BC-AP Sports Preview Digest

Some of the sports stories The Associated Press is covering Monday. A full Sports Digest will be sent by about 3 p.m. All times EDT:

– GLENDALE – North Carolina is back in the NCAA title game a year after a heartbreaking loss. In the way, a Gonzaga team in search of its first championship. Game starts 9:20 p.m.

– GLENDALE, Ariz. – Gonzaga’s brand as a basketball team and a university is soaring thanks to the team’s long run of NCAA success in March.

– Baseball opens in earnest with a dozen games. Fenway Park and Dodger Stadium will have a different feel: Big Papi won’t be swinging at bat and Vin Scully won’t be in the broadcast booth.

– AUGUSTA, Ga. – Masters week begins, and for Ernie Els this will likely be his last time playing for a green jacket.

– AUGUSTA, Ga. – Jon Rahm is on the cusp of being among the world’s top 10 golfers. The Spaniard already seems set for Europe’s Ryder Cup team, and he has yet to play his first Masters.

– With just over a week left in the NBA regular season, much is still to be decided. Four playoff spots in the East and two in the West are unclaimed and not one seeding is wrapped up.

– OKLAHOMA CITY – Russell Westbrook has become the ultimate teammate. It’s a key reason why the Thunder are a playoff team and why he’s one triple-double from the season record.

– CLEVELAND – The NBA champions are showing cracks as the playoffs near. The Cavaliers have defensive issues, and their problems on the court have spilled into the locker room.

– COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina women return to what is expected to be a raucous celebration, a day after defeating Mississippi State for the school’s first NCAA crown.

– Mississippi State fell one win short of a national title, ending UConn’s 111-game winning streak in the process. There is reason to believe the Bulldogs won’t be a one-year wonder.

– DALLAS – Rebecca Lobo grew up 15 minutes from the Basketball Hall of Fame and held her wedding reception there. Now she’ll be enshrined there.

– There’s a new normal in hockey: players going directly to the NHL pros within days or even hours of finishing their college careers.

– PLYMOUTH, Mich. – The U.S. tries to finish group play unbeaten when it faces a Finland team that is coming off a huge upset of Canada at the women’s hockey worlds. Game starts 7:30 p.m.

– CHARLOTTE, N.C. – It’s time to start paying attention to Ryan Blaney, who might be NASCAR’s next first-time winner.

– MIAMI – Just like old times: Roger Federer dominated the early hard court season, and tennis now moves to clay, where Rafael Nadal should be a strong contender for a 10th French Open title.

– MONACO – The governing body of track and field has been hacked by Fancy Bears, the group that previously attacked the World Anti-Doping Agency.

– LAUSANNE, Switzerland – The IOC denies covering up doping cases from the 2008 Beijing Olympics. German TV reported there were positive tests by Jamaican sprinters.