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WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUND-UP: MU men's hoops' to play home game in McGuire Center

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MILWAUKEE - For the first time, the Marquette University men's basketball team will play a non-conference game in its training facility, which has less than one-fifth the seats of the Golden Eagles' normal venue.  

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Marquette said today it would host Alabama A&M on December 19th at the Al McGuire Center, which is located on the Milwaukee campus and has nearly 4,000 seats.  It's not part of the Eagles' season-ticket package, and further details would be announced closer to the game. Marquette said it needed to schedule another non-conference game for this year, and the Bradley Center was not available for the night that Alabama A&M could be there.  The Marquette women routinely play in the Al McGuire Center, and the school occasionally gets requests for a men's game each year at that smaller and louder venue.  However, the school said there's no way it could accommodate students and season-ticket holders for a men's game.  Today, coach Steve Wojciechowski said playing at the McGuire Center will be a unique experience for the program.

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The last-place Chicago Cubs are 14 games behind first-place Milwaukee in the National League Central Division.  But Brewers' manager Ron Roenicke says his players know better than to take the Cubbies lightly, when they open a four-game series tonight at Wrigley Field.  Roenicke says no team can take an opponent lightly anymore, partially because the pitching staffs have gotten too good.  As the skipper put it, "It's not just the team you're playing.  If you face a good pitcher that night, and he's on, and you don't score, you're going to lose."  Right-hander Yovani Gallardo starts for the Brewers against Cubs' right-hander Jake Arrieta.  Gallardo is coming off a rough start against San Francisco last week, in which he gave up three first inning runs and dropped his record to 6-6 with a 3.54 ERA.  Arrieta is coming off his worst outing of the year, giving up a career-high 13 hits and a season-high nine runs in five frames.  He's 6-3 with a 2.80 ERA. Milwaukee has a two-game lead in the Central over second-pace Saint Louis, which plays at Miami this evening.  Pittsburgh, which is two-and-a-half back, hosts Detroit.

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The 21st annual Northwoods League playoffs begin tonight in Mequon and Mankato.  The Lakeshore Chinooks of Mequon will host the Wisconsin Woodchucks of Wausau in the opener of a best-of-three series.  Lakeshore became only the third Northwoods team ever to get 50 wins in a 72-game regular season, while finishing first in both halves.  The Chinooks fell one victory short of tying the league record for victories set by Waterloo a year ago.  Lakeshore also has best team ERA in the Northwoods, at 2.92.  Wisconsin closed out the season with two straight victories, and seven in its last ten.  Woodchucks' slugger Paul DeJong tied the Northwoods record for homers in a season with 20, while driving in 61 runs.  In the North Division, first-half champion Willmar takes on second-half titlist Waterloo.  The winner of each divisional series advances to the league title series which is set to begin on Thursday night.

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Pete Alonzo of Madison has been named the Northwoods League MVP.  The freshman first baseman at the University of Florida was second in the league going into last night's season finale with 18 homers, with a .354 batting average.  Matt Kent of Rochester and Ryan Smoyer of Kalamazoo are the co-pitchers of the year.  Lakeshore Chinooks' manager Eddy Morgan is the Northwoods manager of the year, and his assistant Mark Moriarty is the honored coach.  All three player award winners also made the 31-member Northwoods Post-Season All-Star team. Madison's Tim Black joined Alonzo on the squad.  Eau Claire's representatives are Daniel Salters and Tyler Hermann.  Expansion Kenosha had three All-Stars -- Chris Godinez, Pat Porter, and Rico Garcia.  Others include Paul DeJong and Zach Arnold of Wisconsin -- Zach Domingues of Wisconsin Rapids -- and Lakeshore's Brett Siddall, Andrew Elliot, and Jake Tuttle.  Green Bay and La Crosse did not have any All-Stars.

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Teams in the Class-"A" Midwest League are off tonight.  The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers lost at Peoria 6-4 yesterday, while the Beloit Snappers fell to Quad Cities 6-1.  Wisconsin remains in contention for a playoff spot, with three weeks to go in the regular season.  On Saturday night, Rattlers' catcher Clint Coulter homered twice and tied a career-high with five RBI's in an eight-run rout of Peoria.  The 21-year-old Coulter was the Milwaukee Brewers' first-round draft pick in 2012.  The Timber Rattlers -- one of the Brewers' two Class-"A" farm clubs -- are tied with Cedar Rapids for second place in the Western Division.  They're a game-and-a-half behind front-running Kane County which won the first-half crown.  Eight Midwest teams play in the post-season, which begins right after Labor Day.

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A Wisconsin team is two victories away from making the national American Legion baseball tournament.  The state champion Plover Legion team stayed alive at the Great Lakes Regional yesterday, by beating Newburg of Indiana 8-5 in Terre Haute.  Mitch Mallek homered, singled, scored twice, and had four RBI's for Plover in that contest.  The Plover squad has one loss in the double-elimination regional -- and it must beat undefeated Midland of Michigan twice this afternoon in order to advance.  Midland crushed Plover on Saturday, 14-1.  The regional champion competes in the American Legion World Series next week in Shelby, North Carolina.  Marshfield, which finished second in the state, also competed in the Great Lakes Regional but went 0-2 with losses last Thursday and Friday.

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University of Wisconsin football coach Gary Andersen says his Badgers have a long way to go, but he feels good about his team going into the second week of pre-season camp.  After a 90-minute public scrimmage yesterday at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Andersen said he's seen a lot of progress at receiver, tight end, and the safety spots.  He said he was also impressed with the Badgers' kicking game early on, and he had good things to say about those nose guard back-ups after expressing concerns late last week.  Junior running back Melvin Gordon caught and pass and ran four times in yesterday's scrimmage -- while quarterbacks Joel Stave and Tanner McEvoy each threw a pair of touchdown passes.  Receiver Kenzel Doe missed the scrimmage with an ankle problem, but he's due back later this week.  Reserve running back Taiwan Deal is due to return tomorrow, after being out with an undisclosed ailment.  Tailback-and-safety Vonte Jackson has had a setback while recovering from ACL knee surgeries.  Andersen says he'll practice at both the safety and running back spots once he gets back up to speed.

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Steve Stricker of Madison rose two places to 21st in the new World Golf Rankings.  That's after he tied for seventh at the PGA Championship, despite struggling for two months with a torn labrum in his left hip.  He's expected to see a doctor this week -- and he's not certain if he'll feel good enough to compete in the Fed-Ex Cup playoffs which begin in a week-and-a-half.  Stricker was named last week as a U.S. assistant captain for this fall's Ryder Cup.  He did not get enough points to automatically compete for the U-S squad, but he could still be one of three picks that captain Tom Watson is due to make the first week in September.  Fellow Madison golfer Jerry Kelly rose six spots in the new World Rankings to 104th.  That's after he tied for 27th at the PGA.  Kelly said he would pass up next weekend's Wyndham tournament to gear up for the Fed-Ex playoffs.  

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