Here’s the latest Big Ten conference sports news from The Associated Press

DALLAS (AP) — It’s a rookie squad for the NCAA women’s basketball championship. Caitlin Clark and Iowa eliminated undefeated defending national champion South Carolina. It’s the first Final Four for the Hawkeyes in 30 years. LSU, led by flamboyant coach Kim Mulkey, rallied for a 79-72 victory over Virginia Tech. The title match will be a showcase of star guards with LSU’s Clark and Alexis Morris. Clark scored 41 points against the Gamecocks. Morris, playing in his home state of Texas, led the Tigers with 27 points in the semifinals.

DALLAS (AP) — Caitlin Clark had another sensational 41-point game to help Iowa spoil South Carolina’s perfect season with a 77-73 Final Four victory. The spectacular junior guard set a record for the most scoring semifinals and became the first female player to post consecutive 40-point games in the NCAA Tournament. She now has the Hawkeyes at a place they have never gone before – one victory away from a national championship. They’ll have to beat another SEC team to do that, as Iowa faces LSU in the title game on Sunday afternoon after the Tigers beat Virginia Tech in the other national semifinal. The loss ended a terrific season for defending champion Gamecocks. They finished 36-1.

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Michigan center Hunter Dickinson has entered the transfer gate. Wolverines coach Juwan Howard said Friday that Dickinson’s decision was bittersweet. The 7-foot-1, 260-pound Dickinson led the Wolverines with 18.5 points and nine rebounds per game last season as a junior. He entered the NBA draft and retired his name two years ago after being named a Big Ten freshman and second-team All-American. Dickinson earned spots on the first team, All-Big Ten team twice and second team, all-conference team once. He is one of eight players in team history with over 1,500 points and over 750 rebounds.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Brandon Naurato was promoted to full-time interim head coach of the Michigan hockey team on Friday. Naurato led the Big Ten Wolverines tournament champion to the Frozen Four – in which they face Quinnipiac on April 6 – after being named interim coach in August. The university said Naurato’s five-year deal will be finalized after the tournament. Naurato took over after Mel Pearson was fired following a report concluding that Pearson and the program had “cultural issues” that “need attention”. From Livonia, Naurato played for Michigan from 2005 to 2009, helping the Wolverines reach the NCAA Tournament in all four seasons. He returned to school last season as an assistant after three seasons with the Detroit Red Wings as a player development consultant.

HOUSTON (AP) — The saying goes, defense wins championships. But it was largely high-level offenses that won the NCAA championship in March Madness. This weekend’s Final Four in Houston includes two highly rated offenses in Connecticut and Miami. It also features a heavy defensive approach in San Diego State. According to data from KenPom, 17 of the last 20 national champions have ranked in the top 10 for offensive efficiency. And 14 ranked better in attack than in defense.

UNDATED (AP) – The Cinderella teams make great stories and broken parentheses. However, they don’t necessarily make for good television ratings. After securing a dream Final Four pitch last year, CBS and Turner Sports have something very different this weekend with Florida Atlantic, Miami, San Diego State and Connecticut heading to Houston. The upheavals in the first two weeks have apparently already taken their toll. The tournament averages 9.11 million viewers during the regional finals, down 6% from last year.

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan State has hired Bowling Green women’s basketball coach Robyn Fralick to take over the Spartans. Fralick was 88-73 in five seasons at Bowling Green, making three playoff appearances. Bowling Green was 31-7 this season, tying school and Mid-American Conference winning records. Fralick replaces Suzy Merchant, who left the program for health reasons after 16 seasons. It will be presented at a press conference next week.

DALLAS (AP) — LSU coach Kim Mulkey said she hasn’t spoken to Brittney Griner since the former Baylor star returned to the United States from a Russian prison. But Mulkey says she’s glad Griner is back and safe. Mulkey and Griner won a national title together at Baylor. Mulkey came under fire in September for offering no words of support or encouragement to Griner, while she was still detained following her arrest on drug-related charges. Griner came out after her career at Baylor and slammed her former coach, saying Mulkey forced her to keep her sexual orientation private.

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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