Top of the game
NBA: The Raptors spoiled Joakim Noah's return last night, but the Bulls won't have time to dwell on the loss -- they welcome the Heat to the United Center tonight. When Chicago topped Miami 99-96 back in mid-January, neither Joakim Noah nor LeBron James played and Chris Bosh departed early with an ankle injury. It'll be a true test for two of the East's best when they meet at full-strength tonight. Miami has won 11 of its last 12 games, but has struggled against playoff contenders this season, going just 1-6 against the Bulls, Mavs, Lakers, Celtics and Spurs. The Bulls are 11-4 in their last 15 games, and they've topped the Heat in three of their last four meetings in Chicago.
Out in Denver the Nuggets look to remain unbeaten since losing Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks, but it won't be easy as they welcome the East-leading Celtics to town. Denver has lost three of four to Boston overall, but they've been good at home against KG and Co., winning five of their last six meetings at the Pepsi Center. When the Nuggets beat Memphis Tuesday night, they hadn't yet incorporated new players Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Tomofey Mozgov and Kosta Koufos. Tonight those guys are expected to suit up in baby blue and yellow for the first time.
Women's college basketball: The last time the Stanford women lost a game, most people were finishing up (or, in my case, just starting) their Christmas shopping. Since the team's Dec. 19 loss to Tennessee, the No. 2 Cardinal has reeled off 18 straight wins, posting a 15-0 record in conference play. Tonight they play host to the Oregon State Beavers, dead last in the Pac-10 at 2-12 on the year. Junior Nnemkadi Ogwumike leads the way for Stanford, averaging 16.3 points per game, while freshman Alyssa Martin is pacing the Beavers at 13.4 points a pop.
Meanwhile, the team that last beat Stanford, the fourth-ranked Vols, are on the verge of their 18th straight win, as well. Tonight they look to improve to 15-0 in the SEC with a win over conference foes Ole Miss. ... The ninth-ranked Duke Blue Devils will try to keep a share of the lead in the ACC with a win over UVA tonight. The Blue Devils are coming off a 50-point win over Virginia Tech on Sunday, a game that saw Jasmine Thomas drop a season-high 27 on the Hokies. ... The other two teams tied for the lead in the ACC meet in Miami tonight. Either the 14th-ranked Hurricanes or No. 12 Florida State will fall into second place with a loss tonight.
Men's college basketball: The sixth-ranked Pittsburgh Panthers look to bounce back from Saturday's loss to St. John's with a win over West Virginia. The Mountaineers are coming off a 72-58 win over then-No. 8 Notre Dame. Pitt had won five straight before its one-point loss to St. John's at Madison Square Garden on Saturday. ... No. 10 Arizona will try to win a ninth straight conference game for the first time since 2003 when they visit USC tonight. Expect a lot from sophomore Derrick Williams; he leads the Wildcats in four of the five main statistical categories.