This Weekend In Sports: The 2013 NCAA Final Four and More
The NCAA’s Final Four kicks off in Atlanta on Saturday, and several key NBA games are slated for Sunday. Here’s what to watch this weekend:
Friday, April 5
Miami Heat at Charlotte Bobcats
Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, N.C.; 8 p.m. (ET) on ESPN
After a momentous 27-game winning streak, the Miami Heat (58-16) have begun resting LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in anticipation of a deep playoff run. They may not need those stars against struggling Charlotte (18-57). Kemba Walker has paced the Bobcats in 2012-13 with an average of 17.6 points per game.
Saturday, April 6
UFC on FUEL TV 9 — Ilir Latifi vs. Gegard Mousasi
Ericsson Globe Arena, Stockholm, Sweden; 11 a.m. (ET) on Fuel
UFC heads overseas for its latest installment on Fuel TV. Sweden’s own Alexander Gustafsson was originally supposed to take on Gegard Mousasi in the featured bout, but Ilir Latifi replaced Gustafsson when the Swedish MMA Federation ruled the hometown brawler couldn’t fight because of concerns about a still-healing cut over his eye. Latifi agreed to fight Mousasi on Tuesday, meaning he’ll be at a significant disadvantage in training time. Among the notable bouts on the undercard are: Philip De Fries vs. Matt Mitrione; Diego Brandao vs. Pablo Garza; Mike Easton vs. Brad Pickett and Ryan Couture vs. Ross Pearson.
St. Louis Cardinals at San Francisco Giants
AT&T Park, San Francisco; 4:05 p.m. (ET) on Fox
The franchises that battled in last season’s National League Championship Series meet on the first Saturday of the 2013 Major League Baseball season. Ryan Vogelsong will start for the Giants, who took two of three from the L.A. Dodgers to start the season. St. Louis sends Shelby Miller out to face the potent San Francisco lineup. These teams have combined to win the past three World Series.
2013 NCAA Final Four — Wichita State vs. Louisville
Georgia Dome, Atlanta; 6:05 p.m. (ET) on CBS
West Regional champion Wichita State (30-8) battles Midwest Regional champ Louisville (33-5) with the winner advancing to Monday’s night national title game. Guards Russ Smith and Peyton Siva lead the top-seeded Cardinals, while the Shockers rely on scoring from the front court duo of Cleanthony Early and Carl Hall.
2013 NCAA Final Four — Syracuse vs. Michigan
Georgia Dome, Atlanta; 8:49 p.m. (ET) on CBS
East Regional champ Syracuse (30-9) draws South Regional champ Michigan (30-7) in the second 2013 Final Four contest. Point guard Michael Carter-Williams is the key to the Orange attack, while guard Trey Burke leads the Wolverines. The winner advances to Monday’s night national-title game.
Sunday, April 7
New York Knicks at Oklahoma City Thunder
Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City; 1 p.m. (ET) on ABC
Winners of 10 straight games after Wednesday night’s victory over the Hawks, the New York Knicks (48-26) are the NBA’s hottest team. Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony is making a late MVP push, scoring 90 points in his last two games, including 50 against the Heat on Tuesday. Oklahoma City (54-20) is led by its MVP hopeful Kevin Durant, who is averaging a league-leading 28.3 points per game. The Thunder are still in contention for the Western Conference’s best record, just 1.5 games behind the Spurs.
New York Yankees at Detroit Tigers
Comerica Park, Detroit; 1:05 p.m. (ET) on TBS
The teams that battled in last season’s American League Championship Series duel to end the first full week of the 2013 MLB campaign. C.C. Sabathia will start for Yankees against Tigers ace Justin Verlander.
STP Gas Booster 500
Martinsville Speedway, Ridgeway, Va.; 1:13 p.m. (ET) on FOX
Points leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be the driver to watch on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this week at Martinsville Speedway. Earnhardt will attempt to keep his 12-point lead over second-place Brad Keselowski and the 16-point bulge over the always dangerous Jimmie Johnson in third.
L.A. Lakers at L.A. Clippers
Staples Center, Los Angeles; 3:30 p.m. (ET) on ABC
The Lakers (39-36) face the Clippers (50-26) at the teams’ shared home arena. The 2013 has brought a role reversal to this intra-city rivalry, as the Chris Paul- and Blake Griffin-led Clippers have won a franchise-record 50 games while Kobe Bryant’s Lakers have been clinging to a playoff spot.
2013 Women’s NCAA Final Four — Louisville vs. California
New Orleans Arena, New Orleans; 6:36 p.m. (ET) on ESPN
The upstart Cardinals (28-8), who knocked off top-seeded Baylor on their way to the women’s Final Four, will face California (32-3), the only non-Big East school to advance to the national semifinals in 2013.
L.A. Angels at Texas Rangers
The Ballpark at Arlington, Arlington, Texas; 8:05 p.m. (ET) on ESPN
The two teams favored to contend for the American League West title in 2013 wrap up their series in Texas. Jered Weaver (0-0, 1.50) gets the start for the Angels, while Yu Darvish, who came within one out of a perfect game in his first 2013 start on Tuesday, takes the hill for the Rangers. The Texas fans will likely still be booing former Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton, who signed a five-year, $125 million deal with Los Angeles in December.
2013 Women’s NCAA Final Four — Notre Dame vs. Connecticut
New Orleans Arena, New Orleans; 8:30 p.m. (ET) on ESPN
Led by Skylar Diggins, the Fighting Irish (35-1) will attempt to beat Big East foe Connecticut (33-4) in the women’s Final Four for the third straight year. Notre Dame has been defeated in the national-title game the past two seasons.