Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
MLB exhibition: Dodgers vs. Angels, Dodger Stadium, 7 p.m., Channel 9:
You’ve paid full price for tickets to this practice game, and your reward: The first 20,000 fans get a magnet schedule. And first crack at the post-Manny concession stand purchases.
NHL: Ducks vs. Colorado, Honda Center, 7 p.m., Prime:
They’ve iced down the NCAA’s West Regional champions, and brought in the Zambonis. Back to hockey business.
MLB exhibition: Angels vs. Dodgers, Angel Stadium, 7 p.m., FSW:
Last chance to visit the Anaheim facility until the Angels’ home opener, which isn’t until a week from Friday.
NHL: Kings at Edmonton, 6:30 p.m., Prime:
Are the Kings going to have to limp toward the playoffs without Anze Kopitar? A five-game road winning streak is on the line for the team against an Oilers’ squad that they’ve beaten three times already this season, and now have one of their top scorers, Dustin Penner.
NBA: Clippers vs. Dallas, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:
The Mavs have two games in two nights at Staples Center. A perfect chance for Mark Cuban to bring his new pal, Charlie Sheen, down to his floor seats.
NHL: Ducks at Calgary, 6:30 p.m., FSW:
Their last meeting two Saturday’s ago: The Ducks pulled out a 5-4 OT win thanks to Corey Perry.
MLB exhibition: Dodgers vs. Seattle, Dodger Stadium, 7 p.m.:
Because the Dodgers and Angels didn’t want to extend the Freeway Series one more game? Or just a way to get Ichiro some L.A. exposure?
MLB: Dodgers vs. San Francisco, Dodger Stadium, 5 p.m., ESPN:
Enough San Francisco residents have supposedly raised $8,000 to hire a plane that will fly a banner over Dodger Stadium during Opening Night that reads “Giants 2010 Champs: BEAT L.A.” How original. Have they seen the movie “Battle: Los Angeles” yet? There are plenty of local residents capable of shooting objects out of the sky that seem to be the least bit threatening. It’s no wonder the World Wide Leader in Sports rearranged the schedule and created this event to open the season, setting up a late-afternoon showdown that’ll feature Clayton Kershaw and Tim Lincecum firing pitches from sunlight to shadow that should create eight scoreless innings before the bullpens get involved.
Here’s your Hollywood ending: Bottom of the ninth, ex-Giant Juan Uribe drives in the game-winning run off the black beard of Brian Wilson (but we’re not sure if he’ll even be healthy enough after an injury-plagued spring training). The four-game series resumes Friday (7 p.m., Prime), Saturday (1 p.m., Channel 11) and Sunday (5 p.m., ESPN2).
MLB: Angels at Kansas City, 1 p.m., FSW:
Opening Day starter Jered Weaver, who led the majors in strike outs last year but lost a salary arbitration hearing in the offseason, puts his focus back on a very young Royals team that doesn’t have 2009 AL Cy Young winner Zack Greinke as its star thrower any more. The Angels and Royals make it a four-game series with appearances on Friday (5 p.m., Channel 13), Saturday (10 a.m., FSW) and Sunday (11 a.m., FSW).
MLB: Detroit at N.Y. Yankees, ESPN, 10 a.m.; San Diego at St. Louis, ESPN, 1:15 p.m.:
Do we not allow the Cincinnati Reds to play the first game of the season any more? While the Reds do open at home against Milwaukee today, the Tigers-Yankees and Nationals-Braves get the early start.
NBA: Lakers vs. Dallas, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., TNT:
Squashing the Mavs’ final hopes for a runner-up finish in the Western Conference is Plan A.
NHL: Kings at Vancouver, 7 p.m., FSW:
There are some who think the Sedin twins could finish 1-2 in the league’s MVP voting — they’ve been 1-2 in the scoring race. Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo and the Kings’ Jamie Quick nearly have the same goals-against-average at 2.21, top five in the league.
Golf: PGA Houston Open, first round, noon, Golf Channel:
Anthony Kim parred the first hole of a playoff with Vaughn Taylor to win the event a year ago, his third PGA title. This is the last event before the Masters. NBC has the third and final rounds Saturday and Sunday.
Golf: LPGA Kraft Nabisco Championship at Rancho Mirage, first round, 9 a.m. to noon and 3:30 to 6:30 p.m., Golf Channel:
Hall of Famer Amy Alcott, a Southern California native, on how she started the tradition of the winner of this event jumping into the pond beside the 18th green: “It was on my second win there in 1988. I made a winning putt and I looked at my caddie and it just happened. I said, ‘We’re going into the water,’ and he said, “Cool, kid.” It was rocky and murky, and there were birds in there. The Russian judge probably would have given us a 2 for our jumps.” And now, it’s common place. Everyone into the lake — except those who don’t win this thing. The LPGA field from last week’s event at Industry Hills goes up the 10 Freeway towards Palm Springs for the first major of the season. Golf Channel covers the entire USGA event through Sunday.
College basketball: NIT final: Alabama/ Colorado vs. Washington State /Wichita State, 4 p.m., ESPN:
Can Klay Thompson give the Pac-10 some paltry title hope? Only if the Cougars make it out of Tuesday’s semifinals.
NBA: Lakers at Utah, 7:30 p.m., Channel 9, ESPN:
The Jazz win this one, and they’re still in the mix for the playoffs. April Fool’s.
NBA: Clippers at Phoenix, 7 p.m, Prime:
The Clippers win this one, and they’re still in the mix for the playoffs. See above.
College basketball: NCAA men’s Final Four in Houston: Virginia Commonwealth vs. Butler, 3 p.m.; UConn vs. Kentucky, approx.. 5:45 p.m., Channel 2:
Never has a Final Four been without a No. 1 or No. 2 seed – we’ve got a 3, 4, 8 and 11. There’s your lottery numbers of the week. And you’d not only lying if you had VCU coming this far, but you’d be delusional as well. Having somehow squeaked into the First Four and then, traveling through Dayton, Chicago and San Antonio, have knocked out a team from the Pac-10 (USC), Big East (Georgetown), Big Ten (Purdue), ACC (Florida State) and Big 12 (Kansas), the Rams meet up with the champions from the Horizon League, who’ve remarkably enough have been here before. ESPN’s Jay Bilas, who like most of us mocked VCU’s inclusion in the tournament to start with, said Sunday: “There’s nothing I’ve ever seen like it in NCAA Tournament play. For VCU to have won five straight games in the tournament, four of them in double digits, is absolutely incredible.” And that’s an understatement.
NHL: Kings vs. Dallas, Staples Center, 1 p.m., Prime:
The Kings’ 3-2 regulation win over the Stars a couple of weeks ago – it came on Michal Handzus’ goal with 20 seconds left – prevented a three-point game.
NBA: Clippers vs. Oklahoma City, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:
This Kendrick Perkins experiment seems to have some weight behind it for the Thunder.
NHL: Ducks at San Jose, 7:30 p.m., KDOC:
The Sharks have knocked off the Ducks twice already this year, with one more meeting next week.
MLS: Galaxy vs. Philadelphia, Home Depot Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
Union-busting activities are encouraged here. Because the Philadelphia team’s nickname is the Union. OK?
NBA: Lakers vs. Denver, Staples Center, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7:
The Nuggets are 12-4 since shipping Carmelo Anthony off to New York (while the Knicks are 7-11 with him), and they’re closing in on actually gaining a home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
NHL: Ducks vs. Dallas, Honda Center, 5 p.m., Prime:
Three of the Ducks’ final four games of the regular season are at home, starting with this one.
College basketball: NCAA women’s Final Four in Indianapolis: Games at 4 and 6 p.m., ESPN:
Two-time defending champion UConn, not to be upstaged by the success of the school’s men’s team, has to knock out Duke in Tuesday’s East Regional final to make a return trip. All the rest of the No. 1 seeds are alive as well: Tennessee, Stanford and Baylor.