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This Weekend In Sports: Heat vs. Grizzlies and World Baseball Classic Begins

TWIS 2-28
Ronald Martinez, Mike Ehrmann, Kevork Djansezian, Stephen Dunn / Getty Images

A marquee NBA matchup and the start of an international baseball tournament highlight the upcoming sports calendar. Here’s what to watch this weekend:

Friday, March 1

Memphis Grizzlies at Miami Heat

American Airlines Arena, Miami; 8 p.m. (ET) on ESPN
The NBA’s two hottest teams will duel in Miami on Friday night. The Memphis Grizzlies (38-18) have won eight games in a row, including rallying from 25 points down to beat Dallas on Wednesday. Grizzlies veteran Zach Randolph is averaging 15.8 points and 11.7 rebounds per game. The Miami Heat (41-14) have won 12 consecutive games. LeBron James and Dwayne Wade have been all but unstoppable in 2013.

Saturday, March 2

World Baseball Classic — Japan vs. Brazil

Fukuoka Yahoo! Japan Dome, Fukuoka, Japan; 5 a.m. (ET) on MLB Network—through March 19
The World Baseball Classic begins its international schedule in Japan, as the home team takes on Brazil in Pool A play. Cuba and China are also in this pool. The U.S. team won’t start play until March 8 against Mexico at Chase Field in Arizona. Other pools are in Taichung, Taiwan and San Juan, Puerto Rico. The championship is March 17-19 at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

(10) Louisville at (12) Syracuse

Carrier Dome, Syracuse, N.Y.; 12 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Twelfth-ranked Syracuse (22-6, 10-5 Big East) has slumped badly down the stretch. The Orange have lost five of nine games and two in a row. Head coach Jim Boeheim is trying to get his team focused for the post-season. Tenth-ranked Louisville (23-5, 11-4 Big East) has won four games in a row. The experienced Cardinals are a threat to make a tournament run behind guards Russ Smith and Peyton Siva. Louisville lost to Syracuse, 70-68, on January 19.

(5) Miami at (3) Duke

Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, N.C.; 6 p.m. (ET) on ESPN
After getting embarrassed by the Hurricanes, 90-63, on the road in January, No. 3 Duke (24-3, 11-3 ACC) could have payback on its mind when No. 5 Miami (23-4, 14-1 ACC) visits Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils have won eight of nine games with senior Mason Plumlee averaging 17.5 points per game on the season. Shane Larkin leads the Hurricanes with 13.4 points and 4.3 assists per game.

(11) Arizona at UCLA

Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles; 9 p.m. (ET) on ESPN
After losing to USC on Wednesday night, 11th-ranked Arizona (23-5, 11-5 Pac-12) will try to keep from going winless on its Los Angeles trip. Mark Lyons leads the Wildcats with a 15.2 points per game scoring average. UCLA (21-7, 11-4 Pac-12) still may not be a lock for an NCAA tournament bid, but a second win over Arizona could give head coach Ben Howland’s team the necessary credentials.

Sunday, March 3

Chicago Blackhawks at Detroit Red Wings

Joe Louis Arena, Detroit; 12:30 p.m. (ET) on NBC
Heading into Thursday night’s game at St. Louis, the Chicago Blackhawks (16-0-3) had yet to lose in regulation this NHL season. Right wing Patrick Kane has been dominant, scoring 10 goals and notching 14 assists. The Detroit Red Wings (9-8-3) have started slowly, dropping six of eight contests heading into Thursday’s game against San Jose. Henrik Zetterberg leads the Red Wings with 25 points.

Miami Heat at New York Knicks

Madison Square Garden, New York; 1 p.m. (ET) on ABC
After facing Memphis on Friday, the Miami Heat (41-14) must travel to New York City to play the rival Knicks at Madison Square Garden. LeBron James has grown more comfortable on the big stage, and there is no arena in the league with a higher profile than “The Garden.” New York (34-20) has been mediocre since a hot start. If guard Ray Felton is scoring and defending well, the Knicks can stay with any team, even the scalding hot Heat.

Subway Fresh Fit 500

Phoenix International Raceway, Avondale, Ariz.; 3 p.m. on FOX
A week after an exciting Daytona 500 finish, NASCAR’s best drivers head west to race in the Subway Fresh Fit 500. Last year’s winner Denny Hamlin will have to outrun Daytona champ Jimmie Johnson to repeat in 2013. Johnson is the record-holder for most victories at Phoenix with four.

(9) Michigan St. at (4) Michigan

Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, Mich.; 4 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Ninth-ranked Michigan St. (22-6, 11-4 Big Ten) visits in-state rival No. 4 Michigan (23-5, 10-5 Big Ten). The Spartans have lost two games in a row, albeit to No. 1 Indiana and No. 18 Ohio State. Guard Keith Appling leads the MSU attack with 13.4 points and 3.8 assists per game. The Wolverines’ Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. will try to get their team to rebound after Wednesday night’s upset loss at Penn State. The Spartans beat Michigan, 75-52, on Feb. 12.

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