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NCAA to expand men’s tourney

The NCAA on Thursday announced plans to expand its men’s basketball tournament from 65 to 68 teams -- and a new, $10.8-billion broadcasting deal with CBS and Turner Broadcasting that will allow every game to be shown live.

The three-team expansion is far more modest than the 80- and 96-team proposals the NCAA outlined only a few weeks ago at the Final Four.

The new format will be in place next year, though exactly how it will work still needs to be ironed out by the Division I men’s basketball committee. There will be four opening-round games instead of the current one play-in game, but it’s not clear whether those teams will be the lowest-seeded teams overall or the lowest-seeded at-large invitees.

The committee meets next month in Indianapolis, and again in Chicago in late June.

The new television agreement, which runs from 2011 through 2024, does not preclude further expansion of the tournament field at any time.

The men’s tournament last expanded in 2001, adding one team and the play-in game. Another NCAA committee is looking at whether to expand the 64-team women’s tournament.

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Phil Mathews, former basketball coach at the University of San Francisco, will be hired as an assistant coach at UCLA, according to an athletic department source, who was not authorized to comment publicly on the situation.

Mathews has been an assistant at Nebraska the last four seasons, but has strong Southern California ties, having played at UC Irvine in the early 1970s. Mathews was USF’s coach from 1995 to 2004, leading the Dons to the NCAA tournament in 1998.

-- Chris Foster

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Brooks is honored

Houston Rockets point guard Aaron Brooks was named the NBA’s most improved player.

The 6-foot Brooks set career highs in points (19.6 per game), assists (5.3) and rebounds (2.6). His scoring average went up 8.4 points from 2008-09, the highest increase of any qualifying player.

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Boston Celtics forward Rasheed Wallace, Orlando Magic Coach Stan Van Gundy and Magic forward Matt Barnes were all fined $35,000 by the NBA for publicly criticizing game officials.

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The trial of Cleveland Cavaliers guard Delonte West on weapons charges in Maryland has been postponed until July 21.

Authorities say West was carrying two loaded handguns, a loaded shotgun and an 81/2-inch Bowie knife while riding a three-wheel motorcycle on the Capital Beltway in September. Police say he was pulled over after cutting off an officer.

West is charged with carrying a dangerous weapon, carrying a handgun, transporting a handgun, reckless driving and negligent driving.

ETC.

Merritt suspended

American track star LaShawn Merritt tested positive for a banned substance used in an over-the-counter male enhancement product, an embarrassing episode for an Olympic gold medalist.

Merritt, who overcame his rival Jeremy Wariner to win the 400-meter gold at the 2008 Olympics, accepted a provisional suspension, agreeing to sit out while the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency resolves his case.

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Jason Bohn took advantage of calm morning conditions in the Zurich Classic at Avondale, La., shooting a seven-under-par 65 to take a two-stroke lead over Jason Dufner, John Senden, Jeff Overton, Greg Owen and 2006 champion Chris Couch.

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Chris Arreola weighed in at 2501/2 pounds and champion Tomasz Adamek weighed in at 217 for their International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Organization heavyweight title bout Saturday night at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario. Arreola, from Riverside, is 28-1 with 25 knockouts; Adamek, from Poland, is 40-1 with 27 knockouts.


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