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WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUND-UP: UW players resolve to get back at Kentucky for last year's Final Four loss

INDIANAPOLIS -- After last year's one-point loss to Kentucky, Wisconsin players are resolved to win their rematch against the Wildcats in tomorrow night's NCAA Division I Men's Basketball National Semifinal.  Tip-off is at 7:49 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on TBS.

But even if they don't win, senior guard Josh Gasser says he will have had a successful career -- and nothing can take the last two seasons away.  Still, the 35-3 Badgers are looking for more.  After all, it's been 73 years since Wisconsin hoisted its last national championship banner for men's hoops.  They went 46 years without even appearing in the NCAA Tournament before 1994.  Associate head coach Greg Gard says everyone involved with the program needs to appreciate how difficult it was to make back-to-back Final Fours.  He said nothing was guaranteed, and the players appreciated that by not getting ahead of themselves in their preparations for the season.  Wisconsin has four seniors, including national award-winning center Frank Kaminsky.  Guard Ben Brust is the only starter missing from last year's team.  Almost a quarter of the UW's total victories at the Big Dance have come in the last two seasons. Wisconsin is 33-19 overall in the NCAA's.  They're scheduled to play top overall seed Kentucky at 7:49 tomorrow night in Indianapolis.  The winner plays either Duke or Michigan State for the national title on Monday night.

MU's Carlino eliminated from three-point shooting title, UWGB's Sykes second in slam dunk competition

INDIANAPOLIS -- Marquette University senior Matt Carlino was eliminated after the first round of the College Slam Dunk and Three-Point Championships.  He lost a head-to-head three-point shootout last night to Alex Barlow of Butler -- who was shooting on his home floor in Indianapolis and got the majority of the cheers from the crowd.  Kevin Pangos of Gonzaga won the three-point contest, edging Barlow 22-21 in the final round.  UW-Green Bay senior Keifer Sykes placed second in the slam dunk contest.  He scored 37-of-40 possible points in the first round, and 40-of-40 in the semi-finals.  Sykes lost to LaQuavius Cotton of Delta State in the championship pairing.  Sykes missed all four of his dunk attempts in the one-minute allowed.  

Smart to take Texas coaching position

AUSTIN, Tex. -- Former Wisconsin high school basketball standout Shaka Smart is reportedly about to become the head men's coach at Texas.  Multiple media outlets report that Smart accepted the Longhorns' job on Thursday, after six years on the bench at VCU.  Smart was a star at Oregon High School in Dane County. He turns 38 next Wednesday, and he has led Virginia Commonwealth to at least 26 victories in each of his six seasons there -- with an NCAA Final Four appearance in 2011.  Smart replaces Rick Barnes, who took the coaching job at Tennessee.  Both Texas and VCU lost their NCAA Tournament openers last month.

Bucks tighten grip on No. 6 spot in playoffs

MILWAUKEE -- The Milwaukee Bucks lost 15-of-22 games since the All-Star break -- but one thing they never lost was the Number-six playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.  Coach Jason Kidd reminded reporters of that when his team won an emotional 95-91 home game over Chicago on Wednesday night.  And after Miami lost to Cleveland last night, the Bucks extended their lead for the No. 6 slot by two-and-a-half games over Brooklyn.  The Nets moved into the seventh-slot, and Boston and Miami are tied for the eighth-and-final East playoff bid, three games behind Milwaukee.  The Bucks can drive the Celtics down a notch with a victory tonight in Boston.  Milwaukee can also return to the .500 mark with a win.  They're now 37-38, and will play a Celtics' team that's 34-41.  Both have seven regular season games remaining.  If the Bucks keep their current slot, they'll most likely play Chicago or Toronto in the first round of the playoffs later this month.  Both those teams are 45-30.

Ogunbowale named AP Player of the Year

For the third year in a row, Arike Ogunbowale of Milwaukee Divine Savior Holy Angels is the Associated Press girls' high school basketball player of the year.  She led the Dashers to the first state championship last month in Division 1, while averaging 27 points and nine rebounds in her senior year.  The 5-9 Ogunbowale also made the AP All-State first team along with Gabby Green of Milwaukee Pius XI, Natisha Hiedeman of Green Bay Southwest, Allazia Blockton of Whitefish Bay Dominican, and Megan Gustafson of South Shore.  Judy Harms of Whitewater high was named the AP coach-of-the-year, after leading the Whippets to their first state title.  They won the Division 3 crown with a 28-0 record.

Braun his homer but Brewers lose to Padres

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Ryan Braun hit his third homer of the spring and went 2-for-3 in the Milwaukee Brewers' 6-5 exhibition loss to San Diego yesterday in Peoria Arizona. Braun doubled in the fourth inning and homered in the fifth off Jason Lane. After a slow start, the Brewers' left fielder is hitting .361 this spring -- and he declares he has regained his swing following a nerve injury in his right thumb. Braun hit a career-low .266 a year ago, as he returned from a 65-game drug suspension in 2013 and played through an injury that did not allow him to keep his top-hand on the bat.  Jonathan Lucroy also homered for Milwaukee. Matt Garza said he was happy with his final Spring Training start, despite giving up four runs and eight hits in three innings.  Garza struck out six, as he regained control of a slider he was missing a year ago.  For the Padres, Matt Kemp had two hits, and Tyson Ross tossed three scoreless innings in San Diego's spring finale.  The Brewers dropped to 11-16-1 in Cactus League play.  They have two more Arizona exhibitions, the first of which is this afternoon against Cleveland.

Roenicke likes Brewers' Opening Day roster

PHOENIX -- Milwaukee Brewers' manager Ron Roenicke says his Opening Day roster is "solid in every area," and he considers himself fortunate not to have any "question marks." The Brewers finalized their 25-man roster yesterday by sending utility player Elian Herrera to the minors.  That gave outfielder Logan Schafer the final spot on the Milwaukee bench -- along with newcomers Luis Jimenez and Hector Gomez as back-up infielders.  Roenicke said it was not easy to send down the versatile switch-hitting Herrera -- but he believes Schafer has the edge on defense.  He also has a .270 career batting average off the bench, and Roenicke says the big league average for such a reserve is around .220. However, Schafer only hit .181 last year, while Herrera hummed along at a .274 clip.  Herrera should be back with the Brewers soon enough, though, given the normal injuries and roster adjustments made during the season. Milwaukee's 2015 campaign opens Monday at home against Colorado.

Packers to have have first spring work-outs starting April 20

GREEN BAY -- The Green Bay Packers will start their official off-season workouts on April 20th.  They'll begin with a two-week strength-and-conditioning period.  Next up is a three-week stretch in which players can do field work, but cannot scrimmage or have live contact with teammates.  The final off-season phase includes the Organized Team Activities and the Packers' mandatory mini-camp. The OTA's are set for May 27th-through-29th, June second-through-fourth, and June 9th-through-12.  Normally, Green Bay has one OTA practice that's open to fans.  Fans can also see the mini-camp, which is set for June 16th-through-18th.  That's the only mandatory item for the veterans, but the vast majority of Packers take part in at least some portion of the OTA's.  In the meantime, you'll hear numerous reports of players trying out at Green Bay in preparation for the NFL Draft which begins April 30th.  Packers' Report says Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty will come to town for a pre-draft audition.  The Pack is looking for a third QB after Matt Flynn was not re-signed.

Wilson tied for 27th after first round of Houston Open

HOUSTON, Tex. -- Pewaukee native Mark Wilson is tied for 27th after the first round of the Shell Houston Open, the PGA's final golf event before the Masters begins next Thursday.  Wilson shot a three-under-par 69 yesterday.  Jerry Kelly of Madison shot an even-par 72, and is tied for 88th.  Scott Piercy shot a nine-under-63 and has a two-stroke lead over J.B. Holmes and Alex Cejka.

UWM baseball team loses home opener

MILWAUKEE -- The UW-Milwaukee baseball team lost its home opener yesterday, 11-10 to Valparaiso in 12 innings.  It was the Panthers' fourth extra-inning loss of the season, and their seventh defeat by one run.  Valpo scored three times in the 12th inning to win it.  Spencer Mahoney had the game-winning hit with a two-run single.  Mike Porcaro homered and drove in four runs for UWM, which dropped to 3-6 in the Horizon League and 12-9 overall.