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NCAA MEN'S TOURNAMENT

Wolverines overwhelm Rams

UNDATED (AP) — Michigan is the first team into the NCAA tournament's Round of 16.

The fourth-seeded Wolverines breezed past No. 5 seed VCU 78-53 in what was virtually a South Region home game at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Six-foot-10 freshman Mitch McGary led the way with career highs of 21 points and 14 rebounds.

Michigan improves to 28-7 and will be making its first appearance in the Sweet 16 since 1994. The Rams finish 27-9.

The Palace of Auburn Hills is also hosting a Midwest Region game today, with third-seeded Michigan State hooking up with No. 6 seed Memphis.

The tournament's overall No. 1 seed will also be playing in a friendly environment. Louisville faces No. 8 seed Colorado State in a Midwest Region third-rounder in Lexington, Kentucky (5:15 p.m. Eastern).

Fourteenth-seeded Harvard will be looking to pull of a second straight upset when it takes on Arizona. Same with No. 12 seeds Oregon and California. The Ducks play Saint Louis and the Golden Bears play Syracuse.

Also later today, Marquette goes up against Butler and top-ranked Gonzaga faces Wichita State.

NCAA WOMEN'S TOURNAMENT

Women's hoops tourney getting started

UNDATED (AP) — Play in the NCAA women's basketball tournament is under way, but just one of the four No. 1 seeds are scheduled to take the court on Day 1. Connecticut basically has a home game in Storrs. The Lady Huskies play Idaho.

No. 1 seeds Baylor, Notre Dame and Stanford start play tomorrow.

MLB-SPRING TRAINING

Motte on hold

UNDATED (AP) — The Cardinals have shut down Jason Motte after an MRI showed their closer has a mild muscle flexor strain in his pitching arm.

The right-hander pitched an inning against the New York Mets on Thursday, then told the team his forearm tightened up on the bus ride back to the Cardinals' spring training complex.

Motte was 0-0 with one save and a 5.00 ERA in nine innings during spring training.

Setup man Mitchell Boggs will move into the closer's role.

Also:

— The Yankees have signed Chien-Ming Wang (shee-EHN' ming wahng) to a one-year minor league deal. The soon-to-be 33-year-old right-hander was New York's opening day starter in 2008 before injuries derailed his promising career.

NHL-SCHEDULE

Matinee action in the NHL

UNDATED (AP) — There are three games being played in the NHL this afternoon, with two of the games affecting the standings in the Northwest Division. At the start of play Minnesota and Vancouver are tied for the lead with 36 points. The Wild are home to San Jose while the Canucks are in Los Angeles. The other day game features Tampa Bay at Ottawa.

NHL-CANADIENS-HALPERN

Halpern returns to Habs

MONTREAL (AP) — The Canadiens have claimed center Jeff Halpern off waivers from the Rangers.

The 36-year-old checking forward had one assist and was minus-5 in 30 games for New York this season.

This will be his second stint with Montreal.

PGA-ARNOLD PALMER INVITATIONAL

And they're off

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The halfway co-leaders are on the course for third-round play at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando.

Bill Haas and Justin Rose shared a one-shot advantage over John Huh when things got under way this morning at Bay Hill

Jimmy Walker, Ken Duke and J.J. Henry began the day tied for fourth, three shots from the top.

Tiger Woods headed up a trio of players four strokes off the pace.

CHAMPIONS TOUR-MISSISSIPPI GULF RESORT CLASSIC

Low scoring day for 50-and-over golfers

SAUCIER, MISS. (AP) — After matching par yesterday, Mexico's Esteban Toledo threw a 7-under-par 65 up on the scoreboard to take the second-round clubhouse lead at the Champions Tour event in Mississippi. He was one behind on-course leader Corey Pavin, who was minus-5 on the day in the middle of his round.

LPGA-KIA CLASSIC

Recari on top

CARLSBAD, Calif. (AP) — Beatriz Recari was the leader heading into today's third round of the LPGA's Kia Classic in Carlsbad, California. Recari shot a bogey-free, 5-under 67 yesterday to get to mimnus-8 for the tourney. Paula Creamer (KREE'-mur) and Karrie (KAH'-ree) Webb began the day tied for second place, one stroke back.

NFL-NEWS

Bengals giving Johnson opportunity

CINCINNATI (AP) — The Bengals are giving former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Josh Johnson a chance to back up quarterback Andy Dalton.

Johnson was Tampa Bay's fifth-round pick in 2008 and started five games in four seasons with the Bucs. He signed with San Francisco last year but was released before the season opener. He signed with Cleveland for the final game last season.

Johnson knows Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden from their time together at Tampa Bay. Coach Marvin Lewis says Johnson will be part of a competition for the backup role, which opened when Bruce Gradkowski signed with Pittsburgh.

FORMULA ONE-MALAYSIAN GRAND PRIX

Two in a row for Vettel

SEPANG, Malaysia (AP) — Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull won the pole position at the Malaysian Grand Prix. The three-time defending Formula One champion edged the Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso just as the rain-affected qualifying ended.

It's the second pole in a row and 38th overall for the German, who finished third at the season-opening Australian GP last week after struggling with his tires.

Australian GP winner Kimi Raikonen (KEE'-mee RAY'-koh-nehn) managed to qualify seventh and was later penalized three spots for impeding.

INDYCAR-GRAND PRIX OF ST. PETERSBURG

IndyCar preparing for season opener

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — They're holding pole qualifying for the season-opening IndyCar race today in the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida. Helio Castroneves (EHL'-ee-oh cas-troh-NEHV'-us) is the titleholder. Ryan Hunter-Reay is the defending sweries champion who won four of 15 races in 2012.

NBA-SCHEDULE

Nuggets look for another win

UNDATED (AP) — Despite a 14-game winning streak the Denver Nuggets remain in the shadow of Miami as the Heat are the talk of the NBA because they've reeled off 24 straight victories, just nine short of the all-time record.

The Nuggets look for their 15th straight tonight with a game at home with Sacramento. The Heat have the day off and next play tomorrow night at home.

The rest of this evening's schedule has Detroit playing at Charlotte, the Knicks home to the Raptors, Indiana at Chicago in a Central Division contest, Boston at Memphis, the Clippers home to the Nets and Washington at Golden State.




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