Associated Press Sportswatch

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

NFL-PLAYOFFS
Four teams left
UNDATED (AP) -- One game is a rematch. The other might feel like one -- at least to one of the teams.
For the second straight year in the AFC, the New England Patriots will host the Baltimore Ravens with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.
In the NFC title game, San Francisco will travel to Atlanta, with the Falcons defense trying to stop a versatile, running quarterback for the second straight week.
The 49ers also made it to the NFC title game last year, losing to the Giants. Atlanta is the only team not making a repeat appearance in the NFL's final four.
Yesterday, the Falcons barely got past Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks, who overcame a 20-point deficit to take a one-point lead, but gave it up after Matt Ryan drove Atlanta into field goal range and Matt Bryant made a 49-yard kick with 8 seconds left for a 30-28 win.
Colin Kaepernick (KAP'-ur-nihk) passed for 263 yards and rushed for 181 -- a playoff record for a quarterback -- in San Francisco's 45-31 victory over Green Bay Saturday.
The Ravens advanced when Justin Tucker kicked a 47-yard field goal 1:42 into the second overtime Saturday, ending the NFL's longest game in 26 years and giving the Ravens a 38-35 win over the Denver Broncos. The win postponed Ray Lewis' retirement at least one more game and ended Peyton Manning's sensational comeback season with the Broncos.
New England advanced to the AFC championship when Tom Brady threw for three touchdowns yesterday to beat Houston 41-28 and become the winningest quarterback in postseason play. The Patriots' win didn't come without a cost. Tight end Rob Gronkowski was injured on the Patriots' eighth offensive play and needs surgery on his broken left arm, according to a person with knowledge of the injury. He previously missed five regular-season games and is done for the playoffs.
NBA-PREVIEW
Eight games tonight
UNDATED (AP) -- In the NBA tonight, The Los Angeles Clippers are in Memphis, trying to forget an embarrassing loss Saturday at home against the lowly Orlando Magic. The Clippers will also try to avoid a season-high-tying third straight road loss. They dropped their last two outside Los Angeles by 14 and 21 points. The Grizzlies lost Saturday in Dallas.
-- The Miami Heat have lost two of three on their recent road trip. Tonight, they are in Utah to play the Jazz. After losing the first two on the road, the Heat won in Sacramento Saturday. The Jazz are going for their fourth win in the last five games.
-- The Phoenix Suns just snapped a 12-game road losing streak and they are hoping to keep that momentum going at home. It won't be easy. Tonight's opponent is the league-leading Oklahoma City Thunder. The Suns won at Chicago Saturday. The Thunder are coming off a victory on the road Friday against the Lakers.
-- The Chicago Bulls have lost two in a row at home and tonight, they host the Atlanta Hawks. After winning 20 of their first 30 games, the Hawks are mired in their worst stretch of the season. They lost for the fifth time in six games Saturday to the league's worst team, the Washington Wizards.
Also tonight, Charlotte is at Boston, Orlando visits Washington, Minnesota travels to Dallas and Cleveland is at Sacramento.
MEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Two games in the AP Top 25
UNDATED (AP) -- There are just two matchups involving Top 25 teams in men's college basketball. In Hartford, No. 3 Louisville faces a tough test in a Big East matchup with UConn. Rick Pitino's team is trying to open 4-0 in conference play for the first time in four seasons. The Huskies are coming off an upset win Saturday against No. 17 Notre Dame.
-- Number Six Kansas will try to extend its longest winning streak in two seasons to 14 tonight, they host Baylor. Kansas is 18-3 all-time against Baylor.
In the Top 25 in women's college basketball, Number 12 Purdue is at Ohio State.
TENNIS-AUSTRALIAN OPEN
Defending champ wins
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- Novak Djokovic (NOH'-vak JOH'-kuh-vich) cruised through his first match at Rod Laver Arena since his shirt-ripping victory celebration last year, opening his bid for a third consecutive Australian Open title with a 6-2, 6-4, 7-5 win over Paul-Henri Mathieu today.
Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams had nearly flawless opening matches in the women's draw earlier in the day.
Sharapova finished her first match of the year in 55 minutes, cruising to a 6-0, 6-0 win over Olga Puchkova on center court. She showed no signs of trouble with her right collarbone.
Sharapova has a potential third-round match against Williams, who needed just an hour for her opening 6-1, 6-0 win over Galina Voskoboeva of Kazakhstan.
NHL LOCKOUT
More training camps opening
UNDATED (AP) -- The Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators and Phoenix Coyotes are among the NHL teams to have their first practices today.
Many teams went back to work yesterday after the 113-day NHL lockout officially ended.
There's not much time to get ready for a 48-game sprint of a season -- all that could be salvaged from an 82-game slate -- that will start without anyone playing a preseason game.
Los Angeles gets to open at home against the Chicago Blackhawks after unveiling the franchise's first Stanley Cup banner on Saturday in one of 13 games on opening day. The Kings then play 11 of their next 14 games on the road.
The postseason will start April 30 and end no later than June 28.
ARMSTRONG-OPRAH
Lance Armstrong to talk to Winfrey
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- After more than a decade of denying that he doped to win the Tour de France seven times, Lance Armstrong is scheduled to sit down today for what has been trumpeted as a "no-holds-barred," 90-minute, question-and-answer session with Oprah Winfrey.
A person with knowledge of the situation tells The Associated Press the cyclist will apologize and make a limited confession about his alleged role as the head of a long-running scheme to dominate the prestigious bike race with the aid of performance-enhancing drugs.
Winfrey and her crew will film the interview at Armstrong's home and broadcast it Thursday on the Oprah Winfrey Network. Local and international news crews are staking out positions in front of Armstrong's lush, Spanish-style villa. News crews began arriving before dawn, hoping to catch a glimpse of Winfrey or Armstrong.
GOLF-McILROY-NIKE
Golfer signs a big endorsement deal
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- Nike says it has signed a sponsorship deal with No. 1-ranked golfer Rory McIlroy (MAK'-ihl-roy) for a reported $200 million.
The deal was announced in a lavish ceremony in the United Arab Emirates ahead of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, which begins this week.
Nike now represents golf's two biggest stars in McIlroy and Tiger Woods, who has been with the sportswear company since turning pro in 1996.
In October, McIlroy cut ties with Massachusetts-based Acushnet Co., which had supplied him with Titleist and FootJoy gear since he turned pro five years ago. And this month, Jumeirah Group announced it was not renewing its five-year sponsorship deal with the Northern Irishman.


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