The Virginia men’s basketball team, the 2019 national champion, pulled out of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament Friday after someone inside the program tested positive for the coronavirus. Hours later, Kansas left the Big 12 Conference tournament for a similar reason. The withdrawals, a day after Duke dropped out of the ACC tournament because of the virus, immediately put into doubt whether some of the sport’s most prominent teams will be able to play in the NCAA Tournament, which will fill its brackets on Sunday. With the cancellation of Friday’s ACC semifinal with Virginia (18-6), Georgia Tech automatically advanced to the conference championship game. The withdrawal of Kansas (20-8) from the Big 12 tournament moved Texas into Saturday’s conference title game. Virginia coach Tony Bennett said in a statement Friday that the university was “exhausting all options to participate” next week . . . Cade Cunningham scored 25 points, Avery Anderson III added 20, and No. 12 Oklahoma State was nearly perfect from the foul line down the stretch in beating second-ranked Baylor, 83-74, in the Big 12 Tournament semifinals in Kansas City. Rondel Walker also had 11 points for the No. 5 seed Cowboys (20-7), who will play No. 13 Texas for the title Saturday night. MaCio Teague scored 17 points and Jared Butler had 16 for the Bears (22-2).
Howard tossed after testy exchange
Michigan coach Juwan Howard was ejected midway through the second half after getting a shouting match with the Maryland bench before the No. 4 Wolverines won, 79-66, to reach the Big Ten semifinals at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Mike Smith scored 18 points and set a Big Ten Tournament record with 15 assists for top-seeded Michigan (20-3), which put together a 27-6 run that bookended halftime. Eric Ayala scored 19 points and Darryl Morsell added 16 to lead the eighth-seeded Terrapins (16-13). During a media timeout with 10:44 remaining, Howard yelled toward the Maryland bench, while Maryland coach Mark Turgeon walked closer and jawed back. The refs called two technical fouls on Howard, which carried an automatic ejection, and another on Turgeon, who was not ejected. “He charged at me,” Howard said. “I don’t know how you guys were raised, but how I was raised by my grandmother and also by Chicago — because I was raised by Chicago, I grew up in the South Side. When guys charge you, it’s time to defend yourself.” Howard said he apologized to his players in the locker room for how he handled the situation . . . Anastasia Warren scored a career-high 31 points, including the clinching free throws with 0.7 seconds to play, as second-seeded Stony Brook earned its first berth in the NCAA Women’s Tournament with a 64-60 road win over top-seeded Maine in the America East championship game in Orono. Asiah Dingle added 20 points for Stony Brook (15-5), while Blanca Millan scored 20 points for Maine (17-3), which was in its sixth straight title game, 20th overall, and trying for its 10th NCAA appearance . . . Estefania Ors scored 13 of her 21 points in the first quarter to jump start top-seeded Idaho State (22-3) and the Bengals kept rolling into the NCAA Women’s Tournament, defeating second-seeded Idaho (17-7), 84-49, in the Big Sky championship game in Boise . . . Tyson Walker, the leading scorer on Northeastern’s men’s team, has entered the transfer portal, according to ESPN. Walker averaged 18.8 points per game and 4.9 assists.
Just two positive tests in last week
Two tests were positive for COVID-19, both among players, during 14,704 samples collected in the past week under Major League Baseball’s monitoring program, the commissioner’s office said Friday. One of the positives was Reds first baseman Joey Votto, the team said Wednesday. There have been 12 positive tests — nine for players, three for staff — among 43,928 monitoring tests during spring training. The positive tests were among nine of the 30 teams . . . The Indians traded 33-year-old utility infielder Mike Freeman to the Reds for cash. Manager Terry Francona announced the deal from the team’s year-round training complex in Goodyear, Ariz., shortly after he said reigning Cy Young Award winner Shane Bieber will start the opener at Detroit on April 1. “That’s probably not any big secret,” Francona said . . . After a 15-year career that came up just short of the World Series, 37-year-old outfielder Nick Markakis has retired. Markakis spent his first nine years with the Baltimore Orioles before moving to his hometown Atlanta Braves for his final six seasons. A free agent after last season, Markakis told The Athletic in a story published Friday that he was done playing after accumulating 2,388 hits, earning his lone All-Star selection in 2018 and closing out his career in Game 7 of the NL Championship Series . . . The Orioles announced they will begin the season by hosting approximately 11,000 fans per game, or 25 percent of capacity of Camden Yards. The home opener is April 8 against the Red Sox and will be reserved for fans who purchased Birdland Memberships. In accordance with MLB’s health policies, the Orioles will implement “pod” seating throughout the ballpark to guarantee proper social distancing of 6 feet between each group of ticket holders. Fans will have to wear masks at all times unless eating or drinking in their assigned seats . . . The Braves are planning to open Truist Park to about 13,500 fans to start the season. The three-time reigning NL East champions will allow 33 percent capacity at their 41,084-seat stadium beginning with Opening Day against the Phillies on April 9 . . . The Twins received government approval for fans to return, and they can play at Target Field for now in front of a capacity of up to 10,000 people.
WEEI to pair Gresh with Keefe on midday
Andy Gresh is joining WEEI, where he will pair with Rich Keefe on the station’s midday program beginning Monday. Dale Arnold, a host at the station for 30 years and Keefe’s on-air partner since 2016, announced his retirement from radio Thursday. His last show was Friday. Gresh will go head-to-head with rival sports station 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Zolak and Bertrand.” Gresh cohosted that show with former Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak from April 2010 through early 2015, when he was let go by the station and replaced by Marc Bertrand.
— CHAD FINN
Tsitsipas sent packing in Marseille
Stefanos Tsitsipas’s bid to win a third straight Open 13 fizzled out when he lost to doubles specialist Pierre-Hugues Herbert, 6-7 (6-8), 6-4, 6-2, in the quarterfinals in Marseille, France. Herbert has a career Grand Slam in doubles but in singles is ranked 93rd, compared with fifth for the Australian Open semifinalist Tsitsipas. A French finalist is guaranteed, too, since Herbert plays the winner of the late match between fourth-seeded Ugo Humbert and Arthur Rinderknech, a qualifier ranked 138th. Earlier, second-seeded Daniil Medvedev made light work of reaching the semis in brushing aside fifth-seeded Jannik Sinner, 6-2, 6-4 . . . Garbiñe Muguruza reached her third final of the season after needing seven match points to beat Elise Mertens, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5), in the semifinals of the Dubai Championships. Muguruza will play Barbora Krejcikova, a Czech doubles specialist, in Saturday’s final as the Spanish player seeks her first title since April 2019.
IOC tunes out Russia’s choice for medal music
Russia’s wish to use a patriotic Soviet-era folk song as a replacement anthem for the Tokyo Olympics was rejected by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Geneva in further fallout from a years-long doping scandal. The court said its panel of three judges was asked to clarify what music it would allow within the two-year ban on Russia’s team name, flag, and national anthem from Olympics and world championships imposed in December. Russian officials proposed the “Katyusha” song, which is strongly identified with the fight against Nazi Germany in World War II. Russia will compete in Tokyo and next year’s Winter Olympics in Beijing as “ROC,” an acronym for the Russian Olympic Committee . . . Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis will be out for at least two more weeks with the leg injuries that have kept him sidelined since Feb. 14. The defending NBA champions said Davis is making progress and has been cleared to enter the next phase of his rehabilitation after an examination by team doctors. He will be evaluated in late March. Davis missed his 10th consecutive game Friday when the Lakers hosted the Indiana Pacers in their first game back from the All-Star break . . . The Detroit Pistons have agreed to trade Svi Mykhailiuk and a 2027 second-round draft pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder for guard Hamidou Diallo, according to a person with knowledge of the deal. It’s another step in a drastic roster overhaul for Detroit under new general manager Troy Weaver, who was previously an executive for the Thunder. Only one player who appeared in a game for the Pistons last season is still on the roster — 20-year-old Sekou Doumbouya . . . Petra Vlhova is back on course to become the first Slovakian to win skiing’s overall World Cup title. Vlhova defended her first-run advantage in a slalom in Are, Sweden, to claim her 20th career victory. She moved 64 points ahead of Swiss rival Lara Gut-Behrami — who does not race slaloms — in the overall standings. Vlhova finished 0.20 seconds ahead of recently-scrowned world champion Katharina Liensberger and 0.64 ahead of Mikaela Shiffrin. Another slalom is scheduled for Saturday in Are, then the finals start in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, on Wednesday . . . The Columbus Blue Jackets acquired defenseman Mikko Lehtonen from the Toronto Maple Leafs for goaltender Veini Vehvilainen. Lehtonen, a 27-year-old rookie, skated in his first NHL game on Jan. 18 against Winnipeg and earned his first career assist Jan. 30. He will join Columbus’s taxi squad after securing a work visa and clearing COVID-19 quarantine. The 24-year-old Vehvilainen made his NHL debut with the Blue Jackets on March 4, stopping three of four shots in 10:40 before going back to the team’s AHL affiliate in Cleveland, where he has played in 34 games.