Sports, January 20th

LAS VEGAS (AP) – Las Vegas oddsmakers believe this Super Bowl is one of the most evenly matched ever. Bettors seemed to favor the Denver Broncos early, though, and sports books quickly adjusted their lines to make Denver anywhere from pick ’em to a 2-point favorite to win. Some sports books made the Seattle Seahawks favorites while others put up lines favoring the Broncos in a rare split.

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) – Patriots coach Bill Belichick says Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker deliberately tried to “take out” cornerback Aqib Talib in the AFC championship game. Talib hurt his knee on the play early in the second quarter and missed the rest of the game. Denver beat New England to advance to the Super Bowl. Welker spent the previous six years with the Patriots before signing with the Broncos before the season.


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) – With too many injuries and too few receivers, the New England Patriots’ season is over two wins shy of a Super Bowl championship.
They may have overachieved with rookies and unproven free agents playing key roles. But they were overmatched when they ran into the NFL’s best offense.
The Patriots (13-5) saved their worst game of the season for the most important one when they lost to the Denver Broncos 26-16 on Sunday.
So on Monday, running back LeGarrette Blount stuffed his belongings into a large trash bag, defensive tackle Joe Vellano left the locker room with an autographed football in his helmet and other Patriots talked of how much they’d overcome just to get to the AFC title game for the third straight season.


HONOLULU (AP) – Deion Sanders is giving Jerry Rice one concession as Pro Bowl week begins: The legendary wide receiver will call the coin toss Tuesday that starts the process of picking teams. Besides that, the Hall of Fame cornerback claims he has the upper hand under the game’s new schoolyard-style format. The Rice-Sanders rivalry is just one of several moves the NFL is using to try to rekindle interest in the Pro Bowl, set for Sunday in Hawaii. The game has been criticized as too lax in recent years by fans and even Commissioner Roger Goodell, putting the future of the game in question. The biggest change is a two-day draft that will determine teams in a new “unconferenced” game. It plays directly to player egos and fan love for fantasy football.


UNDATED (AP) – With it being Martin Luther King Day, the NBA has a top-heavy schedule of day games. Of the 10 games on the schedule, seven were scheduled for this afternoon.
– In Detroit, the Clippers breezed to a 112-103 win over the Pistons. DeAndre Jordan had 16 points and 21 rebounds for the Clippers, who lead the Pacific Division. Jordan made his first seven shots, almost all on dunks. Blake Griffin added 25 points and Jamal Crawford scored 26 for the Clippers, who are now 6-2 since losing point guard Chris Paul to a shoulder injury. For Detroit, Rodney Stuckey scored 29 points and Josh Smith added 24.
– In Cleveland, the Cavaliers were stopped by the Mavericks 102-97 as Monta (MAHN’-tay) Ellis scored 22 points while Shawn Marion added 18. Cleveland roared back from a 24-point deficit in the first half and trailed by three with 2.8 seconds remaining, but the Cavaliers were called for a five-second violation when Jarrett Jack failed to get the ball inbounds.  Kyrie Irving led Cleveland with 26 points and Luol Deng (LOO’-ul dehng), acquired from Chicago on Jan. 7, scored 20 points in his first home game with the Cavaliers.
This evening, Portland, the lead team in the Northwest Division, is at Houston; Indiana, the leader of the Central, is at Golden State and the Lakers are in Chicago.
No. 4 Villanova leads the way
UNDATED (AP) – The men’s college basketball schedule today consists of three games tonight with one featuring two ranked schools. The highest ranked school in action is No. 4 Villanova and the Wildcats are home to Creighton, the 20th ranked team in last week’s poll. The game with two ranked schools has eighth-ranked Kansas entertaining No. 24 Baylor. The final game of the night has 17th-ranked Ohio State at Nebraska.
Arizona is still No. 1
UNDATED (AP) – Arizona’s Wildcats remain the top team in The Associated Press Top-25 men’s basketball poll. The ‘Cats received 61 first place votes while second-ranked Syracuse got the remaining four. This marks the seventh straight week these schools have led the AP poll.
The third ranked school is Michigan State with Villanova fourth and Wichita State fifth. The second five this week features Florida, San Diego State, Kansas, Wisconsin and Iowa.
UConn stays on top
UNDATED (AP) – Connecticut remains No. 1 in the new Associated Press women’s basketball poll. The Huskies had their closest game of the season this past week at Baylor, ending the then-No. 7 Lady Bears’ 69-game home winning streak with an 11-point victory. UConn then routed Rutgers by 30 on Sunday.
Completing the first-five are Notre Dame, Duke, Stanford and Louisville. The second five features Maryland, North Carolina, Oklahoma State, Kentucky and South Carolina.
Islanders win
UNDATED (AP) – Two matinee games were on the NHL schedule today. In the first, the Islanders, playing on their home-ice, skated to a 3-2 shootout win over Philadelphia. The other day game has the Bruins hosting the Kings. Boston started the day tied with Tampa Bay for first-place in the Atlantic Division with 63 points.
Pittsburgh remains the top team in the Metropolitan Division as well as all of the Eastern Conference with 70 points. This evening, the Penguins are playing host to the Florida Panthers.
The rest of the schedule has St. Louis skating in Detroit against the Red Wings, who are tied for the final playoff berth in the East; Dallas is at Nashville; the Coyotes are home to Toronto and Calgary is at San Jose.