Update on the latest sports
NFL season will be 17 games
UNDATED (AP) — The NFL is increasing the regular season to 17 games and reducing the preseason to three games.
Team owners on Tuesday approved the 17th game, marking the first time in 43 years the regular season has been increased. It went from 14 to 16 games in 1978.
The Super Bowl now will move back a week to Feb. 13, which places it directly in the middle of the Winter Olympics in Beijing. Coincidentally, NBC has the broadcast rights to both.
Each extra NFL game will be an interconference matchup based on where teams finished in the previous season. AFC teams will be hosting the 17th game in 2021.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL-NCAA TOURNAMENT
Gonzaga meets USC, Michigan plays UCLA
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Unbeaten Gonzaga now has to get past USC on the way to the Final Four of the NCAA basketball tournament. The matchup of USC’s Mobley brothers against the Gonzaga big men will be one to watch in tonight’s regional final. The Trojans are coming off wins against Drake, Kansas and Oregon to reach the Elite Eight. Gonzaga is in the Elite Eight for the fourth time in six tournaments and looking for the program’s second trip to the Final Four, the other coming in a 2017 title-game loss to North Carolina.
In the other regional final tonight, the 11th-seeded UCLA Bruins and top-seeded Michigan Wolverines face each other for a spot in the Final Four. The Bruins have made it this far with a streak of upsets. The Wolverines beat everyone they were supposed to on the way to the regional final. It will be the fifth time the schools have met in the NCAA Tournament, including the 1965 championship game won by the Bruins.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL-WOMEN’S NCAA TOURNAMENT
Stanford meets Louisville; Texas plays South Carolina
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — It’s Cardinal versus Cardinals tonight in the women’s NCAA tournament, as the overall top-seeded Stanford Cardinal meets the number-two-seeded Louisville Cardinals for a place in the Final Four. Louisville eliminated Stanford in the 2018 Sweet Sixteen with an 86-59 victory before going on to lose in the national semifinals to Mississippi State.
In tonight’s other game in the women’s tournament, Texas will have to get past South Carolina and coach Dawn Staley in order to keep the Longhorns’ stunning tournament run going. Texas has ousted third-seeded UCLA and second-seed Maryland to advance.
Nuggets face Sixers before fans
DENVER (AP) — The Denver Nuggets will have fans in the stands for the first time this season when they play Philadelphia tonight. There are expected to be approximately 4,500 health-care workers and first responders in attendance. The Nuggets beat Philadelphia 115-103 when the two teams met in January. They’re looking for their third straight win tonight.
In other NBA action:
— The Los Angeles Clippers don’t get to rest up from their 129-105 win over the Milwaukee Bucks last night. The Clippers, who’ve now won six in a row, host Orlando tonight. But those back-to-back games don’t seem to be a problem for the Clippers — they are 8-and-0 in the second games.
— The Atlanta Hawks, who’d won nine of their last 11 before losing to the Nuggets on Sunday, are in Phoenix to play the Suns. The Suns are back from a southeastern road trip where they won three of four. They’re second in the Western Conference at 31-and-14.
— The Washington Wizards are hoping to have Bradley Beal back for tonight’s game against Charlotte. Beal sat out last night’s win over the Indiana Pacers with a bruised hip.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — In the NHL, the surging Nashville Predators — winners of five straight — host the Dallas Stars in the first of a two-game series.
— The Washington Capitals, now the first-place team in the East Division and tied with Tampa Bay for the top spot in the NHL, are in New York to play the Rangers.
— The Lightning begin a four-game homestand against Columbus.
— The Chicago Blackhawks host Carolina in the first of two games.
— The Florida Panthers, who will likely be without injured defenseman Aaron Ekblad for the rest of the season, host Detroit to start a four-game homestand.
— The Montreal Canadiens, who had their games last week postponed because of players on the COVID protocol list, are back on the ice at home against Edmonton.
— The New Jersey Devils and Boston Bruins play their second of two in Boston. The Devils won Sunday’s matchup 1-0.
Flyers place Shayne Gostisbehere on waivers
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — The Philadelphia Flyers have placed defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere (GAHS’-tihs-behr) on waivers. The surprising move comes as the Flyers are attempting to stay in the playoff hunt. Gostisberhere has five goals and six assists in 25 games and was benched for a three-game stretch two weeks ago. He produced three assists in five games since returning to action. The 27-year-old’s production has dropped off since scoring 13 goals and adding 52 assists for a career-best 65 points in 78 games in 2017-18.
Jays plan more home games for Florida
DUNEDIN, Fla. (AP) — The Toronto Blue Jays will play their third homestand of the season at their spring training ballpark in Dunedin, Fliorida, because of COVID-19 restrictions. Toronto had already announced that its first two homestands will be at TD Ballpark, and now it’s added 10 games from May 14-24 against Philadelphia, Boston and Tampa Bay. Twenty-two of 81 home games have been switched to Florida from the Rogers Center. Toronto hopes to return home at some point in 2021. The TD Ballpark seats about 8,500 fans and had a major renovation in 2019-20. The Blue Jays intend to limit capacity to 15%.
Elsewhere in baseball:
— Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Ji-Man Choi will have arthroscopic surgery on his right knee and is expected to be sidelined at least three to five weeks. Manager Kevin Cash says the extent of the injury will be clearer after Wednesday’s operation.
— The Detroit Tigers have reassigned infielder Renato Núñez to the team’s alternate training site and reassigned right-hander Wily Peralta to minor league camp. The Tigers also announced that they have reassigned left-hander Ian Krol, right-hander Erasmo Ramírez and catchers Dustin Garneau and Eric Haase to the alternate training site in Toledo, Ohio.
— Spring training took its toll on some of the Cincinnati Reds and some players won’t be ready for opening day. Outfielder Shogo Akiyama and pitchers Sonny Gray and Michael Lorenzen will miss the opener Thursday but aren’t expected to be sidelined for long after that.
OLYMPIC MEDALIST-SEXUAL ABUSE CHARGES
Olympic gold medalist charged with child sex abuse in Utah
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A sledding gold medalist at the 2002 Winter Olympics has been charged with sexual abuse of a child in Utah. Court documents show James “Jimmy” Shea made his first court appearance Monday.
Shea’s attorney, Rudy Bautista, said Tuesday that the charges are a result of a family dispute and a misunderstanding about what his client contends was loving and affectionate touching. Bautista says the 52-year-old Shea plans to plead not guilty.
The Associated Press isn’t identifying the relationship of the alleged victim to Shea to protect the child’s identity.
DAPPER LABS-NBA TOP SHOT FUNDING
Dapper Labs, creators of NBA Top Shot, get $305M in funding
SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — Canadian blockchain technology company Dapper Labs has secured $305 million in private funding — some of it from current and former NBA players, including Michael Jordan — to scale up its virtual NBA trading card site.
The company says NBA Top Shot has rung up $500 million in sales and registered more than 800,000 accounts since October.
The virtual cards come in the form of a floating digital cube with a video highlight of an NBA player. A LeBron James dunk sold for $210,000 recently but more common cards can often be had for less than $10.