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Daytona 500, Australian Open, basketball highlight weekend sports schedule

Chase Elliott, the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion, is among the favorites to win the 2021 Daytona 500 on Sunday in Daytona Beach, Fla. File Photo by Mike Gentry/UPI
Chase Elliott, the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion, is among the favorites to win the 2021 Daytona 500 on Sunday in Daytona Beach, Fla. File Photo by Mike Gentry/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 12 (UPI) -- The Daytona 500 is the main sports event this weekend, as 40 drivers circle a 2.5-mile track at nearly 200 mph Sunday in Daytona Beach, Fla. A tennis Grand Slam and dozens of basketball games also pack the schedule.

PGA Tour golfers have teed off for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, which runs from Thursday through Sunday. A UFC title bout airs Saturday and NHL games air from Friday through Sunday.

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Wrecks, close-calls and other daring vehicular maneuvers make the annual "Great American Race" one of the most exciting events of the NASCAR season. The annual event also launches the Cup Series calendar.

Defending champion Denny Hamlin is the betting favorite to win the 2021 Daytona 500, which starts at 2:30 p.m. EST Sunday and airs on Fox. 2020 Cup Series champion Chase Elliott, Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney are among the other favorites to claim the checkered flag.

RELATED Daytona 500: Alex Bowman wins pole, William Byron to start second

Alex Bowman claimed pole position Wednesday when he got his No. 48 Chevrolet up to 191.262 mph on the tri-oval track.

"I'm going to floor it and hopefully stay up front," Bowman told reporters Wednesday on a Zoom video conference.

NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers also will compete this weekend in Daytona. The Beef. It's What's For Dinner 300 starts at 5 p.m. EST Saturday and airs on FS1.

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RELATED Australian Open: 2020 champ Kenin crumbles; Barty, Nadal advance

Australian Open

The 2021 Australian Open is underway in Melbourne as men's and women's tennis stars advance through the singles draw.

Men's defending champion Novak Djokovic still is in contention and remains the betting favorite to win the Grand Slam in Melbourne. Sofia Kenin, the 2020 women's singles champion, was knocked out Thursday in her second-round match.

RELATED Australian Open: Serena-Halep, Djokovic-Zverev on track for quarterfinal duels

Naomi Osaka, Ash Barty and Serena Williams are among the favorites to win the 2021 women's singles title. Daniil Medvedev, Dominic Thiem and Rafael Nadal are among the top contenders for the men's title, behind Djokovic.

Williams can tie Margaret Court's record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles if she wins the tournament, but she hasn't claimed a major crown since 2017.

Third- and fourth-round action airs from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. EST on the Tennis Channel and ESPN networks this weekend through Monday morning.

Djokovic, Thiem, Williams, Osaka, Alexander Zverev, Nick Kyrgios and Simona Halep are among the top players in action on Friday.

Basketball matchups

NBA and college basketball teams continue to march through their respective seasons, despite constant disruption, postponements and player unavailability caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

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The NBA has several stellar matchups planned this weekend. Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans battle Luka Doncic's Dallas Mavericks at 7:30 p.m. EST Friday on ESPN. Ja Morant's Memphis Grizzlies then take on LeBron James' Los Angeles Lakers at 10 p.m. EST Friday on the same network.

The Brooklyn Nets and Oklahoma City Thunder highlight Saturday's NBA matchups. That game tips off at 8:30 p.m. EST Saturday on ABC.

Doncic's Mavericks host Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers at 7:30 p.m. EST Sunday on ESPN. The Denver Nuggets then host the Lakers at 10 p.m. EST Sunday in ESPN's final game of the weekend.

Gonzaga, Villanova, Ohio State, Virginia and Missouri -- who all rank inside the Top-10 in the men's basketball coaches poll -- also are in action on Saturday in nationally televised games. Duke, Kentucky, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Kansas, North Carolina, Michigan State, UCLA and Iowa also play Saturday.

Michigan battles Wisconsin at 1 p.m. EST Sunday on CBS in a matchup between two ranked Big Ten teams. Houston and Loyola Chicago are among the other ranked teams with nationally televised games Sunday.

Friday

Tennis

Australian Open from 6 p.m. EST Thursday through 7 a.m. EST Friday and from 6 p.m. EST Friday to 7 a.m. EST Saturday on Tennis Channel, ESPN News and ESPN2

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Golf

AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am: Second round from 3 to 6 p.m. EST on Golf Channel

NHL

Bruins at Rangers at 7 p.m. EST on NHL Network

NBA

Pelicans at Mavericks at 7:30 p.m. EST on ESPN

Grizzlies at Lakers at 10 p.m. EST on ESPN

Saturday

Tennis

Australian Open from 6 p.m. EST Friday through 7 a.m. EST Saturday and from 6 p.m. EST Saturday to 7 a.m. EST Sunday on Tennis Channel, ESPN News and ESPN2

College basketball

Indiana at Ohio State at noon EST on ESPN

Wake Forest at Florida State at noon EST on ACC Network Alternate

Loyola Chicago at Drake at noon EST on ESPN

Kansas State at Oklahoma State at noon EST on ESPNU

UConn at Xaver at noon EST on Fox

Oklahoma at West Virginia at 1 p.m. EST on Big 12 Network

Auburn at Kentucky at 1 p.m. EST on CBS

TCU at Texas at 2 p.m. EST on Longhorn Network

Tennessee at LSU at 2 p.m. EST on ESPN

Oregon at Arizona at 2 p.m. EST on ESPN2

Iowa at Michigan State at 2:30 p.m. EST on Fox

Kansas at Iowa State at 3 p.m. EST on ABC

Georgia at Alabama at 3:30 p.m. EST on SEC Network

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Arkansas at Missouri at 4 p.m. EST on ESPN2

Duke at N.C. State at 4 p.m. EST on ESPN

Villanova at Creighton at 5 p.m. EST on Fox

Gonzaga at San Francisco at 6 p.m. EST on ESPN2

North Carolina at Virginia at 6 p.m. EST on ESPN

USC at Washington State at 8 p.m. EST on ESPNU

Soccer

Premier League: Manchester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur at 12:30 p.m. EST on NBC

Golf

AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am: Third round from 1 to 3 p.m. EST on Golf Channel; from 3 to 6 p.m. EST on CBS

NASCAR

Xfinity Series Beef. It's What's For Dinner. 300 at 5 p.m. EST on FS1

NHL

Lighting at Panthers at 7 p.m. EST on ESPN+

Canadiens at Maple Leafs at 7 p.m. EST on NHL Network

NBA

Nets at Warriors at 8:30 p.m. EST on ABC

UFC 258 on ESPN+

Jim Miller vs. Bobby Green at 10 p.m. EST

Maki Pitolo vs. Julian Marquez after first fight

Kelvin Gastelum vs. Ian Heinisch after second fight

Maycee Barber vs. Alexa Grasso after third fight

Kamaru Usman vs. Gilbert Burns after fourth fight

Sunday

Tennis

Australian Open from 6 p.m. EST Saturday through 7 a.m. EST Sunday and from 6 p.m. EST Sunday to 7 a.m. EST Monday on Tennis Channel, ESPN News and ESPN2

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Golf

AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am: Fourth round from 1 to 3 p.m. EST on Golf Channel; from 3 to 6:30 p.m. EST on CBS

College basketball

Michigan at Wisconsin at 1 p.m. EST on CBS

Memphis at Houston at 1 p.m. EST on ESPN

Loyola Chicago at Drake at 3 p.m. EST on ESPN

NASCAR

Daytona 500 at 2:30 p.m. EST on Fox

NHL

Capitals at Penguins at 3 p.m. EST on NBC

Avalanche at Golden Knights at 7 p.m. EST on NBCSN

NBA

Blazers at Mavericks at 7:30 p.m. EST on ESPN

Lakers at Nuggets at 10 p.m. EST on ESPN

Moments from LeBron James' career

St. Vincent-St. Mary High School senior LeBron James (L) drives around a Zanesvuille defender in Akron, Ohio, on February 14, 2003. James is expected to be the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft. A couple months later, the Cleveland Cavaliers coach was suspended because James worked out with the team before he graduated from high school. Photo by Tom Cammett/UPI | License Photo

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