BC-AP Sports Digest

March 27, 2018 - 3:09 pm

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With the baseball season starting Thursday, AP sports columnists Jim Litke and Tim Dahlberg discuss the game's fading traditions on the "AP Sports Weekly" podcast.

The co-hosts will also talk about the Final Four and upcoming NBA playoffs, and debate the merits of Sister Jean and the secret menu at In-N-Out Burger. Joining Litke and Dahlberg are Jay Bilas, college basketball analyst for ESPN, AP Baseball Writer Ben Walker and AP Basketball Writer Brian Mahoney.

TOP STORIES

BKC--AP ALL-AMERICA TEAM

Three freshmen — Oklahoma's Trae Young, Arizona's Deandre Ayton and Duke's Marvin Bagley III — make the AP's All-America team for the first time. They are joined by Villanova's Jalen Brunson and Kansas' Devonte' Graham. By Basketball Writer John Marshall. SENT: 700 words, photos. With lists.

BKC--FINAL-FOUR-VILLANOVA-ELITE STATUS

VILLANOVA, Pa. — Villanova has a college basketball resume worthy of the sport's blue bloods. The Wildcats are in their second Final Four in three years, third since 2009 and have a national title. They've clearly morphed into one of the nation's elite teams. By Dan Gelston. UPCOMING: 650 words, photos by 7 p.m.

BBO--INCREASINGLY ELUSIVE 3,000

With Albert Pujols only 32 hits from 3,000, this likely will be the fourth straight season a player joins the prestigious club. After Pujols, it will be at least a few seasons before another 3,000-hit watch even starts. By Stephen Hawkins. SENT: 900 words, photos.

BKN--HERE THEY COME-76ERS

PHILADELPHIA — Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are headed to the playoffs, and bringing Markelle Fultz with them. The Philadelphia 76ers are leaving behind a stretch of some of the worst basketball in NBA history. By Dan Gelston. SENT: 800 words, photos.

SPORTS SHOWCASE

BKN--RAPTORS RISING

The Raptors did what many teams haven't: They stayed the course and kept their core and leadership intact even after playoff flameouts. Now, Toronto is closing in on the No. 1 seed in the East, and the playoffs could bode well. By Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds. SENT: 900 words, photos.

COMMENTARY

GLF--ON THE FRINGE-MASTERS

Here's a tradition unlike any other: Looking at the list of winners in golf in the early months of the year, salivating over the soothing music that accompanies images of Augusta National and declaring that this is shaping up to be the best Masters of them all. By Golf Writer Doug Ferguson. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 5 p.m.

— With:

— GLF--GOLF NOTES — By Doug Ferguson. SENT: 1,150 words, photos.

— GLF--GOLF GLANCE — SENT: 750 words.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Men:

BKC--FINAL FOUR-BEILEIN'S ESTEEM

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — After a season clouded by an FBI investigation, the Final Four has plenty of feel-good stories, including Michigan coach John Beilein, a man so respected by his fellow coaches that he won a preseason poll on the topic of following the rules. By Noah Trister. SENT: 700 words, photos.

BKC--FINAL FOUR-X-FACTORS

RALEIGH, N.C. — Be wary of these guys. They could play critical roles at this weekend's Final Four — Kansas' Lagerald Vick, Villanova's Phil Booth, Michigan's Zavier Simpson and Loyola-Chicago's Ben Richardson. By Basketball Writer Aaron Beard. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 5 p.m.

BKC--HIGH POINT-SMITH

HIGH POINT, N.C. — Tubby Smith wanted a job. His alma mater, High Point, needed a coach. The school will introduce the man who guided Kentucky to the 1998 title as its basketball, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press. By Joedy McCreary. UPCOMING: 600 words by 3 p.m.

— NIT (Semifinals, at New York)

— BKC--NIT-WESTERN KENTUCKY-UTAH — UPCOMING: 650 words, photos. Game starts 7 p.m.

— BKC--NIT-PENNSTATE-MISSISSIPPI STATE — UPCOMING: 650 words, photos. Game starts 9:30 p.m.

— Also:

— BKC--CBI-NORTH TEXAS-SAN FRANCISCO — Opener of best-of-three final for CBI title in San Francisco. By Josh Dubow. UPCOMING: 600 words. Game starts 10 p.m.

Women:

BKW--WOMEN'S FINAL FOUR

The women's Final Four is an exclusive group, with all four No. 1 seeds still alive for just the fourth time. But even among this powerful group, UConn stands far apart. The Huskies have lost just two games over the past five seasons. By David Brandt. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos by 6 p.m.

— Also:

— BKW--SOUTH CAROLINA WRAPUP — By Pete Iacobelli. SENT: 650 words, photos.

BASEBALL

BBN--PHILLIES-SANTANA

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Carlos Santana's influence goes beyond stats. The Philadelphia Phillies signed the slugger to a $60 million, three-year deal not only to bolster the lineup but provide leadership. Santana knows what it takes to be a winner. By Rob Maaddi. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos by 5 p.m.

BBO--NATIONALS-ZIMMERMAN'S SPRING

WASHINGTON — Ryan Zimmerman hit on back fields and faced pitchers destined for the minors instead of playing in Grapefruit League games. As the Washington Nationals play one last exhibition game, Zimmerman says he's ready for the season. By Howard Fendrich. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos by 5 p.m.

— Also:

— BBN--BRAVES-ACUNA — By Charles Odum. UPCOMING: 650 words, photos by 8 p.m.

— BBO--SPRING TRAINING RDP — UPCOMING: 1,000 words, photos by midnight.

___

AP Sports Extra: MLB Season Preview: A paginated preview of the MLB season, which starts Thursday, is available in AP Newsroom by searching for "Sports Extra" under the Graphics tab. The pages look at some of the season's main story lines, including the top prospects and key dates. For any questions, contact Barry Bedlan at bbedlan@ap.org

NFL

FBN--NFL MEETINGS-RULES

ORLANDO, Fla. — The NFL simplifies the catch rule to eliminate confusion — and, the league hopes, controversy about receptions. Team owners unanimously approve new language, with three elements defining a catch. By Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner. SENT: 600 words, photos. UPCOMING: 750 words, photos by 5 p.m.

— With:

— FBN--NFL MEETINGS-THE LATEST — Real-time updates throughout day.

FBN--JAGUARS-COUGHLIN

ORLANDO Fla. — Top executive Tom Coughlin had an immeasurable effect in his first season back with the Jacksonville Jaguars. His biggest contribution may have been spending money. By Mark Long. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos by 5 p.m.

NBA

BKN--BULLS-ROCKETS

HOUSTON — The Rockets, with the NBA's best record, go for their 10th straight victory when they play a last-place Chicago Bulls team that has lost five in a row. Chris Paul is expected to return for Houston after missing three games with a hamstring injury. By Kristie Rieken. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos. Game starts 8 p.m.

NHL

HKN--GOLDEN KNIGHTS-KARLSSON

LAS VEGAS — Much like his team, William Karlsson has arrived in a big way. The Golden Knights' young Swedish center scored his 40th goal in the playoff-clinching win over Colorado and again displayed kind of play that has made him a pivotal part of Vegas' big inaugural run. SENT: 600 words, photos.

SWIMMING

SWM--LEDECKY-TURNING PRO

Olympic champion Katie Ledecky is turning pro after helping Stanford win back-to-back national swimming titles. The decision allows her to cash in on sponsorships and endorsements ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. By Paul Newberry. SENT: 500 words, photos.

LAW

GYM--DOCTOR-SEXUAL ASSAULT-MICHIGAN STATE

EAST LANSING, Mich. — The sexual-abuse scandal at Michigan State widens when a former medical dean is charged with failing to monitor imprisoned sports doctor Larry Nassar. He also is accused of groping female students and storing nude student selfies on his campus computer. By David Eggert. SENT: 800 words, photos. UPCOMING: 900 words, photos by 5 p.m.

— With:

— GYM--DOCTOR-SEXUAL ASSAULT-MICHIGAN STATE-THE LATEST — Real-time updates throughout day.

— GYM--DOCTOR-SEXUAL ASSAULT-JOBS LOST — A look at those who have lost jobs in the scandal. SENT: 900 words.

SAILING

SAI--VOLVO OCEAN RACE-MAN OVERBOARD

SAN DIEGO — A sailor in the Volvo Ocean Race is presumed lost at sea after going overboard in the harsh, remote Southern Ocean some 1,400 miles west of Cape Horn. John Fisher, a native of Britain who lived in Australia, was an experienced sailor who was wearing survival gear. By Bernie Wilson. SENT: 400 words, photos.

SOCCER

SOC--GERMANY-BRAZIL

BERLIN — Looking to restore some pride, Brazil plays Germany in an exhibition leading to the World Cup. Germany humiliated Brazil the last time these powers played — a 7-1 thrashing in the 2014 World Cup semifinals. By Ciaran Fahey. UPCOMING: 500 words, photos. Game starts 2:45 p.m.

SOC--PARAGUAY-US

CARY, N.C. — Tim Weah, son of Liberia president and 1995 FIFA Player of the Year George Weah, is among eight Americans who could make their national team debuts against Paraguay in an exhibition game. By Joedy McCreary. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos. Game starts 7:45 p.m.

— Other exhibitions: Italy-England, Spain-Argentina, Russia-France, Croatia-Mexico, Iceland-Peru.

BOXING

BOX--JOSHUA-PARKER

LONDON — Anthony Joshua predicts an early finish. Joseph Parker is still deciding how he will end it. The two meet in Wales on Saturday in a heavyweight unification title fight refreshingly free of trash talk. By Foster Niumata. SENT: 600 words, photos.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

FBC--NOTRE DAME-KMET

SOUTH Bend, Ind. — Notre Dame tight end Cole Kmet is working double-duty these days, practicing with the football team and pitching for the Fighting Irish baseball team. SENT: 700 words, photos.

TENNIS

— TEN--MIAMI OPEN — John Isner upsets Marin Cilic in fourth round of Miami Open. SENT: 120 words, photos. UPCOMING: 500 words, photos by 5 p.m.

— TEN--DAVIS CUP-NADAL — Rafael Nadal, out since January, could return for Davis Cup next week. SENT: 180 words.

OTHER

— OLY--TOKYO 2020 — Venues for 2020 Tokyo Olympics get strong early reviews. By Stephen Wade. SENT: 350 words, photos.

— WRE--HODGE TROPHY — Penn State's Zain Retherford honored again as top college wrestler. SENT: 120 words.

— SKI--US ALPINE DIRECTOR — Patrick Riml leaves as U.S. Alpine director after seven seasons. SENT: 140 words.

CAPSULES

— BKN--NBA CAPSULES

— HKN--NHL CAPSULES

___

Tuesday's Time Schedule (EDT):

NBA

San Antonio at Washington, 7 p.m.

Denver at Toronto, 7:30 p.m.

Chicago at Houston, 8 p.m.

Cleveland at Miami, 8 p.m.

Portland at New Orleans, 8 p.m.

Dallas at Sacramento, 10 p.m.

Indiana at Golden State, 10:30 p.m.

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

NHL

Carolina at New Jersey, 7 p.m.

N.Y. Islanders at Ottawa, 7:30 p.m.

Pittsburgh at Detroit, 7:30 p.m.

Boston at Winnipeg, 8 p.m.

San Jose at St. Louis, 8 p.m.

Minnesota at Nashville, 8 p.m.

Philadelphia at Dallas, 8:30 p.m.

Columbus at Edmonton, 9 p.m.

Anaheim at Vancouver, 10 p.m.

College Basketball

NIT (Semifinals, at New York)

Western Kentucky vs. Utah, 7 p.m.

Penn State vs. Mississippi State, 9:30 p.m.

Exhibition Baseball

Detroit at Tampa Bay, 12:35 p.m.

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

Chicago Cubs vs. Boston at Fort Myers, Fla., 1:05 p.m.

Cincinnati at Texas, 2:05 p.m.

Milwaukee at Houston, 2:10 p.m.

U. of Miami at Miami, 3:10 p.m.

Seattle vs. Colorado at Scottsdale, Ariz., 3:10 p.m.

Cleveland at Arizona, 3:40 p.m.

Minnesota at Washington, 4:05 p.m.

St. Louis vs. Toronto at Montreal, 7:07 p.m.

Braves Futures at Braves, 7:35 p.m.

Oakland at San Francisco, 9:05 p.m.

LA Angels at LA Dodgers, 10:10 p.m.

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