Daily Sports: An All-Baseball Monday

There’s no championship action in the NBA or NHL tonight, so baseball will key the daily sports diet for Monday. It starts with a key game in the American League East, as the Boston Red Sox visit the Tampa Bay Rays (7 PM ET, ESPN). Boston has a game and a half lead in the division, while Tampa Bay is four out, and while calling the series “huge” would be a stretch, the Rays don’t want to get too far behind in a four-team race where it’s likely someone will always be playing well.

Three more tickets are on the line for the College World Series, and there are decisive games in the Super Regionals between North Carolina-South Carolina and Kansas State-Oregon State. These games will go at 7 PM ET and 10 PM ET. I’m seeing contradictory TV listings, with the NCAA website listing them on ESPN2, while ESPN.com is non-committal. We can say this—they’ll both be on the tube, either ESPN2 or ESPNU.

Virginia-Mississippi State is also still going, with the Bulldogs having a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three  series, and a 5-3 lead in the seventh of a game that was postponed yesterday and will be picked up today.

Congratulations go out to the five teams that are on their way to Omaha—Louisville, Indiana, UCLA, LSU and N.C. State. We want to give special attention to Louisville—the Cardinal athletic program has won the Final Four, won the Sugar Bowl, seen it’s women’s basketball team go to the national final and now is on their way to the College World Series. That’s a good year.

We can add in the fact that the NBA markets closest to Louisville are Indiana and Memphis, both of whom made the conference finals. All of it means that this fan base is the early leader for TheSportsNotebook’s annual February awarding of the most successful fan market  in a sports year.

TheSportsNotebook will be focused on NBA commentary, looking back on Game 2 last night in Miami and what it all portends for when the Finals resumes tomorrow night in San Antonio. Over the weekend, our NHL analysis celebrated both Boston and Chicago, who punched their ticket to the Stanley Cup Final. And MLB coverage took a closer look at the Arizona Diamondbacks.