Duke-Michigan St. in spotlight
It's the first day of December, but it feels like March with all the college basketball goodness in store for us tonight. Not a basketball fan? You might want to catch up on your TiVo. But we wouldn't recommend it. Here's what you'll be missing:
ACC/Big Ten Challenge Marquee Matchup: No. 6 Michigan State at No. 1 Duke, 9:30 pm ET, ESPN
When we said it felt like March, this is what we're talking about. It's not often we are treated to a potential Final Four preview early in the season. Big Ten powerhouse Michigan State (5-1), ranked No. 6 after a loss to UConn last week knocked them from No. 2, visits defending national champion Duke (6-0), ranked No. 1 and riding a 16-game winning streak dating back to last season. Duke also boasts a staggering 80 game non-conference home winning streak at Cameron Indoor Arena. Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski and Michigan State's Tom Izzo have only faced each other five times, with Coach K's Blue Devils winning four of those games.
As if tonight's game wasn't big enough, heading into this week's ACC/Big Ten Challenge, Coach Izzo boldly proclaimed that the "Big Ten, right now, is the best conference." Against the upset-minded Spartans, Coach K will have his Blue Devils primed and ready to defend the ACC's basketball honor. This is the kind of game you cancel plans to stay home and watch. Or at the very least make sure you're out someplace with a television tuned to ESPN.
Women's College Basketball: A double dose of Top 25 matchups
The ACC/Big Ten challenge isn't just for the men. Michigan State's No. 25 ranked women's basketball team gets in on the action as they travel to No. 14 Florida State (6-0) with a three-game winning streak on the line at 7 p.m. ET.
At 8 p.m. ET, another pair of women's basketball national powerhouses tip off as No. 16 Notre Dame visits No. 3 Baylor, the first ever meeting between these two schools. The Lady Bears are coming off a 2010 Final Four appearance (losing to eventual national champion UConn) and boast sophomore player of the year candidate Britney Griner, already the program's career shot block leader. Keep an eye on this young Baylor team, whose only loss this season was a 65-64 heartbreaker at No. 1 UConn. They should be playing well into March and April.
NBA: L.A. Lakers at Houston Rockets, 8:30 p.m. ET
Why are we watching? Because LeBron James and the Miami Heat don't head to Cleveland until Thursday night. We're also watching because the defending NBA champions stumble into Houston tonight, losers of three in a row, and desperate to stave off their first four game losing streak since 2007. Speaking of desperate, look at the 5-12 Rockets, losers of six of eight and missing their oft-injured starting center Yao Ming and guard Aaron Brooks. In a loaded Western Conference, the Rockets have dug a hole that might be too deep to overcome.
To those of you who celebrate: Happy Hanukkah. For you football fans out there, don't worry -- the NFL is back tomorrow night with the Texans at Eagles. See you tomorrow morning.