Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET
College basketball: NCAA men’s tournament: Opening games at Dayton, Ohio, Tuesday (Western Kentucky-Mississippi Valley State and BYU-Iona) and Wednesday (Lamar-Vermont and Cal-South Florida), 3:30 p.m. and 6 p.m., truTV; Second- and third-round round games Thursday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Channel 2, TBS, TNT and truTV:
Hello, friends. If you liked the conference post-season tournaments, you may also enjoy this annual event crowning the men’s basketball championships. Just wait a few more days and we’ll be all ready to begin the monotony.
Murray State coach Steve Prohm waited long enough. He helped his team cut down the nets after outlasting Tennessee State by two points in the Ohio Valley Conference tournament back on March 3. All he and his team done lately is tried not to get stale. Here’s a team with a 30-1 record, in the Top 10 among the AP rankings most of the season, and finally finding out they’ll have a rather seedy seed at No. 6 to open the field of 68 against 11th-seeded Colorado State on Thursday in Louisville as part of the West Region, with the winner facing Marquette. The Racers were a 13th seed when they beat fifth-seeded Vanderbilt in the first round of the 2010 tournament before losing to eventual NCAA runner-up Butler.
“We can’t become too complacent, we can’t become too comfortable. Wherever we go, we’ve got to make sure we’re ready because from this point on, there’s no more chances,” point guard Dante Poole said. “It’s one and done, either you do what you’ve got to do and move on or you don’t and you lose.” It’s that simple. Long Beach State’s opener as a 12th seed on Thursday against New Mexico in Portland will have our attention, as will Cal (only one of two Pac-12 teams to make it) having to play in Wednesday in Dayton, Ohio.
College basketball: NCAA women’s tournament selection show, 4 p.m., ESPN:
Don’t go looking for USC or UCLA here, either. Baylor (at 34-0), expected to be the top seed overall, needs six more wins to capture the title and become the first men’s or women’s team in major college basketball to go 40-0. This event starts Saturday.
NBA: Clippers vs. Celtics, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:
The Clippers will count on Laker fatigue setting into the Celtics’ aging joints on the back end of their two-game L.A. visit.
NBA: New York at Chicago, 5 p.m., ESPN:
Could Carmelo Anthony find himself as trade bait this week, if only to open the Knicks up for cap space?
College basketball: NIT first round games, 4 p.m., ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU:
UCLA basketball coach Ben Howland said he’d be fine with one of the 32 NIT invites after the 19-12 Bruins lost in the second round of the Pac-12 tournament. Just one thing: The NIT (linked here) isn’t interested. It took regular-season champ Washington, plus Oregon, Arizona and Stanford, but left the Bruins by the wayside. Same with LMU, who ended up taking a bid from the CollegeInsider.com (linked here) post-season tournament and open against Cal State Fullerton at home on Wednesday. Then there’s the 16-team College Basketball Invitational (linked here), which has Washington State and Oregon State participating. Dayton-Iowa, Savannah State-Tennessee, UMass-Mississippi State, Akron-Northwestern, Texas-Arlington at Washington, Cleveland State-Stanford and LSU-Oregon open the NIT as TV fodder today on the three channels provided. Bucknell-Arizona airs Wednesday.
NHL: Kings vs. Detroit, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
The Red Wings’ 4-3 win over the Kings last week in Detroit shouldn’t have happened, considering they only had 15 shots (their lowest total in nearly eight years) and trailed 3-2 with about five minutes left. It was also the first time this season that the Kings lost in regulation after scoring at least three goals — they had been 20-0-2 before this. The Kings have also allowed more than three goals in a game just 10 times this season. Three of those games have been against Detroit, which translate to three straight wins.
NBA: Lakers at Memphis, 5 p.m., Channel 9:
Last meeting: The Lakers won by eight at home on Jan. 8, despite scoring just 12 points in the fourth quarter. Pau Gasol (13 points, 15 rebounds) rarely guarded younger brother, Marc, who managed just two points on 0-for-9 shooting.
College baseball: USC vs. UCLA, Dodger Stadium, 6:30 p.m.:
The third annual Dodgertown Classic, which has been on a weekend, is moved to midweek, with UC Irvine-Pepperdine at 2 p.m. as the matinee game. An all-day ticket runs $7 in advance, $12 at the park. Parking is free.
NBA: Lakers at New Orleans, 5 p.m., Channel 9:
The league-owned Hornets have fallen to 29th in the league in scoring (88.5 points a game). What’s the league going to do about it? Trade for a shooter?
NBA: Clippers vs. Atlanta, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
The Hawks, who lost in Detroit on Friday night, 86-85, have dropped their last eight road games that were decided by one point, going back to March 2007. This marks the end of Atlanta’s six-game roadie.
Soccer: CONCACAF Champions League: Galaxy vs. Toronto FC, Home Depot Center, 7 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel:
The Galaxy rallied for a 2-2 tie in Toronto last week on Landon Donovan’s goal in the 89th minute, meaning they need a win or draw in this second leg to advance to the tournament semifinals.
NBA: Clippers vs. Phoenix, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:
In their only other meeting this year, the Suns won at home by three despite shooting 35 percent from the field. Heck, Steve Nash had only six assists.
NBA: Lakers vs. Minnesota, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
What will this Lakers team look like following Thursday’s trading deadline? Maybe Michael Beasley will be wearing purple and gold instead of …. what’s that say across the Wolves’ shirts? Muskies? We don’t get it. And with Ricky Rubio now out for the season with a torn ACL, suffered last week against the Lakers, expect things to be a little easier to control.
NHL: Kings at Ducks, Honda Center, 7 p.m., Prime:
Just 12 games left in the regular season, and half are at home, including this one. This should be the last time Kings’ defenders have to mess with Teemu Selanne, expected to retire after this season. Selanne recently moved past his idol, Jarri Kurri, to No. 19 all time in points, and he’s 12th all-time in goals scored, with a decent shot of knocking Luc Robitaille out of the top 10 before his career ends. One more power play goal ties Selanne with Robitaille for third all-time. Last Kings-Ducks meeting marked Jeff Carter’s coming out party — two goals in a 4-2 win over at Staples Center last week — meaning the Kings have won four of the five meetings this season, giving more reason for Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson do get jiggy on the Dance Cam (as they did last Saturday, above) or even on the Kiss Cam (same night, below).
Golf: PGA Champions Toshiba Classic in Newport Beach, 5:30 p.m. (delayed), Golf Channel:
A year ago, 54-year-old Nick Price shot a 60 in the first round, closed with a pair of 68s, and won this thing from start to finish. Not that it was all that easy. “It’s quite stressful when you shoot 60 on the opening day and everyone you see, they tell you, ‘Oh, you are going to win. You’re going to win.’ You’re only a third of the way through the tournament.” The $255,000 winners paycheck only came after Mark Wiebe missed a putt at 18 and allowed the World Golf Hall of Famer to take the thing by one stroke. Golf Channel has delayed coverage Saturday (4:30 p.m.) and Sunday (4:30 p.m.)
Golf: LPGA Founders Cup, Phoenix, first round, 3:30 p.m., Golf Channel:
After events to start the season in Australia, Thailand and Sinapore, the LGPA comes to the states to launch its fourth tournament. Golf Channel has live coverage Saturday (1 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.)
NHL: Kings vs. Nashville, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
Maybe if the Kings scored one goal or more they’ll give out McDonald’s Shamrock Shakes to everyone in attendance.
NBA: Clippers vs. Houston, Staples Center, 12:30 p.m., Prime:
The Clippers outlasted the Rockets, 105-103 in OT back on March 3, beating Houston for just the eighth time in the last 33 meetings.
Exhibition baseball: Dodgers vs. San Francisco, Glendale, Ariz., Prime, 7 p.m.:
Vin Scully is supposed to be present to loose up his vocal chords, for this one as well as Sunday’s Dodgers-Angels game from Glendale (1 p.m., Channel 9).
Running: Los Angeles Marathon, 7 a.m., Channel 5:
For the third year in a row, it’ll start at Dodger Stadium, hit Olivera Street, go past City Hall, the Pantages Theatre, Hollywood & Vine, the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, Whiskey A Go Go, Rodeo Drive and Palisades Park before ending near the Santa Monica pier on Ocean Avenue. Google Map it, or bring your iPhone GPS if you’re confused. There are 195 “Legacy Runners” who have done every single L.A. Marathon since the first in 1986, looking to extend their streak to 27. Or you can follow Daily News staff writer C.J. Lin as she trains and competes for her first marathon. Follow her on twitter.com/cjlindn.
NBA: Clippers vs. Detroit, Staples Center, 12:30 p.m., Prime; Lakers vs. Utah, Staples Center, 6:30 p.m., FSW:
At least there shouldn’t be much traffic trying to break through any L.A. Marathon road blocks to get to either of these two.
Tennis: BNP Paribas Open from Indian Wells: Women’s final, 11 a.m.; Men’s final, 1 p.m., Channel 7:
Top-seeded and defending champ Novak Djokovic suffered a straight-sets loss to Andy Murray last week in the Dubai semifinals. They’re on target to meet in the semifinals here before the winner would likely get Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer. “I (didn’t play) great there in that event, especially that day he was playing better,” Djokovic said of his loss to Murray. “I’m putting that aside. I’m moving on. I have very, very important tournaments ahead of me that I need to prepare for.” The men’s semifinals at Saturday (11 a.m., Saturday); ESPN2 has a men’s quarterfinal match Friday (1 p.m.) and women’s semifinal (7 p.m.).
MLS: Galaxy vs. D.C. United, Home Depot Center, 4 p.m., KDOC-Channel 56:
The league-opening loss to Salt Lake could sit as salt in the Galaxy’s wounds. Or it could unite them against United.