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 EST:
– MELBOURNE, Australia – Roger Federer returns from a six-month layoff to beat Jurgen Melzer just before midnight in a match between 35-year-old players on Day One of the Australian Open.
– The AP releases its latest Top 25 polls in men’s and women’s college basketball. Men at 12:30 p.m., women at 1 p.m.
– OAKLAND, Calif. – The Golden State Warriors play the Cleveland Cavaliers in a game between first-place teams that have met in the last two NBA Finals. Game starts 8 p.m.
– LOS ANGELES – Chris Paul and the Clippers try to extend their six-game winning streak to open the new year against Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Game starts 10:30 p.m.
– KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Matt Ryan is keeping special company these days. Or maybe Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger are the ones keeping special company given the way Ryan is playing.
– GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Packers can add winning on the last play of the game to their playoff resume after beating Dallas. They’ve been on the losing end of elimination games the last few seasons.
– PITTSBURGH – The Steelers won a pair of rematches to reach the AFC title game. Another one – the one they’ve waited for – is now in the offing: the Patriots.
– FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The Patriots expect to see a much different Steelers team in the AFC title game from the one they faced this season. The biggest reason? Ben Roethlisberger.
– FRISCO, Texas – Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott now understand the playoff pain Tony Romo and Jason Witten knew all too well with the Dallas Cowboys.
– CINCINNATI – In a game between Top 25 Big east teams, Creighton plays at Xavier, which is coming off back-to-back road losses against ranked teams. Game starts 2 p.m.
– HONOLULU – Winning never gets old, even for the young. And 23-year-old Justin Thomas is winning, all right. For the last two weeks – really, the last three months – everyone is starting to notice.
– WASHINGTON – Having lost 11 of 14 games, the Flyers are desperate for answers. General manager Ron Hextall insists he won’t ”overreact” to the defeats and ”negative energy.”
– OYEM, Gabon – Gabon’s readiness to stage the African Cup of Nations begins in earnest with the first games at two new stadiums in the towns of Oyem on Monday and Port-Gentil on Tuesday.
– KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Figure skater Ashley Wagner will be 26 for next year’s Winter Games. The American women with the best shot at an Olympic medal have enjoyed remarkable staying power.