NCAA

James Madison upsets No. 1 Oklahoma in NCAA Women’s College World Series opener

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma’s bats have bashed opponents all season.

But Thursday, as the top-seeded Sooners opened the Women’s College World Series against unseeded James Madison at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium, a real honest-to-goodness pitcher’s duel broke out.

JMU’s Odicci Alexander kept the Sooners off balance for seven innings, except for one quick burst in the third.

Shannon Saile did the same for Oklahoma, until James Madison’s Kate Gordon drove Saile’s full-count delivery over the left-center field wall with one out in the eighth, lifting the Dukes to a stunning 4-3 upset win in the WCWS opener.

James Madison (40-2) next faces No. 5 seed Oklahoma State in the winner’s bracket Friday at 7 p.m. ET after the Cowgirls squeaked past unseeded Georgia 3-2 in Thursday’s second game.

Oklahoma State and Georgia were the only teams to beat the Sooners this season before James Madison’s stunner.

Oklahoma

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Most popular NCAA tournament basketball bracket picks

The NCAA tournament is approaching fast, but you still have until noon ET Friday to make your picks. More than 10 million Tournament Challenge basketball brackets have already been entered, and you know you don’t want miss out on the fun.

Whether you take two seconds to click “autofill” and lock in your picks or take advantage of our ESPN+ Bracket Predictor and Cheat Sheet, you’ll want to fill out a bracket here and join the madness!

To whet your appetite, check out these interesting notes about the most popular NCAA tournament bracket picks:

Who is picked to win it all?

The most popular team picked to win the national title remains No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs at more than 35%. While there has been some slight fluctuation in percentages,

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What needs to happen for Duke men’s basketball to make the NCAA tournament?

After losing at home to North Carolina 91-87, Duke’s record now stands at 7-7. A team that was ranked No. 9 in the AP’s preseason poll is on a trajectory to miss the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1995.

Can Mike Krzyzewski’s squad change that trajectory, even at this late date? Put it this way: The Blue Devils are at the point where earning an at-large bid will require either running the table the rest of the way or something very close to it.

Coach K’s team has just three games remaining on its schedule against opponents that appear more likely than not to reach the NCAA tourney: Virginia, Louisville and a rematch against the Tar Heels in

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N.C.A.A. Women’s Basketball Tournament Will Be Held in Texas

The pinnacle of this coronavirus pandemic-disrupted women’s college basketball season — the national tournament for Division I teams — will be contested entirely in Texas, the N.C.A.A. said Friday.

The association, which had already planned to hold the Final Four of the women’s tournament in San Antonio, said that it would use five venues for the competition’s 63 games. In addition to San Antonio, games will be played in two cities just up Interstate 35, Austin and San Marcos.

“Like the 2020-21 season, we know the championship will have its challenges, but we feel we have the necessary structure and safeguards in place to ensure a quality student-athlete championship experience,” Nina King, a top athletics official at Duke who also leads the N.C.A.A.’s Division I women’s basketball committee, said in a statement.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg of San Antonio said officials would “deliver the best, safest and most memorable experience possible,”

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