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This Weekend in Sports: U.S. vs. Mexico and Championship Week

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Christian Petersen, Kevork Djansezian, Andy Lyons, Eric Francis / Getty Images

Teams battle for automatic NCAA tournament bids, and Team USA plays its first WBC game on Friday. Here’s what to watch this weekend:

Friday, March 8

World Baseball Classic — Mexico vs. United States

Chase Field, Phoenix; 9 p.m. (ET) on MLB Network — through Mar. 19
Team USA makes its debut in the World Baseball Classic against Mexico. National League Cy Young Award-winner R.A. Dickey will take the mound for the U.S., with Giancarlo Stanton and Ryan Braun providing the power in the Americans’ lineup. Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez leads Mexico. The U.S. will play Italy on Saturday and Canada on Sunday. The championship is scheduled for March 17-19 at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

Saturday, March 9

(17) Syracuse at (5) Georgetown

Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.; 12 p.m. (ET) on ESPN
After a hot start, No. 17 Syracuse (23-7, 11-6 Big East) has fallen to sixth in the Big East. James Southerland and Brandon Triche will lead the Orange against longtime rival Georgetown (23-5, 13-4). The Hoyas won the teams’ earlier meeting, 57-46, behind a 33-point game from forward Otto Porter Jr. Barring a meeting in this year’s postseason, this is the last time these two foes will face each other as members of the Big East. Syracuse joins the ACC this summer.

Championship Week — Ohio Valley Conference Championship

Nashville Municipal Auditorium, Nashville; 7 p.m. (ET) on ESPN 2
Championship Week helps fill in the NCAA tournament’s field of 68. Belmont (24-6, 14-2 OVC) and Murray State (20-9, 10-6) are the favorites to reach the final of this mid-major-conference tournament. Eastern Kentucky (23-8, 12-4) has enough talent to surprise.

(3) Duke at North Carolina

Dean E. Smith Center, Chapel Hill, N.C.; 9 p.m. (ET) on ESPN
Third-ranked Duke (26-4, 13-4 ACC) still has a chance to secure a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Forward Ryan Kelly leads the Blue Devils against longtime rival North Carolina (22-8, 12-5). While the Tar Heels are not as dominant as in recent years, head coach Roy Williams’ team has won six in a row since losing to Duke, 73-68, on February 13.

Tavoris Cloud vs. Bernard Hopkins

Barclays Center, Brooklyn; 9:30 p.m. (ET) on HBO
Former middleweight and light-heavyweight champ Bernard Hopkins, 48, will seek to break his own record as the oldest boxer to win a world title by taking the IBF light heavyweight belt from Tavoris Cloud in Brooklyn.

Sunday, March 10

Kobalt Tools 400

Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas; 3 p.m. on Fox
NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series keeps rolling out West, as the drivers look to tame the Las Vegas track. Jimmie Johnson leads the points standings after two races, but Tony Stewart, who won this race in 2012, could be the driver to beat this Sunday.

Championship Week — Missouri Valley Conference Championship

Scottrade Center, St. Louis; 2:05 p.m. (ET) on CBS
National-player-of-the-year candidate Doug McDermott is expected to lead Creighton (24-7, 13-5 MVC) to the Missouri Valley title game, as the Bluejays attempt to claim the conference’s automatic NCAA tournament bid. Wichita State (24-7, 12-6) is another favorite to make this championship game.

Chicago Bulls at Los Angeles Lakers

Staples Center, Los Angeles; 3:30 p.m. (ET) on ABC
Chicago (34-27) continues to play solid defense, holding opponents to 91.4 points per game, the league’s third-lowest total. The Bulls will have to stop Kobe Bryant and the Lakers (31-31), who have won seven of their last 10 games and are making a playoff push.

(2) Indiana at (7) Michigan

Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, Mich.; 4 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Player-of-the-year candidates Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller lead second-ranked Indiana (25-5, 13-4 Big Ten) against Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr. and No. 7 Michigan (24-5, 11-5) in a battle of the Big Ten’s highest-ranked teams. The Hoosiers can win the conference’s regular season title outright with a victory. They beat the Wolverines 81-73 on Feb. 2.

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