It is another beautiful March Monday. March truly has many qualities that make it “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” There is no better sporting event than March Madness. And Selection Sunday is right around the corner. Spring Training is at full go. The NFL Labor fiasco continues, and the NBA has guys crying in the locker room over regular season losses. What more could you want?
Here is this week’s top 5.
5. There are now 5 days left in the NFL Labor deal. Could this spiral into a month-long fiasco with the deadline continuing to get extended? It is unlikely, but there has now been two extensions. What is stopping there from being another one? I am honestly fine with the extensions. As I said last week, I just want to be able to watch football come Sunday’s in September. That is all I, and the majority of America care about. Sadly, money is at the root of this problem. Money is what makes the world go round and I understand that the NFL is a business. But this is money given to the owners and teams by the fans. Just go out and play some football. Keep one eye open as the clock ticks down.
4. NHL actions continues. The real question on the mind of most Americans is when will Sid “The Kid” make his triumphant return? It has been over 62 days (January 5th) and counting since Crosby last graced the ice and put on a show. Meanwhile, there are plenty of great matchups this week as we head into the final 15 or so games before the playoffs. One matchup that intrigues me occurs tonight.
Washington Capitals at Tampa Bay Lightning: This game has a playoff feel to it and could be a preview of a first round matchup depending on how the final few weeks shake out. These are two teams heading in very different directions. The Capitals are one of the hottest teams in the League, having won 4 consecutive games, while the Lightning have lost 3 straight. Tampa is a very good home team. But I fully expect Mr. Ovechkin to provide the real “lightning” tonight and lead his team to a big road victory.
3. Opening Day is in just 23 days and MLB Spring Training is in full effect. It is very easy to catch your team either on television or over the radio airwaves at this time. In what many, including myself, could see as a World Series Preview, the Yankees are taking on the Phillies Thursday afternoon. So I recommend you try to find a way to tune in if possible. Both of these teams will be alive and well come playoff time.
2. The Lake Show made a definitive statement yesterday. Derrick Rose demonstrated why he is the frontrunner for this year’s MVP Award. And multiple Miami Heat players apparently cried in the locker room. The NBA is heating up. And though much of the spotlight will be on College Basketball over the next few weeks, the NBA is not going anywhere. Contrary to popular belief, the NBA does not hibernate in March. Most teams have a little less than 20 games remaining. It is time to turn on the burners for playoff seedings. Now it is very hard to choose a marquee matchup for this week. I mean Tuesday night is headlined by the Laker/Hawks game. On Thursday, the new look Knicks travel to Dallas. And on Saturday, the Lakers travel to Dallas looking to make a statement.
But once again, my marquee matchup occurs on a Thursday. I believe this is the 5th consecutive week that has happened.
Los Angeles Lakers at Miami Heat: You think Kobe and Co. do not want to exact some revenge from their embarrassing defeat in front of the entire country on Christmas Day? Think again. The Lakers showed what they are capable of yesterday afternoon, dismantling the team with the League’s best record on the road. Now I will state that Miami will have some pent-up anger, or maybe sorrow heading into this one.
The Heat have now lost 4 straight games. The media is all over it. Miami knew there would be a target on their backs after what occurred this summer. They seemed to have made the leap into dealing with that added pressure. Miami appeared to be thriving in the “us versus the world” role. Recently though, their lack of an interior presence, a point guard, and overall depth have been glaring. Not to mention that Miami has gone from being Wadeville to Lebronville. Until Spoelstra starts putting the ball in D Wade’s hands at the end of games, Miami will continue to struggle to make the big shot. Wade is not scared to dish to a perimeter shooter like Eddie House or Mike Miller. Lebron has struggled with realizing that he does not have to force a shot at the end of games to win. There are other guys who can hit the shot. Sadly, Miami’s problems will not be solved in time for Thursday’s clash with the 2-time defending champion Lakers. Look for Kobe and LA to make a statement with another huge road win.
1. This is going to be tops on the list for the next 3 weeks+. So get used to it. It is March, which can only mean one thing. It is time for the Madness. This week we get to experience the Conference Madness. Next week, the greatest tournament in all of American sports begins. It would be impossible for me to highlight all of the marquee games or even choose one for this week.
But here are a couple of things to keep an eye on.
-The Big East Tournament will be the most exciting tournament of them all. In my opinion, the quarterfinals of this tournament could end up with a more talented group of 8 teams than in the real Elite Eight. It may sound far-fetched, but it really isn’t. As of now, 11 teams are projected to get in to the tourney. I am still banking on 10 getting the invite next Sunday. Also, these games are played at the Mecca (Madison Square Garden), which adds to the prestige.
-Can Florida continue their recent SEC dominance? Or will Tennessee play like they did early in the year and run the table to stamp a bid into the Tourney? Do not be surprised to see the Volunteers make a deep run in a wide open SEC Tourney. It is never fun to face a talented team that has so much to play for. Beware of the Volunteers this week.
-I fully expect both Kansas and Ohio State to bring home their conference tourneys despite there not being much to gain from doing so. And even if they do not, their number 1 seeds appear to be booked.
-Strap in for the Battle of the State of North Carolina Part 3. It appears to be inevitable that Duke and UNC will meet in the ACC Title Game. And if this were to happen, I would still pick UNC to win. They are too talented, big, deep, and athletic to lose to Duke at this time. The only way that Duke could handle the Tar Heels is if Kyrie Irving returned. Does anybody else sense that the Freshman phenom may return for the NCAA Tourney? It could happen.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.