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National

  • FGCU is new rock star of tournament

    FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Sherwood Brown only wanted a bagel.
    The Florida Gulf Coast star walked into a restaurant on campus Monday and was quickly surrounded. People wanted autographs. People wanted photos. People just wanted to yell words of encouragement.
    A school that opened a mere 16 years ago finds itself front-and-center in March Madness, one of only 16 college basketball teams left from a field of 68, hoping to win the NCAA national championship.
    “I had no idea it was going to be like this, but I’m loving it,” Brown said as he made his escape from the shop. “I feel like we’re getting a lot of America behind us. I guess you could say we’re a part of America’s team at this point.”
    And the Eagles spent the day savoring their moment.
    Lines in the campus bookstore snaked from one side to the other, more than 100 people waiting for the chance to pay for their FGCU shirts and hats. Phone lines were jammed by those seeking tickets for this weekend’s South Regional, and even the university president half-seriously wondered if he would be able to obtain what he needed. And as they arrived at classes, players were met with applause.

  • Is he back? Only Tiger Woods knows for sure

    ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Life must be going well for Tiger Woods when he can make headlines in the gossip pages for dating Olympic ski champion Lindsey Vonn and in the sports pages for winning Bay Hill and returning to No. 1 in the world.

    All in the same week.

    The studio photos of Woods and Vonn that were posted on their Facebook pages looked more suitable for a catalog showcasing their clothing sponsors. Far more natural were the poses Woods struck Monday afternoon with Arnold Palmer after winning his tournament — left arm draped around Palmer's shoulder, both unable to contain their laughter over whatever was said that could not be repeated.

    "But it was funny," Woods said, breaking into a broad grin as he replayed the exchange in his mind. "Really funny, actually."

    Yes, Woods appears to be in a happy place.

    Winning does that, and Woods is starting to win with alarming frequency. In the one year and two weeks since he limped off the course at Doral with tightness in his left Achilles tendon — the same injury that forced him to miss two majors in 2011 — Woods has won six times in his last 20 starts on the PGA Tour. In his three wins this year, no one got closer than two shots at any point in the final round.

  • Raw: Golfer Climbs Tree, Hits Ball Off Limb
  • NCAA Upset: Florida Gulf Coast Beats Georgetown
  • Urlacher, Bears head separate ways

    CHICAGO (AP) — Brian Urlacher wanted to re-sign with the Chicago Bears.
    Instead, they’re parting ways with the veteran linebacker after 13 years.
    General manager Phil Emery said Wednesday that the team couldn’t agree on a contract with Urlacher, for years the heart and face of the franchise. He is now a free agent after being slowed by a knee problem and then missing the last four games of the season with a hamstring injury.
    “We were unable to reach an agreement with Brian and both sides have decided to move forward,” Emery said in a statement. “Brian has been an elite player in our league for over a decade. He showed great leadership and helped develop a winning culture over his time with the Bears. We appreciate all he has given our team, on and off the field. Brian will always be welcome as a member of the Bears.”
    The 34-year-old Urlacher, an eight-time Pro Bowl player, started 180 games from 2000 through 2012, recording a team-record 1,779 tackles. The ninth overall selection in the 2000 draft has 41.5 sacks, 22 interceptions, 16 fumble recoveries and 11 forced fumbles. He was the AP’s defensive player of the year in 2005 and helped lead the 2006 team to the Super Bowl.

  • Miami tops Boston for 23rd straight win

    BOSTON (AP) — LeBron James made the go-ahead jumper with 10.5 seconds left to lead the Miami Heat to their 23rd consecutive victory, the second-longest streak in NBA history, with a 105-103 win over the Boston Celtics on Monday night.

    The Heat surpassed the 22 straight that Houston won in 2007-08 and trail only the 33 in a row won by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers.

    James scored 37 with 12 assists as the Heat won in Boston in the regular season for the first time in 11 tries despite a career-high 43 points from Jeff Green. The Celtics were without Kevin Garnett, who has the flu and a left thigh strain.

    Paul Pierce had 17 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the Celtics. But he missed a 3-pointer with 3 seconds left that could have given Boston the win.

    Mario Chalmers scored 21 points for Miami, which has not lost since Feb. 1. The Heat had not won in Boston since the New Big Three was formed — including the Celtics' double-overtime victory on Jan. 27, when Ray Allen returned with his new team.

    That was the day Rajon Rondo was diagnosed with an ACL tear that ended his season. This time, it was Garnett who sat out, though coach Doc Rivers said he would have played if the thigh injury had not been compounded by the flu.

  • Baylor, ND, UConn, Stanford top NCAA women's seeds

    Brittney Griner and Baylor's path to a second straight national championship will have a familiar feel.

    Then again, so will the whole NCAA women's basketball tournament. For the first time ever, the top four seeds are the same for consecutive seasons. Baylor, Connecticut, Notre Dame and Stanford all earned No. 1 spots when the field was announced Monday night.

    Unlike the men's side, where it was a topsy-turvy season with major upsets seemingly every week, women's basketball hasn't seen the same parity. The top six teams in the final Associated Press poll only had two losses outside of each other, the fewest by far since writers began voting for the AP's No. 1 in the 1994-95 season.

    The women's basketball madness gets started Saturday — the first step en route to the Final Four, which begins April 7 in New Orleans.

  • Louisville Top Overall Seed in NCAA Tournament
  • Baltimore loses key players

    The Baltimore Ravens are paying the price for winning a Super Bowl.
    The NFL champions lost two key components of their defense, linebackers Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe, as free agency began Tuesday. On Monday, they traded star receiver Anquan Boldin, a key to their title run, to San Francisco — the team the Ravens beat 34-31 to win the championship.
    Kruger went north to division rival Cleveland for a five-year, $40 million deal, while Ellerbe headed south to Miami for $35 million over five years. Steelers receiver Mike Wallace joined Ellerbe in choosing the Dolphins.
    The 49ers didn’t go untouched, either. After giving up a sixth-round draft pick for Boldin, they saw tight end Delanie Walker leave for Tennessee.
    San Francisco also confirmed the trade of backup quarterback Alex Smith to Kansas City, a deal that was known for weeks. The 49ers will receive the Chiefs’ second-round pick, 34th overall, in this year’s draft and a conditional pick in next year’s draft.
    The 32-year-old Boldin expressed surprise that he was traded.
    “I thought this was the last stop of my career but regardless of the circumstances I came here to win a Championship ... and in February we came home Champions,” he said on Twitter.
    Ellerbe also tweeted as he moved on to the Dolphins.

  • Johnson wins 2nd Daytona 500; Patrick finishes 8th

    DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A big first for Danica Patrick, but an even bigger second for Jimmie Johnson.

    Patrick made history out front at the Daytona 500, only to see five-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson reclaim his spot at the top in the end.

    Johnson won his second Daytona 500 with a late push on Sunday, grabbing the spotlight from Patrick as she faded on the final lap. Patrick became the first woman in history to lead laps in "The Great American Race" and was running third on the last lap, but slipped to eighth in the late push for position.

    Her fall began when Dale Earnhardt Jr. made his move, but his last-ditch effort wasn't enough to catch his Hendrick Motorsports teammate.

    There were several crashes during the day, none approaching the magnitude of the wreck that injured more than two dozen fans a day earlier in a second-tier race on the same track.