TIME Basketball

UConn Coaches Won’t Attend Final Four Over Indiana Religious Freedom Law

Head coach Kevin Ollie of the Connecticut Huskies looks on against the Cincinnati Bearcats during the game at Fifth Third Arena on Jan. 29, 2015 in Cincinnati.
Joe Robbins—Getty Images Head coach Kevin Ollie of the Connecticut Huskies looks on against the Cincinnati Bearcats during the game at Fifth Third Arena on Jan. 29, 2015 in Cincinnati.

Critics say Indiana's controversial law will allow discrimination against the LGBT community

University of Connecticut coaches will not attend the upcoming NCAA Final Four in Indiana in response to the state’s new controversial religious freedom legislation, the school said Tuesday.

“Kevin Ollie and other members of the UConn men’s basketball staff will not travel to Indianapolis for the NCAA Final Four and events surrounding it,” UConn President Susan Herbst said in a statement. “UConn is a community that values all of our members and treats each person with the same degree of respect, regardless of their background and beliefs, and we will not tolerate any other behavior.”

Herbst said the coaches’ decision is in support of Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy’s signing of an executive order Monday that banned state-funded travel to Indiana after Gov. Mike Pence signed the controversial measure into law, prompting a fierce backlash from critics who say it will allow state-sponsored anti-gay discrimination.

Lawmakers in Arkansas approved a similar measure to Indiana’s on Tuesday, and its Governor, Asa Hutchinson, has said he intends to sign it.

Read next: Miley Cyrus Miley Cyrus: Indiana’s Religious Freedom Law Supporters ‘Are Dinosaurs, and They Are Dying Off’

TIME Basketball

Dwight Howard Honors Young Fan Who Died

Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard honored James Fisher, a young boy who died on Monday after a battle with brain cancer, with an Instagram video.

Howard posted the video with the accompanying caption: “Rest in peace lil James Fisher. He passed away a couple hours ago. He was the little kid I picked up to dunk a couple of months ago during pregame warmups. He also gave me the rubber band that says James strong. He was such an inspiration to me and my teammates. I have worn the band everyday since he gave it to me and I will continue to wear this band. You are in a better place. No more pain. No more hospital visits. Just peace love and happiness. And you can dunk as many times as u want. See u in heaven James.”

Howard and Fisher met in December, when Howard helped seven-year-old Fisher dunk a basketball before the Rockets’ game against the Phoenix Suns at the Toyota Center on Dec. 6.

On a Facebook page set up on Fisher’s behalf, his family encouraged funeral visitors to arrive wearing jeans and a Houston Texans jersey or Rockets t-shirt since Fisher “loved” those two teams.

Howard returned to the court last week after missing 26 games with a knee injury. The 29-year-old center is averaging 15.9 points, 10.6 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game this season.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME Basketball

Washington Wizards Let 13-Year-Old With Brain Cancer Join the Team for a Day

Nitin Ramachandran's wish came true

The Wizards had a very special guest at their 110-107 double-overtime win over the Hornets on Friday. The team signed Nitin Ramachandran, a 13-year-old boy from Virginia with brain cancer, to a one-day contract. He got to hang out with the team throughout the day and even got introduced as part of the starting lineup.

Nitin watched shoutaround and helped coach up the big men.

John Wall better hope Nitin doesn’t take his spot permanently.

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

MONEY Sports

Crazy Long Shot March Madness Bet Looks to Pay Off Big Time

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David Richard—AP Kentucky's Andrew Harrison is congratulated by Willie Cauley-Stein (15) during the second half of a college basketball game against West Virginia in the NCAA men's tournament regional semifinals.

Before the college basketball season started, at least 39 people placed a bet at a Nevada sportsbook with 50:1 odds. It's looking like quite a brilliant wager right about now.

The bet in question is that the University of Kentucky would go undefeated through the entire season and win the national championship in the NCAA March Madness tournament. After Kentucky completely dominated West Virginia in a 78-39 rout on Thursday night, the Wildcats stand at 37-0. All they need is three more wins and they’ll go down in history as the best college basketball team ever, or at least the one that had the best season ever.

There have been teams that have run the table in the past, with undefeated regular seasons followed by national championships. But it hasn’t happened in decades. The last squad to do so was Indiana in 1975-1976. Teams played fewer games back then—Indiana’s record was 32-0, including the tournament—so Kentucky has already won more games this year. The great John Wooden-coached UCLA Bruins teams of the 1960s and ’70s had four undefeated seasons and won an amazing 88 games in a row, but again, times have changed and teams play more games nowadays.

Because the season is so long, and because no team has gone undefeated in nearly four decades, gamblers were initially given long-shot odds that Kentucky could accomplish the feat in 2014-2015. Last summer, the William Hill sportsbook in Nevada began accepting bets that would pay off 50-to-1 if Kentucky won every game, including the tournament. According to ESPN, at least 39 people took those odds, including one $500 bet that will pay off to the tune of $25,000 if Kentucky wins its final three games.

Another gambler bet $2,550 on Kentucky to zip through this year with zero losses, but that wager was placed in September, when the odds had shrunk to 20:1. That bet will pay off $51,000 if Kentucky comes through.

Kentucky has had some close games this year, including back-to-back overtime games in January, against Ole Miss and Texas A&M. So it’s indeed possible that John Calipari’s super-talented squad could lose. But as NCAA March Madness entered the Sweet Sixteen this week, sportsbooks listed Kentucky as the overwhelming favorite, with 1:1 odds. Arizona was a distant second at 13:2, and all the other contenders were even bigger long shots. In other words, casinos have been practically begging gamblers to bet on any team other than Kentucky.

Yet even if Kentucky does run the table, there are those who will argue—fairly convincingly—that this year’s team is not the best ever. Not by a long shot. In fact, Vegas oddsmakers say that the 2014-15 Kentucky team would be the underdog in theoretical matchups against several notable college squads from the past, including the undefeated 1976 Indiana team, UNLV circa 1991 with Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon, and Greg Anthony, and even the 2012 Kentucky team that won the national championship and had six players drafted into the NBA—but that didn’t go undefeated for the entire season.

TIME States

12 Reasons Not to #BoycottIndiana

Covered bridge
Getty Images I mean, look at that covered bridge.

Josh Sanburn is a Nation writer for TIME covering crime, demographics and society.

There's more to the state than one terrible law

Indiana has elicited some serious hate thanks to the so-called religious freedom bill signed into law by Republican Gov. Mike Pence that allows businesses to deny service to same-sex couples. The hashtag #boycottindiana has been making the rounds on Twitter and been promoted by the likes of Star Trek’s George Takei, who asked his 1.6 million followers to boycott the heart of the Midwest.

On behalf of my home state, I would like to offer a defense. Not of the religious freedom bill, which I would never defend. But of the state itself, one with fine folks, fine sporting traditions and, well, a delicious pork tenderloin.

  1. Indiana is basketball’s beating heart. Basketball is everywhere. The red barns with battered hoops. The city playgrounds with rims so overused its nets have long since parted. If it wasn’t for actual religion, the sport would be the state’s true faith. Indiana is home to two of the historically great basketball programs: 5-time national champions Indiana University (Let’s overlook the last decade or so. Please.); and perennial underdog Butler, which made it to back-to-back national championship games in 2010 and 2011. Butler also plays in historic Hinkle Fieldhouse, the site of one of the great underdog stories in all of sports: the 1954 Milan team, a tiny school that won the state championship in Hinkle and inspired the movie Hoosiers.
  2. Corn. Listen: There’s a lot of it, and it’s delicious.
  3. The breaded pork tenderloin sandwich. It’s perhaps the only true fare that Indiana can claim. You take a pork tenderloin, you smash until it’s practically paper thin, and then you fry it up. Also, delicious.
  4. Hoosier Hospitality. Knock on anyone’s door and it’s mandated by law that they give you shelter for the night. People in Indiana are that nice. Try it. Tell them Josh sent you.
  5. Gary. Wait, no, not Gary. Sorry. Moving on.
  6. The Jackson 5. Their formative years were spent in the state before making it big and before Michael Jackson completely transformed pop music. Come to think of it, they’re from Gary.
  7. Gary. Sorry, no. Still not Gary.
  8. The Greatest Spectacle in Racing. The Indianapolis 500 is still one of the most incredible sporting events to see live. The 2.5-mile track is like the Grand Canyon of sports. Although I still don’t understand why the winner drinks milk at the end. Which reminds me:
  9. Rolling farmland. Parts of the state (particularly southern Indiana where I’m from, but I’m biased) are truly beautiful with gently rolling hills, wooden barns and silos in the distance. The appeal is in the subtlety.
  10. Johnny Appleseed. Are you eating an apple right now? Thank Johnny Appleseed, who spent much of his time in the state. He probably planted the tree that grew that apple. Or at least that’s what Mrs. Newman in fourth grade told me.
  11. Lincoln’s Boyhood Home. Our greatest president spent his youth in southern Indiana and thank God, because then we would’ve only been able to claim Benjamin Harrison and his grandfather, who was president for a month before he died of pneumonia. Just grab a coat, William Henry!
  12. It’s not Kentucky. Because, seriously, who would want to be from that state?

MORE: Indiana Governor Defends Signing of Religious-Objections Bill

 

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Basketball

The Sacramento Kings Found the Fastest Babies in the Area and Hosted a Baby Race

Who is the fastest baby?

The Sacramento Kings set out to answer one of the most hotly debated questions in sports on Sunday night: Who is the fastest baby?

The team lined up 13 seasoned competitors to discover who had what it takes to be crowned the fastest baby, and the racers did not disappoint, giving the crowd a see-saw battle that ended with a surprise burst of speed from the winner.

When is the International Olympic Committee going to realize that they are behind the times and finally add baby sprints to the summer games? The people want baby racing.

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

TIME Basketball

Wichita State Upsets Kansas, Heads to Sweet 16

Wichita State v Kansas
Jamie Squire—Getty Images Evan Wessel of the Wichita State Shockers reacts in the game against the Kansas Jayhawks at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha on March 22, 2015

Wichita State had been waiting for this one.

It’s been more than two decades since the Shockers last had a shot at the state’s top dog, Kansas University. Jayhawks coach Bill Self famously has refused to schedule the Shockers, but the NCAA tournament selection committee did Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall—and college basketball fans everywhere—a solid by arranging this potential Round of 32 matchup. Once Kansas had dispatched New Mexico State and the Shockers had taken care of Indiana, the Sunflower State showdown, the first between these teams since 1993, was set. And Wichita State earned bragging right for the foreseeable future with its 78-65 win, the first time it has beaten KU since 1987.

Early on, it seemed that the Shockers would have been better off without this matchup, as they committed seven first-half turnovers to help Kansas open an eight-point lead. But an Evan Wessel three-pointer with 4:12 remaining in the first half began a 25-6 run for Wichita State, and by the time it ended with 15:50 to go in the game, the Shockers had a nine-point advantage. The Jayhawks didn’t get any closer than eight the rest of the game.

Unlike in its Round of 64 win against the Hoosiers on Friday, Wichita State had a balanced offensive attack against Kansas. Senior guard Tekele Cotton, who is best known as an elite defender (and is a two-time SI All-Glue team selection), led the way with 19 points. Junior guard Fred VanVleet added 17 points. Three other Shockers scored in double figures, including junior guard Ron Baker (12 points) who made 2 of 5 from three-point range as Wichita State made 10 of 20 from outside on the day.

Forward Perry Ellis and guard Devonte Graham each scored 17 points for Kansas and guard Frank Mason III had 16 before fouling out, but only six Jayhawks scored and they shot just 35% from the floor.

Wichita State would do well to enjoy this win. After a dominating performance like this one, it may take another favor from the selection committee to play the Jayhawks again.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME Basketball

Wisconsin Player Gives NCAA Stenographer a Surprise Spelling Test

Nigel Hayes, Frank Kaminsky
Charlie Neibergall—AP Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes speaks during a news conference for an NCAA college basketball tournament third round game, March 21, 2015, in Omaha.

Turns out the professional typist can spell "cattywampus"

Here’s a March Madness match-up that no one saw coming: Wisconsin vs. NCAA stenographer.

Sophomore Nigel Hayes rattled off some huge words in a playful test against the tournament’s stenographer, tasked with transcribing their press conference Saturday in advance of Wisconsin’s game against Oregon, ESPN reports. Hayes and some teammates curiously chatted with the stenographer about her responsibilities the night before, the Associated Press adds.

“Before I answer that question, I would like to say a few words: cattywampus, onomatopoeia and antidisestablishmentarianism,” Hayes said, according to the stenographer, who spelled the words correctly. “Now, back to your question.”

When asked about his unexpected words, Hayes explained his fascination with the stenographer’s job. “She does an amazing job of typing words, sometimes if words are not in her dictionary, maybe if I say soliloquy right now, she may have to work a little bit harder to type that word,” Hayes said, “or quandary, zephyr, Xylophone, things like that, that make her job really interesting.”

On Saturday night, Hayes tweeted a “job-well-done” to the stenographer.

Read next: Here’s Who Wins March Madness in the Classroom

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TIME apps

These 8 March Madness Apps Are a Slam Dunk

Kentucky v Arkansas
Andy Lyons—Getty Images Tyler Ulis #3 of the Kentucky Wildcats goes to the basket as Rashad Madden #00 of the Arkansas Razorbacks defends during the championship game of the SEC basketball tournament at Bridgestone Arena on March 15, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee.

These sure-shots will get you in the games you love

With the tip-off of the NCAA’s national men’s basketball championship tournament, all eyes and ears are pointed towards the hardwood Thursday, whether you’re perched in a corner office or cheering from some nosebleed seats. But wherever you watch the games from, your experience will no doubt be enhanced by a second screen where March Madness apps can do everything from keep track of your bracket to stream live video of the action.

Here are eight great March Madness apps worth loading into your tablet or smartphone:

Bracket The Madness

If you’re a fan of the dark horse or the underdog, this is the app you’re rooting for this March. A breakaway hit among basketball fans, this app lets people create their own pools which can be shared with Facebook friends or even via text.

And while you might’ve missed out on most of this app’s magic after the initial tip-off, it’s also got an easy to read bracket that’s updated live (ideal for staying in the loop on hoops as the month goes on) and a fun, beat-the-clock game where you try to pick the winner of all of 2014’s tournament games. (It’s even hard to pick the winners after the game has ended.)

Bracket The Madness is available for free on the App Store and Google Play.

CBS Sports

Whether you load this onto a tablet or a smartphone, this play-maker can do it all: scoring big with great, succinct analysis of the games (before and after tip-off), or passing you off to the NCAA March Madness Live app (see below) for live, in-game video. Though it overs all major sports, the app excels in its college basketball coverage, with links to breaking news, its blog, and expert picks.

CBS Sports is available for free on the App Store and Google Play.

Fanatic

Wherever life has brought you, it’s probably far from your alma mater. No bother — with Fanatic, you can find fan-friendly watering holes where you can enjoy a game in the company of people who bleed the same sports colors that you do.

Now, truth be told, this app isn’t as accurate as I’d like it to be. When using its location-based search to find a nearby bar for my team, it didn’t give top-billing the one I know to be the home court for my town’s displaced fans. So, if you’re hoping to find the best spot, I’d recommend pairing Fanatic with a Google search for maximum effect. But it’s good for every major sport, so don’t delete this app after they cut down the nets.

Fanatic is available for free on the App Store and Google Play.

Sports Betting

If I were a betting man — and I am not — I’d put my money on this app when it comes to sizing up the individual March Madness match-ups. Sure, there may be more comprehensive odds-making apps out there, but for the casual fan (which includes most people who get swept up in basketball hysteria each March), Sports Betting provides clear information on the money line, point spread, and total points. And by simply tapping on the figures, the app shows you how much you’d win if you put down a bet — which you would do for entertainment purposes only, of course.

Sports Betting is available for free on the App Store and Google Play.

NCAA March Madness Live

No matter what television station the game is on, it’s also available to watch live on the NCAA’s official app. Free to download, the app requires you to log in with your cable provider information to watch the games. (Don’t be fooled by the app’s free, temporary preview — you will have to log in.)

The best way to get the hardwood action at your office or even on-the-go, the app goes beyond the live game streams, offering a great array of behind-the-scenes videos and historical highlights. And setting it up with notifications is another great way to stay up to speed on the scores, right from the source, while doing other things (like your job).

NCAA March Madness Live is available for free on the App Store and Google Play.

Thuuz

Watching all sixty-seven games is a big commitment, but Thuuz helps make it more manageable by telling you when the action is heating up. Rating games on a scale of 0-100, it tells sports fans of all stripes whether a game is worth watching. But once the first whistle blows, the app adjusts those ratings in real-time, telling, for example, if a low-ranked underdog who was expected to be blown out is in the mix to pull off a fantastic upset. In addition, the app can track your favorite teams and even your fantasy football and baseball players, so you can turn on the TV when they’re having a game for the ages.

Thuuz is available for free on the App Store and Google Play.

TuneIn Radio

Radio may be a shorter-wave technology, but TuneIn takes it worldwide with their streaming of local stations. By dumping a video stream for an audio play-by-play, the app will let you focus on the job at-hand, whether you’re a truck driver or a desk jockey. And TuneIn has a lot of live game broadcasts available — check out this link for what’s airing right now — which means even if you can’t watch the game, you don’t have to miss a minute of the action.

TuneIn Radio is available for free on the App Store and Google Play.

WatchESPN

Okay, so the worldwide leader in sports may not be broadcasting the NCAA games, but you know they are drooling over the highlights, digesting the effects of the surprise outcomes, and breaking down all the daily news. To watch the network’s channels (which include everything from the flagship station to the ESPN SEC Network), you’ll need a cable company log-in. But once you get past that gatekeeper, the only thing keeping you from watching as many basketball highlights as you can handle is your bandwidth. (Speaking of that, you might want to only use this app on Wi-Fi, because it will crush your wireless data budget.)

WatchESPN is available for free on the App Store and Google Play.

TIME Innovation

The Surprising New Tech in March Madness Refs’ Whistles

Michigan St. v Pittsburgh
Doug Pensinger—Getty Images A referee holds his whistle during the second round game of the South Regional between the Pittsburgh Panthers and the Michigan State Spartans on March 22, 2008 in Denver, Colorado.

One ear-piercing blow will automatically stop the game clock

This March Madness, a ref’s whistle blast will instantly stop the game clock, thanks to a a new technology that detects the shrill cry above the din of the crowd.

The technology relies on a breakthrough in whistle design, the New York Times reports.

The classic pea-rattling whistle suffers from occasional lapses in noise if the referee blows too hard or after saliva has collected in its chamber. Those whistles were gradually replaced in the late 80’s by a fail-proof design that funnels the breath through three chambers, which combine to create a shrill, three-toned screech.

This season the N.C.A.A. will sync up the whistle tone to a Precision Time System that automatically brings the game clock to a screeching halt. Tests show that the speed of the system, which stops the clock faster than the average human operator, could add up to 30 seconds of playtime to a typical college game.

Read more at the New York Times.

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