Kentucky leads the way
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Two Wildcats, a Badger and a Blue Devil. The NCAA has announced its 68-team field for the men’s basketball tournament, and there were no major surprises when the top seeds were revealed.
As expected Kentucky is the top overall seed and No. 1 in the Midwest Region. The unbeaten Wildcats will open play Thursday in Louisville against either Manhattan or Hampton.
Kansas has the No. 2 seed in the Midwest despite its loss to Iowa State in the Big 12 title game. ACC champion Notre Dame is third, followed by Big 10 semifinalist Maryland.
The top-seed in the East is Villanova of the Big East. This is the second time ‘Nova has been a No. 1 seed. The Wildcats will face Lafayette Thursday in Pittsburgh.
Virginia is No. 2 in the East, followed by Oklahoma and Louisville. The Cavaliers had a top seed in their grasp until they lost in the ACC quarterfinals.
Duke is the top seed in the South. This marks the 13th time the Blue Devils have been a No. 1 seed. They open play Friday in Charlotte, North Carolina, against the winner of the North Florida and Robert Morris game in Dayton, Ohio.
The second seed in the South is Gonzaga, the West Coast Conference champs. Iowa State is third and Georgetown fourth.
And the top-seed in the West is Wisconsin. The Badgers are the top team from the Big Ten and will play Friday in Omaha, Nebraska against Coastal Carolina. This is the first time Wisconsin has been a top seed.
Arizona has to settle for the second seed in the West despite winning the Pac-12 title in convincing fashion. Baylor is third, followed by North Carolina.
The 68 team field is comprised of 32 teams that won automatic berths by winning a conference championship and 36 at-large schools.
The first games in the NCAA Tournament are Tuesday and Wednesday in Dayton, Ohio, in what the NCAA now calls the First Four.
Wildcats win again
UNDATED (AP) — Top-ranked Kentucky is headed to the NCAA Tournament with 34 wins in 34 games. The Wildcats won the SEC Tournament with a 78-63 victory over 21st-ranked Arkansas. Willie Cauley-Stein scored 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as Kentucky never trailed in the game.
The Wildcats are only the fourth team to go into the NCAA Tournament undefeated since Indiana finished off the last perfect season with a title in 1976.
In the Big Ten title game, sixth-ranked Wisconsin outscored Michigan State 11-0 in overtime to beat the Spartans 80-69. Nigel Hayes finished with 25 points and Frank Kaminsky had 19. Michigan State blew an 11-point lead after erasing a 16-point deficit in Saturday’s semifinal game against Maryland.
And in Hartford, defending national champion UConn lost in the American Athletic Conference championship game to 20th-ranked SMU 62-54. Markus Kennedy scored 15 points to lead the Mustangs.
Georgia State and VCU also earned automatic tournament berths.
Georgia State was a 38-36 winner against Georgia Southern in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament championship game. R.J. Hunter made two free throws with 21.6 seconds left to secure the win.
In the Atlantic 10 Tournament title game, Treveon Graham scored 20 points and Doug Brooks made a huge steal in the final minute to help VCU beat Dayton 71-65 to win its first A10 tournament championship.
Tide fires coach
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama has fired men’s basketball coach Anthony Grant, who led the Crimson Tide to just one NCAA Tournament berth in six seasons.
Grant was 117-85 in six seasons at Alabama with two NIT appearances and a trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2012. The Tide is 18-14 this season.
Hall of Fame coach has surgery
WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Georgetown coach John Thompson Jr. had intestinal surgery less than two weeks ago, and the school says he is recovering “beautifully.” The school said in a statement the 74-year-old Hall of Famer, who led the Hoyas to the 1984 national title, had corrective surgery for a benign twisted intestine.
Thompson had a record of 596-239 in 27 seasons at Georgetown, reaching the NCAA Tournament 20 times. He retired during the 1998-99 season and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in 2006.
Mets and Reds lose players
UNDATED (AP) — New York Mets reliever Josh Edgin needs elbow-ligament replacement surgery and is done for the season. Edgin had an MRI last week that showed a stretched elbow ligament and bone spur.
The 28-year-old was 1-0 with a 1.32 earned run average in 47 appearances last season.
And Reds outfielder Jason Bourgeois (BOOZ’-wah) is going to be out four to six weeks with a fractured left shoulder. The 33-year-old was trying to win a job as the Reds’ fourth outfielder.
Westbrook lights up Bulls
UNDATED (AP) — Russell Westbrook failed this afternoon to record a triple-double for just the third time in his last nine games, but he was pretty good, anyway.
The Oklahoma City All-Star guard finished with 36 points, 11 rebounds and six assists in a 109-100 overtime win against Chicago. Westbrook is averaging 34 ½ points, 11.4 rebounds and 10.1 assists over his last nine games, helping the Thunder go 6-3 in that span.
Oklahoma City also got great production from its centers as Enes Kanter had 18 points and 18 rebounds, while Steven Adams delivered 14 points and 11 boards.
The outcome gives the Thunder a one-game lead over New Orleans for the final Western Conference playoff berth and drops the Bulls three games behind the Central Division-leading Cleveland Cavaliers.
Also in the NBA:
— Kyrie Irving scored 33 points and J.R. Smith added 25 as the Cavaliers beat Orlando 123-108. LeBron James finished with 21 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds in the Cavaliers’ fourth straight win.
— Atlanta still has a double-digit lead in the Eastern Conference after Dennis Schroeder contributed team highs of 24 points and 10 assists in a 91-86 win over the Lakers in Los Angeles. Al Horford added 21 points to the Hawks’ 52nd win.
— Will Barton scored 25 points, including the tying 3-pointer late in the first overtime before Denver outlasted the Pelicans 118-111 in double-OT. Kenneth Faried (fah-REED’) had 20 points and 10 rebounds for Denver.
— Houston is within two games of the Southwest Division-leading Memphis Grizzlies after James Harden’s 34 points led the Rockets past the Los Angeles Clippers 100-98. Terrence Jones provided 16 points and 12 rebounds in the victory, while Trevor Ariza (ah-REE’-zah) chipped in 19 points and nine boards.
— Portland ripped Toronto 113-97 as LaMarcus Aldridge contributed 24 points and 10 rebounds to the Trail Blazers’ eighth victory in nine games. Damian Lillard scored 23 points to help the Blazers improve to 3-1 since losing starter Wesley Matthews to a season-ending ruptured Achilles tendon.
— Kawhi (kah-WY’) scored 15 points and San Antonio had a season-high 38 assists in a 123-97 rout of Minnesota. The Spurs lost Manu Ginobili (MAN’-oo jih-NOH’-blee) to a sprained right ankle in the third quarter.
— Phoenix beat New York 102-89 behind Eric Bledsoe’s 21 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds. Brandan Wright added 18 rebounds and 11 boards while starting in place of the injured Alex Len.
Ducks, Rangers become conference leaders
UNDATED (AP) — The Anaheim Ducks have broken a tie with Nashville for the NHL’s Western Conference lead by rallying to beat the Predators.
The Ducks scored four times in the third period to turn a 2-0 deficit into a 4-2 victory against Nashville. Ryan Getzlaf (GETS’-laf) began the comeback before Kyle Palmieri (pahl-MEHR’-ee) and Nate Thompson tallied 35 seconds apart midway through the final stanza. Cam Fowler also scored and John Gibson made 25 saves as the Ducks won their second straight since a three-game skid.
Anaheim also stretched its lead in the Pacific Division to 13 points over Vancouver.
The New York Rangers took over the East lead and continued to distance themselves from the rest of the Metropolitan Division contenders.
Cam Talbot stopped 38 shots and Dominic Moore set up goals by James Sheppard and Matt Hunwick as the Blueshirts dumped Florida 2-1. Talbot raised his season save percentage to .926, lowered his goals-against to 2.19 and helped the Rangers move five points ahead of the second-place New York Islanders.
New York was back home after a 4-0-1 road trip. The Rangers also caused the Panthers to fall off the pace in the battle for the last two Eastern Conference berths.
Elsewhere on NHL ice:
— Jake Allen picked up his fourth shutout of the season by stopping 28 shots in the St. Louis Blues’ 3-0 win over Dallas. Alex Steen and T.J. Oshie (OH’-shee) each had a goal and an assist in a three-goal third period that put the Blues in a tie with Nashville for the Central Division lead.
— Teemu Pulkkinen (TEE’-moo PUHL’-kih-nehn) produced the first multi-goal game of his career as Detroit whipped Pittsburgh 5-1. Petr Mrazek (PEH’-tuhr MRAZ’-ihk) made 42 saves to help the Red Wings climb within six points of the Atlantic Division-leading Montreal Canadiens. The Penguins are seven points out of first in the Metropolitan.
— Andrew Hammond had another strong game in Ottawa’s 2-1 shootout win over Philadelphia, making 27 saves and improving to 10-0-1 since his season debut Feb. 16. Jean-Pierre Pageau (pah-ZHOH’) scored in regulation before Bobby Ryan provided the lone shootout tally that puts the Senators within five points of Boston for the final Eastern Conference playoff berth.
— The Bruins were 2-0 losers in Washington as Braden Holtby handled 32 shots for his eighth shutout of the season. Nicklas Backstrom had assists on goals by John Carlson and Nate Schmidt, more than enough offense for the Capitals to move two points ahead of Boston for seventh in the East.
— Justin Faulk and Ron Hainsey scored 1:34 apart in the second period before Brad Malone added the eventual game-winner in Carolina’s 3-2 triumph over Columbus.
Harvick wins again
AVONDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Defending Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick remains NASCAR’s most dominant driver this year.
Harvick led for more than 200 laps in winning at Phoenix International Raceway for the fourth consecutive start. He now has back-to-back Sprint Cup victories after finishing second in the first two races. He’s the first NASCAR driver to finish first or second in his first four races of a season since Richard Petty in 1974.
Harvick hasn’t finished worse than second in his last seven races since last season.
Jamie McMurray was second, followed by Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne (kayn) and Kurt Busch. It was a strong run for Busch, who was making his season debut following a NASCAR suspension that lasted the first three races.
AUTO RACING-FORMULA 1
Hamtilon wins again
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The opening race of the 2015 Formula One Grand Prix season finished just like last season did, with a win by world champion Lewis Hamilton. He led Nico (Nee’-koh) Rosberg to a one-two finish for Mercedes with Ferrari newcomer and former world champion Sebastian Vettel third.
Spieth wins in playoff
PALM HARBOR, Fla. (AP) — Jordan Spieth (speeth) sank a 30-foot birdie putt on the third extra hole to capture the PGA’s Valspar Championship in Florida. Spieth holed a 12-foot par putt on the 18th hole to join a three-man playoff with Patrick Reed and Sean O’Hair. Spieth saved par on his final three holes for a 69 that left him 10-under for the tournament.
Kearney ends with a win
UNDATED (AP) — American Hannah Kearney closed out her World Cup career with her 46th career victory to win the overall freestyle and moguls titles for 2014-15. The 29-year-old Kearney will retire after the U.S. championships later this month.