BC-AP Sports Preview Digest
Some of the sports stories The Associated Press is covering Wednesday. A full Sports Digest will be sent by about 3 p.m. All times EDT:
- GLENDALE, Ariz. - The Final Four is set, with one blue blood and three newbies trying to take it down. A look at the teams, top players and coaches playing in what should be a great weekend in the desert.
- CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - North Carolina athletic director Bubba Cunningham has stopped trying to project when the NCAA case tied to the school's multiyear academic scandal will reach a conclusion. That's because procedural hurdles, delays and even the NCAA's struggle to settle on charges have the case crawling through the infractions system as the Tar Heels make a second straight Final Four trip.
- The AP is ranking the top 100 college basketball programs of all time using 68 years of data from the AP Top 25 poll.
- The programs that bleed blue have dominated when it comes to being No. 1 in the AP college basketball poll - though the shades of the color have varied.
- DALLAS - Women's basketball saw its lowest attendance for the regionals in 20 years and there is no change to the format in sight.
- David Ortiz appeared in more than 2,000 career games as a designated hitter, but Big Papi's retirement takes away one of few remaining players whose primary job is to hit. Going into the 45th season since the DH came into existence, more American League managers seem willing to spread out the DH starts. Instead of penciling in the same player every day, many managers now use the slot to keep a key position player in the batting lineup while providing an occasional day off from the field.
- ATLANTA - The Braves' new ballpark looks like a throwback stadium with its green seats, brick walls and its old-school, intimate feel. That's from an initial glance inside the park. Beyond the stadium walls sits the real wow factor that could be a game-changer for the industry.
- USA Hockey's four-year agreement with the women's national team has the potential to be a precedent-setter for future generations of players and athletes in other sports like soccer.
- SAN JOSE, Calif. - The San Jose Sharks and Minnesota Wild are slumping to the finish of what have otherwise been successful seasons with little time to right their ships before the playoffs.
- DETROIT - For the first time since 1990, the Detroit Red Wings won't be in the NHL playoffs. A remarkable run, tied for the third longest in league history, has ended as it was expected to this season with a banged-up roster that is void of stars.
- SAN ANTONIO - Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors take an eight-game winning streak, their second-longest of the season, into a matchup of the top two teams in the West. The Spurs, coming off a blowout of Cleveland, have won five straight. Game starts 9:30 p.m.
- PANAMA CITY - The United States rebounded with four points in two World Cup qualifiers under new coach Bruce Arena, moving up from sixth to fourth in the standings of the CONCACF hexagonal.
- KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. - Rafael Nadal faces American Jack Sock, and Venus Williams takes on top-ranked Angelique Kerber in the quarterfinals at the Miami Open. Williams-Kerber match starts at 7:10 p.m., with Nadal-Sock to follow.
- RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. - Lydia Ko still remembers her leap into Poppie's Pond a year ago after she became the youngest golfer to win two majors. Still the world's No. 1-ranked player, the precocious New Zealand teenager hopes to get back on a winning roll when she returns to the ANA Inspiration this week.