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Bet on NCAA long shot retrieves big payday for UMBC fans

Eric Barger figured he was throwing his money away when he and a group of friends bet on a No. 16 seed to upset a top-ranked team in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. But the group’s $800 bet on the University of Maryland-Baltimore County men’s basketball team paid off big when the Retrievers shocked No. 1 Virginia 74-54 on Friday.

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No. 16 seeds had been 0-for-135 against No. 1s, but UMBC’s win was lucrative for Barger and friends, who cashed a $16,800 winning ticket at The Venetian in Las Vegas, ESPN reported. 

"I go with my boys to Vegas every tournament, and we did pretty well on Thursday," Barger told ESPN. “Me and my buddy Dan went to UMBC, so we spent all day talking up how much we were going to bet.”

Barger said he did not think he had a winning ticket.

"We, of course, thought we were throwing our money down the drain," Barger, 42, told ESPN. “We expected to be down pretty quickly, but we hung in there, and they won by 20. It was surreal.”

Feeling lucky, Barger said he and his friends took $200 each out of their winnings and gambled it on a game of roulette. Their number hit, so they collected an additional $1,900, ESPN reported.

Barger said his group will bet on UMBC again in the Retrievers’ game Sunday night against Kansas State.

“With odds at about 5-to-1, we'll have at least a couple hundred on the game,” Barger told ESPN. “How could we not?"

Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt:  5 things to know

It’s hard to call Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt an overnight sensation. After all, she’s been following basketball at Loyola University-Chicago for more than a half century and said she saw the Ramblers win the NCAA title in 1963. But thanks to television, the internet and social media, the 98-year-old nun has become a media darling.

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With victories against Miami and Tennessee in the NCAA Tournament, the Ramblers are hoping for more spiritual guidance when they face the winner of the Cincinnati-Nevada game in next week’s Sweet 16.

Here are some things you might not have known about Loyola-Chicago’s inspirational leader.

Praying for victory: As the basketball team’s chaplain since 1994, Sister Jean begins every prayer the same way: “Good and gracious God.” But if you’re thinking she does not invoke the deity for a little help to win, think again. “I ask God to be especially good to Loyola so that, at the end of the game, the scoreboard indicates a big ‘W’ for us,” she told The New York Times. She ends every prayer with an emphatic “Go Ramblers.” Judging from some of the shots Loyola-Chicago has been burying during this tournament -- Clayton Custer’s game-winner against Tennessee comes to mind -- these prayers have been answered so far.

She’s a Hall of Famer: Loyola-Chicago inducted Sister Jean into the athletic department’s Hall of Fame in 2017, making her the 173rd member to be enshrined. Born in San Francisco in 1919, Sister Jean played basketball in high school.

Good scouting: Every season, Sister Jean researches the boxscores of upcoming opponents, using her sharp eye for detail to point out flaws in the Ramblers’ next foe. Coach Porter Moser found a manila folder on his desk on his first day as coach, according to Sister Jean had compiled a scouting report on the Ramblers to help the new coach.

“She lights up every room she goes into.” Moser told the Times. “She’s always smiling. She has an energy about herself. I connect with that.”

She has her own bobblehead: Loyola-Chicago held a bobblehead promotion night for Sister Jean in 2011.

Super sneakers: Sister Jean has a pair of maroon-and-gold Nike sneakers that she wears during each game. Two names are stitched on the sneaker’s heels: “Sister” on the left heel, and “Jean” on the right.

It’s been quite a ride for Loyola-Chicago, which has knocked off two highly touted program. Now, the Ramblers will have to go against Sister Jean in the Sweet 16: She picked the Ramblers to lose in that round.

March Madness 2018: Michigan beats Houston, buzzer with last-second miracle by Jordan Poole

The game between Michigan and Houston on Saturday night was an absolute battle.

>> NCAA Men’s tournament 2018: Time, channel, odds for March Madness

Neither offense could get going, as the Wolverines shot 35 percent from the field, while the Cougars shot 37 percent. With less than four seconds remaining, Michigan trailed 63-61 with the ball.

Then, the magic happened. You’ve seen this already, but that’s OK. It’s worth seeing again.

>> Click here to watch

Freshman Jordan Poole nailed a 3-pointer as time expired to send the Wolverines to the Sweet 16. It was Poole’s second made 3-pointer of the game as he finished with 8 points.

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Michigan as a team shot 8-of-30 from behind the arc on the night. Houston missed two free throws on the other end of the court to lead to Poole’s game-winner.

Michigan will face the winner of North Carolina-Texas A&M.

Little Caesars honoring bracket-busting win with free pizza

If you’re crying in your beer after the University of Maryland-Baltimore County became the ultimate bracket buster in the NCAA Tournament on Friday night, take heart. There is a free pizza waiting to ease your sorrow.

Little Caesars is honoring UMBC’s 74-54 victory against Virginia -- the first time a No. 16 seed has defeated a No. 1 seed -- with a free lunch combo on Monday, April 2.

The $5 Hot-N-Ready Lunch Combo will include four slices of pepperoni pizza and one 20-ounce Pepsi product per family, the company said in its promotional release. Orders must be made between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. local time. An important point: the order must be placed by 1 p.m. The rules in the promotion state that even if you were in line at 1 p.m., if the order has not been placed it will not be honored. In other words, arrive early. 

Here are the details of the deal. You can read the full terms and conditions here.

Augie Garrido, college baseball’s winningest coach, dead at 79

Augie Garrido, the whimsical coach with the small-ball philosophy who led Texas baseball to two national championships and won more games than any other coach in college baseball history, died Thursday morning in California. He was 79.

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Garrido had been hospitalized there since suffering a stroke last weekend.

Garrido ruled the Texas dugout from 1997 until 2016, having previously coached at Cal State Fullerton, Illinois, Cal Poly and San Francisco State. He amassed an 824-427-2 record with the Longhorns, leading Texas to national titles in 2002 and 2005. He won five championships in all, having won with Cal State Fullerton in 1979, 1984 and 1995.

With a career record of 1,975-951-9, Garrido is the all-time winningest coach in Division I baseball history.

“Augie was a giant in our game,” Texas head coach David Pierce said in a statement. “His impact on baseball, on the Forty Acres, and on me and so many others will live on forever. My thoughts are with Jeannie, his friends, his family, and all those who were lucky enough to have met him, played for him, or learned from him. His presence will be sorely missed but his legacy will never be forgotten.”

Response to Garrido’s passing from former players and coaching peers poured in from around the country.

“Pressure is a choice, the world treats winners different than losers, time is the ultimate game, passion will persuade reality,” former Texas pitcher Huston Street tweeted. “Coach you’ve been a genius for so many of us. A friend, our charming second Dad we all thought was just so cool. I love you forever.”

Said longtime Rice coach Wayne Graham: “It is a sad time because I don’t think anyone did more for college baseball and baseball in general than Augie Garrido. He knew the particulars of the game better than anyone.”

Said Oklahoma coach Skip Johnson, who spent 10 years as a Garrido assistant: “I couldn’t have had a better mentor in the game. We still talked at least once a week. When I got the head coaching job here at OU, I told him I wanted to carry on his legacy with all the things he taught me.”

Said former football coach Mack Brown: “He really made you think, made you laugh and always was so much fun to be around. He was truly a special man, one of a kind.”

Garrido set the career wins record in 2003 when Texas toppled top-ranked Florida State for his 1,428th win. Eleven years later, he broke the record for all collegiate coaches in a 5-1 win over Texas State. Florida State’s Mike Martin, who has coached the Seminoles since 1980, could break Garrido’s career record this season.

“College baseball and the world lost one of the finest men in our coaching profession,” Martin said in a statement. “Augie dedicated his life to making young men better people. He will be deeply missed by myself and many others.”

Texas basketball coach Shaka Smart, in Nashville for the Longhorns’ first-round game Friday against Nevada in the NCAA Tournament, called Garrido a mentor and said he was heartbroken.

“I don’t know what to say. I loved Augie,” Smart said. “He taught me so much in the time we were together. He taught me so much about the fact that what we were doing in our case is so much bigger than basketball, and in his case was so much bigger than baseball.”

While at Texas, Garrido coached 27 All-Americans and 102 players who went on to play professionally. Each of the 11 Longhorns that were selected in last year’s MLB draft were recruited by Garrido. In 2016, he told the Statesman that Street was the best Longhorn he had ever coached.

“What might seem exceptional for one person was very normal for him, to be able to perform and be successful in different environments,” Garrido said of Street, who has 324 saves in 13 MLB seasons. “His fearless approach to throwing to the mitt and trusting his teammates to do the rest — he came here with that.”

Texas won 18 of its last 20 games in 2002, with the final one being a 12-6 win over South Carolina to win the national championship at the College World Series. Led by pitchers Justin Simmons and Street as well as Tim Moss’ and Dustin Majewski’s All-American bats, the Longhorns went 57-15 and secured the school’s first baseball title since 1983.

Three years later, Garrido led UT back to the winner’s circle. Following a runner-up finish in 2004, Texas closed out its 2005 campaign with seven straight wins. The Longhorns (56-16) beat Florida 6-2 for the crown.

Texas relieved Garrido of his duties following the 2016 season. The Longhorns had reached the College World Series in 2014, but the program posted losing records in conference play the next two years. Texas went 25-32 in 2016; Garrido’s final game was an 8-2 loss to TCU at the Big 12 tournament.

Following his departure, Garrido had served as a special assistant to the athletic director. But he was occasionally still seen at Texas games. Last month, he and legendary LSU coach Skip Bertman threw out the ceremonial first pitches ahead of the two schools’ first meeting since the Tigers beat the Longhorns for the 2009 NCAA title.

“This is a very, very sad day,” UT athletic director Chris Del Conte said in a statement. “We lost one of the greatest coaches of all time, a truly special Longhorn Legend and college athletics icon. There will never be another Augie Garrido. He was a once-in-a-lifetime personality whose impact on Texas Athletics, collegiate baseball and the student-athletes he coached extended far beyond the playing field.”

He was born August Edmun Garrido, Jr. on Feb. 6, 1939, in Vallejo, Calif. Garrido’s first appearance in the College World Series was as a Fresno State outfielder in 1959. After three years with the Bulldogs, he spent six years in the Cleveland Indians’ farm system.

In 1966, Garrido landed his first coaching job at Sierra High School in Tollhouse, Calif. Three years later, his college coaching career began when he took over the program at San Francisco State University.

Garrido is survived by his wife, Jeannie, and daughter, Lisa.

'Gonzaga Grandma' celebration goes viral

March Madness has only just begun, and already there is an internet sensation: the Gonzaga Grandma.

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Fourth-seeded Gonzaga squeaked past UNC-Greensboro 68-64 Thursday afternoon and did not clinch the victory until freshman guard Zach Norvell Jr. hit a 3-point shot with 20.8 seconds remaining to snap a 64-64 tie.

After the basket, the TNT cameras caught an elderly woman in the Gonzaga cheering section celebrating by pointing her arms to the sky, mouthing the words “Thank you, Father.”

It was a heavenly way for the Bulldogs to avoid an upset. The Gonzaga Grandma’s reaction quickly went viral:

Selection Sunday -- What to know

March Madness is upon us, and there will be a few new wrinkles when the 68-team field is announced Sunday evening.

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The “March Madness Selection Show” will begin at 6 p.m. ET, and for the first time in many years it will not be broadcast by CBS. TBS will get the honors this year, and also will televise the Final Four for the first time.

Some of the drama will end early. For the first time, teams that made the field will be announced in alphabetical order. That means that if your team is on the bubble and is not announced, then you can skip the rest of the show unless you are interested in the entire bracket and the seedings.

This is a departure from going through every bracket and listing the teams at an agonizingly slow pace.

Bracket seedings will follow, so get out your pens and put on your bracketology caps.

Providence basketball coach splits pants during intense Big East final

During Saturday’s Big East basketball tournament championship game at Madison Square Garden, Providence coach Ed Cooley refused to throw in the towel.

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He needed it because he ripped his pants.

During the second half of the game, eventually won 76-66 by Villanova in overtime, Cooley had a wardrobe malfunction and had to wear a towel around the back of his pants, ESPN reported.

“When I sat down I felt the great breeze in the crack,” Cooley laughed. "My pants ripped."

Villanova coach Jay Wright said he didn’t notice the towel.

“I didn't know until (Big East commissioner) Val Ackerman told me after the game when we were up on the stage,” Wright said. “So I never knew it. I didn't see it.”

Wright confessed that he would be stumped if his clothes ripped during a game, ESPN reported.

“I don't know what I would do, man,” he said. “I think I would try to fake like it didn't happen and hold my coat over it, I think. Thank God I haven't had that yet.”

Cooley wore a sweatsuit for the postgame news conference, ESPN reported. He said he was proud that his team never threw in the towel against Villanova.

“I'm pretty sure some of you are surprised the game was played the way it was, because everybody thought the Friars were going to come in here and lay down,” Cooley said. “No way, man. That team got fight. They've got passion, and we believe.”

Alabama QB Jalen Hurts pays off bet, wears Auburn jersey

It’s easier to pay off a bet when you have a national championship in your pocket.

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On Thursday, Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts wore the jersey of the Crimson Tide’s bitter rival, Auburn, on campus, ESPN reported.

Hurts had made a bet on Nov. 14 with Auburn alumnus Charles Barkley before the Iron Bowl game between the two Alabama universities. 

"Jalen Hurts challenged me to a bet, and I ain't forgot it, Jalen," Barkley said that day. "I'm either going to wear an Alabama jersey on TV, or he's going to have to wear (an Auburn jersey) on campus. ... I've got the jersey coming.

"My Tigers need to win because I don't want to wear that crap on TNT."

Auburn stunned No. 1 Alabama 26-14, handing the Crimson Tide its only loss of the season.

Hurts paid off the bet Thursday, as the school posted a video on its Twitter feed.

"What's up, Charles," Hurts said. "Obviously, I'm a man of my word. And first off, I'd just like to congratulate Auburn and the Auburn family on their successful season this year. But I think it's time I get to class. I'm running kind of late for English."

Hurts added a “Roll Tide” before walking away.

While Alabama lost to Auburn, the Crimson Tide qualified for the College Football Playoff games and won the national title with a 26-23 overtime victory against Georgia.

LaVar Ball blasts Trump after report says UCLA players were freed before president stepped in

We now have a LaVar Ball vs. Donald Trump Part II.

ESPN released a report on Saturday chronicling UCLA’s China shoplifting incident involving freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley. The three allegedly had stolen sunglasses from Louis Vuitton, a boutique store and a bracelet from H&M.

>> LaVar Ball pulls son LiAngelo out of UCLA after suspension

ESPN’s Arash Markazi wrote that Trump actually had nothing to do with the release of LiAngelo Ball, Hill and Riley.

Upon hearing the news, LaVar Ball doubled down on his stance that Trump had zero to do with getting the three out of harm’s way.

>> See his tweet here

LaVar Ball and Trump previously got into a spat on social media in the days and weeks after the highly-publicized theft. Soon after the LiAngelo Ball, Hill and Riley were released from house arrest, Trump took to Twitter seeking credit.

LaVar Ball dismissed Trump’s request for validation on multiple occasions.

The two had quieted down their tug of war, but Saturday's news has evidently resuscitated the matter.

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LiAngelo Ball has since left UCLA to play professional basketball in Lithuania. Hill and Riley are currently serving a one-year suspension as punishment for the international shoplifting incident but were permitted to practice with the team on Dec. 26.

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