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WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUNDUP: High school boys basketball playoffs begin tonight

Four-hundred-eighty Wisconsin high school basketball teams will compete in the WIAA state playoffs which begin tonight. Three-hundred-20 schools will be in action, while the other 160 have first-round byes.

All five returning champions from a year ago return in their same divisions -- Germantown in Division 1, Pulaski in 2, La Crosse Aquinas in 3, Whitefish Bay Dominican in 4, and Randolph in Division 5. Randolph is the only returning champ playing this evening. That's because Division 5 has the largest field, as usual -- 127 of the state's smallest schools. Boys' regional and sectional games will be spread over the next two weeks. It all culminates with the state tournament March 13th-through-15th in Madison. The girls' high school regionals begin a week from tonight.

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The final AP boys' high school basketball poll of the year was released yesterday. Brookfield Central ends the regular season atop Division 1, where it's been since defeating No. 2 Germantown earlier in the campaign. Neenah is third, and Milwaukee Rufus King fourth. Mount Horeb still leads Division 2, followed by Seymour and Rice Lake. Manitowoc Roncalli is the Division 3 leader once more, with Lodi and Elk Mound second-and-third. Whitefish Bay Dominican is still the Division 4 leader, followed by Mineral Point and Oshkosh Lourdes. Green Bay Northeast Wisconsin Lutheran ends the regular season atop Division 5, with Sheboygan Lutheran second and Cassville third. In the AP girls' poll, Kimberly still leads Division 1 followed by Sheboygan North, Oak Creek, and Hartland Arrowhead. Green Bay Notre Dame remains atop Division 2 going into the final week of the girls' regular season. Milwaukee Pius is second, and Onalaska third. Neillsville still leads Division 3 with Brodhead and Fox Valley Lutheran in the two-and-three spots. Racine Prairie is still No. 1 in Division 4, followed by Colfax and Algoma. Barneveld continues to lead Division 5, with Wisconsin Rapids Assumption second and South Shore third.

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The Milwaukee Bucks won by double-digits for only the third time this season, with 130-to-110 victory at Philadelphia last night. The Bucks set new season-highs for points in a game, points in a half with 73 in the opening two periods, and field-goal percentage with 57. Milwaukee ended a 10-game road losing streak with a 43-point second quarter which put them up by 29 at the break. The Bucks led by as many as 35 in the second half. Philadelphia lost its 11th straight outing. At 15-42, the 76'ers are just four games ahead of Milwaukee for the league's worst record and the top spot in the NBA Draft Lottery. Seven Bucks scored in double figures, led by O.J. Mayo with 25. He made 7-of-9 from three-point range. Ersan Ilyasova added 20, and newly-acquired Ramon Sessions scored 16. Thaddeus Young scored 28 for Philadelphia, which has now lost 10 straight at home. Also, the Sixers have given up at least 100 points in their last 11 games -- their longest string since the final 11 games in 1997. Milwaukee had 47 rebounds, 19 more than Philly. The Bucks are now 11-45, and will play at Indiana on Thursday.

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Former Bucks' guard Beno Udrih is looking for a new home. The New York Knicks released the 31-year-old Udrih yesterday, when they placed Metta World Peace on waivers. Udrih played for a season-and-a-half in Milwaukee from the fall of 2011 through February of last year. He signed with the Knicks last summer, and did not get much playing time. Udrih averaged around six points and three-and-a-half assists in 31 games, 12 of which were starts for New York. Udrih will be an unrestricted free agent this summer -- but he can sign now with any NBA as soon as he clears waivers. He's a 10-year NBA veteran, with a pair of championship rings with San Antonio in 2005-and-'07.

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University of Wisconsin men's basketball coach Bo Ryan says he wants consistent scoring from every player in his lineup. And with the NCAA Tournament less than a month away, Ryan says he sees more players stepping up on offense. Center Frank Kaminsky has averaged 23 points and nine rebounds in the Badgers' last two games -- both victories at Michigan and Iowa. Forward Sam Dekker has averaged 15 points and 10 boards in those outings, while guard Josh Gasser has averaged 12-and-a-half points with 7-of-9 three-pointers against the Wolverines and Hawkeyes. Tonight, the 14th-ranked Badgers will go for their sixth straight victory when they host Indiana. Wisconsin is 9-5 in the Big Ten and 22-5 overall. Indiana is 5-8 in league play, and 15-11 overall. Also tonight, the UW-Milwaukee men host Illinois-Chicago.

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Wisconsin continues to have three of the nation's Top-Five men's basketball teams in Division-Three, as they play their conference tournaments this week. UW-Stevens Point remains at No. 1 in the new D3hoops.com poll, with an overall record of 24-1. UW-Whitewater is still at No. 2, at 22-3. Saint Norbert remains fifth at 22-1. In the D-III women's poll, Carthage is still at No. 10, with a 22-3 record. Whitewater is still 11th. Oshkosh moved up two places to 14th. Wisconsin Lutheran and Saint Norbert received votes. Whitman College of Walla Walla, Washington is the new women's No. 1, as DePauw fell to fourth.

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Milwaukee Brewers' manager Ron Roenicke says he will not begin the season with a starting rotation which goes from the team's best pitcher to its worst. The Brewers will have three Opening Days. That includes their own at home on March 31st, and Boston's opener on April 4th in which the Red Sox players will receive the World Series rings they won a year ago. Roenicke says the Red Sox opener is a big game, and he'll most likely want a veteran to start it. Today, the Brewers will show off their young pitching in a three-inning intra-squad game. Brooks Hall, David Goforth, Wei-Chung Wang, and Kevin Shackelford are all expected to see action. Third baseman Aramis Ramirez and left-hander Tom Gorzelanny are the only Brewers who won't be available to play. Gorzelanny is recovering from a shoulder operation. Ramirez is coming back from colon surgery.

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University of Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland had mixed results yesterday in his workout at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. He highlighted his strength, with the fifth-best bench-press among 25 linebackers. Borland ran the 40-yard dash in four-point-eight-three seconds, which was 21st among the linebackers tested. He also had lower than average scores for the vertical-and-broad jumps. Borland noted his small size, and said he speed was not his best attribute -- but he believes he has the all-around skills to do well in the pros.

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USA Wrestling has named the University of Wisconsin's Isaac Jordan as its wrestler-of-the-week. The redshirt freshman was given the weekly honors from The Mat.com, after defeating the nation's two-highest-ranked grapplers this weekend. Jordan, who's ranked seventh at 157 pounds, won decisions over top-ranked James Green of Nebraska and No. 2 Derek Saint John of Iowa.

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University of Wisconsin junior Michael Lihrman is the Big Ten Conference indoor field athlete-of-the-week. The UW-Stout transfer set a new NCAA record in the weight throw last Friday, with a toss of 79-feet, seven-and-a-half inches. The UW said it was also the best mark in the world so far in 2014, and it broke the Big Ten record by almost 10 inches. The throw also helped the Badgers win the Red-and-White Open.

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