THIS WEEK’S BEST BET
GOLF: THE 78th MASTERS
At Augusta, Ga.
Thursday-Sunday, ESPN and Channel 2:
Before we get into who’s going to pay the $50,000 to replace that broken Eisenhower Tree, it’s back to Tiger Woods – he’s still not playing. The 1997, 2001, 2002 and 2005 winner is recouping from surgery to fix up a nagging back that has plagued him the last few weeks. So Phil Mickelson isn’t playing 100 percent healthy, either. Doesn’t that open the green door for someone to go out there and attack Augusta National, knowing this is about as great a chance as you’ll have to win this thing? Can you get too pumped up? “If you’re out there on the golf course thinking about, gee, I’ve got to do this or that because Tiger, Phil or whoever is not playing well, you’ve got no chance,” says ESPN golf analyst Andy North. “That course will eat you up. So you’d better be worrying about what you’re doing.” We’ll remember that advice next time we’re genuflecting around Amen Corner.
Odds makers like Rory McIlroy’s chances now either way, as Bovada.lv has made him the 7-to-1 favorite, with defending champion Adam Scott a close second (9-1). Mickelson still is in the ballpark at 12-1 with Jason Day at 14-1. Day hasn’t played since a win in February’s WGC Accenture Match, healing up from a left thumb injury. Day was third behind Scott and Angel Cabrera last year at seven-under. Scott could be the first since Woods to win back-to-back jackets. The world No. 2 player has three top 10 finishes this year. Then there’s Steve Stricker, the man who has never won a major, with a sixth place finish at Augusta in 2009 his best performance there. The No. 15 ranked player in the world is the one to keep an eye on this time.
ESPN has the Par 3 contest on Wednesday (noon), the first two rounds on Thursday and Friday (noon), CBS has the third round Saturday (noon) and final round Sunday (11 a.m.).
BEST OF THE REST:
NCAA MEN’S NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
UCONN vs. KENTUCKY
At Arlington, Tex., 6 p.m., Channel 2:
So there’s that Kentucky fan who went out before the SEC tournament — before his Wildcats were given an eighth seed in the Midwest Region and plowed over top-seed Wichita State, fourth-seed Louisville and second-seeds Michigan and Wisconsin along the way to getting to the championship game — and got all kinds of grief for the new tattoo on his calf proclaiming “2014 NATION9L CHAMPIONS UK.” It was “overconfident fan” (in the words of SportsIllustrated.com) Tyler Austin Black who has re-defined the word “prophetic” (why may actually rhyme with “pathetic.”) As Black wrote on his Twitter account when he sent out a photo of the tattoo: “People are gonna hate, but I still got faith.” If Kentucky wins, it will be the program’s ninth NCAA title (hence, the 9 in Black’s tattoo). Not bad for a team that came into the tournament unranked after have the pre-season No. 1 spot based on the fact that John Calipari’s team was loaded with star freshmen. If the equally surprising seventh-seed UConn has a shot, maybe it’ll come from one-time Taft High of Woodland Hills standout DeAndre Daniels, the 6-foot-9 junior from L.A. who scored 20 points with 10 rebounds in the 10-point upset over No. 1 ranked Florida in the semifinals.
MLB: DODGERS vs. DETROIT
At Dodger Stadium, 7 p.m., SportsNet L.A.:
VegasInsider.com has the Dodgers at 8-to-1 favorites, just ahead of the 9-to-1 Tigers, as a future bet to win the 2014 World Series. Come October, they may even forget they actually played this two-game interleague series. Max Scherzer, last year’s AL Cy Young Award winner (21-3, 2.91 ERA), has turned down a long-term offer by the Tigers to stick around before he becomes a free agent, but he’s betting on himself to have a huge year and see what happens. That started against Kansas City in the Tigers’ second game of the season when he threw eight shutout innings and struck out seven in getting a no-decision. Scherzer is schedule to pitch this one against Dan Haren.
The series continues:
Wednesday, 7 p.m., SportsNet L.A.
NBA: LAKERS vs HOUSTON
Staples Center, 7:30 p.m. TNT:
What does Dwight Howard have to gain, even if he sits on the bench again wearing a bow tie?
NCAA WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP: NOTRE DAME vs. UCONN/STANFORD
at Nashville, Tenn., 5:30 p.m., ESPN:
Going into this Female Final Four, the 38-0 Huskies — UConn’s other title-bound hoops team — simply looked unstoppable behind sophomore guard Breanna Stewart, the Most Outstanding Player in last year’s Final Four. Then again, 32-0 Notre Dame has stayed unbeaten all season, too.
NBA: CLIPPERS vs. OKLAHOMA CITY
Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime, ESPN:
It would be nice to get Jamaal Crawford and/or Danny Granger back into the rotation before the playoffs start — especially against the Thunder. But Clippers coach Doc Rivers, no medical expert, isn’t counting on it. He’s still trying to make sure Glen Davis doesn’t revert to a big baby again
NHL: KINGS at CALGARY, 7 p.m., Channel 13:
Yup, Flames have already been eliminated.
NHL: KINGS at EDMONTON, 6:30 p.m., FSW:
Yup, Oilers have already been eliminated.
MOVIE: “DRAFT DAY”:
Opens in theaters nationwide:
Cleveland Browns general manager Sonny Weaver Jr. (Kevin Costner) has just traded up with the Seattle Seahawks for the No. 1 overall choice in the 2014 NFL Draft. Now, who’s he gonna take. Consulting with his cap-space specialist (Jennifer Gardner), his coach (Denis Leary) and his mother (Ellen Burstyn), Sonny boy finally decides …. Well, that decision hasn’t been included in any of the trailers we’ve seen. You’ll just have to wait. At least it arrives a full month before the “real” NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall in early May.
MLB: DODGERS at ARIZONA
6:40 p.m., SportsNet L.A.:
Before anyone jumps into that right-field pool again, make sure you wait more than an hour after eating one of those Chase Field $25 corn dogs, OK? Sales of that foodie beast have been so successful on the D’backs’ first home stand that they had to limit production and regroup during the team’s road trip in hopes of loading up when the Dodgers came into town. The 18-inch dog stuffed with cheddar cheese, jalapenos and bacon is called the “D-Bat.” That’s what you get with so many food channels these days. The Rangers have something called the “Choomongus” (a two-foot Asian-spice beef sandwich for $26) and the White Sox are peddling a 3-pound, 12-schoop sundae in a full-sized batting helmet for $17.
The series continues:
Saturday at 5:10 p.m., SportsNet L.A.
Sunday at 1:10 p.m., SportsNet L.A.
MLB: ANGELS vs. NEW YORK METS
At Angel Stadium, 7:10 p.m., FSW:
Terry Collins has somehow lasted longer than some may have suspected as manager of the New York Mets – three seasons leading into 2014, with a new that that sends him through 2016 at the club’s option. Not so long ago, the Angels gave Collins a vote of confidence to remain as their manager. He led the team to AL West second-place finishes in 1997 and ’98, and general manager Bill Bavasi was ready to extend his deal past 1999. But Collins decided to quit with 29 games left in that season after the players asked Bavasi to get rid of him. Bavasi then hired Mike Scioscia as the full-time manager, a job he’s managed to keep ever since.
The series continues:
Saturday at 6:10 p.m., FSW
Sunday at 12:35 p.m., FSW
NBA: LAKERS vs GOLDEN STATE
Staples Center, 7:30 p.m, TWC SportsNet:
Last chance for Klay Thompson to light up the L.A. scoreboard.
NHL: KINGS vs. DUCKS
Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSW, KDOC:
They’re taking orders at the TeamLA store for the “Go Kings Go” black T-shirts they hope will be visible once the team starts the playoffs. One more thing to order up is a moral victory over their rivals. The Ducks have won the last three Freeway Faceoff games, including 2-1 back on March 15. This is important why? The way things are lining up, if each team gets past its first-round playoff series, there’s a strong likelihood they’ll meet in the second round based on seedings.
MANNY PACQUAIO vs. TIMOTHY BRADLEY
At MGM Grand in Las Vegas, 6 p.m., pay-per-view ($69.95):
Pacquaio appeared on Jimmy Kimmel’s show last week as a guest, but he also took part in a spoof commercial where he offered his services to anyone who was having trouble collecting money in their NCAA Tournament pools. You know, give the deadbeats a beating. “Don’t get mad, get Manny,” said the announcer. “If your friends own you money, I will punch them in the face,” Pacquaio proclaims. Is Timothy Bradley laughing? Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KOs) said later on the show he thinks he beat Bradley (31-0, 12 KOs) in their controversial 2012 bout, one that ended so screwy that the Nevada state attorney general looked into anything that could have been illegal or criminally connected to it. “Because of the pride and because of ego, he claims that he won the fight,” Pacquiao told Kimmel. Who’s to blame for that? “The last time, I was too nice to him in the ring,” Pacquiao said “This time, I’ll finish the fight, then I can be nice.” That would be nice.
NBA: CLIPPERS vs SACRAMENTO
Staples Center, 12:30 p.m., Prime:
At long as it doesn’t go into OT, the Staples Center’s change-the-floor crew is OK with it.
AFL: L.A. KISS vs. CLEVELAND
Honda Center, 7 p.m., Channel 9:
Based on the home opener, ear plugs required.
NCAA MEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
at Philadelphia, 4:30 p.m., ESPN:
Boston College faces Union (N.Y.) in one semifinal (Thursday, 2 p.m., ESPN2) and Minnesota takes on North Dakota in the other semi (Thursday, 5:30 p.m., Thursday) before the winners face off.
IRL GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH
1 p.m., NBC Sports Net:
Takuma Sato became the first Japanese driver to win an IndyCar series race when he sped past Will Power with 30 laps to go and didn’t look back. It also gave A.J. Foyt Enterprises his first win on the circuit since 2002. “It was just a perfect weekend to be honest,” Sato said. “The team did a tremendous job – pit stops, the right calls, the power was great and I was comfortable in the car and able to push everything.”
NBCSN has Saturday’s qualifying (3 p.m.) and Sunday’s Indy Lights race (11:30 a.m.). What more you need to know about getting around Long Beach for the event at this link.
NBA: LAKERS vs. MEMPHIS
Staples Center, 6:30 p.m., TWC SportsNet:
Mercifully, the last Lakers home game of the regular season. And Pau Gasol likely won’t be there to elbow his brother, Mark, because his head is still spinning from all that’s happened this season.