By Josh Kramer
A Final Four finally emerged. Tiger Woods did his best Mariano Rivera impression. Tim Tebow took his talents to Broadway. And South Beach brought the heat in terms of tennis. Last week was a great one that will not soon be forgotten, but this one is poised to be pretty epic in its own right. Here are the events to keep an eye on.
5. Canada’s favorite pastime is still going strong as the regular season nears a close. There are eight or fewer games remaining for every team in the NHL. And we all remember last year’s insanely unpredictable playoffs that made Game 7’s seem like a given. Both Boston and Vancouver are once again heavy contenders to hoist Lord Stanley come June, but New York and St. Louis appear to be in pretty good shape in their own right. My eyes will be focused on a colossal showdown in the nation’s capital on Tuesday.
Buffalo Sabres at Washington Capitals: These are two teams that are currently fighting for their playoff lives. Though it is very unlikely that either of these teams will contend for the Cup, making the playoffs is far more fulfilling than just missing them. Currently, Buffalo is holding down the 8th and final spot in the East, while Washington is in the very unattractive 9th spot (only the top 8 make the playoffs). Buffalo has been rolling as of late, led by their star right wing, Jason Pominville. Washington on the other hand has struggled recently, but always play great at the Verizon Center. Due to this game being played on Washington’s home ice, I like the Capitals. Plus they have Alex Ovechkin holding down the left wing position. A superstar and home ice spells victory for Washington in a game with heavy playoff implications.
4. Opening Day is just nine days away! Doesn’t it feel like just yesterday that we watched St. Louis shock the world, and send Tony LaRussa off with his third World Championship? It is coming down to crunch time as teams finalize their rosters and get ready for the always turbulent six month journey. Start getting excited because spring is definitely in the air.
3. Sure the Miami Heat have been bringing the heat lately. And we all know that the expectations are at an all-time high for the Miami Marlins. But tennis is the main attraction in Miami this week. The Sony Ericsson Open is in essence considered the fifth Grand Slam in the world of tennis. Can Federer continue his hot streak? Is Azarenka finally bringing a semblance of order to the WTA tour? What about Nadal and Djokovic? All of the big stars will be on full display as this very important tournament wraps up this weekend.
2. Any more questions about the Chicago Bulls? It appears that the Windy City has a real shot to capture their first title since the Jordan Era. Chicago has now won 6 of 7 without their star, and the reigning MVP, Derrick Rose. The good old Los Angeles Lakers have not looked too shabby as of late in their own right. Sure professional hoops has taken a backseat for the past couple of weeks to NCAA March Madness, but don’t shy too far away. There are less than 20 games remaining in this strike-shortened regular season before playoff time. My matchup of the week takes place under the bright lights of the Staples Center on Thursday night.
Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles Lakers: Who has the best home record in the NBA this year? That would be none other than Kobe Bryant and the supposedly down and out Los Angeles Lakers. This is the type of game the Lake Show must win in order to give themselves the best chance at home court advantage in the playoffs. Suprisingly, the Lakers are a very solid rebounding team that plays pretty hard-nosed defense. The Thunder on the other hand are a very young and talented offensive juggernaut. Durant and Westbrook are arguably the best tandem in all of basketball. And yes I am fully aware of the guys out of South Beach. Kobe loves the bright lights. Los Angeles thrives at home. And though I do not see the Lakers having a prayer of catching OKC in the race for the best record in the West, they will win on this night.
1. Welcome to Bourbon Street. The Final Four is finally upon us. When was the last time that we had two rematches in the Final Four? All four teams can really play. Kentucky though is on another planet. They truly look like the MonStars in Space Jam. And unfortunately for Louisville, Ohio State, and Kansas, Bugs Bunny is not walking through the door in the near future. Come April 3rd, the Kentucky Wildcats should take on the Charlotte Bobcats at the Superdome. Nonetheless, here are the matchups.
Louisville vs Kentucky (6:09 on CBS)
Ohio State vs Kansas (8:49 on CBS)
National Championship Game (8:00 on CBS)
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.