THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF CHAMPIONSHIP:
OREGON vs. OHIO STATE
At Arlington, Tex., Monday at 5:30 p.m., ESPN:
Not that we remember, so we looked it up: The first NCAA men’s Division I basketball tournament took place in 1939 – eight teams were invited to the single-elimination event. Lo and behold, Oregon knocked off Ohio State, 46-33, for the championship. In this inaugural NCAA men’s Division I football championship, it must be some kind of destiny that the Ducks’ and Buckeyes’ victories in the Jan. 1 Rose and Sugar bowl semifinals brings them here. As well as the predictions that they’ll repeat that same basketball score 76 years later?
“On paper, I think so,” said ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit said of the teams that share 13-1 records. “But if you look at the championship games from recent years, with all the buildup, and hype and nerves, the scores end up being a whole lot lower than you’d think. That was when teams had 40 to 45 days to get prepared for each other. Now, it’s three weeks before the semifinals and 11 days later, they’re here.” ESPN play-by-play man Chris Fowler quickly did the math: “A 46-33 score means 79 points, and that’s not much different from the over-under in Vegas (many sports books have it at 75). But then, the last time Oregon went into a championship game, we were thinking it would be 52-50, and Auburn ended up beating Oregon 22-19 (in 2011) with both defenses playing better than they had all season. Personally, I’d hope it’s not like 22-19, but I like to think that if both offenses execute, they’re capable (of 46-33). That 52-50 may be a bit much again.”
What if a 26-17 outcome is more realistic? That’s what Ohio State, behind game MVP QB Terrelle Pryor, managed in a win over Jeremiah Masoli-led Oregon in the 2010 Rose Bowl, even though the Ducks were a five-point favorite. There’s also that 10-7 score from the 1958 Rose Bowl, when the No. 1-ranked and Woody Hayes-coached Buckeyes, a 19-point favorite, held off the unranked Webfoots (as the Ducks were called then) to claim the No. 1 UPI ranking (and share the national title with AP No. 1 Auburn).
Another thing to consider: Michigan State is a common opponent for the Ducks and Buckeyes in 2014. Oregon beat the Spartans by 19 at home in early September. Ohio State beat the Spartans by 12 at East Lansing, Mich., in early November. Those were the only two games MSU lost all season.
ALSO THIS WEEK:
NBA: LAKERS vs. CLEVELAND
Details/TV: Staples Center, Thursday at 7:30 p.m., TNT:
NBA: CLIPPERS vs. CLEVELAND
Details/TV: Staples Center, Friday at 7:30 p.m., ESPN:
We’ve seen more video lately of LeBron James Jr. on the court than his dad – the old man has missed the Cavs’ last eight games dealing with back and knee strains, yet he headed out on this currents West Coast road trip in hopes the warmer weather will thaw him out a bit quicker. With that, the Cavs target this game against the Lakers as his possible return. James’ 25.2 points a game ranks second in the league, but the recently-turned 30 year-old has yet to bring any magical powers back to Cleveland, a team that Vegas had down as to win 58 games before the season but has struggled to stay above .500 and recently lost a home game to the 76ers. The drama continues as first-year coach David Blatt tries to save his integrity integrating new acquisitions J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Timofey Mozgov with Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and James, whenever he’s back to participating.
The Lakers’ week includes a home game versus Miami (Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.) and at Utah (Friday, 6 p.m., FSW) around the Cavs’ visit. The Clippers’ week includes games at Northwest Division-leading Portland (Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., ESPN) and at Sacramento (Saturday, 7 p.m., Prime).
NHL: KINGS vs. DUCKS:
Details/TV: Staples Center, Saturday at 7 p.m., FSW, Channel 13:
The Ducks retired Teemu Selani’s No. 8 on Sunday night, so don’t get defensive that the Kings waited until this date to officially retire the No. 4 worn by Rob Blake, the recent Hockey Hall of Fame inductee and franchise leader in games played, goals, assists and points by a defenseman. Why did this take so long to honor Blake, the current assistant GM and the sixth King to have his jersey hung from the rafters? The Kings and Ducks split a home-and-home Freeway Faceoff adventure back on Nov. 12 and 15. The Ducks won a shootout at home and, three days later, the Kings prevailed at Staples Center in OT. The Kings used Jonathan Quick in both those games, but the Ducks had ex-King Jason LaBarbera in goal for their win and Frederik Andersen in the loss. Now, veteran Ilya Bryzgalov has circled back to join the roster as Andersen’s backup and could see action here on the second of a back-to-back night. The teams have two more regular season meetings on Feb. 27 and March 18, both in Anaheim.
This week, the Kings and Ducks face Toronto and New Jersey at home leading up to their meeting. Toronto, which just fired coach Randy Carlyle, meet the Kings on Monday and the Ducks on Wednesday. New Jersey, trying out some kind of co-coaching rotation with Adam Oates, Scott Stevens and GM Lou Lamoriello since firing Peter DeBoer, are at the Kings on Wednesday and the Ducks on Friday.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL: UCLA at USC
Details/TV: Galen Center, Wednesday at 6 p.m., ESPN2:
ESPN sends wandering Bill Walton through the weeds, with the hope he can bike over to call this one between the two programs struggling to stay out of the Pac-12 basement. Walton’s Grateful Dead basement tapes may provide more courtside entertainment. UCLA won both meetings last season, by a total of 44 points. The Trojans haven’t defeated the Bruins at home since Jan., 2011, which at the time marked their fourth straight win over their rival.
THE REST OF THE WEEK:
Gonzaga, up to No. 3 in the national polls, makes its SoCal swing by playing at Pepperdine (Thursday, 7:30 p.m.) and at Loyola Marymount (Saturday, 1 p.m.) … The NFL’s NFC and AFC title games have their TV spots picked out Sunday on Channel 11 at noon and Channel 2 at 3:30 p.m. … The rest of the week linked here.