- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 24, 2020

Normally, sporting events on Christmas Day offer a convenient excuse to ignore the in-laws visiting for the holidays. This year, the house might stay quiet as a mouse. But coronavirus pandemic or not, there are still plenty of extra gifts under the tree for every sports fan to enjoy, including a Maryland basketball game.

Then there’s the traditional NBA action, competing this year with a college football bowl game and a late-afternoon NFL kickoff. After completing the rounds on Christmas Eve, Santa Claus just keeps the presents coming.

The Terrapins tip off at 2:30 p.m. on Fox Sports 1 as part of a quadruple-header of Big Ten action, featuring No. 9 Wisconsin and No. 12 Michigan State at 12:30 p.m. on Fox. It’s the second time in Maryland’s history they’ve played on Christmas Day, with the last occasion coming in 1984.

While the Terrapins need to travel to Purdue, it’s not like they had much else going on.

“Finding out that we’d be playing over the holidays and stuff like that, it wasn’t anything devastating,” guard Aaron Wiggins said. “You want to enjoy that time and have fun, but basketball is something we all love to do. We’re happy to be able to play, to have games ahead, to have a schedule even in front of us.”

The Big Ten wraps up its Christmas Day slate with No. 19 Michigan facing Nebraska at 6 p.m. and No. 4 Iowa meeting Minnesota at 8 p.m., both on Big Ten Network. But if you want to mix up your viewing experience away from college hoops, Marshall and Buffalo meet at 2:30 p.m. on ESPN in the highly regarded Camellia Bowl.

There are more marquee events on Christmas Day, though — no offense, Camellia Bowl. Christmas is generally the NBA’s domain, and the league is rolling out an entire day of games. Open gifts in the morning, then watch the New Orleans Pelicans face the Miami Heat at noon on ESPN.

Fans will hardly have time to grab a refreshment between games. The Golden State Warriors play the Milwaukee Bucks at 2:30 on ESPN — with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Steph Curry on the court — before Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets go head-to-head with the Boston Celtics at 5 p.m. on ABC.

The headliner is at 8 p.m. on ABC, with Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks meeting LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. Finally, if you haven’t fallen into an NBA-induced stupor, the Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets round out the night at 10:30 p.m. on ESPN.

But the NBA will have competition. The NFL is pulling out a rare Friday night matchup in the 6-8 Minnesota Vikings against the 10-4 New Orleans Saints at 4:30 on Fox. It’s an interesting one to watch, especially with Drew Brees back under center for the Saints after missing four games with fractured ribs and a punctured lung.

New Orleans has already clinched a playoff berth, thanks to backup Taysom Hill winning three of the four games he started. But there’s plenty to play for, attempting to unseat the Green Bay Packers as the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

By the time Friday turns to Saturday, a new day will bring plenty of additional sporting events, too. The NFL plays three games on Saturday, and Boxing Day Premier League fixtures always go hand-in-hand. So get ready to indulge in the greatest Christmas gift of all — overconsumption. Be it food, presents or lots and lots of sports.

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