As the week in sports begins here on Monday, we’re still looking back on what happened in the NFL playoffs last weekend and looking ahead to Championship Sunday coming back, as Super Bowl berths will be settled. But in between now and then, don’t let college basketball slip past you. There’s a series of good games with early conference championship implications. Here’s a walk through what to watch on TV this week, building to Sunday’s football finale.
Monday: A big game in the Big 12 is good start to the week. If anyone’s going to challenge Kansas for Big 12 supremacy it’s Baylor. The Bears have had problems in big games since coming on as a national contender in 2010. It won’t get bigger—at least in the regular season, then tonight’s trip to Lawrence (9 PM ET, ESPN).
Tuesday: Let’s shift to the Big Ten, where Wisconsin seems to have found its footing after blasting Illinois over the weekend moving to 3-0 in the league. The Badgers are tied for first with Indiana, and the two teams square off in Bloomington (9 PM ET, ESPN).
Wednesday: North Carolina State knocked off Duke on Saturday and now the Wolfpack have to show they can keep it going, with a road date against a good Maryland team (7 PM ET, ESPN2). But Wednesday is ultimately the night to stay up late—you can watch UNLV-San Diego State battle at the top of the Mountain West Conference (10 PM ET, CBS Sports Network), and have the NBA as another option, where Miami’s visit to surprising Golden State (10:30 PM ET, ESPN) is one of the week’s pro highlights.
Thursday: Michigan and Minnesota each lost this weekend and both need a bounceback game in Williams Arena (7 PM ET, ESPN). And with this being NBA doubleheader night on TNT, continue to track the Heat on the West Coast, as they visit the Lakers (10:30 PM ET, TNT)
Friday: Good NBA action in the ESPN doubleheader, as the colleges takes the night off. Start with the Bulls’ visit to the Celtics, as Chicago’s close to getting Derrick Rose back and Boston has won five straight. Then Oklahoma City visits Dallas. The twinbill starts at 7 PM ET.
SATURDAY COLLEGE HOOPS FEST
Now college basketball isn’t all that’s going down. The long-awaited opening to the NHL season is also Saturday and here at TheSportsNotebook we’ll have a three-day run of previews later in the week to get you ready for the 48-game regular schedule. But from start to finish, there’s good games in every time slot for college hoops…
MID-AFTERNOON: Star with a big SEC game, as Missouri visit Florida (2 PM ET, ESPN), with the winner having an early leg up in the conference race. If this one gets away, you can check Arizona State’s effort to prove themselves a bona fide Pac-12 contender with a home game against Arizona (2:30 PM ET, Fox Sports).
But it’s the 4 PM ET slot that’s the juiciest one of the week. The Big East battle between Louisville and Syracuse on ESPN is the focal point. Oregon-UCLA on CBS features a pair of top Pac-12 teams. And two of the best midmajor teams, Creighton and Wichita State square off on ESPN2. Get in front of the TV set and have the remote at the ready.
EARLY EVENING: Ohio State got people’s attention again with their win over Michigan on Sunday and now the Buckeyes head to Michigan State (6 PM ET, ESPN). And Marquette is off to a 3-0 start in Big East play and visits Cincinnati (7 PM ET, ESPN). And don’t overlook a key Mountain West game, with UNLV visiting a potential NCAA Tournament team in Colorado State (7 PM ET, NBC Sports Network).
THE LATE SHOW: No two midmajor programs have captured the nation’s attention over the last 15 years like Gonzaga and Butler. They’ll go head-to-head at 9 PM ET on ESPN. And don’t overlook an interesting SEC game on ESPNU at the same time—Kentucky is still trying to find its footing, while Auburn is quietly starting to play good basketball in spite of a mediocre conference record.
That brings us to Sunday. There are no notable games in either college or the NBA. Who wants to go up against the NFL? But while San Francisco-Atlanta (3 PM ET, Fox) and Baltimore-New England (6:30 PM ET, CBS) are the feast for this week in sports, there’s a weeklong spread of appetizers with college hoops.