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NCAA men’s and women’s Final Four, MLB openers highlight sports weekend

April 2 (UPI) — The Final Four for the respective 2021 Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments and a healthy slate of MLB opening series games fill this weekend’s sports schedule.

Many of the world’s top golfers also are in San Antonio for the 2021 Valero Texas Open, a warmup PGA Tour event for next week’s Masters Tournament. NHL and NBA regular-season games will continue to air nationally throughout the weekend.

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But the eight college basketball teams that remain from a combined field of 132 between the respective men’s and women’s basketball tournaments will attract the most fans this weekend.

The Final Four from the women’s bracket will first decide their championship matchup Friday. The two men’s Final Four games are Saturday night.

Women’s Final Four

Three of the four top seeds — South Carolina, Stanford and UConn — remain in the 2021 NCAA Division I women’s basketball tournament.

Stanford, the top overall seed in the tournament, battles South Carolina in the first Final Four game at 6 p.m. EDT Friday in San Antonio. No. 3 Arizona then takes on perennial power UConn at 9:30 p.m. EDT Friday in San Antonio.

Both women’s Final Four matchups air on ESPN.

UConn is a 13.5-point favorite to reach the title game. Stanford is a 5.5-point favorite over South Carolina.

Stanford rolled through the tournament with wins over No. 16 Utah Valley, No. 8 Oklahoma State, No. 5 Missouri State and No. 2 Louisville. South Carolina beat No. 16 Mercer, No. 8 Oregon State, No. 5 Georgia Tech and No. 6 Texas to reach the Final Four.

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UConn edged No. 16 High Point, No. 8 Syracuse, No. 5 Iowa and No. 2 Baylor to reach the national semifinals. Arizona beat No. 14 Stony Brook, No. 11 BYU, No. 2 Texas A&M and No. 4 Indiana to reach the Final Four.

Men’s Final Four

Baylor and Gonzaga are the only No. 1 seeds that remain in the 2021 NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament. No. 2 Houston and No. 11 UCLA also are in the field this weekend in Indianapolis.

Houston battles Baylor at 5:14 p.m. EDT Saturday on CBS. UCLA then takes on Gonzaga, the top overall seed, at 8:34 p.m. EDT Saturday on the same network.

Baylor is a five-point favorite to beat Houston and advance to the title game. The Zags are 13.5-point favorites to trounce the Bruins.

Gonzaga advanced to the Final Four with wins over No. 16 Norfolk State, No. 8 Oklahoma, No. 5 Creighton and No. 6 USC. UCLA advanced with wins over No. 6 BYU, No. 14 Abilene Christian, No. 2 Alabama and No. 1 Michigan.

Baylor reached the Final Four with wins over No. 16 Hartford, No. 9 Wisconsin, No. 5 Villanova and No. 3 Arkansas. Houston beat Cleveland State, Rutgers, Syracuse and Oregon State to reach the Final Four.

MLB openers

The 2021 MLB season launched Thursday, but those series continue through the weekend. Many of those games also will be nationally televised on MLB Network, ESPN and FS1.

The Tampa Bay Rays and Miami Marlins face off at 7:10 p.m. EDT Friday in Miami. The Colorado Rockies then host the Los Angeles Dodgers at 8:40 p.m. EDT Friday at Coors Field. Both games air on MLB Network.

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Saturday’s MLB slate features four games on national TV. The New York Yankees host the Toronto Blue Jays at 1:05 p.m. EDT Saturday on MLB Network. The Boston Red Sox then host the Baltimore Orioles at 1:10 p.m. EDT on MLB Network.

FS1 also airs two games Saturday. The Philadelphia Phillies first host the Atlanta Braves at 4:05 p.m. EDT at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. The Rockies then host the Dodgers at 8:10 p.m. EDT Saturday on FS1.

The Phillies also host the Braves at 1:05 p.m. EDT Sunday on ESPN. The Oakland Athletics host the Houston Astros at 4:07 p.m. EDT Sunday on MLB Network. The San Diego Padres, one of several teams to make major off-season moves, host the Arizona Diamondbacks at 4:10 p.m. EDT Sunday on MLB Network.

The Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Angels match up in the final national broadcast of the weekend. First pitch for that game is at 8:37 p.m. EDT Sunday on ESPN.

Friday

Golf

Valero Texas Open: Second round from 4 to 7 p.m. EDT on Golf Channel

NCAA basketball Final Four

Women’s: No. 1 South Carolina vs. No. 1 Stanford at 6 p.m. EDT on ESPN

Women’s: No. 3 Arizona vs. No. 1 UConn at 9:30 p.m. EDT on ESPN

NHL

Capitals at Devils at 7 p.m. EDT on NHL Network

Flames at Oilers at 9 p.m. EDT on ESPN+

Blues at Avalanche at 9 p.m. EDT on ESPN+

MLB

Rays at Marlins at 7:10 p.m. EDT on MLB Network

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Dodgers at Rockies at 8:40 p.m. EDT on MLB Network

NBA

Mavericks at Knicks at 7:30 p.m. EDT on NBATV

Bucks at Blazers at 10 p.m. EDT on NBATV

Saturday

Golf

Valero Texas Open: Third round from 1 to 3:30 p.m. EDT on Golf Channel, 3:30 to 6 p.m. on NBC

NHL

Penguins at Bruins at 1 p.m. EDT on NHL Network

Flyers at Islanders at 7 p.m. EDT on ESPN+

Stars at Hurricanes at 7 p.m. EDT on NHL Network

Wild at Golden Knights at 9 p.m. EDT on ESPN+

Sharks at Kings at 10 p.m. EDT on NHL Network

MLB

Blue Jays at Yankees at 1:05 p.m. EDT on MLB Network

Orioles at Red Sox at 1:10 p.m. EDT on MLB Network

Braves at Phillies at 4:05 p.m. EDT on FS1

Dodgers at Rockies at 8:10 p.m. EDT on FS1

NCAA basketball Final Four

Men’s: No. 2 Houston vs. No. 1 Baylor at 5:14 p.m. EDT on CBS

No. 11 UCLA vs. No. 1 Gonzaga at 8:34 p.m. EDT on CBS

Sunday

NHL

Red Wings at Lightning at noon EDT on NBC

Capitals at Devils at 3 p.m. EDT on NHL Network

Stars at Hurricanes at 7 p.m. EDT on NBC Sports Network

Maple Leafs at Flames at 9 p.m. EDT on ESPN+

Canucks at Jets at 9 p.m. EDT on ESPN+

Golf

Valero Texas Open: Final round from 1 to 2:30 p.m. EDT on Golf Channel, 2:30 to 6 p.m. on NBC

MLB

Braves at Phillies at 1:05 p.m. EDT on ESPN

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Astros at Athletics at 4:07 p.m. EDT on MLB Network

Diamondbacks at Padres at 4:10 p.m. EDT on MLB Network

White Sox at Angels at 8:37 p.m. EDT on ESPN

NBA

Lakers at Clippers at 3:30 p.m. EDT on ABC

Warriors at Hawks at 7:30 p.m. EDT on NBATV

Magic at Nuggets at 10 p.m. EDT on NBATV

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Sports News – UPI.com

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