Friday Fever

March 8, 2024

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Los Angeles Lakers

© Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers are both in unfavorable positions as they head into Friday night’s matchup. They’re licking their wounds.

The Bucks are coming off a 35-point loss to Golden State in which Giannis Antetokounmpo tweaked his Achilles, and he now has an injury designation for this game. However, he is probable to play.

The Bucks currently sit second in the East but are still not playing up to their expected potential after they acquired All-Star point guard Damian Lillard in the offseason. Milwaukee is 41-22, but with the No. 1 seed well out of reach, the Bucks are hoping to simply maintain their spot in the standings. The Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic are on their heels, however.

The Lakers come into this contest in even worse shape. They are also coming off a loss and both of their star players have injury issues. LeBron James, who averages 25.3 points per game at age 39, turned his ankle and looked hobbled after the game Wednesday. He is currently listed as questionable. Meanwhile, Anthony Davis (Achilles) is a game-time decision.

The Bucks are third in the NBA in terms of scoring with 120.9 PPG, but they have been playing worse as of late. In their last three games, they have scored an average of just 105.3 PPG and are quickly losing their spark offensively. Milwaukee was 30-13 when it fired head coach Adrian Griffin. Since, the Bucks are just 11-9. Still, they come into this game as a 2.5 point road favorite.

Both teams need to win as the season comes to a close, but the Lakers need it badly. The Bucks are essentially locked in to one of the top-four seeds in the East, barring a total collapse. The Lakers currently sit in 10th place in a brutal Western Conference, squarely on the play-in bubble.

L.A. is tied with the ninth-place Warriors and are 3.0 games back of the No. 7 Kings. In a perfect world, the Lakers would avoid the play-in tournament which is held between seeds 7-10. But as of now, just avoiding the 10 seed seems like the highest priority.

Jason Schlefsky’s Pick: Milwaukee ML (-140)

If LeBron James is able to go, this one will be a battle. However, the Bucks are in need of a bounce back game. Coming off a 35-point loss, they need to regain focus against a very beatable and banged up team. Expect Giannis and the Milwaukee Bucks to go off on Friday night.


NCAAMB: Boise State at (21) San Diego State

© Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

It’s the final game of the season for both the Boise State Broncos and the San Diego State Aztecs. San Diego State currently sits below Boise State in the conference standings, but the Aztecs are the highest-ranked team in the Mountain West at No. 21.

This game will serve as a revenge game for the Aztecs, as the Broncos squeaked out a 67-66 win in the last matchup between the two conference rivals. This time, the game will be played in southern California and the Aztecs are currently 8.0-point favorites.

San Diego State is coming off of a loss to UNLV, a game in which the Aztecs were favored to win by three. As they travel back home, they will look to bounce back with a victory. The Aztecs will be at home for the 15th time this season; they have the opportunity to go the entire season without losing a game on their home hardwood. They are currently 14-0.

That streak will most definitely be a driving factor for Jaedon LeDee and the Aztecs. LeDee is SDSU’s main weapon. Scoring 20.5 points per game, he is just one of two Aztec players averaging double digit points, the other being Reese Waters with just 10.7 PPG.

Much of San Diego State’s scoring revolves around LeDee and he will have to be better than he was in the last matchup if the Aztecs want to come out on top. LeDee had just 13 points in the loss to Boise State earlier this year.

Boise State, like its opponent, is also coming off of a loss. The Broncos fell at home to Nevada, losing 76-66; that ended a streak of five straight wins. They will be looking to finish the season strong with a win over a ranked conference rival and position themselves for a March Madness push.

The Broncos have four players averaging double figures, with Tyson Degenhart leading the charge. Degenhart averages almost 17 PPG, to go along with nearly 6.0 rebounds. Helping him out are teammates Chibuzo Agbo, O’Mar Stanley and Max Rice. Stanley was the leading scorer in the last matchup against San Diego State, pouring in 17 points.

Hoops Harlen’s Pick: San Diego State -8

The Broncos have had a good season this year, but they will need to make a splash to truly have a shot at making the tournament as a decent seed. Winning this game on the road and completing the season sweep of San Diego State as they enter the Mountain West tournament would be nothing short of that. They are 8.0-point underdogs for a reason, though. The Aztecs are perfect when it’s at their place. Fourteen games in a row with a chance to make it undefeated for a whole season. That’s not something to bet against. Take the Aztecs to finish the season strong and cover.

And Keep an Eye On…

NCAAW: Penn State vs. (1) Iowa (Friday, 6:30 p.m. ET)

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The quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament roll on at Target Center. And it’s clear who the biggest star will be this weekend in Minnesota. Caitlin Clark, fresh off becoming the all-time leading scorer in college basketball history, will be center stage. Her Hawkeyes get started on Friday night against a Penn State team that rolled through Wisconsin in the opening round to advance. The Nittany Lions will face an Iowa team that is much better than the Badgers, however, as evidenced from their earlier matchup, when Clark and company rolled to an 18-point win exactly a month ago.


NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Los Angeles Clippers (Sunday, 3:00 p.m. ET)

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Could this be an NBA Finals preview? Many people think so. And the standings certainly suggest that it’s possible. The Bucks are currently the No. 2 seed in the East, trailing only the Celtics. Meanwhile, the Clippers sit fourth in the West, just 3.0 games back of the Timberwolves for the top spot. So a Milwaukee vs. Los Angeles matchup in June isn’t all that farfetched. First things first, however, as this Sunday matinee will be a good one. L.A. will be coming off a Saturday afternoon game against Chicago, while Milwaukee will have had two days rest after playing the Lakers on Friday night. That could be the difference.


NCAAB: (14) Kansas at (1) Houston (Saturday, 4:00 p.m. ET)

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The Cougars are 27-3, with their sights set on a national title. They’ll get a chance to prove they’re legit in this Big 12 showdown, as the Jayhawks come to town. Kansas is 22-8, but the Jayhawks are sputtering a bit. Bill Self’s team has lost two out of three, dropping back-to-back games to BYU in Lawrence and Baylor in Waco. KU will play a Houston team that is red-hot, winners of eight straight. The Cougars haven’t lost in more than a month, when they fell by 13 points at, that’s right, Kansas. This should be a dandy.