Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET
College basketball season openers: UCLA vs. Indiana State, Pauley Pavilion, Friday at 8 p.m., Prime Ticket; USC vs. Coppin State, Galen Center, Friday at 8 p.m., Pac-12 Network; Cal State Northridge vs. Pepperdine, Matadome, Friday at 7:30 p.m.; Loyola Marymount vs. Pacifica, Gersten Pavilion, Friday at 7 p.m.; Long Beach State vs. North Alabama, Pyramid, Saturday at 3 p.m.:
When the $5 million Edwin W. Pauley Pavilion opened on the UCLA campus for its first basketball game on Nov. 27, 1965, the Bruins’ freshman team, led by Lew Alcindor, knocked off the varsity squad in an exhibition, 75-60. That varsity team just came off back-to-back NCAA titles. Forty-seven years later, the place is about to have another giant awakening. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (the former Alcindor) is expected to be among the former UCLA greats who’ll christen the refurbished building, now expanded from 12,800 to 13,800 seats at the mere cost of $136 million. The pending arrival (waiting for NCAA approval) of two new star freshmen – Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson – to go along with transfer Larry Drew II (Taft High) and 6-foot-10 twins Travis and David Wear is enough for AP voters to rank Ben Howland’s team at No. 13 in the preseason polls. The reason UCLA starts this year against Indiana State – it’s the school where John Wooden coached before he came to L.A. and won 10 national titles. And they’ve set aside a yellow seat in the late coach’s honor.
Aside from the season openers for the Trojans, Matadors, Waves, Lions and 49ers, there’s also the exotic first games from three Navy ships — the USS Midway (San Diego State vs. Syracuse in San Diego, Friday at 5 p.m., Prime Ticket), USS Bataan (Georgetown vs. Florida in Jacksonville, Fla., Friday at 6 p.m., NBC Sports Network), the USS Yorktown (Ohio State vs. Marquette in Charleston, S.C., Friday at 4 p.m., NBC Sports Network) — as well as in Kaiserslautern, Germany (the Armed Forces Classic: UConn vs. Michigan State, Friday at 2:30 p.m., ESPN) and in Brooklyn (Kentucky vs. Maryland, Friday at 5:30 p.m., ESPN).
BEST OF THE REST
NFL Week 9: Philadelphia at New Orleans, 5:30 p.m., ESPN:
The halftime entertainment: A Chris Berman interview with President Obama and Gov. Romney. Sorry.
College football: Ball State at Toledo, 5 p.m. ESPN:
There’s an election going on. Why are you watching this?
Clippers vs. San Antonio, Staples Center, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., Prime, ESPN:
The Spurs’ sweep of the Clippers in the second round of the playoffs a year ago was a reminder that Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili didn’t have the best record in the West by accident. Their 3-0 start isn’t a fluke, either. Meanwhile, the Clippers also spend the week with home games against Cleveland (tonight, 7:30 p.m., Prime) and Atlanta (Sunday, 12:30 p.m., Prime).
MLS Western Conference semifinals: Leg two – Galaxy at San Jose, Wednesday, 8 p.m.:
Maybe the last game you’ll see David Beckham in a Galaxy uniform? He’s got one year left on his contract, but a chance to quit at age 37 and perhaps exercise his option to buy the team may look better.
Drag racing: 48th NHRA Finals, Pomona Fairplex, first day qualifying, 1 p.m.:
Antron Brown, with a 65 point lead over Tony Schumacher in the Top Fuel standings going into the final event of the season, can be the first African-American driver to win a major U.S. motorsports championship – and the first to do so after transitioning from motorcycles to top-fuel dragsters. Pretty cool for a guy who ran fast enough in the 100-meters in 1997 to qualify for U.S. Olympic trials. In the hilarious Funny Cars, Carlsbad’s Ron Capps, who has three second-place finishes in the overall standings, won in Las Vegas two weeks ago is only four points behind leader Jack Beckman looking for his first career title coming into the final event of the season. Courtney Force, in sixth place at 238 points back, leads her dad, John Force, by 44 points. Qualifying continues Friday (1 p.m.) and Saturday (11 a.m.) with Sunday eliminations starting at 11 a.m. ESPN2 has the Saturday qualifying (7:45 p.m.) and Sunday finals (3 p.m.).
NFL Week 10: Indianapolis at Jacksonville, 5:20 p.m., NFL Network:
Andrew Luck already has four 300-yard passing games, tying the NFL rookie record with Peyton Manning. Another 300-yarder against the Jags? Heck, he could eclipse the 433 record he had last week in the Colts’ win over Miami.
Lakers vs. Golden State, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., TWC SportsNet:
Maybe the Lakers just lack a warrior mentality at this point? These 2-1 Warriors have already been hit by a key injury – reserve guard Brandon Rush is out for the year with a torn ACL. The other key games this week: at Utah (Wednesday at 6 p.m., TWC SportsNet) and versus Sacramento ( Staples Center, Sunday at 6:30 p.m., TWC SportsNet).
College football: USC vs. Arizona State, Coliseum, noon, Pac-12 Network:
After giving up 99 points and 1,348 yards in their last two losses, dropping from 9 to 17 to 21 in the AP poll over the last three weeks, the Trojans have a Homecoming game against a Sun Devils team that handed them a 43-22 loss a year ago in Tempe. ASU (5-4) won its first three Pac-12 games but lost the last three, despite averaging 30 points a game over that span. Sun Devils sophomore quarterback Taylor Kelly is third in the Pac-12 with a 156.8 QB rating, one spot down from Matt Barkley (163.3). Junior defensive tackle Will Sutton, leading the conference with 9.5 sacks, is back from injury.
College football: UCLA at Washington State, 7:30 p.m., ESPN2:
Mike Leach, supposedly a candidate for the not-yet open UCLA job last offseason, jumped on the WSU spot instead before he would wait any longer, and now he finds himself with the Cougars 0-6 in conference after getting hammered at Utah, 49-6. It’s not like he can criticize his “empty corpse-quality” seniors again, right? The only thing that might slow down these Bruins, who have passed USC in the BSC standings at No. 18, is a whole lot of cold snow and sleet in the upper northwest.
College football: Texas A&M at Alabama, 12:30 p.m., Channel 2; Oregon State at Stanford, 12:30 p.m., Channel 11; West Virginia at Oklahma State, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7; Mississippi State at LSU, 4 p.m., ESPN; Kansas State at TCU, 4 p.m., Channel 11; Notre Dame at Boston College, 5 p.m., Channel 7; Oregon at Cal, 7:30 p.m., ESPN:
The Irish, with a computer ranking of No. 2 but sliding back to No. 4 in the latest overall BCS, do much better on the road this season than at home. With No. 1 Albama and No. 2 Kansas State facing a decent challenge, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see No. 3 Oregon slide up into a final two seat.
NASCAR: AdvoCare 500, Avondale, Ariz., Sunday at noon, ESPN:
The next-to-last Chase race, with a surging Jimmie Johnson clinging to a seven-point lead over Brad Keselowski as they trade body blows all the way down the stretch.
NFL Week 10: Houston at Chicago, 5:20 p.m., Channel 4; San Diego at Tampa Bay, 10 a.m., Channel 2; Dallas at Philadelphia, 1:25 p.m., Channel 11:
OK, so Norv Turner saved his job for one week. Does