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

NUMBER 1What we know, and what we think we know, and what we hope to know more about heading into College Football Week 12:
== When you’ve got UCLA playing host to Utah (Saturday, 5 p.m. Channel 11) followed up by USC’s contest at Cal (Saturday, 8 p.m., FS1), maybe it’s just another layering of intriguing Pac 12 After Dark Doubleheader (trademark pending).
But also realize this will be the tune-up to the annual Bruins-Trojans game on Nov. 23 at the Coliseum. Yes, it’s almost here. A week before Thanksgiving. Which would end the Trojans’ season already bowl eligible.
UCLA (4-5, 4-2) can still topple the Pac-12 South with a win over the No. 8 Utes (8-1, 5-1), coming off a bye week, and make the Bruins’ game at USC become a winner-goes-to-the-conference title game affair, likely against Oregon.
USC (6-4, 5-2) takes on a squad from Cal (5-4, 2-4) that was once Top 25 caliber but won for the first time since late September with a 33-20 decision over Washington State as UCLA transfer Devon Modster threw for three touchdowns.

== If the College Football Playoff poll voters wanted to make things look equitable heading into their next week of voting (Tuesday, 4 p.m., ESPN), it would keep 9-0 Ohio State and 9-0 LSU in the top two spots (the AP voters already have the Tigers propped up over the Buckeyes in their latest non-essential poll). Then the CFP needs to properly elevate 10-0 Clemson to at least No. 3. Then leave the No. 4 spot open for the eventual winner of the Pac 12 Conference (go ahead and have Georgia as the place setter for now, as perhaps the best one-loss team in the country when compared to Alabama, Penn State and even Oklahoma).
But don’t sleep on 9-0 Minnesota, which cannot be buried in that No. 17 hole any longer.
== In the latest ESPN bowl projection, USC seems destined to be in the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio on New Year’s eve against either Baylor or Texas, while UCLA is a no-show – apparently the thinking is it won’t win two of its last three (it concludes against Cal on Nov. 30) to be six-win eligible.
== The Pac-12 refs keep tripping themselves up.

Also this week in the Pac 12:
=Stanford at Washington State, 1:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network
=Arizona State at Oregon State, 4:30 p.m., FS1
=Arizona at Oregon, 7:30 p.m., ESPN
Bye: Colorado, Washington

Also this week of national interest:
Thursday:
North Carolina at Pittsburgh, 5 p.m., ESPN
Friday:
Fresno State at San Diego State, 6:30 p.m., ESPN2
Saturday:
Alabama at Mississippi State, 9 a.m., ESPN
Indiana at Penn State, 9 a.m., Channel 7
Florida at Missouri, 9 a.m., Channel 2
Michigan State at Michigan, 9 a.m., Channel 11
Navy at Notre Dame, 11:30 a.m., Channel 4
Ohio State at Rutgers, 12:30 p.m., Big Ten Network
Wake Forest at Clemson, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7
Georgia at Auburn, 12:30 p.m., Channel 2
Minnesota at Iowa, 1 p.m., Channel 11
LSU at Mississippi, 4 p.m., ESPN
Oklahoma at Baylor, 4:30 p.m., Channel 7

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NUMBER 2What we know, and what we think we know, and what the NBA season is already told us three weeks in:
== ESPN is promoting a Clippers-Lakers doubleheader on Wednesday, but in this load management era, who can we really count on for showing up? The Lakers’ game against depleted Golden State comes a day after a game in Phoenix. The Clippers’ trip to Houston to face James Harden and Russell Westbrook (and Austin Rivers) comes a day before a game at New Orleans. Which one does Kawhi Leonard give the high sign to sit out?
And who gets a waiver signed by the league to say it’s OK to sit?
== In the latest ESPN power rankings, the Lakers have come up to No. 1 despite losing Sunday night. The Clippers are No. 2. Continue reading “11.11.19: Five things for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance”

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

NUMBER 1What we know, and what we think we know, and what we hope to know more about heading into College Football Week 11:
== The first College Football Playoff poll comes out Tuesday (ESPN, 6  p.m., between games of a college basketball doubleheader featuring  Duke-Kansas and Michigan State-Kentucky at Madison Square Garden in New York). If the CFP voters decide LSU and Alabama are Nos. 1 and 2, or vice versa, then it helps promote their matchup Saturday in Tuscaloosa. If not … does CBS resort to the AP voters, or whatever fits their narrative?
== How does the American Athletic Conference have four teams in the AP Top 25 – more than any other conference except the SEC and Big Ten? Navy just moved in to join at No. 25, along with No. 17 Cincinnati, No. 19 Memphis and No. 23 SMU. The conference is only seven years old, born from the collapse of the Big East.
== As the Pac-12 continues to try to sort itself out, USC (5-4, 4-2) shuffles off to 5-3, 2-3 Arizona State (Saturday at 12:30 p.m., Channel 7) perhaps having studied gamefilm of UCLA’s 42-32 win over the Sun Devils a couple weeks ago at the Rose Bowl, when Joshua Kelley ran for 164 yards and four TDS. Yes, a win makes USC bowl eligible, something it wasn’t last year. USC has only won once in three road tries this season. Herm Edwards’ Sun Devils come off a bye week.
== UCLA (4-5, 4-2), winners of three in a row and tied with USC behind Utah in the Pac-12 South, take a bye week in preparation for a trip to Utah on Nov. 16 and then at USC on Nov. 23.
Also this week in the Pac 12:
= Washington at Oregon State, Friday at 7:30 p.m., FS1
= Stanford at Colorado, Saturday at 1 p.m., Pac-12 Network
= Washington State at Cal, Saturday at 4 p.m., Pac-12 Network
Bye: Arizona, Utah and Oregon

== The 150th anniversary of the first college football game — Rutgers vs. Princeton on Nov. 6, 1869 – comes up Wednesday, and to mark it, instead of the two participants, we’ve got Miami of Ohio against Ohio University in a mid-week contest (ESPN2, 5 p.m.). Rutgers (2-7, 0-6 in the Big Ten) has a bye week while Princeton (7-0, 4-0) has an Ivy League game against Dartmouth (7-0, 4-0) on Saturday at Yankee Stadium (12:30 p.m., ESPNU)
== According to ESPN’s latest bowl game projections, one guy projects USC to end up playing Indiana in the Redbox Bowl in Santa Clara and UCLA against TCU in the Cheez-It Bowl in Phoenix, while another has USC against Michigan in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego.
Also this week of national interest:
Thursday:
Temple at South Florida, 5 p.m., ESPN
Friday:
Central Florida at Tulsa, 4 p.m., ESPN2
Saturday:
LSU at Alabama, 12:30 p.m., Channel 2
Clemson at North Carolina State, 4:30 p.m., Channel 7
Notre Dame at Duke, 4:30 p.m. ACC Network
Penn State at Minnesota, 9 a.m., Channel 7
East Carolina at SMU, 9 a.m., ESPNU
Vanderbilt at Florida, 9 a.m., ESPN
Maryland at Ohio State, 9 a.m., Channel 11
Baylor at TCU, 9 a.m., FS1
Iowa at Wisconsin, 1 p.m., Channel 11
Kansas State at Texas, 12:30 p.m., ESPN
Wake Forest at Virginia Tech, 12:30 p.m., ACC Network
Missouri at Georgia, 4 p.m., ESPN
Iowa State at Oklahoma, 5 p.m., Channel 11
Nevada at San Diego State, 7:30 p.m., ESPN2
Wyoming at Boise State, 7:15 p.m., ESPN

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NUMBER 2What we absolutely don’t know about the start of the college basketball season:
== If you go by the CBS Sports’ initial ranking of all 353 D1 schools with basketball programs, the Pac-12 has Oregon and Arizona at the top, and Colorado coming up strong. But schools like Harvard (39), New Mexico State (49), South Florida (55), East Tennessee State (57) and Liberty (61) are more impressive before we get to USC (63) and UCLA (80). If you throw in a Sports Illustrated version of the same exercise, the Trojans (57) and Bruins (67) are in the same neighborhood as Vermont, Dayton and Belmont.

== UCLA’s season openers against Long Beach State (at Pauley Pavilion, Wednesday at 8 p.m, Pac-12 Network) and UC Santa Barbara at Pauley Pavilion, Sunday at 4 p.m., Pac-12 Network) gives new Bruins coach Mick Cronin a look at what he’s gotten into.
== USC’s season openers against Florida A&M (Galen Center, Tuesday at 8 p.m., Pac-12 Network) and Portland (Galen Center, Friday at 8 p.m., Pac-12 Networks) gives Andy Enfield a chance to add to his 110-93 mark after coming to the Trojans in 2013.
== Cronin isn’t the only new big-name coach. Juwan Howard is trying to bring back Michigan. Jerry Stackhouse is the new coach at Vanderbilt. Alabama, Virginia Tech, Saint Joes’ and Belmont also have new leadership. And then there’s Steve Alford, trying to reinvent himself at Nevada after Eric Musselman left to take over at Arkansas.
For Tuesday’s opening night:
= Cal State Northridge at Oregon State, 8 p.m., Pac-12 Network
= Loyola Marymount vs. Westcliff University, Gersten Pavilion, 7 p.m.
= Pepperdine at Cal, 7 p.m., Pac-12 Network
Also this week:
= Long Beach State vs. San Diego, Pyramid, Saturday at 3:30 p.m.
= Pepperdine vs. UC Irvine, Firestone Fieldhouse, Saturday at 5 p.m.
Games of national interest this week include:
Tuesday:
= Kansas vs. Duke, Madison Square Garden, 4 p.m., ESPN
= Michigan State vs. Kentucky, Madison Square Garden, 6:30 p.m., ESPN
= Louisville at Miami, 3:30 p.m., ACC Network
Wednesday:
= Notre Dame at North Carolina, 4 p.m., ACC Network
= Cincinnati at Ohio State, 5:30 p.m., FS1
= Virginia at Syracuse, 6 p.m., ACC Network
= Northern Arizona at Arizona, 6 p.m., Pac-12 Net
Friday:
= Arizona State vs. Colorado at Shanghai, China, 7:30 p.m., ESPN2
= Eastern Kentucky at Kentucky, 4 p.m., SEC Network
= Colorado State at Duke, 4 p.m., ACC Network
= North Carolina at UNC Wilmington, 4 p.m.
= UNC Greensboro at Kansas, 6 p.m., ESPNU
= Washington vs. Baylor in Anchorage, Ala., 6:30 p.m., ESPN
= Cal Lutheran at Cal Baptist, 7 p.m.
Saturday:
= Texas at Purdue, 4 p.m., FS1
= Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Gonzaga, 5 p.m.
= Boise State at Oregon, 8 p.m., Pac-12 Net
= Cal State Fullerton at Stanford, 8 p.m.
Sunday:
= Florida State at Florida, 10 a.m., ESPN
= Youngstown State at Louisville, 11 a.m.
= UMass Lowell at Ohio State, 1 p.m., ESPNU
= Illinois at Arizona, 6 p.m., Pac-12 Net

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NUMBER 3What we know, and what we think we know, and what the NBA season is already told us two weeks in:
== The defending NBA champion Toronto Raptors are in town at the end of the week. Can you name one player on the team from last year’s roster?
= The Lakers have moved from No. 5 to No. 2, and the Clippers have dropped from No. 1 to No. 3 in the highly volatile ESPN Power Rankings. The new No. 1? Not Golden State.

How the week unfolds for the Lakers (5-1):
= At Chicago, Tuesday at 5 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
= Vs. Miami, Staples Center, Friday at 7:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
= Vs. Toronto, Staples Center, Sunday at 6:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
How the week unfolds for the Clippers (5-2):
= Vs. Milwaukee, Staples Center, Wednesday at 7 p.m., Prime Ticket, ESPN
= Vs. Portland, Staples Center, Thursday at 7:30 p.m., TNT

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NUMBER 4What we know, and what we stopped thinking we know, heading into NFL Week 10:
== The Rams are no longer welcomed in St. Louis, according to the latest signs.
== Todd Gurley is still evolving.
== The Pittsburgh Steelers came out of a game with no major injuries — kinda rare these days — after a 26-24 win over Indianapolis prior to playing host to the 5-3 Rams coming off a bye week (Sunday at 1:25 p.m., Channel 11). The Rams’ final eight games will include just two more AFC opponents, including the Steelers, and one against Baltimore in Week 12.
== The Chargers’ unforeseen 26-11 win over Green Bay in Week 9 brings them next to short week going up to Oakland (Thursday at 5:30 p.m., Channel 11, NFL Network, Amazon Prime), as the Raiders come off a 31-24 home win over Detroit.  The Chargers have swept the season series against the Raiders over the last two years, outscoring them 93-42. That includes a 20-6 win last year at Oakland.

Finishing up Week 9:
Monday
= Dallas at N.Y. Giants, 5:15 p.m., ESPN
Going into Week 10:
Sunday:
= In the Fox 10 a.m. window: Atlanta at New Orleans, N.Y. Giants at N.Y. Jets, Arizona at Tampa Bay
= In the CBS 10 a.m. window: Detroit at Chicago, Baltimore at Cincinnati, Buffalo at Cleveland, Kansas City at Tennessee
= In the CBS 1:05 p.m. window: Miami at Indianapolis
= In the Fox 1:25 p.m. window (blacked out in L.A.): Carolina at Green Bay
= Minnesota at Dallas, 5:20 p.m., Channel 4
Bye week: Denver, New England, Philadelphia, Washington, Jacksonville, Houston

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NUMBER 5As the experienced NHL broadcasters move on, another generation is getting an opportunity to land highly-coveted seats in the booth, writes ESPN’s Chris Peters. One of them: The Kings’ Alex Faust.
“I always viewed it more as a passion project instead of a career path,” he said. “I didn’t ever think seriously that I would either be good enough or thought that I’d be interested enough to make it a career path. The more I did it, the more I enjoyed it, and here we are.”

How this week shapes up for the Kings (5-9-0):
= At Toronto, Tuesday at 4:30 p.m., FSW
= At Ottawa, Thursday at 4:30 p.m., FSW
= At Montreal, Saturday at 4 p.m., FSW

How this week shapes up for the Ducks (9-6-0):
= Vs. Minnesota, Honda Center, Tuesday at 7 p.m., Prime Ticket
= Vs. Edmonton, Honda Center Sunday at 6 p.m., Prime Ticket

More

= NHRA Auto Club Finals at Pomona, Thursday-Sunday, Channel 11
= NASCAR’s BlueGreen Vacations 500 at ISM Raceway in Phoenix is the next-to-last race of the season, Sunday at 11:30 a.m., Channel 4
= The ATP Finals at London start Saturday and run through Nov. 17 with Rafael Nadal seeded No. 1 over Novak Djokovic, plus Roger Federer, Daniil Medvedev, Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitispas, Alexander Zverev and Matteo Berrettini. Federer is a six-time champ, Djokovic is a five-time champ, and Nadal is a two-time finalist. Zverev is the defending champion.

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

NUMBER 1What we really don’t know about how the 36th Breeders’ Cup, hosted by Santa Anita for the 10th time, will fall into place:
== 188 horses are pre-entered for 14 races, down from 221 last year at Churchill Downs.
== There are 11 so far the $6 million 1 ¼ mile Classic (Saturday, 5:44 p.m., Channel 4) that looks like a showdown between Bob Baffert-trained McKinzie, Code of Honor and Midnight Bisou, the filly that may instead run instead in the Distaff.
== Baffert, a 15-time winner at this event earning more than $28 million, says of the recent controversy about 34 horse fatalities at the track over the last 11 months: “It was tough on everybody … We changed some things here for the better. The surface — they are working on that. I think it was a wake-up moment for racing. We need to do a better job and I think trainers and everybody involved are being more conscientious than before. … Everything is going to be good. We’re going to get some good, positive vibes out of this whole thing.”
== How does NBC prepare for the broadcast and the track’s recent record of horses who have been euthanized? We asked.

== The two-day schedule:
Friday (all on NBCSN):
= $2 million Juvenile, 4:03 p.m.
= $1 million Juvenile Fillies Turf, 3:12 p.m.
= $2 million Juvenile Fillies, 2:32 p.m.
= $1 million Juvenile Turf, 1:52 p.m.
= $1 million Juvenile Turf Sprint, 1:12 p.m.
Saturday (all on NBCSN unless noted):

= $6 million Classic, 5:44 p.m., Channel 4
= $4 million Turf, 4:40 p.m.
= $2 million Distaff, 4 p.m.
= $2 million Mile, 3:20 p.m.
= $2 million Sprint, 2:36 p.m.
= $2 million Filly & Mare Turf, 1:54 p.m.
= $1 million Dirt Mile, 1:10 p.m. (Officially known as the Big Ass Fans Dirt Mile)
= $1 million Turf Sprint, 12:30 p.m.
= $1 million Filly & Mare Sprint, 11:55 a.m.

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NUMBER 2What we know, and what we think we know, heading into College Football Week 10:
== Somehow, USC (5-3., 4-1) and UCLA (3-5, 3-2) control their own path toward a Pac-12 South title — win out, and they’re in the conference title game.
= For the Trojans, the critical match up against No. 7 Oregon (7-1, 5-0) (Coliseum, Saturday at 5 p.m., Channel 11, Gus Johnson and Joel Klatt) could be a preview of that Dec. 6 conference title matchup. The teams haven’t met since Sam Darnold led the Trojans to a45-20 win at the Coliseum in 2016, when Ronald Jones ran for four touchdowns.
= For the Bruins, a divisional matchup against Colorado (3-5, 1-4) (Rose Bowl, Saturday at 6 p.m., Pac 12 Network), after the Buffaloes had the Trojans on the ropes last Friday in Boulder, Colo.

Also this week in the Pac 12:
Utah at Washington, Saturday at 1 p.m., Channel 11
Oregon State at Arizona, Saturday at 1:30 p.m., Pac 12 Network
Bye: Arizona State, Cal, Stanford, Washington State

Also this week of national interest:
Thursday:
West Virginia at Baylor, 5 p.m., ESPN
Georgia Southern at Appalachian State, 5 p.m., ESPNU
Saturday:
SMU at Memphis, 4:30 p.m., Channel 7
Cincinnati at East Carolina, 4 p.m., CBSSN
Michigan at Maryland, 9 a.m., Channel 7
Virginia Tech at Notre Dame, 11:30 a.m., Channel 4
Georgia vs. Florida in Jacksonville, Fla., 12:30 p.m., Channel 2
Army at Air Force, 12:30 p.m., CBSSN
Mississippi at Auburn, 4 p.m., ESPN
Boise State at San Jose State, 7:30 p.m., CBSSN
Miami at Florida State, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7
Bye weeks: LSU, Alabama, Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Texas, Minnesota, Iowa, Iowa State

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NUMBER 3What we know, and what we think we know, and what the NBA season is already about just one week into it:
== The Clippers are first in the ESPN Power Rankings Week 2 and the Lakers are ranked No. 5 …
== LeBron James may have other stuff on his mind this week (see above).
== The Golden State Warriors (0-2) may not win a game all season.
== Atlanta’s Trae Young (38.5) may end up as the league’s top scorer, unless Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving (38.0) decides to score 50 or more a game every other night.

How the week unfolds for the Lakers  (2-1):
= Vs. Memphis, Staples Center, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
= At Dallas, Friday at 6:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet, ESPN
= At San Antonio, Sunday at 4 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet

How the week unfolds for the Clippers (2-1):
= Vs. Charlotte, Staples Center, Monday at 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket
= At Utah, Wednesday at 7 p.m., Prime Ticket, ESPN
= Vs. San Antonio, Staples Center, Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket
= Vs. Utah, Staples Center, Sunday at 6 p.m., Prime Ticket

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NUMBER 4What we pretty much know for sure about the MLS playoffs:
== The LAFC’s journey to the Nov. 10 MLS Cup has one more hurdle — the Western Conference final against Seattle (Banc of California Stadium, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.,  ESPN). During the regular season, LAFC has never lost to Seattle in four meetings, going back to a 4-1 decision last April.  Sounders striker Raul Ruidiaz didn’t play in either match against LAFC this year due to a heel contusion, but is available now. Seattle pulled off a 1-1 draw in Seattle on April 28 as the Sounders played a man down for more than 70 minutes when midfielder Cristian Roldan got a red card.
Also this week:
Eastern Conference final: Toronto at Atlanta, Wednesday at 5 p.m., FS1

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NUMBER 5What we know, and what we think we know, heading into NFL Week 9:
= The Rams (5-3, winners of two in a row) get a bye week.
= The Chargers (3-5 after surviving in Chicago) have a decidedly non-home field advantage, in Carson, because Green Bay (6-1) comes into town (Sunday, 1:25 p.m., Channel 2). And the Associated Press’ Tim Dalberg has recently addressed it (see tweet above).

Finishing up Week 8:
Monday:
= Miami at Pittsburgh, 5:15 p.m., ESPN
Going into Week 9:
Thursday:
= San Francisco at Arizona, 5:20 p.m., Channel 11, NFL Network, Amazon Prime
Sunday:
= Houston vs. Jacksonville at Wembley Stadium in London, 6:30 a.m., NFL Network
= In the Fox 10 a.m. window: Washington at Buffalo, Minnesota at Kansas City, Chicago at Philadelphia
= In the CBS 10 a.m. window: N.Y. Jets at Miami, Indianapolis at Pittsburgh
= In the Fox 1:05 p.m. window: Tampa Bay at Seattle
= In the CBS 1:25 p.m. window (blacked out in L.A.): Cleveland at Denver
= New England at Baltimore, 5:20 p.m., Channel 4
Also a bye week for: Atlanta, Cincinnati, New Orleans

More

 

What we know, and what we think we know, heading into the World Series crunch time with the Astros needing just one of two wins at home to wrap this up — a feat they couldn’t accomplish in Games 1 and 2:
= Game 6: Tuesday at Houston, 5:07 p.m., Channel 11
If necessary: Game 7: Tuesday at Houston, 5:08 p.m., Channel 11

How this week shapes up for the Kings (4-8-0):
= Vs. Vancouver, Staples Center, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., FSW
= Vs. Chicago, Staples Center, Saturday at 7:30 p.m., FSW
How this week shapes up for the Ducks (7-6-0):
= Vs. Winnipeg, Honda Center, Tuesday at 7 p.m., Prime Ticket
= Vs. Vancouver, Honda Center, Friday at 7 p.m., Prime Ticket
= Vs. Chicago, Honda Center, Sunday at 5 p.m., Fox Sports West

* PGA Champions Tour: $2 million Powershares QQQ Championship at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Friday-Sunday, Golf Channel. This leads into the Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix (Nov. 7-10).

* Rugby World Cup final: England vs. Wales, Saturday morning at 2 a.m., Yokohama, Japan, NBCSN; replayed Saturday at 11 a.m., Channel 4

* The 49th New York City Marathon, Sunday at 6 a.m., ESPN2
(highlights: 1 p.m. Channel 7)

* Formula One: U.S. Grand Prix, Austin, Tex. (Sunday, 11 a.m., Channel 7)

* UFC 244 at Madison Square Garden, Saturday at 7 p.m., PPV: The welterweight main event is supposed to feature Nate Diaz (20-11-0) against Jorge Masvidal (34-13-0) with a middleweight co-main event with Kelvin Gastelum (15-4-0) vs. Darren Till (17-2-1).

 

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

NUMBER 1What we know, and what we think we know, and what we really have no clue about for the start of the NBA regular season that starts in L.A. with the Lakers vs. the Clippers at Staples Center (Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., TNT, which comes after Toronto’s banner-raising ceremony, a 5 p.m. game vs. New Orleans on TNT):
== The 18th annual survey of team general managers via NBA.com has  determined the Clippers will win the league title this year – 46 percent, followed by Milwaukee at 36 percent. It seems a bit … crazy?
Kawhi Leonard will also be the “most impactful offseason acquisition,” according to this dart-board exercise.
Meanwhile, the Lakers were determined to be the “most improved team.”
Seems like a misguided high school year book survey. Read it here yourself: www.nba.com/gmsurvey/2019.
== “LeBron (James) could retire today and be considered, at worst, the second-best player in the history of basketball, with a career featuring an average of 27-7-7, 15 All-NBA team honors, nine Finals appearances, four league MVPs, three Finals MVPs, two titles in Miami, and one title and one broken curse in Cleveland. But (Michael) Jordan found a way to give more when there was nothing more to prove. Now it’s LeBron’s chance to do the same. … Will he fade away as the young stars he influenced begin to take control? Can he lead the Lakers back to glory? Will King James lose his crown or take back the throne?”
This is from a story in TheRinger.com comparing James to Jordan at this point in their careers – and yes, the “Space Jam” analogy also fits. If anything, it’s another fun read before the season.
== Odds from BetOnline.ag for the 2019-2020 NBA MVP:
Giannis Antetokounmpo: 3/1
Stephen Curry: 5/1
Anthony Davis: 7/1
James Harden: 8/1
Kawhi Leonard:  9/1
LeBron James: 12/1
Paul George: 33/1
= Carmelo Anthony is still a player without a team.

Also this week for the Lakers
= vs. Utah, Staples Center, Friday at 7:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet and ESPN
= vs. Charlotte, Staples Center, Sunday at 6:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
Also this week for the Clippers
= At Golden State, Thursday at 7:30 p.m., TNT
= At Phoenix, Saturday at 7 p.m., Prime Ticket

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NUMBER 2What we absolutely know about the MLS playoffs:
== El Trafico is at a whole new collision course. Check your insurance deductibles.
The Galaxy avoided tripping up its wildcard match in the Western Conference and earned a trip to the next round in … Los Angeles.
LAFC, which has yet to capture a win against their city rivals (two losses, three ties), are the No. 1 see in the West and host a Western Conference semifinal one-and-done matchup on Thursday (7:30 p.m., Banc of California Stadium, ESPN).
“I’m pretty sure they are afraid of us,” the Galaxy’s Romain Alessandrini said of LAFC. “I think so because they never beat us. And it’s a good opportunity for us to show who owns L.A.”
Enough said.
Warning: Just also be aware it comes on ESPN after an SMU-Houston football game (4:30 p.m.) that could push the time window. Continue reading “10.21.19: Five things for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of somewhat guaranteed importance”

10.14.19: Five things for the week ahead, all based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

NUMBER 1What we know, and what we’re not sure we know, heading into NFL Week 7:
= The 3-3 Rams’ three-game losing skid – the first under head coach Sean McVay — smells bad, doesn’t it? So they head out for a month — first to Atlanta (Sunday, at 10 a.m., Channel 11), then keep on going to London (to meet the Bengals) then return and catch Pittsburgh heading west.
= The 2-4 Chargers have two roadies, starting in Tennessee (Sunday at 1:05 p.m., Channel 2), then to Chicago, before coming back to face Green Bay before what will end up as a packed house of Packers fans (see: Sunday night vs. Steelers).
= The Pope is officially pulling for the New Orleans Saints. Which makes sense. Really, it does.

Finishing up Week 6:
Monday
= Detroit at Green Bay, 5:15 p.m., ESPN
Going into Week 7:
Thursday:
= Kansas City at Denver, 5:20 p.m., Channel 11, NFL Network, Amazon Prime
Sunday:
= In the Fox 10 a.m. window (blacked out in L.A.): Minnesota at Detroit, Arizona at N.Y. Giants, San Francisco at Washington.
= In the CBS 10 a.m. window: Miami at Buffalo, Jacksonville at Cincinnati, Oakland at Green Bay, Houston at Indianapolis.
= In the Fox 1:25 p.m. window: New Orleans at Chicago, Baltimore at Seattle
= Philadelphia at Dallas, 5:20 p.m., Channel 4
Bye week: Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Carolina

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NUMBER 2What we will fully admit to not knowing about the 2019 MLS playoffs:
= 24 teams started, and 14 remain for this next phase, even though your LAFC has already won the Supporters Shield for best overall record:
= If the Galaxy, which lost its last two games of the regular season to non-playoff teams and thus couldn’t nab a home game, somehow can come out of Round 1 with a road win at No. 4 Minnesota (At Allianz Field in St. Paul, Minn., Sunday, 5:30 p.m., ESPN), then it advances to the Western Conference semifinals against – wait for it – No. 1 seed LAFC at the Banc of California Stadium on Oct. 24. That’s also a single elimination.
Without an injured Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the Galaxy has defeated the Loons, 3-2, back on March 16, in Carson, but then played to a scoreless tie in Minnesota on April 24 in a midweek contest.
= The conference finals are also single elimination. The West is decided on Oct. 29, and the East on Oct. 30.
= Which ever team is left as the highest seed – NYCFC has the No. 1 spot in the East – will host the MLS Cup on Nov. 10.
= Also this week in the Round 1 games:
West:
No. 6 Portland at No. 3 Salt Lake, Saturday at 7 p.m., ESPNEWS
No. 7 Dallas as No. 2 Seattle, Saturday at 12:30 p.m., Fox Sports
East:
No. 5 D.C. United at No. 4 Toronto, Saturday at 3 p.m., Telemundo (winner advances to play at NYCFC on Oct. 23)
No. 7 New England at No. 2 Atlanta, Saturday at 10 a.m., Univision/Telemundo
No. 6 N.Y. Red Bulls at No. 3 Philadelphia, Sunday at noon, FS1
The bracket: www.mlssoccer.com

*************** Continue reading “10.14.19: Five things for the week ahead, all based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance”

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

NUMBER 1What we know, and what we think we know, a week into the Major League Baseball playoffs:
= All four division series could end Monday.
= As long as the Washington Nationals have Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg as viable arms to throw considerable innings over Games 4 and possibly Game 5 of the NLCS against the Dodgers, they have a chance to erase a 2-1 deficit. Who you got Monday in a Scherzer-vs.-Rich Hill scenario? There you go …
Game 4 goes Monday at 3:40 p.m. on TBS, with Game 5 back at Dodger Stadium, if necessary, on Wednesday at 5:37 p.m.

= Atlanta’s comeback in Game 3 at St. Louis shows the Braves’ resilience. They haven’t even named a starter yet in their Game 4 matchup today against the Cardinals (noon, TBS).
A Dodgers-Braves NLCS would start Friday and Saturday at Dodgers Stadium (as would a Dodgers-Cardinals series, should that matchup occur. Or else, it’s Washington at Atlanta or St. Louis).
= After Houston used Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole go throw 14 2/3 innings, 23 strikeouts and no earned runs in Games 1 and 2 wins over Tampa Bay, the Astros dig deep to send out Zach Greinke out to possibly ends its ALDS on Monday, who has former Astros starter Charlie Morton on the mound (11 a.m., FS1). Greinke’s thoughts? He had a 67-word press conference that explains it all.
= The Yankees’ 2-0 lead over 101-win Minnesota is predictable. Their ALDS Game 3 bats cleanup in the four-game order Monday (5:40 p.m., FS1).
The ALCS then starts Saturday on FS1, TBA.

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NUMBER 2What we know, and what we think we know, about NFL Week 6:
The 2-3 Chargers’ ready-for-prime-time event comes in an NBC twilight visit to Carson’s Dignity Health Sports Park against Pittsburgh (Sunday, 5:20 p.m., Channel 4). It could have been flexed out by the network. But let’s save those cards until the end of the season. If not for that charity trip to Miami two weeks ago, the Chargers could be looking much worse in the AFC West.
Meanwhile, the 3-2 Rams, having played a Thursday after a Sunday and losing both, meet up with a San Francisco 49ers team that has a Monday night game leading into a Sunday 1 p.m. meeting at the Coliseum (Channel 11).
Finishing up Week 5:
Monday
= Cleveland at San Francisco, 5:15 p.m., ESPN
Going into Week 6:
Thursday:
= N.Y. Giants at New England, 5:20 p.m., Channel 11, NFL Network, Amazon Prime
Sunday:
Carolina vs. Tampa Bay at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, 6:30 a.m., NFL Network
In the Fox 10 a.m. window: Seattle at Cleveland, Washington at Miami, Philadelphia at Minnesota
In the CBS 10 a.m. window: Houston at Kansas City, New Orleans at Jacksonville, Cincinnati at Baltimore
In the Fox afternoon window (1:05 p.m., blacked out in LA): Atlanta at Arizona
In the CBS afternoon window (1:25 p.m.): Dallas at N.Y. Jets, Tennessee at Denver
Bye weeks: Chicago, Buffalo, Oakland, Indianapolis

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NUMBER 3What we know, and what we think we know, about college football Week 7:
USC’s every-other-year trip to Notre Dame (Saturday, 4:30 p.m., Channel 4) sets up as an unranked 3-2 Trojan team up against a No. 9 Irish squad sitting on 5-1 after a 52-0 home win against Bowling Green, the team’s 14th win in a row at home.
This is the 91st meeting, and USC has won 11 ofthe last 17 — but all six losses have been since 2010. The Trojans have won six of the last 11 in South Bend — but they’ve dropped the last three.
Notre Dame leads the series, 48-36-5, and a 26-13-1 mark in South Bend.
Also this week:
Pac-12 games:
Colorado at Oregon, Friday at 7 p.m., FS1
Washington at Arizona, Saturday at 8 p.m., ESPN
Utah at Oregon State, Saturday at 5 p.m. Pac-12 Network
Washington State at Arizona State, Saturday at 12:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network
Bye week: UCLA, Cal, Stanford
Also:
Saturday:
Penn State at Iowa, 4:30 p.m., Channel 7
Florida at LSU, 5 p.m., ESPN
Florida State at Clemson, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7
South Carolina at Georgia, 9 a.m., ESPN
Oklahoma vs. Texas in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, 9 a.m., Channel 11
Michigan at Illinois, 9 a.m., Channel 7
Alabama at Texas A&M, 12:30 p.m., Channel 2
Michigan State at Wisconsin, 12:30 p.m.
Hawaii at Boise State, 7:15 p.m., ESPN2
Wyoming at San Diego State, 7:30 p.m., CBSSN

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NUMBER 4What we know, and what we think we know, a week into the NHL season:
After starting with three in a row on the road in Canada, including the bizarre 6-5 loss in Edmonton, the Kings come back for five home games in a stretch of eight days.
How this week shapes up for the Kings:
At Calgary, Tuesday at 6 p.m., Fox Sports West
At Vancouver, Wednesday at 7 p.m., NBCSN
Vs. Nashville at Staples Center, Saturday at 3 p.m., Fox Sports West
Vs. Vegas at Staples Center, Sunday at 7 p.m., Fox Sports West
How this week shapes up for the Ducks:
At Detroit, Tuesday at 4:30 p.m., Prime Ticket
At Pittsburgh, Thursday at 4 p.m., Prime Ticket
At Columbus, Friday at 4 p.m., Prime Ticket

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NUMBER 5What we know, and what we think we know, about this Lakers trip to China:
The 13th edition of the NBA China Games already has some unwanted, and unwarranted, publicity. It won’t end here, will it?
= Lakers vs. Brooklyn in Shanghai, Thursday at 4:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
= Lakers vs. Brooklyn in Shenzhen, Saturday at 4:30 p.m. Spectrum Sports Net
The Clippers this week:
= vs. Denver at Staples Center, Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket
= vs. Melbourne United at Staples Center, Sunday at 12:30 p.m. (no TV)

More

Also:
= WNBA Finals Game 4: Washington at Connecticut, Tuesday at 5 p.m., ESPN (Washington leads series 2-1).

 

 

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

NUMBER 1The Dodgers’ franchise-record 106 wins – a result of a 6-0 run during the final week of the regular season and a 12-4 clip since clinching the NL West on Sept. 10 – goes down as the best in the National League, and second-best in the MLB to Houston’s 107 wins. So if the Dodgers and Astros reprise their 2017 World Series, this time a Game 7 would be in Houston. Because last time the Dodgers had a Game 7 against the Astros …
Let’s not catapult ourselves too far too soon.
The Dodgers start the NL Division Series at Dodger Stadium on Thursday and Friday, against the winner of the Milwaukee-Washington wild-card game (Tuesday, 5 p.m., TBS), with Game 3 on the road Sunday.
Major League Baseball announced that if Washington wins Tuesday’s wildcard, the Dodgers-Nationals NLDS starts at 5:37 p.m. If Milwaukee wins, the Dodgers-Brewers NLDS starts at 6:37 p.m. The Friday Game 2 would be at 6:37 p.m. (Dodgers-Nationals) or 6:47 p.m. (Dodgers-Brewers).
According to the latest numbers from FiveThirtyEight.com, the Astros are 27 percent favorite to win it all. Their starting pitching will go a long way toward proving that. But the Dodgers are at 24 percent.
FanGraphs.com has the Astros at 32 percent, with the Yankees second at 16 percent and then the Dodgers at 15 percent.
VegasInsider.com has the Dodgers as 1/2 to win the NLCS, the Astros 5/6 to take the ALCS, and then Houston the 9/4 favorite (over the 5/2 Dodgers) to win the title again.
So, we now play it out.
The rest of the post-season MLB schedule to date:
= AL wildcard: Tampa Bay at Oakland, 5 p.m., ESPN
= NLDS: St. Louis at Atlanta, Games 1 and 2 in Atlanta, Thursday and Friday (either 2:02 p.m. or 3:02 p.m. starts), TBS; Game 3 in St. Louis, Sunday, TBS.
= ALDS: AL wildcard winner at Houston, Games 1 and 2 in Houston, Friday (11:05 a.m., FS1) and Saturday (6:07 p.m. FS1); Minnesota at N.Y. Yankees, Games 1 and 2 in New York, Friday (4:07 p.m., MLB Network) and Saturday (6:07 p.m. FS1) Continue reading “09.30.19: Five things for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance”