The stars come out in the NBA on Sunday night in Houston, when TNT televises the NBA All-Star Game. And the two biggest stars go head-to-head on Thursday night, when LeBron & Miami take on Durant’s OkC in an 8 PM ET tip on TNT that helps send the league into the All-Star break. Otherwise, this week in sports is about big college basketball games, as the races for conference titles heat up and teams on the fringe of the NCAA Tournament know the margin for error is decreasing. Let’s walk through the week day-by-day and line up the best games to watch in TV sports…
Monday: Suddenly the Kansas Jayhawks have their back to the wall, at least when it comes to winning another Big 12 title. Thanks to their three-game losing streak, it’s now Kansas State who’s in first place and K-State’s visit to Phog Allen Fieldhouse is a must-win for Bill Self’s team. Tip time is 9 PM ET on ESPN. And the warmup for this game is Marquette-Georgetown at 7 PM ET, where the Golden Eagles are surprisingly atop the Big East standings. And the NBA’s All-Star Week gets off to a nice start with San Antonio-Chicago on NBA-TV at 8 PM ET.
Tuesday: It’s the SEC and Big Ten who have significant showdowns in their championship races. Kentucky is improving and there would be no better way to make that known than to win at SEC frontrunner Florida (7 PM ET, ESPN). Then immediately following is Michigan-Michigan State from East Lansing, where both teams are part of a tough four-team race for the league title. After the Wolverines and Sparty are finished, if you’ve got some energy left, catch the second half of NBA Western Conference contenders in Houston-Golden State, a game that starts at 10:30 PM ET on NBA-TV.
Wednesday: Take your pick between the ACC and the NBA tonight. If it’s college ball, start with Miami-Florida State at 7 PM ET on ESPN2 and then flip over to ESPN for the North Carolina-Duke game at 9 PM ET. In each case you’ve got a title contender playing a bubble team in a heated rivalry. NBA-TV offers you Bulls-Celtics and Rockets-Clippers in a doubleheader starting at 7:30 PM ET.
Thursday: The Heat-Thunder battle is the best game of the entire week, and it’s followed up with Clippers-Lakers in the TNT doubleheader. But if you want a geographic rivalry that doesn’t involve a completely dysfunctional team, try Wisconsin-Minnesota at 7 PM ET on ESPN. Watch that game, DVR the Heat-Thunder to start watching about nine o’clock. Your underrated game of the week is also tonight, with an Atlantic 10 game between UMass and VCU (9 PM ET, CBS Sports Network). The Minutemen are sneaking around the bubble of the NCAA Tournament and VCU’s got another good team. Although, I’m guessing that game won’t tear many people away from LeBron & Durant.
Friday: Normally this is an NBA night with an ESPN doubleheader, but with the All-Star break it’s dead in the water. Even the hockey game of Anaheim-Detroit (7:30 PM ET, NHLN) is a yawner. The only way to get a good game is you have the Center Ice package and can tune into San Jose-Chicago or Philadelphia-New Jersey. On balance, a good night to get caught up on the rest of life.
Saturday: I have to say the all-day run of college basketball is kind of on the disappointing side. CBS splits its 1 PM ET coverage two ways, and if you’re in the part of the country that gets Marquette-Pitt, that’s a nice start, but Kentucky-Tennessee doesn’t do a lot for me. The best the late afternoon has is Missouri-Arkansas (4 PM ET, ESPN), where at least the Hogs big win over Florida has put them in the NCAA discussion. The dinner hour picks up a little bit—Duke-Maryland (6 PM ET, ESPN) is must-win for the Terps and they always bring a rabid crowd to greet the Dookies. You also have to like Baylor-Kansas State at 7 PM ET on ESPNU, where the Bears are also in the group of teams chasing K-State. This time window could be even stronger if CBS Sports Network would have opted for Charlotte-St. Louis over Temple-UMass for its 6 PM ET telecast.
ESPN’s Gameday crew will be on hand for Texas-Kansas at 9 PM ET. The Longhorns’ disappointing year means the better night games will be off-Broadway—try Arizona State-Colorado on ESPNU at the same time. The Sun Devils are playing good basketball, while the Buffaloes have the talent to make a late run at the NCAA Tournament. Or go to NBC Sports Network for a 9 PM ET tip between San Diego State and UNLV, a key game in a crazy Mountain West race.
Sunday: Start the day with Ohio State-Wisconsin (1 PM ET, CBS) with the Badgers playing their second big nationally televised game in four days. NBC offers a hockey doubleheader, that starts at 12: 30 PM ET with Sidney Crosby as Pittsburgh goes to Buffalo and ends at 3:30 with the lagging LA Kings visiting the red-hot Chicago Blackhawks. Then cap the week off with the best basketball players in the world in the NBA All-Star Game from Houston (8 PM ET, TNT).