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Sports briefs: NCAA women's basketball tournament expands to 68 teams
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Sports briefs: NCAA women's basketball tournament expands to 68 teams

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COLLEGE BASKETBALL

NCAA women’s field expands to 68

The NCAA women’s tournament is expanding to 68 teams beginning with the current season, giving it an equal number of participants as the men’s tournament as part of an effort at gender parity.

The men’s tournament expanded to 68 teams in 2011 with four first-round games traditionally played in Dayton, Ohio. The first four for the women’s tournament will take place on the campuses of teams seeded in the top 16 this season, but they will move to a to-be-determined neutral site beginning with the 2023 tournament.

Michigan, Howard agree to 5-year extension

Michigan and men’s coach Juwan Howard agreed to a five-year extension totaling over $16.9 million that keeps him under contract through the 2025-26 season.

The Wolverines won their first two games this season and are contenders to win the national title. They went 23-5 last season and won the Big Ten title and reached a NCAA tournament regional final. In Howard’s first years as a head coach during the 2019-20 season, he won 19 games before the pandemic ended college basketball’s postseason tournaments.

Texas Tech cleared junior Terrence Shannon Jr.

  • to return to play for the Red Raiders after the standout forward was held out of their first three games during a review of eligibility rules. The school said that all questions related to Shannon going through the NBA draft process last summer had been resolved.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Michigan State, Tucker near $95M contract

Michigan State and coach Mel Tucker are closing in on a new contract, one that will make him among the highest-paid coaches in college football.

A source close to the negotiations confirmed to The Detroit News on Wednesday that Tucker will get a 10-year, $95 million contract that will make him the highest-paid coach in the Big Ten and the second-highest paid coach in the country behind Alabama’s Nick Saban.

The deal is expected to be announced as early as Thursday, according to the source.

The new contract also will make Tucker the highest-paid Black head coach in sports, surpassing Stanford’s David Shaw, who is making just more than $8.9 million per year. Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers is the highest-paid Black coach in the NFL at $8 million a year.

No. 7 Michigan State (9-1, 6-1 Big Ten) is preparing for Saturday’s game at No. 4 Ohio State (9-1, 7-0).

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said leading receiver Justyn Ross

  • will have surgery to fix the stress fracture in his foot then get ready for the NFL draft. Ross will miss Saturday’s game against Wake Forest and the season-ending rivalry contest at South Carolina on Nov. 27. Ross had the option to play for the Tigers in 2022, but Swinney said he has chosen the NFL.

Despite a second alleged victim coming forward in court on Wednesday, Georgia linebacker Adam Anderson

  • was granted a $25,000 bond in Athens-Clarke County Superior Court. Anderson is expected to be released under conditions by Thursday morning, according to his attorney. Anderson has been incarcerated in the Athens-Clarke County Jail on rape charges since his arrest Nov. 10. Anderson has denied the charge.

TENNIS

Djokovic reaches semifinals of ATP Finals

Novak Djokovic advanced to the semifinals of the ATP Finals by beating Andrey Rublev 6-3, 6-2 in Turin, Italy.

The top-ranked Djokovic is attempting to match Roger Federer‘s record of six titles at the season-ending event for the top eight players in the world.

Djokovic is 2-0 in the Green Group. He beat Casper Ruud in his opening group match.

Ruud kept alive his hopes of making the semifinals by overcoming Cameron Norrie 1-6, 6-3, 6-4.

NHL

Red Sox owners in talks to buy Penguins

The owners of the Boston Red Sox are in talks to buy the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins.

Red Sox president Sam Kennedy confirmed that Fenway Sports Group, which owns the Major League Baseball team as well as Liverpool FC of the Premier League and is partners in the RFK Racing NASCAR team, has been working on a deal for the Penguins.

Former Penguins star and current part-owner Mario Lemieux and the management team will reportedly remain in place.

Sportico valued the Penguins last month at $845 million.

NBA

Wizards give GM Sheppard extension

Washington Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard has received a contract extension amid the team’s fast start to the season. Sheppard now becomes president and GM of the Wizards, who were 10-3 entering Wednesday night’s game at Charlotte, the best record in the Eastern Conference and their best start since 1974-75.

ELSEWHERE

  • The NCAA said that the Division I Infractions Appeals Committee upheld penalties against Massachusetts’ men’s basketball and women’s tennis programs. The appeals committee confirmed the school provided impermissible financial aid of about $9,100 to 12 athletes over three years that made them ineligible for competition. Last year, the Committee on Infractions’ ruling vacated results from 2014-17 that included 59 basketball victories and an Atlantic 10 title in women’s tennis.
  • Seven-time NASCAR champion

Jimmie Johnson

will represent the United States in the upcoming international Race of Champions,

an event he won with Jeff Gordon in 2002. Johnson will compete in the event scheduled

Feb. 4-6 in Pite Havsbad, Sweden
  • for the “Champion of Champions” title in the individual ROC competition.

— From wire reports

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