BC-AP Sports Digest
The supervisor is Fred Lief, followed by John Nicholson at 5 p.m. and Bob Lentz at 1 a.m. The New York sports desk can be reached at 800-845-8450, ext. 1630. Sports photos, ext. 1918; graphics, ext. 7636; agate, ext. 1635. For up-to-the-minute information on AP’s coverage, visit Coverage Plan at https://newsroom.ap.org For access to AP Newsroom and other technical issues, contact AP Customer Support at apcustomersupport(at)ap.org or 877-836-9477. All times EST.
Alabama and Clemson meet in the College Football Playoff for the fourth straight season, playing for the championship for the third time. Cole Cubelic of the SEC Network joins the AP’s Ralph Russo on the AP Top 25 College Football Podcast in breaking down the teams.
Marcellus Wiley, a former NFL defensive end and Fox Sports personality, is still on the fence about allowing his young son play football. But he tells co-hosts Jim Litke and Tim Dahlberg on the AP’s PodcastOne Sports Now he likes what the NFL is doing to try to make the game safer. Listen at podcastonesports.com, the podcastone app and apple podcasts. https://www.podcastone.com/ap-sports-weekly-podcast
NEW YORK — Patrick Mahomes and three other Kansas City Chiefs players make The Associated Press 2018 NFL All-Pro Team. They are joined by the first rookie teammates since 1965 — Colts guard left Quenton Nelson and linebacker Darius Leonard. By Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner. SENT: 700 words, photos.
FBN--SEASON OF FLAGS
Mike Pereira was in the Fox Sports booth for the Bears-Vikings game on the final week of the regular season, ready to chime in when needed on close plays. He wasn’t expecting the call partner Troy Aikman made about the officiating after a season in which penalties made some games hard to watch. By Tim Dahlberg. UPCOMING: 900 words, photos by 3 p.m.
After years of declines, most of the NFL’s television packages enjoyed ratings increases. That may be attributed to a year largely devoid of off-field controversy and better prime-time matchups. By Joe Reedy. SENT: 600 words, photos.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Alabama and Clemson aren’t the only rivals to meet in the postseason four straight years, joining Cleveland and Golden State in the NBA and a seven-year run of title game meetings between Division III football powers Mount Union and Wisconsin-Whitewater. By Josh Dubow. UPCOMING: 850 words, photos by 5 p.m.
Ezekiel Mitchell played football and ran track because he didn’t have the background or money to learn how to ride a bull. So he did what teenagers do and turned to YouTube. In seven years, he has become the world’s No. 2 bullrider. He makes his Madison Square Garden debut Friday night. By Jenna Fryer. UPCOMING: 650 words by 4 p.m.
FBN--NFL TO CURLING
Jared Allen, a star defensive lineman, retired from the NFL in 2015 but wasn’t ready to give up on competition. His solution: Make it to the 2022 Olympics — in curling. Now, he and three other former NFL players who have never curled before will attempt to qualify for the U.S. championships. By Jimmy Golen. SENT: 1,150 words, photos, video.
HOUSTON — Saturday’s wild-card game between the Texans and Colts is a matchup that seemed improbable after Houston lost its first three games and the Colts limped to a 1-5 start. But these AFC South teams righted things to finish 4-12 and charge into the postseason. By Kristie Rieken. UPCOMING: 800 words, photos by 5 p.m.
ARLINGTON, Texas — Seattle’s Russell Wilson and Dallas’ Dak Prescott shared similar tracks early in their careers as NFL quarterbacks. The difference is postseason pedigree, with the pair’s first playoff meeting set for the wild-card round Saturday night. By Pro Football Writer Schuyler Dixon. UPCOMING: 800 words, photos by 4 p.m.
PHILADELPHIA — The Eagles and Bears have a history in the playoffs, having played one of the weirdest games in the postseason. It was 30 years ago when the teams met in the Fog Bowl at Soldier Field. By Pro Football Writer Rob Maaddi. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos by 5 p.m.
— FBN--AFC PLAYOFF PICTURE — By Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton. SENT: 1,350 words, photos.
— FBN--NFC PLAYOFF PICTURE — By Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton. SENT: 1,500 words, photos.
— FBN--CHARGERS-HENRY — By Joe Reedy. UPCOMING: 500 words, photos by 8 p.m.
— FBN--LIONS-QUINN — By Noah Trister. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 500 words, photos by 5 p.m.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Irv Smith Jr. has emerged as a playmaker for No. 1 Alabama this season. Now, the tight end is hoping to have success in the national championship game against Clemson, like predecessor O.J. Howard. By John Zenor. SENT: 650 words, photos.
Clemson and Alabama are playing in the playoff for the fourth straight season, and the third time for the title. SEC Network analyst Cole Cubelic, a former Auburn offensive lineman, helps break down some key matchups. By College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo. SENT: 950 words, photos.
— FBC--FCS CHAMPIONSHIP GAME PREVIEW — North Dakota State vs. Eastern Washington on Saturday in Frisco, Texas. By Stephen Hawkins. UPCOMING: 600 words by 5 p.m.
— FBC--WEST VIRGINIA-BROWN — Troy’s Neal Brown close to deal to coach West Virginia, the AP is told. By Ralph Russo. SENT: 250 words. UPCOMING: 450 words by 5 p.m.
GLF--TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
KAPALUA, Hawaii — Kevin Tway has a one-shot lead over the last two winners at Kapalua, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas, going into the second round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions. By Golf Writer Doug Ferguson. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 10 p.m.
— GLF--MAUI MUSINGS-BUBBA — Piece of shrapnel brings memories, swell of emotion for Bubba Watson at Ryder Cup. By Doug Ferguson. SENT: 800 words, photos.
ATHENS, Greece — Rick Pitino, who knows all about the fierce rivalry of Louisville and Kentucky, experiences another rivalry an ocean away. His team Panathinaikos plays Olympiakos in the Greek basketball league. UPCOMING: 300 words by 5 p.m.
DURHAM, N.C. — Duke hopes it hasn’t lost any of the momentum that carried it back to No. 1. The Blue Devils’ 15-day layoff ends this weekend with a visit from Clemson in the ACC opener. By Joedy McCreary. UPCOMING: 500 words, photos by 5 p.m.
— Lookaheads to weekend play in ACC, SEC.
BKW--T25-BAYLOR-BEATING NO. 1
WACO, Texas — All-America forward Kalani Brown wonders how far Baylor could go by always playing with the same energy the Lady Bears displayed in ending UConn’s 126-game regular-season winning streak. Now, after a first win over a No. 1 team, Baylor turns its attention to the Big 12. By Stephen Hawkins. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos by 4 p.m.
MILWAUKEE — Mike Budenholzer faces the team he used to coach when the NBA-best Bucks play the rebuilding Hawks. Milwaukee is going for a fifth straight victory. Atlanta has the third-worst record in the Eastern Conference. UPCOMING: 650 words, photos.
— BKN--LAKERS-JAMES INJURY — LeBron James to miss at least four more games because of groin strain. SENT: 120 words, photos.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Alex Zanardi is still racing 17 years after both his legs were severed in a crash. The Italian is now behind the wheel of a BMW at Daytona International Speedway that has been customized for Zanardi to race without his prosthetic legs. By Auto Racing Writer Jenna Fryer. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 6 p.m.
— MOT--SUPERCROSS PREVIEW — Supercross doing better than ever with new crop of riders. By John Marshall. UPCOMING: 500 words by 4 p.m.
SOC--ASIAN CUP PREVIEW
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Sven-Goran Eriksson and Marcello Lippi managed against each other in the Italian league more than 20 years ago. Eriksson, a former England coach, is now with the Philippines and Lippi is coaching China at the Asian Cup. The politically charged 24-team tournament begins Saturday. By John Duerden. SENT: 750 words, photos.
— SOC--ENGLISH ROUNDUP — Third round of FA Cup opens with Premier League’s Tottenham at fourth-tier Tranmere. UPCOMING: 200 words, photos by 6 p.m.
— SOC--CREW MOVES — Columbus Crew name president, coach. SENT: 130 words.
— TEN--ASB CLASSIC — Venus Williams upset by Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu in New Zealand. SENT: 300 words.
— TEN--BRISBANE INTERNATIONAL — Daniil Medvedev reaches semifinals by beating Milos Raonic in Australia. SENT: 150 words, photos
— TEN--HOPMAN CUP — Germany defeats host Australia to set up rematch final with Switzerland. SENT: 350 words, photos.
— TEN--SHENZHEN OPEN — Maria Sharapova quits quarterfinal in China because of thigh injury. SENT: 100 words.
— TEN--MAHARASHTRA OPEN — Kevin Anderson, Steve Darcis advance to title match in India. UPCOMING: 120 words by 3 p.m.
— HKO--WORLD JUNIORS — Semifinals of junior hockey worlds in Vancouver: Russia-U.S. (4 p.m.); Finland-Switzerland (8 p.m.) UPCOMING: 500 words, photos.
— SKE--WORLD CUP — Russia sweeps gold medals at World Cup skeleton race in Germany. SENT: 130 words.
— FBC--VIRGINIA-OBIT-WELSH — George Welsh, Hall of Fame football coach at Virginia, dies at 85. SENT: 300 words, photos.
— BKN--NBA CAPSULES
— HKN--NHL CAPSULES
— BKW--T25-TOP 25 CAPSULES
Friday Time Schedule (EST)
Utah at Cleveland, 7:30 p.m.
Brooklyn at Memphis, 8 p.m.
Dallas at Boston, 8 p.m.
Indiana at Chicago, 8 p.m.
Orlando at Minnesota, 8 p.m.
Washington at Miami, 8 p.m.
Atlanta at Milwaukee, 8:30 p.m.
L.A. Clippers at Phoenix, 9 p.m.
New York at L.A. Lakers, 10:30 p.m.
Oklahoma City at Portland, 10:30 p.m.
Winnipeg at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m.
Nashville at Detroit, 7:30 p.m.
Columbus at Carolina, 7:30 p.m.
Washington at Dallas, 8 p.m.
New Jersey at Arizona, 9 p.m.
N.Y. Rangers at Colorado, 9 p.m.
Vegas at Anaheim, 10 p.m.
College Basketball (Top 25)
No. 20 Buffalo at Eastern Michigan, 9 p.m.
No. 5 Oregon vs. Washington, 9 p.m.
No. 6 Stanford vs. Southern California, 11 p.m.
No. 11 Oregon State vs. Washington State, 10 p.m.
No. 18 California vs. UCLA, 10 p.m.
No. 20 Marquette vs. No. 24 DePaul, 8 p.m.
No. 22 Arizona State at Utah, 9 p.m.