03.18.19: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

black 1Your bracket is already busted, right? Because you had Indiana and UCLA meeting in the final. The men’s NCAA basketball tournament has yet to start, and no one really wants to hear you complaining. How that all 68 slots have been filled, as well as those taking the consolation route through the NIT and others, we’ll just go eat some ants and see how UC Irvine (vs. Kansas State at San Jose, Friday at 11 a.m., TBS) defines the Southern California hoop experience.
The schedule of games most important for the first round:
Play in games at Dayton, Ohio:
Tuesday:
Fairleigh Dickinson vs. Prairie View A&M, 3:40 p.m., truTV
Belmont vs. Temple, 6:10 p.m., truTV
Wednesday:
NC Central vs. North Dakota State, 3:40 p.m., truTV
Arizona State vs. St. John’s, 6:10 p.m., truTV
First round Thursday:
Minnesota vs. Louisville at Des Moines, Iowa, 9:15 a.m., Channel 2
Yale vs. LSU at Jacksonville, Fla., 9:40 a.m., truTV
New Mexico State vs. Auburn at Salt Lake City, Utah, 10:30 a.m., TNT
Vermont vs. Florida State at Hartford, Conn., 11 a.m., TBS
Bradley vs. Michigan State at Des Moines, Iowa, 11:45 a.m., Channel 2
Maryland vs. Belmont/Temple at Jacksonville, Fla., 12:10 p.m., truTV
Northeastern vs. Kansas at Salt Lake City, Utah, 1 p.m., TNT
Murray State vs. Marquette at Hartford, Conn., 1:30 p.m., TBS
Florida vs. Nevada at Des Moines, Iowa, 3:50 p.m., TNT
Kentucky vs. Abilene Christian at Jacksonville, Fla., 4:10 p.m., Channel 2
Saint Mary’s vs. VIllanova at Hartford, Conn., 4:20 p.m., TBS
Gonzaga vs. Fairleigh Dickinson/Prairie View A&M at Salt Lake City, Utah, 4:27 p.m., truTV
Michigan vs. Montana at Des Moines, Iowa, 6:20 p.m., TNT
Seton Hall vs. Wofford at Jacksonville, Fla., 6:40 p.m., Channel 2
Purdue vs. Old Dominion at Hartford, Conn., 6:50 p.m., TBS
Baylor vs. Syracuse at Salt Lake City, Utah, 6:57 p.m., truTV
First round Friday:
Cincinnati vs. Iowa at Columbus, Ohio, 9:15 a.m., Channel 2
Oklahoma vs. Mississippi at Columbia, S.C., 9:40 a.m., truTV
Northern Kentucky vs. Texas Tech at Tulsa, Okla., 10:30 a.m., TNT
Tennessee vs. Colgate at Columbus, Ohio, 11:45 a.m., Channel 2
Virginia vs. Gardner-Webb at Columbia, S.C., 12:10 p.m., truTV
Buffalo vs. Arizona State/St. John’s at Tulsa, Okla., 1 p.m., TNT
Wisconsin vs. Oregon at San Jose, 1:30 p.m., TBS
Washington vs. Utah State at Columbus, Ohio, 3:50 p.m., TNT
Duke vs. NC Central/North Dakota State at Columbia, S.C., 4:10 p.m., Channel 2
Houston vs. Georgia State at Tulsa, Okla., 4:20 p.m., TBS
Mississippi State vs. Liberty at San Jose, 4:27 p.m., truTV
North Carolina vs. Iona at Columbus, Ohio, 6:20 p.m., TNT
Central Florida vs. VCU at Columbia, S.C., 6:40 p.m., Channel 2
Ohio State vs. Iowa State at Tulsa, Okla., 6:50 p.m., TBS
Saint Louis vs. Virginia Tech at San Jose, 6:57 p.m., truTV

Also: The women’s NCAA basketball bracket is announced Monday (4 p.m., ESPN).

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black 2Attention those who have places to go around Southern California on Sunday: The L.A. Marathon Version 34 has its regular run (Channel 5, 7 a.m.) of 24,000-odd participants hustling from Dodger Stadium to the Santa Monica Pier and does so with its usual array of street closures along the course. Of course, there is more to know. Last year, Kenya’s Weldon Kirui won the men’s elite division for the second time in three years, while Ethopia’s Sule Utura Gedo won the women’s division.  Meanwhile, if you’re looking for an early entry point, look at the piece TMZ.com did on Adam Gorlitsky. He will start the race on Friday and will attempt to break the record for the fastest marathon by a paralyzed person.

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black 3Spring officially begins Wednesday. MLB spring training kinda ends in about a week. The Dodgers aren’t panicking about whether Clayton Kershaw is available by Opening Day. Or Walker Buelher. That’s the word. But by the time the Dodgers and Angels get to leave Phoenix, Southern California will try to get amped up for another frivolous faux Freeway Series, starting Sunday at Anaheim (5 p.m., Fox Sports West, SportsNet LA).
Officially, the MLB season starts this week – Seattle vs. Oakland in Tokyo (Wednesday and Thursday at 2:30 a.m. PDT, ESPN). The Mariners have activated 45-year-old Ichiro Suzuki for a few exhibition games in Tokyo leading into the opener and he should be in the Mariners’ starting lineup for the first game. It remains to be seen if Ichiro stays on the roster after this trip, or he could be officially retired when the Mariners play exhibition games against San Diego in Seattle on Sunday and Monday, March 25 before the U.S.-based opener against Boston on March 28.
Meanwhile in college baseball:
* UCLA (14-4): vs. Arizona, at Jackie Robinson Stadium, Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.
* USC (7-11): vs. Long Beach State, Dedeaux Field, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; At Washington, Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.
* Loyola Marymount (11-7): vs. San Diego State, Page Stadium, Tuesday at 6 p.m., vs. University of Pacific, Page Stadium, Friday and Saturday at 6 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.
* Pepperdine (8-7): vs. Minnesota at Malibu, Tuesday at 3 p.m.; vs. Cal State Northridge at Malibu, Wednesday at 3 p.m., vs. Gonzaga at Malibu, Friday at 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.
* Cal State Northridge (9-11) : At UNLV, Tuesday at 2 p.m.; at Pepperdine, Wednesday at 3 p.m.; vs. Santa Clara at Matador Field, Friday at 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.
* Long Beach State (3-15): at USC, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; vs. Cal State Fullerton at Blair Field, Friday and Saturday at 6 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.
* Cal State Fullerton (8-9): at San Diego, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; at Long Beach State, Friday and Saturday at 6 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.

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black 4The Clippers’ 11-5 record since sending leading scorer Tobias Harris away to Philadelphia on Feb. 6 (along with Boban Marjanovic and Mike Scott) in exchange for rookie hot-shot Landry Shamet (plus Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala, a couple first-round picks and a couple more second-rounders) is something to ponder. Remember, former Clipper Elton Brand, the Sixers’ GM, also agreed to this. And his team has clinched a playoff spot already at 45-25.
The Clippers’ run of seven wins in their last eight has boosted them into a snug No. 7/8 spot in the Western Conference, six games ahead of No. 9 Sacramento. The question is if they can make up ground on No. 7 Utah (virtually even, with one win and one loss more than the Jazz), No. 6 San Antonio (a half-game back), No. 5 Oklahoma City (a game and a half back), or No. 4 Portland (two back) this week. All opponents are from the East this week:
* vs. Indiana, Staples Center, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket
* At Cleveland, Friday at 4:30 p.m., Prime Ticket
* At New York, Sunday at 9 a.m., Prime Ticket

Meanwhile, the Lakers finish a six-game road trip (at Milwaukee, Tuesday at 5 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet) before returning home:
* Vs. New Jersey, Staples Center, Friday at 7:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
* Vs. Sacramento, Staples Center, Sunday at 6:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet

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black 5The next-to-last of the Kings-Ducks meetings (Saturday at Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Fox Sports West, Prime Ticket) with one more left in Anaheim on April 5, at least give more head-to-head opportunities to get out of the Western Conference cellar.
Also for the Kings: vs. Winnipeg, Staples Center, Monday at 7:30 p.m., FSW; vs. San Jose, Staples Center, Thursday at 7:30 p.m., FSW
Also for the Ducks: vs. Winnipeg, Honda Center, Wednesday at 7 p.m., NBCSN; vs. San Jose, Honda Center, Friday at 7 p.m., Prime Ticket

also
* In the MLS: LAFC vs. Real Salt Lake, at Banc of California Stadium, Saturday at 7:30 p.m., YouTube TV

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