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National

  • Unthinkable foursome heading to Houston

    Even in the unpredictable, anything-goes world of March Madness, this is a Final Four nobody saw coming.

    Kentucky, Connecticut, Butler and Virginia Commonwealth — the improbable, the implausible, the unthinkable and the downright unimaginable.

    In one game in Houston next Saturday, No. 4 seed Kentucky will play No. 3 Connecticut — not a completely absurd thought as a Final Four matchup, though hardly a popular pick given their up-and-down regular seasons.

  • Arizona dumps Duke in West Region semis

    ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Derrick Williams carried Arizona in the first half, keeping the Wildcats in the game against Duke. His teammates returned the favor in the final 20 minutes with an offensive barrage that stunned the defending national champions.
    Williams scored 25 of his career-high 32 points in the first half of Arizona's 93-77 victory Thursday night, helping the Wildcats reach the final eight for the first time since 2005.
    "As a team, we came together and willed ourselves to win," said Lamont Jones, who added 16 points. "Derrick is a great player, but we all contribute."

  • Football: Kickoffs to start on the 35

    NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The NFL will move kickoffs up 5 yards to the 35-yard line, keep touchbacks coming out to the 20 and allow the number of players in a blocking wedge to remain at two.
    Kick coverage players now will be limited to lining up 5 yards or fewer from the spot of the kickoff.
    Team owners also voted Tuesday to make all scoring plays reviewable by the replay official and referee. But they tabled a proposal to ban players launching themselves to make a tackle, and will reconsider it in May.

  • Women's basketball: Lucas leads North Carolina past Kentucky 86-74

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Score one for size over speed.

    Italee Lucas scored 22 points and Jessica Breland added 18, helping North Carolina hold off Kentucky 86-74 in the second round of the NCAA tournament Monday night, the Tar Heels' superior height and length trumping the Wildcats' awesome quickness.

    "It all started with rebounding," Breland said after the Tar Heels' 55-31 dominance on the boards led to all sorts of problems for the Wildcats.

    North Carolina (27-8), which made it to the ACC tournament final, will face top-seeded Stanford on Saturday in Spokane, Wash.

  • Men's basketball: Coach K picks up 899th win

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kyrie Irving stole the inbound pass and sped downcourt toward the helpless Hampton defender under the basket. He leaped for a layup with his right hand, then switched to his left in mid-air.
    Duke’s electrifying point guard sure didn’t look like he hadn’t played since December. And if he keeps producing highlights like this, his Hall of Fame coach will take care of two milestones in a matter of days.

  • Men's basketball: Aztecs, Cougars moving on

    San Diego State 68,
    Northern Colorado 50

    TUCSON, Ariz. — Kawhi Leonard had 21 points and 10 rebounds, and second-seeded San Diego State survived Devon Beitzel’s scoring burst to earn its first NCAA tournament win.
    The Aztecs (33-2) had their hands full with the Bears of the Big Sky early. San Diego State pulled away behind its defense in the second half, holding Northern Colorado (21-11) scoreless for nearly 7 minutes.

  • Football: NFL to get tough on hard hits

    The NFL will be more aggressive in suspending players next season for illegal hits, and also could make changes to instant replay and kickoffs.
    Ray Anderson, the league’s chief disciplinarian, said Wednesday that repeat offenders or players committing illegal hits will have a much greater chance of being suspended during the 2011 season.

  • Tarheels are sure to exit early this year

    Seriously, I don’t even know why I bother.
    Every year, I go through the time-wasting trouble of filling out a bracket for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

  • Men's basketball: Johnson's shooting, VCU's balance keys to wins

    DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — The individual best performance in the "First Four" came from a guard who insists he's in a shooting slump.

    Melvin Johnson III scored a career-high 29 points during Texas-San Antonio's 70-61 win over Alabama State. He outscored the Hornets 25-21 in the first half, hitting one open shot after another while wearing bright orange shoes with "SWISH" scribbled on the sides.

  • Men's basketball: No clear-cut team to beat in tourney

    Every year when the NCAA tournament bracket comes out, there’s a team, maybe a couple that stand out.
    Last year, to a certain extent, it was Duke. Kansas, with those five future pros, was the bracket behemoth in 2008 and Florida was the no-brainer in 2007.
    This year, there doesn’t seem to be that one team that’ll be at the top of everyone’s bracket. It’s probably closer to a dozen. Heck, there are five or six teams just in the Big East that could be considered legitimate title contenders.