Weekly Nickel 3-3-2012

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Roger Federer (left) seems to be back to his old ways after defeating Andy Murray (right) to win his second consecutive title. It should be fun to see if the former number one player can continue his hot streak in Indian Wells.

By Josh Kramer

Hoops, hoops, and more hoops.  You thought this week was great in terms of College Basketball and the NBA?  Just wait.  This week was just an appetizer to the main course.  In addition, more scandal came out in the sporting world this for a change (bounty hunting).  Last week was fun.  But this week has the makings of being any better.  Here are the events to keep an eye on.

5.  The NHL’s Eastern Conference has turned into a three-team race.  Go figure that two of the teams are from Boston and New York.  What would professional sports be without the good old Boston/New York hate-fest?  Yesterday, was a treat as we got to witness the Rangers flex their Eastern Conference leading muscles to a 4-3 victory over the defending Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins.  I have a feeling that there is a seven-game series in store between these teams in the near future.  As always, here is my matchup of the week.

Florida Panthers at Pittsburgh Penguins:  Two of the East’s finest go to battle at the CONSOL Energy Center.  Pittsburgh’s electric offense led by Evgeni Malkin welcomes into town a Panthers team that just flat-out knows how to win.  If you asked me why Florida has been so successful this season, I couldn’t tell you.  They just have won game at an impressive rate.  Lately though, Pittsburgh has played much better hockey than the Panthers.  I expect this to continue.  Look for the Penguins to handle business at home, where they have been very tough to beat this year.

4.  MLB Spring Training is in full force people.  All 30 franchises have aspirations of hoisting the Commissioner’s Trophy at the end of October.  Granted many of these dreams are far-fetched, but there is definite excitement in the air.  And rightfully so.  Much more to come over the next few weeks as Opening Day nears.

3.  So there are no Grand Slams in the tennis world until May 28th (French Open), but this week, we have the next best thing.  Welcome to the ATP BNP Paribas Open in beautiful Indian Wells.  This tournament is just below the Grand Slam level in terms of mystique, and is mandatory for all of the top players.  Just one item to note as we get ready for what should be a great tournament.  Roger Federer is coming in as a winner of two consecutive tournaments.  Expect much more from our tennis expert Toni Headley regarding Indian Wells in the near future.

2.  We are entering the best time of the year in terms of basketball.  Ironically, it is also the time of year where the NBA gets overshadowed.  Go figure.  Despite amazing College Basketball going on 24/7 for the next few weeks, the NBA will still have some pretty good action in its own right.  We were of course treated to a Heat/Lakers (AKA, Kobe/LeBron showdown) tussle yesterday in LA.  And we got to watch another chapter in the Boston/New York rivalry as the Celtics handled the Knicks in an overtime thriller.  My eyes this week will be focused on a matchup in Texas.  More specifically, San Antonio.

Los Angeles Clippers at San Antonio Spurs:  Currently, these are the two teams with the inside track to 2nd place in the Western Conference.  Does anyone really have a prayer at catching OKC in the West?  In addition, both of these teams are pleasant surprises.  Everyone figured that unless the Spurs contacted Juan Ponce de Leon and located the “Fountain of Youth,” that 2012 would be a wash for the Spurs.  I guess the great explore de Leon shared the secret with Popovich and Co.  And then the Clippers benefitted immensely from Dictator Stern’s rejection of the original CP3 deal to LA (Lakers).  “Lob City” has lived up to the hype and more, and the Clippers appear to be a legitimate contender to make some noise in the playoffs.  When was the last time the Clippers made noise in the postseason?  I know I can’t remember.  Sadly, the entertaining Clippers have struggled on the road at times this year, while San Antonio has thrived at the AT&T Center.  Unless the Clippers can utilize the AT&T network and call a friend such as Kevin Durant or LeBron James to come help, I think San Antonio will handle business in this key Western Conference showdown.

1.  It’s totally awesome baby with a capital A!  Selection Sunday is just six days away.  Strap in for the most wonderful time of the year.  March Madness is upon us.  Will the shoe fit for any Cinderella teams this year?  Does anyone have a prayer at slaying the mighty-goliath that is Kentucky?  Get ready to fill out a bracket and enjoy Championship Week.  Much more to come in regards to March Madness in the very near future.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

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