Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET
NASCAR: Sprint Cup Auto Club 400 at Fontana, 11:30 a.m., Channel 11:
The stock-car circuit’s only pit stop in the Southern California area is again a result of apparent low attendance numbers from previous years of staging two races at the Fontana track from 2005 to 2010. All NASCAR hopes for is not to have a repeat of 2008, when rain forced the stoppage of the then-Auto Club 500, which then bled into Monday morning before Carl Edwards gave everyone something to flip about with a victory. Ominously, this day is supposed to be cloudy, according to Weather.com. Kevin Harvick (right), who grew up in Bakersfield, will be defending his title. He started 24th and needed a last-lap pass of Jimmie Johnson to win for the first time at the 2-mile track in his 18th attempt. Saturday, the Nationwide Royal Purple 300 takes place (2 p.m., ESPN) with Danica Patrick expected to be in the field.
NHL: Ducks at San Jose, 7 p.m., Prime:
This one matters more to the Kings.
Series: “Dancing With The Stars,” 8 p.m., Channel 7:
Hopefully you aren’t lured into watching to see how quickly Green Bay Packers receiver Donald Driver or former tennis great Martina Navratilova are eliminated from Season 14. Urkel, on the other hand …
NHL: Kings vs. San Jose, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
The Kings meet up with the Sharks three times in their last nine games — appropriate since they’re two of the five teams (with Calgary, Phoenix and Colorado) trying to wedge their way into the eighth spot in the Western Conference.
NBA: Lakers at Houston, 5 p.m., Channel 9:
Sorry, but no tearful reunion with recently traded Derek Fisher, who’s been granted his release by the Rockets after they obtained him in a deal with the Lakers.
NBA: Clippers at Indiana, 4 p.m., Prime:
The first of three straight on the road. On three consecutive nights. Probably the Clippers’ biggest test of the year.
The Sullivan Award announcement, 4:15 p.m.:
The 82nd award honoring the top amateur athlete of the year is live from New York (www.livestream.com/therealaau). USC women’s volleyball player Alex Jupiter is one of six finalists.
NBA: Lakers at Dallas, 6:30 p.m., Channel 9, ESPN:
From a recent episode of “The Simpsons”: Homer is inside his head, arguing with his brain after he failed to control his bladder in bed. His brain complains that all he likes to do is watch reality shows. Homer responds: “I like to watch Lamar Odom play Xbox while his giant wife yells at him. Is that so nuts? Huh? Yeah, shut you up.” It could have shut up a lot of Lakers fans if the team had figured out a way to trade back for him at last week’s trading deadline, but it didn’t happen.
NBA: Clippers at Oklahoma City, 5 p.m., Prime:
A Blake Griffin homecoming, and another chance to posterize Kendrick Perkins.
College basketball: CollegeInsider.com Tournament quarterfinals: Loyola Marymount at Utah State, 6 p.m.:
The Lions of Westchester (21-12) are the only team around here we know of still in any kind of post-season games. For whatever this is worth.
College basketball: NCAA men’s tournament Sweet 16: Wisconsin vs. Syracuse, 4:15 p.m., Channel 2; Louisville vs. Michigan State, 4:47 p.m., TBS; Cincinnati vs. Ohio State, 6:45 p.m., Channel 2; Florida vs. Marquette, 7:15 p.m., TBS:
At least one of the four Ohio schools left at this point will be eliminated after this one, as the Bearcats face the East’s top-seeded Buckeyes in Boston.
NBA: Clippers at New Orleans, 5 p.m., Prime:
A homecoming of sorts for Chris Paul, right? See what kind of reaction he gets, and whether Chris Kaman tries to sneak on the Clippers’ flight out of town.
NHL: Kings vs. St. Louis, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
Who in the heck did these Blues climb to the top of the Western Conference? The reality is, these two could meet again in the first round of the playoffs. Take notes.
LPGA: Kia Classic, Carlsbad, first round, 3:30 p.m., Golf Channel:
Sandra Gal — yes, that’s her above — outlasted Jiyai Shin to earn her first LPGA victory in this event a year ago. The German hotshot hit a wedge from 83 yards to two feet for birdie on the 18th hole to defeat Shin by a stroke.
Golf: PGA Tour Arnold Palmer Invitational, Orlando, Fla., first round, noon, Golf Channel:
We’ll see if Tiger Woods is good enough to limp into this field in his newest hometown as prep work for the upcoming Masters. He’s won this thing six times in his career, using the Monday-Tuesday Tavistock Cup as a test. Meanwhile, NBC Publishing, in partnership with Golf Channel, announced the release of a new eBook edition of “Arnold Palmer: A Personal Journey,” by Thomas Hauser. The launch coincides with this event in the city where Golf Channel’s headquarters reside.
College basketball: NCAA men’s tournament Sweet 16: Baylor vs. Xavier, 4:15 p.m., Channel 2; North Carolina vs. Ohio, 4:47 p.m., TBS; Kentucky vs. Indiana, 6:45 p.m., Channel 2; Kansas vs. North Carolina State, 7:15 p.m., TBS:
The rematch between the Wildcats, top seeds in the South, and the Hooisers harkens back to Dec. 10, when Indiana won in Assembly Hall when Christian Watford hit a 3-pointer as time expired. It was Kentucky’s only regular-season loss. Meanwhile, North Carolina guard Kendall Marshall is a wait-and-see after his wrist injury last weekend.
NBA: Lakers vs. Portland, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
The Lakers beat the Blazers by 11 in their last meeting about a month ago in a game where they led 29-7 after the first quarter.
College basketball: NCAA men’s tournament Elite Eight: 1:20 p.m. and 3:40 p.m., Channel 2:
The West Regional in Phoenix will have either Michigan State, Louisville, Marquette or Florida as its champ. Sorry, kids, but that’s how the geography works.
NBA: Clippers vs. Memphis, Staples Center, noon, Prime:
It’s the first of five in a row at home. And, yes, Clipper Darrell is back in his seat in Section 107, all apparent differences resolved.
NHL: Kings vs. Boston, Staples Center, 6 p.m., FSW:
The defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins, leaders in the Eastern Conference’s Northeast Division, has only three overtime losses this year, the lowest figure in the league.
College basketball: NCAA men’s tournament Elite Eight: 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., Channel 2:
A North Carolina vs. North Carolina State matchup looms in St. Louis. The Tar Heels’ No. 1 seeding in this Midwest Region wouldn’t really be all that intimidating for the Wolfpack, now would it?
NBA: Lakers vs. Memphis, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW, ESPN:
The unusual later starting time for a Sunday home game has to do with national TV coverage. So if you’re late for work on Monday …
IndyCar: Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, 9:30 a.m., Channel 7:
The first IndyCar event of the season … or, three weeks away from the Long Beach Grand Prix.