16 Sweet '06-07 Hoops Road Trips

ESPN SportsTravel resurrects its Power Weekend: Special Edition with a look ahead at a full season of college and pro basketball on weekends where you can catch a handful of games in the same area. (And it's not too late to catch a few of our football offerings either.)

Be ready to rally, too. While there are relatively few hoops games played on Sundays, Saturdays are packed from early afternoon to late evening. For the traveling basketball fan, that means doubleheaders. Lots of doubleheaders. So lace up the Chuck T's, put some gas in the tank and get ready to hit the hardcourt running.

All times local.

Fri., Dec. 1 (7 p.m.): Bucks at Suns

A revamped Milwaukee lineup anchored by All-Star sharpshooter Michael Redd will attempt to slow down reigning two-time MVP Steve Nash and the run-and-gun Suns on their home floor.

Driving distance: 0 miles

Sat., Dec. 2 (1 p.m.): Hall of Fame Challenge (Phoenix)

Also at U.S. Airways Arena in Phoenix, four dominant college hoops programs headline this annual fundraiser for the Basketball Hall of Fame. The afternoon doubleheader begins with Texas taking on Gonzaga in the opener, followed by local favorite Arizona hosting Illinois.

Sat., Dec. 2 (Noon): Kentucky at North Carolina (Chapel Hill, N.C.)

A Carolina-Duke swing is, unquestionably, the ultimate college basketball road trip. Start your day in the building where everything is painted in that heavenly hue known as Carolina blue, the Dean E. Smith Center, a.k.a. the Dean Dome, as the two all-time winningest basketball programs square off.

Driving distance: 11 miles

Sat., Dec. 2 (7 p.m.): Georgetown at Duke (Durham, N.C.)

Hop on route 15-501 and just a few miles down the road you'll arrive at Krzyzewskiville, the tent city outside the Gothic cathedral of college basketball known as Cameron Indoor Stadium. Join the Cameron Crazies for a good interconference matchup against the Hoyas. Head back to Franklin St. in Chapel Hill for postgame fun -- and Sunday brunch at Crook's Corner before you skip town.

Sat., Dec. 2 (2 p.m.): Drexel at St. Joseph's

A must-see venue for any true college hoopshead, the University of Pennsylvania's iconic Palestra -- opened in 1927 and the site of the first NCAA Championship in 1939 -- hosts this intra-city standoff between St. Joe's and Big 5 wanna-be Drexel, the first game in a day-night doubleheader.

Driving distance: 0 miles

Sat., Dec. 2 (7 p.m.): Villanova at Penn

Head out for a between-game stretch and a cheesesteak, then return to the Palestra for the nightcap as Big East power Villanova takes on perennial Ivy champ Penn. 'Nova is looking to avoid a letdown season after stars Randy Foye and Kyle Lowry got nabbed in the first round of the NBA Draft.

Driving distance: 6 miles

Sun., Dec. 3 (6 p.m.): Timberwolves at 76ers

With shaky supporting casts on both sides, former league MVPs Allen Iverson and Kevin Garnett will put on a show in South Philly at the Wachovia Center. AI may have turned 31 years old over the summer, but he's still barely lost a step on his blink-and-you'll-miss-it drives to the hoop.

Fri., Dec. 29 (7:30 p.m.): Kings at Clippers

The "other" tenant at Staples Center has new life after winning its first playoff series since moving to California in 1978. Enjoy this Pacific Division matchup vs. Sacramento, who have a new coach (Eric Musselman) and surprisingly infectious defensive toughness (thanks to Ron Artest).

Driving distance: 13 miles

Sun., Dec. 31 (2 p.m.): Washington at UCLA

Start this Saturday doubleheader at Pauley Pavilion with a matchup of the Bruins and Huskies, who figured to contend for the Pac-10 title, along with Arizona, after finishing 1-2 in '06. Be ready to hightail it from Westwood back downtown postgame, as this is L.A., and 13 miles on the roads can be a lifetime.

Driving distance: 13 miles

Sun., Dec. 31 (6:30 p.m.): 76ers at Lakers

Despite mediocre showings recently, the Lakers remain the marquee team in the NBA -- and in L.A. Headlining this game is a matchup of last season's top two individual scorers -- Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson. The 6:30 start allows plenty of time for you to hit the Sunset Strip postgame for New Year's festivities.

Sat., Jan. 13 (3 p.m.): Hope at Calvin (Grand Rapids, Mich.)
Join 4,500 fans packed into Knollcrest Fieldhouse to watch these two Division III powers renew acquaintances in what is without question the fiercest small-college basketball rivalry in America. After Hope knocked off the Knights 70-67 in last year's NCAA Tournament, Calvin now holds an 81-80 series edge -- with just 22 points separating the teams all-time!

Driving distance: 65 miles

Sun., Jan. 14 (TBD): Illinois at Michigan State (E. Lansing, Mich.)

Enter the "Izzone" at the Breslin Center and join one of the loudest crowds in college hoops, as these two NCAA Tournament contenders and perennial Big Ten powers square off.

Driving distance: 80 miles

Mon., Jan. 15 (3:30 p.m.): Timberwolves at Pistons

Close out the Martin Luther King weekend with a holiday matinee at The Palace. Pistons coach Flip Saunders hosts his former team.

Sat., Jan. 27 (12 p.m.): Michigan at Indiana (Bloomington, Ind.)

A tour of three of the more storied NCAA basketball arenas begins at Assembly Hall as
2006 NIT Tournament runner-up Michigan, finally poised for a return to the Big Dance, meets promising Indiana in a midseason Big Ten matchup that will provide a good barometer of where the Wolverines' veteran group stands.

Driving distance: 105 miles

Sat., Jan. 27 (7 p.m.): Syracuse at Louisville

It's on to Freedom Hall for a Big East nightcap as Rick Pitino's young and talented Cardinals host Jim Boeheim's Orangemen, who have four starters returning.

Driving distance: 73 miles

Sun., Jan. 28 (1 p.m.): Tennessee at Kentucky (Lexington, Ky.)

Finish off this classic tour by entering the realm of the Big Blue at Rupp Arena, where you'll see your third major-conference matchups in two days. This time it's the SEC on display as Ashley Judd's boys from Kentucky host defending East division champs Tennessee.

Fri., Feb. 2 (7 p.m.): Timberwolves at Hornets (Oklahoma City)

Chris Paul wasn't the only rookie who took the NBA by storm in 2005-06, as the Ford Center in Oklahoma City quickly developed a reputation as one of the league's most raucous atmospheres in its first season standing in for New Orleans as the home of the Hornets.

Driving distance: 316 miles

Sat., Feb. 3 (8 p.m.): Texas A&M at Kansas (Lawrence, Kan.)

You could make the easy trip 20 miles outside OKC to Norman, where Oklahoma hosts Texas Tech. But, let's face it, if you're making this trip, you are a true hoops junkie, and need to make the five-hour drive up I-35 to legendary Allen Fieldhouse. Matchup ain't bad, either, as the Jayhawks and the Aggies are expected to be the Big 12's best.

Sat., Feb. 10 (12:15 p.m.): Purdue at Ohio State (Columbus)

Ohio State's uber-prospect freshman Greg Oden should be back from his wrist injury by this point and showcasing the size and talent that's had NBA scouts frothing at the mouth for years. Even without Oden, though, the Buckeyes have been tabbed as a contender in the Big Ten.

Driving distance: 142 miles

Sun., Feb. 11 (3:30 p.m.): Lakers at Cavaliers

LeBron. Kobe. Right, what this game needs is more hype.

Sat., Feb. 10 (12 p.m.): Marquette at Georgetown

This important late-season Big East showdown at the MCI Center could be a matchup nightmare for both teams, with Marquette showcasing a bevy of quick, athletic guards and Georgetown loading the frontcourt with returning stars Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert.

Driving distance: 0 miles

Sun., Feb. 11 (1 p.m.): Blazers at Wizards

Chasing their third straight playoff berth, a feat they haven't accomplished since the '80s, All-Star Gilbert Arenas and the Wizards welcome the Blazers with vengeance in their hearts. Washington lost to the reigning NBA bottom-feeders in their last meeting.

Driving distance: 9 miles

Sun., Feb. 11 (5 p.m.): Duke at Maryland (College Park, Md.)

D.C. generally favors the college game over the pros, so leave MCI early if you have to in order to get to the Comcast Center for this ACC rivalry (You can take the Metro's Green Line straight from MCI to College Park, and hop on a shuttle bus). The Terps fans are sure to be at their rowdiest as they host the team that everyone loves to hate.

Fri., Feb. 23 (7 p.m.): Sonics at Hornets (New Orleans)

One of six home games the Hornets will play at the New Orleans Arena this season, this game features one team which currently resides in Oklahoma City against one which is rumored to be trying to move there. For now, just enjoy the Big Easy.

Driving distance: 80 miles

Sun., Feb. 24 (2:45 p.m.): Florida at LSU (Baton Rouge)

Take I-10 to the Maravich Center for a titanic SEC matchup between two 2006 Final Four teams that figure to be knocking on the door again this season. Joakim Noah leads the defending champs, while Glen "Big Baby" Davis is back to anchor the Bayou Bengals.

Fri., Feb. 23 (7:30 p.m.): Bucks at Knicks

Despite the monumental struggles of the Knicks recently, Madison Square Garden remains the "World's Most Famous Arena," and is still worth a trip even if it remains to be seen if new Knicks coach Isiah Thomas can turn around the high-priced group of underachievers he's assembled during his tenure as GM.

Driving distance: 0 miles

Sun., Feb. 25 (2 p.m.): Duke at St. John's

The Knicks aren't the only once-proud Garden hoop team to have fallen on hard times as St. John's is in its second year of probation for giving money to a former player, and isn't expected to do much. Duke -- known in some quarters as the University of New Jersey at Durham -- may well be as much of a home team as the Johnnies in this one.

Driving distance: 10 miles

Sun., Feb. 25 (6 p.m.): Knicks at Nets (East Rutherford, N.J.)

If you hustle from the Garden (34th St.) up to Port Authority (42nd St.), you should be able to catch a bus that'll take you through the Lincoln Tunnel to the Meadowlands in Jersey for the Battle of the Hudson. With J-Kidd, Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson back, the Nets are clearly the most exciting team in the metropolitan area.

Fri., Mar. 2 (8 p.m.): Pistons at Heat

It's a rematch of last season's Eastern Conference finals at the American Airlines Arena, but with Detroit coming to town sans the departed Ben Wallace, it may not be quite the level of competition it was a year ago. Still, the Pistons who remain will be eager to take the defending champs down.

Driving distance: 337 miles

Sun., Mar. 4 (Noon): Kentucky at Florida

You know, you could catch the Florida State-Miami game on Saturday, but of course, it's basketball season, not football, so go ahead and begin the long trip north to Gainesville, maybe roll past Disney World on the way. Just get yourself to the "O-Dome" in time to see the defending NCAA champions, who return their entire starting five and are the favorites to win it all again.

Sat., Mar. 3 (TBD): UCLA at Washington

Who knows, with all of the uncertainty swirling around the Sonics, this could be the last chance for a college-pro hoops double-dip in Seattle. Start it out with a Saturday matchup between two Pac-10 contenders at Bank of America Arena on the final day of the league's regular season.

Driving distance: 4 miles

Sun., Mar. 4 (6 p.m.): Bobcats at Sonics

Under the shadow of the Space Needle at Key Arena, this game provides a little local flavor beyond the home team, as Charlotte brings rookie Adam Morrison -- who played his high school and college ball in Spokane -- back to his home state.

Thurs., Mar. 22 (TBD): West Regional Semifinals (San Jose)
The good people of San Jose hope that the HP Pavilion is the home of an NBA team one day, but for this weekend, they'll be more than happy to host the West Regional of the NCAA Tournament. Tonight, it's a Sweet Sixteen doubleheader.

Driving distance: 36 miles

Fri., Mar. 23 (7:30 p.m.): Wizards at Warriors (Oakland)

This matchup at the newly-named Oracle Arena may not appear to be particularly enticing at first blush, but it has the potential to be entertaining affair, what with the Nellieball Warriors going up and down the floor against high-scoring Gilbert Arenas and the Wiz.

Driving distance: 36 miles

Sat., March 24 (TBD): West Regional Final (San Jose)
Head back to the HP Pavilion, and send one team on its way to Atlanta for the Final Four.

Thurs., Mar. 22 (TBD): South Regional Semifinals (San Antonio)
Another NCAA Tournament/NBA option sends you down to the Riverwalk for an all-San Antonio trip, which should be a lovely mid-March destination. The Alamodome will be the host of this Sweet Sixteen doubleheader. Tickets are available online for the three-game tournament session for $120 and $100.

Driving distance: 3 miles

Fri., Mar. 23 (7 p.m.): Pistons at Spurs

There may not be another city which loves its NBA team as much as San Antonio adores its three-time NBA champion Spurs. Go to the AT&T Center and feel the love, as the Spurs host the Pistons in a rematch of the 2005 NBA Finals.

Driving distance: 3 miles

Sat., March 24 (TBD): South Regional Final (San Antonio)
It's back to the Alamodome for the Elite Eight; the building will serve as the final step to the Final Four, before hosting NCAA basketball's ultimate event for the third time in 2008.

Fri., Mar. 23 (7 p.m.): Heat at Pacers

It's a unique weekend of high school and pro hoops, all held at retro-cool Conseco Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis. Start with a visit from Dwyane Wade, Shaquille O'Neal and the NBA champion Miami Heat on Friday night. Rest up, Saturday is a huge day.

Driving distance: 0 miles

Sat., Mar. 24: Indiana High School Boys Basketball State Finals
As chronicled for the ages in Hoosiers, the Indiana state championships are the most storied tournament in high-school hoops. See it in person with a quadruple-header of the A, 2A, 3A and 4A titles at Conseco. You might catch one of the top prep players in the U.S., Eric Gordon, who recently changed his college commitment from Illinois to Indiana in what has been a fierce and controversial recruitment.

Driving distance: 0 miles

Sun., Mar. 25 (3:30 p.m.): Bulls at Pacers

You might as well just park a tent outside Conseco, as it's worth staying through Sunday for this matchup of Central Division foes which will be broadcast on ABC.

Bryan Williams is a freelance writer based in the Washington, D.C. area, and Mark Haubner is a producer for ESPN SportsTravel.