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 EST:
– PHILADELPHIA – The federal judge presiding over the NFL concussion litigation gathers lawyers for a status conference as they prepare to roll out the potential $1 billion settlement.
– FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – After squandering a 25-point lead in the Super Bowl, the Atlanta Falcons are shaking up their defensive staff.
– The Big 12 says it will withhold millions of dollars in conference revenue from Baylor until an outside review determines the athletic department is complying with Title IX guidelines and other regulations in the wake of a sexual assault scandal that has rocked the school.
– NEW YORK – The Los Angeles Clippers look to end a three-game skid when they visit the New York Knicks in another game between teams who have been linked to Carmelo Anthony trade talks. Game starts 8 p.m.
– NEW YORK – The Washington Wizards, coming off their overtime loss to Cleveland in one of the best games of the NBA season, look to bounce back when they visit the Brooklyn Nets. Game starts 7:30 p.m.
– SPOKANE, Wash. – If there is a single word that sums up No. 1 Gonzaga this season, it is maturity. Coach Mark Few and his players talk often about the poise of this year’s Zags, who have blown out many of their opponents and are on pace to finish the regular season undefeated.
– DURHAM, N.C. – The drama seems to have finally stopped for No. 18 Duke. Maybe the struggles have, too, and that would be a critical step forward with top rival North Carolina up next.
– STILLWATER, Okla. – Sixth-ranked Baylor is in the chase for the Big 12 title, but the Bears face red-hot Oklahoma State, winners of five straight. Game starts 7 p.m.
– TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – No. 14 Florida State looks to remain unbeaten at home as it hosts North Carolina State and freshman standout Dennis Smith Jr. Game starts 7 p.m.
– KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – No. 24 Tennessee has overcome its lack of depth and returned to the AP Top 25 after a nine-week absence because of the production it’s getting from Diamond DeShields, Mercedes Russell and Jaime Nared, who all average more than 15 points. The only time Tennessee has had three players finish a season with at least 15 points per game is when Chamique Holdsclaw, Tamika Catchings and Semeka Randall did it for the Lady Vols’ 1997-98 national championshp team.
– Claude Julien of the Boston Bruins became the fourth NHL coach fired this season and the second Stanley Cup winner canned in the past week. NHL teams have fired 38 coaches in-season over the past 10 years, more than any other North American pro sports league, and that trend isn’t going anywhere.
– COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Columbus Blue Jackets took center stage in the hockey world earlier this season with a 16-game winning streak, but their play since then has ranged from inconsistent to downright terrible. The Jackets are hovering around since the streak – the second-longest in NHL history – was snapped in a 5-0 rout by Washington on Jan. 5. Since then, they’ve struggled to play crisp hockey in consecutive periods, let alone games.
– ARLINGTON, Va. – Once a highly-touted top-10 draft pick who didn’t live up to expectations, Brett Connolly has revitalized his career after signing at a bargain-basement price with the Washington Capitals. Connolly was the steal of the offseason for the NHL-leading Capitals as Connolly shows what made him a young star.
– CONCORD, N.C. – NASCAR will have a traveling safety crew starting this season, creating a consistent medical staff that drivers have been pushing for the last several years.
– NEW YORK – UFC is back for its New York encore. UFC didn’t waste any time making a return trip following its monster debut in November. UFC 208 is set for Saturday night in Brooklyn.