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National

  • Ware resting comfortably after injury

    Kevin Ware is already up and walking, and he's got a nice souvenir to keep him company until he's cleared to return to Louisville.
    Cardinals coach Rick Pitino brought the Midwest Regional championship trophy when he visited Ware, who remains hospitalized after surgery to repair a gruesome fracture in his right leg.
    "He was real excited about (the trophy)," Pitino said after visiting Ware again Monday morning. "I said to him, 'You want me to bring it back or stay with you?' He said, 'It's staying with me.' I said, 'All right, just make sure you don't lose it.'"
    During a 2-hour surgery Sunday night, doctors reset Ware's broken tibia and inserted a rod into the bone. Because the bone broke through the skin, Pitino said doctors are monitoring Ware to make sure no infection develops. If there are no complications, he should be released Tuesday.
    The Cardinals plan to leave for the Final Four in Atlanta on Wednesday night, and Pitino said they expect to have Ware with them. Ware is originally from New York City, but he moved to the Atlanta area before high school.
    "He gets to go home, be with his family and be with us on the bench," Pitino said. "He's in very good spirits and anxious to get out of the hospital and get back with the guys."

  • Michigan rolls into Final Four, beats Fla. 79-59

    ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Trey Burke and Michigan had the perfect response for everyone who said they were too young or not tough enough to make it all the way to Atlanta.

    The championship trophy for the South Region is headed back to Ann Arbor, while another fabulous group of young Wolverines is going to the Final Four.

    Led by Burke and sharp-shooting guard Nik Stauskas, one of three freshmen starters, Michigan controlled Florida from start to finish in a 79-59 win Sunday.

    "It means the world — 20 years has passed and we haven't been on that stage yet," said Tim Hardaway Jr., the junior elder statesman in the starting lineup.

    The last time Michigan made it this far was the Fab Five era of the early 1990s, what until now had been considered the program's glory years.

    Might be time to start rethinking that.

    Once they got ahead Sunday, the Wolverines (30-7) maintained a double-digit lead against the experienced Gators (29-8), who won the regular-season title in the Southeastern Conference, but lost in a regional final for the third straight year.

    "We've almost become numb to it now. Been here before," Gators junior center Patric Young said. "I just really wish we were out there cutting the nets down."

  • Louisville beats Duke 85-63 to reach Final Four

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — With tears in their eyes and Kevin Ware in their hearts, there was no way Louisville was losing this game.

    Russ Smith scored 23, Gorgui Dieng had 14 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks, and top-seeded Louisville put aside the shock from Ware's gruesome leg injury to earn a second straight trip to the Final Four with an 85-63 victory over Duke on Sunday afternoon.

    As the final seconds ticked down, Chane Behanan put Ware's jersey on and stood at the end of the Louisville bench, screaming. Cardinals fans chanted "Kevin Ware! Kevin Ware!"

    "We won this for him," coach Rick Pitino said. "We were all choked up with emotion for him. We'll get him back to normal. We've got great doctors, great trainers. We talked about it every timeout, 'Get Kevin home.'"

    This was the first time Pitino and Mike Krzyzewski had met in the regional finals since that 1992 classic that ended with Christian Laettner's improbable buzzer-beater, a game now considered one of the best in NCAA tournament history.

    This game will be remembered, too, but for a very different — and much more somber — reason.

  • Syracuse on to Final Four, beats Marquette 55-39

    WASHINGTON (AP) — When played to perfection, there's nothing quite like Syracuse's aggressive, half-court 2-3 zone defense.

    It's 40 minutes of trapping and shot-challenging, of closing off angles, of trusting teammates.

    "We showed," senior guard Brendan Triche said, "that defense wins games."

    Yes, the Orange D certainly does.

    With a second suffocating performance at the East Regional, No. 4-seeded Syracuse shut down No. 3 Marquette 55-39 Saturday to earn coach Jim Boeheim his fourth trip to the Final Four — and first since a freshman named Carmelo Anthony helped win the 2003 NCAA championship.

    "A tremendous, tremendous defensive effort," Boeheim said.

    Fittingly, a matchup between schools from the soon-to-break-apart, rough-and-tumble Big East became quite a struggle on the offensive end. Syracuse (30-9) was led by senior forward James Southerland's 16 points. Michael Carter-Williams, a 6-foot-6 guard who is out front in the zone, was named the regional's top player after accounting for 12 points, eight rebounds, six assists, five steals and only one turnover Saturday.

  • Alford's departure from New Mexico spurs emotions

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico basketball fans were blindsided Saturday by news that coach Steve Alford had been hired away by UCLA.

    The Lobos had just wrapped up another winning season that was topped by their second straight Mountain West Conference title and their third NCAA tournament appearance in the past four seasons. And just days ago, Alford signed a new 10-year contract that could have been worth up to $2 million a year.

    No one thought Alford was going anywhere.

    Not even Alford.

    Overnight, it all changed. Lobo Nation is now awash in disappointment.

    New Mexico athletic director Paul Krebs is among those feeling the effects of the loss. He said it was clear when he talked to Alford early Saturday that the coach had made up his mind. He said he understood and respected the decision.

    "This is a very emotional time," Krebs said to a room packed with reporters and television cameras.

    For some of the players it has yet to sink in. Lobos center Alex Kirk said they needed to come together and clear their heads.

    "It's tough," Kirk said. "It hit us all really hard. It hit coach hard and it's going to hit the whole state hard. I think it affects the whole conference."

  • Big East going out with big hurrah in NCAA tourney

    WASHINGTON (AP) — If you're one of the college basketball fans who can't wait for the Big East breakup to be final, hang on. You'll have to wait for the Final Four.
    Syracuse and Marquette both won their East Regional semifinal games Thursday night and that means the Big East will have a team in Atlanta next week. It will be the fourth straight season the conference that changed the landscape of college basketball over the last three-plus decades will have a Final Four team.
    Oh yeah, Louisville, the overall No. 1 seed in the tournament and a Final Four team last season, is still alive with the Cardinals playing Oregon on Friday in the round of 16.
    "It will be different than the Big East tournament," Syracuse guard Michael Carter-Williams said after scoring 24 points in the 61-50 victory over top-seeded Indiana. "It will definitely feel familiar with different refs and a neutral court, but we'll see them again."
    Marquette won the only meeting between the teams this season, 74-71 on Feb. 25 — the middle game of the Orange's three-game losing streak.

  • 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.

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