Duke plays host to Michigan State tonight on the college hardwood, and then welcomes Butler on Saturday in a rematch of last year's NCAA title game.
There's one more week of regular season college football, including four conference championships on Saturday.
The Jets and Patriots are on tap for Monday Night Football — the winner is on pace for the top seed in the AFC while the loser is headed for the fifth seed.
It feels like I am forgetting something in this week packed of high-profile games. Oh, that's right. LeBron James makes his return to Cleveland this week.
In case you have lived under a rock — or are hiding under one so you don't have to read about it — James and the Miami Heat make their first visit to the place James called home for the first seven years of his career.
It is one of just two games on the NBA slate Thursday night. TNT will be sending it's studio team of Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith to Cleveland to do their show. No stone has been unturned. There are even 1/50 odds that James does his pregame powder toss at the scorer's table.
So I figured I would present many angles of the story in anticipation of Thursday night.
Feeling overheated? Then there are notes on 11 other Eastern Conference teams below to cool you down.
Notes From the Teams ATLANTA: The Hawks won their final three games of November, clinching a winning month for the 12th consecutive time (began in February 2009), which matches the longest streak in Atlanta history (January 1996-November 1997).
CHARLOTTE: The Bobcats have topped the 100-point plateau in four of their last seven games, after doing so just twice in the season’s first 10 games. During the stretch, the Bobcats are averaging 104.0 points on .491 shooting from the field (275-560).
CHICAGO: Over their last nine games, the Bulls have limited their opponent to just 95.2 ppg and are 7-3 over that time. In the five games prior to that, Chicago allowed 105.0 ppg.
DETROIT: With nine rebounds against the Orlando Magic Tuesday, Ben Wallace became the third active player in the NBA to record 10,000-plus rebounds and 2,000-plus blocks in his career.
MIAMI: LeBron James has scored at least 20 points in the last 15 games, becoming just the second player in franchise history (Dwyane Wade) to accomplish the feat.
MILWAUKEE: The Bucks are tied for second with Boston in opponent points in the paint, allowing just 35.3 points per game. Orlando is tops in the league, allowing 34.1 points in the paint. The Bucks are tied for fifth in the league in opponent second-chance points, allowing 11.5 per game.
NEW YORK: The Knicks have won five in a row on the road, the longest streak since winning five straight on the road from Dec. 22, 2000 to Jan. 19, 2001. New York improved to 7-4 away from Madison Square Garden on the season (11-30 in 2009-10), marking the first time since 2000-01 that the Knicks started a season 7-4 or better on the road. Last season, it took New York until Jan. 13 to win its seventh road game. The seven road wins are tied with Utah (7-2) and Atlanta (7-2) for second most in the league behind San Antonio (8-0).
PHILADELPHIA: The 76ers put an end to their 0-3 start against teams from the Western Conference this season with an 88-79 win over Portland. Philly started last season 1-10 against teams from the west, but rebounded with a 13-17 mark by season's end.
TORONTO: Through 17 games the Raptors rank first in the NBA in fast-break points, averaging 19.5 per contest. Toronto has outscored its opponent in 12 of its first 17 games on the fast-break and has scored 20+ points eight times. The Raptors are +46 (322-to-286) in transition points on the season. Raptors’ opponents are averaging 16.8 fast-break points on the year.
WASHINGTON: Nick Young, the Wizards' fourth-year pro has, scored 20 points in a game five times this season all off of the bench which leads the NBA.
Factoids From Elias Sports Bureau
Indiana's Danny Granger has scored 30-plus on three occasions away from home this season and the Pacers are 3-0 in those games. His average of 25 points a game on the road is third best in the league behind Kobe Bryant (29.5) and Derrick Rose (28.6)
Orlando's Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson, the team's top two scorers, were held to nine points apiece in a win against the Pistons Wednesday night. It was the Magic's first win in more than three years (Nov. 26, 2007) in a game in which Howard and Nelson both failed to reach double digits in points. The duo has started 165 games together since November 2007, and have both have been held under 10 points in just three of those games — losses to Detroit, Boston and Denver. At least prior to the game, Howard was able to have fun at Arizona Cardinal Derek Anderson's expense.
Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade each went to the free-throw line at least 10 times on Monday, and each made at least nine of those free throws. It's the first game in over two seasons that three teammates in the NBA have each made at least nine free throws in one game.
What is Chicago's reward for finishing with its first winning record on its circus trip since 1997-98?
Three days rest between Saturday's win over Sacramento, giving the Bulls a 4-3 record for a trip on which they had been 10-61 since Michael Jordan's last season with the Bulls seems to be the reward. It's the most rest the team has had after this trip since the 2004-05 season.
And the Bulls will need it.
Chicago (9-6) is 10th in Athlon Sports Week 6 Power Rankings, but no other team in the top 10 has as many games against top-tier teams over the next week as the Bulls do.
It starts Wednesday with a home game against the fifth-ranked Orlando Magic, followed by a trip to third-ranked Boston, then back home to take on a Houston team Chicago defeated 95-92 to start the circus trip. The Bulls then open next week with a Monday game against No. 9 Oklahoma City at home.
"The big thing for us is our schedule doesn't get easier when we go home," coach Tom Thibodeau said in an ESPNChicago.com report. "Our schedule actually gets, in some cases you could make the case that it's tougher. We have to recognize what's in front of us and when we get to practice we got to get to work."
Chicago PF Carlos Boozer (hand) should make his season debut by at least the weekend.
Not much else is on the slate over the next week between top-tier teams.
Indiana is quickly rising up the rankings. Three weeks ago the Pacers were 23rd, but they are knocking on the top 10's door with their No. 11 ranking. Indiana defeated the Lakers in Los Angeles for just the second time since Feb. 14, 1999 on Sunday night, and will take on No. 4 Utah on Wednesday.
The second-ranked Mavericks, winners of their last six, will travel to Utah on Friday. If Dallas can take care of Minnesota on Wednesday and Utah can do the same to Indiana, the two teams will meet with seven-game win streaks on the line.
On Saturday, the resurgent Atlanta Hawks will travel to Miami for a matchup of what could end up being the two teams that will vie for second place in the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference.
New Orleans and San Antonio take to the court for the second Sunday in a row, this time in Texas. Each team had 17-point leads the last time they met before San Antonio pulled away for the 14-point win. New Orleans won the first meeting on Oct. 30. Sunday's game will be the second-to-last meeting of the year between the Southwest Division foes — Jan. 22 being the last.
And finally, Atlanta will go for the top dog in the Southeast when it travels to Orlando for a Monday night game. The Magic won the first meeting 93-89 when the two met in Orlando Nov. 8.
For only the second time this season, a team holds the top spot for consecutive weeks. San Antonio has had it the last two; the Lakers held the top spot for the first three weeks. The Western Conference still dominates the top 10 with seven teams.
There's a new No. 1 in the Athlon Sports NBA Power Rankings for Week 5, and the new top team and former top team will meet this weekend.
San Antonio is the hottest team in the Association right now. The Spurs are winners of 11 straight, including a defeat of Orlando Monday night. They moved up from No. 3 in last week's rankings to No. 1.
New Orleans, last week's top team, rebounded from its first loss to post three straight wins before falling to the lowly Clippers last night. I am certainly willing to cut the 11-2 Hornets some slack considering their start and the fact that the Clippers loss was the third game in four days for New Orleans.
Now we have to wait until Sunday to see the last two No. 1s face off. Unfortunately, the game is being played at 3 p.m. Eastern, right in the middle of an NFL Sunday, and certainly won't get much attention. I would love to see that one flexed to the evening to at least lessen the viewing competition against it.
Maybe it's a bit overblown to think that this is the game of games for the NBA, but to this point it is.
Boston, Miami and Orlando rule the East and do so very inconsistently. The Lakers are the Lakers and have not had much competition to deal with. This game comes at a time in the season where we have had enough of a sample size to at least get a glimpse of who is legit and who is not. So when the two hottest teams in the league meet, in what will be for each of them their 16th game of the season, this could be a good preview of what's to come.
San Antonio (12-1) will travel to Minnesota and host Dallas on Wednesday and Friday, while the Hornets (11-2) are at Utah and at Portland on Wednesday and Friday before the Sunday showdown in the Big Easy.
Other key match ups between some of this week's top teams in the Athlon Sports NBA Power Rankings begin tonight.
The ninth-ranked Bulls continue their circus trip with a stop in LA to play the No. 3 Lakers tonight.
Wednesday there are three games on the slate between top-tier teams as No. 10 Miami travels to No. 5 Orlando; No. 6 Dallas travels to No. 7 Oklahoma City; and the Hornets play at No. 8 Utah.
On Friday, Chicago will play No. 11 Denver, the Lakers play host to Utah and the Mavericks travel to the Spurs.
Portland, which sits at No. 12, could take some wind out of the sails for Sunday's matchup between New Orleans and San Antonio. The banged up Blazers have just one game this week and it is playing host to New Orleans on Friday.
The Heat travel to Dallas on Saturday.
New Orleans gets no rest after the Spurs contest, traveling to Oklahoma City on Monday to complete a back-to-back, and what should be its fourth tough game in a six-day stretch.
The Western Conference continues its dominance with six teams in the top eight and nine of the top 15. If you like teams in the 20s, the Eastern Conference is for you. The East has seven of its 15 teams ranked from 20-29.