Wake, only unbeaten in Division I, rises to No. 1
Wake Forest, the last unbeaten men's team in Division I, is No. 1 in the Associated Press' college basketball poll. The Demon Deacons are 16-0 and moved into the top spot yesterday by receiving 68 of 72 first-place votes from a national media panel. They replaced Pittsburgh, which dropped to fourth after its first loss of the season. Wake Forest was No. 1 was for two weeks in November 2004. The Demon Deacons defeated fellow unbeaten Clemson, 78-68, on Saturday, hours before Pittsburgh (16-1) lost, 69-63, to Louisville. Duke (16-1) and Connecticut (16-1) each moved up a spot to second and third.
AP women's poll: : For a second straight week, Maryland is ranked at No. 12. The Terps (15-3, 3-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) lost at then-No.4 Duke, 68-65, on Jan.12, but they closed out the week with wins at Clemson and Virginia Tech at home.
Several reach deals to avoid arbitration
Reliever Ryan Madson and the Philadelphia Phillies avoided arbitration by reaching a preliminary agreement on a three-year, $12 million contract, a person familiar with the negotiations told the Associated Press. Several other teams and players reached agreement to avoid arbitration as well. Felix Hernandez received a sevenfold salary increase by avoiding arbitration and agreeing to a one-year, $3.8 million contract with the Mariners. White Sox closer Bobby Jenks ($5.6 million), Rockies reliever Huston Street ($4.5 million), Marlins third baseman Jorge Cantu ($3.5 million) and Braves closer Mike Gonzalez ($3.45 million) were among those who agreed to one-year deals. In other deals, the Cubs and right-hander Kevin Gregg agreed at $4.2 million, and the Cardinals settled with right-hander Todd Wellemeyer ($4.05 million). Of the 111 players who filed for arbitration Thursday, 24 had agreed to contracts by last night.
Cardinals: : Albert Pujols says October surgery on his problematic right elbow was successful. "I'm 100 percent healthy," the first baseman said at a fan event in St. Louis.
Status for injured Ward unknown for Super Bowl
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward has a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee, but one of his teammates is certain he will play in the Super Bowl. Ward wasn't available to reporters yesterday, and the team did not release the results from a scheduled magnetic resonance imaging. But tight end Heath Miller can't imagine Ward, the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player three years ago, not playing on Feb. 1 against the Cardinals. "I don't even know the extent of his injury," Miller said. "But I saw him walking today so I'm pretty sure that two weeks from now he'll be playing." Ward was injured making a catch in the first quarter of the Steelers' victory over the visiting Ravens in the AFC title game Sunday. He did not play in the second half.
Et cetera: : Linebacker Cameron Wake, a two-time winner of the Canadian Football League's top defensive player award, has signed with the Dolphins. Wake played the past two seasons with the British Columbia Lions, winning the defense award both times. ... Less than two days after Steve Spagnuolo left to become coach of the Rams, Tom Coughlin promoted linebackers coach Bill Sheridan to replace him as defensive coordinator.
At Australian, S. Williams dispatches wild card
Serena Williams, trying to maintain her record of winning the Australian Open every alternate year since 2003, won her first-round match at Melbourne Park. Williams beat wild card Yuan Meng, 6-3, 6-2. Williams, the reigning U.S. Open champion, won Australian Open singles titles in 2003, 2005 and 2007. Andy Murray needed to play only 12 games to advance - Andrei Pavel retired with a back problem when he was down 6-2, 3-1 and 15-0. Olympic gold medalist Elena Dementieva beat Kristina Barrois, 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-1.
Alex Ovechkin scored two goals, the second coming 1:46 into overtime, to lift the visiting Washington Capitals to a 2-1 victory and send the New York Islanders to their eighth straight loss. With Washington on a power play, Ovechkin took a pass from Alexander Semin and beat Yann Danis for the Capitals' third straight win. Jose Theodore earned his 200th career victory with 27 saves.
More NHL: : Claude Lemieux is back in the NHL after a 5 1/2 -year absence, joining NHL-leading San Jose at age 43 in hopes of one more run at the Stanley Cup. The Sharks recalled the four-time Cup winner from their minor league affiliate in Worcester, Mass. He hasn't played in the NHL since 2003 with the Stars. ... Playing his first NHL game in more than eight months, Brendan Shanahan returned to the Devils and scored in the second period of his season debut to help send the host Predators to defeat, 3-1.
Golf: : Nearly 50 years after Charlie Sifford became the first black player to join the PGA Tour, the Northern Trust Open announced an exemption in his name for a player who represents the advancement of diversity in golf. The event is played in February in Pacific Palisades, Calif. Sifford led the effort to have the PGA rescind a Caucasian-only clause in 1961.
Soccer: : Kaka decided to stay with AC Milan, ending talks over a record-breaking transfer bid from Manchester City reported to be worth $147 million. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, AC Milan's owner, made the announcement on national television. Kaka, 26, was FIFA's Player of the Year in 2007 after the Brazilian midfielder led AC Milan to the European Champions League title.
College football: : All-America wide receiver Michael Crabtree of Texas Tech was among 46 players granted special eligibility for the NFL draft. Iowa running back Shonn Greene, Missouri wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, Penn State defensive end Aaron Maybin and Alabama offensive tackle Andre Smith joined Crabtree as first-team All-Americans granted early eligibility. ... Massachusetts promoted offensive coordinator Kevin Morris to head coach. He replaces Don Brown, who resigned this month to become Maryland's defensive coordinator. ... Denver Broncos assistant coach Jeremy Bates was named Southern California's assistant head coach of the offense and quarterbacks coach.
Auto racing: : Richard Petty's name will remain active in NASCAR under a rebranding of the new team created by the merger of his organization with Gillett Evernham Motorsports. The new team will be called Richard Petty Motorsports. ... Scott Riggs will drive for the new Tommy Baldwin Racing team in the Sprint Cup series.