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WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUND-UP: Season begins for state's D-I college basketball teams

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WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUND-UP: Season begins for state's D-I college basketball teams
Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

The regular season begins tonight for three of Wisconsin's four Division I men's college basketball teams -- along with the state's top women's team. 

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The Marquette University men, ranked 17th in both major preseason polls, will host Southern -- which made the NCAA Tournament in March.  Buzz Williams' Golden Eagles have a 25-game home winning streak, the second-longest in the country.  Wisconsin will play their opener in Sioux Falls, South Dakota against Saint John's of the newly-revamped Big East Conference.  Bo Ryan's Badgers are 20th in the pre-season AP poll, after going 23-12 a year ago.  The UW-Milwaukee men will open tonight at Loyola-of-Chicago.  They used to be conference foes until Loyola bolted from the Horizon League to join the Missouri Valley Conference.  Milwaukee is picked to finish ninth-and-last in the league this season, after going 8-24 overall a year ago.  On the women's side, UW-Green Bay opens at home for the first time in 26 years, facing Northern Illinois which is coached by former Badgers' assistant Kathi Bennett.  The Phoenix open four places out of the Top-25 in their AP pre-season poll, in Kevin Borseth's second year in Green Bay following his return from Michigan.  In Division II tonight, the UW-Parkside men will play Central State at the Don Callan Classic in Cedarville, Ohio.  

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It was hard not to notice that Eddie Lacy stepped up his running attack for the Green Bay Packers, right after quarterback Aaron Rodgers left the game on Monday night.  The rookie running back from Alabama had all but 20 of his 150 rushing yards after Rodgers left in the first quarter of the loss to Chicago with a broken collarbone.  Running backs coach Alex Van Pelt said it was evident that Green Bay's running game needed to make a bigger contribution the second after Rodgers went down.  And Lacy obliged, as he forced nine Bears' defenders to miss tackles.  That's according to Pro Football Focus, which said the Packers forced 38 missed tackles during all of last season.  Lacy had almost a quarter of that total in one night.  A lot has been said of how Lacy and James Starks have given the Packers their best running game in years.  And they hope to continue it on Sunday, when the Pack hosts the Philadelphia Eagles.  A Green Bay victory would keep the Pack in a tie for the NFC North lead.  Green Bay, Chicago, and Detroit are all 5-and-3 -- and the Bears and Lions face each other on Sunday.  

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Green Bay Packers' guard T.J. Lang has completed the NFL's criteria for returning from his Monday night concussion.  He's listed as questionable for Sunday's home game against Philadelphia, which means there's a 50-50 chance that he'll play.  Also, outside linebacker Nick Perry remains questionable with the broken foot he suffered at Baltimore October 13th.  Linebacker Andy Mulumba is doubtful with the ankle injury he suffered in Monday night's loss to Chicago.  Clay Matthews is listed as probable, and he'll wear a protective club on the broken thumb he suffered a month ago.  Coach Mike McCarthy says Matthews will have to take a different approach with the club -- and he has worked it out with linebackers' coach Kevin Greene.  Defensive end Ryan Pickett and linebacker Mike Neal are both probable with knee issues.  McCarthy also said the Packers have moved past their concerns about playing without injured quarterback Aaron Rodgers.  The coach said Sunday's starter, Seneca Wallace, improved quite a bit during the week of practice.  He said Rodgers prepared for Sunday's game as if he was playing, and Wallace was right next to him.  In the coach's words, "We'll be successful."

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UW-Whitewater can clinch at least a share of the WIAC football title tomorrow, with a victory at Stevens Point.  The Warhawks, ranked sixth by D3football.com, are 5-0 in conference play -- and they handed both Platteville and Oshkosh their only losses in the past two weeks.  Eighth-ranked Oshkosh plays at Eau Claire tomorrow.  11th-ranked Platteville is at home against La Crosse.  There's one other WIAC contest -- Stout at River Falls.  In the Midwest Conference, Saint Norbert will try to keep its share of first place with a win at Grinnell.  The Green Knights and 22nd-ranked Illinois College are both 7-0 in league play.  Also, Beloit hosts Carroll, and Ripon plays at Monmouth.  In the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference, Concordia-Wisconsin will try to stay unbeaten in league play when the Falcons host Aurora.  Benedictine is second at 4-1.  They're at Maranatha Baptist in Watertown.  Third-place Lakeland hosts Concordia-Chicago, and Wisconsin Lutheran is at Rockford.  In the CCIW, Carthage plays at Elmhurst tomorrow.

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Time is running out for Wisconsin's Matt Kenseth to come-from-behind and win the NASCAR Sprint Cup title.  The Cambridge native trails Jimmie Johnson by seven points, going into the second-to-last event in the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup.  The Advocare-500 will be run on Sunday at Phoenix -- a track where Kenseth has not won since 2002, with only one Top-five finish in his last five appearances.  Kenseth figures he'll have to win his final two events to have a sure shot at his second Sprint Cup season championship.  Qualifying takes place later today.  Paul Menard of Eau Claire is also entered, along with Travis Kvapil of Janesville and Beloit-born Danica Patrick.  Kenseth is also entered in tomorrow's Nationwide Series race at Phoenix, the Service-master 200.  Tonight, Johnny Sauter of Necedah will compete in the Lucas Oil-150 in the Camping World Truck Series.  Sauter is fourth in the season point standings. 

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Carroll University of Waukesha is going for its fourth straight Midwest Conference men's soccer tournament title.  Carroll has the No. 2 seed, and will play Saint Norbert of De Pere this afternoon in a semifinal contest at Lake Forest.  The top-seeded Foresters host No. 4 Knox College in the tournament opener.  Today's winners go for the title tomorrow.   On the women's side, top-seeded Saint Norbert is hosting the Midwest tournament.  Number-two Monmouth is playing Lake Forest in the first semi-final late this morning.  Saint Norbert faces Grinnell this afternoon.  The winners play for the tournament crown tomorrow night. 

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UW-Parkside is playing Truman State early this afternoon in the semi-finals of the Great Lakes Valley Conference women's soccer tournament.  The Rangers are 12-3-3 overall.  Last night, four Parkside players were named to the all-conference teams.  Kaela Hoecherl, Emily Konior, and Jasmine Espino were chosen to the second squad, while Mallory Geurtz made the all-GLVC third team.  The Parkside men are not playing in their league tournament, and one Ranger made all-conference.  Milan Filipovic made the third team.

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Top-seeded UW-Milwaukee will host the final two rounds of the Horizon League women's soccer tournament.  The semi-finals will be played this evening.  Oakland and No. 2 Wright State kick things off at five o'clock at Milwaukee's Engelmann Stadium.  Tonight, UWM will face Detroit.  Detroit and Oakland advanced with first-round victories on Tuesday, while Milwaukee and Wright State had opening-round byes.  The title match will be played on Sunday.

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It's down to the Final Eight in each division of the state high school football playoffs.  Fifty-six teams are still alive in the seven groupings, with 24 games scheduled tonight and four others tomorrow.  All seven returning champions remain in contention -- Hartland Arrowhead, Mequon Homestead, Waukesha Catholic Memorial, Somerset, Amherst, Fond du Lac St. Mary's Springs, and Glenwood City.  Twenty-of-the-28 Number-One seeds can win their brackets this weekend.  Division 4 is the only one with all four of its top seeds still playing.  The state finals are in two weeks at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.

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Wausau Newman and Clayton advanced today to the Division 4 championship match at the girls' state high school volleyball tournament.  Both teams won their semifinal matches this morning at the Resch Center near Green Bay.  Newman shut out Hilbert in three sets, and Clayton blanked North Crawford.  Mariah Whalen had 17 kills to lead Newman in its victory.  McKenna Cardinal also had 17 kills for Clayton in its win.  The Division 3 semifinals were being played this afternoon, with Auburndale taking on Racine Saint Catherine's, and Eau Claire Regis facing Brodhead.  Semis in Division 2 were set for late afternoon.  Oconto Falls is up against East Troy, and Altoona plays Madison Edgewood.  Tonight, it's the Division-One semi-finals, with Menomonee Falls going against Sun Prairie and Neenah playing Westosha Central.  Title matches in all four divisions are set for tomorrow.

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Madison golfer Jerry Kelly withdrew today from the PGA's McGladrey Classic, after he completed his first round at five-over-par 75.  Kelly was near the bottom of the 132-player leaderboard going into today's play.  He did not complete his first round yesterday due to an early and long weather delay.  Kelly wrapped up his tournament this morning.  Pewaukee native Mark Wilson may or may not stay around for the weekend.  He was right on the projected cut-line of one-over-par for tournament, after four holes of his second round.  Kevin Chappell and Brian Gay were the early afternoon leaders, both at seven-under.

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The Milwaukee Admirals have a three-game weekend coming up.  They'll play at Texas tonight and tomorrow night, and San Antonio on Sunday.  Milwaukee is the only team in the American Hockey League that has not lost a game in regulation yet.  The Admirals are 6-0-2-0, in third place in the Midwest Division.  First-place Grand Rapids is four points ahead of Milwaukee, and has played four more games than Admirals so far.  Texas comes in a 6-4-2-0, five points behind front-running Abbotsford in the West Division.  The Stars lost a pair of games in Milwaukee a week-and-a-half ago.  The Admirals will have goal-tender Magnus Hellberg back, after a short stint with the NHL's Nashville Predators.

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The Midwest Conference women's volleyball tournament begins late this afternoon at top-seeded Cornell in Iowa.  Two Wisconsin teams will open the tourney, as second-seeded Carroll faces Number-three Saint Norbert.  Tonight, Cornell takes on fourth-seeded Ripon.  The finals will be played tomorrow afternoon.

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