Weekly Nickel 3-12-2012

Photo courtesy of Mr. Eddie Trost and Mrs. Jayne Robertson, Event Directors of the Babolat World Tennis Classic. Francesca Schiavone (pictured above) is one of many players looking to make some noise at Indian Wells this week.

By Josh Kramer

The greatest weekend in sports is just ahead.  It is time for some March Madness and there is only one way to describe it.  “It’s totally awesome baby with a capital A!”  I know Championship Week was fun.  But the first few days of the NCAA Basketball tournament are the most exciting in sports.  Utilize your sick days or your vacation days.   Thursday and Friday will not be days that you will want to be stuck at your desk.  Also, despite popular belief, other sports have been going on over the past week and will continue to despite the lack of attention given.  Last week was great.  But this week will be ever better.  Here are the events to keep an eye on.

5.  Indian Wells is still doing swell.  All eyes in the tennis world are focused in California.  Sadly, at least in the US, many potential eyes have been and will continue to be focused on March Madness.  But for all of my die-hard fans out there, it is a great time to be an American tennis fan.  First Indian Wells, and then the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami next week?  It doesn’t get much better.

4.  The “Peyton Manning Sweepstakes” will continue.  The good thing is they are not supposed to carry on nearly as long as the “Dwight Howard Soap Opera” has.  Many are saying Peyton will decide on a new home by Tuesday or Wednesday.  So who will win the NFL’s version of the lottery?  Denver, Arizona, Miami, Kansas City?  Though this will not be nearly as hyped as LeBron’s infamous “Decision,” it is still a huge deal and will affect the entire professional football landscape as we know it.

3. Spring Training is still out in full force.  Places like Arizona and Florida have been flooded by baseball fans with hopes of their team hoisting the Commissioner’s Trophy at the end of October.  Also, young players are dreaming of making the Opening Day roster and living out their lifelong dreams.  Spring Training is primarily thought of as a major appetizer.  A tune-up for the real season.  And it is.  But for many players invited to camp, it is a chance to accomplish the ultimate goal of playing Major League Baseball.

2.  Contrary to popular belief, the NBA does not go on a month-long hiatus due to March Madness.  This may be the time of year when the top basketball league in the world is heavily overshadowed, but the games still continue.  We were treated to some great ones this weekend, highlighted by the outstanding game in South Beach, where LeBron and Dwyane were both clutch when it counted, defeating Indiana 93 to 91 in an overtime thriller.  The key item to keep an eye on this week though in terms of NBA is a specific time.  Thursday at 3PM is the NBA Trade Deadline.  Which teams will make moves to go for a title this year?  Which teams will look towards the future?  And which teams will stay put?  Here are some more specific questions for you to ponder.

Will Dwight Howard dawn a Magic jersey against New Jersey on the 16th?

What team will Pau Gasol be playing for in April?

Could Rajon Rondo seriously not be a Boston Celtic next week?

We will know all of that and more very soon.  Now the trade deadline is a big deal.  But the night before the deadline, my attention will be focused on a very likely preview of the Eastern Conference Finals set to take place in Chicago.

Miami Heat at Chicago Bulls:  Last  year’s Eastern Conference Finals.  The two top records in the Eastern Conference.  A game that includes the past couple of MVP Award recipients.  It doesn’t get any bigger than this in terms of the NBA in March.  Both teams are not only winning, but they are typically winning big, sporting the best point differentials in all of basketball.

Chicago plays a very old-school brand of basketball, relying heavily on defense, and a highly team-oriented offensive attack.  Miami  plays solid defense, especially in the 4th quarter, but they can flat-out score.  I guess this is to be expected with a team that has James, Wade, and Bosh?  Now I am well-aware that Chicago possesses the best record in basketball, but I still feel as if they are the underdog in this way.  The way Miami dismantled the Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals last year is still fresh in everyone’s minds.  And though Chicago is a great home team, Miami is a very solid road team.  In addition, Miami is the one team in the NBA that can truly stop Derrick Rose.  Stop Derrick Rose, and you beat the Chicago Bulls.  Miami will on Wednesday.

1.  March Madness?  As if anything else would fill the number one spot.  Do not expect any other sporting event to move to number one for the next few weeks.  This is the best postseason tournament we have in American sports.  Filling out a bracket is not really an option.  It has turned into a civic duty.  Much more to come regarding the tournament.  There will be predictions, upset picks, insight, analysis, and more.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

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