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The San Diego Padres are flirting with the idea of beginning the season with a six-man pitching rotation. Settling on an opening day starter may not be as easy a decision for manager Bob Melvin. With Joe Musgrove sidelined by a toe injury and Yu Darvish pitching for Japan in the World Baseball Classic, Melvin is exploring options that could include Blake Snell or Michael Wacha. Melvin is considering a six-man rotation because the Padres will begin the season with a stretch of 24 games in 25 days.

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NEW YORK — Tyler Kolek and No. 6 Marquette raced out to a hefty lead and never looked back, beating No. 15 Xavier 65-51 on Saturday night to win the Big East Tournament for the first time.

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Tyler Kolek and David Joplin each scored 17 points, and No. 6 Marquette moved into the Big East championship game for the first time by holding off No. 11 UConn 70-68. UConn had a chance to tie or win in the final seconds, but coach Dan Hurley elected not to call a timeout. Jordan Hawkins missed badly on a contested, desperation 3 at the buzzer. Plus more action from around college basketball on Friday.

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Bob Huggins knows as well as anyone how difficult it must be for Kansas counterpart Bill Self, who went to the emergency room before the Big 12 Tournament and was hospitalized following an undisclosed procedure. Now the coach at West Virginia, Huggins went through his own health scare just over 20 years ago.

NFL teams shopping for receivers can find a little of bit everything at this year's scouting combine. And the variety reflects the evolving role that receivers, tight ends and even running backs are playing in today's game. The options in Indianapolis include tall and strong players, short and quick ones, deep threats and slot guys, polished receivers and tight ends, even multi-purpose running backs. It's because finding someone with the versatility to stretch the field has become an essential component in today's NFL.

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The staple tests at the NFL combine consist of the 40-yard dash, the 225-pound bench press, the vertical and broad jumps, the three-cone drill and the 20-yard shuttle. Acing any one of them can vault a prospect up the draft board. But killing it at the combine doesn't necessarily foretell NFL stardom.

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Big Super Bowl comebacks have gone from rarities to frequent occurrences thanks to Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady. Mahomes led Kansas City to its second Super Bowl title in four seasons when the Chiefs rallied from 10 points down at the half to beat the Philadelphia Eagles 38-35. The first championship for Mahomes also required a second-half rally against San Francisco in the 2019 season. 

Texas and Oklahoma are heading to the Southeastern Conference in 2024 after Big 12 officials cleared the way for the storied programs to exit their league a year earlier than planned. Texas and Oklahoma will leave behind the $50 million each school would have received over the next two seasons under the Big 12′s media contracts. Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormak said the league would only agree to an early departure “if it was in our best interest.” The agreement must still be approved the Texas and Oklahoma boards of regents, but that is considered a formality.

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The Kansas City Chiefs are playing in the Super Bowl largely because they refused to give up on anyone, including players that few but their most-passionate fans know about. That includes Skyy Moore, their fumble-prone rookie punt returner, whose return last Sunday night set up the winning field goal in the AFC title game. 

The Big 12 has released its long-anticipated 14-team football schedule. It includes its four new members for 2023 along with Oklahoma and Texas before their eventual departures to the Southeastern Conference. Houston will be the first of the new teams to play a conference game, on September 16 when the Cougars host former Southwest Conference rival and national champion runner-up TCU. The other newcomers play their Big 12 openers the following week, when BYU is at Kansas, Central Florida goes to defending champion Kansas State, and Cincinnati hosts Oklahoma.

The Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs prevailed on championship weekend to reach Super Bowl 57. But the NFL didn't exactly have a stellar weekend as infuriating flags and non-calls dominated both the NFC and AFC title games. The NFC championship was a blowout because the San Francsico 49ers lost all their quarterbacks. An emergency third quarterback would have come in handy Sunday but the league and its players ditched the third quarterback designation more than a decade ago. The AFC title game went down to the wire but questionable calls including an intentional grounding on Joe Burrow proved crucial.

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A new home is being built on my street. I’ve visited the job site countless times to check on the progress and to observe the quality of the workmanship. So far I’ve recorded nearly 40 videos showing mistakes and shortfalls. You can view the videos on my website. The link is at the end of this column.

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The Kansas City Chiefs could have paid Tyreek Hill handsomely and gone all-in on another championship run. Instead, they dealt him to the Dolphins for a package of draft picks and some financial flexibility. In doing so, they took a championship window that might have lasted a few years and extended it by several more. It was a difficult choice, though, and one their opponent in Sunday's AFC title game will soon face. 

Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Monday that Patrick Mahomes will play in the AFC championship game against the Bengals. He also said the high ankle sprain that the All-Pro quarterback sustained over the weekend against the Jaguars is less severe than the one he played through during the 2019 season opener.

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Defense stills wins in the NFL playoffs. The San Francisco 49ers and Cincinnati Bengals advanced to the conference championship games with excellent defensive performances on Sunday. The Philadelphia Eagles also had a standout defensive effort Saturday night.

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