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Reds P Aroldis Chapman suffers broken bones in face after being hit by line drive

03.20.14 at 7:40 am ET
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Reds pitcher Aroldis Chapman suffered broken bones in his face after being hit by a line drive during Wednesday’s spring training game against the Royals in Surprise, Ariz.

“Not good,” first-year Reds manager Bryan Price said. “He left the field on a stretcher, took a line drive just above his left eye is what it looks like — a contusion, a laceration, and certainly needs to be taken to the hospital and checked.”

Chapman’s pitch to Salvador Perez was clocked at 99 mph. The ball caromed into the third base dugout after hitting Chapman, who fell to the ground and flailed his legs.

“It was an absolute bullet that Sal hit,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “It’s just a real sickening feeling for everybody.”

Chapman, a 26-year-old left-hander, was conscious and talking as he left the field following the incident. The game was called at that point, with two outs in the sixth inning.

“Players were rattled,” crew chief Chris Guccione said. “The staff was rattled. The umpires were rattled. We figured it was best, along with both teams in agreement, that the game should end.”

Said Price: “You can’t find it in your heart to go out there and play.”

Read More: Aroldis Chapman, Bryan Price, Ned Yost, Salvador Perez

President Obama picks Michigan State to win NCAA tournament, predicts Harvard upset

03.19.14 at 10:09 am ET
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President Barack Obama unveiled his NCAA tournament bracket on ESPN for the sixth straight year, and the nation’s boss is predicting Michigan State will defeat Louisville in the title game.

Tom Izzo is a great tournament coach,” Obama told ESPN’s Andy Katz as he wrote in his selections at the White House. “I’ve got Michigan State going all the way. … He knows how to motivate folks and he knows how to coach. My pick: Michigan State. Bring it home for me. It’s been a while since I’ve won my pool.”

Obama’s Final Four also includes No. 1 seeds Florida and Arizona.

“I know these are not imaginative picks, but I think they’re the right ones,” he said.

Obama, a graduate of Harvard Law School, predicts the 12th-seeded Crimson will open with an upset for the second straight season, knocking off fifth-seeded Cincinnati.

Read More: Barack Obama, NCAA tournament,

Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Knicks owner James Dolan ‘by no means an expert in basketball,’ will defer to Phil Jackson

03.19.14 at 8:11 am ET
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Welcome to Wednesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

WEDNESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NBA: Heat at Celtics, 7:30 p.m. (CSNNE)
NBA: Pacers at Knicks, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: Spurs at Lakers, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: NCAA tournament, Cal Poly vs. Texas Southern, 6:40 p.m. (truTV)
College basketball: NCAA tournament, Iowa vs. Tennessee, 9:10 p.m. (truTV)
College basketball: NIT, Illinois at Boston University, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: NIT, Vermont at Georgia, 8 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: NIT, UC Irvine at SMU, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: NIT, LSU at San Francisco, 10 p.m. (ESPNU)
NHL: Blues at Blackhawks, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
MLB preseason: Pirates at Red Sox, 7 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB preseason: Rays at Orioles, 1 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB preseason: Angels at White Sox, 4 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB preseason: Cubs at Rockies, 9:40 p.m. (MLB Network)
Soccer: UEFA Champions, Olympiakos at Manchester United, 3:30 p.m. (FS1)

AROUND THE WEB:

Phil Jackson is taking control of the Knicks, and owner James Dolan (left) says he's happy to stay out of the way. (AP)

Phil Jackson is taking control of the Knicks, and owner James Dolan (left) says he’s happy to stay out of the way. (AP)

– The Knicks introduced new president Phil Jackson to great fanfare Tuesday with controversial owner James Dolan saying he is “willingly and gratefully” ceding authority to allow Jackson the space to fix the team.

Making a rare media appearance, Dolan acknowledged what New York fans have known for years: he’s no whiz when it comes to running a basketball team. Although he admittedly has meddled in basketball decisions in the past, he said he’s prepared to defer to those who are more qualified.

“The two gentlemen to my left [Jackson and general manager Steve Mills] are the experts in basketball. I am by no means an expert in basketball,” Dolan said. “I’m a fan, but my expertise lies in managing companies and new businesses. So I think I’m a little out of my element when it comes to the team.”

The 68-year-old Jackson, who signed a five-year deal worth a reported $60 million, said he plans to focus on “the kind of culture that’s built” and improve the experience for the players.

“The organization has suffered in the past few years from things I think have just been created, by press, by lack of continuity, by lack of solidarity,” Jackson said.

Jackson has won 13 NBA titles — two as a player with the Knicks and the rest as a coach with the Bulls and Lakers — and he said leading New York to a title would the perfect way to go out.

Said Jackson: “This would be the pinnacle, a capstone, on the remarkable career that I’ve had.”

– Former Pistons standout Ben Wallace was sentenced to a year in jail — but only ordered to serve two days of the sentence — for leaving the scene of a car accident last month.

An SUV registered to Wallace crashed into a fence outside a Virginia home last month, taking out a 20-foot section of the fence.

“It was dark, but it’€™s clear from here I saw one person trying to fight to get out of the car,” homeowner Silverio Acosta told WTVR-TV. Acosta said he saw the man smash pieces of wood against the fence after exiting the car “because he was angry.”

Wallace, who pleaded guilty to drunken driving and weapon possession charges related to an incident in the Detroit area three years ago, pleased no contest Tuesday.

– No 16 seed has ever knocked off a 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, although there have been two one-point games (Georgetown’s escape vs. Princeton, and Oklahoma’s victory over East Tennessee State, both in 1989) and an overtime contest (Michigan State over Murray State in 1990).

The Wall Street Journal takes a look at how such an upset can happen, noting that teams that came close were able to slow down the game and/or use a solid zone defense.

Three No. 15 seeds have knocked off No. 2 seeds in the last two years, but the 16 seeds are 0-116 since the tournament expanded in 1985, despite teams from smaller leagues closing the gap on the power conferences.

Said TNT analyst Charles Barkley: “It’s going to happen at some point soon.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On March 19, 1972, which Bruins player scored two power-play goals in a 7-3 victory over the visiting Minnesota North Stars and in the process set an NHL single-season record with 27 power-play goals (he finished the season with 28)?

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Read More: Ben Wallace, James Dolan, NCAA tournament, Phil Jackson

Bruce Pearl returns to college basketball as Auburn coach

03.18.14 at 11:42 am ET
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Bruce Pearl, fired as Tennessee coach in 2011 after lying to NCAA investigators and committing other violations, is back in the SEC after accepting the job at Auburn.

Pearl, who had been working as an ESPN analyst the past two seasons, spent six seasons at Tennessee, compiling a 145-61 record and taking the volunteers to the NCAA tournament every year. But he was given a three-year show cause by the NCAA, which expires in August, for being untruthful to investigators who were questioning him about his recruitment of guard Aaron Craft (now an Ohio State senior). When it was discovered that he had committed other violations, Pearl was fired by Tennessee shortly after the 2010-11 season ended.

“I’m humbled and blessed to be back in the game that I love,” the 54-year-old Pearl said in a story on Auburn‘s website. “I don’t know how long it will take, but it’s time to rebuild the Auburn basketball program and bring it to a level of excellence so many of the other teams on campus enjoy.”

Pearl, a Sharon native and Boston College alumnus, replaces former UMass player Tony Barbee, who was fired last week after going 49-75 in four seasons with the Tigers.

“From the moment I met Coach Pearl and heard his vision for our basketball program, it was clear he’s the right man at the right time for Auburn,” athletic director Jay Jacobs said on the school’s website.

“Coach Pearl is a proven winner who will bring energy and excitement to our program. We have raised the bar for Auburn basketball, and I could not be more excited for our student-athletes and our future under Coach Pearl’s leadership. I know he agrees with me — it’s time to win.”

Read More: Bruce Pearl,

NFL roundup: Giants sign former Broncos Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Trindon Holliday

03.18.14 at 9:03 am ET
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Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

Within the span of just a few hours, the Giants signed two former members of the Broncos on Monday.

First, the Giants picked up cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in an effort to improve their secondary. The move came after a week where the Giants re-signed five players and agreed to deals with running back Rashad Jennings, guard Geoff Schwarts and linebacker Jameel McClain.

“The main thing, bringing in guys from Kansas City, Seattle, you can see what they’€™re doing, trying to bring guys that are going to come in and lead by example,” Rodgers-Cromartie said. “That’€™s always a plus.”

Rodgers-Cromartie, who is entering his seventh NFL season, was a first-round selection in 2008 and was named to the Pro Bowl in 2009. In 13 starts with Denver last season, Rodgers-Cromartie had 31 tackles, a team-high 15 passes defensed and tied for the team lead with three interceptions.

Later Monday evening, the Giants and return specialist Trindon Holliday then agreed to a one-year deal, according to ESPN.com.

The 5-foot-5 Holliday had 1,046 yards with two touchdowns, one of which came against the Giants in Week 2, last season.

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Read More: Brandon Meriweather, Brandon Weeden, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, James Jones

Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Carmelo Anthony ‘willing to do whatever’ to help Phil Jackson succeed with Knicks

03.18.14 at 7:55 am ET
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Welcome to Tuesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

TUESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NHL: Bruins at Devils, 7 p.m. (NESN)
NHL: Blackhawks at Flyers, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
NBA: Raptors at Hawks, 7:30 p.m. (NBATV)
College basketball: NCAA tournament, Albany vs. Mount St. Mary’s, 6:40 p.m. (truTV)
College basketball: NCAA tournament, N.C. State vs. Xavier, 9:10 p.m. (truTV)
College basketball: NIT, Robert Morris at St. John’s, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: NIT, Florida Gulf Coast at Florida State, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: NIT, West Virginia at Georgetown, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: NIT, Indiana State at Arkansas, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: NIT, Georgia State at Clemson, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: NIT, Davidson at Missouri, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: NIT, Utah at Saint Mary’s, 11 p.m. (ESPN2)
MLB preseason: Red Sox at Yankees, 1 p.m. (ESPN; WEEI-AM)
MLB preseason: Athletics at White Sox, 4 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB preseason: Cubs at Rangers, 10 p.m. (MLB Network)
Soccer: UEFA Champions, Galatasaray at Chelsea, 3:30 p.m. (FS1)

AROUND THE WEB:

Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony

Phil Jackson is set to be introduced as Knicks president Tuesday, and star forward Carmelo Anthony says he’s “wiling to do whatever” is needed to get the team moving in the right direction.

Anthony, who becomes a free agent after this season, said Monday he had not spoken with Jackson but was looking forward to seeing if the Hall of Fame coach could work his magic in New York.

“The big picture, absolutely, for the big picture this is definitely more attractive,” Anthony said after Monday’s practice (via the New York Daily News).

“I’m willing to do whatever. As long as it’s going to put me in a situation to win, I’m willing to do whatever. I’m not sold or stuck on my play. What I’ve been able to do these past 10-11 years has gotten me to where I am right now.

“If Phil wants to come in and change that this late in my career, if it’s going to help me out to win a championship, I’m with it.”

Added Anthony: “As far as knowing what it takes to win, Phil is the best to ever do it. So for me to be able to have the opportunity and have him by my side, for him to teach me, you know, because I’€™m still willing to learn the game of basketball. … I haven’€™t won anything, and he’€™s won a lot. I can learn a lot from him and his system, things that he wants to incorporate here. I’€™m hoping and praying this all works.”

Meanwhile, rumors persist that Jackson will tab former Bulls guard Steve Kerr as Knicks coach. Kerr, now a TNT commentator after serving as general manager of the Suns from 2007-10, appeared on the Dan Patrick Show on Monday and acknowledged he remained close to Jackson but chose his words carefully out of respect for current coach Mike Woodson.

“I’m perfectly happy doing what I’m doing, trust me,” Kerr said. “At some point in my life, if there’s a [coaching] opportunity that intrigues me, I might take it.”

– A federal lawsuit filed Monday charges that the NCAA and its five dominant conferences comprise an “unlawful cartel” that makes billions off athletes who are illegally restricted from earning their fair share.

The suit — the latest attempt by current and former athletes to cause dramatic changes in the NCAA’s oversight of college athletics — seeks monetary damages along with a declaration that the NCAA along with the SEC, ACC, Pac-12, Big Ten and Big 12 are violating antitrust laws.

“As a result of these illegal restrictions, market forces have been shoved aside and substantial damages have been inflicted upon a host of college athletes whose services have yielded riches only for others,” according to the court filing. “This class action is necessary to end the NCAA’s unlawful cartel, which is inconsistent with the most fundamental principles of antitrust law.”

The four defendants are Rutgers basketball player Johnathan “J.J.” Moore, Clemson football player Martin Jenkins, Texas-El Paso football player Kevin Perry and California football player William Tyndall.

– Fans of the Kontinental Hockey League club Barys Astana were ecstatic after their team won its first-ever playoff series last week, sweeping Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg. When the team arrived home, a group of fans met the players at the airport. Some of them lifted up forward Talgat Zhailauov and tossed him in the air. However, they failed to catch him, and he fell to the ground.

Zhailauov, reportedly went to a hospital and was diagnosed with a concussion. It was unclear if he would be able to play in the team’s second-round series this week.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On March 18, 1953, the National League owners approved the move of the Braves from Boston to Milwaukee. Who was the Braves owner?

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Read More: Carmelo Anthony, mike woodson, Phil Jackson, Steve Kerr

Colts owner Jim Irsay arrested for DWI

03.17.14 at 8:36 am ET
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Jim Irsay was arrested Sunday night.

Colts owner Jim Irsay was arrested Sunday night.

After authorities stopped him for suspicion of drunken driving Sunday night, Colts owner Jim Irsay was arrested in Carmel, a northern suburb of Indianapolis, according to Hamilton Country Sheriff’s Department Deputy Bryant Orem.

Although some details of the arrest were not immediately available, the Associated Press reports that Irsay was held on preliminary charges of possession of a controlled substance and driving while intoxicated.

“He’s told people that he hasn’t drank in 15 years, and I’ve never seen him drink, but they got him for possession of a controlled substance,” Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz said on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning. “I would bet the house that it’s pain-killers or some kind of drug like that, and this sadly comes as no great surprise to anybody who’s been around the Colts for the past couple of years.

“There was a kind of sad inevitability about this happening.”

Kravtiz added that Irsay has lost a significant amount of weight over the past two years — something Irsay attributed to his recovery from surgery on both his hip and his back.

“He was stooped over like an 80-year-old man during the course of the season,” Kravtiz said. “He said he lost the weight on doctor’s orders in order to keep some of the strain off his back and off of his hip, but there were times when he had difficulty … saying what he wanted to say. He just seemed addled at times.”

According to the New York Daily News, Irsay spent a month in rehab in 2002 for pain-killer addiction.

“What I’ll be curious about is how Roger Goodell deals with it when the smoke clears … and I think you do hold your front office people and your owners to a  higher standard, so it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he gets popped in some way, shape or form by Roger Goodell,” Kravtiz said. “I think that he probably should, but what needs to happen here is Jim needs to do a public mea culpa — I reached out to him already — and go get some help.

“Addiction is a life-long struggle, and … just adding two and two again, it wounds like the demons are biting him in the ass again.”

Read More: Jim Irsay,

Monday’s Morning Mashup: New Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders defends agent against accusations of misleading teams

03.17.14 at 7:55 am ET
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Welcome to Monday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MONDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NHL: Wild at Bruins, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
NBA: Celtics at Mavericks, 8:30 p.m. (CSNNE)
NBA: Thunder at Bulls, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: Clippers at Nuggets, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
MLB preseason: Cardinals at Red Sox, 1 p.m. (ESPN; WEEI-AM)
MLB preseason: Indians at Reds, 4 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB preseason: Twins at Orioles, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)

AROUND THE WEB:

Emmanuel Sanders

Emmanuel Sanders

– The agent for new Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders is coming under fire for the way he handled negotiations with two other teams before settling on Denver.

Steve Weinberg, who only recently was reinstated by the NFL Players Association after being barred and decertified in 2003 reportedly for financial irregularities, was shopping Sanders to the Chiefs and Buccaneers. He also apparently agreed to a visit with the 49ers but blew it off.

According to a report by NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, a team source said Weinberg accepted a deal in principle with the Chiefs, then closed in on a deal with the Buccaneers before signing with the Broncos.

“This was one of the worst situations in modern football negotiations,” one executive involved told NFL.com. “Totally wrong. This needs to be stopped.”

Weinberg declined comment, but Sanders downplayed the matter at his Sunday press conference.

“There was no handshake,” the former Steeler said. “There was no kind of agreement in terms of — you know — we were close to a deal, but it wasn’t anything official just yet.”

– NFL teams are shuffling bodies around to stay under the salary cap, and the Jets are no exception. releasing receiver Santonio Holmes and Antonio Cromartie last week. However, there’s another candidate who has yet to be moved from New York: quarterback Mark Sanchez.

With a $2 million roster bonus due later this month — and with Geno Smith having taken his job last season — Sanchez seems likely to be elsewhere soon.

Asked by TMZ if he would like to play on the West Coast, the former USC star said, “I do love the West Coast, but I’m a Jet for two more years at least on my contract. I love New York, I’ve had a ball there.”

Sanchez was injured in the third preseason game last year, otherwise things might have turned out differently.

“Things were going great, I was competing well, felt like I was winning the job and then I got hurt, so we’ll see what happens,” Sanchez said. “I know management has some decisions to make here in the next few days.”

– Phillies Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt announced Sunday that he is recovering from skin cancer, having undergone two operations, radiation and chemotherapy.

Schmidt, who arrived in Clearwater, Fla., to start his second season as a member of the Phillies broadcast team but was unable to be a spring training guest instructor because of his health, expressed optimism about his battle with Stage 3 melanoma, which was diagnosed in August.

“I feel fantastic right now,” the 64-year-old said.

Schmidt said he feels fortunate that he was able to have his cancer detected and treated before it was too late.

“I was doing a closing on a house and I had a thing on my hand,” he recalled. “I just went in and said, ‘Can you look at this?’ and he said, ‘Why don’t I take a look at your whole body while you’re here.’ Obviously the moral of the story is, everybody, get your skin checked. I think at least once a month, now that I know what I know. I caught it early.

“If I hadn’t gone into see my dermatologist in late August, I might still have it. It might be more than Stage 3. Even though that was a tough couple months, I’m a very lucky man.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On March 17, 1979, which Bruins goalie got the win in a 4-2 decision over the visiting Blackhawks and became the third netminder in team history with 200 wins in a B’s uniform?

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Read More: Emmanuel Sanders, Mark Sanchez, Mike Schmidt, Steve Weinberg

NFL roundup: Titans, Wesley Woodyard agree to 4-year deal

03.14.14 at 12:36 pm ET
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Wesley Woodyard

Wesley Woodyard

Just two days after he visited with the Patriots, Wesley Woodyard agreed to a reported four-year deal with the Titans. According to ESPN.com, the contract is worth $16 million.

“Wesley is a player who has experience playing both 3-4 and 4-3 systems and in our new scheme he fits as one of those inside linebackers,” said Titans general manager Ruston Webster. “He is smart and fast. He also brings the leadership qualities and intangible that we look for in a player, which makes him a good fit for us.”

The former Broncos linebacker has served as a captain either on special teams or defense since his rookie season with the Broncos in 2008. He moved to the middle linebacker spot in 2013 after Stewart Bradley suffered a season-ending injury during a preseason game against Seattle.

– The Lions have re-signed tight end Brandon Pettigrew to a four-year deal, Detroit announced Friday. Pettigrew will reportedly make $16 million, $8 million of which is guaranteed.

Over the course of five seasons with Detroit, the 28-year-old Pettigrew has caught 284 passes for 2,828 yards and 16 touchdowns in 71 games. At the same time, Pettigrew has had six fumbles and 34 drops.

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Read More: Brandon Pettigrew, James Harrison, Jason Hatcher, Justin Tuck

Friday’s Morning Mashup: Jacoby Ellsbury not concerned about slow start with Yankees

03.14.14 at 8:14 am ET
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Welcome to Friday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

FRIDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NBA: Suns at Celtics, 7:30 p.m. (CSNNE)
NBA: Lakers at Spurs, 8:30 p.m. (NBATV)
College basketball: UMass vs. George Washington, 9 p.m. (NBCSN)
College basketball: Florida State vs. Virginia, noon (ESPN2)
College basketball: Illinois vs. Michigan, noon (ESPN)
College basketball: Saint Louis vs. St. Bonaventure, noon (NBCSN)
College basketball: Missouri vs. Florida, 1 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Pittsburgh vs. North Carolina, 2 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Ohio State vs. Nebraska, 2 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Saint Joseph’s vs. Dayton, 2:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
College basketball: South Carolina vs. Tennessee, 3 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Middle Tennessee vs. Tulsa, 4 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Minnesota vs. Wisconsin, 6:30 p.m. (BTN)
College basketball: Southern Mississippi vs. Louisiana Tech, 6:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: VCU vs. Richmond, 6:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
College basketball: Seton Hall vs. Providence, 7 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: N.C. State vs. Syracuse, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Iowa State vs. Kansas, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Houston vs. Louisville, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Clemson vs. Duke, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Cincinnati vs. UConn, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: San Diego State vs. UNLV, 9 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: Michigan State vs. Northwestern, 9 p.m. (BTN)
College basketball: Baylor vs. Texas, 9:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Creighton vs. Xavier, 9:30 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: New Mexico vs. Boise State, 11:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: UCLA vs. Stanford, 11:30 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Cal State Northridge vs. Long Beach State, midnight (ESPNU)
NHL: Predators at Blackhawks, 8 p.m. (NHL Network)
College hockey: Minnesota at Michigan, 6:30 p.m. (ESPNews)
MLB preseason: Cardinals at Astros, 1 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB preseason: Diamondbacks at Brewers, 4 p.m. (MLB Network)

AROUND THE WEB:

– With the Yankees signing Japanese standout Masahiro Tanaka, and with Derek Jeter announcing this will be his final season, it’s allowed $153 million free agent Jacoby Ellsbury to avoid the spotlight in spring training.

That’s a good thing, because the former Red Sox outfielder is struggling out of the gate, with just three hits in 20 at-bats, a .150 batting average. He did hit a home run Thursday, in a 6-2 loss to the Phillies.

Ellsbury is one of a few free agents acquired by the Yankees this offseason, along with Tanaka, Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, Kelly Johnson and Brian Roberts, allowing the attention to be divided.

“With the people we brought in, it’s spread around,” manager Joe Girardi said (via the New York Daily News). “With [Jeter's announcement], it’s spread around, so it’s probably worked out to [Ellsbury's] advantage. Replay has helped, collisions at home plate have helped; there’s been a lot to talk about this spring.”

Ellsbury said he’s aware that if he starts this slow when the games are for real next month, it will be more difficult to avoid criticism. He said his experience with the Red Sox has prepared him well.

“In Boston the expectation is to win. Same thing here,” he said. “That’s really all I know. The media is going to ask you questions win or lose and you’re going to have to answer them.

“That’s all I know. If I came from a smaller organization it might be an eye-opener, but that’s not the case.”

Added Ellsbury: “You understand it comes with the territory. That’€™s the passion the New York fans have. I enjoy that the fans care. As players, we expect a lot of ourselves. From that standpoint, nothing really changes.”

Ellsbury will return to Fenway Park on April 22 when the Yankees pay their first visit of the season.

“It’s going to be exciting,” he said. “I enjoy those moments; I thrive in them.

“I don’t know what to expect and I’m not looking that far forward, but I’m looking forward to going there.”

– The ACC is finalizing a plan to play its conference tournament at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for two years starting in 2017, according to a Sports Illustrated report.

The tournament is being held in Greensboro, N.C., this month, and will return there next year, followed by a year in Washington.

With the addition of Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame this season, joining Boston College, the league has been rumored for some time to be looking to take the tournament north and capitalize in the New York media market.

– With the NCAA tournament approaching, Real Clear Sports has the top 10 facts that will help you win your bracket pool.

The top fact: Go with the top seeds. No. 1 seeds account for 40 percent of Final Four teams since 1979, and a No. 1 seed has reached the Final Four every year since 1981 except twice (2006, 2011). However, you should have some variety, as 26 times since 1979 the Final Four has included three different seeds.

Another tip: Avoid 7 seeds. No. 7s have a good success rate in their first game, but no No. 7 has made it past the Elite Eight.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On March 14, 1944, which Bruin recorded two assists in a 6-4 victory over the visiting Blackhawks and set an NHL single-season scoring record with 75 points?

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Read More: Derek Jeter, Jacoby Ellsbury,