Weekend Watch List: NHL on break, basketball aims to raise the bar

From left: Miami heat center Chris Bosh, Florida State Seminoles forward Montay Brandon and Orlando Magic point guard Elfrid Payton.

The Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning have the weekend off — well, most of them at least. The Lightning’s Steven Stamkos and Tyler Johnson along with the Panthers’ Roberto Luongo and rookie Aaron Ekblad (an injury replacement) will be partaking in Sunday’s NHL All-Star game.

On the hardwood, the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat are aiming to hit some high notes before heading into their All-Star break, while in college basketball, our state schools have work to do to shine up their NCAA tournament resume.

Here’s a closer look at what to watch for in the Sunshine State this weekend…

FRIDAY, JAN. 23

NBA — Magic at Knicks, 7:30 p.m. (FOX Sports Florida)

NBA — Pacers at Heat, 7:30 p.m. (Sun Sports)

Spotlight: The Miami Heat have lost eight of their past 12 games, but still have a leg up on the Indiana Pacers, who are four games behind the Heat in the Eastern Conference. The Pacers enter the contest on a six-game losing, including the last three on their current five-game road trip. Playing without Luol Deng (illness) and Hassan Whiteside (sprained ankle), the Heat lost to the Charlotte Hornets 78-76 on Wednesday.

SATURDAY, JAN. 24

Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade miss out on All-Star starting nods

CBK — FSU at North Carolina, 2 p.m.

CBK — Miami at Syracuse, 4 p.m.

CBK — Florida at Mississippi, 6 p.m.

Spotlight: Florida State enters Saturday night’s battle against North Carolina coming off of a 59-55 victory over Clemson on Monday to end a three-game losing streak. The 15th-ranked Tar Heels have won four in a row, most recently against Wake Forest. North Carolina overcame a 40-34 halftime deficit, defeating the Demon Deacons 87-71 on Wednesday night. The Seminoles will have to use their rest and momentum from the Clemson win to maintain a strong second-half performance over the Tar Heels. Florida State is 2-6 vs. North Carolina over the past four seasons

SUNDAY, JAN. 25

NBA — Heat at Bulls, 1 p.m.

NHL — All-Star Game, 5 p.m.

NBA — Pacers at Magic, 6 p.m. (FOX Sports Florida)

Magic guard Oladipo reportedly set to compete in All-Star dunk contest

NFL — Pro Bowl, 8 p.m.

Spotlight: The Indiana Pacers conclude their five-game road trip with a stop in Orlando on Sunday night. The Magic tipoff the weekend with their first attempt to squash their three-game losing streak on Friday against the Knicks in New York. Entering the weekend, the Magic have won two out of their last 10 games — one on the road and the other at home. But the Pacers enter the weekend with a six-game losing streak and are hoping to have point guard George Hill back from a left groin strain that sat him out for the past 11 games. Indiana won the first matchup of the season 98-83 in November.

NEWS OF NOTE

— Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Brad Johnson told the Tampa Bay Times that he paid someone to scuff all 100 footballs made for Super Bowl XXXVII. Johnson told the Newspaper that he paid $7,500 for the job 12 years ago, and he doesn’t regret doing so.

— Miami Dolphins legend Dan Marino will be featured in part of the Madame Tussauds Orlando museum as a wax figure this spring. The former quarterback and Hall of Famer will be presenting his wax replica to the public at Sun Life Stadium over the weekend.

— Arizona Cardinal defensive end and former Miami Hurricane Calais Campbell donated $1.6 million to the University of Miami athletics. The NFL Pro Bowler set the record in donations from former student-athletes. Campbell played for the ‘Canes from 2005-07 and was named MVP for his performance in 2006.

— The Florida Gators announced their plans to construct an indoor practice facility for football for $15 million. The renovations are said to begin in the spring and the facility is expected to be ready to use by early September.

— The Jacksonville Jaguars hired Greg Olson, former Oakland Raiders offensive coordinator to the same position. Olson will be the Jaguars’ fourth offensive coordinator in the last five seasons, and is set to replace Jedd Fisch, who was fired on Dec. 30 after the disappointing season. The Jaguars concluded last season with 249 scored points and 24 offensive touchdowns, the lowest in the NFL.

— The Jaguars announced Wednesday that they hired former Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone as an assistant head coach and offensive line coach. Marrone is set to replace George Yarno, who unfortunately missed the 2014 season due to cancer treatment.

— Gators tight end Jake McGee was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA on Tuesday. McGee broke two bones in his lower left leg in the season opener against Eastern Michigan.

TWEET(S) OF THE WEEK

The Heat released their "Black Tie" jerseys on Tuesday night at home against OKC. When Miami gave fans a peek of the new threads, HeatNation took to Twitter to share their opinion.




And, of course, Dwyane Wade himself showed his appreciation for the new look.

I'm loving our new #BlackTie uniforms… @miamiheat #heatnation

Una foto publicada por dwyanewade (@dwyanewade) el

Wade also took a moment to recognize the dedication behind HeatNation when Forbes announced their No. 1 spot in the NBA fan rankings Wednesday afternoon.

HEATNATION!!!

A photo posted by dwyanewade (@dwyanewade) on

You can follow Hana Ostapchuk on Twitter @HanaOstapchuk or email her at HANAMARIE13@AOL.COM.