KANSAS CITY, March 10 (UPI) -- The field for the NCAA basketball tournament will be announced today and shortly before that announcement is made, a preview of the national championship game might take place.
There was much anticipation for a matchup between the No. 2 Maryland Terrapins and No. 3 Duke Blue Devils in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, but that possibility ended Saturday when Maryland fell to North Carolina State in the semifinals.
Just as riveting a contest, however, will be the one between No. 1 Kansas and No. 4 Oklahoma, which will come about today in the final of the Big 12 tourney.
Kansas has become the decided favorite going into the NCAA Tournament. The Jayhawks did not lose a league game this season and in their two outings in the conference tournament have overwhelmed Colorado and Bob Knight's Texas Tech Red Raiders. Kansas beat Texas Tech Saturday, 90-50, in the most one-sided game in Big 12 tourney history.
Today's other conference finals will be held in the ACC (Duke vs. North Carolina State), Big 10 (Ohio State vs. the very surprising Iowa Hawkeyes) and Southeastern Conference (Alabama vs. Mississippi St.)
Fourteen spots in the NCAA Tournament were filled Saturday, including triumphs by Arizona over USC in the Pac-10 and Connecticut over Pittsburgh in the Big East. Pennsylvania also claimed the Ivy League title while Boston University, Cincinnati, McNeese, Montana, Hampton, Xavier, Kent St., Alcorn St. and Hawaii were among those earning positions in the tournament.
Mavericks lead league in victories
DALLAS, March 10 (UPI) -- Bob Sura missed a three-point shot at the buzzer Saturday night, allowing the Dallas Mavericks to hold on for a 107-105 victory over the lowly Golden State Warriors.
Dallas thus moved into a virtual tie with Sacramento for the best record in the NBA. The Mavericks, who were a laughing stock for most of the 90's, lead the league in victories with 44.
After Steve Nash made one of two from the line with 6.7 seconds remaining to give Dallas a two-point lead, the Warriors called timeout and had a chance for the win.
But Eduardo Najara defended Sura well on the final possession, forcing an off-balance shot that failed to hit the rim.
Michael Finley scored 28 points and Nash added 22 for Dallas, which could not put away the Warriors after building a 12-point lead in the first quarter.
The Mavericks have had a recent trend of allowing weaker teams to stay in games and it almost cost them. Golden State, which has the third-worst record in the Western Conference, rallied from a nine-point defict late in the third quarter.
Other NBA results: Philadelphia 112, Atlanta 91; Miami 93, Memphis 88; San Antonio 100, Chicago 73; Seattle 96, New Jersey 90; Denver 109, Portland 106 (OT).
Red Wings win eight straight on the road
ST. LOUIS, March 10 (UPI) -- Luc Robitaille scored twice and Sergei Fedorov had a goal and an assist Saturday as the Detroit Red Wings established a team record with their eighth consecutive road win, a 5-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues.
The Red Wings broke the mark of seven straight road victories, set from March 25-April 14, 1995 and matched from Feb. 18-March 20, 1996.
Detroit, which reached 100 points with the win, has outscored foes, 30-13, since suffering losing to Columbus on Feb. 8.
Robitaille increased his career total to 619 goals as Detroit improved to 5-0 since the Olympic break, despite the absence of injured veterans Steve Yzerman, Frederik Olausson and Darren McCarty.
Other NHL results: Colorado 4, Los Angeles 3; Pittsburgh 3, New York Rangers 2 in overtime; Boston 3, Calgary 2; Phoenix 3, Ottawa 2; Toronto 1, Montreal 1; Nashville 2, Florida 2; San Jose 2, Vancouver 0
Wetterich seeks first PGA Tour win
CORAL SPRINGS, Fla., March 10 (UPI) -- Playing with a major medical exemption, Brett Wetterich earned a share of the lead with Canadian Mike Weir Saturday when play was suspended by darkness in the third round of the Honda Classic.
Just making the cut is news for Wetterich, who failed to qualify for the weekend in 14 of his first 16 PGA Tour starts, including five this season.
But the 28-year-old Wetterich, who lives an hour away in Palm Beach Gardens, finished a bogey-free 6-under-par 66 Saturday morning before going 4-under through 11 holes of his third round.
Wetterich was one of 50 players left on the course, which was drenched with two inches of rain Thursday, leading to darkness suspending rounds on Friday and Saturday.
Ranked 12th in the world, Weir also completed a 66 early Saturday, then went 3-under over 10 holes of the third round to grab a share of the lead at 14-under heading to Sunday.
PGA Tour rookie Stephen Gangluff, who has missed his first four cuts this season, finished his round at 13-under 203, as did Matt Kuchar. Gangluff carded a third-round 65, one shot better than Kuchar.
Fernandez keeps CART pole
MONTERREY, Mexico, March 10 (UPI) -- Rain hampered the second qualifying run Saturday for the CART Grand Prix of Monterrey, leaving Mexico City native Adrian Fernandez on the pole for Sunday's race.
Fernandez posted the fastest average lap Friday and maintained the pole position when rain prevented all but three drivers from making their way around Fundidora Park's 2.104-mile track.
CART re-instituted a two-day qualifying procedure this season and Fernandez gained the upper hand Friday with a top lap of 95.965 miles per hour in his Honda/Lola/Bridgestone.
The first qualifying run was worth a bonus point in the CART standings. Fernandez picked up another Saturday, carefully negotiating the slick course at an average of just 71.242 mph.
Each starting position was determined Friday. Scotland's Dario Franchitti will start next to Fernandez after posting an average speed of 95.634 mph in a Honda/Reynard/Bridgestone.
Alex Tagliani of Canada and Christian Fittipaldi of Brazil qualified third and fourth.
Buccaneers sign Rob Johnson
TAMPA, Fla., March 10 (UPI) -- Two weeks after John Gruden was introduced as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' new coach, quarterback Rob Johnson agreed Saturday to terms on a free agent contract.
Shortly after leaving Oakland to coach Tampa Bay, Gruden promised he would find more competition at the quarterback spot, saying he would "cultivate as many arms" as possible.
Johnson joins a corps that includes incumbent starter Brad Johnson, Shaun King and Joey Hamilton. Brad Johnson was erratic in his first year with the team.
Rob Johnson was released by the Bills following the season, ending a stormy tenure that featured a quarterback controversy and a series of injuries.
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