01.06.20: Five things for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

NUMBER 1Superseding all other scheduled sports-related games, matches or friendlies:
The three most financially successful players in “Jeopardy!” history – Ken Jennings, Brad Rutter and James Holzhauer — have a prime-time special, “The Greatest of All Time,” that Alex Trebek will orchestrate. The plan is for two back-to-back 30 minute games each night, starting Tuesday at 8 p.m. on Channel 7. First to win three matches takes a $1 million prize. The TV menu has dates and times set for Wednesday and Thursday also this week, but it could go all the way to Jan. 16 if needed.
Rutter has the all-time record for money earned: $4.6 million, and his only loss is during a game against Jennings and supercomputer Watson in 2011. His team also won the 2019 All-Star tournament. Jennings, famous for his 74-win record run, has banked $3.4 million. Vegas sports gambler Holtzhauer had the uber-stragetic 32-episode streak that included the most cash ever won on a single episode — $131,127– and he holds all the top 10 single-game winning record. He came up just $58,000 short of surpassing Jennings in total winnings.
But money isn’t important here. It’s a “Jeopardy!” legacy. Don’t jeopardize any of that at this point. If only Art Fleming could ever see this.


NUMBER 2What we know about today’s NBA with an All-Star game already looming and fans pushing votes for Tacko Fall and Alex Caruso:
== Anyone trying to block the Lakers’ chances of climbing back to the No. 2 spot in the ESPN Power Rankings (after spending Week 11 at No. 4) will be unsuccessful. They’ve won five in a row (Portland, Dallas, Phoenix, New Orleans and Detroit) after losing four in a row (Clippers, Denver, Milwaukee and Indiana).
== The Clippers’ miserable Saturday afternoon loss to Memphis, followed up by another early wake-up call against the Knicks that somehow turned victorious, drops them from No. 3 to No. 4 in the same power rankings. Blame it on team load management. Why waste all your energy this early?
== ESPN announced last week it took away a previously scheduled Friday night look at the Clippers taking on Golden State and instead subbed in the Lakers’ game at Dallas, the third time the network has had that matchup already this season.

How the rest of the week unfolds for the Lakers (29-7, 4 games up on the Clippers and 4 ½ games up over Denver and Houston in the Western Conference)
= Vs. New York, Staples Center, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
= At Dallas, Friday at 5:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet, ESPN
= At Oklahoma City, Saturday at 5 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet

How the rest of the week unfolds for the Clippers (26-12)
= Vs. Golden State, Friday at 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket
= At Denver, Sunday at 5 p.m., Prime Ticket


NUMBER 3What the NFL playoff schedule says about how this “divisional round” must be played out next before the Jan. 19 conference championships can happen — mostly because it will decide the participants. Officially. Although most already are bracing for a 49ers-Packers and Ravens-Chiefs matchup:
= Minnesota at San Francisco, 1:35 p.m., Channel 4 (Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth)
= Tennessee at Baltimore, 5:15 p.m., Channel 2 (Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts)
= Houston at Kansas City, 12:05 p.m., Channel 2 (Jim Nantz, Tony Romo)
= Seattle at Green Bay, 3:40 p.m., Channel 11 (Joe Buck, Troy Aikman)


NUMBER 4The latest assessment of what we really don’t know any more about the college basketball season:
== Let this be your warning that for the initial USC-UCLA encounter on the Pac-12 schedule – Saturday at Pauley Pavilion, 7 p.m., ESPN2 — Bill Walton plans to be there for you enjoyment, along with Dave Pasch.
The only measure of Pac-12 play we have for the Trojans (12-3, 1-1) and Bruins (8-7, 1-1) is that uneven trip to Washington last week. The Trojans’ 32-point loss against the Huskies on Sunday night, only scoring 40 points, came against the same team that dropped a 66-64 decision against the Bruins a few nights earlier. UCLA could have gotten away with a sweep except for falling apart in OT against Washington State on Saturday.
The next UCLA-USC meeting will take place in the last conference game of the year – March 7 at Galen Center, on CBS.
== After Gonzaga (16-1) had a bit of a struggle with Pepperdine but did enough to keep its No. 1 AP Top 25 ranking (with 54 out of 65 first-place votes), it now visits L.A. for a presentation of gifts against Loyola Marymount for a local Saturday afternoon deal.
== That same AP poll, which moved 15-0 San Diego State up six spots to No. 7 and 13-0 Auburn up three spots to No. 5 (the only two major teams without a loss), dropped 12-3 Oregon five spots to No. 9 after the Ducks’ nine-point loss at Colorado followed by a five-point win at Utah. The only other Pac-12 presence in the Top 25 includes 11-3 Arizona (up to No. 24) and 12-3 Colorado (back in at No. 25).

The rest of Southern California:
How the week plays out for Cal State Northridge (5-11) starting Big West play:
= Vs. Long Beach State at the Matadome, Wednesday at 7 p.m., ESPN3
= At Cal Poly, Saturday at 7 p.m.
How the week plays out for Long Beach State (5-11) starting Big West play:
= At Cal State Northridge, Wednesday at 7 p.m., ESPN3
= At UC Santa Barbara, Saturday at 7 p.m.

How the week plays out for Loyola Marymount (7-9, 1-1 West Coast Conference):
= Vs. Gonzaga, at Gersten Pavilion, Saturday at 1 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
How the week plays out for Pepperdine (7-9, 0-2 West Coast Conference):
= At San Diego, Saturday at 7 p.m., WCC Network

Games of national interest this week include:
Ohio State at Maryland, 4 p.m., ESPN
Miami at Louisville, 4 p.m., ESPN2
Villanova at Creighton, 6 p.m., FS1
Kentucky at Georgia, 6 p.m., ESPN
Baylor at Texas Tech, 6 p.m., ESPN2
San Diego State at Wyoming, 6 p.m.
Duke at Georgia Tech, 6 p.m., ACC Network
Memphis at Wichita State, 4 p.m.
Purdue at Michigan, 4 p.m., FS1
Arizona at Oregon, 6 p.m.
Gonzaga at San Diego, 7 p.m.
Arizona State at Oregon State, 8 p.m.
Washington State at Cal, 7:30 p.m., Pac 12 Net
Maryland at Iowa, 4 p.m., FS1
Butler at Providence, 6 p.m., FS1
Ohio State at Indiana, 9 a.m., Channel 11
Georgetown at Villanova, 9 a.m., FS1
Alabama at Kentucky, 9 a.m., ESPN
Baylor at Kansas, 10 a.m., Channel 2
Louisville at Notre Dame, 11 a.m., ESPN
Texas Tech at West Virginia, 3 p.m.
Wake Forest at Duke, 5 p.m., ACC Network
Washington at Cal, 5 p.m., Pac 12 Network
Boise State at San Diego State, 7 p.m., ESPN3
Arizona State at Oregon, 7:30 p.m., Pac 12 Net
Michigan State at Purdue, 9 a.m., Channel 2
Michigan at Minnesota, 10 a.m., Big Ten Network
Arizona at Oregon State, 7 p.m., FS1
Utah at Colorado, 3 p.m., ESPNU
Wichita State at UConn, 9 a.m., CBSSN


NUMBER 5And as far as the NHL in Southern California is concerned, the Jan. 26  Grammy Awards presence in Staples Center seems to already start pushing things around:
How this week shapes up for the Kings (17-22-4, 38 points, last in the Western Conference, fourth-worst record in the NHL, 11 points out of the No. 8 position), who after Wednesday’s game vs. Dallas aren’t back home until Jan. 29 because of a five-game road trip and 10-day break that includes the Jan. 25 All-Star Game in St. Louis:
= Vs. Columbus, Staples Center, Monday at 7:30 p.m., Fox Sports West
= Vs. Dallas, Staples Center, Wednesday at 7 p.m., NBCSN
= At Vegas, Thursday at 7 p.m., Fox Sports West
= At Carolina, Saturday at 4 p.m., Fox Sports West
How the week shapes up for the Ducks (17-20-5, 39 points, 10 points out of the No. 8 position), who also won’t see a home game after Thursday until Jan. 29 because of a four-game road trip and nine-game vacation:
= Vs. Columbus, Honda Center, Tuesday at 7 p.m., Prime Ticket
= Vs. Dallas, Honda Center, Thursday at 7 p.m., Prime Ticket
= At Chicago, Saturday at 5:30 p.m., Prime Ticket


* Some college football that needs to be mopped up before the Jan. 13 national title matchup of Clemson and LSU in New Orleans, which hardly seems fair.
= The lowest form of Monday Night football ever:
== The LendingTree Bowl in Mobile, Alabama: Louisiana vs. Miami of Ohio, Monday at 4:30 p.m., ESPN (Dave LaMont, Gene Chizik)
= The NCAA FCS division championship game at Frisco, Texas: James Madison vs. North Dakota State, Saturday at 9 a.m., Channel 7


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