SportsPulse: This weekend was supposed to include wall-to-wall March Madness basketball, and while that sadly won’t occur, that didn’t stop us from simulating the first two rounds of the tourney.
Major sports networks have been digging into their nostalgia bags to help sports fans get through an ongoing drought of games with leagues canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
On Saturday, CBS showcased Duke star Christian Laettner’s game-winning jumper to sink Kentucky in the 1992 Elite Eight as part of its NCAA tournament legacy game-centric agenda. On Sunday, ESPN aired a seven-hour marathon of Tom Brady’s best games to play off the quarterback’s decision to leave the New England Patriots for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Even if the endings are already known and there are few bars or establishments open to watch games, sports fans have been craving games that give them a sense of normalcy.
“We’ve heard from fans that would love to relive full-game presentations, particularly at this moment in time,” ESPN programming executive Burke Magnus said in a news release last week.
USA TODAY Sports highlights the 10 best options of re-runs to take in this week.
1. 2016 World Series Game 7 Chicago Cubs vs. Cleveland Indians (7 p.m., Thursday, Fox Sports 1). This Cubs’ 8-7 victory was 108 years in the making, and one hell of a Game 7 that ranks in history as one of the best World Series showdowns of all-time. Dexter Fowler’s leadoff home run. The Indians’ comeback rally. Rajai Davis’ home run. Ben Zobrist’s 10th-inning double. This game had it all, but it was the final out that ended a curse that makes the entire game worth re-living.
The Chicago Cubs celebrate after winning 8-7 against the Cleveland Indians in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series. (Photo: Ezra Shaw)
2. 2005 NCAA tournament Elite Eight: Illinois vs. Arizona (10 a.m. Saturday, CBS). This heart-stopping showdown was one for the ages. It saw the favored Fighting Illini, fueled by future NBA star Deron Williams, storm back from 15 points down with four minutes remaining to force overtime and escape the Wildcats 90-89 for a trip to the Final Four.
3. 2002 NCAA tournament Sweet 16 Duke vs. Indiana (10 a.m. and 10 p.m. Thursday, CBS): One of coach Mike Krzyzewski’s best-ever teams was stunned in the Sweet 16 by a vastly inferior Hoosiers squad. Duke had future NBA stars Carlos Boozer, Mike Dunleavy and Jay Williams. Indiana had Jared Jeffries and a load of determination.
4. FIFA women’s World Cup Final. U.S. vs. Netherlands (8:30 p.m., Wednesday, Fox Sports 2). It just happened this past summer, and the 2-0 win for Megan Rapinoe and the Americans in France was the finale for one of the best women’s soccer teams to ever play.
5. 2013 NHL Game 7 of Eastern Conference Quarterfinals: Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Boston Bruins (7 p.m., Monday, NBC Sports Network). Down three goals in the third period, the Bruins mount an epic comeback at the end of Game 7 to secure a 5-4 win in OT on a goal by Patrice Bergeron.
6. 2019 NCAA tournament Elite Eight: Purdue vs. Virginia (6 p.m. Tuesday, CBS). In this game last year on the Cavaliers’ memorable national title run, the Boilermakers’ Carsen Edwards scored 42 points on 10 three-pointers. But it was Mamadi Diakite’s buzzer-beating jumper as time expired that sent the game to overtime where UVA prevailed in this thriller.
7. 2020 boxing: Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder II (Monday, 8 p.m., ESPN). The non-pay-per-view premier of the heavyweight rematch that captured the world’s attention last month.
8. 1998 NCAA tournament first round Valparaiso vs. Ole Miss (Wednesday, 10 a.m., CBS). Bryce Drew nailed “The Shot” to lead Valparaiso to a Cinderella upset of Ole Miss.
9. 2019 NCAA tournament national championship Texas Tech vs. Virginia (10 p.m., Tuesday, CBS). This national title thriller went to overtime last year and punctuated UVA’s redemption story after losing to No. 16 seed UMBC the year prior. It also was just an awesome game that featured a wide-array of lead changes and big-time shots from both teams.
10. 2019 NCAA tournament Elite Eight Michigan State vs. Duke (Tuesday, 9 p.m., CBS). In this game, Zion Williamson’s college career comes to an end as the Spartans upset a Duke squad favored to win the national title.
Bonus: Home Run Derby Marathon (Saturday noon-8 p.m., ESPN).