Since this weekend is the first in a long time without any real NFL football, fans need to look for things to do other than watch football. So here are some events to look for this weekend.
For the Bison fan, mark down 2 p.m. Saturday. The Bison men play host to Western Illinois at the SHAC. NDSU has gotten off to a slow start in 2018, starting 2-4, including a trio of Summit League losses. The Leathernecks come in with the worst record in the Summit and offer a good chance for the Bison to move up the standings.
The premier matchup in the nation this weekend tips off an hour earlier than the Bison. The Cameron Crazies will be out in full force as No. 4 Duke hosts No. 2 Virginia. Duke’s Marvin Bagley III is one of the front-runners for the Wooden Award this year. The Cavaliers meanwhile have lost just one game this year, away to a ranked West Virginia. This game could be a preview of a late March matchup.
X Games Aspen
With the Olympics expanding the freestyle ski and snowboard events four years ago, the X Games have become a sneak peak into those events.
Shaun White and Chole Kim headline the Snowboard Superpipe events, with both favored to medal in Pyeongchang in a few weeks.
A slight change in the events occurred this year. Snowmobile SnoCross has been scrapped in favor of SnowBike Best Trick. With it also goes the SnoCross Adapted, an event dominated by Minnesota native Mike Schultz.
Both the NHL and NFL have their all-star games this weekend. And while that means fans will be subject to questionable effort levels, at least one good thing comes of this. The skills competitions are back, though it seems unlikely the NFL learned their lesson from last year.
A big advantage the NHL has in their skills challenge is that they are broadcasted live. The flow of competition is smoother for the NHL, even if it makes the event last longer.
At least the NFL brought back dodgeball again this year, along with the drone drop.
Next-Gen U.S. soccer
After failing to qualify for the World Cup, the United States National Team wraps up its winter camp with a match against Bosnia and Herzegovina Sunday night. Fifteen players that were invited to camp have not appeared for the senior national team.
It comes after a bad couple of months for the team. Not only did the side not qualify for the World Cup, but they also lost the services of up-and-coming midfielder Jonathan Gonzalez. Gonzalez plays his club football in Mexico for Monterrey and did not get called up to the United States squad for friendlies late in 2017. He completed a one-time switch to Mexico this month.
Minnesota fans will keep an eye on MNUFC striker Christian Ramirez, who received his first national team call-up after scoring 14 goals in his first MLS campaign.
An NBA Finals preview?
With the struggles in Cleveland currently, it seems like the power in the Eastern Conference has shifted to Boston. The Celtics are six games ahead of the Cavaliers who are in third place in the conference, as Toronto sits two games behind Boston.
In the West, nothing has changed, with Golden State siting a comfortable three games up on Houston. The conference leaders meet in Oakland Saturday night, as they will end up doing in the early summer.