After Saturday’s top-notch, electrifying games, you are probably champing at the bit for more hot football action today. Fans of true underdogs got a real treat Saturday afternoon, and Saturday night was a checkdown-passing aficionado’s dream come true. I mean who could possibly look away after such performances? Impossible.
For those of us who made the mistake of averting our eyes from these spectacles, we were stuck with an excellent overtime Bulls/Raptors game; a tight, back-and-forth, one possession Jazz/Timberwolves game; another flat-out ridiculous Russell Westbrook performance; a blistering scoring showcase from the NBA’s littlest superstar; and, yes, a Law & Order marathon. Dang.
It will be harder to ignore football today than it was yesterday, in no small part because neither of today’s games feature inflatable tube men playing quarterback in the goddamn playoffs (there’s also no Law & Order marathon, sorry). Thankfully, the counterprogrammers served up a solid selection of alternatives, including a legit afternoon soccer match, one or two solid college basketball games, and at least a couple interesting NBA contests. Check it out:
Noon — NBA League Pass — NBA Basketball: Sixers @ Nets
Ignore the standings for just a moment. Yes, the Nets are butt. It’s been a couple weeks since they won a game. You can talk yourself into being curious about rookie Caris LeVert, who has quietly strung together some good performances over the last week, including a 19-point effort against the Cavaliers on Friday. But your real reason for tuning in for this one will be Joel Embiid. His box stats against the Celtics Friday night were solid despite being limited by foul trouble in the second half, but the main takeaway was this: when he was on the floor he was easily the best player in the game, and that’s saying something in a contest featuring Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford. And he did this:
It should be a lot of fun watching him go at Brook Lopez all afternoon.
12:30 p.m. — beIN Sports Español — La Liga Soccer: Celta Vigo vs. Malaga
It’s a pretty even matchup of lousy bottom-half La Liga sides. Break in case of emergency.
2 p.m. — NBA League Pass — NBA Basketball: Wizards @ Bucks
The Wizards have the NBA’s longest current home winning streak (9 games), which means roughly bupkis when they’re visiting Milwaukee, especially because they have the second-worst road record in the league, ahead of only the Nets. They were also absolutely thrashed the last time they visited Milwaukee, to the tune of 123-96. Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of the very best shows in all of basketball, and the Wizards have the 7th-best record in the NBA since December 1st. What I’m saying is, this could be a really fun game, or it could be a dismal wipeout, but the Giannis-Jabari Parker-John Wall-Bradley Beal talent collection should be enough for you to tune in and find out.
2:45 p.m. — beIN Sports — La Liga Soccer: Barcelona vs. Villarreal
Hey, now we’re talking. It’s rare to see a good La Liga match scheduled in this Sunday afternoon time slot. Villarreal are solidly fifth on the table, with the stingiest defense in the league. Of course, that probably won’t mean much against Barcelona’s terrifying buzzsaw attack, but even if they crack open, it will likely be because Barça do something beautiful.
2:45 p.m. — beIN Sports Connect — Serie A Soccer: Juventus vs. Bologna
This will very likely be a drubbing. Juventus don’t generally give up a whole lot, and Bologna have one of the most anemic attacks in Italy. Maybe it’ll be an attractive blowout?
4 p.m. — ESPN U — NCAA Men’s Basketball: Wichita State vs. Northern Iowa
Not too long ago, this was maybe the best and most meaningful mid-major matchup in college basketball. You may recall, in 2014 the Shockers were a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and the following year the Panthers were a #5 seed. That was a cool time, when the Missouri Valley had a handful of really good squads and regularly put at-large teams into the NCAAs. Northern Iowa has fallen off dramatically this season—they are currently last in the MVC and are winless in the conference—but the Shockers are still excellent, with two of their three losses coming against ranked opponents. On the road, who knows. This one might still have some juice.
4:30 p.m. — CBS — NCAA Men’s Basketball: Wisconsin (13) @ Purdue (20)
These teams have lost a combined five games, and four of them have been to ranked opponents. This is far-and-away the best game on what is otherwise a mid-major smorgasbord of a college basketball slate.
6 p.m. — NBA League Pass — NBA Basketball: Rockets @ Raptors
You shouldn’t need a lot of encouraging, here: Toronto and Houston are second and third in the NBA in offensive efficiency, respectively; they’re 17th and 15th in defensive efficiency; and they’ll be playing in front of one of the best home crowds in the NBA. There will also be a slight style contrast on display: the Rockets play at the NBA’s 4th-fastest pace, while the Raptors, owing to their ISO-heavy offense, are 21st. By any reasonably estimation the Rockets and Raptors are two of the five best teams in the league, and this should be a ridiculously fun game.
1 p.m. — USA — Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
The usual Sunday all-day marathon.
1 p.m. — Logo — Married...With Children
Logo’s regular Sunday afternoon mini-marathon.
1 p.m. — TV Land — The Golden Girls
For the most part, programmers stuck with the formula today. Unfortunately, that means IFC threw their day away on shit like Tomb Raider movies and Daredevil.
4 p.m. — FXX — The Simpsons
Today’s mini-marathon begins with “When Flanders Failed,” and follows that up with a bunch of depressing crap from later seasons.
1 p.m. — FOX — Hoosiers
I’m deeply ashamed to say I will still watch the absolute hell out of this movie.
1 p.m. — TNT — The Bourne Supremacy
It’s another one of those weird, out-of-order, two-out-of-three Jason Bourne movie runs for TNT. This one is at least not the most miserable of the Bourne movies.
1 p.m. — Syfy — Nightmare on Elm Street
Two days in a row of Freddy Krueger movies on Syfy. I miss the Twilight Zone marathon already.
2 p.m. — AMC — Rocky
AMC is on a Sylvester Stallone kick, today. They’ve got First Blood up before this, and with this they shift into a little Rocky marathon.
2 p.m. — BBC America — Air Force One
Han Solo and Sirius Black duke it out aboard a tricked-out airplane.
2 p.m. — Sundance — The Firm
Last weekend someone told me The Rainmaker is the best John Grisham movie. It’s gotta be The Client, right? It’s for sure not The Firm.
3:15 p.m. — TNT — The Bourne Identity
TNT is following this up with Olympus Has Fallen.
3:30 p.m. — Comedy Central — Office Space
This movie was a feature of Comedy Central’s Saturday counterprogramming slate, too.
4:30 p.m. — AMC — Rocky II
If you hang around after, AMC’s marathon continues with Rocky III at 7 p.m., and so on.
5 p.m. — BBC America — Mission: Impossible III
Still kinda hard to believe the Mission: Impossible franchise recovered after the disastrously bad John Woo-helmed Mission: Impossible II.
Spring is still unacceptably far away, but not forever away. That’s not nothing!