And then suddenly there was nothing to do—at least so says the fan whose primary interest is football. For the first time since late August, we have a week with no football on the agenda, making this the lead-in to our sports lives through February, save one brief interlude to watch the Harbaugh Family in New Orleans. But never fear, there’s plenty of good action in college basketball, and some worthwhile games in the NBA and the NHL. Let’s run through the week in sports that lies ahead:
Monday: It’s Martin Luther King Day and for some reason that means we have basketball all day long. The NBA starts in a couple hours, at 1 PM ET with a good game between Indiana-Memphis (ESPN) and then moves to a solid game on NBA-TV at 3:30 PM ET, with Brooklyn-New York. The college games kick off at the same time with Cincinnati-Syracuse (3:30 PM ET, ESPN), starting a run of four straight games, highlighted by Georgetown-Notre Dame at 7:30.
The NBA in prime-time will show one good, underhyped basketball team from the West, when San Antonio visits Philly (7, TNT) and one bad, overhyped team from the West, when the LA Lakers go into Chicago (9:30, TNT). It’s a good time to check in on the Bulls, with Derrick Rose’s return coming soon.
Tuesday: After the flurry of games on Monday, this one’s fairly quiet. Michigan State-Wisconsin is a great game in the Big Ten (7 PM ET, ESPN). Otherwise you have to find interest in Boston College-Maryland (9 PM ET, ESPNU) on the tenuous grounds that it’s the same markets who just played for the AFC Championship. Or you can watch hockey and check out Philly-New Jersey (7:30 PM ET, NBCSN).
Wednesday: Don’t look now, but Miami is undefeated in ACC play. And Duke is coming to town tonight at 7 PM ET on ESPN. Here at TheSportsNotebook we’ll take a closer look at the Hurricanes prior to that game. ‘Canes-Duke is the clearly the focal point of a night that mixes in a couple good NBA-TV games from the Western Conference in Denver-Houston and Oklahoma City-Golden State, with the doubleheader starting at 8 PM ET.
Thursday: In the world of TV sports, Thursday night means the NBA on TNT. And in the world of college hoops, it means the Pac-12 plays most of its weeknight games. Fans reap the benefit of both. UCLA-Arizona is a great college game (9 PM ET, ESPN2) and you can whet your appetite with Celtics-Knicks (8 PM ET, TNT).
Friday: Very quiet tonight, with San Antonio-Dallas (8 PM ET, ESPN) being a game that would have been great two years ago, pretty good last year, and is pretty dull this season. Go catch a movie.
Saturday: The college basketball games aren’t quite as rich as they were last week, when Syracuse’s 70-68 win over Louisville keyed a card that had big conference games all over the board. But the ‘Ville is in action at Georgetown (Noon ET, ESPN) and Duke hosts Maryland (1 PM ET, CBS). But the best game is off the national radar and it’s the Mountain West battle between New Mexico and San Diego State (4 PM ET, NBC Sports Network). The Lobos are in first place, the Aztecs probably have more talent and face a must-win at home.
Sunday: No NFL action means the NBA starts up the run of Sunday doubleheaders that will be a staple, really until the end the conference finals when all action shifts to prime-time. Its two disappointing big-market teams playing at home against the two Finals favorites as Heat-Celtics and Thunder-Lakers tip off in a doubleheader beginning at 1 PM ET. Then cap off the night with Hawks-Knicks (6:30 PM ET, ESPN).
Football is on the way out, but college basketball conference races are heating up and that is what highlights the sports agenda this coming week.