- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 18, 2014

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

NEW YORK (AP) - All season there has been a buzz around women’s basketball about UConn and Notre Dame. Now. the stage is set for the former Big East rivals to meet in an historic national championship game.

The teams enter the NCAA tournament unbeaten - only the second time that’s ever happened. They are on a collision course to meet in the national championship game. If they do both get to Nashville, the Irish will be all that stands between Geno Auriemma and a record ninth NCAA championship, breaking a tie with Tennessee.

Before the potential meeting of unbeatens, the two might have to go through SEC powers Tennessee and South Carolina, who also earned No. 1 seeds. While it’s the 22nd time that the Lady Vols have earned a top spot, it’s the first for the Gamecocks. The Huskies, Lady Vols and Gamecocks all could have to play on an opponent’s home court with a trip to Nashville on the line. Stanford, Notre Dame, Louisville and Nebraska, who are all hosting regionals, were a combined 52-3 at home this season.

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - An annual study of the schools in the men’s NCAA tournament shows a slight increase in teams that fall below graduation rate standards.

The University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport said in its report that eight teams that made the 2014 men’s bracket fall below the NCAA-mandated Academic Progress Rate score of 930, equivalent to a 50 percent graduation rate. Last year six teams didn’t reach that benchmark.

Study author Richard Lapchick said while academic reforms overall have led to positive change, he urged tougher measures. He would like to see the NCAA’s four-year standard raised to a graduation rate equivalent to 60 percent.

This year 88 percent of the teams in the men’s tournament currently graduate at least 60 percent of their players.

PRO BASKETBALL

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Lance Stephenson scored 25 points and the Indiana Pacers rallied from an early deficit to beat Philadelphia 99-90, handing the 76ers their franchise-record 21st straight loss.

Paul George had 24 points for the Pacers, who staked the Sixers to a 15-6 lead before taking the lead and pulling away.

Thaddeus Young had 23 points to lead the Sixers, who tied the Detroit Pistons for the sixth-longest losing streak in NBA history. The Pistons lost 21 straight bridging the 1979-80 and 1980-81 seasons.

The Cleveland Cavaliers set the NBA record for consecutive losses with 26, in the 2010-11 season.

DENVER (AP) - Reserve J.J. Hickson had 21 points and Ty Lawson scored eight of his 19 in a late fourth-quarter run, helping the Denver Nuggets end the Los Angeles Clippers’ 11-game winning streak with a 110-100 victory.

The Clippers’ streak was tied for second-longest in franchise history. Their longest, 17 in a row last season, also was snapped by Denver at Pepsi Center.

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