be displaying a gun at a Denver-area strip club.
“We’ve had internal dialogue for sure,” Bane said. “We knew roles would be different and guys that maybe didn’t have an opportunity before we’re going to get one. Guys have been staying ready all year long.”
MORE MISSING PIECES
Both teams also were missing a key frontcourt player, with Memphis’ Steven Adams out with a right knee sprain and Dallas’ Christian Wood scratched before the game because of right foot soreness.
Roddy, who played three seasons at Colorado State, now has the two highest-scoring games of his career in consecutive outings. He was a 42% shooter before making 18 of 24 from the field in these two games.
“He made some big ones in Memphis and maybe we should have run him off, but understanding running him of puts us in a bind,” Kidd said.
Grizzlies: Dillon Brooks scored 19 points, and Santi Aldama had 10 points and nine rebounds. … Memphis ended a three-game road losing streak and won for just the second time in 13 games away from home.
Mavericks: Hardy’s 16-point first quarter was the highest-scoring opening quarter for a rookie in the NBA this season, surpassing Jeremy Sochan’s 15 points for San Antonio in 127-106 loss to Washington in January. … Tim Hardaway Jr., who had 23 points with Doncic and Irving sidelined in the first meeting, scored just five points on 2-of-10 shooting.
Grizzlies: At Miami on Wednesday. The Grizzlies have won five the past six games against the Heat.
Mavericks: A three-game trip starts Wednesday in San Antonio. The Mavs have six consecutive victories against the Spurs.
JIMMY BUTLER SCORES 24, HEAT HOLD OFF JAZZ 119-115
MIAMI (AP) Another night, another close game for Miami.
Jimmy Butler scored 24 points to lead seven Miami players in double figures, Tyler Herro and Gabe Vincent each scored 18 and the Heat held off the Utah Jazz 119-115 on Monday night.
It was Miami’s 24th win by five points or less this season.
“When it gets into those moments of truth, I’ve said this before, at least we understand what our package is and what we’re trying to do, how we want to execute,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We’ve had so many reps and film sessions and walkthroughs and teaching points … I think we’ve all gotten better from that, including the coaching staff.”
Bam Adebayo scored 16 for Miami, while Victor Oladipo and Kevin Love each had 11 and Caleb Martin scored 10.
Lauri Markkanen scored 38 for Utah, which got 23 from Simone Fontecchio and 14 from Ochai Agbaji. Miami was 31 for 36 from the foul line, compared with 13 for 18 for the Jazz.
“We can still get better,” Markkanen said. “Obviously, they made some good shots too, so credit to them.”
Talen Horton-Tucker put Utah on top with a short jumper with 1:16 left, and Herro gave Miami the lead right back on a 3-pointer with 55.3 seconds remaining. It stayed a two-point game until the final seconds; Agbaji missed a short shot in the lane that was blocked by Adebayo, who got the rebound, then was fouled and made two free throws with six seconds left to seal the win.
Clutch games are defined by the NBA as those within five points with five minutes remaining in regulation, and nobody has played more of them this season than Miami and Utah. This was the 50th for the Heat, the 46th for the Jazz.
And this was so on brand for both teams.
There were 13 lead changes in the fourth quarter alone, after there were only five of them – and five ties – in the first 36 minutes. Miami is now 28-22 in clutch games, Utah 20-26.
“As long as it’s a close game and we end up winning in the end, I’m happy, I’m content with that,” Butler said. “We’ve just got to string together some wins, now more than ever, which we are capable of. So let’s make it happen.”
The win also gave Miami a bit of breathing room over Atlanta in the race for the No. 7 spot in the Eastern Conference. The Hawks (34-35) lost to Minnesota while Miami (37-33) moved 2 1/2 games ahead of Atlanta – and Miami also owns the tiebreaker if necessary.
Jazz: Former Miami forward Kelly Olynyk, a starter for the Jazz, got the traditionally warm introduction reserved for past Heat players – instead of a far-more-subdued announcement that most everyone else gets when lineups were announced. … Utah now has four full days off – a rarity in the NBA outside of the All-Star break – then resumes play Saturday against Boston.
Heat: Cody Zeller (broken nose) did not play. He got hurt Saturday at Orlando. … Caleb Martin (left knee soreness) played after sitting out Saturday. … Vincent remained in the starting lineup, with Kyle Lowry coming off the bench at point guard.
2 WITH 20
Markkanen (21) and Fontecchio (20) were the first Jazz teammates to have at least 20 points by halftime since Donovan Mitchell and Jordan Clarkson did it against the Los Angeles Clippers on June 18, 2021, in a playoff contest.
Miami was last in the NBA in scoring (108.3 points per game) at the All-Star break and remains last. But since the break, there has been improvement; the Heat are 22nd in the league in scoring (110.7 ppg) since All-Star weekend. “We’re slowly starting to put more points on the board, which is a good thing,” Spoelstra said. But Butler noted that Miami now needs to tighten up on defense – while keeping the additional scoring.
Jazz: Host Boston on Saturday.
Heat: Host Memphis on Wednesday.
JALEN GREEN SCORES 28, ROCKETS OUTLAST CELTICS 111-109
HOUSTON (AP) Jalen Green scored 28 points and rookie Jabari Smith Jr. added 24 as the Houston Rockets withstood a late charge to beat the Boston Celtics 111-109 on Monday night.
The Rockets, who are tied with Detroit for the NBA’s fewest wins with 16, snapped a three-game skid despite allowing the Celtics’ Jaylen Brown to score a season-high 43 points.
“My biggest thing that we were saying was we need to stay together, calm down, slow down, stay under control,” Green said. “So I think we did that and it paid off.”
Boston, which is second in the Eastern Conference, trailed by 11 with about 4 1/2 minutes to go before using a late run to get within striking distance. Brown made two free throws to cut Houston’s lead to one with less than a minute left.
Kenyon Martin Jr. missed a 3-point attempt after that but grabbed his own rebound. Green was fouled with 10 seconds to go and made both free throws.
Brown made a layup to get Boston within one again. Smith then made one of two free throws. The Celtics had a chance to tie it at the buzzer, but Jayson Tatum missed a layup.
“I thought it was a good, well-executed play,” Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said. “Just couldn’t make a tough layup.”
Rockets coach Stephen Silas said his young team showed progress after some recent losses in which it let things get away late.
“We’re a work in progress, but when we understand the moment, it’s gratifying as a coach for sure,” he said. “We’re constantly teaching them, but they need to feel it. And as much as we can watch film and as much as we can talk about it … there’s no better teaching method than going through it and finding some success at the end of it.”
Tatum scored 22 points for Boston and Malcolm Brogdon added 20.
Martin had 20 points and eight rebounds for Houston and Kevin Porter Jr. had 14 points and 13 assists.
The Celtics made four free throws before getting a three-point play from Brogdon to get within two with less than two minutes remaining. Jae’Sean Tate fouled Marcus Smart on the free throw by Brogdon and Smart made a free throw to cut the lead to 106-105.
A layup by Sam Hauser after a steal by Brogdon got the Celtics within a basket early in the fourth quarter. But the Rockets got consecutive 3s from Usman Garuba to start a 9-2 run that extended their advantage to 98-89 with about seven minutes to go.
The Rockets led by seven at halftime and used a 7-0 run to make it 71-58 with about 8 1/2 minutes left in the third. Later in the period, Boston cut the lead to 75-68 thanks to an 8-2 spurt in which Tatum scored all the Celtics’ points.
Celtics: Robert Williams was out for a fifth straight game with a strained left hamstring. … Payton Pritchard was inactive for a third consecutive game with left heel pain. … Boston made 12 of 42 3-pointers.
Rockets: Porter hobbled off the court in the fourth quarter but returned a couple minutes later. … Alperen Sengun missed the game with a left groin strain. Silas said the injury wasn’t serious and he expects Sengun to return for the next game. … Houston outrebounded Boston 48-38.
Smith, who was the third overall pick in the 2022 draft, has scored at least 20 points in three straight games after doing so just seven times in his first 62 games.
“He’s going crazy right now,” Green said. “He’s in that mode. I’m happy for him because we know the real Jabari and he’s showing it right now to everybody, everyone who doubted him.”
Celtics: Continue a six-game trip with a visit to Minnesota on Wednesday night.
Rockets: Host the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night.
WARRIORS BEAT SUNS 123-112 FOR 8TH STRAIGHT HOME VICTORY
SAN FRANCSICO (AP) The Golden State Warriors were tired of losing to the division-rival Suns this season and set their mind on defending against Phoenix just as they did against the talented Bucks last game.
Klay Thompson scored 33 of his 38 points in the first half, Stephen Curry added 23 points, seven rebounds and five assists, and the Warriors beat the Suns 123-112 on Monday night.
“There’s always a little bit of extra motivation when you got smacked a couple times against a certain team but it’s more so about our own focus,” Curry said.
Thompson made eight 3-pointers and shot 14 of 23 overall.
“We knew how big a game it was and Klay knew how big it was and came out and set the tone,” coach Steve Kerr said.
Jordan Poole had 20 points and six assists off the bench for the defending champions. Kevon Looney helped the Warriors win their eighth straight home game and 12th of 13 with nine points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Golden State is 29-7 at home but 7-26 on the road.
Devin Booker scored 32 points and Deandre Ayton had 27 points and 12 rebounds for the Suns, who roared back after halftime to make it interesting.
Josh Okogie’s 3 with 4:59 left in the third pulled Phoenix within 85-81 and his putback a minute later made it 87-84 before Curry and Co. came on again.
Things got heated in the closing minutes when JaMychal Green and ex-Warriors guard Damion Lee received a double technical with 1:12 left. Curry’s mom, Sonya, hopped out of her seat and became emotional yelling and making sure son-in-law Lee was OK.
“That was like old-school AAU back in the day where parents get involved,” Curry said. “Family over everything at times.”
Kevin Durant again missed facing his former team with fans present in San Francisco, sitting out a third straight game for the Suns because of a sprained left ankle. Golden State’s Chase Center crowd has still not been able to acknowledge the star who led the Warriors to a pair of titles and captured NBA Finals MVP honors in 2017 and ’18.
Durant played for Brooklyn at Chase Center in February 2021 during the pandemic period when no spectators were allowed.
“It’s nuts. It’s insane,” Kerr said of Durant not yet being greeted by the San Francisco crowd.
Chris Paul contributed 11 points and 11 assists for Phoenix, coming off a 128-119 loss to division-leading Sacramento at home Saturday that snapped a four-game winning streak.
The Suns won the previous four meetings with Golden State, including three straight in the season series, missing a chance to sweep all four matchups for the first time since 2010-11.
“Every game now is critical,” Kerr said.
Draymond Green played 30 minutes and delivered a timely two-handed slam early in the fourth after rolling his right ankle during Saturday’s overtime win against the Bucks. He had three blocks and a pair of steals to go with six rebounds, four points and four assists.
Golden State went ahead 43-21 after shooting 72.7% in the first quarter with Thompson and Curry shooting a combined 7 of 9 on 3s.
Phoenix fell behind in a hurry to the hot-shooting Warriors, who raced ahead 29-12 before a Suns timeout with 3:21 left in the first. JaMychal Green scored seven points in the period.
“Their shot-making in the first quarter in general put us in the hole,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “There were a few breakdowns because of their pace but I didn’t think it was a failing grade.”
Suns: Ayton has consecutive double-doubles. … Other than Booker beginning 3 of 5, the rest of the Suns shot 5 for 16 in the cold opening period. The Warriors scored eight points off six Phoenix turnovers. … The Suns lost for the first time in five road games vs. the Pacific Division.
Warriors: G Gary Payton II, acquired from Portland at last month’s trade deadline but yet to play in his return to the Warriors, was re-evaluated and shown to be making progress from a right thigh injury stemming from offseason core muscle surgery. He has begun on-court work and will continue to do more in the coming days with another evaluation set for 10 days. “There’s definitely hope and optimism that he’ll be able to play at some point,” Kerr said. … F Andrew Wiggins missed his 12th straight game dealing with a family matter. … F Jonathan Kuminga was out a third straight game with a sprained right ankle. … G Lester Quinones’ 10-day contract expired Sunday but Kerr expects a decision on his status soon.
Suns: Host the Bucks on Tuesday night to complete.
Warriors: Open a five-game trip at the Clippers on Wednesday night, trying to end an eight-game road skid.
GIANNIS HAS 46 POINTS, 12 BOARDS AS BUCKS BEAT KINGS 133-124
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) Giannis Antetokounmpo had 46 points and 12 rebounds as the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Sacramento Kings 133-124 on Monday night.
Khris Middleton scored 31 points and Brook Lopez added 23 for the Bucks, who are on the verge of becoming the first team to clinch a playoff berth this season. They came in needing a win and a Miami loss, but the Heat beat Utah.
“It was a really fun environment to play in,” Lopez said. “Sacramento always has great fans, great team this year. You get the cowbells and everything like that and all stuff I remember. It was a really fun atmosphere.”
Domantas Sabonis had 23 points, 17 rebounds and 15 assists for his 10th triple-double of the season for Sacramento. Sabonis has a franchise-record 54 double-doubles, which leads the NBA.
“Their team is very good for us to take our foot off the accelerator,” Sabonis said. “That’s what we did in the second half, unacceptable.”
De’Aaron Fox scored 35 points to lead the Kings, and Kevin Huerter had 17 of his 28 in the fourth quarter.
The Bucks scored six straight points on a 3-pointer by Brook Lopez and three free throws by Middleton to take a 106-100 lead with under eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Sacramento scored the next eight points and took a two-point lead on Huerter’s 3 midway through the quarter.
Antetokounmpo made two free throws to cap a 7-0 run that put Milwaukee up 113-108 with five minutes to go, and the Kings got no closer than two points the rest of the way. Another 7-0 burst push the lead to 127-116 with two minutes left.
“It’s unfortunate,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “I think it was a great game. I was so impressed by Sacramento and they way they play. I’m not going to say anything about what did or didn’t happen.”
With 15.4 seconds left, Sacramento’s Trey Lyles and Lopez got into an altercation, which led to the ejection of both players.
“I don’t know what happened, but we ain’t taking (nothing) from nobody,” Kings coach Mike Brown said. “Trust me on that. And they’re all going to have each other’s backs in there.”
Bucks: F Joe Ingles was ruled out with knee injury management. … Middleton received a technical foul with 9:20 left in the 4th quarter.
Kings: Sacramento received its second delay of game warning with 10:09 left in the third quarter, resulting in a technical foul.
Bucks: At Phoenix to face the Suns on Tuesday night.
Kings: At Chicago to face the Bulls on Wednesday night.
GRIZZLIES STAY MUM ON RETURN OF MORANT BEYOND NEXT GAME
DALLAS (AP) The Memphis Grizzlies aren’t saying when star point guard Ja Morant will return with one game remaining in a four-game sabbatical the team said he needed to deal with personal issues.
Morant was away from the team for a fifth consecutive game on Monday night, a 104-88 victory over Dallas that gave the Grizzlies a sweep of a home-and-home set with the Mavericks.
Citing unidentified sources, ESPN reported during the game that Morant has entered a counseling program in Florida. Coach Taylor Jenkins declined to comment on that report.
“Outside of what I’ve said in the past, respectful to the nature of the situation and stuff, I think I said on the outset he was taking time and responsibility to get better himself so he could be better for our team,” Jenkins said. “I’m not going to really comment further until there’s more updates necessary.”
Morant is away from the team after posting a video recently in which the 23-year-old two-time All-Star appeared to be displaying a gun at a Denver-area strip club.
The sixth game of Morant’s absence will be Wednesday night at Miami, but Jenkins said the club isn’t ready to indicate what will happen after that.
“There are a lot of internal dialogues going on,” Jenkins said before the game. “There are still things going on at the league level that we’re in communication with. Ja’s fully engaged in this process and whatever comes next after these two games.”
The Grizzlies are in a tight race for the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference with Sacramento, with those teams about three games clear of a tightly packed group trying to stay in the top six and avoid the West play-in tournament.
“We’re focused on winning basketball games,” said guard Desmond Bane, who led the Grizzlies with 23 points in Monday’s victory over Dallas. “Obviously, Ja’s getting help. Whenever he’s ready to return to the team, we’re going to welcome him with open arms.”
Memphis won its third consecutive game without Morant after losing the first two he missed. The Grizzlies were 20-5 without him last year, when they finished second in the West.
“I think it’s a lot of factors,” Jenkins said of the success without Morant last season. “It’s not about doing more. It’s just about, in your opportunity, play better, just seek the opportunities.”
FELTON SPENCER, EX-LOUISVILLE STAR AND NBA VETERAN, DIES
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Felton Spencer, who set Louisville single-season and career records in field goal percentage before playing 12 years in the NBA, has died. He was 55.
Spencer’s sister, Tammy Pollock, tweeted of his death on Sunday afternoon and the school confirmed information with the family. No cause of death was given.
Louisville tweeted that it was “heartbroken” by Spencer’s passing. Former Cardinals teammate and current coach Kenny Payne expressed love and prayers for Spencer’s family on social media.
The 7-foot Louisville native known as “Chief” scored 1,168 points from 1986-90, including 32 against Tulane on Feb. 27, 1990, that’s tied for eighth all time at the school. Spencer averaged 14.9 points per game as a senior with 188 baskets on 276 attempts (68.1%) to establish the Cardinals’ single-season field goal percentage mark. His career percentage record of 62.8% (409 of 651 shots) still stands.
Spencer also averaged a team-high 8.5 rebounds per game and was a first team All-Metro Conference selection with teammate LaBradford Smith.
The Minnesota Timberwolves drafted Spencer sixth overall in 1990, and he made the NBA all-rookie team while playing three seasons there. He also played with Utah, Orlando, Golden State, San Antonio and the New York Knicks.
NBA FINES CELTICS’ SMART $25K FOR SKIRMISH WITH HAWKS’ YOUNG
NEW YORK (AP) — Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart has been fined $25,000 by the NBA for pulling Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young to the floor and initiating an on-court altercation, the league announced Monday.
The altercation occurred late in Boston’s 134-125 win over Atlanta on Saturday.
With 1:25 remaining and Boston leading 129-121, Young and Smart had to be separated after they were entangled and fell to the court under the Celtics’ basket. Smart was called for an initial foul before a lengthy review by the officials called both players for technical fouls and ejected Smart.
REPORT: BAUER INKING 1-YEAR DEAL WITH JAPANESE CLUB YOKOHAMA
Free-agent right-hander Trevor Bauer is signing a one-year deal with the Yokohama DeNA BayStars of the Japanese Central League, sources told ESPN’s Jeff Passan.
Yokohama will reportedly announce Bauer’s deal Monday night.
The 32-year-old has been a free agent since the Los Angeles Dodgers released him in January. Bauer signed a three-year, $102-million contract with the Dodgers before the 2021 season.
Los Angeles cut the former Cy Young winner with $22.5 million remaining on his deal after MLB suspended him a record 324 games for violating the league’s domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse policy. An arbitrator reduced the suspension to 194 games before the Dodgers released him.
Three women publicly accused Bauer of sexual assault, with one San Diego woman unsuccessfully filing for a permanent restraining order against the pitcher.
Bauer said his interactions with the women were consensual after each said he choked and struck her. He wasn’t charged with a crime.
RANGERS FINALLY SEE DEGROM IN A GAME, AGAINST MINOR LEAGUERS
Two-time National League Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom finally pitched in a game for the Texas Rangers, though it was on a back field against minor leaguers.
The Rangers have been cautious with their prized addition since he reported tightness in his left side before the first spring training workout just less than a month ago. His first spring start came in the more-controlled environment for Triple-A Round Rock on Monday, when he struck out five of the eight batters he faced while throwing 20 of 24 pitches for strikes over two innings against Kansas City minor leaguers at the complex the big league franchises share in Surprise, Arizona.
“The first couple of batters, I didn’t locate my fastball that well,” deGrom said. “The second inning I dialed it in a little bit. Everything felt great. I threw all four pitches. I’m really happy with it. Changeup, curveball I think are going to be plus-pitches this year. I was able to mix them in quite a bit.”
The only hit allowed by deGrom was an inside-the-park home run by Omar Hernandez, the second batter faced. The ball ricocheted high off the batter’s eye in center field and past two outfielders.
After his two innings in the game, deGrom threw 23 more pitches in the bullpen. He said he anticipates being ready for opening day March 30.
Texas signed deGrom to a $185 million, five-year contract in December. He spent his first nine big league seasons with the New York Mets. but injuries limited him to 156 1/3 innings in 26 starts over the past two seasons. The 34-year-old right-hander threw about six bullpen sessions before arriving in Arizona, but was delayed in throwing in camp after telling the team he was stiff.
“The last thing I want to do is call in and say my left side is a little tight. (The Rangers) handled it great, they said let’s take four days and knock it out. Get it behind us,” deGrom said. “This one was interesting because if I had it during the season I would have pitched with it. We caught it early enough. We have plenty of time let’s do the smart thing here.”
ALSO ON BACK FIELDS
— Max Scherzer made his scheduled start Monday for the New York Mets in a minor league game.
The right-hander allowed five runs (three earned) over parts of five innings. Three of the innings were cut short because of his pitch count.
Tylor Megill, who could get a shot in the starting rotation due to lefty José Quintana’s fractured rib, struck out three in four scoreless innings in the main game for the Mets against the Miami Marlins.
— While deGrom was pitching in his minor league game, another of the Rangers’ offseason additions was doing the same at the Surprise complex. Nathan Eovaldi, who has also dealt with tightness in his side, allowed two hits in two scoreless innings while pitching for Double-A Frisco. The right-hander threw 22 of his 29 pitches for strikes.
The New York Mets expect to have an update this week on the status of left-hander Quintana, the free-agent addition who has a stress fracture in a rib on his left side.
Mets general manager Billy Eppler said Monday that the team was still getting more information from doctors after the pitcher went from Florida to New York for further evaluation.
Quintana, who signed a $26 million, two-year deal during the offseason, threw in a minor-league exhibition game March 5 before the diagnosis of the stress fracture that was revealed last week. He never made it to pitch for Colombia in the World Baseball Classic.
Eppler said the team would provide an update when it has all of the information. While not denying a New York Post report Monday that the pitcher would be shut down from throwing for three months, the GM called it premature.
The 34-year-old Quintana was 6-7 with a 2.93 ERA combined while pitching for Pittsburgh and St. Louis last season. He is 89-87 with a 3.75 ERA in 315 games (289 starts) over 11 big league seasons with six teams.
Anthony Rizzo said he felt fine after taking some batting practice Monday, a day after being scratched from the New York Yankees lineup because of his back.
While Rizzo didn’t play again Monday, the team has said it didn’t believe the problem was serious. The 33-year-old first baseman who is going into his 13th season acknowledged early in spring training that he would be crazy to say he wouldn’t have a back issue this year. He received an epidural injection last season.
The Yankees re-signed Rizzo in mid-November to a $40 million, two-year contract, after he hit .224 with 32 home runs and 75 RBIs in 130 games last year after spending the previous 10 seasons with the Chicago Cubs.
RAYS ON BASE
Tampa Bay won its exhibition game 9-5 over Detroit on Monday, when the Rays had all eight of their hits and all of their runs in the first three innings.
The Rays sent 24 batters to the plate in the first three innings, with 15 of them reaching base (eight hits, six walks, one hit batsman) and another hitting a sacrifice fly. The other eight outs were six strikeouts and two infield popups.
JOE PEPITONE, FLAMBOYANT YANKEES ALL-STAR, DEAD AT 82
NEW YORK (AP) — Joe Pepitone, an All-Star and Gold Glove first baseman on the 1960s New York Yankees who gained renown for his flamboyant personality, hairpieces and penchant for nightlife, has died at age 82.
Pepitone was living with his daughter Cara Pepitone at her house in Kansas City, Missouri, and was found dead Monday morning, according to BJ Pepitone, a son of the former player. The cause of death was not immediately clear, but BJ Pepitone said a heart attack was suspected.
The Yankees said in a statement Pepitone’s “playful and charismatic personality and on-field contributions made him a favorite of generations of Yankees fans even beyond his years with the team in the 1960s.”
Born in Brooklyn, Pepitone went to Manual Training High School, signed with the Yankees in 1958 and made his big league debut in 1962. He helped the Yankees to their second straight World Series title, a team led by Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Elston Howard.
Pepitone drew attention for his off-the-field conduct. In a time when most players were staid and conformist, Pepitone was thought to be the first to bring a hair dryer into the clubhouse, an artifact later given to the Baseball Reliquary and displayed at the Burbank Central Library during a 2004 exhibition: “The Times They Were A-Changin’: Baseball in the Age of Aquarius.”
“Things were a little different back then, sure,” Pepitone told Rolling Stone in 2015. “When I brought the hair drier into the clubhouse, they thought I was a hairdresser or something; they didn’t know what the hell was going on, you know? I’d walk in with a black Nehru jacket on, beads, my hair slicked back; it was ridiculous. I think about it now, and I laugh.”
Jim Bouton, in his groundbreaking 1970 book “Ball Four” that revealed the inner working of baseball teams, recounted how “Pepitone took to wearing the hairpieces when his hair started to get thin on top. … He carries around all kinds of equipment in a little Blue Pan Am bag.”
Pepitone’s 1975 autobiography, “Joe, You Coulda Made Us Proud,” detailed nightlife with Frank Sinatra, smoking marijuana with Mantle and Whitey Ford and Pepitone’s jailing at Rikers Island.
Yankees owner George Steinbrenner brought Pepitone back as a minor league hitting instructor in 1980 and promoted him to the big league team two years later. Pepitone said he would even trim his wigs to comply with the Yankees grooming policy.
“This one,” he told The New York Times, holding one wig, “is my gamer. It’s got gray in it. The longer one is my going-outer.”
Pepitone was jailed at Rikers Island for about four months in 1988 following two misdemeanor drug convictions, then was rehired by the Yankees to work with minor leaguers. He was arrested in 1992 at a Catskills resort for a brawl that started when a man called him a “washed up nobody” and pleaded guilty in 1995 to driving while intoxicated.
He joined the Yankees at a high point in the team’s history. After winning the 1962 title, New York went on to take American League pennants the following two years only to lose in the Series, and Pepitone became an All-Star in three consecutive years starting in 1963.
He stayed with the Yankees through their decline and was traded to Houston after the 1969 season for Curt Blefary.
Pepitone went on the play for the Chicago Cubs from 1970-73 and finished his career with Atlanta and the Yakult Atoms of Japan’s Central League in 1973. He hit .258 with 219 homers and 721 RBIs.
BJ Pepitone and Cara are children from Pepitone’s third marriage, to Stephanie, who died in 2021. BJ Pepitone said the family had not yet decided on funeral plans.
NICARAGUA PITCHER SIGNS WITH MLB’S TIGERS AFTER 1 WBC INNING
MIAMI (AP) — Duque Hebbert turned just one inning of work in the World Baseball Classic into a contract.
The 21-year-old pitcher for Nicaragua entered Monday’s game against the Dominican Republic in the ninth inning and struck out All-Stars Juan Soto, Julio Rodríguez and Rafael Devers.
That feat impressed the Detroit Tigers enough to offer Hebbert a minor league contract after the game.
After striking out Soto and Rodríguez to start the inning, Hebbert gave up a double to Manny Machado, who also had a home run in the game. Hebbert struck out Devers on a changeup immediately after.
“Extraordinary,” Nicaragua manager Sandor Guido said. “That’s one of the positive parts of the game. That young guy is under 23. He showed what he is made of when you have will, when you have heart, you can do very good things.
“He came and he faced the best players of the team. … It’s a good experience for him, and he is going to improve.”
The Dominican Republic won the game 6-1, dropping Nicaragua to 0-3 in WBC pool play.
SOUTH KOREA SETS RECORD WITH 22-2 ROUT OF CHINA AT WBC
TOKYO (AP) — Kunwoo Park and Ha-Seong Kim hit grand slams in consecutive innings, and South Korea set a World Baseball Classic scoring record with a 22-2 rout over China on Monday night in a game between already eliminated teams.
South Korea broke the runs record that had stood since Japan beat China 18-2 in the first round of the initial WBC in 2006.
In the earlier Group B game, Australia defeated the Czech Republic 8-3 and reached a quarterfinal against Cuba on Wednesday. Japan plays Italy the following day in the second quarterfinal.
In Group D, the Dominican Republic beat Nicaragua 6-1.
South Korea (2-2) finished third in Group B and failed to advance past the first round for the third straight WBC. The South Koreans finished third in the initial tournament in 2006 and were runner-up in 2009.
China (0-4) has never advanced past the first round. The last-place finish in the group means it will have to go through qualifying to reach the 2026 tournament.
The South Koreans took a 4-2 lead with a two-run second, then broke open the game with eight runs in the third, six in the fourth and four in the fifth. The game was stopped after five innings under the tournament’s mercy rule, which calls for games to end if a team leads by 15 runs after five innings or by 10 runs after seven.
Park had five RBIs, San Diego Padres infielder Ha-Seong Kim had four, and Hyseong Kim and Jung Hoo Lee three each for South Korea, which outhit China 20-4. Park hit his slam in the fourth off Hailong Sun and Ha-Seong Kim hit his in the fifth against Changlong Su.
Winner Hyeong Jun So entered to start the second inning and retired nine straight batters.
Loser Alan Carter, a Los Angeles Angels minor leaguer, allowed four runs, four hits and two walks in 1 1/3 innings.
BRITAIN 7, COLOMBIA 5
PHOENIX (AP) — Jaden Rudd hit a go-ahead two-run double in the fifth inning, Harry Ford added a solo homer and Britain won its first game of the WBC.
Graham Spraker got the win by pitching 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief while Ian Gibaut earned the save. Colombia’s Yapson Gomez — who gave up Rudd’s double in the fifth — took the loss.
Dayan Frias had two hits and two RBIs for Colombia, which fell to 1-1 for the tournament. Britain improved to 1-2.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 6, NICARAGUA 1
MIAMI (AP) — San Diego Padres stars Juan Soto and Manny Machado homered, and the Dominican Republic picked up its first win of WBC pool play.
Rafael Devers hit a two-out RBI double in the first against Nicaragua starter JC Ramirez, driving in Soto for a 1-0 lead. Eloy Jimenez’s single in the second scored Soto again and gave the Dominicans a 2-0 lead.
Winner Cristian Javier only allowed two hits and struck out four in four innings.
The Dominican Republic (1-1) doubled its lead in the fourth when Francisco Mejia singled off Fidencio Flores on a grounder to score Willy Adames, then Julio Rodriguez singled to left field to drive in Jeimer Candelario.
Soto blasted a shot to right field off Junior Tellez to make it 5-0 in the fifth, and Machado tagged Tellez in the next inning with a fly ball to right center field.
Soto accounted for three runs and an RBI. Machado added an RBI and had a double in the ninth.
Nicaragua (0-3) made it 6-1 in the eighth after Elian Miranda’s bases-loaded RBI single. Ramirez took the loss.
AUSTRALIA 8, CZECH REPUBLIC 3
TOKYO (AP) — Milwaukee Brewers prospect Alex Hall had four RBIs as Australia (3-1) advanced past the first round for the first time in five WBC appearances, finishing second in the group behind Japan (4-0). The Czechs (1-3) finished fourth.
Logan Wade hit a tiebreaking, two-run double off the right-field wall in the seventh off loser Marek Minarik, driving in Robbie Glendinning and Aaron Whitefield for a 3-1 lead.
Hall’s homered in the first, the only hit off Martin Schneider in 5 1/3 innings. Schneider was pulled after 68 pitches, having reached the limit.
Eric Sogard had a tying RBI single in the third off Mitch Neunborn that scored Petr Zyma. Hall hit a two-run triple in the eighth and a run-scoring grounder in the ninth.
Marek Chlup had a two-run single in the eighth for the Czechs.
LEHKONEN SCORES 2 AS AVALANCHE BEAT CANADIENS 8-4
MONTREAL (AP) Artturi Lehkonen scored twice in Colorado’s four-goal first period, and the Avalanche beat the Montreal Canadiens 8-4 Monday night.
Valeri Nichushkin had a goal and two assists, Mikko Rantanen had a goal and an assist, and Nathan MacKinnon, J.T. Compher, Matt Nieto and Bowen Byram also scored for the Avalanche, who won for the third time in four games.
Cale Makar had three assists, and Devon Toews and Logan O’Connor each had two. Alexandar Georgiev finished with 15 saves.
“I thought the pace that we played with in the first period and the execution was phenomenal,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “Not that we created a ton of chances but the chances that we did create were good ones and our guys did a nice job capitalizing on some nice moves and some good shots.”
Josh Anderson had a goal and an assist, and Chris Wideman, Mike Matheson and Denis Gurianov also scored as the Canadiens lost their seventh straight (0-5-2). Nick Suzuki had two assists.
Jake Allen started in goal and was pulled early in the second quarter after giving up six goals on 15 shots. Sam Montembault came on and finished with 16 saves.
“I think our group has played very hard in a very hard, heavy schedule and they’ve been engaged,” Canadiens coach Martin St. Louis said. “Tonight wasn’t our best but I’m just going to move on and focus on (Tuesday’s game against Pittsburgh).”
Lehkonen, Byram and Nieto scored 5:06 apart to give the Avalanche a 3-0 lead a little more than eight minutes into the game. Lehkonen converted on a power play for his second of the night and 20th of the season with four minutes left in the first to make it 4-0.
It was also the 100th career goal for the forward traded from Montreal to Colorado a year ago.
“One hundred goals for him, that’s a big accolade to have,” O’Connor said. “Two (goals) in front of the net tonight, coming back to Montreal for the first time, it’s definitely a special night for him so it’s awesome to see.”
His first goal came moments after a video tribute, and Canadiens fans erupted in response.
“Everybody loves him. He’s such an awesome dude and a great friend,” Makar said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever heard a fan base cheer for one guy on another team when he scores. So that was a pretty cool experience.”
Anderson deflected Johnathan Kovacevic’s shot past Georgiev to get Montreal on the scoreboard with 1:02 left in the opening period. It was his 20th.
“The good thing about the first is we stopped the bleeding at the end,” St. Louis said. “We got a late one, it gave us a little life and we showed them a couple of things that can help us and why we were hurting ourselves.”
Rantanen scored his 43 and Compher had his 14th to push Colorado’s lead to 6-1 at 3:58 of the second, ending Allen’s night.
Gurianov had a power-play goal with 42 seconds left in the middle period to pull the Canadiens within four.
MacKinnon scored his 29th for the Avalanche’s second of three power-play goals of the game to make it 7-2 at 8:09 of the third.
Wideman scored his first of the season 39 seconds later and Matheson got his sixth with 9:25 left to cut Montreal’s deficit to three.
Nichushkin deflected Makar’s point shot from between the circles down out of the air and past Montembault with 6:51 remaining.
Lehkonen’s night came to a bitter end when he left 12:57 into the second period.
Bednar said the forward broke a finger while taking a shot to the hand.
“He’ll leave (Tuesday) from Toronto to head back and then follow up with surgery the next day,” Bednar said.
Avalanche: At Toronto on Wednesday night in the second of a four-game trip.
Canadiens: At Pittsburgh on Tuesday night in the opener of a three-game trip.
TUCH SCORES 2 AS SABRES RALLY TO BEAT MAPLE LEAFS 4-3
TORONTO (AP) Alex Tuch had two goals in his return from injury and the Buffalo Sabres rallied from two goals down to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3 on Monday night.
Jack Quinn and Dylan Cozens also scored for Buffalo, and Owen Power and JJ Peterka each had two assists for Buffalo. Craig Anderson had 25 saves as the Sabres won for just the second time in eight games (2-5-1).
“Stayed patient,” said Tuch, who missed eight games with a lower-body injury, but has six goals and three assists in his last six appearances dating back to Feb. 15. “We just stuck to it.”
Auston Matthews had a goal and two assists, and William Nylander and Calle Jarnkrok also scored for Toronto. Mitch Marner had two assists and Matt Murray stopped 25 shots.
The Maple Leafs are all but assure of finishing second in the Atlantic Division, while the Sabres are trying to stay in contention for a wild card in the Eastern Conference.
“There’s enough to play for here, right?” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “It’s still tight enough (in the standings) that if you let your foot off the gas, not only are you now losing home ice, but you’ve got other teams (chasing).”
After falling behind 2-0 early in the second period, the Sabres scored four consecutive goals over a 27-minute stretch.
“We’ve made defending a greater focal point,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “Our guys recognized tonight ways they could impact it more and more as the game went along.”
Quinn batting the puck past Murray for the rookie forward’s 13th to get the Sabres on the scoreboard with 5:02 left in the second.
Anderson made a nice breakaway stop on Nylander on Toronto’s next shot early in the third – the Leafs went over 17 minutes without testing the Sabres’ goalie – before Tuch tied things at 3:39.
Murray denied Tage Thompson on a break to keep Toronto level, but Cozens gave Buffalo a 3-2 lead near the midpoint of the period for his 26th.
With the Sabres on a power play, Tuch converted a pass from Jeff Skinner with 8:41 left for his second of the night and first 30-goal season.
The Maple Leafs finally woke up as the period wore on, but Anderson stopped Michael Bunting on a 2-on-0 with John Tavares. Nylander scored his 35th from a tight angle with 1:01 remaining, but that’s as close as Toronto would come despite a wild final few seconds.
“I think 50/50 battles, just a little bit careless with the puck,” Matthews said about where things turned for Toronto. “They tilted the ice their way and now we’re just kind of chasing from that point.”
Playing his 38th career game against the Maple Leafs, Anderson was also sharp in a first period that included a couple of good looks for Matthews, who came in with 13 goals in 16 contests against the 41-year-old.
But Matthews eventually connected early in the second. After Marner and Alexander Kerfoot moved in on a 2-on-1, the latter booted the puck with his skate into the path of Matthews for him to chip his 31st upstairs.
Jarnkrok then doubled the advantage just over three minutes later when
A sound issue at Scotiabank Arena meant there was no audio for the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” prior to puck drop, but fans stepped in a cappella-style and belted out the U.S. national anthem before the problem was fixed in time for “O Canada.”
Tuch was back in the lineup after an eight-game absence with a lower-body injury.
“Not great timing,” Tuch said following the morning skating of being on the shelf with Buffalo desperately trying to stay in the playoff chase.
Sabres: At Washington on Wednesday night in the middle game of a three-game series.
Maple Leafs: Host Colorado on Wednesday night in the third of a four-game homestand.
ROBERTSON’S 39TH GOAL HELPS STARS ROLL KRAKEN 5-2
SEATTLE (AP) Two games in three days against the same opponent in the same town gave the Dallas Stars a little taste of what could be coming in the playoffs.
The Stars look more than ready for the postseason to arrive, especially after an impressive sweep in Seattle that kept Dallas on top in the Central Division.
Jason Robertson scored his 39th goal of the season, the last of three power-play goals by Dallas, and the Stars beat the Seattle Kraken 5-2 on Monday night for their sixth win in seven games.
Robertson’s goal came in the opening seconds of the third period and gave Dallas a three-goal lead. Jamie Benn had a goal and two assists and Miro Heisknaen had three assists as Dallas strengthened its lead on top of the division.
“I think our execution, our passes were pretty crispy,” Robertson said of the Stars’ power play. “Our movement, trying to be unpredictable, they’re guys moving all around the place.”
The Stars swept the two games in three days against the Kraken and moved three points in front of Minnesota with 15 games left in the regular season.
“It was an important four points. You look at the standings and we’re in a fight for first in the division, first in the conference. They’re in a battle for playoff positioning. They’ve been playing great all year,” Dallas coach Peter DeBoer said. “So this was a real test for us coming in here for two games and I thought our group really responded.”
Evgenii Dadonov, Joe Pavelski and Wyatt Johnston also scored for Dallas. Jake Oettinger made 26 saves for Dallas.
Yanni Gourde and Eeli Tolvanen scored for Seattle, but the problem for the Kraken was their penalty kill. Seattle entered the game having killed 31 of the previous 32 power-play opportunities by its opponents, only to watch the Stars go 3 for 4 with the man advantage.
“Bottom line, we didn’t get job done. At the end of the day that’s what matters,” Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said. “There’s a couple there that we made mistakes on with where our positioning was, where our sticks are.”
Dadonov and Benn scored inside the first six minutes to give Dallas a 2-0 lead, and Pavelski’s power-play goal early in the second period made it 3-1.
The turning point came midway through the second period after Tolvanen scored his 14th of the season and 12th since joining the Kraken to pull Seattle to 3-2. Just 14 seconds after the goal, Johnston outworked Daniel Sprong for a loose puck and caught Seattle goaltender Martin Jones out of position for his 17th goal and a 4-2 Dallas lead.
“I was lucky enough to get it around the goalie and get it in as I was falling,” Johnston said.
Jones made 27 saves and looked uneasy at times making his first start in 11 days.
Seattle lost for the fifth time in its past six home games and dropped to 16-14-4 at home on the season. While the Kraken are poised to make the playoffs in their second season, their struggles at home may end up being the deciding factor in whether Seattle enters the postseason as one of the top three in the Pacific Division or a wild card.
“We’ve been a group that’s been able to turn the page and go back to the next job at hand,” Hakstol said. “This group has to be able to do that again.”
NOTES: Dallas F Tyler Seguin missed his second straight game after suffering a cut on his left leg last week against Buffalo. Seguin is expected to be out for a couple of weeks. … Seattle’s Vince Dunn had two assists and extended his point streak to 10 games, the longest active streak in the league.
Stars: At Vancouver on Tuesday night.
Kraken: At San Jose on Thursday night.
SCHEFFLER’S DOMINANT WIN AT PLAYERS MOVES HIM BACK TO NO. 1
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Scottie Scheffler took on the scary TPC Sawgrass as if he was playing alone. And by the time he got done with a masterful performance Sunday in The Players Championship, that’s about how it looked.
Scheffler ran off five straight birdies in the middle of his round, built a six-shot lead and left all the drama to everyone else on his way to a 3-under 69 to win the richest prize on the PGA Tour by five shots.
The victory was worth $4.5 million and sent Scheffler back to No. 1 in the world for the second time this year. He now has six victories in his last 27 starts on the PGA Tour, including the four wins he had last year culminated by his Masters title.
When he poured in a 20-foot par putt on the final hole, Scheffler had the largest margin of victory in The Players since Stephen Ames won by six in 2006.
Tyrrell Hatton birdied his last five holes for a 65, finishing when Scheffler was making the turn. Viktor Hovland (68) and Tom Hoge (70) were seven shots behind in a tie for third, each making nearly $1.5 million from the $25 million purse.
Scheffler, who finished at 17-under 271, became only the third player to win at the TPC Sawgrass with all four rounds in the 60s.
Min Woo Lee of Australia, making his Players Championship debut, briefly was tied for the lead but finished with a 76.
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Jorge Campillo of Spain seized control with three straight birdies late on his front nine and closed with a 5-under 66 for a two-shot victory Sunday in the Magical Kenya Open.
Campillo won for the third time in his European tour career, and his first title since the Qatar Masters in 2020, the last tournament played before golf was temporary shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Campillo finished at 18-under 66 at Muthaiga Golf Club and won by two shots over Masahiro Kawamura of Japan and fellow Spaniard Santiago Tarrio, both of whom shot a 66.
The victory moves him to No. 8 in the Race to Dubai standings.
Robert MacIntyre of Scotland, who began the final round one shot out of the lead, made only two birdies in his closing round of 70 and tied for seventh.
Wade Ormsby of Australia closed with a 7-under 65 and then made a 12-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole to beat Chonlatit Chuenboonngam in the International Series-Thailand. Ormsby, who played on the LIV Golf circuit last year, won his fourth Asian Tour event. … Women’s British Open champion Ashleigh Buhai had a 4-under 68 to cap off a four-shot victory over Ana Pelaez Trivino in the Investec South African Women’s Open on the Ladies European Tour. … Louis Dobbelaar, a 21-year-old from Australia, won his first professional title on the PGA Tour of Australasia. He closed with a 3-under 69 for a three-shot victory over Sung Jin Yeo in the New Zealand PGA Championship. … Stefan Wears-Taylor came from three shots behind with an 8-under 64 for a one-shot victory in the Mediclinic Invitational on the Sunshine Tour in South Africa. Jake Redman (67) was runner-up, while George Coetzee, who had the 54-hole lead, finished third after a 70. … Hikaru Yoshimoto shot 3-under 69 and won a playoff over Shoko Sasaski (67) in the Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Ladies Yokohama Tire Golf Tournament on the Japan LPGA.
TRACK AND FIELD
‘FOSBURY FLOP’ HIGH JUMPER DICK FOSBURY DIES AT 76
Dick Fosbury, the lanky leaper who revamped the technical discipline of high jump and won an Olympic gold medal with his “Fosbury Flop,” has died. He was 76.
Fosbury died Sunday after a recurrence with lymphoma, according to his publicist, Ray Schulte.
Before Fosbury, many high jumpers cleared their heights by running parallel to the bar, then using a straddle kick to leap over before landing with their faces pointed downward. At the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, Fosbury took off at an angle, leaped backward, bent himself into a “J” shape to catapult his 6-foot-4 frame over the bar, then crashed headfirst into the landing pit.
It was a convention-defying move, and with the world watching, Fosbury cleared 2.24 meters (7 feet, 4 1/4 inches) to win the gold and set an Olympic record. By the next Olympics, 28 of the 40 jumpers were using Fosbury’s technique. The Montreal Games in 1976 marked the last Olympics in which a high jumper won using a technique other than the Fosbury Flop.
“The world legend is probably used too often,” sprint great Michael Johnson tweeted. “Dick Fosbury was a true LEGEND! He changed an entire event forever with a technique that looked crazy at the time but the result made it the standard.”
Over time, Fosbury’s move became about more than simply high jumping. It is often used by business leaders and university professors as a study in innovation and willingness to take chances and break the mold.
“It’s literally genius,” said 2012 Olympic high jump champion Erik Kynard Jr. “And it takes huge courage, obviously. And took huge courage at the time to even consider something so dangerous. Due to the equipment then, it was something that was a little on edge to attempt.”
Fosbury started tinkering with a new technique in the early ’60s, as a teenager at Medford High School in Oregon. Among his discoveries was a need to move his takeoff point farther back for higher jumps, so he could change the apex of the parabola shape of his jump to clear the bar. Most traditional jumpers of that day planted a foot and took off from the same spot regardless of the height they were attempting.
“I knew I had to change my body position, and that’s what started first the revolution, and over the next two years, the evolution,” Fosbury said in a 2014 interview with The Corvallis Gazette-Times. “During my junior year, I carried on with this new technique, and each meet I continued to evolve or change, but I was improving. My results were getting better.”
The technique was the subject of scorn and ridicule in some corners. The term Fosbury Flop is credited to the Medford Mail-Tribune, which wrote the headline “Fosbury Flops Over the Bar” after one of his high school meets. The reporter wrote that Fosbury looked like a fish flopping in a boat.
Fosbury liked “Fosbury Flop.”
“It’s poetic. It’s alliterative. It’s a conflict,” he once said.
In a chapter in his book about the Mexico City Games, journalist Richard Hoffer wrote that Fosbury once received a letter from an LA medical director suggesting his technique would lead to “a rash of broken necks.”
“For the good of young Americans, you should stop this ridiculous attack on the bar,” the letter said.
As a kid, Fosbury threw himself into sports as a way of dealing with the grief after his younger brother, Greg, was killed by a drunken driver while the two boys were riding bikes. Unable to stick with the football or basketball teams, Fosbury tried track but struggled there with the preferred jump of those days — the straddle.
“He just looked at the thing differently, and it really worked,” said Eric Hintz of the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation. “And he had the guts and fortitude to stick with it in the face of criticism.”
Fosbury’s biographer, Bob Welch, wrote that Fosbury was fine dealing with people ridiculing his style because, to him, it still wasn’t as painful as the sorrow he felt for the loss of his brother.
Innovation won out. Decades later, Fosbury’s flop remains a hit, and his willingness to take a chance remains a lesson from which almost anyone can learn.
“He was as innovative as Henry Ford was to the Model T,” Kynard said. “He’s the creator of what we still do to this day.”
INDYCAR DRIVER HARVEY NOT YET CLEARED TO RACE AFTER WRECK
IndyCar driver Jack Harvey has not been cleared to race following a hard wreck in the open-wheel series’ season opener in Florida.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing said Monday that Juri Vips was testing for Harvey at Barber Motorsports Park. Harvey missed an IndyCar race last season with a concussion.
Harvey was taken to a hospital earlier this month following his involvement in the crash on the downtown streets of St. Petersburg. Kyle Kirkwood went airborne during the race and sailed directly over Harvey’s head. Rinus VeeKay had slid into a tire barrier, Harvey ran into the back of VeeKay and Kirkwood launched over both cars.
“I really couldn’t avoid Rinus and then just had a little bit of pain in both wrists when I was trying to get out of the car. Physically, I’d say it was a tough race but I felt great,” Harvey said.
IndyCar next races on April 2 at Texas Motor Speedway. Harvey will be evaluated again before the race.
TOP INDIANA NEWS (RELEASES)
INDIANA GIRLS BASKETBALL
ZIONSVILLE SENIOR LAILA HULL NAMED INDIANA MISS BASKETBALL
6’1” Senior Laila Hull has been named Indiana Miss Basketball. The Zionsville star, who will plat at North Carolina, is Zionsville’s all-time leading scorer with 1,668 points, and ranks second in career rebounds (754) and third in career steals (227).
She helped the Eagles win 57 games over her four seasons. ]
One of five finalists, Hull received 70 votes, followed by South Bend Washington standouts Rashunda Jones (Purdue) with 46 votes and Amiyah Reynolds (Maryland) with 30. Bedford North Lawrence’s Karsyn Norman (Butler) and Forest Park’s Amber Tretter (Miami (Ohio) received 12 and 10 votes, respectively.
This season she averaged 22.4 points, shooting 52% from the field, 42% from 3 and 82% at the line.
COLTS LINEBACKER BOBBY OKEREKE SIGNS FOUR-YEAR, $40 MILLION DEAL WITH GIANTS
Colts linebacker Bobby Okereke is signing a four-year deal worth $22 million guaranteed and up to $40 million overall.
Okereke pilied up 283 tackles over the past two seasons as a starter in the Indianapolis defense. He was drafted in the third round by Indianapolis in 2019.
COLTS SIGN RAMS’ MATT GAY
Indianapolis has agreed to sign Rams kicker Matt Gay to a four-year deal worth up to $22.5 million, according to Gay’s agent, David Canter.
COLTS BRING E.J. SPEED BACK ON 2-YEAR DEAL
Indianapolis re-signed strong-side linebacker E.J. Speed to a two year-deal worth up to $9 million.
GAME REWIND: PACERS 97, PISTONS 117
The Pacers got the better of the Pistons in a battle between two undermanned teams on Saturday, but Monday’s rematch belonged to Detroit.
The Pistons (16-53) led by as many as 31 in the first half en route to a 117-97 victory at Little Caesars Arena to split a two-game set with Indiana (31-38). With the win, Detroit snapped an 11-game losing streak and picked up its first victory in a Central Division game after starting the season 0-12 against its four primary rivals.
For the second straight night, the Pacers were without three of their top four scorers in Tyrese Haliburton (knee), Myles Turner (lower back), and Bennedict Mathurin (ankle), as well as backup point guard T.J. McConnell (back).
The Pistons, meanwhile, were missing seven of their top nine scorers, including top scorer and former Pacer Bojan Bogdanovic (Achilles) and rookie guard out of Purdue Jaden Ivey (health and safety protocols).
With all those players out, the Pistons’ depth prevailed on Monday, as seven players scored in double figures for Detroit. Former Pacer Cory Joseph tallied a game-high 22 points and five assists off the bench, going 5-for-8 from 3-point range.
Jordan Nwora scored a team-high 20 points for Indiana to go along with four rebounds, three assists, and two steals. Andrew Nembhard and Aaron Nesmith added 15 points apiece in the loss.
“The difference in the game was obviously the edge that they (Detroit) played with from start to finish, and we simply did not match it,” Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said.
PLAYOFF PICTURE: Track the Latest Standings, Remaining Schedules, and More >>
The first quarter was all Pistons on Monday night. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Eugene Omoruyi and Rodney McGruder propelled Detroit to a 17-8 lead six minutes into the opening frame.
The hosts doubled the margin by the end of the frame, extending the lead to 38-20. Detroit shot 15-for-24 (62.5 percent) over the first 12 minutes, while the Pacers went just 7-for-22 (31.8 percent). Omoruyi, who signed his second 10-day contract with the Pistons on Monday, tallied 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting in the first quarter and Killian Hayes added eight points and seven assists.
Things went from bad to worse as the Pistons continued to add to their lead at the start of the second quarter. Joseph scored eight points and hit two 3-pointers as Detroit opened the frame with a 17-4 run that pushed their lead to 31.
The Pacers eventually found some offense thanks to their young guards Nembhard and Chris Duarte. Nembhard scored nine points and second-year guard Duarte added two 3-pointers as Indiana outscored the Pistons 23-10 over the final 5:25 of the half.
Still, Indiana trailed 67-49 at the intermission.
The Pacers mounted a charge out of halftime, as the Blue & Gold outscored the Pistons 10-2 over the first two minutes of the third quarter to climb back within 12.
They looked to have secured a stop and a chance to climb within single digits less than a minute later when Joseph threw up a desperation three with the shot clock about to expire. It somehow swished through the net, however.
That was the start of another Detroit run. Joseph drilled another trey and McGruder added one of his own as the Pistons reeled off 13 unanswered points over a 3:25 span to push their lead back to 25.
Detroit took a 91-68 lead into the fourth quarter and extended the margin to 28 early in the frame. Nwora did his best to try to trigger a comeback, draining three 3-pointers and converting a layup in a 2:08 span, but the Pistons still held on for a comfortable victory.
Nembhard tallied 15 points (all in the first half), four boards, and seven assists in 36 minutes for Indiana. Nesmith added 15 points, six rebounds, and four assists and Detroit native Isaiah Jackson chipped in 11 points and six boards.
Duarte tallied 12 points in 24 minutes, but did not play in the fourth quarter due to a sore left ankle.
James Wiseman (18 points and 14 rebounds), Jalen Duren (12 points and 11 rebounds), and Hayes (10 points and 11 assists) all recorded double-doubles for Detroit. McGruder added 18 points on 4-of-5 3-point shooting, Omoruyi tallied 17 points, six rebounds, and three steals in his first start as a Piston, and R.J. Hampton scored 15 and went 3-for-3 from beyond the arc.
The Pacers will have another road divisional game on Thursday night in Milwaukee before returning to Indiana to face Philadelphia on Saturday.
Inside the Numbers
Nwora had his highest-scoring game as a Pacer on Monday. The third-year forward out of Louisville who was acquired from Milwaukee on Feb. 7 has now reached double figures in eight straight games.
With Haliburton and McConnell sidelined, Nembhard had a solid series as the starting point guard, averaging 17 points and 7.5 assists over the two games in Detroit.
Jackson reached double figures for the 16th time this season.
Detroit went 14-for-36 (38.9 percent) from 3-point range, while the Pacers went just 10-for-34 (29.4 percent).
The Pistons outscored Indiana 62-44 in the paint.
You Can Quote Me On That
“There were a lot of easy shots early last game. Detroit struggled defensively to start the game last game and things came easy for us. They flipped the script on that. They were physical and had a lot of presence. Omoruyi starting gave them more quickness and toughness in the lineup and their guards were very present on the ball. We had some shots, but most of them weren’t great shots and so we struggled to make them.” -Carlisle on Indiana’s offensive struggles in the first half on Monday
“Defense, defense, defense. We gave up 91 points in three quarters to them. We just can’t let that happen. We’ve got talented teams coming in like the Bucks on Thursday and if we play defense like we did today, it’s going to be a rough one.” -Nesmith on the biggest issues on Monday
“I think I’m somebody who can make a lot happen on the floor. Obviously I’m getting more opportunities here…This is an opportunity I wasn’t really getting (in Milwaukee). I’m getting a chance to learn and grow with these guys and I’m just really appreciative of it.” -Nwora on finding his role in Indiana
“Andrew Nembhard needs this kind of work at the point position. He needs to play 35 minutes per game for a few games. He did a lot of good things in both games. He’s out there calling the plays and running the team and its very valuable experience. I like his moxie and how hard he plays, as well as his toughness and physicality. He can run a team and still score when they give him the obvious shot, and I think that’s one of the difficult things to teach in this league.” -Carlisle on Nembhard’s opportunity with Haliburton and McConnell sidelined
“Just being vocal to them. Trying to help them as much as possible, trying to just be that vocal leader to (share) things that I can see that maybe they’re doing it wrong that can help them…Just being in their corner for them to ask questions.” -15-year veteran George Hill on he tries to mentor the young players on the Pacers’ roster
Stat of the Night
Over an 11-minute span ranging from the 6:35 mark in the first quarter to 7:21 remaining in the second quarter, the Pistons outscored the Pacers 44-15, turning what was an 11-8 game into a 31-point lead.
The Pacers lead the season series with Detroit 2-1 with the two teams set to meet once more on April 7 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
Pacers wing Buddy Hield was listed as questionable on Monday with a sore left foot, but started and remains the only Pacer to play in all 69 games this season. Hield went 3-for-12 from the field and 1-for-7 from 3-point range, finishing with seven points, eight rebounds, and four assists in 22 minutes.
Former Pacer and Detroit native Jalen Rose was in attendance, as was Hall of Fame basketball coach Jim Boeheim, who coached Pacers forward Oshae Brissett at Syracuse and was on hand to watch his son, Buddy Boeheim, play in his third career NBA game. The younger Boeheim scored three points in 23 minutes off the bench for the Pistons, going 1-for-7 from 3-point range.
The Pacers will head to Milwaukee to take on Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks on Thursday, March 16 at 8:00 PM ET.
The Pacers return to Gainbridge Fieldhouse to host Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday, March 18 at 7:00 PM ET.
INDY FUEL PIT STOP: WEEK 21
INDY FUEL WEEK 21 RESULTS: 1-2-0-0
INDY FUEL OVERALL RECORD: 36-21-2-0 Overall (3rd Central)
GAME 57 – FRIDAY, MARCH 10 AT IOWA – 5-2 L
The Fuel headed to Iowa for the final time this season to take on the last place Heartlanders as they hosted their Marvel night. Ultimately, it was Iowa who had the superpowers and took the win 5-2 over Indy.
GAME 58 – SATURDAY, MARCH 11 VS TOLEDO – 2-1 L
The Fuel hosted the Walleye on Saturday for Wizard Night at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. In a close battle that remained tied for most of the game, the Walleye ultimately came away with the 2-1 win.
GAME 59 – SUNDAY, MARCH 12 AT FORT WAYNE – 6-2 W
Coming off of two tough losses, the Indy Fuel made the journey to Fort Wayne for their eighth of 11 matchups against the division rival during the 2022-23 season. The Fuel kept their cool and kept control to come away with the 6-2 win.
Defenseman Zach Vinnell signed on 3/7
Defenseman Trevor Zins signed ATO on 3/8
Defenseman Bryan Etter was released by Indy on 3/9
Goaltender Jeremie Forget was signed on 3/10
Defenseman Koletrane Wilson was assigned to Indy on 3/12
Defenseman Sam Sterne was released on 3/12
Sunday’s matchup with Fort Wayne was forward Alex Wideman’s 300th ECHL game.
In that same game, Fuel captain Keoni Texeira tallied his 100th point as a member of the Fuel.
Wideman tallied three assists that game, bringing his point total for the season to 58, just four shy of his single season best.
Colin Bilek had two goals in the 6-2 win over Fort Wayne this weekend, marking his first multi-goal game with the Fuel and third of the season.
With one of his goals coming on the power play, Bilek also now leads the Fuel in power play goals this season with eight.
Goaltender Cam Gray earned his fourth win in his seventh game this season on Sunday over Fort Wayne.
The Fuel currently rank ninth in the league on the power play with 52 power play goals for.
Indy still leads the league in shorthanded goals with 13 however Cincinnati has caught up to them with 12 of their own.
The Fuel still shoot and score the most in the second period with 643 shots and 73 goals in the second period alone this season.
In fact, the Fuel are 27-3-0 this season when they are ahead after the second period.
The Fuel play their next six games at home. Their home record so far this season is 15-10-1-0.
Indy remains in third place in the Central division with 74 points and a record of 36-21-2-0 and 13 games remaining in the regular season.
INDY FUEL WEEK 21 SCHEDULE
GAME 60 – FRIDAY, MARCH 17 VS TOLEDO
GAME 61 – SATURDAY, MARCH 18 VS FORT WAYNE
FOUR HOOSIERS TO COMPETE AT NCAA WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIPS
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. –––– At last, the NCAA Wrestling Championships are here. The six-session postseason and culmination of the sport takes place from March 16-18 at the BOK Center.
-Indiana will have four wrestlers competing in the championships and potentially a fifth if a need for an alternate arises.
-Graham Rooks (149), Derek Gilcher (157), DJ Washington (174) and Jacob Bullock (285) will all represent the Hoosiers in Tulsa.
-Rooks is the No. 21 seed at 149 lbs., Gilcher is the No. 18 seed at 157 lbs., Washington is the No. 17 seed at 174 lbs. and Bullock is the No. 23 seed at heavyweight.
-Indiana’s Nick Willham (197) is the first alternate at 197 lbs. Should a competing wrestler at 197 lbs. withdraw due to injury or a missed weigh-in, Willham will take their place in the bracket.
-Rooks’ opening round matchup will be against No. 12 seed Doug Zapf from Penn who is 22-7 on the season. Zapf finished third at the EIWA Championships this year and is a two-time NCAA Qualifier.
-Rooks will either face No. 5 Paniro Johnson (Iowa State) or No. 28 Jarod Verkleeren in his next match.
-In Gilcher’s opener, he will face No. 15 Jacob Wright of Wyoming. This is a rematch of earlier this season when Wright defeated Gilcher in a 2-1 decision at the Tournament of Champions in Reno, Nev.
-Wright is a four-time NCAA Qualifier and owns an 18-5 record this year.
-In Gilcher’s second match, he will either face No. 2 Levi Haines (Penn State) or No. 31 Ashton Eyler from Lock Haven.
-In Washington’s first round bout, he will face No. 16 Sam Wolf of Air Force.
-Wolf carries a 13-3 record into the tournament and finished in sixth place at the Big 12 Championships. This is his first NCAAs appearance after being an alternate last year.
-Washington’s second bout of the tournament will be against either No. 1 Carter Starocci (Penn State) or the winner of 174’s Pigtail bout of No. 32 John Worthing (Clarion)/No. 33 Will Miller (App State).
-For Bullock, he opens the championships facing No. 10 Zach Elam (Missouri) who has an 18-3 record.
-Elam is making his second career NCAAs appearance and finished third at 285 lbs. in the Big 12 Championships.
-Bullock’s second match will be against No. 7 Owen Trephan (NC State) or No. 26 Cory Day (Binghamton).
-Just as it showed in the regular season, Indiana continues to raise the bar for the program in the postseason.
-Indiana’s four national qualifiers are its most since 2018, when it also had four.
-If Willham gets to participate, that would be the program’s most wrestlers competing since 2013.
-The four qualifiers are the most in a season in the Angel Escobedo coaching era at Indiana.
-Indiana’s three podium-finishers at the Big Ten Championships this year were its most since 2019, as well, when it also had three.
-Rooks and Washington are making their third career NCAA appearances.
-Gilcher and Bullock are making their first career NCAA appearances.
-Indiana is seeking its first All-American since 2017 when Nate Jackson took 8th place at 184 lbs.
-Indiana is seeking its 12th national champion and first since Indiana coach Angel Escobedo won it all at 125 lbs. in 2008.
KERN EARNS BIG TEN PLAYER, CO-FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK AWARDS
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Indiana freshman Taryn Kern earns Big Ten Player and Co-Freshman of the Week awards after her performance at the Lady Bison Classic last weekend.
Indiana went 5-0 on the weekend with Kern leading the offense. The San Jose, Calif., native totaled eight hits with a .571 batting average.
Kern scored eight runs on two doubles, three walks, three home runs and 12 RBI posting a 1.357 slugging percentage.
The freshman leads the team with five home runs and 21 RBI on the season, earning 23 starts at second base this season. She also ranks second on the team for most hits (21) and runs scored (20).
The Hoosiers will face Belmont tomorrow at 4:30 p.m. ET in Nashville, Tenn. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN+.
BASEBALL GAMEDAY: AT KENTUCKY
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Its lone road game over a 14-game stretch will come in the form of a trip to Kentucky Proud Park to face off with the University of Kentucky for the Indiana baseball program on Tuesday (March 14) for a 4 p.m. first pitch. The Hoosiers enter on a five-game winning streak, while the Wildcats are riding a 10-game winning spurt entering the 45th meeting in series history.
Indiana (10-6) and Kentucky (14-2) will meet in Lexington for the first time since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and the Big Ten conference-only schedule in 2021. The Wildcats have won four of the last five meetings in the Blue Grass State, with IU’s lone win an 11-7 victory in 2015.
Tuesday, March 14, 2023
Live Video: es.pn/3LqGxqN
Live Audio: bit.ly/IUAudio
Live Stats: bit.ly/IUStatbroadcast
Indiana and Kentucky will meet for the 45th time in program history on Tuesday. The Hoosiers won 20-7 last season and look to close the gap in the all-time series that sits at 24-20 in favor of the Wildcats. MORE ON PAGE 3
The Hoosiers current five game winning streak is its longest in the non-conference slate since winning six straight during the 2020 campaign.
Indiana placed four student-athletes on the All-Big Ten Freshman Team in 2022 and redshirt-junior Matthew Ellis was named third-team All-B1G by the conference coaches.
Freshman Carter Mathison and redshirt-senior Matthew Ellis each hit home runs on opening weekend to bring their career totals to 20 and 19, respectively, for the Cream and Crimson.
Mathison has played in 75 career games and has 69 career RBIs over that span to go along with 20 home runs. MORE ON PAGE 7
Senior Hunter Jessee carries a 35-game reached base streak into the week, which dates back to the 2022 season, and marks a career long for the left-handed hitter. MORE ON PAGE 7
Jessee posted his second career multi home run game versus Miami (Ohio) with a first inning home run to right field and a seventh inning shot to the opposite field. His first came against Kentucky in 2022.
Indiana’s pitching staff posted a program record 600 strikeouts in 2022. That mark ranks No. 2 in Big Ten history, behind Iowa’s 602 punchouts in 2022, as well. MORE ON PAGE 8
Head coach Jeff Mercer became the eighth IU skipper to reach 100 victories in the cream and crimson with a series finale win at Auburn on February 19, 2023. FULL BIO ON PAGE 18
Scouting the Opponent
Kentucky enters on a 10-game winning streak and sits at 14-2 overall on the season. The Wildcats are 9-1 at home with the lone loss to Wright State.
Since a 2-0 loss at Elon in the season opener, Kentucky has reached five runs in 13 of its next 15 games.
Jase Felker leads six everyday starters that are hitting over .300 on the season with a .500 average in nine starts. He is also one of five Wildcats that have at least 10 runs scored and 10 RBIs on the season.
Devin Burkes and Hunter Gilliam pace the team with 22 RBIs each, and Emilien Pitre has a team-best 26 hits and 18 runs scored.
Kentucky is No. 14 nationally in doubles (39), No. 4 in sacrifice bunts (18) and No. 10 in hit-by-pitch (38) at the plate.
On the mound, the pitching staff is ranked No. 14 nationally in ERA (2.44) and No, 9 in strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.65).
The midweek contest with the Wildcats will mark the 45th all-time meeting between Indiana and Kentucky. UK holds a 24-20 edge on the all-time ledger.
Last season, Indiana took a 20-7 decision in Bloomington on March 15. Kentucky led 4-0, but IU surged with six home runs, including two each from Matthew Ellis and Hunter Jessee.
The 20 runs in the 2022 meeting for Indiana are the most scored by a team in the series and the 13-run differential was also the largest margin of victory.
The two teams are 4-4 in the last eight meetings, with IU’s win in 2022 snapping a four-game winning streak by Kentucky.
It’s a series that dates back to the 1903 season, when the two programs split a pair of games. They met seven times between 1903 and 1920 and didn’t play again until 1974.
The longest winning streak in the series belongs to Kentucky at six games from April 19, 1977-April 22, 1981. Indiana preceded those six wins with five straight victories in the series from May 11, 1920-April 1, 1975.
BUTLER MEN’S BASKETBALL
JAYDEN TAYLOR, PIERCE THOMAS AND MYLES TATE ARE IN TRANSFER PORTAL
In what many consider a very surprising move Butler sophomore guard Jayden Taylor has entered the transfer portal. Taylor now joins Myles Tate, Myles Wilmoth and Pierce Thomas as Bulldogs to enter the transfer portal.
The Perry Meridian grad and Indianapolis native started 44 of 65 games during his Butler career. The 6-4 guard led Butler in points per game averaging 12.9 and led the Bulldogs in made free throws (97) and finished second on the team with 45 3-pointers.
Thomas played at Brownsburg and averaged 13.6 minutes per game off the bench. He played in 23 of 32 games, missing time to due to injury.
Tate started 18 games as a freshman, but a knee injury suffered during his final game of the season cost him most of his sophomore season.
He averaged 2.5 points per game in 7.7 minutes per game.
RUBINO NAMED BIG EAST MIDFIELDER OF THE WEEK
Following her performance in the Bulldogs’ road win over the weekend, Butler junior Leah Rubino has been named BIG EAST Midfielder of the Week. The conference office made the announcement Monday, March 13.
Rubino had a strong impact on both the offensive and defensive side for Butler as the Bulldogs had a 1-0 week. Rubino had five draw controls, three ground balls and totaled three points off two goals and one assist in the Bulldogs’ 13-8 win over Lindenwood.
Butler is now 2-2 on the season. The Bulldogs return to action Sunday, matching up with Winthop in a neutral site contest that will be played in Harrogate, Tenn.
BUTLER SOFTBALL’S DORSETT AND RYAN EARN BIG EAST PLAYER AND FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK HONORS
Butler first baseman Paige Dorsett has been selected as the BIG EAST Softball Player of the Week, and catcher Kieli Ryan was chosen as the BIG EAST Freshman of the Week as announced on Monday by the conference. Each was chosen for their respective performances in last weekend’s series sweep of DePaul.
Dorset led the Bulldogs to a three-game series sweep of BIG EAST preseason favorite DePaul, batting .500 with four RBI and a pair of runs scored. In Saturday’s series-opener, the sophomore slammed the game-winning come-from-behind two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth to put Butler ahead 2-1. She went on to score the tying run in the sixth inning of Saturday’s doubleheader, allowing the Bulldogs to, once again, take the victory by a single run (4-3). Dorset went 3-for-4 with two RBI in Sunday’s run-rule victory (13-5, 6 inn.). Her two-run single in the second pushed Butler ahead, 5-3.
Ryan excelled in the first BIG EAST series of her career, hitting .400 with four RBI and three doubles in Butler’s three-game sweep of DePaul. In second matchup of the series, the freshman went 2-for-3 with an RBI and run scored, sending home the tying run before scoring the game-winner herself in the sixth inning. On Sunday, Ryan went 2-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored in a 13-5, six-inning, victory.
These honors represent the first such recognition in the careers of both Dorsett and Ryan.
The Bulldogs return to action this week, traveling to Fort Wayne on Wednesday for a game with Purdue Fort Wayne, and then hosting St. John’s this coming weekend for their second BIG EAST series of the season.
BUTLER WOMEN’S GOLF
SCHECK MATCHES BUTLER SINGLE-ROUND RECORD, CARDS 67 AT FGCU INVITATIONAL
Butler’s Kelli Scheck matched both a program record and the lowest round of the day Monday at the Florida Gulf Coast Spring Break Shootout hosted in Dade City, Fla.
The freshman carded a second-round 67 on the 6,050-yard Lake Jovita course. Scheck’s four-under round was one of three on the day – all of which came in the afternoon. Scheck had five birdies against only one bogey.
Scheck’s four-under performance matched the single-round record relative to par set by Claire Edwards at the 2021 Colonel Classic, when she shot 68 on a par-72 course.
Scheck shot a 77 in morning play to finish the day and the second round at two-over 144. She is among a group that is tied for eighth, six shots off the individual lead.
Morehead State’s Ruth Toennessen holds the 36-hole lead at 138 (-4) after rounds of 71 and 67. She is four shots clear of three players heading into the final round of play.
Alaina Bowie had a consistent Monday with rounds of 72 and 73; her total of 145 (+3) is tied for tenth. Bowie shot three-under on the front nine in the second round.
Scheck and Bowie have led the Butler charge that has the Bulldogs in seventh in the team standings. The Bulldogs shot 292 (+8) in the afternoon round after a morning 305. The Bulldogs are at 597 (+29). Morehead State, behind Toennessen’s play Monday, has the team lead at 572 (+4). MSU is eight shots ahead of both Florida Gulf Coast and Western Kentucky, which are tied for second. There are 16 teams in the field.
Katie Steinman is tied for 33rd at 151 (+9) after rounds of 74 and 77. Freshman Cybil Stillson is tied for 62nd at 157 (+15). Madalin Small (167) is in 86th. Gianna Medica, playing as an individual, is 90th at 177.
Tuesday’s final round will feature a shotgun start at 8:45 a.m. Live scoring is available via GolfStat.
PERRY TO STEP DOWN AS IUPUI’S DIRECTOR OF ATHLETICS
INDIANAPOLIS – IUPUI’s Director of Athletics Dr. Roderick Perry has announced his intent to resign as AD at the end of the 2022-23 academic year or until a successor is named. Perry took over the IUPUI program in October 2015 and officially began duties in January 2016.
He was named 2021-2022 Cushman & Wakefield AD of the Year by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and later honored in Las Vegas last June.
“I am proud of what we have accomplished together. We have had some amazing accomplishments. It has been a privilege to serve, and I look forward to seeing the continued success of our student-athletes, coaches, and staff,” Perry said. “With Vision 2024 and IU 2030, I feel now is the time for new leadership. I am confident the foundation has been laid for future success.
“I will leave with wonderful memories.”
Perry helped guide IUPUI’s transition from The Summit League to the Horizon League prior to the 2017-18 academic year, placing the program within a better geographical fit to maximize resources. Departmentally, IUPUI has recorded its highest finishes in both The Summit League and Horizon League’s all-sports standings during Perry’s tenure as the Jaguars finished fourth in The Summit League in 2017 and third in the Horizon League’s James J. McCafferty Trophy standings in 2018. Four different IUPUI programs have earned Horizon League titles during Perry’s tenure, including the first-ever women’s basketball NCAA Tournament berth in the department’s Division I history.
The women’s soccer team earned an NCAA berth in the department’s first year in the Horizon League and the women’s golf team captured back-to-back titles in 2018 and 2019. The men’s cross country program collected three consecutive league titles from 2019-2021.
Academically, IUPUI was ranked among the 98th percentile in all of Division I programs in grade point average last year and has continued a streak of 28 consecutive semesters with a departmental GPA of 3.0 or greater. IUPUI has also fared incredibly well in the NCAA metrics, performing well in both the Academic Progress Rate (APR) and Graduation Success Rate (GSR). The Jaguars have also been increasingly active in the community as student-athletes and staffers have annually averaged more than 3,000 hours of community service initiatives.
The department has realized increased external support during Perry’s tenure, including the three largest sponsorship agreements in program history. Continued financial support has also grown among former student-athletes in unrestricted dollars, leading to an elevated student-athlete experience since his arrival. Included in the elevated experience have been facility enhancements in the Jungle, Athletic Training Room, IUPUI Softball Complex, West Indy Racquet Club and Carroll Stadium. Additionally, the IUPUI home offices were moved back to the center of campus at NIFS.
One of Perry’s first initiatives upon taking over the department was a branding initiative which coincided with a transition to adidas as the program’s footwear, apparel, and accessory provider in July 2018. The combined initiatives included a variety of large-scale print, radio and television advertisements in Central Indiana, celebrating the IUPUI brand.
Perry will continue to spearhead several projects through the duration of the academic year, including the creation and construction of a men’s basketball team room on campus and the continued revamping of the department’s external team.
A national search for Perry’s replacement will begin immediately.
BALL STATE WOMEN’S BASKETBALL
WBB HOSTS BELMONT IN FIRST ROUND WNIT GAME THURSDAY
MUNCIE, Ind. – The Ball State women’s basketball team has been chosen as a host for the first round game of the postseason Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT) Thursday at 6:30 pm ET against Belmont.
All WNIT first round tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for youth 18-and-under, and are available by calling 765.285.1474 or 888.BSU.TICKET, or by visiting the Ball State Athletics ticket office inside Worthen Arena.
Fans who are a faculty or staff member of Ball State University or Muncie Community Schools can purchase tickets at a discounted price of $6.
Season ticket holders may secure their usual seat locations by calling or visiting the ticket office before 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 16, at which point all reserved seat locations will be released for sale to the general public.
Ball State students may gain entry by showing their Ball State Student ID. Please note that because this is a postseason event, Emeritus/Honoratus status will not apply to ticket prices; all guests (except Ball State students) must purchase a ticket for admission.
Ball State will be making its eighth WNIT appearance under Ball State 11th-year head coach Brady Sallee and 11th overall (all since 2002). The Cardinals are 6-10 all-time in WNIT play winning a first round game in 2018 and then won two games to reach the final 16 of the 2013 event.
Ball State enters the WNIT with a 25-8 overall record. The Cardinals went 14-4 in Mid-American Conference play and made it to the semifinal game of the 2023 Mid-American Conference Tournament for the second-straight season which was also under Sallee. The 20-win season marks the sixth time within the last eight campaigns he has reach the 20-win plateau.
Sallee, is the only head coach in program history to take the Cardinals to eight WNITs. He is also he program’s winningest coach with 208 victories.
Belmont comes to Ball State with a 23-11 season ledger. The Bruins went 17-3 in the Missouri Valley Conference and made it to the Hoops in the Heartland conference tournaments championship game losing to Drake, 89-71. Prior to that loss, the Bruins’ were on a 16-game win streak.
The 2023 WNIT field features 64 NCAA Division I women’s basketball teams. The field includes 30 teams that receive automatic berths – one berth from each of the nation’s established conferences – and 33 at-large selections. All teams at the NCAA Division I level are considered for at-large berths, including those who are independent and/or are in the process of reaching full NCAA Division I status.
BALL STATE WGOLF
BOYD PACES CARDINALS ON DAY ONE OF SPRING BREAK SHOOTOUT
DADE CITY, Fla. – The Ball State women’s golf team returned to the course for the first time after spring break for the Spring Break Shootout on Monday. Madelin Boyd led the Cardinals on day one and is tied for 28th.
Boyd started the day with a 78 (+7) and was tied for 50th. She recorded three birdies in round two on her way to a 72 (+1). Her two-round score of 150 (+8) has her tied for 28th. She moved up 22 spots on the leaderboard.
Kiah Parrott, Sarah Gallagher, and Jasmine Driscoll are all tied for 39th with a two-round tally of 152 (+10). Parrott posted back-to-back rounds of 76 (+5) with one birdie on the day. Gallagher posted rounds of 74 (+3) and 78 (+7) with two birdies on the day. Driscoll notched rounds of 75 (+4) and 77 (+6) with a team-high four birdies for the day.
Payton Bennett opened the tournament with an 84 (+13) with one birdie. She added two birdies in round two and finished with a score of 78 (+7). Her two-round mark of 162 (+20) has her tied for 80th.
Ball State returns to the Lake Jovita Golf and Country Club – South Course for the final round on Tuesday. The final round is slated for an 8:45 shotgun start. Ball State will be joined by Seminole State and Loyola. BSU will begin on holes 10-12. Live stats can be found on golfstat.com or by clicking here.
1. Morehead State – 572 (+4)
T2. Florida Gulf Coast – 580 (+12)
T2. Western Kentucky – 580 (+12)
4. Troy – 585 (+17)
5. Arkansas State – 591 (+23)
6. Jacksonville State – 596 (+28)
7. Butler – 597 (+29)
8. Toledo – 604 (+36)
T9. Stetson – 606 (+38)
T9. Ball State – 606 (+38)
11. Seminole State – 608 (+40)
12. Loyola – 612 (+44)
13. Akron – 617 (+49)
14. St. John’s – 618 (+50)
15. Oakland – 627 (+59)
16. Ohio – 628 (+60)
BALL STATE BASEBALL
BALL STATE HOSTS PURDUE FORT WAYNE ON TUESDAY
MUNCIE, Ind. – The Ball State baseball team returns to the diamond for a non-conference matchup with Purdue Fort Wayne on Tuesday. First pitch between the Cardinals and Mastodons is scheduled for 3 p.m.
The Cardinals are coming off a 2-1 series victory over the Western Michigan Broncos in the Mid-American Conference opener. Ball State enters Tuesday with a 10-6 over record and a 2-1 record in MAC play. Purdue Fort Wayne comes into the contest with a 3-14 mark.
Gold Glove Peltier
At the conclusion of last season, Ryan Peltier was honored as the best defensive third baseman in the NCAA and received an ABCA/Rawlings Gold Glove. After being named the MAC Defensive Player of the Year and earning a spot on the All-MAC Second Team for back-to-back seasons, Peltier was awarded the first Gold Glove in BSU history. He was a 2023 Preseason All-American honoree from Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.
Peltier leads the Cardinals with a .419 batting average. He has pelted a team-best six homers and has a team-high 18 RBIs. His six home runs are tied for 48th in the NCAA and tied for fourth in the conference. He has a slugging percentage of .823. Peltier has scored 21 runs, which is tied for 52nd in the NCAA and second the MAC.
What Can Brown Do for You?
Ryan Brown was named the No. 49 prospect in college baseball by D1 Baseball. Brown was the only Mid-American Conference player selected to the top-100 list. He was also tabbed as one of the top mid-major prospects for the 2023 season. Brown also landed on the 2023 MLB Draft: Rising Righthanded Pitchers watch list. Last season, Brown earned recognition as a Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Freshman All-American along with the MAC Freshman Pitcher of the Year. He also earned a spot on the All-MAC Second Team.
Brown is currently fifth in the NCAA with 17.83 strikeouts per nine innings and tied for 11th in the NCAA with 35 strikeouts. He his 3-1 on the year and has thrown 17 2/3 innings. Opponents are hitting just .150 against him for the season.
Scouting the Cardinals
Matthew Rivera is second on the team with a .343 batting average. He has 11 RBIs, seven runs scored, five doubles, and two home runs. He has a slugging percentage of .657. Adam Tellier is third on the squad with a .322 average. He has 13 runs scored, nine RBIs, eight walks, five doubles, one triple, and one home run. Blake Bevis is hit just above .300 at .302. He is second on the team with 12 RBIs and second in home runs with three. He has scored 10 runs and has three doubles. Nick Gregory might only be hitting .202, but he leads the team with 17 walks. He has scored 15 runs and driven in three runs.
The Cardinal pitching staff is led by Trennor O’Donnell with a 1.77 ERA. He has 19 strikeouts in 20 1/3 innings of work. Tanner Knapp as added 16 innings in five relief appearances for the Cardinals. Knapp has 19 strikeouts on the year. Ty Johnson and Jacob Hartlaub are tied for second on the staff with 21 strikeouts. Casey Bargo is expected to get the start for the Cardinals. He has an 11.25 ERA with three strikeouts in four innings of work.
Ball State vs. Purdue Fort Wayne: The Series
The Cardinals hold a 24-2 record against the Mastodons and have won the last 11 contests. Ball State won both meetings so far this season, with the last being a 13-9 win in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Scouting the Mastodons
The Mastodons are led by Jacob Walker and his .318 batting average. He has eight walks, scored seven runs, four RBIs, and one double. Braedon Blackford is batting .313 on the season. He is tied for the team lead with five doubles. He leads the squad with 16 RBIs and six home runs. He has scored 11 run and has one triple. Enas Hayden is expected to get the start on the mound for Purdue Fort Wayne. He as a 14.40 ERA in five innings pitched. He has given up 10 runs, eight earned, and has four strikeouts.
NOTRE DAME BASEBALL
PREVIEW: SAINT JOSEPH’S
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The Fighting Irish (6-6) are coming off of their first ACC series of the season as they get ready to take on non-conference opponent Saint Joseph’s (4-6) before resuming ACC play at Wake Forest this weekend. This midweek neutral site matchup will take place at Ting Stadium in Holly Springs, NC.
Tuesday, March 14 vs. Saint Joseph’s – 3:00 PM | Live Stats
Probable Starters: RHP Matt Bedford (1-1 5.62 ERA) vs. LHP Luke Zimmerman (0-0, 13.50 ERA)
Wednesday, March 15 vs. Saint Joseph’s – 1:00 PM | Live Stats
Probable Starters: TBA vs. TBA
Midweek matchup in Holly Springs
The Irish and the Hawks will matchup on Tuesday and Wednesday for the third and fourth time in program history.
Notre Dame trails 0-2 in the overall series, with their two losses coming almost exactly five years ago on March 13, 2018 and March 14, 2018.
The Hawks took game one 10-8 and game two 6-4 at in another neutral site matchup in Port Charlotte, FL.
Saint Joseph enters the week 4-6 on the season as they are coming off of a three game sweep over UMass Lowell at home.
Conference Play Opens Up at Georgia Tech
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish start the 2023 conference season 1-2 in the ACC after falling in games one and two, but taking home game three against the Yellow Jackets on the road.
The Irish fell in a close one on Friday night (March 10) at Russ Chandler Stadium. While the Irish trailed 2-0 early, a strong fifth inning that included five singles allowed Notre Dame to put four runs on the board to take the lead 4-3. However, the bottom of the seventh inning would lift the Yellow Jackets to the 7-4 victory in game one.
Due to Sunday’s weather, a double header was played on Saturday where the Yellow Jackets took the first game of the day 15-2.
While the Irish struggled to find the strike zone, the Yellow Jackets were hot from the plate, bringing in nine runs in the first three innings.
The Fighting Irish scored their first run of the day in the top of the third after Estevan Moreno singled up the middle and was sent home from an RBI double down the right field line from Jack Penney.
The Yellow Jackets would tack on another two runs in the bottom of the fourth to extend the lead 11-1 and wouldn’t score again until the bottom of the seventh.
Freshman Caden Spivey made his debut on the mound in the bottom of the fourth, striking out his very first batter faced. Spivey allowed only one hit and gave up no runs in his two innings pitched.
Norte Dame wasn’t going anywhere though, as they came out strong to start the second game of the day and went on to take the final game 17-4. The Irish finished with 16 hits, their best offensive outing of the season.
Zack Prajzner started the Irish offense with a double to left field, followed by a base hit from Brooks Coetzee. Nick Juaire reached first after being hit by a pitch and it was bases loaded for the Irish. Jack Zyska was walked in his first at bat of the game, which scored Prajzner and put Notre Dame on the board 1-0.
Jack Penney stepped up to the plate with bases loaded and two outs and crushed a ball down the right field line for a grand slam. Penney’s second home run of the season scored Coetzee, Juaire, and Zyska to give the Irish the 5-0 advantage after one.
Leading 5-2 heading into the third, Carter Putz led off and started the inning with his first home run of the season with a 418’ homer to deep center field. Juaire followed with a base hit to left field and scored on an RBI double from Penny, his fifth RBI of the game.
Jackson Dennies started on the mound for the Irish, pitching 2.2 innings, throwing three strikeouts, and giving up three runs.
Dennies would give up one run in the bottom of the third before he was relieved by Aidan Tyrell, who finished with a game-high five strikeouts. Tyrell allowed no runs and only gave two hits across four innings pitched.
Vinny Martinez kept the offense going with a 434’ rocket out to left field, his first home run of the season with the Irish in the top of the seventh. Notre Dame tacked on another five runs in the seventh to take home the 17-4 victory.
Irish Travel to UAB
The Irish took home their second series win of the season after taking down the Blazers 2-1 last weekend in Birmingham, AL.
Danny Neri led the Irish against UAB, batting .500 (4-8 at the plate) and scoring three runs. Neri finished with a triple, a home run, and three RBI.
Zack Prajzner batted .333 on the weekend recorded three hits and two runs. Pinch hitter Nick Juaire came in and went 2-2 at the plate and scored one run while also recording two RBI.
The Irish took home game one of the series 7-2 on Friday, March 3 at Young Memorial Field after tallying runs in each of the first three innings and out-hitting the Blazers 10-5 on Friday. Jack Findlay (2-0) took home his second win of the season, finishing with six strikeouts on the day.
Game two went to the Irish 7-3 after trailing 3-0 to start the top of the sixth. Notre Dame scored six runs in the top of the sixth, including a first career home run from Estevan Moreno. Will Mercer took home his first win of the season in game two.
The Irish fell 5-2 in game three, falling to 5-4 on the season.
Notre Dame Wins First Series of the Year at UNCG
The Notre Dame baseball team won their first series of the 2023 season after taking down UNCG on the road.
Carter Putz led the way for the Irish, batting .400 on the weekend, finishing with four hits and three runs.
The Irish took home game one on Friday, Feb. 17 in a 6-5 win after Danny Neri stepped up to the plate and homered to right field. After an even ballgame at 4-4 heading into the top of the ninth, Neri’s home run scored Putz and added two more runs to the board.
Jack Findlay’s three strikeouts in the bottom of the ninth closed out Notre Dame’s game one win.
Despite falling 12-0 to UNCG on Saturday, the Irish responded with a game three win 7-4 over Sunday to take the series.
The Irish struck first as grad students Zack Prajzner and Brooks Coetzee got the Notre Dame offense rolling. Coetzee recorded an RBI single to send Prajzner home and put the Irish on the board. Notre Dame held the Spartans scoreless the first three innings and led 1-0 to start the fourth.
Notre Dame scored another four runs in the top of the fourth with runs from Prajzner, Putz, Penney, and Martinez.
Bedford, who got the win for Notre Dame on Sunday, dominated at the hill for the Irish. He threw four strikeouts over three innings and allowed no runs and only one hit.
Irish Open Campaign at Lipscomb
The Notre Dame baseball team took on the Lipscomb Bisons for just the second time in program history Feb. 17-19 in Nashville, Tennessee.
The Irish fell 5-4 in game one despite scoring two runs in the top of the ninth to close the gap within one.
Norte Dame bounced back in game two, defeating the Bison 8-4 after a big seven-run inning in the top of the seventh.
Despite taking home game two, the Irish struggled to connect at the plate and fell in game three 4-2, falling to 1-2 to start the 2023 season.
With only 10 hits as a team on the weekend, TJ Williams and Jack Penney both hit their first home runs of the 2023 season.
Freshmen Rory Fox and David Lally Jr. made their debuts on the mound on Sunday, as well as graduate transfers Carter Bosch and Blake Hely who pitched in an Irish uniform for the first time.
Lethal Lineup is Back for 2022
Coming off the most successful season in almost 20 years, a strong portion of the 2022 leadership returns as seven graduate students are back for another year with the Irish, four of which were every day starters.
Graduate students Carter Putz, Zack Prajzner, Jack Zyska, and Brooks Coetzee all return to the field for the Irish.
Putz started all 58 games and was a big piece of Notre Dame’s success last season. He also led the team in hits (81) and runs (55) and was second on the squad in doubles (13) and batting average (.339).
Putz’s 81 hits were the most hits in a single season since 2013 when World Series Champion Trey Mancini had 89 hits on the year.
Prajzner returns to the Irish after starting all 58 games and setting career highs in runs, hits, doubles, home runs and RBIs last season. He was also fourth on the team in hits and runs as he finished with 44 runs and 58 hits.
Prajzner was named to the 2022 Statesboro Regional All-Tournament Team after hitting the game-tying home run in the 6-4 win over No. 22 Georgia Southern to advance to the Statesboro Regional Championship.
Both Putz and Prajzner were also recognized by Perfect Game as two of the top 50 seniors in the country heading into the 2023 season.
Zyska made 38 starts on the season and was a big piece of the Super Regional win over No. 1 Tennessee as he hit one of four home runs in the 8-6 win over the Volunteers in game one and set a career-high four hits against Tennessee in game two.
He finished with 34 runs, 45 hits, 12 doubles, 13 home runs, and seven stolen bases.
Coetzee started all 58 games and had a big year with the Irish as he set career highs in runs (42), hits (59), home runs (12), and RBI (43).
He finished second on the team in home runs and was one of three Irish players to hit double-digit home runs last season as the Irish set the program record for home runs in a single season with 79 homers.
Findlay, Tyrell, and Mercer Return
While the Irish lost main starters John Bertrand and Austin Temple, the Irish return Freshman All-American LHP Jack Findlay.
Findlay capped off his freshman season as a pivotal piece of Notre Dame’s postseason success. He made 20 appearances, including eight starts, but was recognized as a big-time closer for the Irish.
Findlay led the Irish in ERA and saves, was second in wins and third on the team in innings pitched after finishing the 2022 season with a 2.17 ERA, 54 strikeouts, and 6-2 record with four saves through 49.2 innings.
Findlay was named a 2022 Perfect Game Second Team Freshman All-American and a 2022 Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.
At the beginning of this year, Findlay was also recognized by Perfect Game as one of the top 50 sophomores in the country.
Graduate student Aidan Tyrell also returns to the mound for Notre Dame.
Tyrell made 26 appearances and had five starts for the Irish as he finished the year with a 3.75 ERA, 37 strikeouts, and a 5-2 record with two saves through 48.0 innings pitched.
Tyrell won his first three starts of the season after allowing just one run in 16.0 innings pitched and had a string of four and five-straight appearances out of the bullpen without allowing a run.
Graduate student Will Mercer returns for his fifth season after making 13 appearances and 3 starts in 2022.
Mercer finished his senior year with a 4.18 ERA and a 2-1 record with one save through 23.2 innings pitched along with 24 strikeouts. He tossed a season-best 3.2 innings pitched and did not allow a run against #5 Texas A&M at the College World Series.
The Irish also have 14 newcomers, featuring 10 freshmen and four grad transfers.
Blake Hely is a graduate transfer that joined the Irish this fall after spending four years at Davidson.
He was another Notre Dame player recognized by Perfect Game this year as one of the top 50 impact transfers in the nation. Hely was a weekend starter for the Wildcats, appearing in and starting 15 games with a 3.80 ERA and a 9-2 record after leading Davidson in 2022 with 85.1 innings pitched.
Hely was also named Atlantic 10 Pitcher of the Year, Atlantic 10 First Team, and ABCA All-Atlantic Region Team this past season.
Hely held opponents to a .207 batting average, led the A-10 with 6.86 hits allowed per nine innings and was second in the league with 97 strikeouts.
Graduate transfers Vincent Martinez (C) and Justin Moore (RHP) joined the Irish this fall after each of them spent four years at Stanford.
RHP Carter Bosch is another graduate transfer who joins the Irish from Georgetown.
David Lally Jr., of Grand Blanc, Michigan, is predicted to be a force on the mound as he helped guide his high school to a 2021 State Championship, is a two-time Collegiate Baseball First Team All-American and was recognized this year as one of the top 100 freshmen in the country by Perfect Game.
NOTRE DAME SOFTBALL
IRISH TAKE ON ELON, UNCG AND EAST CAROLINA DURING SPRING BREAK
SOUTH BEND, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame softball team stays in North Carolina for three midweek games this week. The Fighting Irish will take on the Elon Phoenix, UNCG Spartans and East Carolina Pirates in three-consecutive days beginning Tuesday afternoon. The Irish are 13-7 on the season, fresh off a doubleheader sweep at NC State Saturday. Live stats will be available for all three games, as well as video streams. Tuesday’s matchup will air on FloSoftball at 4 p.m. with Wednesday and Thursday being streamed on ESPN+ at 5 p.m.
The Irish offense found its power Saturday afternoon, hitting seven home runs in the twinbill. That brings the team’s total to 23 long balls on the season, led by Karina Gaskins’ six. The Irish are hitting for a .297 average, led by freshman Mickey Winchell’s .349 average. Carlli Kloss adds a .328 average with eight extra-base hits and 10 RBI. Lexi Orozco leads the team with 16 RBI as five different players have driven in 10 or more runs.
In the circle, the Irish use three pitchers. Payton Tidd has been the team’s ace, logging a team-best 62.1 innings, striking out 59 hitters. Micaela Kastor has started four games, throwing her first complete game in her last outing. She’s earned a 3-0 mark with a 1.22 ERA in 28.2 innings of work. Shannon Becker has picked up three wins in 42.0 innings, striking out 34 hitters.
Elon enters Tuesday’s matchup on a four-game winning streak, defeating Detroit Mercy in a midweek game and sweeping Stony Brook to open play in the Colonial Athletic Association.
The Phoenix offense hits for a .240 team average, led by Claudia Penny’s .364 mark. She leads the team with eight doubles and 16 RBI while also going deep three times. Chloe Hatzopoulos leads the team with four home runs, recording five RBI and hitting at a .273 average.
Six players have logged time in the circle, led by Meredith Wells’s 53.1 innings of work. She’s thrown in 16 games, starting six and earning a pair of complete games. McKenna McCard has started eight games, logging 28.0 innings and earning a 2.75 ERA. As a team, the Phoenix have earned a 4.46 ERA and opponents are hitting .277 against.
The Spartans are 14-11 on the season, having lost three-straight at the Clemson Classic. The perennial Southern Conference contender haven’t lost four-consecutive games since the beginning of the 2021 season.
UNCG is led offensively by Jorde Chartrand. The sophomore is hitting .345 with three home runs and driven in 12. Senior Maycin Brown leads the team with eight home runs and 24 RBI. As a team, the Spartans have hit 26 home runs and scored 115 runs this season.
In the circle, the Spartans utilize four pitchers consistently. Rhyann Jones leads the team with eight starts, earning a 5-1 record and a 3.31 ERA. Chartrand adds a team-best 46.1 innings of work to go with 14 appearances, starting seven and earning three complete games. Maddie Spell owns the top ERA on the team, earning a 2.32 mark in 45.1 innings.
ECU is 18-6 entering the matchup on Thursday before hosting the Jolly Roger Invite. The Pirates won two of their last three games at home.
As a team, the Pirates hit for a .265 average led by Taylor Edwards’s .397 clip. Edwards also adds a team-best four triples and 15 RBI. Jocelyn Alonso adds a .333 average in 19 games with four extra base hits. Logan Sutton leads the Pirates with two home runs, driving in 10. Taudrea Sinnie is a terror on the bases, going a perfect 11-for-11 on stole base attempts this season, scoring a team-best 23 runs and adds a .282 average.
NOTRE DAME HOCKEY
ROLSTON INKS PROFESSIONAL CONTRACT
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Junior forward Ryder Rolston of the Irish hockey program has signed an entry level contract with the Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League. The Traverse City, Michigan native will report to the Blackhawks’ American Hockey League Affiliate, the Rockford Ice Hogs, this week.
“To Notre Dame, dating back to the first time that I stepped on campus, I knew that this was a unique and special place that didn’t compare to anywhere else,” Rolston said, reflecting back on his time with the Irish. “As a person, I have grown, developed, and matured both on and off the ice. Nothing will compare to the relationships that I have made here and that will last a lifetime.”
Rolston finished with 20 points in his final season with the Irish, scoring seven goals and 13 assists before being sidelined with injury for the last month of the season. In 93 games played in his career at ND, the forward registered 53 points off 18 goals and 35 assists. He picked up two conference weekly awards in his tenure with the Irish while also being named Academic All-Big Ten at the conclusion of the 2021-22 season.
“I want to thank Ricksy [Kevin Ricks], Ron [Grove], Coach Rolinski, Coach Oglevie, Coach Pooley, and Coach Slaggert for everything they have done for me and I want to thank Coach Jackson for giving me the opportunity to represent this prestigious University for the past three years,” Rolston added. “But most of all, to my teammates – I have made friendships that will last a lifetime. Nothing will compare to the relationships that we have created that will last forever”
A 2020 fifth round draft pick by the Colorado Avalanche, Rolston’s rights were later traded to Chicago at the 2021 trade deadline.
“It is a dream come true getting the opportunity to sign my first NHL contract with the Chicago Blackhawks,” Rolston concluded. “I am excited to take this next step and continue the path forward.”
INDIANA STATE WOMEN’S GOLF
FOUR SYCAMORES IMPROVE SCORES, INDIANA STATE JUMPS TWO SPOTS AT BOBBY NICHOLS INTERCOLLEGIATE
SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. – Four different Sycamores improved their scores from round one to round two as Indiana State jumped up two spots after day two of the Bobby Nichols Intercollegiate Monday at Sevierville Golf Club.
The Sycamores shot a 305 in the second round to move up to 10th place with a two-round score of 627.
Freshman Briana LeMaire continues to lead the Sycamores as she improved by three strokes in the second round for a two-round total of 155 which places her tied for 30th place. She birdied two more holes today for a total of four so far across the two days.
Behind LeMaire is Chelsea Morrow who is tied for 33rd, a jump of 22 places, with ISU’s largest improvement from day one to day two. She shaved off six strokes from her first-round score for a 75 in the second round. Morrow leads the Sycamores with five birdies and holds a two-round score of 156.
Iyoun Chew moved up 16 spots to be tied for 39th with a 77 in the second round for a two-round total of 158, and Kristen Hobbs is right behind her with a five-stroke improvement for a second-round score of 77 which places her tied for 42nd with a two-round total of 159.
Rounding out the Sycamore lineup on day two is Molly Lee who shot a second-round 84 for a two-round total of 165.
Eliza Baker moved up two spots as an individual with another 83 for a two-round score of 166.
Play resumes with the final round Tuesday with a 9 a.m. ET shotgun start.
INDIANA STATE BASEBALL
GERGELY NAMED MVC BASEBALL PLAYER OF THE WEEK
ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Indiana State’s Seth Gergely was named the Missouri Valley Baseball Player of the Week as announced by the conference office on Monday afternoon.
Gergely earns the honors for the first time in the 2023 season as the Tallmadge, Ohio native hit .400 on his way to leading ISU to a 5-0 week. The Sycamores swept the midweek series against Southeast Missouri State and took all three games this past weekend in Memphis.
Gergely opened the week with a 3-for-3 performance at the plate with three RBI and two stolen bases in the Sycamores’ 8-3 win over SEMO and followed up with two more hits, a double, and two stolen bases in ISU’s 7-4 win over the Redhawks on Friday.
The redshirt senior reached base safely and scored in all three games in the weekend against Memphis as ISU posted their first road sweep of the year. Gergely highlighted his weekend with two RBI in Saturday’s 7-3 win, while his ninth-inning double and run scored in the series finale added insurance in the 5-2 win.
For the season, Gergely is hitting .283 from the plate with three doubles, a home. run, and eight RBI. He currently sits second in the MVC with six stolen bases on the year and is second with five HBPs.
SYCAMORES-ILLINOIS BASEBALL MOVED TO WEDNESDAY
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – Due to expected weather conditions in the Urbana-Champaign, Ill. area, the Indiana State – Illinois baseball game originally scheduled for Tuesday, March 14, has been postponed. The Sycamores and Fighting Illini will now play on Wednesday, March 15, with game time set for 4 p.m. ET/3 p.m. CT.
Season/Single Game Tickets On Sale Now
Single game tickets for the 2022 Indiana State baseball season are now on sale as the Sycamores sit one week out from the start of the regular season. Indiana State will play 23 games at Bob Warn Field at Sycamore Stadium starting with a two-game series against Southeast Missouri State on March 15-16.
Reserved chairback single game tickets can be purchased for $10. General admission single game tickets are also on sale with adult ($6), seniors ($4), and youth ($4) tickets also available for purchase.
Season tickets went on sale on January 10 and are also available for purchase. Reserved chairback season tickets can be purchased for $90. General admission season tickets will go on sale as well with adult ($65), seniors ($50), and youth ($40) tickets also being available for purchase.
INDIANA STATE MEN’S BASKETBALL
SYCAMORES ACCEPT INVITE TO COLLEGE BASKETBALL INVITATIONAL, WILL MAKE FIRST POSTSEASON APPEARANCE SINCE 2014
PRINCETON, N.J. – The Indiana State Sycamores have accepted an invitation to play in the Discount Tire College Basketball Invitational which takes place March 18-22, 2023 at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach, Florida. The Sycamores earned the top seed and will face No. 16 seed USC Upstate in the first round Saturday, March 18 at 11 a.m. ET.
The Sycamores will be making their first postseason appearance since 2014 and second all-time CBI appearance after falling to host St. Louis in the opening round of the tournament in 2010.
The Opening and Quarterfinal Rounds will be broadcast on FloHoops while the Semifinals and Championship game will be broadcast on ESPN2.
The 2023 CBI is a single-elimination, fully-bracketed men’s basketball postseason tournament featuring 16 teams from across the country competing for a championship in Florida. The field consists of teams not selected for the NCAA Tournament.
PURDUE FT. WAYNE BASEBALL
‘DONS AND CARDINALS SET FOR TUESDAY AFTERNOON SHOWDOWN
FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The Purdue Fort Wayne baseball team travels to Muncie on Tuesday to face in-state foe Ball State.
Game Day Information
Who: Purdue Fort Wayne (3-14) at Ball State (10-6)
When: Tuesday, March 14 | 3 p.m. ET | Single game
Where: Ball Diamond at First Merchants Ballpark Complex
Weather: High of 38, cloudy
Purdue Fort Wayne: RHP Enas Hayden (0-1)
Ball State: RHP Casey Bargo (0-0)
Scouting the Cardinals: Ball State opened league play this past weekend with a 2-1 series win over Western Michigan. Ryan Peltier leads the team with a .419 batting average. He has 26 hits this season. The Mastodons and Cardinals have played twice this season with the Cardinals winning both.
Hey Batter Batter (of the Week):Braedon Blackford batted .429 and slugged 1.357 with four home runs in 14 at bats over four games played in Winston-Salem, N.C. (March 3-5). He also recorded one double, seven RBIs, five runs scored, two walks and 19 total bases. The Peoria, Ill. native began a doubleheader on Saturday against Cornell going 3-for-4 with two home runs and a double to drive in two runs and score three times in a 6-3 victory. He ended the week driving in five more runs against Ball State on Sunday as he blasted two more long balls and finished the day going 3-for-4 with two runs scored and a walk. He now has three career multi-home run games for the ‘Dons. Last season he had two against Cal Baptist on Feb. 26, 2022.D1Baseball Top 30: Blackford was named a Top 30 Hitter of the day for his two-run home run game vs. Cornell. He was ranked No. 11. JD Deany was selected as a Top 30 pitcher for his five shutout innings vs. Cornell.
Home Run Time: Braedon Blackford owns a Horizon League-best six home runs and has a team-best 12 extra base hits.
Putting Up Ks: Jacob Myer has 19 strikeouts, fourth best in the Horizon League.
Walk This Way: Jacob Walker leads the team in hitting at .318. He has a hit in six straight games including two in game three vs. Austin Peay.
Turn It!: The Mastodons are sixth in the nation double in plays turned with 17 this season.
Small Ball ‘Dons:Dylan Stewart has five sacrifice bunts on the season, best in the league and tied for sixth in the nation.
Multi-verse: 12 different Mastodons have had a multi-hit game this season.
Perfect 10:Eli Tencza is on a 10-game on-base streak.
Up Next: The ‘Dons head to Wright State this weekend to open league play.
PURDUE FT. WAYNE SOFTBALL
MASTODON SOFTBALL HOSTS BUTLER FOR HOME OPENER ON WEDNESDAY
FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The Purdue Fort Wayne softball team will open its home 2023 campaign on Wednesday (March 15) at 4 p.m. against Butler. This game was originally scheduled for Tuesday, but has moved to Wednesday ahead of forecasted weather.
Game Day Information
Who: Butler Bulldogs
When: Wednesday, March 15 | 4 PM
Where: Fort Wayne, Ind. | Purdue Fort Wayne Softball Field
Live Stats: Link
Know Your Foe
Butler is 7-18 this season and is currently on a three-game winning streak. The Bulldogs took all three of their series against DePaul. Kaylee Gross is leading the team with a .300 batting average on 21 hits. Monique Hoosen is the team’s leading slugger with a .552 mark on three doubles, one triple and five home runs. Mackenzie Griman has a team-best 3.92 ERA and is 3-7.
Purdue Fort Wayne leads the all-time series against Butler 11-9, but Butler has won the last three meetings. The Mastodons are 5-3 in Fort Wayne, including a win the last time the two played in the Summit City in 2011.
Purdue Fort Wayne beat Green Bay 2-1 in a non-league game at the Hoosier Classic. The Phoenix were picked to finish fourth in the Horizon League.1-2-3, Eyes on Me
Grace Hollopeter, Alanah Jones and Taryn Jenkins have the most, second-most and third-most home runs in the Horizon League with four, three and two, respectively.
Alanah Jones is second in the Horizon League with 55 strikeouts this season. This mark is also top-100 nationally.
Graced By Her Presence
Grace Hollopeter was named Horizon League Player of the Week on February 21. The freshman finished the week with seven hits with a .368 batting average and a 1.053 slugging percentage. Hollopeter had nine RBI behind four home runs, three of which were 2-run shots. In the first game against Rhode Island, Hollopeter had two two-run home runs in her first two at bats, the second of which was on the first pitch she saw. Defensively, she was a perfect 1.000 in the field with eight putouts.
Last Time Out
The Mastodons went 1-3 at the Hoosier Classic, picking up a win over Green Bay.
Next Time Up
Horizon League play begins this weekend with the Mastodons making a trip to Youngstown State for three games on Friday and Saturday (March 17-18). The Penguins were picked fifth in the preseason poll.
EVANSVILLE MEN’S GOLF
ROMASHKIN SHOOTS EVEN PAR ON DAY TWO
SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. – Freshman Daniil Romashkin shot an even 72 to pace the University of Evansville men’s golf team in the second round of the Bobby Nichols Intercollegiate at Sevierville Golf Club.
Romashkin improved his opening round score by one stroke and sits in a tie for 15th entering Tuesday’s final round of 18. Michael Ikejiani was second on the squad in round two. He matched his effort on Sunday, carding a 2-over 74. His score of 148 is tied for 31st.
Next for the Purple Aces was Nicholas Gushrowski. He registered a 79 in round two and goes into the third round with a 151. Gushrowski is tied for 48th. One behind him is Henry Kiel. Following a round of 72 on Sunday, Kiel recorded an 80 and is tied for 56th with a 152. Luke Schneider rounded out the team with an 84. His 2-round tally stands at 160.
Leading the individuals for UE is Carson Parker. After firing off a 70 in round one, Parker carded a 76 on the second day. His 146 is tied for 23rd. Isaac Rohleder enters the final 18 one behind Parker. His 74 on Monday has him in a tie for 23rd with a 147. Masatoyo Kato had an identical round of 74 on Monday following his effort on Sunday. His 148 is tied with Ikejiani for 31st.
Carson-Newman continues to pace the team standings with a 566. They are 13 ahead of North Georgia. Evansville is in 8th place with a 596. Individual Will Chambless of North Georgia leads the player standings. His 7-under 65, coupled with his opening round score of 68, has him in front with a 133. He is four strokes ahead of a second-place tie.
SOUTHERN INDIANA WSOCCER
WOMEN’S SOCCER SIGNS TWO PLAYERS TO FINALIZE 2023 CLASS
EVANSVILLE, Ind. – University of Southern Indiana Women’s Soccer announced two additional signees for the 2023 class. The Screaming Eagles are welcoming 13 incoming freshmen to the program for the 2023 season.
Southern Indiana has signed midfielder Pilar Torres and defender Dylan Truscott for 2023.
“We’re excited to finalize our 2023 class with two exceptional players,” USI Head Coach Eric Schoenstein said. “Pilar is a crafty midfielder who can score and makes everyone around her better. Dylan is a quality center back, who has a great deal of speed and toughness.”
Pilar Torres (Chula Vista, California) is a 5’3″ midfielder from Otay Ranch High School in Chula Vista, California. In her prep career, Torres has scored over 30 goals and more than 50 points in over 40 games played. A two-time captain for Otay Ranch, Torres was named 2021 Metro League first team and 2021 CIF Championship Player of the Match. Her squad won the 2021 CIF Division 3 championship. Torres played her club soccer for Rebels Soccer Club ECNL.
Dylan Truscott (Waynesville, Ohio) is a 5’5 defender out of Springboro High School in Springboro, Ohio. In high school, Truscott played in over 40 games, leading Springboro’s defensive unit. She also over a handful of points on the offensive end. A three-year starter, Truscott was named All-Greater Western Ohio Conference first team, All-Dayton Area first team, and defensive player of the year as a junior. Additionally, Truscott was an academic all-conference in her three years starting. She played club soccer for FC Dayton G05 of the ECRL and National League, who will be competing at nationals this year.
USI Women’s Soccer heads into its second season as an NCAA Division I program in 2023, coming off a postseason berth in the Ohio Valley Conference Championship Tournament. The 2023 schedule will be released at a later date.
SOUTHERN INDIANA SOFTBALL
NEWMAN NAMED OVC CO-PITCHER OF THE WEEK
EVANSVILLE, Ind. – University of Southern Indiana Softball sophomore pitcher Josie Newman (Indianapolis, Indiana) has been named Ohio Valley Conference co-Pitcher of the Week. The OVC’s weekly accolades are voted upon by the league’s communications directors.
The pitcher of the week award is the first of the season for Newman and USI Softball. Newman also represented USI on the 2023 OVC Preseason Players to Watch List.
In earning the honor, Newman went 4-0 last week, picking up wins against Creighton University, Long Island University, and two wins against Morehead State University. All four victories and starts were complete games for the right-handed pitcher. Newman struck out 31 batters in 28 innings pitched, and she struck out nine in two of the four starts.
Newman began the week with a shutout win against Creighton, recording her second one-hitter of the season. USI went on to win against Creighton by a score of 4-0. The sophomore allowed just one earned run in a 5-3 win against Long Island to conclude a trip to The Spring Games in Madeira Beach, Florida for USI.
During the weekend, Newman helped USI to a 2-1 start in OVC play, as the Screaming Eagles’ won their first-ever OVC game and series in program history. On Saturday, Newman struck out nine and allowed only two earned runs in a 6-4 win against Morehead State. Newman capped off the week with another full seven innings in the circle, striking out seven in a 9-5 rubber match win against Morehead State.
On the season, Newman is 7-4 with a team-best 2.42 ERA and team-high 71 strikeouts. The Indianapolis, Indiana native has accumulated 60.2 innings pitched, making nine starts in 11 appearances. She has three shutouts in six complete games.
Newman and the Screaming Eagles (8-11) will host their home-opening series next weekend on Saturday and Sunday against Lindenwood University in an OVC series. Saturday’s doubleheader starts at 12 p.m., and Sunday’s first pitch is also scheduled for 12 p.m. from USI Softball Field. Admission to all 2023 USI Softball home spring games is free, courtesy of The Women’s Hospital Deaconess. All three games can be seen with a subscription to ESPN+ and heard on The Spin 95.7 FM. Additional coverage links can be found on the USI Softball schedule page on usiscreamingeagles.com.
SOUTHERN INDIANA MEN’S BASKETBALL
USI SET TO PLAY SAN JOSE STATE IN DISCOUNT TIRE CBI
EVANSVILLE, Ind. — University of Southern Indiana Men’s Basketball continues post season play in the Discount Tire College Basketball Invitational as the 15th seed and are slated to take on second-seeded San Jose State University in the opening round March 18 at 2:30 p.m. (CDT). The CBI, which runs March 18-22, is being played at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach, Florida.
Tickets are $8 and available through the Ocean Center Ticket Office and Ticket Master. The first two rounds of the CBI will be streamed on FloHoops, while the semifinals and the championship game will air live on ESPN2. Fans also can listen to the game on ESPN 97.7FM.
The Screaming Eagles enters the CBI with a 16-16 overall record and completed their 31st-straight regular season with a .500 or better regular season mark (16-15) that dates back to the 1992-93 season. USI was the seventh seed in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament after completing first league schedule with a 9-9 mark.
USI is led by sophomore guard Isaiah Swope (Newburgh, Indiana), an All-OVC first team selection, and senior guard Jelani Simmons (Columbus, Ohio) with 15.6 points and 13.7 points, respectively. Graduate forward Trevor Lakes (Lebanon, Indiana) follows with 12.9 points per contest, while senior forward Jacob Polakovich, an All-OVC first team performer, is averaging 12.4 points per outing along with grabbing a team-best and OVC-leading 13.0 rebounds per game.
San Jose State continues its posts-season play with a 20-13 mark. The Spartans, who were fifth in the Mountain West Conference regular season, also advanced to the semifinals of the Mountain West Tournament.
In addition to USI and San Jose State, the CBI lower bracket includes third-seeded University of North Carolina Charlotte (18-14); sixth-seeded Stetson University (17-13); seventh-seeded Tarleton State University (17-13); 10th-seeded Radford University (19-14); 11th-seeded University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (21-11); and 14th-seeded Western Carolina University (18-15). The winner of USI-San Jose plays the winner of the Tarleton/Radford game March 20 at 3:30 p.m. (CDT).
The upper bracket includes top-seeded Indiana State University (22-12); fourth-seeded Southern Utah University (22-12); fifth-seeded Duquesne University (20-12); eighth-seeded Eastern Kentucky University (20-13); ninth-seeded Cleveland State University (21-13); 12th-seeded Rice University (18-15); and 16th-seeded University of South Carolina Upstate (16-15).
Indiana State is the only team USI has faced this season with the Eagles coming away with an 88-85 win in overtime at Screaming Eagles Arena.
VALPO MEN’S GOLF
MEN’S GOLF TEES OFF GCU INVITATIONAL
The Valparaiso University men’s golf team returned to action on Monday as the Beacons golfed the first two rounds of the GCU Invitational, held at the par-71, 7124-yard GCU Golf Course in Phoenix. Valpo was led by Caleb VanArragon (Blaine, Minn. / Blaine) on the first day of action.
How It Happened
VanArragon stroked a 142 over the 36 holes to finish the day in the top 20 at t-19. He carded a 69 (-2) in Round 1 before following with a 73 (+2) in Round 2 to go even for the day.
Valpo’s next-best score came from Anthony Delisanti (Sanborn, N.Y. / Niagara Wheatfield) at 146 (71-75), tied for 45th.
Yianni Kostouros (Crown Point, Ind. / Crown Point [Ball State]) shared the team lead with a 69 in Round 1, but saw his score tick up to 78 in Round 2 to finish the day at 147 (t-48th).
A close pack of Beacons also featured Mason Bonn (Sherwood, Ore. / Sherwood) at 148 (71-77, t-53rd).
As a team, Valpo finished the day at 583, dropping five places in Round 2 after a solid showing with a 280 in Round 1. The Beacons posted a team score of 303 over the final 18 holes of the day. Valpo is six strokes behind Missouri Valley Conference foe Drake for ninth.
No. 29 TCU sits atop the team leaderboard at 550, while North Dakota State’s Nate Adams owns the individual lead at 132.
Inside the Round
By carding a 69 in the opening round, Kostouros achieved a season best.
The team’s Round-1 score of 280 was its second best of the season and cracked the program record book. That score tied for the fifth-best 18-hole round in program history. Five of the top six scores occurred either this season or last season.
In relation to par, the opening-round team score of minus-four is tied for 10th in program lore.
VanArragon achieved an eagle on the par-5 10th hole in Round 1.
The Beacons had 25 birdies on the day, led by Kostouros with six.
The Grand Canyon University Invitational will conclude on Tuesday with the final 18 holes at GCU Golf Course.
VALPO WOMEN’S GOLF
EICHENAUER LEADS BEACONS AT SHU SPRING INVITE
The Valparaiso University women’s golf team competed in the first 18 holes of the two-day Sacred Heart University Spring Invitational, which began on Monday at the par-72, 5955-yard LPGA International Hills Course in Daytona Beach, Fla. The Beacons were led by Kelsey Eichenauer (North Manchester, Ind. / Manchester) in the first round of action.
How It Happened
Eichenauer turned in an 83 to lead all Valpo golfers, tied for 43rd in a 76-player field.
The team’s next-best score came courtesy of Emily Krzyzanowski (Scottsbluff, Neb. / Gering), who shot an 85 out of the No. 4 spot in the lineup to check in at t-48.
The third Beacon in the top 50 was Taylor Skibinski (Michigan City, Ind. / Michigan City), who carded an 86 to finish Day 1 at t-50.
Valpo’s team score of 341 ranked 11th in the 11-team field, six strokes in back of 10th-place Hartford.
Host Sacred Heart leads with a 297, while five individuals are tied atop the player leaderboard after each of them posted a 73.
Valpo’s best showing has been on par-3 holes, where the squad ranks fourth in the field with a 3.30 average.
Four birdies have been drained by the Brown & Gold, led by Roslyn Leitner (Dundee, Ind. / Harry Jacobs) with two.
The event will continue on Tuesday, March 14.
ROSENKRANZ EARNS MVC PITCHER OF THE WEEK NOD
After leading the Valparaiso University baseball program to a top-25 win on Friday night, starting pitcher Jacob Rosenkranz (Lincolnshire, Ill. / Stevenson) was named the Missouri Valley Conference Pitcher of the Week on Monday.
Rosenkranz was the winning pitcher in the team’s 6-1 upset of No. 22 Southern Miss on Friday night in Hattiesburg, Miss. The right-handed hurler guided Valpo to its first win over a top-25 opponent in five years by allowing one run on just two hits and one walk while striking out three over six innings. He needed just 60 pitches to get through six frames.
Rosenkranz was making his second career start – and this was quite the improvement from his first start, when he did not record an out and was charged with three runs back in 2021. Rosenkranz’s gem helped the Beacons record of the three “Upsets of the Night” in the nation, according to D1Baseball. Rosenkranz outdueled Tanner Hall, a 2022 consensus First Team All-American, to earn the win.
Rosenkranz joins Connor Lockwood as Valpo’s two players who have been recognized as MVC Pitcher of the Week this season. They join Jake Miller, Colin Fields (twice) and Easton Rhodehouse as the only Valpo players to earn MVC Pitcher of the Week honors since the program joined the Missouri Valley Conference.
U OF I MEN’S LAX
HOUNDS SIT EIGHTH, FACE SECOND-RANKED MERCYHURST ON SATURDAY
BALTIMORE, Md. – The UIndy men’s lacrosse team inched up the latest USILA national poll on Monday, moving one spot to No. 8 in the coaches top 20.
The Greyhounds also remained at No. 6 in the USA Lacrosse Magazine poll, also announced this afternoon.
UIndy got back in the win column last week with a dominating 20-4 victory at Walsh. The Hounds are now 5-1 this season and face No. 2 Mercyhurst this Saturday in Erie, Pa. The Lakers lead the all-time series, 4-2, however, the Hounds have claimed two of the past three meetings.
The top-8 bout on Saturday will mark the third ranked matchup for the Greyhounds this spring. UIndy earned a 17-16 win at No. 11 Seton Hill on Feb. 18, while dropping a 15-13 nailbiter to now-No. 1 Le Moyne on Mar. 5.
U OF I WOMEN’S LAX
MORAN EARNS GLVC DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK HONOR
INDIANAPOLIS – UIndy women’s lacrosse goalkeeper Audrey Moran has been named the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) Defensive Player of the Week, announced by the league office Monday.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Audrey Moran, #1 UIndy
R-Jr. | GK | Naperville, Ill.
Team Result: 13-12 W at #11 Grand Valley State (3/12)
Made 10 saves for a .455 save percentage, facing 31 shots in win over 11th-ranked GVSU
Scooped up one ground ball
Earns second career Defensive Player of the Week Award (3/13/23, 2/27/23)
Last Greyhounds’ Defensive Player of the Week: Audrey Moran (2/27/23)
WOMEN’S LAX HOLDS STEADY AT #1 IN LATEST ILWOMEN/IWLCA RANKINGS
NORTHBOROUGH, Ma. – The UIndy women’s lacrosse team has grabbed the top spot in the recent ILWomen/IWLCA top-25 rankings for the second week in a row, officials announced on Monday.
The Greyhounds (7-0) earned 561 points in the poll and corralled 16 of the 23 first-place votes. The rest of the top five remains the same as last week, with Florida Southern, West Chester, Tampa, and Le Moyne going second through fifth, respectively.
In the USA Lacrosse Magazine Poll for this week, the Hounds were put at No. 2 behind West Chester.
UIndy is set to return to action on Friday with a game on the road at Davenport. The contest is slated to begin at 5 p.m. ET.
MARIAN WOMEN’S BASKETBALL
MARIAN SURVIVES AND ADVANCES TO NAIA QUARTERFINALS WITH 68-57 WIN OVER WESTMONT
SIOUX CITY, Iowa – No. 3 seeded Marian showed what March basketball is all about as they survive and advance after defeating No. 2 seeded Westmont 68-57 on Monday afternoon in the NAIA Round of 16. Marian’s win advances them to the NAIA Quarterfinals with a 29-5 record, sending the Knights to the final eight teams for the second straight season.
Kinnidy Garrard gave the Knights some instant offense to start the first quarter by scoring less than 15 seconds into the game. The post duo of Garrard and Abbey McNally got the offense cooking for Marian as the two helped their team to a 10-1 lead five minutes into the game. Westmont responded with back-to-back buckets, but once again it was Garrard and McNally answering to put their team back on top by seven before Ella Collier finished in the paint with 17 seconds left. A three-pointer by the Warriors put a cap on the first quarter with the Knights holding the 16-10 lead after one.
Marian continued their offensive efficiency to start the second quarter with Garrard and McNally grabbing the first four points. Collier would hit the triple at the 7:02 mark before a slight scoring drought hit for both teams over the next several minutes. A pair of free throws from Tamia Perryman got the offense going again to help outscore the Warriors 8-7 to close out the quarter. Going into the break the Knights held the 31-24 lead.
After halftime, Marian picked back up where they left off with Collier hitting the jumper in the lane to spark the 6-2 run and grabbing an 11-point lead. Westmont managed to cut the deficit to eight at the 4:21 mark behind a small run, but the Knights didn’t falter as they stayed executing their game plan. A three-pointer by Collier and a last second shot by Allison Bosse put Marian up 53-40 to end the third quarter, sending the Knights to the final quarter of play with all the momentum.
Marian was functioning on cylinders all game and nothing changed in the fourth quarter as the Knights grew their lead to 19 after Bosse canned the three-pointer from the corner with 6:09 to play. Westmont scored the next four points until Marian got scores from Garrard, Bosse, and Collier to extend their lead to yet again. The Warriors never stopped fighting, but the Marian offense was too hot and the defense proved to be a problem, allowing the Knights to pick up the 68-57 victory.
Marian’s defense played a vital role in their win as they held Westmont nearly 15 points below their season average. Offensively, the Knights were led by Garrard who scored a career-high 20 points while pulling down 10 rebounds for the double double. Collier and McNally each added 16 points, while McNally corralled seven rebounds. Bosse was the fourth double digit scorer for Marain with 12 points, going 5-9 from the floor.
Marian will take on No. 1 seed Central Methodist in a rematch from last season on Wednesday at 12 p.m. ET. This is the Knights’ fourth appearance in the NAIA Quarterfinals.
MARIAN WOMEN’S GOLF
ELIZABETH HEDRICK TABBED AS CROSSROADS LEAGUE GOLFER OF THE WEEK
Jackson, Mich. – After helping Marian win at the Saddlebrook Spring Kickoff in Tampa Bay, Florida, Marian women’s golfer Elizabeth Hedrick has been named the Crossroads League Golfer of the Week.
Hedrick led Marian with a first-place finish at the Saddlebrook Spring Kickoff. Hedrick carded successive rounds of 80, 78, 84 on the 5,823-yard course. Hedrick finished the tournament four strokes over on par-three holes, and one over par on par-five scoring holes. The Marian golfer made par on 29 holes, which ranked second in the field.
Marian will next compete on March 27 and 28 at the Music City Invite, hosted by Cumberland University.
MARIAN MEN’S GOLF
PATRICK GUYMON EARNS CROSSROADS LEAGUE GOLFER OF THE WEEK
Jackson, Mich. – On Monday March 13, the Crossroads League announced the Player of the Week for men’s golf, with Marian’s Patrick Guymon taking home the honor for the first time in his career.
Guymon was on fire in the final round of the Keiser Kup, carding a 66 to improve to a top-15 finish in the 54-hole tournament. Guymon shot a 220 over three rounds, tying for 14th. Guymon was one of the top golfers in the tournament in scoring on par-four holes, and made 10 birdies in 54 holes, tying for the third best rate in the field.
The Knights are currently competing in the William Carey tournament, playing 36 holes on March 13 and 18 on March 14.
DAMIEN WALLACE NAMED CROSSROADS LEAGUE PITCHER OF THE WEEK
Jackson, Mich. – After a dominant pitching performance on Saturday afternoon, Marian baseball’s Damien Wallace has been named the Crossroads League Pitcher of the Week, as voted on by the league’s Sports Information Directors. Wallace is the first Knight to earn the pitcher of the week honor since Craig Nixon claimed their honor during the week of April 18-24 last season.
Wallace was spectacular on Saturday, shutting out Indiana Wesleyan with a complete game effort in the nine-inning contest. Wallace played a large role in Marian’s 5-0 win over the Wildcats, striking out 14 batters and recording 17 of the game’s 27 outs by recording assists from the mound. The Marian ace threw just one walk, and fired 123 pitches in his first complete game win since April of last season.
Wallace moved to 4-1 on the year with the win, while he lowered his season ERA to a 1.42, which ranks 16th among all NAIA pitchers. Wallace leads the Crossroads League this season in ERA and strikeouts.
Marian has changed their upcoming series against Spring Arbor, and will play the Cougars at a neutral field on Thursday, March 16, while the series finale has shifted to Monday, March 20, on Spring Arbor’s campus.
CHROME AND MCNAMAR SWEEP CROSSROADS LEAGUE TENNIS PLAYER OF THE WEEK HONORS
JACKSON, Mich. – The Crossroads League Athletes of the Week were announced on Monday afternoon, with Marian’s Emma Chrome and Jones McNamar sweeping this week’s CL Tennis players of the Week.
Emma Chrome went unbeaten for Marian at No. 3 singles and No. 3 doles in four total matches. The Marian freshman went 2-0 in a sweep of Missouri Valley and added two more win in a 5-2 victory over Milligan.
Jones McNamar led Marian to a 2-1 team record by going 3-0 at No. 5 and 6 singles and 3-0 at No. 2 doubles. The sophomore’s victories were pivitol in each of the Knights’ wins, helping Marian to a 4-3 win over Missouri Valley and a 5-2 win over Miligan.
Marian will be back in action on Wednesday when they travel to Greencastle, Ind. for matches against DePauw.
SMALL COLLEGE ATHLETIC SITES:
INDIANA WESLEYAN ATHLETICS: https://iwuwildcats.com/
EARLHAM ATHLETICS: https://goearlham.com/
WABASH ATHLETICS: https://sports.wabash.edu/
FRANKLIN ATHLETICS: https://franklingrizzlies.com/
ROSE-HULMAN ATHLETICS: https://athletics.rose-hulman.edu/
ANDERSON ATHLETICS: https://athletics.anderson.edu/landing/index
TRINE ATHLETICS: https://trinethunder.com/landing/index
BETHEL ATHLETICS: https://bupilots.com/
DEPAUW ATHLETICS: https://depauwtigers.com/
HANOVER ATHLETICS: https://athletics.hanover.edu/
MANCHESTER ATHLETICS: https://muspartans.com/
HUNTINGTON ATHLETICS: https://www.huathletics.com/
OAKLAND CITY ATHLETICS: https://gomightyoaks.com/index.aspx
ST. FRANCIS ATHLETICS: https://www.saintfranciscougars.com/landing/index
IU KOKOMO ATHLETICS: https://iukcougars.com/
IU EAST ATHLETICS: https://www.iueredwolves.com/
IU SOUTH BEND ATHLETICS: https://iusbtitans.com/
PURDUE NORTHWEST ATHLETICS: https://pnwathletics.com/
INDIANA TECH ATHLETICS: https://indianatechwarriors.com/index.aspx
GRACE COLLEGE ATHLETICS: https://gclancers.com/
ST. MARY OF THE WOODS ATHLETICS: https://smwcathletics.com/
GOSHEN COLLEGE ATHLETICS: https://goleafs.net/
HOLY CROSS ATHLETICS: https://www.hcsaints.com/index.php
TAYLOR ATHLETICS: https://www.taylortrojans.com/
VINCENNES ATHLETICS: https://govutrailblazers.com/landing/index
|W||L||Pct||Conf GB||Home||Road||Div||Conf||Last 10||Streak|
|1 Milwaukee||49||19||.721||—||28-6||21-13||8-4||29-14||8-2||1 W|
|2 Boston||47||22||.681||2.5||26-9||21-13||9-4||29-16||5-5||1 L|
|3 Philadelphia||45||22||.672||3.5||26-10||19-12||7-6||26-15||7-3||5 W|
|4 Cleveland||43||27||.614||7.0||28-7||15-20||12-3||27-14||5-5||1 W|
|5 Brooklyn||39||29||.574||10.0||19-12||20-17||7-8||26-18||5-5||2 W|
|6 New York||40||30||.571||10.0||19-16||21-14||8-8||28-17||7-3||1 W|
|7 Miami||37||33||.529||13.0||23-13||14-20||9-5||19-23||5-5||1 W|
|8 Atlanta||34||35||.493||15.5||18-15||16-20||7-8||21-23||5-5||2 L|
|9 Toronto||32||36||.471||17.0||20-13||12-23||4-9||20-21||5-5||3 L|
|10 Chicago||31||36||.463||17.5||18-15||13-21||6-8||23-22||5-5||2 W|
|11 Washington||31||37||.456||18.0||15-17||16-20||7-5||18-24||3-7||3 L|
|12 Indiana||31||38||.449||18.5||19-16||12-22||6-6||21-20||6-4||1 L|
|13 Orlando||28||40||.412||21.0||16-19||12-21||5-8||15-28||4-6||1 W|
|14 Charlotte||22||48||.314||28.0||11-22||11-26||7-9||13-32||5-5||2 L|
|15 Detroit||16||53||.232||33.5||9-27||7-26||1-12||7-35||1-9||1 W|
|W||L||Pct||Conf GB||Home||Road||Div||Conf||Last 10||Streak|
|1 Denver||46||22||.676||—||30-6||16-16||10-5||32-13||6-4||3 L|
|2 Memphis||41||26||.612||4.5||28-5||13-21||9-2||23-19||6-4||3 W|
|3 Sacramento||40||27||.597||5.5||21-14||19-13||8-6||27-14||8-2||1 L|
|4 Phoenix||37||31||.544||9.0||22-11||15-20||9-3||24-17||6-4||2 L|
|5 Golden State||36||33||.522||10.5||29-7||7-26||6-8||23-18||7-3||2 W|
|6 LA Clippers||36||33||.522||10.5||18-15||18-18||6-7||20-21||5-5||3 W|
|7 Minnesota||35||34||.507||11.5||20-16||15-18||8-7||25-20||5-5||1 W|
|8 Dallas||34||35||.493||12.5||22-14||12-21||8-5||25-21||3-7||3 L|
|9 LA Lakers||33||35||.485||13.0||18-16||15-19||4-9||19-22||7-3||1 L|
|10 New Orleans||33||35||.485||13.0||22-12||11-23||8-4||22-18||3-7||1 W|
|11 Oklahoma City||33||35||.485||13.0||20-15||13-20||7-7||20-23||5-5||2 W|
|12 Utah||33||36||.478||13.5||20-13||13-23||5-8||21-22||4-6||1 L|
|13 Portland||31||37||.456||15.0||17-15||14-22||5-8||21-20||3-7||3 L|
|14 San Antonio||17||50||.254||28.5||11-23||6-27||2-10||7-35||3-7||1 L|
|15 Houston||16||52||.235||30.0||10-24||6-28||3-9||9-35||3-7||1 W|
|1 x-Boston Bruins||65||50||10||5||105||48||245||142||27-3-3||23-7-2||8-2-0|
|2 Carolina Hurricanes||65||43||14||8||94||39||217||165||23-8-2||20-6-6||6-4-0|
|3 New Jersey Devils||66||44||16||6||94||42||235||177||19-12-2||25-4-4||7-2-1|
|4 Toronto Maple Leafs||66||40||18||8||88||40||226||179||24-7-4||16-11-4||6-4-0|
|5 New York Rangers||66||37||19||10||84||33||217||186||17-11-4||20-8-6||4-5-1|
|6 Tampa Bay Lightning||67||39||22||6||84||37||233||206||24-6-5||15-16-1||3-5-2|
|7 Pittsburgh Penguins||66||34||22||10||78||33||217||210||19-9-5||15-13-5||7-2-1|
|8 New York Islanders||68||34||26||8||76||34||196||187||20-12-3||14-14-5||6-3-1|
|9 Florida Panthers||67||33||27||7||73||31||229||226||19-10-4||14-17-3||6-3-1|
|10 Buffalo Sabres||66||33||28||5||71||32||242||239||13-18-3||20-10-2||4-5-1|
|11 Washington Capitals||67||32||28||7||71||31||208||200||15-13-4||17-15-3||4-5-1|
|12 Ottawa Senators||66||33||29||4||70||31||207||212||19-12-2||14-17-2||6-4-0|
|13 Detroit Red Wings||66||30||27||9||69||28||199||217||17-12-4||13-15-5||3-6-1|
|14 Philadelphia Flyers||66||24||31||11||59||23||169||217||12-15-4||12-16-7||2-7-1|
|15 Montreal Canadiens||67||26||35||6||58||22||184||244||14-17-3||12-18-3||2-6-2|
|16 Columbus Blue Jackets||65||20||38||7||47||19||169||244||13-20-2||7-18-5||3-4-3|
|1 Vegas Golden Knights||67||41||20||6||88||37||217||185||21-13-1||20-7-5||7-2-1|
|2 Dallas Stars||67||37||17||13||87||34||234||180||17-9-8||20-8-5||7-2-1|
|3 Los Angeles Kings||67||38||20||9||85||32||228||221||20-9-3||18-11-6||6-2-2|
|4 Minnesota Wild||67||38||21||8||84||31||195||178||21-10-3||17-11-5||7-0-3|
|5 Seattle Kraken||67||37||23||7||81||37||234||216||16-14-4||21-9-3||5-4-1|
|6 Colorado Avalanche||65||37||22||6||80||33||214||185||18-11-5||19-11-1||6-3-1|
|7 Edmonton Oilers||67||36||23||8||80||36||258||227||16-12-5||20-11-3||6-4-0|
|8 Winnipeg Jets||67||38||26||3||79||37||209||189||21-11-2||17-15-1||3-5-2|
|9 Nashville Predators||64||33||24||7||73||29||186||189||16-11-3||17-13-4||7-2-1|
|10 Calgary Flames||67||30||24||13||73||28||206||204||16-14-3||14-10-10||4-4-2|
|11 St. Louis Blues||66||29||32||5||63||26||205||242||14-15-4||15-17-1||3-5-2|
|12 Vancouver Canucks||65||28||32||5||61||24||221||250||15-17-1||13-15-4||7-2-1|
|13 Arizona Coyotes||67||24||32||11||59||21||188||237||17-11-3||7-21-8||4-4-2|
|14 Anaheim Ducks||67||22||35||10||54||19||172||271||11-16-3||11-19-7||5-2-3|
|15 Chicago Blackhawks||66||22||38||6||50||20||165||236||13-18-3||9-20-3||3-6-1|
|16 San Jose Sharks||67||19||36||12||50||18||193||257||6-19-8||13-17-4||2-7-1|
TODAY IN BASEBALL HISTORY
1954 Hank Aaron, filling in for Bobby Thomson, who broke his ankle yesterday, starts his first game wearing a Braves uniform. The 20-year-old from Mobile (AL) makes such an impression the club offers him a major league contract after he collects three hits, including a home run, in the spring training game against the Red Sox.
1961 The Mets lure former Yankee general manager George Weiss out of retirement to become the club’s first president, reportedly offering the four-time The Sporting News Executive of the Year a five-year deal at $100,000 annually. During the 67-year-old New Haven native’s five years in the post, the expansion team will compile a record of 260–547 (.322), finishing last four times.
1993 The Reds announce the Reds president Marge Schott’s Saint Bernard is being prohibited access to the Riverfront Stadium field for the season. The mandate to ban Schottzie 02 comes from the MLB’s Executive Council, which has received numerous complaints from the players about dogs running on the field.
1995 The players’ union makes it clear if the owners use replacement players during regular-season games and the results count, the strike will continue. The NLRB also announces it will be charging MLB owners with two counts of unfair labor practices.
2003 Cablevision, maintaining its “long-standing philosophy,” of allowing customers to choose to receive paid programming, agrees to a one-year interim deal to offer YES Network to New York Yankees fans for a fee, ending a bitter and costly yearlong feud. The arrangement makes YES a premium channel instead of a basic cable channel, dropping the new network’s previous mandate to make every subscriber pay for it regardless of the viewer’s choice.
2003 Baseball suspends Montreal outfielder Vladimir Guerrero for three regular-season games and Marlin starter Brad Penny for five after igniting an exhibition game bench-clearing brawl earlier in the week. After being hit in the chest, the Expo All-Star, with a bat in his left hand, swings his right fist around Florida catcher Matt Treanor, trying to restrain him, missing the starting pitcher, who retaliated with a punch which also missed its mark.
2003 “Must be in the front row!”- BOB UECKER, a quip from beer commercials that have become a famous cry in ballparks around the country. Bob Uecker, the Brewers’ TV/radio play-by-play announcer, is chosen for induction into the broadcasters’ wing of the Hall of Fame as the recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award. The 68-year-old former backup catcher, a member of Milwaukee’s broadcast crew since 1971, is best known for the humor he has brought to the game through his starring role in the cult movie Major League and the Miller Lite beer commercials.
2003 Dependent on passing a physical, free agent Kenny Lofton agrees to a one-year pact to play with the Pirates this season. The 35-year-old leadoff man would most likely start in center, moving Brian Giles to left with left fielder Reggie Sanders going to right field.
2006 Avoiding a trial scheduled to begin on Opening Day, Major League Baseball settles a lawsuit with an Atlanta-based company that claimed it owned the trademark rights to the name Washington Nationals. MLB sued Bygone Sports LLC, asking the court to declare that the trademark for the name Nationals does not belong to the company because its sole purpose in filing the September 2002 trademark application was to capitalize on the renaming of the team that recently shifted from Montreal to Washington.
2006 Terry Francona agrees to a two-year contract extension keeping the skipper at the helm through 2008. The Red Sox manager replaced Grady Little in December 2003 and promptly brought Boston to its first World Championship in 86 years.
2006 Washington, D.C. officials unveil the design for the Nationals’ new home, scheduled to be opened in 2008. The glass-and-steel 41,000-seat ballpark will feature pale stone chosen to complement the nation’s capital’s familiar skyline.
2008 The Padres’ new left-hander starter, Randy Wolf, struggles in a 6-2 spring training exhibition loss to the Brewers in Peoria, Arizona. The pitcher’s brother, Jim, isn’t much help as the home plate umpire, an occurrence not allowed during a regular-season game and marking the only time it has ever happened, when the San Diego hurler gives up three runs in four innings.
His big league playing career consisted of exactly one at-bat – one that ended in a strikeout.
But a little more than 46 years after his Sept. 27, 1936 debut for the St. Louis Cardinals, Walter Alston was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
In between, Alston established himself as one of the best managers in major league history.
“He might be taken for a farmer who came to manage the town team on a Saturday,” wrote Furman Bisher of the Atlanta Journal.
But beneath Alston’s quiet exterior was the heart of a champion.
In 1954, Alston took over a Dodgers team coming off two straight National League pennants – and two straight World Series losses to the Yankees. Brooklyn finished second in the National League that year, but in 1955 Alston guided the Bums to their only World Series championship in Brooklyn.
After another NL pennant in 1956, Alston moved with the Dodgers to Los Angeles in 1958. The following year, a transitioning Dodger club featuring a mix of veterans and youngsters won the NL pennant – giving Alston three flags in six years. Los Angeles went on the win the World Series over the Chicago White Sox.
Four years later, Alston picked up his third World Series ring when the Dodgers – behind NL Most Valuable Player Sandy Koufax – defeated New York again in the World Series. Alston and the Dodgers then won back-to-back NL flags in 1965 and 1966, winning the World Series over the Twins in ’65.
Alston’s Dodgers picked up one more NL pennant in 1974 before the beloved skipper called it a career and went home to Ohio in the waning days of the 1976 season. His final record: 2,040-1,613, good for a .558 winning percentage, seven NL pennants and four World Series titles.
His four Fall Classic wins are topped by only Casey Stengel (seven), Joe McCarthy (seven) and Connie Mack (five).
Alston was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1983. He passed away on Oct. 1, 1984.
George Lee Anderson’s big league playing career lasted one season and yielded a .218 batting average in 152 games.
But Anderson’s second act in the majors – as a manager – ran for 26 seasons. And this time, the Hall of Fame came calling at the end of a run that produced three World Series titles and more than 2,000 victories.
“Sparky” had proven that he belonged.
“He was the man who put together some great teams,” said Hall of Famer Tony Pérez, who played first base on the Cincinnati Reds’ teams that Anderson managed in the 1970s. “He made us go.”
Born on Feb. 22, 1934, in Bridgewater, S.D., Anderson and his family moved to Los Angeles when he was eight. After honing his baseball skills in the Southern California amateur ranks, Anderson signed a free agent contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1953. He ascended through the Dodgers system as a middle infielder, learning his craft but also absorbing skills he would use in his future career as a manager.
In 1955, Anderson was the every-day second baseman for the Double-A Fort Worth Cats, whose roster included future big league managers like Danny Ozark, Norm Sherry, Maury Wills and Dick Williams.
Following the 1958 season, the Dodgers traded Anderson to Philadelphia, where he won the team’s second base job in 1959. But after producing just 12 extra base hits and 34 RBI, Anderson was returned to the minors – where he spent 1960-63 with Toronto of the International League before calling it a career.
Anderson took over the managerial reins in Toronto in 1964 at the age of 30, then managed four different minor league teams in the Cardinals and Reds organizations over the next four seasons. He served as the San Diego Padres third base coach in their first big league season of 1969 and was prepared to serve as a coach with the California Angels in 1970 before being named the Reds’ manager on Oct. 8, 1969.
Anderson led the Reds to the National League pennant in 1970 and produced another pennant for Cincinnati in 1972 – and the NL West title in 1973 – before the Reds won back-to-back World Series titles in 1975 and 1976.
Anderson was dismissed by the Reds following the 1978 season, but hooked on with the Tigers midway through 1979. By 1984, Anderson had led Detroit into the World Series, where the Tigers defeated the Padres to cap a season in which the team began the year with a record of 35-5.
The Tigers won the American League East again in 1987, giving Anderson his seventh postseason berth. He retired following the 1995 season with a record of 2,194-1,834 – a win total that still ranks No. 6 on the all-time list.
Anderson was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2000. He passed away on Nov. 4, 2010.
BASEBALL YEAR IN REVIEW
YEAR IN REVIEW : 1911 AMERICAN LEAGUE
Off the field…
On March 25th, the worst factory fire in the history of New York City occurred after the Triangle Shirtwaist Company burned down. The horrific incident had an even greater significance as it revealed the inhumane working conditions to which industrial workers were subjected. Employees at the factory consisted mostly of poor Jewish immigrants between the ages of thirteen and twenty-three and to keep the women at their sewing machines, the proprietors locked the doors leading to the exits. After a fire broke out on the eighth floor, many panicking workers rushed to the stairs, the freight elevator, and the fire escape. Dozens on the ninth floor died, unable to force open the locked door to the exit and the rear fire escape collapsed, killing many and eliminating an escape route for others. Although Pump Engine Company 20 and Ladder Company 20 arrived quickly (along with four other companies) the bodies of victims who had jumped hindered them from entering the building. In the end, a total of one-hundred forty-six women died in less than fifteen minutes bringing to the attention of the nation a need for more humane and safe working conditions in America’s factories.
In the American League…
On June 18th, the Detroit Tigers staged the biggest comeback in Major League history after overcoming a 13-1 deficit (after 5½ innings) to defeat the Chicago White Sox by a score of 16-15.
On September 28th, several hundred fans witnessed what is considered to be one of the worst contests in American League history as the New York Yankees and St. Louis Browns combined to accumulate twenty-four hits, twenty walks, twelve errors and fifteen stolen bases en route to an 18-12 (NY) final.
In the National League…
On May 22nd, Boston Braves pitcher Cliff Curtis set a Major League record by recording his twenty-third consecutive loss (beginning on June 13, 1910) with a 3-1 deficit against the St, Louis Cardinals.
Frank Schulte completed the season leading the National League in home runs (21) and RBIs (107); and also became the first player to have more than twenty doubles, twenty triples, and twenty home runs in a single season!
Philadelphia Phillies ace Grover Alexander dominated the month of September after tossing complete game shutouts on the 7th, 13th, 17th and 21st.
Around the League…
The idea of selecting a Most Valuable Player was introduced after automobile maker Hugh Chalmers offered a brand new car to the MVP in each league to be chosen by a select committee of baseball writers.
The Pennsylvania Railroad set a speed record on May 29th after transporting the Chicago Cubs one-hundred ninety-one miles from Columbus, Ohio, to Pittsburgh in two-hundred fifteen minutes. After arriving at the game, the Cubs showed some speed of their own and beat the Pirates 4-1.
The Federal Express of the Hartford Railroad (carrying the St. Louis Cardinals to Boston) plunged down an eighteen-foot embankment outside Bridgeport, Connecticut, killing fourteen passengers. Fortunately, no players were injured, and each helped to remove bodies and rescue the injured.
March 14, 1967 – The 1967 NFL Draft: Bubba Smith from Michigan State first pick by Baltimore Colts. We discussed Mr. Smith just recently on his birthday in our February 28 post. Bubba ended up playing five great seasons for the Colts until a knee injury prevented him from playing in the 1972 season. Smith went to the Oakland Raiders in 1973 after his recovery and played there for two years before departing and joining the Houston Oilers for his final two NFL seasons. Bubba played in two Pro Bowls and even was an All-Pro one season and received a Super Bowl Ring with the Colts for their victory in Super Bowl V per the Pro Football Reference.
March 14, 1978 – The NFL permanently adds a 7th official to the field on game days, the Side Judge. According to the Operations.NFL.com website says that the SJ position was added in the late 1970’s after the urging of legendary Hall of Fame Coach Don Shula because he felt that the defensive backs were getting away with holding and interference of receivers regularly on Sundays. The Side Judge much like their counterpart on the opposite sideline the Field Judge are positioned generally about 20 yards downfield at the snap of the ball in the defensive secondary. The addition of this seventh person in stripes allows an official to focus on each of the five eligible receivers (the widest player on each side of the offensive line and three backfield players). The Side Judge also normally has some pre-snap duties of counting the defense, controlling the sideline, helping with the flow of getting the football to the umpire during dead balls and watching substitutions from their assigned sideline.
HALL OF FAME BIRTHDAYS FOR MARCH 14
March 14, 1903 – Superior, Nebraska – Nebraska’s great tackle from 1923 through the 1925 season, Ed Weir was born. For more on this legend please click his name.
March 14, 1936 – Sacul, Texas – Texas Christian University’s outstanding halfback, Jim Swink arrived into this life. The 2015 winter edition of the TCU Magazine states that Jim’s running style, especially in the open field, made him one of the most acclaimed halfbacks in Southwest Conference history and helped the Horned Frogs to win a SWC crown in 1955 and back-to-back Cotton Bowl appearances in 1956 and 1957 under coach Abe Martin. The article goes on to say that Swink had some very colorful nicknames such as “Ol’ Swivel Hips” and “The Rusk Rambler,” in admiration of his signature shifty running style that made him so unique. Swink also is remembered for being the subject of the famous University of Texas expression, “Hook ’em, Horns.” Before a November 12, 1955 game where TCU, ranked 8th in the nation were set to battle with the Longhorns, Texas students fearing Jim Swink’s elusive running style came up with the inspirational slogan to motivate and illustrate their desire for their defense.
“They had a guy in their student body that knew our team and spread the word that they needed to stop me from running,” Swink told the TCU magazine in a 2006 interview. “The Texas players obviously had heard about how strong a team we had, too. So they came up with ‘hook him’ because they wanted to catch me, trip me up, slow me down. And that game was the first time they used that.”
Other than the legacy that the team slogan still carries, it was all for not in the case of the 1955 game against the Horned Frogs though. Jim Swink had one of his best games of his collegiate career, as he pounded the turf for 235 yards on 15 carries for a 15.7-yard average and scored a school-record 26 points. TCU dominated Texas on that Saturday by a score of 47-20. The National Football Foundation’s website bio on Swink tells us Jim Swink was the nation’s leading scorer and second leading ground gainer as a junior in 1955. He totaled 125 points that year in addition to rushing for 1,283 net yards, a figure which set a record in the TCU record books. Jim was a two-time All-America selection and ended up second to Howard Cassady of Ohio State in the Heisman Trophy voting in ’55. Jim Swink received the great honor of being inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1980.
March 14, 1943 – Dayton, Ohio – Charlie Green the crafty quarterback of Wittenberg University in Ohio was born. The FootballFoundation.org website says that Charlie was Wittenberg’s starting quarterback from 1962-1964 and led his school to a 25-0-1 record and three championships in the Ohio Athletic Conference. He was often fondly referred to as “Chuckin’ Charlie” as he finished his college career with 5,575 passing yards and 61 passing touchdowns. The National Football Foundation voters selected Charlie Green to be placed into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2002. Charlie played at the professional level for four seasons with both the Boston Patriots and the Oakland Raiders.
March 14, 1978 – Lynchburg, Virginia – Wisconsin’s bruising back from the 1996 season through 1999, Ron Dayne was born. The NFF’s bio on Ron states that he won the 1999 Heisman Trophy in a landslide, after surpassing the 2,000-yard mark for the second time in his career. Dayne also received the accolades of being a three time recipient of the honor of being a First-Team All-American. Ron is the NCAA leader for career rushing yardage and is the first to go over 7000 yards with his career total of 7,125 yards. Ron Dayne’s collegiate gridiron legacy was placed into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2013. Ron was picked in the first round of the 2000 NFL Draft by the New York Giants, he played seven seasons in the League with the Giants, Broncos and Texans. He helped New York to a 2001 Super Bowl appearance.
NUMBERS IN SPORTS
5 – 44 – 28 – 13 – 9 – 78
March 14, 1954 – Number 5, of the Milwaukee Braves, Rookie Hank Aaron hitd his first homerun in an exhibition game. In his second seaon in the Big Leagues , Aaron would trade inthe Number 5 for the Uniform Number 44.
March 14, 1956 – Star Pitcher Satchel Paige signed a contract to play for and manage the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro National League. Paige was 50-years old at the signing. We do know from Larry Lester’s Book on the Negro Leagues that Paige wore Number 29 for the Miami Marlins in 1956, but we are not sure what number he wore with the Black Barons.
March 14, 1960 – Number 13, Wilt Chamberlain of the San Francisco Warriors set and NBA record when he dropped in 63 points against Syracuse in a playoff game. The Warriors won the game 132-12 over the Nationals.
March 14, 1962- Detroit Red Wing skater Gordie Howe, Number 9 scored a goal to become just the second man in NHL history to have 500 goals scored in a career.March 14, 1967 – Michigan State defensive end Bubba Smith became the first pick by Baltimore Colts. The NCAA Champion Spartans would feature an unprecdented 4 players in the top 8 spots of that year’s NFL Draft. Bubba Smith would go on to wear the Number 78 with the Blue Horse Shoe.