Wheeler News Service - Monday, March 31, 2014 - Morning State Sports
In the N-C-A-A men's basketball tournament...
Midwest Regional Final
Kentucky 75, Michigan 72 (Kentucky plays Wisconsin in the Final Four)
In the American Hockey League...
Grand Rapids 3, Milwaukee 1
Here are the details:
Wisconsin's brutally-cold winter ended just in time for baseball. The Milwaukee Brewers will host the Atlanta Braves this afternoon at 1:10 in their regular season opener before a full house at Miller Park. Right-hander Yovani Gallardo will start for the Brewers against Atlanta right-hander Julio Teheran. Gallardo had a rough start last season, but rallied after the All-Star break to go 12-and-10 with a four-point-one-eight E-R-A. Teheran went 14-and-8 in his rookie campaign of 2013, with a three-point-two-oh E-R-A. Expect the retractable roof to remain closed. Highs in the upper-50's are expected with a chance of rain late in the afternoon. Milwaukee begins the season relatively healthy. Shortstop Jean Segura will play, after missing the final two weeks of spring training games with a minor shoulder injury. Ryan Braun had a solid spring, batting .417 while coming off a 65-game drug suspension which happened while he was out with a right hand injury. Brewers' manager Ron Roenicke said Braun is comfortable in his new position in right field. The Brewers struggled to a 74-and-88 record a year ago. They'll have a rough schedule this month, taking on four teams that had 90 or more wins a year ago. Atlanta went 96-and-66.
Wisconsin will play Kentucky in Saturday night's second national semi-final at the N-C-A-A men's basketball Final Four in Arlington Texas. The Wildcats were the last team to advance, with a 75-72 win over Michigan yesterday at the Midwest Regional Final in Indianapolis. Aaron Harrison hit the game-winning three-pointer with two-point-six seconds left, as rookie-dominated Kentucky improved to 28-and-10. They'll take on a Wisconsin squad that punched its ticket to the Final Four by winning the West Regional in overtime fashion late Saturday night. About 10-thousand fans greeted coach Bo Ryan's team at the Kohl Center yesterday. Ryan said the players had to catch up on school work while his staff works up a game plan for Kentucky. The Badgers will practice in Madison today and tomorrow before heading to North Texas for its first Final Four since 2000.
Another name has joined the list of possible candidates for the Marquette men's coaching vacancy. Yahoo Sports reported last night that long-time Duke assistant Steve Wojciechowski (voyt-see-kov-skee) is being considered. He's been an assistant at Duke since 1999, after helping Mike Krzyzewski (sheh-shess'-kee) win two national titles and the gold medal for Team U-S-A at the 2008 Olympics. Tennessee coach Ben Howland, former U-C-L-A head man Ben Howland, and U-W Green Bay's Brian Wardle are among the names still being banded out in the media. Marquette lost its coach 10 days ago, after Buzz Williams suddenly left for Virginia Tech.
The Milwaukee Bucks will play at Detroit tonight, as they close out their worst season in their 45-year history. The Bucks are 14-and-59 with nine games left. Four more losses would give them a team-record 63 defeats. Milwaukee also remains two games ahead of Philadelphia for the top spot in the N-B-A Draft Lottery, and the best chance of getting the top overall pick in June. Coach Larry Drew says he knows that lots of fans want the Bucks to tank for the top spot -- but he won't lose games on purpose. Drew insists that he's still trying to get his injury-depleted roster to win games, and play hard each night. Drew says it's easy to just play out the string at this point -- but he swears he won't do it. The coach says he still sees passion among his players, as evidenced by forward Giannis Antetokounmpo. The 19-year-old played 22 minutes in Saturday night's home loss to Miami, despite a sore right ankle. He had one point and four rebounds, but Drew said he was happy just to see Antetokounmpo in the game.
Wisconsin's Matt Kenseth has jumped into second place in NASCAR's Sprint Cup standings. The Cambridge native rose three spots, after he took sixth yesterday at the S-T-P 500 in Martinsville Virginia. Kenseth now has four Top-10 finishes in his six races so far this year. Paul Menard of Eau Claire placed 10th yesterday. It was his third Top-10 finish, and he went up three spots to 11th in the point totals. Beloit-born Danica Patrick placed 32nd at Martinsville. She dropped two places for the year to 29th. Travis Kvapil of Janesville was 33rd in the race, and he rose one spot in the standings to 38th. Kurt Busch won the S-T-P event, and Dale Earnhardt Junior moved back into the top spot in the Sprint Cup standings.
Madison golfer Jerry Kelly tied for sixth place at the P-G-A's Valero Texas Open in San Antonio. Kelly shot a four-under-par 68 in his final round yesterday. He finished five-under for the tournament at 283 -- three strokes behind the winner, Steven Bowditch. The 47-year-old Kelly earned his third Top-10 finish of the year -- the same as what he had the previous two seasons combined. He also exceeded his earnings' total from a year ago. Kelly is now 44th on the Tour's money list with just over 885-thousand dollars.
In hockey, the Milwaukee Admirals lost at home yesterday to Grand Rapids 3-to-1. Ryan Sproul broke a 1-1 tie with the deciding goal late in the third period, as Grand Rapids remains the American Hockey League's best road team with 48 points. The Admirals were robbed of a goal in the first period, when Miikka Salomaki swatted in a puck that was tied up at the net. Admirals coach Dean Evason said referee David Banfeld apologized for blowing his whistle too quickly, and stopping the play before the goal was scored. The Admirals' loss was only the fourth in their last 13 games.
Milwaukee amateur kick-boxer Dennis Munson died over the weekend, just a few hours after he competed in a Friday night bout. The 24-year-old Munson collapsed in the ring, right after he lost a three-round bout to Mike Vang. He received oxygen before going to a hospital where he died. The Milwaukee County medical examiner's office has not said what caused the death. A witness told BloodyElbow-Dot-Com that Munson appeared "out of sorts" going into the third round. But a chief sponsoring official said the referee spoke to Munson and determined he was not in danger.