The Conference Finals have arrived. Yankee players are making headlines for a change. And it is another Monday in the wide world of sports. Here is what you should look for over the course of the next week.
5. It is no secret who will be returning to their respective teams next season as we gear up for another wild year of College Hoops. Sure the actual season does not start for well over 5 months. But people are getting excited, as should you. Next year appears to have actual “dominant” teams in the cards. Most, if not all, have loved the parity in College Hoops over the past few years. One thing that many fans and analysts have felt is lacking though is that dominant team. A team that is at that elite level that everybody else appears to be playing catch up to. Well have no fear, both UNC and UK are here. Either one of these storied programs could provide America with the first “dominant” team that we have seen in years. Rupp Arena will be in a frenzy when these two teams get together next Fall.
4. College Football’s always exciting Spring Season is in the books. Now it is time to really start looking ahead towards next season. There are many questions marks. Who will be the team to beat? Can the SEC bring home an unprecedented 6th consecutive National Champion? What is going to happen in Columbus? At least we do know that no new Bowl Games will be added and that the Fiesta Bowl, though they muffed up in a couple of big ways, will be around come New Years. I am going to throw out a couple of very early projections here.
Expect another National Championship participant to come out of the PAC 10. But this year, though many are pointing towards Eugene (Oregon), I am going with Stanford. Andrew Luck will be the most electric player in the country next year. With or without Jim Harbaugh and the amazing coaching staff that the Cardinal had last year, this kid has the ability to take Stanford to the promised land. In addition, what would a National Championship Game be without an SEC team? It seems all but guaranteed that an SEC Team will be participating in the National Championship Game. Do not sleep on LSU. They are my way early pick to represent the SEC in the title game. Also keep an eye on a few teams out of the Big 12 that have a real possibility of running the table. There are two teams in Oklahoma that could do it. That would be the Sooners and Oklahoma State. And then lastly, do not sleep on the Texas A&M Aggies. This is a team that finished the year on an outstanding run before a horrid 2nd half in the Cotton Bowl.
3. The Indians continue to shock the baseball world and lead the AL Central. The NL East appears to be the best division in baseball. Even better than the mighty AL East. And Colorado has finally cooled off, relinquishing their first place spot in the NL West to the defending World Champion Giants. You got to love MLB baseball even in May. Today’s matchup of the week takes place down South. Immediately after a tough 3 game set at home against their biggest rival Boston, the Yankees must head south to take on the team that they are currently trying to catch in the AL East, the Tampa Bay Rays.
New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays: So the AL East has not been as dominant as expected. Or at least not yet. Give it time. Teams like the Yankees, the Rays, and the Red Sox all have the talent to not only make the playoffs, but to play deep into October. Currently, this matchup in Florida pits the 2 teams currently leading the division. New York is currently experiencing their worst losing streak of the year while Tampa has been playing their best baseball of the season. Luckily for the Bronx Bombers, the Rays are one of those teams that weirdly enough struggles at their home park and excels while on the road. Look for New York to take advantage, and take 2 out of 2, after a very embarrassing showing against their bitter rival, the Boston Red Sox. I have never been a fan of the weird “2 Game Set,” but either way, expect Jeter and Co. to come out swinging against the AL East leading Rays.
2. The NHL Playoffs roll on. Though it was disappointing to hear about ESPN’s Matthew Barnaby having some issues with the law, he will bounce back. And the NHL Playoffs will roll on as well. The Bruins, a team that I expect to represent the East in the Stanley Cup took it in the mouth in Game 1, due to an offensive flurry from the Lightning. I do expect Boston, one of the original 6 and most historic franchises in the Game to come back with a vengeance in Game 2, and eventually win the East. Out West, we have two teams going head to head that both nearly blew 3-0 leads. To be blunt when looking at this series. The Canucks were the best team in the NHL all year They have the most explosive offense to go along with the toughest defense in the NHL. Vancouver sported a +77 goal differential in the regular season. That is dominant. San Jose has finally broken through a little bit by taking down the mighty Red Wings. But in this series, they are playing a team that is just flat-out better than them. When all is said and done, Vancouver will be taking on Boston in the Stanley Cup Finals.
1. It is Conference Finals time in the NBA. Who will have the Reggie Miller “Winning Time” mentality this year? Sadly, to the disliking of the majority of America, I do not see anybody taking down the mighty Heat. Miami has gelled much faster than I expected them to and look poised to cut down the nets this year. If LA had avoided their very unexpected collapse against Dallas, I would still be going with the Lakers. But with LA out, it appears to be inevitable that Lebron will be smiling real big come mid June.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.