BC-AP Sports Preview Digest

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

– NEW YORK – Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez are likely to be voted into baseball’s Hall of Fame on their first tries and John Smoltz and Craig Biggio could join them, too. Announcement at 2 p.m.

– TORONTO – Randy Carlyle is fired as coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs following a road trip in which the team lost five of seven games and showed little signs it would soon get better.

– ZAGREB, Croatia – U.S. skiers at a World Cup slalom mourn two junior team members killed in an avalanche in Austria. Ted Ligety is among those wearing black armbands during the race.

– The Super Bowl did not start out as the Super Bowl. The NCAA men’s basketball tournament eventually became March Madness. The College Football Playoff is hoping to be the next ubiquitous sports brand.

– EUGENE, Ore. – Quarterback Marcus Mariota is Oregon’s unquestioned leader, but center Hroniss Grasu is the team’s anchor.

– Bowl games are getting higher ratings and lower attendance figures in the first year of the College Football Playoff. Officials don’t believe the playoff has anything to do with the attendance drop.

– OWINGS MILLS, Md. – There’s something about the playoffs that brings out the best in Joe Flacco, who has 13 touchdown passes and nary an interception in his last five postseason games with the Ravens.

– CHARLOTTE, N.C. – This has been a trying season for the Panthers: Cam Newton’s car accident, coach Ron Rivera’s house going up in flames, Greg Hardy’s conviction on domestic violence charges.

– ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Broncos safety Rahim Moore is preparing for his first playoff game since his infamous gaffe two years ago led to a stunning loss to Baltimore in double overtime.

– ATLANTA – The Hawks are the most surprising team in the NBA. They are leading the Eastern Conference and with seven straight wins on the road this hardly looks like a fluke.

– OAKLAND, Calif. – The Golden State Warriors are known best for the shooting touch of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. But the fact is they’re one of the NBA’s top defensive teams.

– NEW YORK – After starting the season with 13 straight wins, No. 8 Villanova tries to recover from its first defeat when it plays No. 24 St. John’s at Madison Square Garden. Game starts 9 p.m.

– BRISBANE, Australia – Serena Williams loses to Eugenie Bouchard in the Hopman Cup in Perth while Maria Sharapova wins easily in Brisbane in Australian Open tuneups.

– GENEVA – Sepp Blatter is facing a challenge from a 39-year-old Jordanian prince in his bid for a fifth term as president of soccer’s scandal-tainted governing body. The election is May 29.

– SAN FRANCISCO – Two men are roughly halfway through what has been called the hardest rock climb in the world: a free climb of a half-mile section of exposed granite in California’s Yosemite National Park.