It's roughly three weeks into 2014, and we already have a solid candidate for the top sports weekend of the year.
This weekend is massive every January due to the NFL Conference Championship games. They are hardly the only top events that will air on US TV on Saturday and Sunday this time around. Everything from compelling college basketball contests to two noteworthy NHL rivalries will be featured. There's also a soccer match that should catch the eye of even the casual sports fan.
All times listed below are ET
Saturday, January 18
MVP of the Day: ESPNU
Those who don't have access to the ESPN Buzzer Beater channel won't need the station to watch college basketball all day on Saturday. Live games will air on ESPNU for over twelve straight hours beginning at 11 am. The channel's final live contest, Washington at Stanford, is scheduled to tip off at 11:00 pm.
A plethora of other college basketball games will air on other stations. Tennessee at #13 Kentucky starts at noon on CBS. Tune over to ESPN at 2:00 pm to watch #25 Oklahoma take on #12 Baylor. Two more heated rivals, #22 Pittsburgh and #2 Syracuse, will meet up at the Carrier Dome at 4:00 pm. At that same time, CBS will be showing #9 Oklahoma State at #15 Kansas.
Want to branch out a bit? Stay up late because it's the weekend and thus you can, and watch the Australian Open. Coverage begins at 9:00 pm on ESPN2.
If it wasn't for ESPNU, NHL Network would be my TV MVP for Saturday. The fun starts off at noon with coverage of Hockey Day in Canada, something that is, apologies to Jim Nantz, a tradition unlike any other. The New York Rangers at Ottawa Senators game begins at 2:00 pm, with HDIC coverage resuming at 5:00 pm. Then it's Hockey Night in Canada and the Montreal Canadiens at Toronto Maple Leafs ending the evening. That programming will begin at 6:30 pm.
NBA Network didn't want to be left out in the cold. The Los Angeles Clippers and Indiana Pacers, two of the top teams in the league, will face off beginning at 7:00 pm.
Sunday, January 19
Sunday is obviously all about American Football, but it's the English Premier League that jump-starts the morning. Chelsea and Manchester United, two of the world's biggest clubs, will play against each other beginning at 11:00 am.
Soccer coverage on NBC Sports Network kicks off bright and early at 8:00 am with a pregame show that will lead into Swansea City vs. Tottenham Hotspur. That game kicks off at 8:30 am.
Two NHL teams that know each other rather well will be showcased on broadcast NBC at noon. The Boston Bruins will be at the Chicago Blackhawks for that showdown.
MVP of the Day: The NFL
Those who are particularly football crazy can start watching Conference Championship pre-game programming on NFL Network at 7:00 am. That will run all the way up through kickoff of the AFC title game at 3:00 pm.
ESPN pre-game coverage starts at noon.
The NFL Today starts at 2:00 pm on CBS, and will run up to 3:00 pm when the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos kick off. You've been living underneath a rock if you don't understand the magnitude of this encounter. It's Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning for maybe the last time, and it's with a berth to the Super Bowl on the line.
That contest could be one for the ages for multiple reasons. With that said, it might not even be the best football game that takes place on Sunday.
The Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers has grown into one of the top rivalries in the NFL, and those sides will meet up at CenturyLink Field with eyes pointed toward MetLife Stadium and the final game of the season. FOX NFL Sunday will begin at 6:00 pm, and the game will start at 6:30 pm.
Note: Remember to check local listings for channel availability, specific times for programs, and to learn about what other live sports will be on TV this weekend.