Basketball Trumps Football For Weekend Viewing

Although I believe for the most part that I am a fairly easy-going person, I am blindly anal retentive about certain things. If I’m watching a DVD, for instance, I need to go through every single extra on it. I’ve actually declined to buy movies because the DVDs had too much stuff on them.

Also, If I’m viewing a program on my TiVo, I have to adjust my scanning to catch every second of it, even the “this portion of 90210brought to you by Lunchables” sponsor tags, as I rationalize that such announcements are part of the program and not commercials. 

Finally, I’m fiercely protective of the seasons. In Wisconsin, people tend to elongate winter and summer and abbreviate spring and fall. Not me. No matter how much snow is on the ground and no matter how cold it is, if it’s December 5, it’s not winter, it’s autumn.

Why do I bring this up? Because this morning, as my friendly AM TV weather people informed me that Madison was waking up to a balmy two degrees, I decided to wise up. If it’s two degrees, it’s winter. You can only hold on to autumn for so long.

Just like Packer fans can only hold out hope for their team for so long. Last week’s crippling home loss to Carolina all but ensured that Green Bay will miss the postseason, sealing their fate as one of the most underachieving teams of the year. What’s worse is even rational people who can plainly see that the big dropoff from last year’s 13-3 team isn’t the fault of Aaron Rodgers can’t help but wonder if you-know-who wouldn’t have been able to squeeze victories out of some of these close losses (four of seven defeats by four points or less) that have doomed the Packers’ season. I guarantee McCarthy and Thompson have thought the same thing.

In that context, then, here’s what you should watch this weekend, in order of importance:

1. Wisconsin @ Marquette. 8:30 PM Saturday. ESPNU. I can respect someone who tells me that it’s too early for basketball. But for anyone looking for an antidote to the football Badgers’ or Packers’ struggles, I strongly suggest you start paying attention to Bo Ryan’s team, who are playing some very strong basketball. Tuesday’s 74-72 victory at Virginia Tech — where the Hokies rarely lose — was a supremely entertaining affair and one that led me to think that yes, Trevon Hughes, Marcus Landry, and sophomore  Jon Leuer (whose 6-of-11, 17-point, 6-rebound performance was the eye-opener for me) can take this team as far or perhaps farther than Alando Tucker and Kammron Taylor could.

2. Alaska-Anchorage @ Wisconsin. 7 PM Friday (FSN) and Saturday (WISC). After a brutal schedule led to a miserable 0-6-1 start, their worst since I believe hockey was invented, the Badgers have only lost one  game in their last nine and find themselves tied for fourth place in the WCHA, only three points behind first-place Minnesota. Hopefully they’ll have Saturday’s game in hand by 8:30 so you can switch over to the Badger basketball game. That is, if you have ESPNU.

3.   Alabama @ Florida. 3 PM Saturday. WISC.You know what bugs me? Those Sprint commercials with that pompous CEO strolling around imploring everyone to donate $100 a month to join Sprint’s revolutionary new landline free world. To my parents, a revolution meant political or social upheaval. We’re expected to believe that a revolution means the power to change our Facebook status from “bored” to “tired” while waiting on line to see Four Christmases. Depressing. Oh, yeah, this game. It’s a #1 versus a #2 with two powerhouse programs.  Nick Saban. Tim Tebow. Florida’s finesse offense versus Alabama’s crushing defense. Until Obama can get college football to wake up and give us a playoff system, this is as good as it gets. Watch it.

4. Houston @ Green Bay. 12 noon Saturday. WISC.(Hey, WISC is your sports home this weekend, isn’t it?) You’d think the Packers,  favored by seven at home, would win this one walking away. But hey, I thought that with LT, Ryan Grant, and Terrell Owens on my team that I’d win my fantasy football league walking away. Things don’t always work out as predicted, and neither will this game for those anticipating a Packer beatdown. Houston has quarterback Matt Schaub, who won his last three complete games before being injured against Minnesota, back under center, and also boasts a trio of dangerous offensive weapons in receivers Andre Johnson, Kevin Walter, and running back Steve Slaton. Both teams are 5-7, but Houston, playing in the same division as Tennessee and Indianapolis, don’t even have a whiff of the playoffs that the Packers still cling to. Houston’s also coming off a short week, having beaten Jacksonville in their first Monday Night Football appearance in their history, which would mean more if MNF was what it used to be. Although I’ve been wrong about them a lot lately, I like the Packers to win a close one. And if it’s not close (either way), turn over to WMSN to see if the Vikings have the services of Kevin and Pat Williams. If they don’t, maybe Detroit can salvage their first win of the season. I give the putrid Lions — with extra rest — a 20 percent chance if the Vikings are shorthanded.  

5. Dallas @ Pittsburgh. 3:15 PM Sunday. WMSN.Man, that Steelers defense is good. Makes me wonder about starting TO in my aforementioned fantasy league. Also makes me wonder if I’m spending too much time thinking about said fantasy league. Perhaps I should venture outside more often. Wait, it’s freezing out there. Forget it. Definitely not freezing are the tandem of Tony Romo and Terrell Owens, who have been lighting it up since Romo’s return. But I like Pittsburgh to shut them down.

6. Washington @ Baltimore. 7:30 PM Sunday. WMTV.No, this battle of the beltway (is that what they call it?) isn’t as bad as a Nationals/Orioles game, but it could be lower-scoring. I put the over-under on the number of times that Al Michaels has to pinch a sleepy (lots of cold turducken sandwiches for JM) John Madden awake at five.

Have a great weekend.

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