This Weekend in Sports: Daytona 500 and UFC 157
NASCAR and mixed martial arts command the spotlight in the upcoming sports calendar. Here’s what to watch this weekend:
Friday, February 22
San Antonio at Golden State
Oracle Arena, Oakland; 10:30 p.m. (ET) on ESPN
Winners of nine of their last 10 games, the San Antonio Spurs (43-12) have the NBA’s best record. Point guard Tony Parker is having an MVP-level season, averaging 21 points and 7.7 assists per game. The Golden State Warriors (31-23) are having one of their best seasons in years, standing firmly in second place in the Pacific Division. They’ll debut their skin-tight, short-sleeve uniforms in this Western Conference contest.
Saturday, Feb. 23
(11) Georgetown at (8) Syracuse
Carrier Dome, Syracuse, NY; 4 p.m. (ET) on CBS
With eighth-ranked Syracuse (22-4, 10-3 Big East) leaving for the Atlantic Coast Conference this summer, this is the final Big East regular season game between the Orange and No. 11 Georgetown (20-4, 10-3 Big East). The traditional conference powers are tied atop the Big East standings. Saturday’s game could set an attendance record in the cavernous Carrier Dome.
Missouri at Kentucky
Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky. ; 9 p.m. (ET) on ESPN
Unranked Missouri (19-7, 8-5 SEC) travels to Kentucky (18-8, 9-4 SEC) to attempt to enhance their position for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. Transfer Jabari Brown has been a star for the Tigers, scoring 14.5 points per game. Archie Goodwin leads the Wildcats with a 13.7 points per game average.
UFC 157: Ronda Rousey vs. Liz Carmouche
Honda Center, Anaheim, Calif. ; 8 p.m. (ET) on Pay-Per-View
Women finally get their turn in UFC this weekend, as Ronda Rousey faces Liz Carmouche for the UFC women’s bantamweight title. A bronze medalist in judo at the Beijing Olympics, Rousey is a potential star-in-the-making for the sport. Other fights on the card include : Dan Henderson vs. Lyoto Machida; Urijah Faber vs. Ivan Menjivar and Josh Koscheck vs. Robbie Lawler.
Sunday, Feb. 24
Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Fla.; 1 p.m. on FOX
The 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season begins on Sunday in Daytona. Danica Patrick, the first woman ever to win a pole position in a Cup Series race, will be alongside Jeff Gordon on the first row. Defending Cup champ Brad Keselowski and 2012 Daytona winner Matt Kenseth could both factor into the outcome of the 55th running of this classic race.
(4) Michigan St. at (18) Ohio St.
Value City Arena, Columbus, Ohio; 4 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Fourth-ranked Michigan St. (22-5, 11-3 Big Ten) visits No. 18 Ohio St. (19-7, 9-5 Big Ten), where the Buckeyes are 14-2 this season. The Spartans will have to neutralize Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State’s player of the year candidate, to gain a victory. The Buckeyes must keep Michigan State guard Keith Appling in check to gain an important conference win.
Chicago at Oklahoma City
Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City; 9:30 p.m. (ET) on ESPN
Despite the season-long absence of point guard Derrick Rose, the Chicago Bulls (31-22) have stayed at or near the top of the Central Division standings in 2012-13. Joakim Noah is a major key to the Bulls’ success, averaging 11.8 points and 11.5 rebounds per game. The Oklahoma City Thunder (39-15) are still one of the NBA’s best teams, but they have split their last 10 games. Forward Kevin Durant is averaging an NBA-high 29 points per game.