Around the Nation (March 19): Michigan State is President Obama's pick to win it all

Published:

Associated Press

COLLEGE

Pres. Obama picks Michigan State as men's champion

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama is picking Michigan State to win the NCAA men's basketball championship over defending champion Louisville.

In what has become an annual March Madness tradition at the White House, Obama filled out a bracket in a segment broadcast on ESPN Wednesday.

Florida and Arizona rounded out Obama's Final Four picks. But he said the talents of Michigan State coach Tom Izzo made him pick the Spartans to go all the way.

Obama said he knows his picks aren't imaginative but expressed hope they'd help him win his pool this year. He noted that he hasn't had a lot of luck with his picks in the past.

Last year he correctly picked Louisville to play in the championship game, but wrongly said the Cardinals would lose to Indiana.

ICE HOCKEY

Dallas Stars say Peverley's heart surgery goes OK

The Dallas Stars say Rich Peverley has undergone successful surgery to correct an abnormal heart rhythm, just more than a week after the forward collapsed on the bench during a game.

Stars general manager Jim Nill says Peverley was released from the Cleveland Clinic on Wednesday, a day after surgery.

Peverley is expected to return Thursday to Dallas. He will be monitored closely and may require further treatment.

The 31-year-old Peverley chose for less invasive treatment after an irregular heartbeat was diagnosed during training camp.

Nill says there is "no decision being made at this time" on if Peverley will play hockey again. He is out this season.

Peverley collapsed during the first period March 11 against Columbus. The game was postponed and will be made up April 9.

FOOTBALL

Veteran Winston elected president of NFL player's union

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Veteran tackle Eric Winston has been elected president of the NFL players union.

Winston succeeds Domonique Foxworth, who did not seek re-election for the NFL Players Association post.

Winston has played for Houston, Kansas City and Arizona since being a third-round draft pick in 2006 by the Texans. He has been an active union member since 2010 and was a leading spokesman for the players during the 2011 lockout.

He played his first six NFL seasons with the Texans, joined the Chiefs in 2012 and the Cardinals last season. Winston has started 112 consecutive games.

The union will hold elections for its executive committee later Wednesday.

NFL to discuss expanded playoffs

NEW YORK -- NFL owners likely will consider expanding the playoffs by two teams, beginning in 2015, when they hold their spring meetings in Orlando next week, but a vote on the subject is uncertain.

A groundswell for raising the number of playoff qualifiers to seven in each conference figures to get plenty of support from the 32 owners. Most notably, Arizona's Bill Bidwill, who saw his Cardinals go 10-6 and not get in, while Green Bay (8-7-1) qualified by winning the NFC North.

The current format of four division winners and two wild-card teams has existed since 2002, when Houston joined the league as an expansion team, bringing the membership to 32.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello says "There will be a report on the potential of expanded playoffs. We don't know if there will be any vote at this meeting."

GOLF

Bay Hill will have to go on without Tiger Woods in field

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The four-time Masters champion has an ailing back, and he's been having it checked out even more regularly the last two weeks. It has reached the point that he is planning surgery after the Masters to see if he can get more comfortable playing golf.

Tiger Woods?

No, that would be Arnold Palmer.

Palmer says he plans a back operation next month "to help me enjoy the game a little more."

Palmer can't speak for Woods, who is unable to defend his title this week in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

A year ago, all the talk was that Woods was back. He won Bay Hill to return to No. 1 in the world for the first time in more than two years. Now all the talk is about Woods' back.

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