THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:
COLLEGE BASKETBALL: NCAA MEN’S TOURNAMENT FINAL FOUR:
DUKE vs. MICHIGAN STATE
KENTUCKY vs. WISCONSIN
Details/TV: At Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Saturday at 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.:
A one, a one, a one and … a seven? Michigan State’s belated RSVP to the Final Four as the second team out of the Big Ten to quality could have taken a lot of college basketball followers by surprise. But as long as Tom Izzo is in charge, why would it really be such a thing seeing his seventh-seeded team in the East Region squirm past a No. 2, 3 and 4 seed to get to the seventh Final Four in his career? Now that we’re somewhat up to speed with Magic Johnson’s latest dream team, having seen the senior leadership of guard Travis Trice and forward Brandon Dawson, plus junior guard Denzel Valentine, we’re looking down this roster and we see … this 5-foot-10 freshman named Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn Jr.
Where did the name come from?
His father, of course – Lourawls Nairn Sr., a construction worker in the Bahamas, whose parents named him after the singer. His nickname is a reference to the youngest brother of the “3 Ninjas” movies who was known for his ability to eat over anything else. His mom, Monalisa McKinney, was a bartender who had sickle cell disease and was told she’d never have kids. But she did. Narin Jr. didn’t start playing organized basketball until he was 12, having learned to play while shooting at crates nailed to wooden backboards that were hung from trees. He left home to play at a Christian prep academy in South Florida, then matriculated to another Christian school in Bel Air, Kansas before he found his way to East Lansing, Mich. When Izzo finally put him in the starting lineup on Feb. 10, the Spartans have gone 12-3. He may have only played 19 minutes and scored but three points with one assist in the Spartans’ OT win over Louisville in the East Regional final, but his teammates wouldn’t have it any other way than with him starting now. “If there’s somebody that you want to go to war with … he’s somebody that you want to go to war with,” says Spartans forward Marvin Clark Jr.
THE REST OF THIS WEEK:
A five-game road trip ends for the Kings in Chicago (Monday, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN) … Bob Baffert’s Dortmund will likely go off as the favorite in the 78th Santa Anita Derby (Saturday, 3:30 p.m., TVG) … The Clippers’ meeting at Staples Center against Golden State (Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. TNT) may be more important but it will not draw as much attention as their contest against the Lakers (Sunday, 6:30 p.m., SportsNet L.A. and Prime Ticket) … The Dodgers-Angels Faux Freeway Series goes to Angel Stadium (Thursday and Friday, 7 p.m.) before landing at Dodger Stadium (Saturday, 6 p.m.) to close the exhibition season … Find more at this link.