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

In a week that has started with the cancellation of the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament at Indian Wells because of the coronavirus outbreak, and likely finding ourselves adjusting each hour of each day to new information, here is how it looks at 10 a.m. on Monday, March 9:

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NUMBER 1What we know going into a week where college basketball sorts itself out to post up for the real postseason:
== CBS’ annual men’s hour-long bracket reveal – Sunday, Channel 2, 3 p.m. – also has the ESPN slightly delayed overlapping reveal during its 3 p.m. SportsCenter, then folds into a “Bracketology” show from 4-6 p.m.
Those who are already in (as verified here) :
Utah State (26-8) – Mountain West Conference tournament champion (dropping San Diego State to No. 6 in the AP Top 25)
Belmont (26-7) – Ohio Valley Conference tournament champion
Winthrop (24-10) – Big South Conference tournament champion
Bradley (22-11) – Missouri Valley Conference tournament champion
Liberty (30-4) – Atlantic Sun Conference tournament champion

== Leading into the final 68:
== The Pac-12 aims for seven teams – depending on how many other conference tournament tournaments turn out, depleting the bubble team spots (such as Utah State knocking off San Diego State for the Mountain West). If seven get in, that would match the past two years combined and equal the conference record set in 2016.
The latest ESPN Bracketology layout has USC as a No. 9 and UCLA as a No. 11 in the Midwest, Oregon as a No. 4 and Arizona State as a No. 10  in the South, Colorado as a No. 7 and Arizona as a No. 8 in the West, and Stanford in a play-in game for No. 11 in the South.
But would it really be representative of the strength of the conference, whose tournament’s championship (relegated this year to FS1, Saturday at 7:30 p.m.) goes at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
No. 2 seed UCLA (19-12, 12-6) and No. 4 seed USC (22-9, 11-7) have a bye into the quarterfinals and could only meet in the title game. How the bracket sets up:

= Wednesday:
= Utah (16-14, 7-11) vs. Oregon State (17-13, 7-11), noon, Pac-12 Network
= Washington (15-16, 5-13) vs. Arizona (20-11, 11-7), 2:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network
= Stanford (20-11, 9-9) vs. Cal (13-18, 7-11), 6 p.m., Pac-12 Network
= Colorado (21-10, 10-8) vs. Washington State (15-16, 6-12), 8:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network
= Thursday:
= No. 13 AP Top 25 Oregon (24-7, 13-5) vs. Utah/Oregon State, noon, Pac-12 Network
= USC vs. Arizona/Washington, 2:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network
= UCLA vs. Cal/Stanford, 6 p.m., Pac-12 Network
= Arizona State (20-11, 11-7) vs. Colorado/Washington State, 8:30 p.m., FS1

Semifinals are Friday at 6 p.m. (Pac-12 Network) and 8:30 p.m., (FS1).
= More info: pac-12.com/mens-basketball

== The West Coast Conference Tournament final at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas  – Tuesday at 6 p.m., ESPN – could have had Pepperdine continue it impressive run. But instead, we anticipate getting to see how potential No. 1 regional seed and No. 2 AP Top 25 Gonzaga (29-2, 15-1) looks going in (the Zags are in Monday’s first semifinal vs. USF, 6 p.m., ESPN; with 24-7/13-3 BYU, ranked No. 14 in the AP Top 25, facing 25-7/11-5 Saint Mary’s in the second semifinal, 8:30 p.m., ESPN2)
= More info: wccsports.com/tournaments

== The Big West Tournament’s title game at the Honda Center in Anaheim — Saturday at 8:30 p.m., ESPN2 – comes after:
= Thursday quarterfinals:
= No. 2 seed Cal State Northridge (15-17, 10-6) vs. Cal State Fullerton (11-20, 6-10), noon, ESPN3
= No. 3 seed UC Santa Barbara (21-10, 10-6) vs. UC Riverside (17-15, 7-9), 2:30 p.m., ESPN3
= No. 1 seed UC Irvine (21-11, 13-3) vs. No. 8 seed Long Beach State (11-21, 6-10), 6 p.m., ESPN3
= No. 4 seed Hawaii (17-13, 8-8) vs. UC Davis (14-18, 8-8), 8:30 p.m., ESPN3
= Friday semifinals:
= Highest remaining seed vs. lowest remaining seed, 6:30 p.m., ESPNU and ESPN3
= Other two quarterfinal winners, 9 p.m., ESPNU
= More info: bigwest.org

==Other tournament championship games of note:
Sunday:
= SEC: No. 8 Kentucky and No. 20 Auburn are the top contenders in Nashville, Tenn.: 10 a.m., ESPN (semifinals at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Saturday, ESPN)
= Atlantic 10: No. 3 Dayton is on target to be in the final in Brooklyn, N.Y.: 10 a.m., Channel 2 (semifinals at noon and 2 p.m., Saturday, ESPN2)
= Big Ten: No. 9 Michigan State, No. 12 Maryland, No. 18 Wisconsin, No. 19 Ohio State, No. 21 Illinois and No. 25 Iowa are at the mix in Indianapolis: 12:30 p.m., Channel 2 (semifinals at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Channel 2)
= American Athletic: No. 22 Houston is the favorite to get to this final, 12:15 p.m., ESPN
= Ivy League in Boston: 9 a.m., ESPN2
= Sun Belt in New Orleans, 11 a.m., ESPN2
Saturday:
= Big 12: No. 1 Kansas and No. 5 Baylor, with No. 22 West Virginia, are bracketed in Kansas City, 3 p.m., ESPN
= Big East: No. 7 Creighton, No. 11 Villanova and No. 16 Seton Hall are alighted in New York, 3:30 p.m., Channel 11 (semifinals are Friday at 3:30 and 6 p.m. on FS1)
= ACC: No. 4 Florida State, No. 10 Duke, No. 15 Louisville and No. 17 Virginia are in the mix in Greensboro, N.C., 5:30 p.m., ESPN
= American East, 8 a.m., ESPN2
= MAC in Cleveland, 4:30 p.m., ESPN2
= MEAC in Norfolk, Va., 10 a.m., ESPN2
= Southland in Katy, Tex., 6:30 p.m., ESPN2

== More info here about the women’s tournament, which will be announced Monday, March 16

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NUMBER 2What we can’t quite figure out about today’s NBA:
== If the Lakers’ wins over Milwaukee and the Clippers over a three-day period last weekend at Staples Center sent a statement, it might not have resonated as loudly as they thought.
Milwaukee remains the No. 1 team in the ESPN NBA Power Rankings for Week 20, despite losing three of four last week and having Giannis Antetokounmpo now missing time with a sprained knee during the loss to the Lakers.
Meanwhile, the Lakers, staying at No. 2, have defeated two of the top four teams in the NBA in back-to-back games for the first time since February, 2009.
== The Lakers recently clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2013, and it’s possible they could meet the Clippers in the postseason. The crowd for Sunday’s nine-point made it feel like a playoff atmosphere, with a strong contingent of raucous Lakers fans on hand for what was a Clippers’ home game. They chanted “MVP! MVP!” when LeBron James completed a 3-point play that tied the Lakers’ largest lead of 12 points with 40 seconds to play.
The Lakers have won four in a row and 11 of the last 12. The Clippers had a six-game win streak end. It was the first time in 11 games the Clippers lost when having a completely healthy roster.

How the week unfolds for the Lakers (49-13, 6 ½ games up in the Western Conference)
= vs. Brooklyn, Staples Center, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
= Vs. Houston, Staples Center, Thursday at 7:30 p.m., TNT
= Vs. Denver, Staples Center, Sunday at 6 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet, ESPN

How the week unfolds for the Clippers (43-20, second in the Western Conference, one game ahead of Denver, No. 3 in the ESPN NBA Power Rankings)
= At Golden State, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., TNT
= Vs. Brooklyn, Staples Center, Friday at 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket
= Vs. New Orleans, Staples Center, Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket

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NUMBER 3Just guessing here Josh Guesman wasn’t all that impressed with the Galaxy’s 1-0 loss to Vancouver in their home opener last Saturday as he wrote this under the headline: “Galaxy Provide the Perfect Lead-In To Disaster

Everything leading up to the match was perfect. The stadium was filled over capacity, the grass was cut inch-perfect, the hype video — filmed in the same location as the Dark Knight Bat Cave — was energetic, and the new MLS Anthem, written by world-famous composer Hans Zimmer, taxed the sound system in all the right ways.
But what they got was an immature performance with some concerning trends that should have everyone in the organization asking questions.
The Galaxy passed horribly, and throughout the night, they sent in cross after cross for a much taller man who wasn’t there– a tactical problem that LA Galaxy Head Coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto had a week to remedy but didn’t fix.
To be fair, the 10-man LA Galaxy team that finished the night didn’t deserve the win. They generated almost no offense while controlling the better of the game and had just one shot on target over the 90-minute affair.
“I think everyone is waiting on the Chicharito goal, and everyone will ask me about Chicharito if he doesn’t score in the game,” Schelotto said while answering the second question of the night. “I think I am more worried about the result tonight than whether Chicharito scores or not.
“Because I know he is a regular striker, and we have just two games, and he hasn’t scored, but we expect he will score in the next game. We put the ball in the box all the time, but we couldn’t find him. We will try in the next game.”
Atonement may come in the Galaxy’s trip to Inter Miami CF – Saturday, 11:30 a.m., Channel 11 – which has plenty of David Beckham storylines.

Meanwhile: LAFC goes against Cruz Azul in the CONCACAF Champions League Round of 16, first at Banc of California Stadium (Thursday, 7:30 p.m., FoxSports2) with a follow up in Azteca Stadium on March 18.

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NUMBER 4If Sierra Canyon reaches the CIF California State final on Saturday in Sacramento, we’d expect nothing less than to see LeBron James courtside. Because the Lakers’ schedule allows it.
All games on Spectrum SportsNet:
Saturday:
= Boys Open Division, 8 p.m. (Sierra Canyon faces Etiwanda in the semifinal, Tuesday at 7 p.m., Cal State Northridge, to advance against the Northern California finalist)
= Girls Open Division, 6 p.m.
= Boys Division II, 4 p.m.
= Girls Division II, 2 p.m.
= Boys Division IV, noon
= Girls Division IV, 10 a.m.
Friday:
= Boys Division I, 8 p.m.
= Girls Division I, 6 p.m.
= Boys Division III, 4 p.m.
= Girls Division III, 2 p.m.
= Boys Division V, noon
= Girls Division V, 10 a.m.

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NUMBER 5Two things of note about this week of the NHL season:
== The third Kings-Ducks match up (Staples Center, 1 p.m., Saturday, Fox Sports West and Prime Ticket)
== Bobby Ryan returns with Ottawa to meet up with his old Ducks (Honda Center, Tuesday at 7 p.m., Prime Ticket)
== Also this week for the Kings (27-35-6, 60 points, still last in the Western Conference despite a current conference best five wins in a row):
= Vs. Colorado, Staples Center, Monday at 7:30 p.m., Fox Sports West
= Vs. Ottawa, Staples Center, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., Fox Sports West
== Also this week for the Ducks (28-32-9, 65 points, 13th in the Western Conference out of 15 )
= Vs. St. Louis, Honda Center, Wednesday at 7 p.m., Prime Ticket
= Vs. Montreal, Honda Center, Sunday at 1 p.m., Prime Ticket

More

**This week in college baseball:
==How the week plays out for UCLA (13-2, after handing USC a 15-3 thumping on Sunday, and now the Pac-12 schedule starts):
= vs. Oregon, at Jackie Robinson Stadium, Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.
==How the week plays out for USC (9-5, as the Pac-12 schedule starts on the weekend):
= vs. Xavier, Dedeaux Field, Tuesday at 6 p.m.
= vs. Washington, Dedeaux Field, Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.
==How the week plays out for Long Beach State (10-5):
= At Tulane, Friday at 4:30 p.m., Saturday at noon, Sunday at 11 a.m.
==How the week plays out for Cal State Northridge (10-5):
= Vs. Iowa, Matador Field, Friday at 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.
==How the week plays out for Loyola Marymount (8-8 after sweeping at San Jose State, with the WCC schedule starting):
= At BYU, Thursday and Friday at 5 p.m., Saturday at noon
==How the week plays out for Pepperdine (12-3 after taking two of three against Michigan, with the WCC schedule starting on the weekend):
= Vs. Cal Poly, Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.
= Vs. University of San Francisco, Friday at 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.

 

** As part of The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass – Thursday-Sunday, NBC and Golf Channel each day, with the $15 million purse (the Masters only has $11.5 mil and the U.S. Open is at $12.5 mil) plus 600 FedEx Cup points, also known as the unofficial fifth PGA major of the season — The Chainsmokers are doing a concert on Tuesday. Which would seem like a better fit for the PGA Champions tour, on many levels. The field will be missing Tiger Woods – and that’s apparently only a surprise if you haven’t been paying attention – but most of the other top players are playing. At the Players. Because they want to play.
If you don’t get air sickness, watch this sick video of the last three holes of the Players Stadium Course: The par 5 at No. 16, the famous par 3 island at No. 17 and the par 4 finishing No. 18.

**The XFL starts the second half of the season with Week 6 — and how do we even assess your 2-3 L.A. Wildcats?
Here’s one try:
This is a team that is headed nowhere, despite the comeback against Tampa Bay Sunday. Winston Moss’ Wildcats have two wins, one against a team that is 1-4 and the second against the DC Defenders, who can’t buy a win away from home. The Wildcats put up 80 points in their victories. Let’s consider that a tribute to the opponents. Grade: C-minus
== Week 6 schedule:
= L.A. Wildcats at Seattle, Sunday at 4 p.m., ESPN2
Also:
= Houston at New York, Saturday at 11 a.m., Channel 7
= St. Louis at Tampa Bay, Saturday at 2 p.m., Fox Sports 2
= Dallas at D.C., Sunday at 1 p.m., Fox Sports 1

** The International Fencing Foil Grand Prix event – the final men’s and women’s event before the 2020 Olympic Team is selected – is still scheduled to happen at the Anaheim Convention Center, Friday through Sunday. More info: www.usafencing.org

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