Weekly Nickel 1-30-2012

Photo courtesy of theoldprincetonlanding.com. All eyes will be focused on Indianapolis this week as America gears up for the biggest sporting event of the year.

By Josh Kramer

Yes, this past weekend, no “real” football games (college or professional) were played for the first time since the beginning of September (and no the Pro Bowl is not a real game).  Tennis jumped to the forefront of the sporting stratosphere and rightfully so.  The Djokovic/Nadal 5 hour and 53 minute thriller was a match for the ages, that anybody who had a chance to bear witness will not soon forget.  In addition, the Men’s Australian Open final made up for a Women’s final that was perhaps the worst Grand Slam final of all time.  Last week was great, but you better believe this week will be pretty amazing in its own right.  Here are the events to keep an eye on.

5.  Sid “the Kid” is not only suffering from concussion-like symptoms again, but it has been revealed that he is having issues with his neck as well.  Ovechkin has been serving a suspension.  And Sidney Crosby has been out since December 5th.  I think it is safe to say that the NHL’s star power for the casual fan has been waning.  But in the midst of what was a fun “All Star Weekend,” capped off by a 12 to 9 victory for Team Chara over Team Alfredsson, the beat goes on in the NHL.

Detroit Red Wings at Vancouver Canucks:  The two best teams in the West go toe to toe at Rogers Arena.  I do not think it gets much better than what likely will be a preview of the Western Conference Finals.  The Canucks are a team playing great hockey that appears to have unfinished business.  They know what a great opportunity they blew last year.  There will be no excuses this year.  Detroit on the other hand has been playing outstanding hockey, really protecting their home ice better than any team in the NHL.  Unfortunately for the Red Wings, this game is in Vancouver.  My edge goes to the Canucks.

4.  Wednesday is a true testament to how much sports have changed over the past 15 or even five years for that matter.  The new age of social media and in-depth recruiting services has become a phenomenon.  I wouldn’t be surprised if in 20 years, “College Signing Day” turned into a National Holiday.  It appears the usual suspects will be smiling on Wednesday.  Teams like Alabama, Florida State, and Texas all have outstanding groups of kids that are expected to sign the dotted line.  I wish your respective teams the best of luck on Wednesday.

3.  The saying goes in regards to Big East basketball, one week you go on a three-game winning streak, and the next time you look up, you have lost three in a row.  Both Connecticut and Cincinnati learned the accuracy of this statement the hard way.  In addition, teams continue to struggle in road games that they are supposed to win.  Just ask “Rock Chalk” Jayhawk Nation or the Georgetown Hoya faithful.  With the big win over the Hoyas on Saturday, Pittsburgh continued a remarkable run in which they are 12 and 0 all-time at the Peterson Events Center against top-ten ranked opponents.  Here are the games to keep an eye on this week.

Monday:

Missouri at Texas

-The Frank Erwin Special Events Center has never been an easy venue to play at.  How will a very good Missouri team respond to a hostile road atmosphere?

Tuesday:

Tennessee at Kentucky

-One of the great rivalries in college athletics.  If this game was not being played at Rupp Arena, I would give a “much more talented than their record shows” Tennessee team a prayer at winning.

Wednesday:

Connecticut at Georgetown

-Both of these perennial Big East powers are in need of a statement victory.  Georgetown wants to remain in the Big East race, while UConn wants to start showing that last season’s amazing run was not a one-man show or a mere fluke for that matter.

Thursday:

Southeast Missouri State at Murray State

-The Murray State Racers are currently the only undefeated team in college hoops at this time and they currently are perched atop the Ohio Valley Conference standings.  Want to know who is second in the conference?  Southeast Missouri State.

Friday:

Cornell at Harvard

-Two of the Ivy League’s elite square off in a very slow night for college basketball.

Saturday:

Kansas at Missouri

-Which Big 12 powerhouse will come out victorious in the first meeting between the conference’s top two teams?

2.  In a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, the Miami Heat once again came out victorious in a nail-biter against an outstanding Chicago team.  Do not sleep on either of these two great teams though.  I would be utterly shocked to not see them turn this year’s Eastern Conference Finals into a rematch of last years.  In addition, the Oklahoma City Thunder continue to roll, as they have  now won nine of their last ten.  My eyes will be focused in LA tonight for a change though.

Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles Clippers:  Both of these teams are currently leading their respective divisions.  Granted, LA is having a major battle not only within their division, but also for city supremacy for that matter.  No team is playing better than the Oklahoma City Thunder right now.  Durant and Co. have now won four consecutive games, and nine of their last ten.  The Clipper rely on a flashy, yet effective offensive attack, while the Thunder have a great offense in their own right.  LA has been outstanding at home this year, posting a record of nine and two.  Oklahoma City on the other hand has demonstrated time and time again that they can win anytime and anywhere.  Too much depth on this Thunder squad.  The Clippers are getting there, but they are not quite on the Thunder’s level yet.

1.  As if this was really a question.  America’s biggest sporting event of the year is set for this Sunday.  Ironically, teams from two of America’s biggest sports market are participating in it.  Strap in, because if this game is half as good as the last time these two historic franchises met in the “Big Game,” this will be a great one.  Much more to come regarding the Super Bowl later this week.  Brady vs Manning (Eli that is).  Who are you going with?

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

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