BC-AP Sports Preview Digest

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

– The men’s NCAA Tournament begins in earnest, with 16 games starting the three-week extravaganza. Thursday’s play features defending champ Villanova and NCAA ingenue Northwestern.

– GREENVILLE, S.C. – For years, March brought the NCAA Tournament to North Carolina while South Carolina watched from afar because of state politics. Now the roles are reversed.

– TULSA, Okla. – Ten players from foreign countries will participate in the Baylor-New Mexico State game alone, underlining a March Madness that goes well beyond U.S. borders.

– SACRAMENTO, Calif – UCLA freshman point guard Lonzo Ball could be the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft. As his play soars, so does the rhetoric of his father.

– The women’s NCAA Tournament starts Friday. Previews from four sites: College Park, Md.; Starkville, Miss.; South Bend, Ind.; Columbia, S.C.

– OAKLAND, Calif. – Now this sounds a little strange: coach Steve Kerr says Golden State must regain momentum in March. The Warriors recently lost three straight, and almost four.

– ORLANDO, Fla. – The PGA Tour and a celebration of Arnold Palmer begins with the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the first tournament at Bay Hill since the golf great died.

– PHOENIX – The LPGA Tour opens its U.S. schedule at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, with high heat and low scores expected again at Desert Ridge.

– ASPEN, Colo. – Kjetil Jansrud of Norway has the overall super-G title sewn up heading into the race at the World Cup Finals. Race starts 1 p.m.

– ASPEN, Colo. – Fresh off winning the downhill title, Ilka Stuhec of Slovenia tries to add the super-G crown at the World Cup Finals. Race starts 11:30 a.m.

– INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – Venus Williams and Caroline Wozniacki, two former No. 1 players, play quarterfinal matches at the BNP Paribas Open.

– MANCHESTER, England – Carli Lloyd, captain of the U.S. women’s team and FIFA player of the year, talks with the AP about her three-month stint at Manchester City.

– CLEMSON, S.C. – Quarterback Deshaun Watson and receiver Mike Williams of national champion Clemson – both likely first-round draft picks – perform for pro scouts and personnel.

– WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – A stress fracture in his ring finger will probably prevent NL Cy Young award winner Max Scherzer from starting opening day for Washington.

– TOKYO – Manny Ramirez is a long way from Fenway Park and a major league career in which he hit 555 home runs. At 44, he is playing for an independent league in Japan.

– GENEVA – Doping investigator Richard McLaren is invited to speak with IOC President Thomas Bach amid ongoing tension between Olympic sports bodies and anti-doping officials.