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Thursday, March 10, 2011
Conference calls

Men's college basketball: There are 14, count 'em 14, ranked teams hitting the hardwood today as conference tournaments heat up. Highlights include two top-five teams in brunch-time battles, as No. 3 Pittsburgh and No. 19 UConn to kick off today's Big East action at noon ET, and No 2. Kansas faces Oklahoma State in a Big 12 quarterfinal at 12:30. Later in the afternoon, the 11th-ranked Syracuse Orange open up their tournament play against No. 18 St. John's, coming off Wednesday's controversial win over Rutgers. Syrcause has come out on top in 11 of its last 12 meetings with the Red Storm.

Women's college basketball: A whole mess of conference championship games going on today, but No. 22 Houston is the only ranked team in action. The Cougars, who haven't lost a game since Jan. 4, will battle UTEP in the Conference USA quarterfinals in El Paso.

NBA: Talk about billboard material. The Heat host the Lakers tonight, just a few days after Phil Jackson said of Miami's "Crygate" scandal: "This is the NBA: No Boys Allowed. Big boys don't cry. But, if you're going to do it, do it in the toilet where no one can see." Jackson softened his stance on Wednesday, exhibiting a bit of sympathy for the Three Muska-tears, saying, "From what I've heard, this team feels like they're being looked at to lose ... if that's the case, it's a burden to carry." Jackson's Lakers ride an eight-game win streak into AmericanAirlines Arena, while the Heat are mired in a much-publicized five-game skid. ... Out in Dallas, the Mavs host the Knicks tonight. Dallas has won 16 of its last 18 contests with the Knicks, but Carmelo Anthony and Co. have won three straight, including a dramatic last-second victory over the Grizzlies Wednesday night. ... Further West, the Suns look to continue their winning ways against the Nuggets at US Airways Center. Denver hasn't notched a win in Phoenix since April of 2004.

NHL: The speeding trains that are the Sharks and the Canucks meet tonight in San Jose. The Sharks have won nine of their last 10 games, while the Canucks have won three straight to start off their five-game road trip.