Play it forward: March 22-28 on your sports calendar

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

MONDAY

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

If the NHL playoffs started in a couple weeks as planned — not today or tomorrow or any other stupid scenario we like to throw out there — the Kings could be dancing with these Avs in the first round. They won’t be dancing with the Stars. Dallas is down there in “DNP — Coaches’ Confusion” category in the Western Conference (along with those Ducks). If the Kings and Avs really cared, they could also watch the season debut of the “Dancing With The Stars” co-called competition. Odds of Erin Andrews acing out Ocho Cinco in the finals … we don’t give a puck about it, really.

TUESDAY

College basketball: Women’s NCAA basketball tournament, UCLA vs. Nebraska in Minneapolis, 6:30 p.m., ESPN2:

The Bruins’ victory Sunday in the first round over N.C. State puts them up against top-seeded Nebraska (31-1) in the Kansas City region. Yes, UCLA is still alive in the tournament. The girls. Take what you can get.

NBA: Clippers at Dallas, 5:30 p.m., Prime Ticket:

If the Knicks can top the Mavericks, as they did last week, ending the team’s 13-game win streak, then so can the Clips. OK, who are we kidding?

WEDNESDAY

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NBA: Lakers at San Antonio, 6:30 p.m., Channel 9, ESPN:

The first of a five-game road trip over seven days starts for the Lakers in a place they’ve not had much fun. And if we’re playing “what if” again, these two could meet in the first round of the playoffs. Did you know someone was thoughtful enough to start a “Lakers-Spurs Rivalry” Wikipedia page (linked here). So this is what Bruce Bowen has been doing during his retirement.

NHL: Kings at Colorado, 6 p.m., FSW:

See: Kings-Avs, Monday. The reason they couldn’t play this one again at Staples Center: There’s something called “Calibash 2010″ taking place on this night. According to the promoters, it’s some kind of music thing that will feature “Alexis y Fido, Ivy Queen, Rakim y Ken Y, La Factoria, Arcangel, Tony Dize, Cosculluela, Angel y Kris, Zion y Lenox, De La Getto, Voltio, Makano … and more!” We can barely handle a George Lopez concert.

THURSDAY

College basketball: Men’s NCAA basketball tournament Sweet 16, 4 to 9 p.m., Channel 2:

West top-seed Syracuse has 23- and 22-point wins going into the next round against a fifth-seeded Butler team that almost couldn’t get past 13-seed Murray State. This one’s in Salt Lake City (4:07 p.m. tipoff, with Gus Johnson and Len Elmore, followed by Kansas State-Xavier). Meanwhile, back in Syracuse’s own Carrier Dome, 11-seed Washington is left to uphold the Pac-10′s dignity against second-seeded West Virginia (4:27 p.m. tipoff, with Dick Enberg and Jay Bilas, followed by Kentucky-Cornell).

NBA: Clippers at Houston, 5:30 p.m., Prime Ticket; NHL: Kings at St. Louis, 5 p.m., FSW:

If there wasn’t a dang John Mayer concert at Staples Center tonight, this could have been the double-header options. You buying that? Move it all to Nokia next time. Or the ESPN Zone.

Golf: PGA Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando, first round, Golf Channel (round two also on Golf Channel, rounds three and four on Saturday and Sunday on Channel 4):

Orlando resident Tiger Woods supposedly considered playing in this event. Wrote Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi on Saturday: “As a fellow Orlandoan, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Tiger Woods. Thanks,Tiger. For nothing. Once again, Tiger has treated the city where he lives just like one of his many alleged mistresses. Used us. Abused us. And then callously excused us. Tiger announced earlier this week he would make his much-ballyhooed return to golf not in Orlando at next weekend’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, but at the Masters two weeks later. Yet another example of how Tiger has viewed Orlando since he moved here in 1996. We are merely his tax shelter; not his hometown.” Chew on that for a while.

FRIDAY

College basketball: Men’s NCAA basketball tournament Sweet 16, 4 to 9 p.m., Channel 2:

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Having “UNI” at the top slot of the Midwest Region bracket simply reflects on the uniqueness of this annual scramble. A united Northern Iowa squad can’t possibly have gone this far in the so-called “Group of Death,” with Kansas and Georgetown already fallen off the radar. The Panthers face Michigan State in the Sweet 16 matchup (approx. 6:37 p.m. tipoff, with Vern Lundquist and Bill Raftery), with the winner most likely to meet second-seed Ohio State, which bucks up against Tennessee in St. Louis (4:04 p.m. tipoff). In the South Regional at Houston, 10th-seeded St. Mary’s continues to wave the West Coast Conference flag, taking on Baylor (4:27 p.m. tipoff, with Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg, followed by Duke-Purdue).

Soccer: Chivas USA vs. Colorado, Home Depot Center, 7:30 p.m.:

The opener to the Major League Soccer schedule, now that there’ll be no strike. Who’s ready for some kickball?

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NBA: Lakers at Oklahoma City, 5 p.m., Channel 9:

Among the NBA’s current scoring leaders, Kobe Bryant (27.7 points a game) has trailed Kevin Durant (29.7 ppg) through most of the season. In the Lakers’ last (and only other visit) to Thunder Mountain, Kobe had 31 and Durant had 28 (all in the first three quarters) during the Lakers’ three-point OT victory.
With the score tied 90-90 in regulation, Durant casted off a 3-pointer that missed instead of driving to the basket. “I thought he had a chance to attack (Andrew) Bynum,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “Kevin thought he could make that shot.” Everything was not OK in OKC. Live and learn. And shoot it again if you get the chance.

SATURDAY

College basketball: Men’s NCAA basketball tournament Elite Eight, noon to 4 p.m., Channel 2:

East Region top-seed Kentucky should have outsmarted Cornell to get this far, right?

Exhibition baseball: Dodgers vs. Seattle, 1:05 p.m., Channel 9:

One more practice game for Vin Scully. Real stuff starts pretty soon.

NBA: Lakers at Houston, 5:30 p.m., Channel 9:

Yao’s still on the DL? Yikes.

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Soccer: Galaxy vs. New England, Home Depot Center, 8 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel:

Donovan’s back, Becks is out and it still shows on the Galaxy home page that the result of their last game on Nov. 22 was a loss in PKs, 5-4. That was the MLS Cup. This is Game 1 of the ’10 season.

SUNDAY

College basketball: Men’s NCAA basketball tournament Elite Eight, noon to 4 p.m., Channel 2:

If South Region top-seed Duke gets into the K-zone and makes it this far, it’ll be the 18th appearance in the final eight, but only the third this century.

NBA: Clippers vs. Golden State, Staples Center, 6:30 p.m., Prime Ticket:

Step right up and watch Steph Curry get it done.

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