Weekly Nickel 1-23-2012

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Can Petra Kvitova (picturd above) rise to the top of Women's tennis by winning the Australian Open?

By Josh Kramer

After a “Monster Saturday” in College Hoops, NFL Championship Weekend, and the death of a legend, we head into what should be another great week in sports with heavy hearts.  Also, do not forget about a pretty big time tennis tournament occurring in Australia that is still going on despite the absence of any American men in the draw.  Here are the events to keep an eye on.

5.  The biggest game in American sports is set.  A rematch of Super Bowl XLII (42), pitting two of the biggest sports markets in the country (Boston and New York) against one another.  And you all know what that means.  Let the media blitz begin.  Though many get sick and tired of all of the hoopla and overly done analysis regarding the ultimate game in football, at least it is still fresh and new today.  All eyes will be on Indianapolis over the next two weeks.  And no, people will not be watching Peyton Manning. We will be watching Eli in the house that Peyton built..

4.  As I have mentioned many times before, this is the time of year where the NHL really gets lost in the shuffle. And with Sid “The Kid” Crosby being sidelined for the past five weeks, things have not gotten any easier for Canada’s favorite sport.  Well guess what, hockey is as good as ever.  The games are intense and fierce.  And All Star weekend is upon us (this weekend).  Who doesn’t love the Skills Competition and of course the actual All Star Game?  Not to mention there are no football games next weekend.  Here is one game this week that you should make sure to watch as you prepare for the All Star Game festivities.

St. Louis Blues at Detroit Red Wings:  Can you say who wants the top spot not only the Central Division, but in the entire Western Conference?  This is the type of game that can send a team onto great things in the second half.  Detroit has been there before.  St. Louis is looking to make a name for themselves.  Well here is the Blues big chance.  It is no secret that St. Louis has the best defense in the NHL, giving up a League leading 1.9 goals per game.  Detroit on the other hand is extremely well-rounded, featuring both an explosive offense and a stout defensive group.  In addition, Detroit is the League’s best at defending their home ice.  That will be the difference in this game tonight as the two hottest teams in the NHL square off at Joe Louis Arena.

3.  81 score and six years ago.  Yesterday was the six-year anniversary of Kobe Bryant’s amazing 81 point game.  A scoring anomaly that I don’t think will ever be topped again (yes I realize Wilt Chamberlain holds the record at 100).  At this time though, Kobe has to be confused about what is going on with his team.  In addition, James and Bosh continue to easily handle business without their third-half, Dwyane Wade.  Maybe one of the “Big Three” should always sit out.  And lastly, the Philadelphia 76ers continue to shock the world sitting atop the Atlantic Division.  My eyes this week are focused on a matchup in Los Angeles (surprising I know).

Los Angeles Clippers at Los Angeles Lakers:  The Lakers as of late have not looked like the team we have come to know and love over the past five years.  Could “Showtime” have really shifted from one LA team to another?  It is a possibility, but the season is still very young.  The whipping the Clippers put on the once “Big Brother” Lakers a little over a week ago is still fresh in the minds of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.  And though the Lakers will have to make some serious roster moves in order to contend for a title this year, I think this is the game where they begin to regain some of that Laker swagger.  The Clippers are still a very flawed team (yes defense is a part of basketball) no matter how fun they are to watch, and who really likes losing to their “little brother?”

2.  I hope your heart rate is finally back to normal after one of the greatest “Monster Saturdays” in recent memory.  I cannot remember a more memorable Saturday in January.  And how about the Florida State Seminoles?  I guess ESPN’s Doug Gottlieb saw this coming?  Talk about your giant killer.  Maybe people should start focusing on Seminoles basketball rather than what might be in football?  In addition, maybe the loss of Fab Melo is really going to hurt Syracuse, despite their outstanding depth.  Sure looked like it against Notre Dame.  The beauty of college basketball.  There are great games galore again this week.


Syracuse at Cincinnati

-How will Syracuse respond coming off of their first loss?  Also, how will the Bearcats respond following a heartbreaker at the hands of former Bearcat coach Bob Huggins and the West Virginia Mountaineers?


Kentucky at Georgia

-How will the newly anointed number one team in the land respond on the road?  Though Georgia is a much inferior opponent, Calipari does not have the greatest track record in true road games (13 and 10 record in true road games as UK’s coach).


Duke at Maryland

-This was once one of the best rivalries in college hoops.  A possible time machine game?


Indiana at Wisconsin

-Indiana has struggled on the road this year, posting a record of 3 and 3.  The Kohl Center is typically not the most friendly of environments for visiting teams.


Harvard at Yale

-The Crimson are a very fun team to watch, led by Keith Wright and Kyle Casey.


Mississippi State at Florida

-Does the SEC really have any depth after UK?  This game will help us begin to figure it out.

1.  So what if no American Men advanced to the Round of 16 in Australia for the first time in the Open Era.  Most of the big guns are still standing.  You will not want to miss what should be an epic conclusion to the first Grand Slam of the year “Down Under.”

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.


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