Update on the latest sports
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Creighton takes on Gonzaga…Michigan tries to keep Big Ten alive
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Sunday’s NCAA West Region semifinals feature top-seeded Gonzaga against fifth-seeded Creighton and a Pac-12 showdown between sixth-seeded USC and No. 7 seed Oregon.
Gonzaga needs four more victories to win not only the national championship but the first perfect season in Division I basketball in 45 years. The Zags are 28-0 and have won by double figures in all but one of their games. Creighton is in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1974.
Southern Cal won one more game than Oregon this season and beat the Ducks in the lone head-to-head contest. The Ducks were still crowned Pac-12 regular season champs based on winning percentage.
Michigan tries to keep the Big Ten alive in the NCAA Tournament Sunday when the No. 1 seed in the East Region faces fourth-seeded Florida State. Michigan has withstood an injury to second-leading scorer Isaiah Livers to become the last team remaining from the Big Ten’s nine NCAA Tournament selections. This game features two exceptional freshmen in Michigan’s Hunter Dickinson and Florida State’s Scottie Barnes. Michigan is averaging 84 points in the tournament. Florida State has allowed its first two NCAA Tournament foes to shoot just 33.6% and average 53.5 points.
The other East Region semifinal features No. 2 Alabama against No. 11 seed UCLA, one of four teams from the Pac-12 that made it to the Sweet 16. UCLA is trying to become the first team to go from the First Four to a regional final since VCU’s 2011 team made it all the way to the Final Four. New SEC powerhouse Alabama leads the nation in 3-pointers made (341) and attempted (961).
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Oregon vs. Louisville headlines women’s regional semis
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — The top women’s game of the day features Oregon and Louisville as both programs seek to extend their streaks of consecutive regional final appearances. The sixth-seeded Ducks are in their fourth consecutive Sweet 16 and trying to get to a fourth regional final in a row. No. 2 seed Louisville is trying to get there for a third consecutive time.
The other women’s games are Georgia Tech-South Carolina, Missouri State-Stanford and Texas-Maryland. Missouri State will try to improve its NCAA Tournament record against No. 1 seeds to 3-2. Its previous two wins against No. 1 seeds came in 1992 against Iowa and 2001 against Duke. Georgia Tech is in the Sweet 16 for only the second time. The Yellow Jackets also made it in 2012. Maryland leads the nation in scoring and assist-turnover ratio. Texas’ Charli Collier is a potential No. 1 overall WNBA draft pick.
Kluber to follow Yankees’ Cole, Taillon to skip 1st turn
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Corey Kluber will follow ace Gerrit Cole in the New York Yankees’ rotation, and Jameson Taillon will be skipped the first time through as the team builds him up slowly in his return following Tommy John surgery.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone says Cole will start Thursday’s opener against Toronto at Yankee Stadium and Kluber, returning from two injury-filled seasons, will start Saturday against the Blue Jays.
Kluber signed an $11 million, one-year contract with the Yankees, his third team in three years. The 34-year-old right-hander and two-time Cy Young Award winner has thrown one inning since being hit on the right forearm by a comebacker on May 1, 2019, and none since tearing a muscle in his right shoulder in his Texas debut last July 26.
Domingo Germán (hehr-MAHN’) will start the series finale against the Blue Jays on April 4, his first appearance in two years following a suspension under MLB’s domestic violence policy.
Left-hander Jordan Montgomery is to start against Baltimore on April 5, followed the next day by Cole.
Taillon is to make his Yankees debut against the Orioles on April 7. The 29-year-old right-hander was acquired by the New York Yankees from Pittsburgh on Jan. 24 for four prospects. He hasn’t pitched since May 1, 2019, while rehabilitating from his second Tommy John surgery.
NASCAR worried about first Bristol dirt race
BRISTOL, Tenn. (AP) — NASCAR has made a flurry of procedural changes ahead of its first Cup race on dirt since 1970, hoping to avoid a disaster like a 2008 tire debacle at Indianapolis that made for one of the worst events in the sport’s history.
The Cup Series is slated to race Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway, where 2,300 truckloads of red Tennessee clay have filled the famed bullring for an experimental stab at grassroots racing. But the dirt, the 28-degree Bristol banking reduced to 19 degrees after the dirt was applied, and the leaden 3,400-pound cars appear to be a terrible fit. Four Friday practice sessions ultimately showed the tires can’t sustain the heavy wear. The three layers of dirt acted as a cheese-grater and the tires in turn dug deep divots into the surface.
NACAR made several procedural changes Saturday in a desperate bid to save the show.
Bristol made the bold change this year by converting its facility into a dirt race as part of radical changes to the 2021 schedule.
Osaka makes 4th round in Miami for 1st time with walkover
MIAMI (AP) — Naomi Osaka advanced to the fourth round of the Miami Open for the first time in her career Sunday when qualifier Nina Stojanovic withdrew from their match shortly before the scheduled start because of a right thigh injury.
Osaka, ranked No. 2, has won 22 consecutive matches since her most recent defeat in February 2020, and she earned her fourth Grand Slam title at the Australian Open last month. But in Miami, where she is making her fifth appearance, she has previously made early exits.
Among the matches scheduled for later Sunday were No. 4-seeded Sofia Kenin against No. 27 Ons Jabeur, and No. 6 Karolina Pliskova against No. 29 Jessica Pegula. In men’s play, No. 1 Daniil Medvedev was to take on Alexei Popyrin.
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UMD tops North Dakota in record 5 OTs to reach Frozen Four
FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Luke Mylymok scored at 2:13 of the fifth overtime to send Minnesota Duluth into the Frozen Four with a 3-2 victory over North Dakota Saturday night in the longest game in NCAA Tournament history.
Minnesota Duluth, which has won the last two national championships, became the first team to reach four straight Frozen Fours since North Dakota accomplished the feat from 2005-08. But the Bulldogs had to outlast North Dakota to get there again. The game lasted 142 minutes, 13 seconds — surpassing the previous mark of 123:53 set in St. Lawrence’s four-overtime victory against Boston University in 2000.
North Dakota nearly won it just moments before Mylymok’s goal when Jake Sanderson’s shot hit the post.