Sports

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The University of Connecticut continues to dominate women's college basketball: The Huskies plowed past the University of Maryland and are headed to the NCAA women's basketball championship game, where they'll meet Notre Dame.

The Terrapins faced a daunting task heading into the game. Connecticut, the overall top seed for the tournament, stands far above the competition.

"The Huskies have won the last two titles and obliterated opponents in this tournament by an average margin of 41 points a game," NPR's Tom Goldman noted to our Newscast unit.

Sarah Thomas has officiated football games in the NCAA and for the NFL's preseason and training camps. For the 2015 NFL season, she'll reportedly be a full-time official.

The news was broken this morning by Baltimore Sun reporter Aaron Wilson, who called it "a ground-breaking move." Thomas, 42, is a Mississippi native who has been widely regarded as a contender for a regular NFL contract.

Boston 2024

A public meeting in Springfield on Thursday heard ideas on the role that western Massachusetts might play as Boston continues its bid for the 2024 Olympic Games. 

Some state lawmakers have said there should be sports venues located outside the Boston area. Rick Sullivan, president and CEO of the Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council, is working on the proposal to officials with Boston 2024. 

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Back in 1996, Connecticut hosted one of the original teams of the first American women's professional basketball league, the American Basketball League. Now, Connecticut will be home to one of the four inaugural teams in the first women's professional ice hockey League in the U.S., the NWHL.

We've got a Final Four.

Michigan State and Duke will join Kentucky and Wisconsin in Indianapolis next Saturday night.

In Syracuse, N.Y., Michigan State and Louisville traded leads all game. As the clock wound down, the Spartans led by one point, 65-64. But they missed their chance to extend the lead when freshman Marvin Clark Jr. missed two free throws with 22 seconds to go.

But just seconds later, they fouled Louisville forward Mangok Mathiang, who made one free throw to tie the game, but couldn't hit the second.

State Representative Patricia Morgan (R-West Warwick) says she plans to introduce a bill Wednesday that would allow voters to decide if the new owners of the PawSox can use public financing or tax relief to build their envisioned ballpark on former I-195 land in Providence.

    

Colin McEnroe

Starbucks is trying to start conversation about race relations in America, led by baristas across the nation. The effort has had mixed reviews.  

Mathew Wilson / Creative Commons

Hartford's new minor league baseball team will be the Yard Goats. Team and city officials announced the name Wednesday, complete with two goats, after a contest to rebrand the former New Britain Rock Cats. 

President Barack Obama didn't exactly go out on a limb with his college-basketball picks this year.

Like most people, he picked Kentucky to run the table, go 40-0, and win the NCAA Tournament. He also picked three No. 1 seeds and one No. 2 to make it to the Final Four.

"I don't think you can play a perfect basketball game anymore than you can do anything perfectly," the president said of Kentucky, "but these guys are coming pretty close."

The president did mix in a little politics.

Ole Miss scored 62 points in the second half last night to dig its way out of a hole and into the big bracket, on the first day of the NCAA men's basketball tournament. At the half, the Rebels were 17 points behind BYU — which had pulled off its own miracle comeback just three years ago.

BYU suffered the loss in Dayton, where it had made a historic 25-point comeback in the 2012 NCAA tournament.

It's the venerable custom in tennis and golf for the crowd to be still and quiet when players hit their shots.

Now, since even ordinary baseball batters have some success hitting against 98 mph fastballs with 40,000 fans standing and screaming, do you really believe that great athletes like Novak Djokovic or Rory McIlroy couldn't serve or putt with a few thousand fans hollering? If they'd grown up playing tennis or golf that way, that is. When disorder is a sustaining part of the game, players, in effect, put it out of their minds. Hear no evil, see no evil.

Mallory ODonoghue

As March Madness tips off on Tuesday, excitement over college basketball can be seen everywhere on UConn's Storrs campus.

Nowhere is the creative energy around basketball culture more apparent on campus than at the exhibit “In the Paint: Basketball in Contemporary Art” at the William Benton Museum of Art.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

It's that time of year again when productivity slides, sleep is lost and frustration runs high. No, there's not another financial crisis - just March Madness! Join our favorite bracket watching team of Julia Pistell and Bill Curry, as they share their top-secret strategies to pick the winning NCAA bracket, the logic of which stuns even seasoned sports reporter Mike Pesca.

Concerns about possibly incurring brain injuries have prompted Chris Borland to end his NFL career after just one season, during which he emerged as a star on the San Francisco 49ers' vaunted defense. Borland, 24, said, "I just honestly want to do what's best for my health."

Saying that he had consulted with other players, medical experts and his family, Borland stated, "From what I've researched and what I've experienced, I don't think it's worth the risk."

Baseball fans endure the long winter in part because they know, come March, the game will again come alive. They can't wait for their radio, TV, computer screen or smartphone to come alive with scenes from warm climates featuring men in crisp uniforms pitching and catching.

Major League Baseball's spring training is underway, but at this stage, wins and losses aren't really important. It's all about fundamentals: getting ready for the regular season and hopefully the playoffs.

The group that is actively opposing a bid to bring the Olympics to Boston won’t identify its donors.

The group No Boston Olympics is not legally required to make public financial disclosures. Co-chair Chris Dempsey contends to do so would discourage people from donating.

" We have true grassroots support with people all around the state writing us a $25 check, writing us a $100 check," he said.

City of Hartford

Saundra Kee Borges left her post as the lead attorney for Hartford and Mayor Pedro Segarra.

But now, she's back -- for baseball. 

Lenny Baker / Creative Commons

Here you go, folks.  It's official.

The next minor league baseball team in Hartford will be named one of the following: Blue Frogs, Screech Owls, Yard Goats, Hound Dogs, Whirlybirds, Praying Mantis, Honey Badgers, Choppers, River Hogs, or Hedgehogs. There were nearly 6,000 entires, and these are the top ten.

Marle Hale / Creative Commons

On Wednesday we find out the finalists for Hartford's new minor league baseball team. Will it be the Hartford Blue Frogs? How about the Hartford Honey Badgers? Do you like the Hartford Yard Goats better? I got it! How about the Hartford Huckleberries! What do you mean it's not on the list? 

This hour, lots of people call and tweet with their favorites. Take a listen. 

Towns Oppose "Open Space" Designation of Golf Courses

Mar 3, 2015
Tord Sollie / Creative Commons

Several first selectmen of the Connecticut State Legislature and other chief elected officials are opposed to a measure in the legislature to designate golf courses as open space, an act that would reduce town assessments and taxes.

Ryan King / WNPR

Some of the best professional duckpin bowlers on the east coast gather this weekend for the Eastern Duckpin Classic in Mansfield.

In the 1920s and '30s, Connecticut residents Frank Barber and George Iseman arranged bowling tournaments between Connecticut duckpin bowlers, and some of the best bowlers from Washington, D.C. and Maryland, where the sport originated.

One way to test your mettle in winter is to take one of those quick penguin plunges in icy water. But some stoic swimmers actually carve pools out of frozen lakes and race each other.

The sport of winter swimming is popular abroad, especially in Russia, Scandinavia and China. But last weekend, a newly formed organization to promote winter swimming in the United States held its first national competition on the Vermont-Quebec border.

Coventry Regional Farmers' Market

I totally get the case against the Oscars and I look forward to hearing our friend Steve Almond make it on the show today. The case is that the creative arts and zero-sum games to not belong together because art is fluid and not hierarchical.  How can one performance or movie lose when another wins? It's absurd right? Wrong.

For example, we all know it was appalling in 1995 when "Forrest Gump" won Best Picture over "Pulp Fiction," "Quiz Show," and "Shawshank Redemption." Or, in 1981 when "Ordinary People" bested "Raging Bull." Whether we want to cop to it or not, we have internal standards and we know when they've been violated. This hour on the Scramble, Almond and I will debate that. 

DoNo Hartford LLC

The developers of the new minor league baseball stadium in Hartford are also building apartments around the venue. They're looking for ways to make some of those units accessible to people with lower incomes. 

Officials held a ceremonial groundbreaking earlier this week for the baseball stadium. Soon, across the street, the work to build the retail, residential, and entertainment project will begin. 

Just a little more than a month since Boston was chosen to become the next American city to put together an Olympic bid, Bostonians seem to be getting cold feet.

A poll commissioned by NPR member station WBUR found that a plurality of Bostonians (46 percent) "oppose the idea of bringing the Olympic Games to the Boston region in 2024."

WBUR's Asma Khalid tells our Newscast unit that just 44 percent of those polled support the bid.

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