Weekly Nickel 2-20-2012

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. The New York Rangers currently possess the best record in the Eastern Conference. Much of the team's success is due in large part to goaltender Henrik Lundqvist (pictured above).

By Josh Kramer

The Garden was simply “Linsane” yesterday as Jeremy Lin led the Knicks to a huge home victory over the defending champion Dallas Mavericks.  Michigan finally exacted some revenge on their bitter rival, Ohio State, handling Sullinger and Co. in Ann Arbor for the first time in a long time (previously had lost 7 straight to the Buckeyes).  And pitchers and catchers began reporting to warm and beautiful cities across the country.  This past week was absolutely wild, but the current week should be some fun too.  Here are the events to keep an eye on.

5.  Is it 1994 all over again?  For the first time in a long time, both the Rangers and Knicks are contenders at the same time (granted the Knicks are only 500, but winners of 8 of 9).  The Rangers currently possess the best record in the East, while the Red Wings have been simply unbeatable as of late, winning six straight games, and 23 straight at home.  This week my attention is focused on a marquee matchup in Pittsburgh tomorrow night.

New York Rangers at Pittsburgh Penguins:  The Rangers are finally “real” contenders again for the first time in 18 years, while the Penguins are no pushovers themselves.  Despite the absence of their star, the Penguins continue to demonstrate their electric offense night in and night out.  The Rangers on the other hand rely heavily on their outstanding defensive unit led by goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.  New York is currently the best road team in the NHL, while Pittsburgh has been pretty solid at defending their home ice.  That turns this game into a toss-up.  New York has been playing much better as of late, winning 7 of their last 10 though, while the Penguins have only won 5 of their last 10.  I will take the hotter team.  The Rangers are the pick.

4.  As of today, pitchers and catchers have reported for 24 of the 30 MLB teams.  Who else is already starting to get really excited for the 2012 MLB season?  Spring is in the air (or at least it’s near).

Some questions to ponder early on in regards to the MLB.

-Will Hanley Ramirez accept his new position with the Marlins?

-Will Ryan Braun suit up for Opening Day?

-Are the Angels now the team to beat in the AL?

-Can Boston redeem themselves after their horrific meltdown this past September?

Much more to come regarding the MLB in the near future.

3.  Carl Edwards made the other racers look as if they were standing still yesterday during the Daytona 500 qualifying.  Well not exactly, but he won the poll by a noticeable margin as he looks to redeem himself following last year’s very disappointing finish.  Next Sunday, all eyes in the racing world will be focused on Daytona International Speedway.  There is no bigger race in NASCAR than the Daytona 500.  The 500 mile race will not seem like 500 miles as these racesr whiz around the hallowed track.

2. A little over a month ago, I introduced you all to Creighton star and former high school teammate of Harrison Barnes, Doug McDermott.  McDermott, the biggest Bluejays star since Kyle Korver has not disappointed by any means, dropping 36 on Saturday against a very good Long Beach State team.  Well today, I introduce you to Iona star, Scott Machado.  Now this guy is by no means the dynamic scorer that Doug McDermott is, but he can influence a game as much as any player in American not named Anthony Davis.  Keep an eye on the nation’s assists leader (10.1 APG), Scott Machado.  Here are the games to keep an eye on this week.

Monday:

Baylor at Texas

-By no means the most impressive of “Big Mondays.”  But still a solid matchup nonetheless with plenty of NBA talent on the floor.

Tuesday:

Kentucky at Mississippi State

-Though this game will likely be a blowout, any game UK plays is worth watching from an entertainment standpoint.

Wednesday:

West Virginia at Notre Dame

-Bob Huggins and Mike Brey are two of the best coaches in America.  This should be a good one.

Thursday:

Duke at Florida State

-Can the red-hot Blue Devils extract some revenge at the Donald L. Tucker Center?

Friday:

Marquette at West Viriginia

-The Golden Eagles are without question one of the top teams in America, while West Virginia is in a position where they can ill afford to lose at home if they are dreaming of dancing.

Saturday:

Missouri at Kansas

-This game will likely decide the Big 12 regular season champion.  The game on February 4th was a thriller.  Hopefully this one will be half as good.

1.  Spike Lee sported a Jeremy Lin Harvard jersey at the Knicks game yesterday against the defending champion Mavericks.  New York City basketball has awoken from an over decade-long slumber.  And this can all be attributed to one man.  None other than Mr. Jeremy Lin.  Derek Jeter better watch his back.  His reign as the “King of New York” may end if Lin can somehow lead the Knicks to their first title since 1973.  There are other stars in the NBA though, outside of Jeremy Lin.  I of course am referring to none other than the NBA All-Star weekend set to be held in Orlando.

The following is a schedule of the festivities:

Friday:

Spring Celebrity Game

-I am excited about two things regarding this always entertaining event.  Number one, Justin Bieber will not be on the court.  Number two, I am excited to see famous ESPN personality Doug Gottlieb dish some dimes.

BBVA Rising Star Challenge

-Team Shaq versus Team Chuck.  Which of these two very famous former players will make the most controversial or outrageous statement during the game?

Saturday:

D-League All-Star Game

-Will the next Jeremy Lin be on the floor?

Haier Shooting Stars

-I am betting a lot of the participants will be able to shoot the rock.  Will anyone get “On-Fire” NBA Jam style?

Taco Bell Skills Challenge

-For once, fundamentals will not be overlooked during this competition.

Foot Locker Three-Point Contest

-Can Kevin Love really win this?  The former UCLA star has developed into an outstanding shooter.

Sprite Slam Dunk Contest

-Without Blake Griffin, this contest becomes a sham.  Four first time participants could either be really good, or really bad.

Sunday:

2012 NBA All-Star Game

-You would probably be fine tuning in for the final five minutes of the 4th quarter.  At least this game is not as bad as the Pro Bowl.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

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