By Josh Kramer
The bowl game matchups were not flattering this weekend by any means. Fortunately, two of the three games went down to the wire. In addition, there was another jam-packed schedule of college hoops in which Xavier, in their first appearance since the “Crosstown Brawl,” got slaughtered at home by Oral Roberts. There is so much going on in sports as we prep for the New Year. Here are the events to keep an eye on this week.
5. Concussions continue to plague the NHL worse than any other professional sports league. Sid “the Kid” headlines a very long list of NHL star players currently sidelined by concussion related injuries. Players such as Kris Letang, Claude Giroux, Jeff Skinner, and of course Chris Pronger. Despite the unfortunate injuries, the beat goes on in the NHL. The marquee matchup of the week takes place tonight in Canada.
Minnesota Wild at Vancouver Canucks: It is no secret that these are the two teams to beat in the Northwest Division. Everyone knows that the West will go through the defending conference champion Canucks. Tonight, Minnesota could make a statement and show that they are a team to be reckoned with in the West by expanding their lead in the division. The Wild currently have the best record in all of hockey, thanks in large part to their superb play both at home and on the road. Minnesota is a heavily defensive minded team that makes a living on good fundamental hockey. Vancouver on the other hand has an electric offense that is outstanding at converting on the power play. Do not expect Minnesota to make too many mistakes against the defending Western Conference champs. The Wild will go “Wild” in Vancouver and expand their lead in the Northwest Division.
4. The NBA’s version of musical chairs continues in preparation for what should be an amazing Christmas Day. It is quite unpredictable and very exciting, somewhat reminiscent to what happened in the NFL this summer. Who will land where next? Which teams will be most prepared for this very fast 66-game grind? All of that and more will begin to get answered on Sunday.
3. Bowl season continues on. I will admit that this weekend did not disappoint by any means, with two of the games going down to the wire. I still do not understand how 70 of the 119 FBS teams get to play in the postseason. Everyone always says that the regular season means so much more in college football than it does in college basketball. And I guess in a way it does. But realize nearly 59% of the FBS eligible teams play in the college football “postseason.” Only 20% of the D1 Men’s college basketball teams get to go dancing (68 of 342) in March. There are four bowl games this week. They are as follows:
-Florida International vs Marshall (BEEF ‘O’ BRADY’S BOWL ST. PETERSBURG)
-TCU vs Louisiana Tech (SAN DIEGO COUNTY CREDIT UNION POINSETTIA BOWL)
-Arizona State vs Boise State (MAACO BOWL LAS VEGAS)
-Nevada vs Southern Mississippi (SHERATON HAWAII BOWL)
(All picks for the big games will be released in my weekly College Football picks)
2. Exam week is over at colleges across the country. I think you all know what that means. Let the big time college basketball matchups roll. Last week still featured some good games, but as a whole, the week was not of the caliber of what is ahead over the next seven days. My matchup of the week takes place on Thursday night.
Illinois at Missouri: I am well-aware that the Illini went down to a very Jekyll and Hyde UNLV Runnin’ Rebels team. That does not mean that Illinois is not a solid team by any means. They already have taken down a quality opponent in Gonzaga this season. Missouri on the other hand has been straight cruising in the early stages of the regular season. The Tigers have an absolutely electric offense, putting up almost 90 points a night (87.3, tied for 2nd in the nation). The Tigers showed some promise last year as a young group. The experience from last season is showing already this year as Missouri looks to be one of the elite teams in the country. Expect them to have far too much speed for the Illini, especially with this game being played at the Scottrade Center.
1. Does anyone else feel like the NFL season just got going? Well it has been a crazy nearly four months of football already, as we enter the next to last week of the regular season. There are so many remarkable storylines, that it would take a full day just to list them out. We did learn one thing yesterday though. No teams will go “undefeated” or “defeated” in the 2011/2012 NFL regular season. Week 15 is nearly in the books, but Week 16 is just around the corner.
-New York (Giants) at New York (Jets) (Battle for city supremacy)
-San Diego at Detroit (Must-win for both)
-Chicago at Green Bay (Bears in desperation at Lambeau)
-Atlanta at New Orleans (NFC South Showdown on Bourbon Street)
All of the picks for Week 16 will be included in the weekly “TheSportsKraze Pick’em Challenge” on Friday)
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.