Tomorrow marks the beginning of March. Hard to believe. But anybody who does not live in the South or on the West Coast is begging for spring time. You know what March means though. “Its the most wonderful time of the year.”
Here is a look at the top 5 for this upcoming week though.
5. The NHL trade deadline has come and is now complete. It will be interesting to see how the Washington Capitals finish the last 20 or so games this season. They appear to have made the most improvements in picking up Dennis Wideman and Jason Arnott. Okay, so the NHL hockey trade deadline was a complete snoozer compared to that of the NBA. It will be interesting to see what Ovechkin can do with his new partners in crime as he looks to climb to the top of the Eastern Conference and make a run at the Stanley Cup.
4. Keep your eyes on the clock. The dispute over the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement is going to go down to the wire. It must be resolved by 11:59PM on Thursday night. The NFL has not had a labor peace issue like this in over 2 decades. Nobody knows what is going to happen. Most directions still point to the inevitable sadly. But I am sticking with my hunch. I have faith in America’s most popular sporting league to resolve their issues. In the meantime, tune in to the combine. Always a fun way for the general public to get a sneak peek of things to come.
3. Major League Baseball opens up in just over 30 days! Meanwhile, Spring Training is under way. Say hello to the wonderful world that is the Grapefruit League and the Cactus League. Some of these games are televised depending on what team you follow and many of these games are at least aired over the radio airways. This is an exciting time. I mean for instance today, the next big thing, Bryce Harper, had his first professional at bat. So what if he struck out on 3 straight pitches. Welcome to the professional ranks Mr. Harper. In addition, Aroldis Chapman was bringing the heat today for the Cincinnati Reds. It will be very interesting to see how this Cuban fireballer does throughout the course of an entire Big League season. He could end up being the best setup man in baseball by September if he continues to progress. If the year ended today, we would be looking at a potential Rockies vs Tigers World Series. Do not bet on that matchup to happen though.
2. The NBA Trade deadline was absolutely ludicrous. I cannot remember the NBA having a more wild couple of days of transactions. It was supposed to be a quite deadline. Good call by whomever convinced America that Thursday would be relatively calm. The one thing we have learned over the past few days though is that the Knicks are back. So what if they lost to the lowly Cavaliers. Melo and Amare seem to be gelling very well. And as I said last week, Chauncey was the key piece of the deal. You know that you are going to get 25+ a night from Melo. But Chauncey brings a “big game” mentality. He showed off this mentality last night against the Heat. Can you say a rivalry renewed? The NBA is praying the Knicks and Heat match up come playoff time.
As I say every week, it is never easy to choose a matchup of the week. But once again this weeks marquee game in my eyes, for the 4th consecutive week occurs on Thursday. Welcome to Miami baby. It is the battle of Florida.
Orlando at Miami: The Heat even with last night’s heartbreaker currently sit 5 games ahead of the 2nd place Magic in the Southeast division. In the battle of Florida, the records get tossed out. This will be a dogfight. The Heat lead the series 2 to 1 on the year. This is a big game for Miami. They need to show America that they can beat the top teams in the East. They have really struggled against the elite teams in the East. It is no secret that people are ripping Miami a new one for being incapable of winning close games. Sure they can blow people out and knock off lowly and mediocre opponents. But can they take care of business against the teams that they will be matching up with late in the playoffs? I think they can. Last night’s loss to New York was a wake up call for Miami. They blew a massive lead against a solid Knick’s team in front of a home crowd. This Knick’s team is not at Miami’s level yet, though they are a rising team. Dwight may have a field day in the paint, but expect Miami to wow the home crowd and pull out a nailbiter against their in state rival.
1. As if you did not know what would be number 1! Well get used to it, because we are now entering the College Basketball Danger Zone! It is March Madness baby. One more week of regular season games, then the conference tourneys, followed by the NCAA/NIT/CBI tourneys. This year has already been crazy. I can only imagine how wild the NCAA Tournament is going to be. Who is the favorite? Who are the number 1 seeds going to be? Nobody knows. And frankly, I think this is awesome.
Next Saturday will be the best Saturday of the season up to this point. I know you are surprised. There are crazy matchups across the board. Here are some of the main ones.
Kansas at Missouri: The Jayhawks are looking to gain at least a share of the Big 12 title. Missouri has been very solid at home, but has struggled mightily on the road. It will not matter in this one. The Jayhawks smacked them around in Lawrence. Expect the same on Saturday.
Duke at North Carolina: Duke shocked UNC back on February 9th. Their experience reigned supreme. And though I expect Duke to have a deeper NCAA Tourney run, look for UNC to take care of their bitter in state rival. North Carolina is a team that I would not want to draw in the first couple of rounds of the NCAA Tourney. They are extremely young and talented. And they hit the glass like crazy. I expect Duke to get beat up inside in this one and get down early. Only this time, UNC will shut the door and not let Duke have another epic comeback victory.
Villanova at Pittsburgh: The Big East has been wild. 10 or 11 teams will get into the tournament which will be a new record. Villanova has been fading mightily. Teams are scoring at will against the Wildcats who have even lost a couple of games at home. Well the Big East always seems to provide the unexpected. I am taking Nova to shock the Panthers at Pitt. Pittsburgh has only lost at home 2 times this year. But with a shot at a number 1 seed, I expect them to wilt under pressure and get shocked by Nova in the regular season finale.
Florida at Vanderbilt: The two top teams in the always dangerous SEC East square off in the regular season finale. The Gators are coming off of a tough loss at Rupp Arena. Vanderbilt is likely to be coming off of a tough loss at Rupp heading into this one. Vanderbilt has a very unique arena. It is never easy to play on the Commodore’s home floor. The Gators are tough. But so is Vanderbilt. I expect the Commodores to gut out a 1 point home victory behind their star, John Jenkins. If you have not heard of Jenkins, jump on the train of the sophomore from Hendersonville, Tennessee.
So there you have my thoughts on the top 5 sporting events for this upcoming week. Hope you enjoy.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.