Weekly Nickel 1-2-2012

Photo courtesy of sportsillustrated.cnn.com. Can Dirk Nowitzki (pictured above) get the Mavericks back on track this week?

By Josh Kramer

Happy New Year to all!  2011 has finally come to a close.  And boy was it a busy year in the wide world of sports.  In the words of the greatest rapper of our generation (Jay-Z), “On to the Next One.”  2012 will for sure be a memorable one with so much going on as we enter the first week.  Plus, the word CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) has officially become a foreign term again in that no major sports agreements are expiring in the near future.  Here are the events to keep an eye on this week.

5.  The Miami Heat finally appear to be the “Unstoppable Force” that many envisioned a year ago.  LeBron, Dwyane, and the “MonStars” are now 5 and 0 and straight cruising (they defeated the Bobcats by 39 yesterday).  It is so nice to have the NBA back.  What would SportsCenter be without a highlight featuring Blake Griffin and the newly formed “Lob City” on a nightly basis?  Though there are many great games this week, my eyes are fixed in on a showdown in San Antonio.

Dallas Mavericks at San Antonio Spurs:  Many of you are probably questioning my choice for the “NBA Game of the Week.”  Why would anyone in their right mind choose a game that features teams with a combined record of 4 and 4?  A matchup that pits the teams that occupy the cellar and the first place spot in the Southwest division?  Well its simple frankly.  This is the “Battle of Texas.”  The Mavericks and Spurs have been perennial contenders for some time now and are two teams commonly vying for the Western Conference Championship.

The Spurs are thriving in their typical fashion thus far this season.  They play great D, and they are able to score effectively.  Manu Ginobli is the scrappiest player in the NBA and one of the game’s elite players.  Dallas on the other hand is currently setting records.  And not records that any team would want to hold.  They are currently experiencing one of the worst starts to a season ever for a defending champion.  Well with rivalries, numbers get thrown out the window.  Not to mention this is the type of win that could catapult the Mavericks on to bigger and better things.  Believe in Dirk.  Because I do.  Dallas will turn around their season on this night.

4.  The vast majority of you are well aware of what the Fall Classic  (World Series) is and typically tune in.  How many of you know about the Winter Classic? Sure there is plenty of football to be played today, with two BCS Bowl games.  But there is also another major sporting spectacle set for 3PM.  If you have not already figured it out, I am talking about today’s NHL Winter Classic.  This is always a major event (now entering its 5th year).  And this year, the stakes are greater than ever, as two of the sports biggest rivals go toe to toe on the sport’s biggest stage (outside of the Stanley Cup).  Rangers/Flyers.  Can you say rivalry game? 24/7 baby.

3.  Indiana basketball is officially back.  On Saturday evening, the Hoosiers knocked off the 2nd ranked Ohio State Buckeyes.  In doing so, the 2011/2012 edition of Indiana Hoosiers basketball became the first group in the school’s illustrious basketball history to knock off both the number one and number two ranked teams in the country during the course of the same season.  In addition, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had his official “Welcome to the National Spotlight” party in leading UK to a huge victory over their bitter rival Louisville.  Here are some great matchups to keep an eye on this week.

Tuesday:

Michigan State at Wisconsin

-Can Bo Ryan’s gang recover from a very uncharacteristic home loss to Iowa?

Wednesday:

Marquette at Georgetown

-This is one of those matchups that embody why people love Big East basketball.

Thursday:

Michigan at Indiana

-Would you really want to be the visiting team at Assembly Hall?

Saturday:

Marquette at Syracuse

-Marquette definitely is one of those teams with the offensive firepower to end the hopes of an undefeated season in Syracuse.

2.  Thank god we had an NFL season this year.  If we hadn’t, then we would not have been able to watch Tim Tebow lead the Broncos into the playoffs.  Granted the guy went 6 of 22 yesterday, with one fumble, and one interception for a whopping total of 60 yards.  In addition, most would have fully believed that the Cincinnati Bengals were the worst team in the NFL.  Boy were people wrong about this playoff bound Cincinnati team.  Plus, people would not have been able to witness quarterbacks like Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, and Cam Newton rewrite the record books.  It’s playoff time baby.

AFC:

Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos

Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans

Byes:  New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens

NFC:

Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants

Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints

Byes:  Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers

(All of the picks for the first round playoff games will be included in the weekly NFL Picks on Friday)

*In addition, the 2nd annual “TheSportsKraze Pick’em Challenge” final standings will be announced.

1.  I think the vast majority of you are more than able to deduce what is this week’s number one event to keep an eye on.  We are finally to the “major” bowl games.  Hello BCS. And things kick off with a bang today with the “Granddaddy of Them All” (Rose Bowl) and what should be an amazing offensive shootout in Glendale, Arizona (Fiesta Bowl).  Luck versus Weeden.  Wow is all I have to say.  Make sure to tune in to the games all week.

(My pick for the National Championship Game will be released in my weekly College Football picks on Thursday)

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

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