Rockets at Bulls
Houston and Chicago, which also meet Jan. 19 on NBC, have won the last six league titles without facing each other in the NBA Finals. Show us the NBA fan who doesn't want to see these two finally rendezvous in June, and we'll show you Spike Lee. With new Rockets forward Charles Barkley (right) joining fellow All-Star Hakeem Olajuwon in the frontcourt, Houston may present matchup problems for Michael Jordan and the Bulls. Expect a rebounding battle royal between the savvy Sir Charles and Chicago's boarding demon, Dennis Rodman.
WGN, 8:30 PM
NFC Championship Game
The average high temperature in Green Bay for January is 22°, so the no-shows, of whom there were only three for last Saturday's divisional playoff win against the San Francisco 49ers, may increase when the Packers host the Carolina Panthers. In such frigid conditions, turnovers and special teams play could be key. The Pack and the Panthers finished one-two in the NFC in turnover margin, while Green Bay's Desmond Howard and Carolina's Michael Hales are the league's top kick returners.
FOX, 12:30 PM
AFC Championship Game
Drew Bledsoe of the New England Patriots and Mark Brunell of the Jacksonville Jaguars, picks No. 1 and 118, respectively, in the '93 NFL draft, lead their teams in a rematch of a Sept. 22 game at Foxboro Stadium that was won 28-25 by the Patriots in overtime. If their arms race is a dead heat or if the hands of New England receivers such as Ben Coates (left) are numbed, then the legs of Jacksonville rusher Natrone Means (157.5 yards a game in the playoffs) may very well move the Cats past the Pats.
NBC, 4 PM
Devils at Rangers
At press time New Jersey had yet to activate Andrew Golota. But expect the Devils, whose last meeting with their cross-Hudson rivals (a 6-1 loss at the Meadowlands on Oct. 30) featured five fights, to enter Madison Square Garden ready to rumble. The Fracas-by-Secaucus overshadowed New York goalie Mike Richter's 53-save effort. At week's end Richter was on a 15-game unbeaten streak.
ESPN 8 PM
Early—very early—today, two weeks coverage of the year's inaugural Grand Slam event begins live from Melbourne. (That's a 15-hour time difference, mate.) As of last weekend the status of four-time winner Monica Seles was questionable because of a broken right ring finger.
ESPN, 1 PM (TAPE DELAY)
Iowa State at Kansas
Without All-America point guard Jacque Vaughn, who injured his right wrist in a September pickup game, the Jayhawks limped to a 10-0 start. Vaughn returned to action on Dec. 30 and helped Kansas win three more times and retain its No. 1 ranking at week's end. His presence means that all 10 starters from last March's Big Eight title game (won 56-55 by Iowa State) are expected to be on the floor when the No. 4-ranked Cyclones, among the nation's stinginess teams on defense, visit Allen Fieldhouse.
ESPN, 9:30 PM
Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel
Correspondent Frank Deford provides a breezy commentary on Super Bowl commercials. The key to a successful spot, Deford suggests, is for it to elicit as much laughter as the performance of that particular Super Bowl's AFC entrant. Other segments explore tennis star Steffi Graf's family and financial woes, the unsolved disappearance of Russian boxer Sergei Kobozev (right) and the NHL Florida Panthers.
HBO, 10 PM