Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:
Our bracket has been perfect to date. A perfect mess.
We shouldn’t be shocked by now, because nowhere is it messier than in the wild, wild West Region. Expect more zigging and less Zag-ing with the four survivors who have a fortuitous meeting at Staples Center as part of the Sweet 16.
After the round of 32, left by the wayside are West Regional seeds 1 (Gonzaga), 3 (New Mexico), 4 (Kansas State), 5 (Wisconsin), 7 (Notre Dame) and 8 (Pittsburgh). The last five of them went out after the first full day. Now it’s a “Who’s What?” coming to L.A. Where’s the star power? Arizona (27-7), who lost three times to UCLA during the season and couldn’t get a sniff of the Pac-12 title, is our most recognizable suspect in this survival pool with senior Solomon Hill (Fairfax High) and junior Jordin Mayes (Westchester), who helped figure out the best way to outsmart Harvard in the third round. Wichita State (28-8) may have seemingly the easiest path to an Elite Eight, but they’ll likely get a road block by the winner of Arizona-Ohio State in Saturday West Regional final.
How will this end up? We’re likely to get better answers if we sent that AT&T guy to sit at the tiny round table with kindergarten students and ask them if a higher seed is better than having a low seed at this point in the Big Dance.
Elsewhere, with UCLA, Colorado and Cal already punched out, there’s a shot that Pac-12 tournament champ Oregon, a ridiculously low 12 seed, can conquer Midwest No. 1 seed and overall favorite Louisville on Friday (4:15 p.m., Channel 2).
The rest of the games:
Marquette vs. Miami in Washington D.C., 4:15 p.m., Channel 2
Syracuse vs. Indiana in Washington D.C., approx. 6:45 p.m., Channel 2
Kansas vs. Michigan in North Texas, 4:37 p.m., TBS
Michigan State vs. Duke in Indianapolis, approx. 7 p.m., Channel 2
Florida Gulf Coast vs. Florida in North Texas, approx. 7:15 p.m., TBS
BEST OF THE REST:
NCAA WOMEN’S TOURNAMENT:
Round of 32:
UCLA vs. Oklahoma, at Columbus, Ohio, 4 p.m., ESPN2:
The Bruins (26-7) meet up with the Sooners (23-10) for the second time this season, having already won at Oklahoma, 86-80 when Thea Lemberger scored 18 points and Oklahoma native Alyssia Brewer added15 points and 16 rebounds. The Bruins outrebounded the Sooners 57-33. Win this, and the Bruins likely face Tennessee in the regional at Oklahoma City on Easter Sunday.
NHL: Kings at Chicago, 5 p.m., NBC Sports Channel:
Coming off back-to-back shutout losses, the Kings are also banished from Staples Center and have a five-game excursion that starts against the Western Conference’s latest dream team. Kings coach Daryl Sutter, has been stuck on 451 career wins and could use one more to pass his brother, Brian, for 21st place on the all-time coaching victory list.
NBA: Lakers at Golden State, 7:30 p.m., TWC SportsNet:
With Staples Center tied up this week because of the NCAA tournament, it sounds like another mini Grammy excursion all over again. The Lakers start a four-game roadie here trying to stay healthy, happy and hoping no one else is really interested in that No. 8 spot. The Warriors? No thanks. They’re content with No. 6 right now.
Kings, Galaxy visit the White House:
The AEG-orchestrated combined visit to the District forces the Kings to go an extra 1,000 miles overnight after playing in Chicago just to be honored by President Obama for last season’s Stanley Cup victory. And then they have to share the moment with the Galaxy, also break up their routine and make a return trip after coming by after the 2011 MLS Cup last May. Somehow, blame Tim Leiweke for all this. Will he actually show up with Beckham in tow?
NBA: Clippers at Dallas, 6:30 p.m., TNT:
The Clippers may have clinched a playoff spot but they’ve slipped below Denver in the West to the No. 4 spot. Maybe they need another 17-game win streak to counterbalance the 15-game streak that the Nuggets are on.
2014 WORLD CUP QUALIFIER: U.S. at Mexico, 6:30 p.m., ESPN:
Now, if only it would snow in Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium, the Americans would have a distinct advantage. This rivalry could use a new wrinkle as the U.S. team still defrosts after its 1-0 win over Costa Rica during a Rocky Mountain snowstorm in Denver last week. Will the U.S. injury bug come back to haunt them against El Tri?
NBA: Lakers at Minnesota, 5 p.m., TWC SportsNet:
Rick Adleman has already told Timberwolves’ management he may just walk away as the coach after this season. Why wait to get fired when you’re team is 20 games under .500?
NBA: Clippers at New Orleans, 5 p.m., Prime:
Just change your jersey tops now to Pelicans and see if anyone notices.
NBA: Lakers at Milwaukee, 5 p.m., TWC SportsNet:
Don’t have to remind you how the Lakers do on back-to-back nights.
NHL: Kings at St. Louis, 5 p.m., FSW:
The Kings have already scored 10 goals in two games against two different Blues goalies this season.
NBA: Clippers at San Antonio, 5:30 p.m., Prime:
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich earned his 900th regular-season win the other night. Nearly all of them have come this year. One was against the Clippers — by 26 points, on Feb. 21.
Exhibition: Dodgers vs. Angels, Dodger Stadium, 7 p.m.:
Will the paint still be wet on all the stadium improvements when this next-to-last practice game happens? The Dodgers got out of Arizona after Wednesday and sent a split squad to play the Angels in Anaheim on Thursday (7 p.m.) and the other half over at Rancho Cucamonga (6 p.m.) They’ll also face off again in Anaheim on Saturday (6:05 p.m.) before taking Easter off, the day before the real thing starts on Monday, April 1.
MLS: Galaxy at Toronto, 11 a.m., TWC SportsNet:
The Galaxy extended their White House visit with a journey north of the border against Toronto, which recently ended a 15-game winless streak.
NBA: Lakers at Sacramento, 7 p.m., TWC SportsNet:
The Lakers’ last trip to the Sleep Train Arena was like a bad dream — a 16-point loss. “If we’re going to play Showtime, my God, they just closed the whole theatre on us,” coach Mike D’Antoni said after the game. “Showtime, are you kidding? It was Muppet Time.”
NBA: Clippers at Houston, 5 p.m., Prime:
The Clippers shot 77 percent and scored 46 points in the first quarter of their win over the Rockets back on Feb. 13. They only scored 60 over the last three quarters.
NHL: Kings at Minnesota, 5 p.m., FSW:
The Wild, who ended last week on a five-game win streak, are third in the league on the penalty kill with a 86.2 percentage.
NHL: Kings at Dallas, 3 p.m., FSW:
The Stars knocked off the Kings twice in the last two weeks, with Jaromir Jagr acting as if his age (41) is no problem.
MLB: Texas at Houston, 5 p.m., ESPN:
This one is real. And not an interleague game. Get used to it. Bud Norris, the former Cal Poly standout who went 7-13 a year ago, is Houston’s Opening Day starter, no matter what Roger Clemens thinks. The Astros may also be mathematically eliminated in the AL West after this is over.