Syracuse at West Virginia (College Basketball on ESPN, 12:00) - This top ten showdown provides an early bird special for college basketball fans. Syracuse had gotten off to maybe the hottest start in the country before falling at home to a now even hotter Pittsburgh team. No shame there. No team goes unbeaten in college basketball and the Orange have been outstanding otherwise. West Virginia is a good team as well, and they're even better in Morgantown. Should be a classic.
Manchester City at Everton in the EPL (English Soccer on FSC, 12:30) - Emerging Man City visit an Everton team that is slowly gaining steam. This one has caught my attention mainly for the opportunity of seeing America's best player, Landon Donovan, in action across the pond. So often his spells in Europe have disappointed, but his time in England got off to an auspicious start in London last weekend against Arsenal. Hopefully he can build on that performance here and derail City's title charge.
Ole Miss at Tennessee (College Basketball on the SEC Network, 1:30) - Fresh off of a bludgeoning of my Auburn Tigers on Thursday, the Vols look to continue the momentum against a talented, but inconsistent Ole Miss. Shame on ESPN for more or less relegating this top 25 matchup to regional television, meaning I'll be watching in standard def given Comcast Chattanooga's peculiar decision making.
Georgia Tech at North Carolina (College Basketball on ESPN, 2:00) - These two ACC teams come limping into this top 20 contest. Georgia Tech failed to build on its win over Duke and lost on the road to suddenly resurgent Virginia. North Carolina got demolished in Clemson on Wednesday and just continues to lose games. Despite all their talent (young thought it is), the Tar Heels have already lost more games than all of last year. Even if that team did win the national title, they were hoping for better in Chapel Hill. Both teams need this win, but Georgia Tech has not traveled well so far in conference play.
Real Madrid at Athletic Bilbao in La Liga (Spanish Soccer on GolTV, 4:00) - Political and cultural undertones abound in this match between the Spanish giants from the capital and the flagship of Basque nationalism, Athletic Bilbao. Athletic's home stadium, San Mames, is intimidating to all Spanish teams, but there is always extra spice reserved for the visit of Real. Of all the autonomous and provincial regions of Spain, no region is more singularly so than the Basque country. This is highlighted by a team in Athletic Bilbao that only uses players with Basque bloodlines. There is no love lost for what Real Madrid represents to them: Franco and his brutal regime trying to inject a broader Spanish culture into the region. This should be a feisty affair.
Kentucky at Auburn (College Basketball on the SEC Network, 4:00) - My self-masochist ways continue by watching this bloodletting. Kentucky fans should enjoy this game. Auburn fans...not so much. Auburn played well for about fifteen minutes on Thursday against the Vols, building a twelve point lead with about five minutes left in the half on the back of some good shooting and toughness on the glass. Then Tennessee woke up and realized Auburn had no inside game and started to guard the perimeter and began to box out. After that, Tennessee outscored my Auburn Tigers 59-21. Barf. Home court advantage should count for little here. We might be able to partly contain Wall and Bledsoe, but Patterson and Cousins will destroy us down low. Poor Brandon Knox.
Sevilla at Barcelona in La Liga (Spanish Soccer on ESPN360, 4:00) - Why ESPN is not choosing to broadcast this game on one of their prime channels (and thus in HD) is beyond me. These two teams have played two hugely entertaining Copa Del Rey matchups in the last couple of weeks, with Sevilla coming out on top on aggregate, knocking Barca out of their first competition in almost two years. These two teams are probably sick of facing one another, but soccer fans aren't. Barca will want revenge and the Camp Nou should provide the perfect platform to get it. It's the match of the weekend in Europe, yet ESPN has relegated this one to the computer. Well done.
Australian Open (Tennis on ESPN2, 7:00) - After knocking ESPN just a second ago, I will now praise them. Tennis doesn't get a lot of play in this country, especially if it's being played at weird hours of the day, but ESPN2 begins two weeks of expansive coverage of the year's first grand slam on Sunday. Sure, the Tennis Channel will cut into some of its coverage, but there should be at least ten hours of coverage a day on ESPN2 every day of the tournament. I can handle that. This is the year's first big sporting event and it's one of my favorites. I'll slowly develop into a pod person over the coming weeks as I watch a bright television screen in the dark of night, but it will be well worth it in the end. We don't even know yet who is playing on Sunday, but I don't care. I'm watching some big boy tennis this weekend. Can't wait.