Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET
SUPER BOWL XLVIII in New Orleans: San Francisco vs. Baltimore, 3:25 p.m., Channel 2:
One of the first volleys in the Harbaugh-vs.-Harbaugh Super Bro Bowl storyline was launched last week from the Twitter account of The Sporting Scene, which is the sports blog of New Yorker magazine: “A reminder that Jim Harbaugh was on ‘Saved By The Bell: The New Class.’ Your move, John.” Unfortunately, there was also a YouTube clip attached. Which brings the storyline to a screeching halt by leading us to believe that that Jim Harbaugh was the cousin of Screech. Which must also imply there’s some DNA shared with John Harbaugh. Oh, how this all must look so many years later.
As Chuck Culpepper points out on SportsOnEarth.com, trying to rank the Harbaughs in the entire world of sports siblings, John and Jim have a collective seven NFL playoff berths, two Super Bowl appearances, a 78-33 NFL coaching record, one Orange Bowl victory, 26,288 NFL passing yards and 129 touchdown passes. And on his list, they rank 10th. (The winners: The NHL’s six Sutter brothers, one of whom has a Stanley Cup in L.A.) But it was the same writer who also said, a few days earlier, he was already weary of the storyline hype, and quoted John Harbaugh as saying: “You know what, I agree with you, let’s just cut that right now. We did that last year [when the teams played on Thanksgiving]. It got old last year. You’re right, move past that and let’s talk about the two teams.”
With that, the other storylines that’ll be beaten to death before the game is played:
== It’s the last game for Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis, so he says.
== Does NFL commish Roger Goodell need extra body guards in “Bountygate”-ville?
== When does Joe Flacco stop getting flack for not being an “elite” quarterback?
== What tattoo will Colin Kaepernick add if the 49ers win, if there is any real estate left?
== Does San Francisco realize it is 5-0 all time in Super Bowls?
== What’s really in a Hurricane cocktail at Pat O’Brien’s?
BEST OF THE REST:
GOLF: Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, conclusion of final round, 1 p.m., Channel 2:
Tiger Woods is left with some unfinished business because darkness fell and the tourney isn’t over. This will almost feel like the final round of the 2008 U.S. Open, won’t it? He’s got seven career wins on the course, including that major.
NBA: Lakers vs. New Orleans, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., TWC SportsNet:
Onion rings for those who show.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL: USC at UCLA, Pauley Pavilion, 7 p.m., Pac-12 Network:
Reggie Miller gets his No. 31 retired in halftime ceremonies at this one – most likely, with Trojan alum and sister Cheryl present (her No. 31 has already been shelved by the Trojans’ womens team). The Bruins have won the last three in a row against the Trojans, including that unmemorable visit back to the Sports Arena last February (a UCLA home game) when the Wear twins combined for 30 points and 24 rebounds. USC also out-rebounded USC 46-25 in the 64-54 victory that wasn’t even that close. For the record, the Bruins lead the all-time series 131-104. Even that doesn’t seem to indicate how un-close the difference in the programs are. The Trojans would have to sweep the annual home-and-home series for the next 15 years to get it back to .500. USC, under interim head coach Bob Cantu, continues to be last in the Pac-12 in rebounding despite having three 7-footers.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Oregon at Stanford, Wednesday at 8 p.m., ESPNU:
Have the tape recorder ready: It’s Brent Musburger with Bill Walton on the call.
NBA: Clippers at Minnesota, 5 p.m., Prime; Lakers at Phoenix, 7:30 p.m., ESPN, TWC SportsNet:
Grammy excursion, commence. This is the Clippers’ first of eight in a row away from Staples Center, while the Lakers start a seven-game roadie, and neither are allowed to come back until after the Feb. 10 show. The Clippers’ 13-7 road mark is third-best in the entire NBA; the Lakers’ 5-15 mark is third-worst in the West, and it doesn’t show much hope of getting much better in what could be another tipping point to this season.
GOLF: PGA Waste Management Phoenix Open, Scottsdale, Ariz., first round, noon, Golf Channel:
What a waste this is played on a weekend where there’s already so much attention about the Super Bowl recycled stories. Compost your schedule to get all four rounds in. Golf Channel has the first two rounds; NBC has the final two Saturday and Sunday.
NHL: Kings vs. Nashville, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW:
Back-to-back home games for the Kings won’t happen again until Feb. 23-25.
NBA: Clippers at Toronto, 4 p.m., Prime; Lakers at Minnesota, 6:30 p.m., ESPN, TWC SportsNet:
Prepare to catch a cold.
NHL: Kings at Ducks, Honda Center, 7 p.m, FSW, Prime:
There’s as much head scratching concerning the Kings’ sluggish start as there is as to why the Ducks don’t seem to be too bothered by the shortened training camp. It’s the Ducks, for quack’s sake, who are now eligible to receive funds from revenue sharing because they’ve been far less than mighty in recent years. Having missed the playoffs a year ago when the Kings won the whole thing last year, there’s certainly more motivation for Anaheim to prove it’s not going to duck this challenge, with Teemu Selanne cranking it up for another run.
NFL: Pro Football Hall of Fame announcement, Saturday at 2:30 p.m., NFL Network:
It would be fitting for former Ravens owner Art Model as well as former 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr. go into the Hall this weekend (although, who in Canton, Ohio would welcome in Model?) They’re on the list of the 17 finalists for the Selection Committee, along with the Ravens’ (and former UCLA star) offensive lineman Jonathan Ogden, Steelers (and one-time L.A. Rams) running back Jerome Bettis, Raiders receiver Tim Brown and two-time Super Bowl coach Bill Parcells.
NBA: Clippers at Boston, 10 a.m., Prime; Lakers at Detroit, 10 a.m., TWC SportsNet:
Over on ESPN right after this, it’s Chris Paul bowling. Seriously.