Play it forward: March 15-21 on your sports calendar

Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:

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MONDAY

NBA: Lakers at Golden State, 7:30 p.m., Ch. 9, ESPN:

As for bewaring those ides of March . . . Don’t blink. A sweet 16 games left in the regular season — the part L.A. fans must refer to as “pre-post-season” — and 10 of them, including the next two, are on foreign soil (although the finale against the Clippers is technically a road game). Shannon Brown stepped up for the injured Kobe Bryant during their last meeting against the Warriors and scored 27 in a 104-94 win. The Lakers have averaged nearly 120 points in three previous games against Golden State, or about 18 over their average.

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College basketball: NCAA women’s basketball tournament selection, ESPN, 4 p.m.:

A mere 64 teams (not 65) get in, and three will probably be from the Pac-10 (Stanford, UCLA and USC, with ASU and Cal waiting nearby). None will beat UConn, riding a win streak that’s just ridiculous. (Although our sources tell us that Nebraska is also undefeated). The games start Saturday. And, yes, ESPN has its own women’s bracket bracketologist, named Charlie Creme (linked here).

TUESDAY

NBA: Lakers at Sacramento, Channel 9, 7 p.m.:

These Kings may be some 25 games behind the Lakers in the Pacific Division, and third from the bottom in the Western Conference, but they’re .500 at home (16-16) going into Sunday night’s game against miserable Minnesota.

College basketball: NCAA men’s basketball play-in game, ESPN, 4:30 p.m.:

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Pardon the interruption, but it’s Arkansas Pine-Bluff trying to bluff its way past Winthrop in Dayton, Ohio for the right to get dumped Friday by Duke. And you still want 96 teams? ESPN2 counter programs against this with a first-round game from the NIT. Flip a coin.

WEDNESDAY

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NBA: Clippers vs. Milwaukee, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket, ESPN:

ESPN decided it was interested in this game enough to add it to its schedule just last week. As to why we like the Bucks to make the playoffs: Defeated (LeBron-less and Shaq-less) Cleveland on March 6, 92-85. Defeated Boston three nights later, 86-84. Defeated Utah on Friday, 95-87 to win their fifth in a row and 11th in the last 12. Milwaukee has moved from ninth to fifth in the Eastern Conference standings and is 20-2 when it holds an opponent under 90 points. As to why the Clippers won’t make the playoffs: Teams like Milwaukee on their schedule.

THURSDAY

College basketball: NCAA men’s basketball tournament, first round, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Channel 2:

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Grab a cup ‘o joe, a few Red Bulls and a scraggly bear claw at the local Dunkin Donuts, then head to Providence’s Dunkin Donuts Center to watch the annual event start with Richmond stunning St. Mary’s. Other Round One wins we’re banking on for Day 1: Washington washes out Marquette in San Jose; Florida buries BYU in Oklahoma City and Notre Dame looks like its old self against Old Dominion in New Orleans. And did you know: On this day 57 years ago, Indiana won the 15th NCAA men’s basketball title, knocking off Kansas 69-68. And where is Indiana in today’s launch of the annual tournament? Crying in its coffee cup.

NHL: Kings vs. Chicago, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:

If all goes well, Bob Miller returns after his shin-dig with shingles. And so does Jonathan Quick, with a new kid.

FRIDAY

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College basketball: NCAA men’s tournament, first round, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Channel 2:

Round One one-and-doners, con’t: Cal waits out Louisville in Jacksonville, Fla.; Ohio State destroys UCSB in Milwaukee, Utah State (one of the 10 mid-major at large teams) staves off Texas A&M (one of the 24 power conference at large teams), and over in Buffalo – you read it here first – No. 16 seed Vermont sucker punches No. 1 West seed Syracuse, the team that the Catamounts threw under its bus back in ’05 during their last appearance. Something says this will be the year a 16 finally beats a 1.

NBA: Lakers vs. Minnesota, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:

Welcome back Kurt Rambis and the T’wolves, otherwise known as the New Jersey Nets of the Western Conference.

SATURDAY

NHL: Kings vs. N.Y. Islanders, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:

Last time they played: A shootout in Long Island in Feb., 2009, on Jack Johnson’s game-winner.

College basketball: NCAA men’s tournament first round, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Channel 2:

Back to New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Providence and San Jose for round two.

SUNDAY

Running: Los Angeles Marathon, 7 a.m., Channel 5:

Year 25 of the Great Angeleno Footrace now starts in the Dodger Stadium parking lot, makes a loop around the facility, veers down to City Hall, goes up Sunset to Hollywood and Vine, hits Rodeo Drive, winds through Century City, under the 405 in Westwood, and a sprint to the Santa Monica pier. The Stadium to the Sea course has drawn a lot more interest than before, and perhaps there’ll be no more talk of holding in May. There are just more than 200 legacy runners — those who’ve run in the previous 24 events — and in excess of 1 million spectators will be along the route to hand out coffee and donuts to the participants.

College basketball: NCAA men’s tournament first round, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Channel 2:

Gotta wrap this thing up and figure out the Sweet 16 travel plans before “60 Minutes,” except on the West Coast.

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Exhibition baseball: Dodgers vs. Cleveland in Glendale, Ariz., 1 p.m., Ch. 9:

Vin Scully makes his 2010 exhibition debut in the booth, and we hope he makes note of the fact that on this day in 1934, Babe Didrikson, less than two years after she won the javelin, set a world record in the 80-meter hurdles and had to accept the silver medal in the high jump during the ’32 Olympics at the L.A. Coliseum, pitched an inning for the Philadelphia Athletics in an exhibition game against the Brooklyn Dodgers. She walked the first batter, hit the second and got the third to hit into a triple play. She poses here with former A’s great Jimmie Foxx.

NBA: Clippers vs. Sacramento, Staples Center, 12:30 p.m., Prime Ticket; Lakers vs. Washington, Staples Center, 6:30 p.m., FSW:

Another two-games-in-one place deal, but considering the participants, there’s not a lot of incentive to make it a double-header day at the downtown office supply store.

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