Trietley: Fill your break with sports

By Greg Trietley

So in about four or five days — unless you’re one of those English majors whose finals were… So in about four or five days — unless you’re one of those English majors whose finals were all papers due last week — you’re going to finish your last exam, and you’re going to have a lot of time on your hands.

How should you fill it? Sports!

The first official day of break is Dec. 18, and you will want to unwind from the semester with something mindless. What’s more mindless than a one-sided football game? The reigning champion Green Bay Packers face the Kansas City Chiefs at 1 p.m.

The next day, the Steelers travel to San Francisco to play the 49ers on Monday Night Football. For students who live outside the Pittsburgh area and thought that they wouldn’t have to deal with the Steelers over break, I apologize.

On Tuesday, Dec. 20, prepare yourself for some nationally-televised Samford basketball! The Bulldogs, who hail from the northern division of the Southern Conference, tip off at Kentucky at 7 p.m. on ESPN2. Afterward, the network will televise the Butler Bulldogs at the Gonzaga Bulldogs, which sounds like a joke but isn’t.

Had the NBA season started on schedule, on Wednesday the Miami Heat would have traveled to… are we not filling space like this anymore?

Thursday, Dec. 22, features a lackluster matchup between the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts at 8:20 p.m. on NFL Network. The handful of fans that have the NFL Network might downgrade to basic cable before the game.

On Friday night, Pitt basketball hosts the Wagner Seahawks, who had a spirited game with Connecticut earlier this year (losing by 12). The small-town, upstart Seahawks … never mind, they’re actually from New York City.

College basketball and the National Hockey League take Christmas Eve off, but professional football marches on with 13 games. In college football, the Hawaii Bowl between Nevada and Southern Mississippi goes up against “It’s a Wonderful Life” at 8 p.m.

Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Building and Loan! The NBA returns on Christmas Day with five nationally-televised games that feature the 10 franchises that remained relevant through the previous collective bargaining agreement.

Hockey comes out of the holiday strong with 10 games on Dec. 26. See for yourself at 7 p.m. just how far Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals have fallen when they square off against the new-money Buffalo Sabres.

On Tuesday, Dec. 27, the Pitt men’s basketball team opens its conference schedule at Notre Dame at 7 p.m. in what could be the program’s last Big East game in South Bend. It will not, however, be the last time you hear, “what could be the program’s last Big East…”

The women’s basketball team returns to campus a week early to play Duquesne on Dec. 28. Don’t feel too bad for them: The Panther women travel to Cancun before Christmas to face Indiana and Michigan State in the Caribbean Classic on Dec. 20 and 21, respectively. Lucky!

There are 63 Division I college basketball games scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 29. Catch Vanderbilt-Marquette, Florida-Rutgers, Robert Morris-Memphis and Harvard-Boston College. Skip Yale-Wake Forest, Howard-Kansas and Citadel-Tennessee.

With New Year’s Eve rapidly approaching, the bowl schedule begins to swell with four games Friday and five Saturday. Unfortunately, the most intriguing matchup — feisty Virginia vs. Auburn — doesn’t kick off until 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 31. Clearly New Year’s plans will have to be adjusted.

New Year’s Day heralds the final week of the NFL regular season. It’s too soon to tell which games will have playoff aspirations on the line, but Redskins vs. Dream T — ahem — Eagles seems like a good bet.

Jan. 2 brings us outdoor hockey! The Rangers skate with the Flyers at Citizens Bank Park in the 2012 Winter Classic.

On the last day of break, Michigan and Virginia Tech battle at 8:30 p.m. in the Sugar Bowl. Keep in mind that these teams are only in a BCS bowl because, well, Kansas State and Boise State are poison ivy to advertisers. At least the Broncos get Arizona State in the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas on Dec. 22.

Then on Jan. 4 … get back to work!