This Weekend in Sports: US Open, College World Series and the NBA Finals
Tiger Woods chases a major victory, eight teams seek NCAA glory and LeBron James looks to derail Kevin Durant in the NBA Finals. Here’s what to watch this weekend in sports:
Friday, June 15
U.S. Open — Second Round
The Olympic Club, San Francisco, CA; 12 p.m. (EDT); ESPN and NBC-TV; Continues through Sunday
After his victory at the Memorial Tournament in Ohio earlier this month — his second in 2012 — all eyes will be on Tiger Woods, who has won three previous U.S. opens (2000, 2002, 2008). For the first two rounds, Woods will be paired with Phil Mickelson, who is still seeking his first Open tittle, and Masters champion Bubba Watson. If Woods is still in the chase as of Sunday, expect big TV ratings and gallery crowds.
College World Series — Stony Brook vs. UCLA
TD Ameritrade Park, Omaha, NE; 5 p.m. (EDT); ESPN 2-TV; Continues through June 26
The College World Series gets started on Friday in Nebraska with Stony Brook, UCLA, Arizona, Florida State, Arkansas, Kent State, South Carolina and Florida all seeking to become the NCAA Division I baseball champion. Florida is the No. 1 seed, but UCLA may have the team to finally win it all. The double-elimination tournament culminates in a three-game series for the title on June 24-26.
New York Yankees at Washington Nationals
Nationals Park, Washington, DC; 7:05 p.m. (EDT); YES and MASN-TV
The New York Yankees (37-25 as of Thursday) head to Washington to face the Nationals (38-23) in a battle of first place teams. New York starter Phil Hughes (6-5, 4.76) has rebounded from a rough start to 2012 to win five of his last six decisions. Yankees’ center fielder Curtis Granderson is having an all-star season with 19 home runs and 36 runs batted in. Gio Gonzalez (8-2, 2.35) takes the mound for the Nationals, who look like they may be here to stay. Washington had a five-game lead in the National League East as of Thursday.
Saturday, June 16
Miami Marlins at Tampa Bay Rays
Tropicana Field, Saint Petersburg, FL; 7:15 p.m. (EDT); FOX-TV
There is no real rivalry in this cross-state match-up between teams with legitimate post-season chances. The Saturday game will be part of the Fox MLB Game of the Week broadcast and feature a match-up of two underrated starting pitchers. Annibal Sanchez (3-5, 3.40) goes for the Marlins. Despite his losing record, he has pitched six or more innings in all of his starts but one. Tampa counters with James Shields (7-4, 4.06), who is always capable of putting up double-digits in strikeouts.
Sunday, June 17
US Open — Final Round
The Olympic Club, San Francisco, CA; 4 p.m. (EDT); NBC-TV
After shooting a 1-under 69 on Thursday, Tiger Woods is expected to be in the chase for the U.S. Open title as the tournament draws to a close on Sunday afternoon. Defending champion Rory McIlroy may be a threat, as well as Rickie Fowler, the young upstart with a lot of potential. If a playoff is needed, it will be held Monday at The Olympic Club.
Quicken Loans 400
Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn, MI; 1 p.m. (EDT); TNT-TV
Matt Kenseth leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup points race over second-ranked Dale Earnhardt, Jr. heading into Michigan. Defending race champ Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson and Martin Truex Jr. all could challenge for the checkered flag this week.
NBA Finals : Game 3 — Oklahoma City Thunder at Miami Heat
American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL; 8 p.m. (EDT); ABC-TV
After Tuesday night’s 105-94 win, the Oklahoma City Thunder head into Thursday night’s Game 2 with hopes of taking a commanding 2-0 lead in the series into Miami on Sunday night. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook may be too athletic for Miami to defend, unless the Heat can get more players to help take the pressure off Dwayne Wade and LeBron James. The Thunder want to continue to force Miami into a half-court offense so that their superstars can’t get loose for dunks and easy baskets.
Boston Red Sox at Chicago Cubs
Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL; 8 p.m. (EDT); ESPN-TV
ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball game is a battle between iconic franchises, both of which are having disappointing years. Boston ace Josh Beckett (4-7, 4.14) opposes Cubs pitcher Paul Maholm (4-5, 4.91). Both teams were in last place in their respective divisions as of Thursday. It’s hard to imagine either team improving dramatically in 2012.