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Women to close out WrestleMania for 1st time

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For the first time in the 35-year history of WrestleMania, WWE's biggest annual pay-per-view, a women's match will close out the show as the main event.

Everything you need to know about WrestleMania 35 -- the match card, results, news, features, history and more from ESPN.com.

Less than four weeks out from WrestleMania 35, the Kofimania movement is in full swing, with a meteoric ascent pushing him all the way to No. 1 in the latest ESPN WWE Power Rankings.

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The Raw women's championship match between Ronda Rousey, Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair will close out the show, which is April 7 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

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Kidd covets coaching return, cites renewed focus

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Hall of Famer Jason Kidd, fired last season by the Milwaukee Bucks, said Monday he would like to get back to coaching "at any level." Kidd's name has come up as a potential replacement for Wyking Jones at his alma mater, California.

And league sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski on Sunday that Kidd will be among the candidates for the Los Angeles Lakers' coaching job if Luke Walton is dismissed.

"I think Cal is a great institution. We'll see what happens," Kidd said Monday on The Jump. "Right now, it's nice to be wanted. And it just tells me I'm doing the right thing. And I think the year off helps clean up some things, too, just to refocus and have that energy."

Kidd said he would be patient in the process and said he thought Walton had done an "incredible job" considering the Lakers' injuries and other distractions.

"We'll wait until the season's over to see what opportunities come about," he said, "and, hopefully, there's one that fits." Kidd described the Lakers franchise as one of the best in the world.

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Ranking the Sweet 16 teams by tradition

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For a selection of those who have reached this round of the 2019 NCAA tournament, the Sweet 16 represents a significant goal achieved. For others, it's merely a way station.

All of the 16 want to move on, of course, but which programs and fan bases have come to expect it? We ranked them on the basis of their winning tradition in college basketball, using both recent and historical track records as our rough guide.

16. Virginia Tech Hokies

Dell Curry was a star at Virginia Tech from 1982-83 to 1985-86 before his long NBA career. courtesy of Virginia Tech athletics

NCAA tournament appearances: 11
National championships: 0
Final Fours: 0
All-time program icon (player): Dell Curry
All-time program icon (coach): Charles Moir
NBA players (all time, active rosters): 14

Buzz Williams, who has led Virginia Tech to three straight NCAA appearances for the first time in school history, also has the Hokies in the Sweet 16 for just the second time ever (1967). Excitement over this run might be tempered just a bit for Virginia Tech fans given the rumors swirling around Williams and Texas A&M -- if he leaves, can a true basketball tradition be sustained in Blacksburg?

15. Texas Tech Red Raiders

Darvin Ham was known for his ferocious dunking while a player at Texas Tech (1993-94 to 1995-96) and later in the NBA. Getty Images

NCAA tournament appearances: 17
National championships: 0
Final Fours: 0
All-time program icon (player): Darvin Ham
All-time program icon (coach): Gerald Myers
NBA players (all time, active rosters): 10

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Ronaldo leaves Euro qualifier with leg injury

Cristiano Ronaldo was substituted off with a right leg injury in Portugal's Euro 2020 qualifying match against Serbia on Monday.

Ronaldo pulled up after sprinting down the touchline in the 31st minute at Estadio da Luz and immediately signaled for a replacement. The 34-year-old sat by the sideline and removed the captain's armband before doctors arrived and treated what appeared to be his right hamstring.

Ronaldo, who walked off on his own and remained on the team bench, had been playing with a bloody gauze in his nose.

"I am not worried, I know my body. It happens, it's football ... I am fine because I know I will come back in one or two weeks," Ronaldo said of the injury after Monday's 1-1 draw.

It was only Ronaldo's second appearance for the national team since the World Cup last summer in Russia. The former Real Madrid talisman and five-time Champions League winner later made a high-profile switch to Italian giants Juventus.

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Fantasy baseball mock draft recap: 10-team roto league

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Bears-Pack will start season; Pats open on SNF

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The NFL's 100th season will open with the 199th meeting between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers.

The league announced Monday that it would forgo the traditional opening-night matchup in which the Super Bowl winner hosts the first game of the season on the Thursday of Week 1.

Instead, one of the NFL's classic rivalries will open the season on Thursday, Sept. 5, from Chicago's Soldier Field in prime time (8:20 p.m. ET on NBC). The league also announced that the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots will open their season on Sunday Night Football at home against an opponent to be determined.

"As an organization, we are thrilled to be kicking off the 100th season of football in the NFL," Bears chairman George H. McCaskey said in a statement. "As a charter franchise, we cannot think of a better way to begin our centennial season than by hosting our longtime rival in prime time at Soldier Field."

The announcement was made at the NFL annual meetings in Phoenix.

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Feds: Avenatti tried to extort $20M from Nike

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Federal prosecutors in New York and California have charged celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti with extortion and bank and wire fraud.

In the New York case, Avenatti was charged with attempting to extort more than $20 million in payments from Nike by threatening to use his ability to garner publicity to inflict substantial financial and reputational harm on the company if his demands were not met.

Avenatti, 48, had previously represented adult film star Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, in her lawsuit against President Donald Trump and his former lawyer Michael Cohen.

Avenatti appeared in court Monday evening and was released on $300,000 bond. He is barred from having any contact with the co-conspirator in the case. He also must report any financial transactions of more than $5,000.

His next court appearance is scheduled for April 1 in a federal court in Los Angeles.

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Two Georgia players arrested after bar fight

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ATHENS, Ga. -- Two Georgia Bulldogs football players are facing misdemeanor disorderly conduct charges after they were arrested following an incident at a downtown Athens bar early Sunday morning.

Athens-Clarke County Police public information officer Geoffrey Gilland told ESPN that officers arrested senior receiver Tyler Simmons and freshman cornerback Tyrique Stevenson after they were identified as subjects allegedly fighting with bar employees at the Cloud Bar.

Stevenson, an early enrollee from Miami, was arrested at 2:42 a.m. ET and released on $1,000 bail.

Simmons, from Powder Springs, Georgia, was treated for minor injuries at a local hospital and cited.

Bulldogs wide receiver Tyler Simmons caught nine passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed for 131 yards and two touchdowns in 2018. Photo by Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire

"Both were charged with disorderly conduct," Gilland said. "Both were transported to the jail. When they arrived at the jail, Simmons complained about an injury. The jail will not process someone if they are injured. Our officer transported Simmons to a local hospital. After he was treated, he received a citation for disorderly conduct."

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Who should fight for the UFC's vacant bantamweight title?

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TJ Dillashaw relinquished the UFC bantamweight belt last week after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and the New York State Athletic Commission informed him of an "adverse analytical finding" in a drug test dating back to his most recent fight, which took place in January in Brooklyn. He was given a one-year suspension and fined for his actions. The news sent MMA fighters, fans and media into a frenzy as the top of the division was now up for grabs.

The UFC is now on ESPN and ESPN+. Subscribe to ESPN+ to get: Exclusive live UFC events, weigh-ins and more; Ariel and the Bad Guy; Dana White's Contender Series; and more exclusive MMA content.

UFC flyweight champion Henry Cejudo has long stated he wants to move up a weight class to become a double champion. But what would that mean for the 125-pound division? Bantamweights Marlon Moraes, Aljamain Sterling and Pedro Munhoz, among others, all have legitimate claims to a title fight.

Who should fight for that vacant championship? ESPN's MMA contributors -- Brett Okamoto, Ariel Helwani, Jeff Wagenheim, Eric Jackman, Eric Tamiso, Andrew Davis and Chamatkar Sandhu -- give their answers.

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Betting favorites made history in round of 32

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The betting favorites in the NCAA tournament went on a historic run over the weekend, leaving a Sweet 16 bracket full of blue-blood chalk.

For the first time since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, all 16 betting favorites won in the round of 32, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Three times, in 2009, 1995 and 1991, the favored team had won 15 of 16 games in the round of 32, but this was the first year in which the chalk went undefeated.

Action was heavy during the first weekend of March Madness at U.S. sportsbooks. Here's a look at some of the notable bets, from a bet that netted a $1 profit to a 14-cent wager that landed almost $1,500.

It's NCAA tournament time, but is it the best time to bet? One professional bettor shares his thoughts on the difficulty of picking games in March.

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Tanaka? Paxton? Keuchel?! Handicapping Yankees' Opening Day starter

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TAMPA, Fla. -- All winter, it was practically a foregone conclusion who'd be starting Opening Day for the New York Yankees.

Then, about 15 minutes prior to Tuesday's spring training game against the Braves, it became dramatically less certain.

Although an MRI of Luis Severino's right shoulder came back that afternoon mostly positive, only revealing rotator cuff inflammation, the Yankees were still forced to sideline the right-hander. He won't be making his long-expected start at Yankee Stadium on March 28 after all.

Who will be pitching in his place? While a front-runner appears to be emerging, there are others perhaps worthy of consideration. Here's a rundown of potential Yankees Opening Day starters and the likelihood they'll be handed the ball to start the season. [Vote for your favorite option here.]

Not in contention: Severino, CC Sabathia

While Severino could land on the injured list for a short stint at the start of the regular season, the Yankees are expecting to make a similar move with Sabathia.

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Judge rules against NCAA in antitrust lawsuit

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A judge has ruled against the NCAA in a federal antitrust lawsuit, saying football and basketball players should be permitted to receive more compensation from schools, but only if the benefits are tied to education.

The ruling Friday night from U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken in Oakland, California, said the NCAA cannot "limit compensation or benefits related to education.''

The plaintiffs in the so-called Alston cases were seeking much more. Plaintiffs had asked the judge to lift all NCAA caps on compensation and to allow schools to provide benefits beyond a scholarship to college athletes.

The goal was to create a free market, where conferences set rules for compensating athletes, but this ruling still allows the NCAA to prohibit cash compensation untethered to education-related expenses.

The claim was against the NCAA and the 11 conferences that have competed in the highest level of college football.

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Sources: Gottfried directly linked to payments

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Court filings in a federal criminal case involving college basketball corruption link former NC State coach Mark Gottfried to being the first head coach directly connected to impermissible payments to players, sources told ESPN.

According to a disclosure from federal prosecutors, former NC State assistant Orlando Early's attorney said his client disclosed that Gottfried on two occasions gave him envelopes -- containing what Early believed was cash -- to deliver to star guard Dennis Smith Jr.'s trainer to ensure he signed with the Wolfpack in 2015.

Smith Jr.'s trainer, Shawn Farmer, was supposed to deliver the envelopes to Dennis Smith Sr., the father of the five-star recruit, who is now a point guard with the New York Knicks.

According to sources, the allegations concerning Gottfried were included in a sentencing memorandum filed Feb. 12 on behalf of former Adidas executive James Gatto, who was sentenced to nine months in federal prison on Tuesday.

The information concerning Gottfried, who is now coaching at Cal State Northridge, is redacted in the sentencing memo that is publicly available.

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Broncos propose alternative to trying onside kick

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NFL teams have proposed nine rule changes for 2019, including an intriguing alternative from the Denver Broncos to bypass the onside kick.

According to the Broncos' proposal, released Friday night by the NFL, each team would have one opportunity per game to remain on offense after a fourth-quarter score. Instead of kicking off, the team would line up at its 35-yard line for what is in essence a fourth down-and-15. If the team gains at least 15 yards, it maintains possession. If not, the defense takes over.

The NFL annually invites teams to propose rule changes, but the competition committee is charged with vetting and either endorsing or allowing them to stand on their own. Historically, owners defer substantial judgment to the committee, which is scheduled to meet later this month to finalize its recommendations for 2019.

Minnesota's Adam Thielen jumps on an onside kick in a game against the Eagles last season. A proposal by the Denver Broncos would provide teams with an alternative to the onside kick if approved by NFL owners. Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire

Votes from 24 owners are required to approve any rule changes. The Broncos' submission reflects the increased difficulty of onside kicks under new kickoff rules implemented last season. In 2018, NFL teams recovered only four of 52 onside kicks, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

The new Alliance of American Football (AAF), which has outlawed kickoffs, offers teams the chance to convert a fourth-and-12 from its 28 if it is down by 17 points or more in a game, or if it is trailing by any deficit with five minutes or less remaining in the fourth quarter.

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How will Arsenal and Man United respond?

W2W4 previews the weekend's Premier League action by highlighting its most compelling storylines ...

Man United and Arsenal nursing different hangovers

Arsenal and Manchester United are both dealing with European hangovers of a different nature. Arsenal will have a day fewer to prepare after a 3-1 loss to Rennes in the Europa League, but it's the Manchester United players who will probably be more exhausted ahead of their game on Sunday. After Wednesday night's miracle/VAR-assisted win in Paris, the energy must be drained from the bodies and minds of the United players. The remarkable effort required to defeat PSG will ultimately be worth it, but there are short-term consequences: specifically, how well they will recover for their next test, a trip to face Arsenal, particularly given the number of injuries they will still have to cope with.

ESPN+ is America's home for a host of professional soccer leagues from around the world, highlighted by Italy's Serie A, Major League Soccer, UEFA Nations League and English FA Cup. | ESPN+ schedule

ESPN FC's experts ranked the best men's players and managers in world football. Check it out.

On Feb. 8, a fire at an uninspected youth dorm at one of Brazil's highest-earning clubs killed 10 young players. How?

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Source: Bennett reunion with Patriots possible

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- There could be a Bennett brothers reunion in New England, with Michael set to join the team via trade and Martellus contemplating a return to football.

The Philadelphia Eagles have informed Michael Bennett that they are planning to trade him to the Patriots, the defensive end told ESPN's Josina Anderson on Friday. With that trade set to be finalized, tight end Martellus Bennett is interested in coming out of retirement to join his brother in New England, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Adding Bennett gives the Patriots an affordable rotation piece, and they remain in position to make a strong offer to the younger Flowers.

The Eagles would receive a fifth-round pick in the 2020 draft and send Michael Bennett and a 2020 seventh-round pick to the Patriots, a league source told Schefter. Philly.com was first to report that a trade was close to completion.

Bennett played in 16 games (10 starts) last season and totaled nine sacks. He has 63 sacks over his 10-year career.

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LSU suspends Wade indefinitely amid FBI probe

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LSU has suspended men's basketball coach Will Wade indefinitely, the school announced Friday.

The decision comes a day after reports that FBI wiretaps intercepted telephone calls between Wade and aspiring business manager Christian Dawkins, in which Wade expressed frustration about his inability to close what he described as a "strong-ass offer" for a recruit.

"Recent media reports regarding Coach Will Wade are without question concerning to us all," read a statement from LSU president/chancellor F. King Alexander and athletic director Joe Alleva. "As such, we and university officials have taken deliberate and purposeful steps to fairly assess and adequately address the situation. As we have done since media reports first surfaced months ago, we are closely coordinating with the NCAA with every step. They have our full cooperation and we will continue to report to them all facts and information on this matter.

FBI wiretaps intercepted telephone calls between LSU coach Will Wade and aspiring business manager Christian Dawkins, in which Wade expressed frustration about his inability to close an offer for a recruit, sources told ESPN.

"All of us at LSU share the obligation to protect the integrity of this institution, as such we have suspended Head Coach Will Wade indefinitely until such time as we can ensure full compliance with the NCAA, as well as institutional policies and standards. Assistant coach Tony Benford will assume the duties of interim coach."

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Club cannabis: Will other leagues copy the NHL?

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Player X is in the NHL. After home games, he has a routine. Typically, he'll meet a few teammates at a local restaurant for a late dinner. He likes to order steak after games -- medium rare, with a side salad and mashed potatoes. Then he'll go home.

Player X sometimes has a hard time unwinding; it was a day of unbounded stimulation. He woke up and arrived at the rink for a morning skate and meetings, went home to nap, returned to the arena for warm-ups (bright lights and eardrum-blasting music), then exerted his body for 20-something sub-one-minute shifts during which he shoves, sprints, reaches, shoots, gets hit and sometimes bleeds on the ice. By the time he gets home at night, he needs something to ease the process of getting to bed. So he'll often reach for his weed pen and take a few hits. "Just to relax," he says. "Honestly, it's the easiest and most natural way for me to fall asleep and be ready for the next day."

Because Player X is on a Western Conference team based in a state in which there are broad laws legalizing marijuana, he knows he's not doing anything wrong. Actually, he's doing what he estimates thousands of others who live in his city do every night as well.

And because he plays in the NHL -- and not, say, the NFL, NBA or MLB -- he knows he won't be punished.

Evolving views

Society's views on marijuana are evolving -- fast. On Oct. 16, Canada became the largest country in the world to legalize recreational marijuana. Coupled with results from the midterm elections in the United States, this is the landscape: Of the 31 teams in the NHL, 28 play in states where players have access to legal marijuana, whether it is for medicinal or recreational purposes. That's the highest percentage (90.3) of any of the major four North American pro leagues, but hardly an anomaly.

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Barnwell's free-agency and trade grades: Tracking every big move

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Welcome to 2019 NFL free agency. I'm grading the most notable offseason moves -- signings and trades -- below, so come back throughout the month for updates as deals get completed.

The most recent grades and write-ups are at the top, and the first grade goes all the way back to Feb. 7, when the Cardinals added cornerback Robert Alford.

Keep in mind that I'm not grading deals until we get a clearer picture of the money involved. So if you don't see a grade for a deal that has been reported, check back in later.

Jump to a big move:
NYG-CLE trade | DEN-WSH trade | OT Smith | S Weddle

Friday, March 8

The deal: Two years, $12.5 million with $5.25 million guaranteed
Grade: B

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Smith Jr. goes for his first world title against Bivol

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VERONA, N.Y. -- After light heavyweight contender Joe Smith Jr. -- a former construction worker -- had a breakout year in 2016, he appeared headed to a world title fight.

After all, he had scored a major upset with a stunning first-round knockout of contender Andrzej Fonfara and followed it with an even bigger win in the encore when he sent legend Bernard Hopkins into retirement by knocking him clear out of the ring in an eighth-round knockout victory.

And then he appeared on his way to defeating contender Sullivan Barrera in his next fight when he dropped him in the first round. But Barrera got off the deck, broke Smith's jaw and went on to win a unanimous decision in a fight Smith somehow managed to go the distance in despite a brutal injury that sidelined him for 11 months.

But after returning for a quick first-round knockout win against journeyman Melvin Russell in June, Smith is finally getting the opportunity to fight for a world title that he has dreamed about. He will challenge Dmitry Bivol for his 175-pound belt in what many predict will be a fan-friendly fight Saturday (DAZN, 7 p.m. ET) at the Turning Stone Resort Casino.

Light heavyweight world titleholder Dmitry Bivol defends his belt against Joe Smith Jr. on Saturday in a fight that might be his last in the weight class.

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