BC-AP Sports Preview Digest - NBC Sports

BC-AP Sports Preview Digest
August 27, 2014, 12:13 pm

Some of the sports stories The Associated Press is covering Wednesday. A full Sports Digest will be sent at about 3 p.m. EDT:

- NEW YORK - Past U.S. Open champions Maria Sharapova and Lleyton Hewitt are in action during the day, while Venus Williams takes the court at night.

- NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Ravens running back Ray Rice is sitting out two games for domestic violence. A positive marijuana test, meanwhile, may have triggered a yearlong ban for Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon. Critics of the NFL's arbitrary policy toward domestic violence point to the contrast between the punishments and say it's time for the league to crack down on players who hurt women.

- COLUMBIA, S.C. - It could be a landmark season for Steve Spurrier and No. 9 South Carolina and its starts Thursday night at home against No. 21 Texas A&M.

- ATLANTA - More than 1,500 games involving FBS teams will be played before Dec. 7, selection day for the College Football Playoff. The fun starts with Georgia State playing Division II Abilene Christian. The Panthers don't have much shot of reaching the first football final four, but it's OK to dream on opening day. They have the stage all to themselves.

-OXFORD, Miss. - Every year, Southeastern Conference schools sign many of the most hyped and highly-rated football recruits in the country. Some of them end up being stars right away. For others, it takes a little longer. Here's a look at a few who appear ready for a breakout season.

- MANCHESTER, England - Louis van Gaal remained glued to his seat during United's humiliating 4-0 loss to third-tier club MK Dons in the second round of the League Cup, in one of the most embarrassing results in the history of England's biggest club. Following on from a winless start in the Premier League after two games of Van Gaal's tenure, serious doubts are already being raised about the Dutchman's use of the 3-5-2 formation and the lack of depth in his squad, especially in defense.

- A group of players from the U.S. women's national team, who will vie for a spot in the World Cup in October qualifying, have joined with several international players in protesting the turf surfaces for next summer's big event in Canada. And they're getting rapidly growing support from the sport's fans, including Hanks.

- NEW ORLEANS - A person close to the situation says the IndyCar series has committed to an April 12 race date for next season's inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana. The IndyCar series confirmed in May that it planned to bring a race to New Orleans in 2015, but race calendar for next season had not been set at that time.

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