The Greatest Night of Televised Basketball Ever
I’m not sure if I’ve ever encountered a night like tonight in terms of the volume of televised basketball that I want to watch being played. There are no less than five games on tonight that I would normally plan my night around, and a sixth that I would seriously consider watching on an average night. My viewing habits are obviously biased toward watching the teams of my home state (tonight that would be Marquette and Wisconsin, as UWM thankfully takes a break), and I have a few pet teams that I tend to watch more than others (Duke, Louisville, Gonzaga, Tennessee). Almost all seem to have converged on this one night. I clearly won’t be able to watch all 12 hours of basketball during the five waking hours that I’m at home tonight. But here’s what I’ll be switching between during possibly the greatest non-tournament night ever:
Michigan vs. Indiana (5:30pm, Big Ten Network): On a normal night, I might check this one out for a bit. Tonight? Very little chance that I’ll watch any of it, and that’s a shame, because I loved it when Tom Crean and John Beilein met when they were in the Big East, and I suspect that it would be even more fun for me to watch now that Crean has virtually no talent on his roster. I know that Indiana getting constantly pummeled is expected and necessary this year, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still enjoy it.
Duke vs. Davidson (6pm, ESPN): In the most obvious storyline of the night, Davidson’s Stephen Curry gets to show if he can keep scoring points and dishing out assists at record pace against one of college basketball’s most well-known teams. It should be a great show, assuming that Coach K doesn't go all Loyola on us and concede the game so that he can hold Curry scoreless with a triangle-and-two.
Louisville vs. South Florida (6pm, ESPN2): I tune into Louisville games a lot because I like watching former Wisconsin high school players, and Jerry Smith gets plenty of playing time for the Cardinals. But every time I watch Louisville, I find myself loving other players, with Earl Clark being the guy that usually catches my eye. So the Cardinals are one of my pet teams this year. On any normal night, I’d be blocking out two hours to watch them.
Marquette vs. Rutgers (6:30pm, WMLW): Watching the local teams is always a top priority, and it’s always more fun when they’re playing well. I was sitting in the stands as Marquette took a 40-point lead over Cincinnati on Sunday and I think it’s safe to say that things are pretty fun to watch these days. Rutgers, on the other hand, is looking to get back on track after losing three straight to North Carolina, Pittsburgh, and UConn, arguably the three toughest teams in the country. So the Scarlet Knights should be pretty excited that they “only” have to play the 15th ranked team in the country, even if that team is red hot right now.
Wisconsin vs. Northwestern (7:30pm, Big Ten Network): My favorite team plays host to the team that always seems to give them trouble no matter where they are in the standings. Much as I hate Northwestern, I’m always guaranteed to shriek with delight at least 3 times during any given Wildcat game after seeing outstanding back-door passes. Not that Northwestern’s play really matters in luring me to watch the game–there are few non-biological necessities that take priority over a Wisconsin basketball game for me. I would even consider heading to Madison for this game, if not for the ridiculous slate of additional games on TV to tonight.
Gonzaga vs. Tennessee (8pm, ESPN2): A rematch of the finals of the Old Spice Classic back in late November, this one features two of the most intriguing teams in the country. Gonzaga has lost four of its last five, but is said by many to have their most talented team ever. Tennessee never ceases to be entertaining with their up-tempo style, which allows them to beat teams that they have no business beating, and occasionally lose to teams that they have no business losing to. Gonzaga prevailed the last time these two teams met, but who knows how it will go this time. Either way, there’s a good chance one team will score 90 points, and that will be good enough to keep me glued to the screen.
Hope you enjoy the evening as much as I do. And apologies to ESPNU on leaving you out of things, but after seeing Cincinnati this weekend, I’m going to be staying far, far away from the Cincy-Providence game.
(Finally, apologies on not writing much lately. I blame 15% of it on holiday stress, and 85% of it on general laziness.)