Obama to attend NCAA Tourney game

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Obama to attend NCAA Tourney game

From Comcast SportsNet
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Basketball fan-in-chief President Barack Obama is giving British Prime Minister David Cameron a front-row seat to March Madness, taking his European partner to an NCAA tournament basketball game in Ohio, an election swing state. Obama and Cameron are attending a "First Four" matchup in Dayton, Ohio, between Mississippi Valley State and Western Kentucky on Tuesday night, a gesture of goodwill during Cameron's official visit to the United States and a way for an incumbent president to reach sports fans in an election year. The White House said the trip to the NCAA tournament game was intended to showcase the special relationship between the two key allies during Cameron's three-day visit. Obama and Cameron will discuss the upcoming NATO and G-8 summits on Wednesday, followed by a state dinner at the White House. Obama and Cameron were scheduled to appear in a live halftime interview on truTV, which was airing the game, with sportscaster Clark Kellogg. Kellogg interviewed Obama at halftime of a Duke-Georgetown game in 2010 and spoke with the president later that year during a White House game of "HORSE" aired on CBS during the NCAA tournament. Obama was also maintaining his tradition of discussing his NCAA tournament bracket picks on ESPN, the sports network he watches on a daily basis. The president's selections for the men's tournament were being released Wednesday morning. Republicans panned the trip, saying many Americans would prefer Obama to focus on more pressing issues. "While showing off our amazing college basketball teams is great, many Americans struggling to find jobs, dealing with soaring gas prices, or concerned with our rising deficit and debt would probably like the president spend at least as much time dealing with those issues," said Sean Spicer, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee. Obama's quick trip to Ohio gives him a chance to connect with basketball fans and generate attention in Ohio, which he carried in the 2008 election and is considered one of the top toss-up states in 2012. The trip comes one week after Republican front-runner Mitt Romney captured Ohio's GOP primary. It also lets Obama lavish praise and attention on Cameron at a time of weighty foreign policy challenges in Afghanistan, Iran and Syria. Britain has been an important U.S. ally in Afghanistan and the bombing campaign in Libya that led to the removal of Moammar Gadhafi. Cameron is frequently spotted running near his official Downing Street residence, flanked by his security detail, and follows sports like tennis and cricket. But he's not much of a basketball fan; British Ambassador Peter Westmacott told reporters in Washington on Monday that Cameron was "busy briefing himself on March Madness." Basketball has been a big part of Obama's life. At his Hawaii high school, Obama frequently carried a basketball along with his school books and bonded with his teammates on the court. His brother-in-law, Craig Robinson, played college basketball at Princeton and is now head coach at Oregon State. The president regularly plays pickup basketball and keeps close tabs on his favorite NBA team, the Chicago Bulls. In a recent interview, the president said he gets League Pass on his iPad, letting him watch out-of-market NBA games on his tablet computer. Obama kicked off the basketball season with a Veterans Day game between Michigan State and North Carolina on the flight deck of the USS Carl Vinson in November, enjoying a game on the aircraft carrier that took Osama bin Laden's body to a burial at sea after the U.S. raid that killed the al-Qaida leader. The president said in an interview last month with journalist Bill Simmons that the "mythology of sports" is deeply embedded in the U.S., allowing viewers to discern who is winning and who is losing -- a principle that could easily be transferred to politics. "People -- for all our differences politically, regionally, economically -- most folks understand sports. Probably because it's one of the few places where it's a true meritocracy," Obama said. "Ultimately, who's winning, who's losing, who's performing, who's not -- it's all laid out there."

Here's the official schedule for the 2016 Big Ten/ACC Challenge

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Here's the official schedule for the 2016 Big Ten/ACC Challenge

The matchups for this year's Big Ten/ACC Challenge were reported Monday night, giving hoops fans a look at which Big Ten teams would be going up against which ACC squads in the annual conference-vs.-conference event.

Tuesday, things became official, with the leagues announcing the matchups and providing the schedule of events.

Here's the official schedule for the 2016 edition of the Challenge.

Monday, Nov. 28
Minnesota at Florida State
Wake Forest at Northwestern

Tuesday, Nov. 29
Syracuse at Wisconsin
Michigan State at Duke
Pittsburgh at Maryland
Iowa at Notre Dame
Georgia Tech at Penn State
North Carolina State at Illinois

Wednesday, Nov. 30
Purdue at Louisville
North Carolina at Indiana
Ohio State at Virginia
Virginia Tech at Michigan
Rutgers at Miami
Nebraska at Clemson

Blackhawks announce three new signings

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Blackhawks announce three new signings

The Blackhawks agreed to terms with goaltender Lars Johansson, defenseman Michal Kempny and forward Martin Lundberg on one-year deals on Tuesday.

The 25-year-old Kempny had 21 points (five goals, 16 assists) in 59 games with Avangard Omsk (KHL) last season. He had two assists in eight games with the Czech Republic in the IIHF World Championship.

Johansson, 28, spent the last three seasons with Frolunda HC (Swedish Hockey League). He was 56-27-0 over those three seasons. Last season, he had a league-leading 1.74 goals-against average and a 27-6-0 record.

The 25-year-old Lundberg had 13 goals and eight assists in 44 games with Skelleftea AIK (Swedish Hockey League). He also had two goals in eight games with Sweden in the World Championship.

Illini dismiss Kendrick Nunn from basketball program

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Illini dismiss Kendrick Nunn from basketball program

Kendrick Nunn is no longer a member of the Illinois basketball team.

Illinois athletics director Josh Whitman and head basketball coach John Groce released a joint statement Tuesday afternoon announcing that Nunn, who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery last week, has been dismissed from the program.

"We have made the decision to dismiss Kendrick Nunn from the men's basketball team, effective immediately. We have not reached this decision easily; we care deeply about Kendrick and want him to be successful. But after extensive deliberation, we think it best for our program to reaffirm our core values of trust and respect, to send a strong message about what is acceptable behavior for our student-athletes at the University of Illinois and to part ways with Kendrick. As it is on college campuses across the country, relationship violence is of significant concern at our university, and we expect Fighting Illini student-athletes to be leaders in promoting healthy, respectful, caring relationships. We wish Kendrick all the best as he prepares for the next chapter of his life."

Nunn was arrested on charges of domestic battery in March shortly after the Illini's season came to an end. He initially faced two counts of domestic battery, though those charges were reduced to one count of misdemeanor battery, which Nunn pleaded guilty to last week, admitting that he hit a woman in the head. He was sentenced to 18 months of court supervision, 100 hours of community service, enrollment in a partner abuse intervention program, a written letter of apology and a $200 fine. He will receive no conviction on his record if he does all those things.

Nunn, a Chicago native and Simeon High School product, was one of Illinois' top players. Last season as a junior, he averaged 15.5 points per game, which ranked 12th in the Big Ten. He also ranked among the conference leaders in steals and made 3-pointers.

But despite Nunn's value to the team, Whitman — who has still been on the job only a few months — opted to make a bold statement about the culture of an athletics department that has received a lot of negative attention in recent years.

Nunn was one of three Illinois players arrested since February.

Junior forward Leron Black was arrested after pulling a knife on a nightclub bouncer, and he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor version of the original charge and entered a second-chance program, completing 20 hours of public service and paying a $200 fine in addition to receiving a sentence of 12 months of conditional discharge. Black was suspended for two exhibition games and the first four regular-season games of the upcoming campaign.

Senior guard Jaylon Tate was arrested and charged with domestic battery in March. Those charges were dismissed last week, and Tate was reinstated from an indefinite suspension.

Nunn is the second player dismissed from the Illinois program in a calendar year. Last summer, Darius Paul was dismissed after he was arrested during the team's European trip.