National Sports Headlines from NBC Sports

Woods has back surgery, will miss the Masters

Tiger Woods chose surgery to heal his ailing back over a quest for another green jacket, announcing Tuesday that he will miss the Masters for the first time in his career.

Woods said on his website that he had surgery Monday in Utah for a pinched nerve that had been hurting him for several months, knowing the surgery would keep him from Augusta National next week for the first time since he was a senior in high school.

The No. 1 player in the world is a four-time Masters champion.

"After attempting to get ready for the Masters, and failing to make the necessary progress, I decided in consultation with my doctors to have this procedure done, Woods said. "I'd like to express my disappointment to the Augusta National membership, staff, volunteers and patrons that I will not be at the Masters.

"It's a week that's very special to me," he said. "It also looks like I'll be forced to miss several upcoming tournaments to focus on my rehabilitation and getting healthy."

The Masters gets the highest television ratings of any golf tournament, and Woods commands most of the attention, even though he last won a green jacket in 2005. He won his first Masters in 1997 when he set 20 records, from youngest Masters champion at 21 to his 12-shot margin of victory.

"I know Tiger has been working very hard to return to form, and as I have said many times, Tiger has a lot of years of good golf ahead of him," Jack Nicklaus said. "I hate to see him robbed of some of that time by injury. But we all know he is doing what is in the best interest of his health and future. I wish him well on a speedy recovery."

Nicklaus played 154 straight majors for which he was eligible until he missed the 1998 British Open because of an ailing left hip that he had replaced a year later. Nicklaus rarely had injury problems in compiling 18 professional majors, the record that Woods wants. Woods has been stuck on 14 majors for six years.

Woods has had four surgeries on his left knee, and now his biggest concern is his back.

He has been coping with back issues since last summer: a twinge in the final round of the PGA Championship and spasms in the final round of The Barclays that caused him to fall to his knees. Then, they returned with alarming regularity recently in Florida.

He withdrew after 13 holes in the final round of the Honda Classic with what he described as lower back pain and spasms. Woods shot the highest final round of his career at Doral a week later when he said his back flared up again in the final round. He skipped the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he was the two-time defending champion, to rest his back and do everything possible to be at Augusta National next week.

"Tiger was gracious in keeping us updated of his condition and making us aware of his decision," Augusta National chairman Billy Payne said. "We wholeheartedly offered our best wishes for his immediate and long-term recovery."

Woods said he had a microdiscectomy for the pinched nerve, performed by neurosurgeon Charles Rich.

A microdiscectomy is a type of minimally invasive spine surgery to relieve pressure and pain caused by a herniated disc. Operating through a small incision in the lower back, surgeons remove small disc fragments that are pressing against spinal nerves.

Recovery can take several weeks and doctors typically advise against bending and twisting the back until patients are completely healed

"This is frustrating," Woods said. "But it's something my doctors advised me to do for my immediate and long-term health."

His website said repeating the motion of a golf swing can cause problems with a pinched nerve, and that the injury could have become worse if he had continued to play. Woods said he hopes to return to golf this summer, though he could not say when. It's possible he could at least start chipping and putting in three weeks.

He will have to wait until the U.S. Open - maybe longer - to resume his quest to match Nicklaus in the majors. Woods won his 14th major at the 2008 U.S. Open on a badly injured left leg that required season-ending surgery two days after his playoff win at Torrey Pines.

He has not won another major since then.

This would have been the 20th straight Masters for Woods, dating to 1995 when he tied for 41st as the U.S. Amateur champion. He missed the British Open and PGA Championship in 2008 after knee surgery, and the U.S. Open and British Open in 2011 to heal more injuries in his left leg.

But he never missed the Masters, even after the scandal in his personal life at the end of 2009. Woods had been out of golf for nearly five months dealing with a car crash into a fire hydrant, revelations of multiple extramarital affairs and 45 days in a Mississippi clinic when he returned to Augusta National under intense scrutiny. He tied for fourth.

Even though he hasn't won the Masters in nine years, he had only finished out of the top 10 one time, in 2012.

Woods has 79 career wins on the PGA Tour, three short of the record held by Sam Snead. He already was off to the worst start of his career.

"It's tough right now, but I'm absolutely optimistic about the future," Woods said. "There are a couple (of) records by two outstanding individuals and players that I hope one day to break. As I've said many times, Sam and Jack reached their milestones over an entire career. I plan to have a lot of years left in mine."

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Associated Press Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner in Chicago contributed to this report.

Chemo, radiation for ex-Bills QB Kelly next week

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) The doctor treating Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly for cancer says Kelly will start chemotherapy and radiation next week.

The treatment plan was outlined Tuesday by Dr. Peter Costantino of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, where the longtime Buffalo Bills star is being treated for a sinus cancer.

Costantino says he's confident the regimen has a good chance of success. If not, he says Kelly's skull-base tumor remains operable.

Kelly underwent surgery in Buffalo last June to remove cancerous cells from his upper jaw.

The chemotherapy and radiation will target cancer cells in his maxillary sinus and adjacent tissues.

In 11 seasons with the Bills, Kelly appeared in four consecutive Super Bowls in the 1990s. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002.

Obama welcomes World Series champion Red Sox

WASHINGTON (AP) President Barack Obama welcomed the World Series champion Red Sox to the White House Tuesday, praising their triumph on the field while hailing them as a symbol of their city's "grit and resilience" in the wake of last year's Boston Marathon bombing.

Not all of the ceremonial greeting was quite so serious. David Ortiz, Boston's best-known player, presented the president with a Red Sox jersey emblazoned with "Obama" and the number 44 on the back, then promptly took a cell phone picture of himself and the chief executive. "What an honor, thanks for the (hash)selfie (at)BarackObama" he quickly tweeted.

And Jonny Gomes, an outfielder, strolled the White House grounds dressed in a sports jacket that looked like an American flag, stars on one half, and stripes on the other.

Standing in front of players and team officials, Obama noted that the Red Sox have won three championships in the past decade, more than any other team.

He said sports sometimes "seems like it's trivial, it's just an entertainment. And then, every once in a while, you're reminded that sports represents something else and it has the power to bring people together like almost nothing else can."

Three people were killed and more than 260 injured nearly a year ago in a bombing at the Boston Marathon. The Red Sox staged a tribute to the victims on the field and had "Boston Strong" symbols sewn into their uniforms. "The point is, Boston and the Red Sox were one," Obama said.

"When they visited bombing victims in the hospital, when they played ball with kids getting cancer treatment, when they started a program to help wounded warriors get treatment at Mass General (Hospital), these guys were saying, `we're all on the same team.' "

Obama, a Chicago White Sox fan, wished Boston good luck this season, then added, "May the best Sox win."

MLB back with replays, metal detectors, comebacks

Jimmy Rollins began the season with a slam, Neil Walker with a walkoff homer and the Washington Nationals with a thrilling ninth-inning comeback.

After a frigid winter of blizzards for much of the U.S., baseball came storming back Monday when 26 major league teams opened their seasons and seemed to make the outdoors feel a little warmer.

Washington's Matt Williams and Detroit's Brad Ausmus won in their big league debuts as managers.

They weren't the only inaugurals.

There was an innovative replay system for umpires, and at some ballparks new metal detectors at fan entrances as teams installed the devices a year before Major League Baseball's industrywide requirement.

At U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, there were long lines as spectators were screened by hand held or walkthrough metal detectors.

"Everybody's safety is important and if Major League Baseball and the Chicago White Sox are trying to protect their fans that are loyal to them, I'm fine with that," said Paula Green of Paris, Ill.

On the field, there were five video reviews in the day games. In the two decisions overturned by umpires in the New York control room, Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers and Emilio Bonifacio of the Chicago Cubs were called out at first base after initially being ruled safe. In the two of the three rulings confirmed, Washington's Danny Espinosa and the Cubs' Jeff Samardzija both were called out.

The other confirmed ruling was the first review to be initiated by a crew chief. Umpire Mike Winters requested a replay to see if A's catcher John Jaso had illegally blocked the plate while tagging Cleveland's Michael Brantley under baseball's new rule regarding home plate collisions.

Braun received a standing ovation at Miller Park in his return from a 65-game, season-ending suspension he accepted for violations of baseball's drug agreement and labor contract.

"Fans are fans. That's the way it's supposed to be. He's their hometown player and it was a wonderful reaction. I wish everybody well," said baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, the former Brewers owner who was on hand to watch his hometown team.

Nelson Cruz, who completed his 50-game suspension in time to return for Texas' season finale last fall, celebrated his Baltimore debut with a tiebreaking home run off Jon Lester in the seventh inning in the Orioles' 2-1 win over World Series champion Boston. Fans chanted "Cruuuuuze!" every time his name was announced.

"It was really neat, it was special," he said. "I made the right call to come and be part of this organization, be part of this town."

Rollins hit his 200th career homer in Philadelphia's 14-10 interleague win at Texas as the Phillies had 17 hits and scored their most runs in an opener since 1900. Rollins, whose wife is expecting their second child, flew to Texas on Sunday, a day after the rest of the team.

"I didn't want to come here and then have to fly to Philadelphia," Rollins said. "The baby has let me go out and play ball for a few more days."

Rollins connected off Tanner Scheppers, the first pitcher since Fernando Valenzuela of the 1981 Los Angeles Dodgers to make his first big league start on opening day.

At Pittsburgh, Walker homered off Carlos Villanueva leading off the 10th inning to give the Pirates a 1-0, 10-inning win over the perennially hapless Chicago Cubs. He becomes the first Pittsburgh player to hit a game-ending home on opening day since Bob Bailey against San Francisco's Juan Marichal in a 1-0, 10-inning victory in 1965.

"This one feels pretty special," said Walker, who last year helped the Pirates finish with a winning record for the first time since 1992. "This is a special day for this team, this organization. We've come a long way."

Washington rallied for a 9-7 win at the New York Mets. Denard Span hit a tying double with two outs in the ninth off closer Bobby Parnell, and Ian Desmond put the Nationals in front for the first time with a sacrifice fly in the 10th and Anthony Rendon followed with a three-run homer.

"I have a stomach ache right now," Williams said. "I'll probably sleep good tonight."

Detroit beat visiting Kansas City 4-3 when Alex Gonzalez finished his Tigers debut with a winning RBI single in the ninth against Greg Holland. Kansas City lost its sixth straight opener but Salvador Perez's run-scoring double in the fourth ended a 22-inning scoreless streak for the Royals in openers.

St. Louis won 1-0 at Cincinnati behind Yadier Molina's seventh-inning homer off Johnny Cueto, the Reds' first shutout loss on opening day since 1953. Bryan Price lost his managing debut with Cincinnati.

Coming off a 63-99 season, their poorest record since 1970, the Chicago White Sox beat Minnesota 5-3. Tampa Bay beat Toronto 9-2 behind ace David Price, who wasn't sure he'd remain with the Rays during a winter of trade rumors.

Blue Jays shortstop Jose Reyes left the lineup after his first at-bat because of a tight left hamstring and was put on the disabled list. Reyes injured his left ankle in Toronto's 10th game last year and was sidelined until June 26.

Jose Fernandez struck out nine and allowed one run in six innings for the Miami Marlins in a 10-1 rout of visiting Colorado. The 21-year-old became the youngest NL opening-day starter since Dwight Gooden in 1986, according to STATS.

Nyjer Morgan hit a go-ahead sacrifice fly in the ninth inning against new Athletics closer Jim Johnson and visiting Cleveland sent Oakland to its major league-record 10th straight opening loss, 2-0.

Felix Hernandez struck out 11 in the new-look Mariners' 10-3 victory at the Angels. Robinson Cano went 2 for 4 with a double and an intentional walk in the $240 million second baseman's debut for new Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon. Mike Trout hit a two-run homer in the first inning for Los Angeles.

Buster Posey hit a two-run homer off new Arizona closer Addison Reed in the ninth inning and the visiting Giants rallied from four runs down for a 9-8 victory.

The final opener is Tuesday, when the New York Yankees start captain Derek Jeter's last season at Houston.

Mariners roar past Angels 10-3 on opening day

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Abraham Almonte hit a tiebreaking RBI double in the seventh inning and Felix Hernandez struck out 11 in the new-look Seattle Mariners' 10-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Monday night.

Justin Smoak hit a three-run homer and Dustin Ackley had a three-run triple while the Mariners batted around in the ninth inning, roaring back from an early two-run deficit for their eighth straight victory on opening day.

Robinson Cano went 2 for 4 with a double and an intentional walk in the $240 million second baseman's debut for new Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon.

Mike Trout hit a two-run homer in the first inning and Albert Pujols had a run-scoring double for the Angels, who had won nine of 10 on opening day, including five straight.

Their evening got off to an ominous start when hitting coach Don Baylor broke his right leg while catching Vladimir Guerrero's ceremonial first pitch.

The former Rockies and Cubs manager will have surgery on his femur Tuesday. Baylor's leg bent awkwardly before he had to be helped to the dugout, leaving the Angels stunned as they took the field.

Hernandez (1-0) gave up four hits over six innings in his seventh opening day start for the Mariners, passing Randy Johnson for the club record.

He outdueled Jered Weaver (0-1), who yielded six hits and three walks in his club-record sixth start on opening day.

Mike Zunino had an RBI triple in the seventh to chase Weaver, and Almonte drove him home with a double off Angels newcomer Fernando Salas. Smoak connected in the ninth off Kevin Jepsen while the Mariners batted around.

After Cano grounded out to short in his first plate appearance, the longtime Yankees second baseman got his first Mariners hit on a 50-foot squib to third base in the fourth inning. He rapped a solid double to right in the ninth before Smoak's shot.

The Angels' top newcomers didn't impress for openers: David Freese went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts, and longtime Mariners slugger Raul Ibanez was 0 for 4 with three strikeouts.

Trout's new $144.5 million contract doesn't even begin until next season, but the brightest young talent in baseball wasted no time delivering. After Kole Calhoun's leadoff single, Trout put an emphatic drive over the left field fence against Hernandez.

Pujols' double boosted Los Angeles' lead to 3-1 in the third. The Mariners nearly tied it with a two-out rally in the sixth, but Calhoun swiftly fielded Kyle Seager's RBI double off the right field wall, and cutoff man Howie Kendrick threw out Logan Morrison at the plate.

But one inning later, Zunino put a one-out triple over Josh Hamilton's head in left, scoring Ackley.

NOTES: Morrison had three strikeouts and two walks in his Mariners debut. ... Weaver has started the last five consecutive opening days, while Hernandez has started six straight Mariners openers. ... Ibanez has spent the majority of his career in Seattle during three stints with the club. He had 29 homers and 65 RBIs for the Mariners last year.

Posey's home run caps Giant rally in 9-8 victory

PHOENIX (AP) Buster Posey hit a two-run homer off new Arizona closer Addison Reed in the ninth inning and the San Francisco Giants rallied from four runs down to beat the Diamondbacks 9-8 on Monday night.

It was the season opener for San Francisco and the first true home game for the Diamondbacks, who started the season with two losses as the home team against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Australia.

Miguel Montero, who had three hits and reached base five times, homered to lead off the Arizona ninth and make it a one-run game.

Brandon Belt had three hits, including a solo home run, and singled ahead of Posey's homer.

Arizona scored four unearned runs off starter Madison Bumgarner in the fourth and led 7-3 after six. San Francisco got four runs with two outs in the seventh, with reliever Brad Ziegler walking in the tying run.

Duchene out about 4 weeks with knee injury

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) The Colorado Avalanche will be heading into their first postseason in four years without leading scorer Matt Duchene, who injured his left knee.

Duchene damaged the medial collateral ligament when he ran into a teammate on the opening shift against San Jose over the weekend. He is expected to miss about four weeks.

The loss is a big blow for the Avalanche, who have turned things around in coach Patrick Roy's first season in charge and are in the running for home-ice advantage with eight games remaining.

"We hope for a speedy recovery to be back as soon as he can," Ryan O'Reilly said after practice Monday.

Duchene was trying to avoid a collision with teammate Jamie McGinn, but they awkwardly bumped near the Sharks blue line. Duchene fell to the ice and then gingerly skated to the bench.

"One of those freak accidents in hockey," McGinn said.

McGinn said he has called and texted Duchene, telling him to "stay positive."

Duchene posted on his Twitter account Monday that the "thought of not playing in the first round for me has been devastating." He added that he will be "doing everything in my power to be ready for Game 1 ... and if not then, shortly after!"

The 23-year-old Duchene has set career highs this season in points (70), assists (47) and shots (217). He missed three games earlier this season with an oblique injury. The team went 3-0 in his absence.

For now, Roy said the plan is to move rookie Nathan MacKinnon to center to fill in for Duchene, with O'Reilly and McGinn playing on the wings.

"We've been finding ways to win games," Roy said. "We'll continue to find ways to win."

Here's an encouraging sign: P.A. Parenteau, who sprained his knee on March 10, briefly skated on his own Monday. Roy said Parenteau could possibly be back for the regular season finale in Anaheim on April 13.

"We have depth and a lot of confidence in our players," Roy said. "Our players have a lot of confidence in themselves. It's a team concept. It's how we've been winning our games. It's not going to change."

Right after practice, Roy assembled his team at center ice, just to give them one final pep talk before taking off for a game in Columbus on Tuesday. He told them he was "proud of them" and that the team shouldn't be satisfied, especially with Colorado trailing Central Division-leading St. Louis by only seven points.

The message was well received.

"All year, guys have stepped up and done a great job," McGinn said. "We just stay positive and work hard and good things will happen."

Asked if there was any pressure stepping in for Duchene, MacKinnon responded, "No."

"I'm not going to try to replace Dutchy, because you can't," said MacKinnon, a favorite for rookie of the year. "Matt is a big-time player and we're going to have to find ways to win without him."

Roy knows all about missing an integral player for the postseason. He and the Avalanche were without Peter Forsberg during their 2001 Stanley Cup run when Forsberg had to have his spleen removed following the Western Conference semifinals against Los Angeles.

The team carried on without the Swedish star, beating the New Jersey Devils in Game 7 to win the title.

"That's the way it was in 2001 - it was about the team," Roy said. "Peter was a very important player on that team, don't get me wrong. But our culture was we had to work hard every time we were on the ice. We had to find ways to win hockey games.

"That's what this team has been doing all year. This is what we're talking about when you're talking about a team changing their culture. We're not looking for an excuse. We're looking for a solution."

UConn women top Aggies 69-54, head to Final Four

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis continued her splendid run through the NCAA tournament with 17 points, and Connecticut advanced to the women's Final Four for the seventh straight year with a 69-54 victory against Texas A&M on Monday night.

The defending national champion Huskies (38-0) won their 44th straight game and will be going for their record ninth national championship in Nashville. Their semifinal opponent Sunday will be either Stanford or North Carolina.

Stefanie Dolson, who made her 150th career start to tie the NCAA record, had 14 points and 10 rebounds and blocked a career-high eight shots. Bria Hartley had 14 points, Breanna Stewart added 13 and Moriah Jefferson 11.

Courtney Walker led Texas A&M (27-9) with 14 points. Courtney Williams had 13 and Jordan Jones 12.

After the Aggies got within three points early in the second half, UConn outscored the Aggies 27-12 to build its lead to 18 points.

Stanford coach questions unionization movement

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) Stanford coach David Shaw is questioning what's behind the union movement by Northwestern football players, saying everything they are asking for is already being provided by most universities.

Shaw said following Stanford's spring practice Monday night that he's "curious what's really driving" the union. He said his players are given an athletic scholarship worth about $60,000 annually and have never had to pay for a health care service.

"I'm as confused as anybody as to the importance of this," Shaw said. "I'm curious what's really driving it. I've seen everything, and everything that's been asked for, my understanding is it's been provided. I think Northwestern does a phenomenal job providing for their kids, and it's weird to try to unionize but still compliment Northwestern and compliment their coaching staff on being taken care of. Those things don't seem to go hand in hand."

Shaw's comments came after last week's ruling by a regional director of the National Labor Relations Board that Northwestern's football team can be considered employees and have the right to form a union. The school is appealing.

Shaw also fired back at outgoing Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter's comments that Stanford rescinded a scholarship because of an injury. Shaw, who personally recruited Colter out of his Colorado high school, said he couldn't elaborate on Colter's situation but he's never rescinded a scholarship from a player because of an injury - and never will.

"I went to his high school. I talked to his high school coach. I sat there and talked to him for an hour-and-a-half and watched all the kids' film," Shaw said. "There was no way we dropped a scholarship offer because he got hurt."

The College Athletes Players Association, or CAPA, has said its specific goals include guaranteeing coverage of sports-related medical expenses for current and former players, reducing head injuries and potentially letting players pursue commercial sponsorships.

Critics have argued that giving college athletes employee status and allowing them to unionize could hurt college sports in numerous ways, including raising the prospect of strikes by disgruntled players or lockouts by athletic departments.

For now, the push is to unionize athletes at private schools, such as Northwestern and Stanford, because the federal labor agency does not have jurisdiction over public universities.

Shaw said he's had some "preliminary conversations" with his players regarding the Northwestern ruling but will wait to see how things develop before discussing the matter further with them. He also said neither he nor his players have been approached by the union or talked about forming a football players' union at Stanford.

"If this is a cost of attendance thing, we'll do whatever the NCAA allows us to do," Shaw said. "But I'll tell you this: I know we're preparing these young men for more than just football. We're not using them for anything. We're giving them an unbelievable education, unbelievable contacts. Hopefully they have a phenomenal experience here, athletically and academically and socially. And hopefully they go on to influence this great nation. To insinuate that there's anything we're doing to harm these young men, I think it's not correct."

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Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP

Reyes hurt in Blue Jays' loss; headed to DL

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Jose Reyes was put on the disabled list after aggravating a hamstring injury, R.A. Dickey struggled and the Toronto Blue Jays ended up with a one-sided loss to Tampa Bay.

David Price took a shutout into the eighth inning and Matt Joyce drove in three runs Monday to help the Rays begin the season with a 9-2 victory over Blue Jays.

Reyes was lifted after his first at-bat because of a tight left hamstring, an injury that first bothered him late in spring training. The star shortstop led off the game and was robbed of a hit on a diving catch by Rays center fielder Desmond Jennings.

"I tried to run a little bit faster between home plate and first base, and I kind of feel my hammy there," Reyes said. "So I have to slowdown and get out of the game because I don't want to get any worse."

Reyes missed several games during the final week of spring training and wasn't at 100 percent for exhibition games Friday and Saturday in Montreal.

"Irritated the same spot, so that's a concern," Toronto manager John Gibbons said.

Several hours later the Blue Jays put him on the DL.

Reyes said the hamstring was "good enough" to play in Montreal and felt better Monday.

"When I tried for a little speed, something not right," Reyes said.

Reyes missed 66 games last season after going on the DL April 13 with a sprained left ankle - after just 10 into his first season with the Blue Jays.

He was replaced in the field by Ryan Goins. The Blue Jays purchased the contract of infielder Jonathan Diaz from Triple-A Buffalo to take Reyes' roster spot.

Price (1-0) allowed two runs and six hits over 7 1-3 innings to beat R.A. Dickey in a matchup of 2012 Cy Young Award winners. The hard-throwing lefty walked one and struck out six before a crowd of 31,042 at Tropicana Field - the Rays' ninth consecutive sellout for a home opener.

"It's really disappointing and frustrating," Dickey said. "You feel like you let a lot of people down. Against David Price, one of the best pitchers in baseball, if you don't match him inning per inning, it's going to be tough to win the game. I put us in a hole early. Walked some guys early, gave up some 0-2 hits with runners in scoring position, and that was the game."

Dickey dropped to 14-13 with a 4.21 ERA last season after winning 20 games and NL Cy Young honors with the Mets two years ago. The 39-year-old knuckleballer is off to another shaky start after allowing six runs, five hits and walking six over five innings against essentially the same Tampa Bay lineup he went 3-1 against in 2013.

Joyce had a sacrifice fly and two-run double off Dickey (0-1), who yielded six two-out runs in five innings. Evan Longoria got the Rays going with a first-inning RBI single and Wil Myers drove in two more when he singled with the bases loaded in the second.

Price limited the Blue Jays to four singles and had only allowed two runners past second base before Maicer Izturis opened the eighth with his second hit of the day. Pinch-hitter Erik Kratz followed with a first-pitch, two-run homer over the center field wall.

The 28-year-old lefty became the Rays' first 20-game winner and edged Justin Verlander in AL Cy Young balloting two years ago. He got off to a slow start in 2013, but finished strong after spending more than a month on the disabled list, leading the majors in innings, complete games and fewest walks per nine innings after July 2.

NOTES: The Rays haven't lost a home series to the Blue Jays since April 2007. ... Blue Jays closer Casey Janssen, who's on the 15-day disabled list due to a strain in his left abdominal area and lower back, doesn't feel the injury will be a long-term problem. ... The four-game series continues Tuesday night with RHP Alex Cobb getting the start for Tampa Bay and the Blue Jays countering with RHP Drew Hutchison.

Notre Dame beats Baylor 88-69 to get to Final Four

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Jewell Loyd scored 30 points and unbeaten Notre Dame advance to the Final Four for a fourth straight season with an 88-69 win over Baylor on Monday night.

Natalie Achonwa added 19 points and 15 rebounds for the top-seeded Irish (36-0), who will face either Louisville or Maryland in the national semifinals on Sunday night in Nashville.

Notre Dame became the sixth school to reach the Final Four in four straight seasons, joining UConn, LSU, Stanford, Louisiana Tech and Tennessee.

The loss ended the brilliant career of Baylor guard Odyssey Sims, who finished this season with 1,054 points -eight short of Jackie Stiles' NCAA record for a single season. Sims scored 33 points for Baylor (32-5), but had little help on offense.

Red Sox fall to Orioles 2-1 in season opener

BALTIMORE (AP) Grady Sizemore will never forget his first opening day with the Boston Red Sox.

His teammates, however, can't wait to put the memory of the game behind them.

The defending World Series champion Red Sox failed to capitalize on several scoring opportunities, and a home run by Sizemore wasn't enough to prevent a 2-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Monday.

After missing two seasons recovering from knee surgery, Sizemore marked his return from a 922-day absence with a second-inning single for his first hit since September 2011. The three-time All-Star for Cleveland later hit his first homer since July 15, 2011, which also came at Camden Yards.

"Today was very exciting," Sizemore said. "I couldn't wait to get to the ballpark."

The single was particularly gratifying, because it came on his first at-bat.

"Having gone through what I've gone through, it was nice to get that moment," Sizemore said.

His homer created a 1-1 tie in the fourth inning, but that would be the extent of the Boston offense. The Red Sox got nine hits and drew three walks, but they stranded 12 and went 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position.

"There were a lot of opportunities that we did create but didn't cash in," manager John Farrell said. "The two-out hit was elusive."

Second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who went 2 for 5, added, "We just hit the ball right at people. It was one of those deals where we couldn't find a way to push runs across."

Nelson Cruz homered off Jon Lester (0-1) in the seventh inning to put the Orioles up 2-1. Cruz hit 27 homers last year with Texas during a season marred by a 50-game suspension from Major League Baseball in the Biogenesis drug scandal.

"It was really neat, it was special," he said. "I made the right call to come and be part of this organization, be part of this town."

Zach Britton (1-0) got the win with two scoreless innings of relief and Tommy Hunter got three outs for the save. Hunter earned the job as closer this spring after the Orioles dealt away Jim Johnson during the offseason.

The Red Sox got two on with one out in the ninth before World Series MVP David Ortiz hit a flyball and Jackie Bradley Jr. took a called third strike.

Making his fourth straight opening day start for Boston, Lester gave up two runs, six hits and a walk in seven innings. He struck out eight.

"It was good. Obviously, the only thing better would be if we win," the left-hander said. "Other than that I thought I threw the ball well."

Orioles starter Chris Tillman allowed one run, seven hits and a walk in five innings. The right-hander went 3-1 against Boston last year, but in this one he needed 104 pitches to get 15 outs.

Britton gave up a one-out double to Xander Bogaerts in the sixth and got three straight outs in the seventh, the only time all day that Boston went down in order.

Evan Meek walked two in the eighth before Brian Matusz retired A.J. Pierzynski on a comebacker.

Gametime temperature was announced at 60 degrees, but a stiff wind chilled many in the crowd of 46,685 - the 23rd consecutive opening day sellout at Camden Yards.

Hopeful that the offseason acquisitions of Cruz and right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez will enable Baltimore to return to the playoffs after missing out last year, Orioles fans were out in force. Until recently, games against Boston often drew as many Red Sox backers as those rooting for the home team.

"Our crowd was legit," Hunter said. "That was awesome. I hope they come out like that every game for 80 more here."

The Orioles used a walk, a single by Matt Wieters and a double-play grounder to take a 1-0 lead in the second.

The Red Sox put runners at second and third with two outs in the third before Tillman struck out Mike Carp. In the fourth, Sizemore hit a 3-1 pitch over the right field wall.

NOTES: Pedroia got Boston's first hit of the season, a one-out single in the first inning, to extend his hitting streak on opening day to eight games. ... After taking Tuesday off, the teams meet Wednesday night. John Lackey (13-5 lifetime against Baltimore) faces Jimenez in his Orioles debut. ... The Red Sox put RF Shane Victorino (hamstring) on the 15-day disabled list and recalled Bradley. ... Ortiz received his 12th opening day start at DH, tying Don Baylor's major league record at the position.

Beginning of the end for Jeter starts in Houston

HOUSTON (AP) Derek Jeter is unsure how he will feel Tuesday when he begins his farewell season with the New York Yankees against the Houston Astros.

"I'm trying to treat it like any other opening day," he said, "and every opening day is special where you have butterflies and you have nerves and I think that's a good thing. I don't foresee this being any different."

To the rest of the sports world it certainly will be. Jeter announced in February that his 20th big league season will be his last. It will mark the end of an illustrious career in which the shortstop was a 13-time All-Star and helped the Yankees to five World Series titles.

He'll join fellow Core Four members Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera in retirement.

"Obviously we're going to miss him and I'm going to try to soak up as much of this as I can this year," manager Joe Girardi said before the Yankees worked out on Monday in Houston. "It's unfortunate, all good things do come to an end but it's been a nice journey and I've been a part of it and I'm thankful."

Houston manager Bo Porter had trouble putting into words what Jeter has meant to the sport.

"He is exactly what baseball stands for - professionalism, hard work, dedication, leadership, championships," Porter said. "He's about as good it gets."

Jeter returns to the field on opening day after missing all but 17 games last season after breaking his left ankle in the 2012 playoffs.

Injuries decimated the Yankees last season and they missed the postseason for just the second time in 19 years.

"I missed so many games last year it's almost like I missed the entire year anyway," Jeter said. "It's a different feeling. I was a part of the team obviously but I was away from the team for a long time. You want to get back to the playoffs. That's what you play for."

Jeter's return to the opening day lineup is far from the only change by the Yankees from a year ago. For the first time since 1947 and just the second time in team history, every position except pitcher will have a different player on opening day than it did in New York's previous opener.

The Yankees began 2013 with a loss to Boston. Kevin Youkilis was at first base, Robinson Cano at second, Eduardo Nunez at shortstop, Jayson Nix at third, Francisco Cervelli behind the plate, Vernon Wells in left, Brett Gardner in center and Ichiro Suzuki in right.

Gardner will start again on Tuesday, but he'll play left instead of center. He and Jeter will be joined in the starting lineup by Brian McCann at catcher, Carlos Beltran in right field, Mark Teixeira at first, Brian Roberts at second, Kelly Johnson at third and Jacoby Ellsbury in center.

C.C. Sabathia will make his sixth straight opening day start. He is coming off a subpar season where he had a career-worst 4.78 ERA.

"Last year I kind of had some doubts about going into the year, just not feeling strong, my elbow, just questions," he said. "This year it just feels great. I feel like I don't have anything to worry about and I can go out and focus on pitching and try to just be good."

He and the MLB's team will do it against a Houston club which is again the youngest in the majors. The Yankees have the second-highest payroll this season and the Astros remain the team with the lowest.

The Astros have eight players who are on an opening day roster for the first time and three of them, left fielder Robbie Grossman, right fielder L.J. Hoes and shortstop Jonathan Villar, are expected to start.

Houston added center fielder and leadoff hitter Dexter Fowler and opening day starter Scott Feldman as they try to improve after three straight 100-loss seasons.

"Every year is different, so hopefully we can get off to a good start this first month and just keep it going from there," Feldman said.

Jayhawks' Wiggins off to NBA after freshman season

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins made official Monday what he's been telling folks all along: He's headed to the NBA after his only season with the Jayhawks.

The 6-foot-8 forward, who was voted second-team All-America earlier in the day, is expected to go in the top three picks in the June draft. Many believe he could go first overall.

"It wasn't an easy decision because the fans showed me so much love here," said Wiggins, choking up briefly during a news conference at Allen Fieldhouse. "I just wish I had more time. College goes by so fast. I can see why people stay all four years."

Wiggins was the top-rated recruit when he arrived at Kansas, and his brief career was a bit of a roller coaster. He struggled early in the season, caught fire midway through, and then flamed out when it mattered most in an NCAA tournament loss to Stanford.

Wiggins only scored four points on 1-for-6 shooting in the third-round defeat. Afterward, he said despondently that he let his team down with his poor performance.

That ultimately didn't have any bearing on his decision, though. He announced he was going pro while joined by Kansas coach Bill Self, his parents - former NBA player Mitchell Wiggins and Olympic silver medalist Marita Payne Wiggins - his older brother Mitchell Jr., and several of his teammates, including fellow freshmen Wayne Selden and Joel Embiid.

Selden has already announced he's returning for his sophomore season. Embiid has not made a decision, even though he's also expected to be a top-five pick in the draft.

Wiggins certainly had a historic season at Kansas. The Canadian averaged a freshman-record 17.1 points and nearly six rebounds per game, and was voted the AP's Big 12 freshman of the year and first-team all-conference.

"Obviously this announcement needed to happen," said Self, who believes one of the biggest challenges Wiggins will face is realizing that basketball will suddenly become his job.

"It's not like this year. He came in with so much hype, and whether he knew it or not, everybody was salivating for a chance to go against a guy with that much hype," Self said. "And he's going to the next level with a lot of hype, but men are going to be saying, `Whoa, whoa, whoa, rook. I've been doing this a long time and you're going to have to earn your way."'

Wiggins simply flashed a smile when asked if he was ready for it.

"Just listening to him now," his father said, "I'm thinking about when he was that little bitty kid that was dirty, and not listening, and now? He's a young man that I think gets it. I think he's going to do very well."

He's also made it through his freshman season healthy. Unlike Embiid, Wiggins never had to deal with any nagging injuries, and his mother said that factored into his decision.

"The best thing is he's not injured. He's able to go ahead and complete part of his goals," she said. "Every day is a new day. He has no injuries and he's ready to go."

Self said Embiid is still wrestling with his stay-or-go decision.

The 7-footer from Cameroon was waylaid late in the season by a stress fracture in his back, and that could factor into Embiid's draft status, along with the fact that he's only been playing basketball for a few years.

Embiid slipped out of the room immediately after Wiggins had finished speaking Monday, but Self told a few reporters that he had not made his decision, despite a report last week that said Embiid would enter the draft.

"That doesn't mean he couldn't still do that, but that was gun-jumping," Self said. "It certainly upset him, because somebody that was a source obviously didn't have good information."

Self doesn't expect Embiid to make his intentions known anytime soon.

"The decision he needs to make is what's best for him," Self said, "whether to stay another year or to go, and I could see him do either one of them. And I think you could make a case that either one would be a good decision. He's not quite like Andrew who's been playing the game his whole life. He's only been playing three years. He's still trying to figure it out."

Sabres sticking with Nolan, who signs 3-year deal

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Sabres coach Ted Nolan will keep building what he started in Buffalo - minus the interim tag.

Nolan is staying on as the head coach beyond this season after signing a three-year contract extension Monday. The deal comes 4-1/2 months after Nolan returned to Buffalo for a second stint - this time, initially, on an interim basis. And it's a reward for Nolan, who has provided a spark to a young, patchwork lineup on a last-place team.

"I said back in November that it was a dream to be able to come back and coach the Sabres, and that's still true today," Nolan said. "I'm excited by the challenge facing our team and our organization. And I'm truly thankful to have this opportunity."

The extension was more of a formality than a surprise. The two sides established the framework of a contract about a month ago and agreed to the deal in principle last week.

Nolan took over in mid-November after coach Ron Rolston was fired along with general manager Darcy Regier after Buffalo got off to a franchise-worst 4-15-1 start.

The Sabres (20-45-9) haven't done much better at 16-30-8 under Nolan and are likely to finish in last place with only two weeks left in the season. Buffalo is 1-10-1 in its past 12 games in preparing to host New Jersey on Tuesday.

Record aside, rookie GM Tim Murray is impressed by the job Nolan has done during what he called "a trying situation."

"I don't know if there was one `Eureka moment,"' Murray said. "But I certainly got to the point where I knew I wanted him back, and I wanted him to be our head coach. And that wasn't yesterday or the day before."

The next step is providing Nolan more talent.

"We have to get him better players," Murray said. "It doesn't take a genius to figure that out."

The Sabres are a shell of the team that last made the playoffs in 2011, with Nolan the team's third coach in a little over a calendar year.

Regier began purging an over-priced and under-achieving roster last season. And Murray, who was hired in January, completed the overhaul in the days leading up to the NHL trade deadline on March 5. That's when Buffalo made four trades, including one that sent goalie Ryan Miller and captain Steve Ott to St. Louis.

The future looks promising with the team having stockpiled a series of first- and second-round draft picks over the next three years.

Nolan has a reputation as a motivator with a solid track record of developing young players.

This is Nolan's second stint in Buffalo. He went 73-72-19 in two seasons before leaving in the summer of 1997 because he was unhappy with the team's one-year contract offer after being selected the NHL's coach of the year. Nolan then spent two seasons coaching the New York Islanders and led them to the playoffs in 2006-07, before being fired after the following season.

Nolan also enjoyed a successful stint at the Sochi Games, where he coached Latvia to an eighth-place finish - the country's best in five Olympic appearances.

Sabres players greeted the news of Nolan's contract extension as an important first step toward establishing stability.

"He's a guy that I think is perfect for this type of rebuild as far as motivation and making sure the right guys are staying around," forward Drew Stafford said. "It's been a real challenging season, a lot of shake-ups, a lot of changes. To get that interim tag off is definitely some stability now."

Nolan is staying on even though Pat LaFontaine - the person who brought him on board - abruptly stepped down as Sabres president of hockey operations on March 1, after only 3-1/2 months on the job.

Thanking LaFontaine for the opportunity, Nolan said he's focused on the head coaching job.

"I'm really excited about going with the next step forward and helping shape this team into a very competitive team," Nolan said. "With Tim's knowledge in getting us the right players, hopefully, I can coach them good enough to win."

Doug McDermott leads AP All-America team

Doug McDermott spent his senior season passing a lot of big names on the career scoring list. He is now among some very select company.

The senior forward from Creighton was a unanimous choice for The Associated Press All-America team on Monday. He is the first three-time choice in 29 years and the 11th player overall.

McDermott, who led the nation in scoring at 26.9 points a game, joins Oscar Robertson, Lew Alcindor, Pete Maravich and Bill Walton among others. The last three-time All-Americas were Patrick Ewing of Georgetown and Wayman Tisdale of Oklahoma from 1982-85.

"Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine being with names of that caliber," McDermott said. "Truly an honor to be an All-American three straight years. It's hard to wrap my mind around being in the company of those guys."

McDermott was one of four seniors on this year's team, which included freshman Jabari Parker of Duke. The other seniors all came from the first-year American Athletic Conference: Russ Smith of Louisville, Shabazz Napier of Connecticut and Sean Kilpatrick of Cincinnati.

It's the first time one conference had three players picked since the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2001-02 with Duke's Shane Battier and Jason Williams and North Carolina's Joseph Forte.

McDermott received 65 first-team votes and 325 points from the same national media panel that selects the weekly Top 25.

Parker drew 55 first-team votes and was second with 303 points. Smith had 54 first-team votes and 298 points, 44 more than Napier, who got 37 first-team votes. Kilpatrick was a first-team pick 37 times and had 243 points.

The voting was done on Selection Sunday.

McDermott led Creighton to a successful first season in the Big East but the Bluejays lost by 30 points to Baylor in the third round of the NCAA tournament.

"You can't take away from what we did this year. We made some noise in the first year of the Big East, and we beat some great teams and got a three seed for the first time in school history," he said. "All that is very special, something we'll never forget."

The 6-foot-8 McDermott averaged 7.0 rebounds and shot 52.5 percent from the field and 45.4 percent from 3-point range. McDermott considered leaving for the NBA after last season.

"I've been blessed to coach him 33 more times this year than I thought I was going to," Greg McDermott, his father and coach, said before the NCAA tournament. "This year has been so much fun. It's been such a privilege as a father to be able to sit on the sideline and watch your son do what Doug's done over the course of this season. Arguably he had more expectations on him than any player in the country, and he was able to answer every critic in the world with his play and our team's play."

Parker was one of the heralded freshmen this season, and he was the one who crashed the seniors' All-America party. The 6-8 native of Chicago averaged 19.3 points and 8.8 rebounds, taking over the scoring load for the Blue Devils down the stretch of the season.

He is the first Duke first-teamer since Nolan Smith in 2010-11 and the first freshman since Anthony Davis of Kentucky two years ago.

"Being named AP All-American is as high an honor as you can get because it covers the whole country," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "Jabari had a great year and for him to be recognized like that is quite an accomplishment for him and our program."

Smith brought the term "Russdiculous" into the national spotlight as he followed his national championship season with Louisville by averaging 18.3 points, 3.4 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 2.1 steals while shooting 40.5 percent from 3-point range. There was a lot of speculation that Smith was going to leave after his junior season.

"It's a lot of things in the back of your mind, as far as, will you get hurt, is it the right decision, will you get drafted, will you make money?" Smith said. "But at the end of the day, it was important for me to get my education and get my degree and finish out my senior year out on a good note."

Napier led Connecticut in scoring (17.4), rebounds (5.9) and assists (4.9) and it was his buzzer-beating jumper that gave the Huskies the win over Florida on Dec. 2, the Gators' last loss. Napier was the leader of a team that managed to reach the Final Four after being picked as a No. 7 seed.

"He's been great," Huskies coach Kevin Ollie said. "If it wasn't for him and his wining mindset we wouldn't be where we are. For him to share the spotlight with his teammates meant a lot to us all season."

He is the Huskies' first All-America since Kemba Walker in 2010-11. Napier and Walker are close friends, and Napier said it would "definitely be cool" to share the news with his mentor.

Kilpatrick, Cincinnati's first All-America since Steve Logan in 2001-02, averaged 20.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists for the Bearcats, who shared the American's regular-season title. Kilpatrick joined Oscar Robertson as the only Cincinnati players to score 2,000 points.

"When you have to mention such a Hall of Fame guy like Oscar Robertson and what he's done at the university, now you have to mention my name as well." he said. "I appreciate it a lot."

Nick Johnson of Arizona was the leading vote-getter on the second team and was joined by freshman Andrew Wiggins of Kansas, Nik Stauskas of Michigan, Melvin Ejim of Iowa State and T.J. Warren of North Carolina State.

---

AP Sports Writers Eric Olson in Omaha, Neb.; Joedy McCreary in Raleigh, N.C.; Eddie Pells in Denver; and Joe Kay in Cincinnati contributed to this report.

MLB heats up with full slate of openers

After a brutal winter of arctic blasts and blustery snowstorms, baseball is ready to heat up Monday with its first full slate of games this season.

David Ortiz and the World Series champion Boston Red Sox begin their title defense in Baltimore against home run king Chris Davis and the AL East rival Orioles. Robinson Cano makes his Seattle Mariners debut, looking to live up to a huge contract - just like Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout.

Behind the scenes, umpires at all six replay stations in New York will be at the ready for the first time in baseball history.

"We recognize fully that last year is behind us, and everyone is looking forward to (Monday) and beyond," Red Sox manager John Farrell said.

The start of Derek Jeter's retirement tour will wait one more day. The New York Yankees, with baseball's oldest roster, will face the youngest on Tuesday night in Houston.

By the time Detroit's Justin Verlander throws a pitch at 1:08 p.m. EDT in the first of 13 games Monday, the Dodgers will already have played openers on two continents and put $215 million ace Clayton Kershaw on the disabled list.

Los Angeles swept a pair Down Under from the Diamondbacks on March 22-23, with Kershaw winning the first regular-season major league game in Australia before an upper back muscle acted up. The Dodgers then played at San Diego in the North American opener Sunday night.

Still, ballparks around country will be buzzing with optimistic fans and, other than in Oakland, sunny skies and seasonably warm temperatures are expected to provide a wonderful backdrop - what a relief! - for the days' festivities.

"Should be a pretty good day for a ballgame," said Richard Bann, a meteorologist at the Weather Prediction Center.

The Pittsburgh Pirates certainly will be celebrating their first winning season and trip to the playoffs since 1992, and they'll have help handing out some hardware from two key members of that team: Barry Bonds and Jim Leyland.

Bonds, the `92 NL MVP, will be on hand to honor 2013 MVP Andrew McCutchen. The recently retired Leyland, a two-time Manager of the Year with Pittsburgh, is going to present Clint Hurdle with his Manager of the Year award for guiding the Pirates to a 94-68 record and wild-card berth.

The son of Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner, who died in February, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Kiner will be honored in New York, too, where the Mets host Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals, a World Series favorite once again. Dillon Gee will make his first opening day start after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio throws out the ceremonial first pitch.

In Texas, Tanner Scheppers, a converted setup man, will be the first pitcher to make his first major league start in a season opener since Fernando Valenzuela in 1981 for the Dodgers. Scheppers will have new slugger Prince Fielder at first base when the Rangers host Cliff Lee and the Philadelphia Phillies in an interleague game.

Scheppers got the nod because major league strikeout leader Yu Darvish is on the disabled list with a sore neck.

Atlanta's Kris Medlen, Oakland's Jarrod Parker and Arizona's Patrick Corbin are out, too. While Darvish may miss only one start, Medlen, Parker and Corbin are out for the season after having Tommy John surgery.

One pitcher who escaped serious injury is Reds closer Aroldis Chapman. He's sidelined at least a month more after being hit in the forehead by a line drive during spring training.

Not only will Cincinnati be without Chapman when it opens against NL Central rival St. Louis for just the second time in 20 years, the Reds have eight players on the DL - a major league high heading into the season. Texas is right behind with seven.

The Milwaukee Brewers get back star slugger Ryan Braun for their home opener against the Braves. Braun is returning from a 65-game suspension he accepted last season for his involvement in the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drug scandal.

Braun will take his position on the lush new grass at Miller Park, a field grown under heat lamps imported from Europe because the winter temperatures in Wisconsin were too cold - even with the roof closed.

"But regardless of what Mother Nature gave us here, we're going to have it ready for opening day," said Michael Boettcher, the team's director of grounds.

Blackhawks' Toews day to day after Orpik hit

PITTSBURGH (AP) Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews is day to day with an upper-body injury after he absorbed a hard hit at Pittsburgh.

Toews was drilled by Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik with 6:30 remaining in the second period on Sunday night. The two were going for a loose puck.

Toews got up slowly and was seen holding his left arm on the bench before heading down the runway.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville says he doesn't think the injury is serious, but the team would know more on Monday.

The Blackhawks, who clinched a playoff berth on Saturday, are already without star forward Patrick Kane, who is out for the rest of the regular season with a lower-body injury.

Toews has 28 goals and 68 points this season.

Fearsome Final Foursome headed to North Texas

The road to redemption goes through North Texas for a fearsome Final Four of power programs with something to prove.

Florida, the top overall seed, returns to the Final Four for the first time since winning consecutive titles in 2006-07, this time without all those first-round NBA picks.

Waiting for the Gators at Jerry Jones' billion-dollar stadium on Saturday will be Connecticut, back near the top of the bracket under Kevin Ollie after being barred a year ago for academic problems.

Wisconsin and coach Bo Ryan will be there, too, finally in the Final Four after so many near-misses. Bo knows the Final Four - even if his father won't be there to join him this time.

Facing the Badgers in the other national semifinal will be all those Kentucky kids, once written off as too young and inexperienced to play for a title before they head off to the NBA.

This Final Four contains no upstarts or mid-major party crashers, just big boys with big chips on their shoulders.

Donovan won a pair of national titles in Gainesville with Joakim Noah, Corey Brewer and Al Horford, all top-10 NBA picks in the 2007 NBA draft. After that second title, he accepted the head-coaching job with the NBA's Orlando Magic, then changed his mind after the introductory news conference.

Donovan continued to produce winning teams at Florida, but the biggest wins eluded the Gators. They lost in the regional final each of the past three seasons.

That changed when the ferocious Gators (36-2) rode their chomping defense through a 30-game winning streak capped by Saturday's 62-52 win over bracket darling Dayton.

"We didn't start off the exact way that we should have, but coach Donovan continued to remind us and humble us and help us see that, in order to get where we want to get to, the end goal, we have to continue to chase greatness every single day and stay in the moment," Florida forward Patric Young said.

To win another title, the Gators will have to go through the last two teams to beat them this season (UConn and Wisconsin) or their biggest SEC rival (Kentucky).

The Huskies won the 2011 national title with coach Jim Calhoun and one-man show Kemba Walker.

Things went sour in Storrs after that. Calhoun retired in 2012 and UConn was barred from the NCAA tournament last season for failing to meet the NCAA's academic progress measure.

UConn's upperclassmen decided to stick it out instead of transferring and put together another magical bracket run behind another do-it-all-player, former Walker understudy Napier. With their 60-54 win over Michigan State on Sunday, the Huskies (30-8) became the first No. 7 seed to reach the Final Four since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985.

UConn beat Florida 65-64 way back on Dec. 2, the Gators' last loss this season.

"We play a great Florida team and we're going to be well prepared, because I know about these guys' heart, and that's what got us through," Ollie said.

Then there's Bo.

Wisconsin's tell-it-like-it-is coach had been a regular at the Final Four, taking his father, Butch, to every one since 1976 as a birthday gift.

Bo had a hard time getting there with his team, though, winning over 700 games, playing in the NCAA tournament 13 straight years and reaching the Sweet 16 six times - and not one trip to the Final Four.

Bo and Badgers (30-7) get their chance now after pulling out an emotional 64-63 win over top-seeded Arizona in the West Regional final on Saturday, which would have been Butch Ryan's 90th birthday.

"I can remember some of the great teams that he had of kids and their first championships and how they acted and just the joy," Ryan said. "These guys have had some others, but that's all I wanted to see."

Rounding out this foursome could be the most fearsome bunch of the bracket.

Kentucky won the 2012 national championship behind coach John Calipari's get-the-best-players-no-matter-how-long-they-stay philosophy. Cal brought in another heralded group of one-and-doners and they were touted as the team to beat, ranked No. 1 in the preseason.

After a string of losses, including three in five games, the kid Cats were out of the polls and supposedly out of contention.

Well, look at them now.

Showcasing their talent and depth, the Wildcats (28-10) are playing with a cohesiveness and confidence that wasn't there earlier in the season, racing into the Final Four after pulling out a last-second victory over Michigan.

"I can't believe it; we went through so much," said Kentucky's Aaron Harrison, who hit a 3-pointer with 2.3 seconds left in the 75-72 win over the Wolverines. "We went through a lot of ups and downs, and we're blessed to be going to the Final Four."

They are not alone.

Crosby scores 2 as Penguins beat Blackhawks

PITTSBURGH (AP) Sidney Crosby had two goals in the final five minutes, helping the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-1 victory over the injury-riddled Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday night.

Already playing without Patrick Kane, the Blackhawks lost captain Jonathan Toews to an upper-body injury in the second period. Toews was hit hard by Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik and was holding his left arm on the bench before heading down the runway.

James Neal and Lee Stempniak also scored for the Penguins, who won their second straight and snapped a three-game home losing streak.

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