The week after Christmas is usually about time off from school or work, huge sales and returning those gifts you lied about when you opened them.
Not for Rutgers.
How about a week facing the three teams at the top of the Top 25?
The Scarlet Knights (9-3) play at No. 1 North Carolina on Saturday. They return home for a New Year's Eve meeting with No. 3 Pittsburgh and then head north to play at No. 2 Connecticut on Jan. 3.
``Certainly this is a very, very unique situation,'' Rutgers coach Fred Hill said. ``We're aware of what's coming up.''
There have been teams that have faced two of the top three teams in the poll in the same week, but to face all three in a seven-day period is unheard of.
o. 4, still the biggest jump-in in poll history.
In December 1995, Temple had another of its unbelievable early season schedules under John Chaney and the Owls in a nine-day period beat No. 2 Villanova, lost to No. 12 Cincinnati and beat No. 1 Kansas in overtime. To cap off what has to be one the toughest runs ever, Temple lost to No. 3 Memphis six days later.
In the 1997 NCAA tournament, Arizona beat No. 1 Kansas, unranked Providence, No. 4 North Carolina and No. 5 Kentucky from the regional semifinals through the championship game, a two-week period.
Last season, Rutgers did beat ranked teams in consecutive games, No. 18 Villanova and No. 13 Pittsburgh, but this week means facing Nos. 1-2-3. Through Thursday, the top 3 were a combined 33-0.
``We have a great opportunity ahead of us but certainly a daunting task,'' Hill said. ``I think we're mentally prepared and we've done some great things.''
HONORING VETERANS: Manhattan College coach Barry Rohrssen and American University coach Jeff Jones spent time together this summer in the Middle East as participants in Operation Hardwood, a USO-sponsored event that brings a touch of basketball to those serving in the military.
l receive complimentary tickets to the game.
Rohrssen and Jones will wear their USO-issued camouflage jackets during the game.
``The dedication and bravery of both the men and women who defend our country is exemplary,'' Rohrssen said. ``It is with great pleasure that we at Manhattan College recognize their services and show our appreciation as we welcome them to our campus.''
POLL VAULT: The Big East has drawn all the attention this season as far as the Top 25 is concerned with a record eight teams in the rankings for the past three weeks.
But another conference deserves some two-sport props.
There are six schools that have teams ranked this week in both the AP's basketball and football polls and half of them are from the Big 12.
Oklahoma is No. 4 in basketball and No. 2 in football, while Texas is No. 9 and No. 3, respectively, and Missouri is 25th in both.
Two of the other three double-ranked schools are from the Big Ten (Michigan State, 11 in basketball and 19 in football; and Ohio State (15 and 10).
The sixth school is Pittsburgh of the Big East which is No. 3 in basketball and 18 in football.
TRIPLE-DOUBLE: Curtis Jerrells recorded the fourth triple-double in Baylor history when he had 17 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in a 74-59 win over Hartford this week.
The last two triple-doubles at Baylor were by Brian Skinner, who now plays for the Los Angeles Clippers. He had 15 points, 11 rebounds and 10 blocks against Louisiana Tech on Dec. 29, 1995, and had 24 points, 14 rebounds and 10 blocks against Eastern Washington on Nov. 29, 1997.
The first triple-double at Baylor was by David Wesley. The former NBA guard is now a student manager for the program and is taking classes to complete his degree. He had 11 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists against North Texas on Dec. 30, 1991.
Another feat brought up a name from the past this week.
Michigan's DeShawn Sims had 20 points and 20 rebounds in the Wolverines' 76-59 over Florida-Gulf Coast.
The last Michigan player to go 20-20 was current Washington Wizards assistant coach Phil Hubbard, who had 22 points and 26 rebounds in a victory over Detroit in the 1977 NCAA tournament.
BRAGGING RIGHTS: Drake beat instate rivals Iowa and Iowa State for third straight season. Forget that a Missouri Valley Conference school has three-game winning streaks over opponents from the Big Ten and Big 12, what makes it impressive is the Bulldogs have done it with three coaches.
ason ever (28-5) and a No. 14 ranking while winning national coach of the year honors.
Davis left for Providence and his successor, Mark Phelps, made it three years in a row with a 66-63 win at Iowa State and a 60-43 victory over Iowa.
SWITCHING ROLES: ESPN is going for a hoops switch on Jan. 7.
The network's NBA and college basketball commentators will change assignments that day in a special doubleheader.
The usual NBA crew of Mike Tirico and analysts Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy will call Davidson at Duke at 7 p.m. That will be followed by college regulars Dan Shulman and analyst Dick Vitale working the Miami Heat at Denver Nuggets game.
Vitale, who was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in September, last called an NBA game on ESPN in 1984.
``It's been over two decades since I've worked an NBA game, but basketball is basketball at all levels and a free throw is still worth a point,'' he said. ``Seeing such talented players as Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony - two players who have gone from Diaper Dandies to Rolls Royce superstars - will bring back so many memories of their incredible performances as college standouts.''
ers in the 1980s, will both be getting an added bonus because of where the game is being played.
``I'm a fan of basketball at all levels,'' said Jackson, who played in the NBA for 17 seasons. ``As a former college player, I've always enjoyed watching Dick Vitale and the energy and passion he has for the game. I can't wait to step inside Cameron Indoor Stadium for the first time, because the energy inside that place is going to be unbelievable.''
Van Gundy was already thinking matchups.
``I've never been to Cameron Indoor Stadium, and I can't wait to see the atmosphere in person,'' said the former coach of the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets. ``From an X's and O's standpoint, I'm looking forward to see how Duke defends Stephen Curry.''

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