WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUND-UP: UW's hockey team gets ready for regional contest
CINCINNATI - While hordes of University of Wisconsin fans are focused on the Badgers' quest for a berth in the men's basketball Final Four, the fourth ranked Badgers hockey team are providing its own version on 'March Madness' by aiming for the "Frozen Four."
Wisconsin's icemen, 24-10-3 overall, are prepping for the NCAA MIdwest Regional where they will face No. 13 North Dakota (23-13-3) in the opening round Friday at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati. The Badgers have won eight of nine, including the inaugural Big Ten Conference playoff title that helped them earn the top seed in the regional. The Badgers were ousted in the first round last year by UMass-Lowell. Friday's game will begin at 7 p.m and will be brodacast on ESPN U. Also in the regional is No. 2 seeded Ferris State (28-10-3) taking on No. 3 seed Colgate (20-13-5). The Frozen Four takes place this year in Philadelphia April 10-12.
National Football League owners have made a post-season ticket policy change that will help the Green Bay Packers avoid the controversy that arose when the team qualified for the playoffs late late last season. Meeting in Orlando, Florida, owners deci ded fans should be charged for playoff tickets only after their team makes the post-season and is assigned a home game. Season-ticket holders buying tickets in advance had to pay for two possible playoff home games at Lambeau Field. And the Packers told them that money for unused tickets would be applied to 2014's season ticket purchases and not refunded - something fans weren't happy about.
Rather than play the early-season matchups, the Milwaukee Brewers have decided to line up their top starting pitchers and let them go. Yovani Gallardo and Kyle Lohse were already tabbed to start the team's first two games against the Atlanta Braves, but Brewers officials had been considering holding top free-agent acquisition Matt Garza for Game 4 of the season -- a charged Red Sox home opener on April 4, when the Sox will get their championship rings. Garza has had great success at Fenway Park. Instead, Garza will pitch the Game 3 against the Braves next Wednesday at Miller Park. Marco Estrada will work the Fenway Park opener, followed by Wily Peralta in the fifth game of the season.
Two assistant coaches who worked with Buzz Williams at Marquette University have left the team. Assistants Brad Autry and Isaac Chew were no longer listed on the Marquette roster as of Tuesday. It was unclear whether they would follow Williams to Virginia Tech. The Hokies formally introduced Williams as their coach this week. He left the Golden Eagles after six seasons. Veteran Jerry Wainwright, who had head coaching stints at UNC-Wilmington, Richmond, and DePaul, is the lone assistant left over from the Williams regime. A team spokesman said he would help with the transition to the new coach. Former Pitt and UCLA coach Ben Howland has reportedly expressed interest in the position.
The Milwaukee Bucks say they've signed free agent D.J. Stephens to a 10-day contract. The 23-year-old guard-forward joins the Bucks from Ilysiakos in the Greek League where he appeared in 18 games and averaged 9.8 points and 8.8 rebounds. The 6'5", 188-pound Stephens joined the Greek League after going undrafted in the 2013 NBA Draft. Stephens played four years for Memphis, appeared in 129 games and shot 62.7 percent from the field - the second-best career mark in Tigers history. He was Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year in in 2012-13.
Longtime Road America board member Jim Jeffords has died. Jeffords appeared in the first race at the road course in 1955. He had been one of the vice presidents on the track's board of directors since 1958. He also competed in the Sports Car Club of America's C production class.