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Category ArchiveSeason Preview

MLB Season Openers 2017

MLB Opening Day is right around the cornerĀ 

Major League Baseball (MLB) returns to action on Sunday, 2 April with a three game slate that includes the New York Yankees travelling to Tampa Bay, San Francisco Giants headed to Arizona, and the World Champion Chicago Cubs taking on their hated rival the St Louis Cardinals. In the game that gets the year started in Tampa Bay, the Yankees new look lineup includes free agent Matt Holliday as the Designated Hitter, and returning youngsters Gary Sanchez at catcher with Greg Bird taking over at First Base. The Yankee rotation will be challenged to get the game to their bullpen that includes set up man Dellin Betances and returning closer Aroldis Chapman. Expected Opening Day starter for the Yankees will be Masahiro Tanaka while the number two through five starters will be Michael Pineda, CC Sabathia, Chad Green, and Bryan Mitchell. The Rays have added a couple of free agents to their starting lineup in shortstop Matthew Duffy, outfielder Colby Rasmus and will once again lean on long time Ray third baseman Evan Longoria as their chief run producer. The starting staff ace and Opening Day starter will be Chris Archer who the Rays hope will turn in better results than his 2016 campaign. Jake Odorizzi, Alex Cobb, Matt Andriese, and Blake Snel will round out the starting staff that will be relied upon to get the game into the hands of closer Alex Colomb.

In the middle game of Opening Day, the Giants hope to get out of the gate fast, and will have a good chance to do so, with staff ace Madison Bumgarner taking the hill. Following Bumgarner in the rotation will be Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, Matt Moore, and Ty Blach. As long as the starters can get the game to newly acquired free agent Mark Melancon, the Giants will have a successful 2017. Melancon enjoyed his most successful season in 2016 as he locked down 47 saves with a minuscule 1.64 earned run average in 71 innings pitched. The offense is intact from a year ago with the club looking for good years from Brandon Belt, Buster Posey, and Hunter Pence. The Diamondbacks have a healthy A.J. Pollock back in the mix and will count on first baseman Paul Goldschmidt to lead the offense. Opening Day starting pitcher Zack Greinke will look to rebound from a disappointing 2016 season while Robbie Ray, newly acquired Taijuan Walker, Archie Bradley, and Shelby Miller will be counted on to keep the game close as the closer role has yet to be determined between Daniel Hudson and Randall Delgado.

The nightcap will be anticipated by all to determine how the Cubs will react to being World Champions. Jon Lester will take the hill and will be counted on to carry out another 200 strikeout and 200 plus inning year. Number two starter Jake Arrieta will be focused as this is his last year of his contract and will playing for an increased salary in 2018. The Cubs will go with Kyle Hendricks, John Lackey, and Mike Montgomery to finish out their starting staff. Closer duties will be taken on by free agent signee Wade Davis, formerly of the Kansas City Royals. The bats are the same as the Cubs will look for Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo to be their chief run producers and are hopeful for a break out year by outfielder Kyle Schwarber who will bat second in the lineup. The Cardinals will send out Carlos Martinez on Opening Day who is fresh off of a newly signed 51 million dollar contract. They will bank on a healthy Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, and Lance Lynn to chew up innings so closer Seung-Hwan Oh can lock down the win. Free agent Dexter Fowler will lead off and be counted on to get on base for run producers Stephen Piscotty and Matt Carpenter to drive him in.

NCAA Basketball Teams To Watch

*NCAA Basketball teams Worth Paying attention to:

There are certainly NCAA Basketball teams worth watching. Avid basketball fans can get a great deal of enjoyment out of watching the various teams play a challenging game of basketball.

For example, the Kentucky Wildcats are an American College Basketball team. The team represents the University of Kentucky. Kentucky is considered a division one basketball team. John Calipari is currently the head coach of the Wildcats. The University of Kentucky has had many excellent players over the years both on a college level and professional level. Some recognizable names include Kevin Grevy and Alex Groza. In addition, Eddie Sutton is another very recognized and successful player.

Kentucky has played in 17 NCAA Final Fours. In addition, Kentucky has won a total of 8 NCAA Championships. The team won the National Invitation Tournament on two occasions. Kentucky holds an all time record of 2226-687.

The Texas Longhorns is another team that is well worth paying attention to. Kerwin Roach is one of the teams lead players. The Longhorn’s have an outstanding defense and it seems to be getting better over time. Jarrett Allen is another key player on the team. Allen and Roach have led this time to many victories and many anticipate their two key players will continue to get better.

The Indiana Hossiers James Blackmon will be back in business after suffering an injury last season. Blackmon is certainly a key player and his absence was certainly felt in many ways. The Hossiers represent Indiana University and they are considered a division one basketball team. Indiana does compete in the Big 10 Conference.

The Hossiers have 5 NCAA Championships to their credit. In addition, the Hossiers are 7th in their Tour appearances. The team won 22 Big Conference ten Championships. Also, the team holds one of the highest winning percentages in comparison to other teams.

*Coach Scott Drew made Baylor a better team:

Baylor is another team worth following this season. Baylor has had some very tough schedules in the past. Baylor has an excellent chance of making it in the March Madness Tournament. The Baylor Bears represent Baylor University located in Waco Texas. Scott Drew is currently the head coach of the team.

The Baylor Bears are a division one basketball team. In addition, the Bears do compete in the Big 12 Conference. The team did suffer through some serious mishaps in the past. However, it seems Scott Drew brought the team back to life. In 2008 the team had a Conference record of 9-7. In addition, in 2009 the team won a post season victory which was a major accomplishment for the Bears.

It appears the Bears have played much better games over the past five years. Many attribute their playing success to the coaching methods that have been employed. In 2013, the Bears had another winning Champion season while only dropping one game to UT. The Bears made it all the way to the finals with an extraordinary win over Iowa.

NBA Teams On The Playoff Bubble

The NBA season is fast approaching the end. And while there is still time to make the playoffs, there are two sets of teams at the moment, those that are set to make the playoffs and those that are on the bubble. In the Eastern Conference, things are in a lot of regards very tight, but that does not mean the Western Conference is not going to be just as tight, let’s look at a few of the teams that are on the bubble and how they can become a bubble buster.

Eastern Conference

Chicago Bulls
Where have the Bulls of the 90’s went, there was a time when you had the Bulls in the playoffs and the NBA finals almost on a yearly basis. Looking at this years squad, they look like a bunch of players that just got onto the Varsity squad and are getting their sea legs under them. 16.1, that is an important number as it is the number of second chance points that the Bulls have allowed when losing. With these kinds of numbers their rebounding is going to have to improve or the Bulls will be watching from their living rooms.

Atlanta Hawks
This is another example of a team that had all the right tools, they just can’t seem to put them together to notch a win. While it looks pretty to shoot a three pointer, it is better to go for the more safe two points as the Hawks are not good at three point shooting.

Charlotte Hornets
Bubble buster is a term that you will probably not hear uttered when referring to the Hornets this season. The team is all over the charts in terms of wins and the number of points that they score. There are games that should be easy wins and they lose and games that they should lose and they manage to win. The Hornets need to get their act together.

Western Conference

Dallas Mavericks
This is really a surprise for me as I had the Mavericks going all the way this year and yet they seem to be stalling out for the most part. Inconsistent shooting is one of the things that seems to plague this team and if they have any hopes of the post season, they need to fix that now.

Houston Rockets
This is another surprise that you don’t expect to see on the bubble. The Rockets seem to have everything in place, but they are not able to put everything together. So many opportunities have been lost this season and while there is still time, they need to fix this and get back to their winning ways.

Utah Jazz
The Jazz have one serious issue that hurts them and that is the lack of defending. If that could be resolved this would be a yearly contender for the NBA Championship. All of that being said, they are not able to defend the ball and when they fail to do so, they will without a doubt, lose their games. When they get on it and defend the ball, the Jazz are unstoppable.

These are just six of the teams that have a ways to go in hopes of making the postseason. If these teams are able to fix what is wrong, then they will have no problems in winning this season. Otherwise, they will find themselves on the losing end on a yearly basis. Then there are those teams that simply have wasted their chances and are already out of the playoff picture. For those teams it is simply a matter of getting through the season and hoping the draft lottery is kind to them.

Top Non-Conference CBB Games to Watch in 2016-17

College basketball season is upon us. This season looks to be just as crazy as last year. Everyone wants to see their favorite team crush their rival. If you are a Duke fan that team is an in-state rival, North Carolina. IU and Purdue have a long-standing rivalry. There are a ton of different examples.

Other schedule highlights are when a great program that your team doesn’t play very often comes to town. These games are called non-conference matchups. Each year, the scheduling committee comes up with some great regular season matchups. The following are four non-conference games that I am certainly can’t wait to watch.

Villanova vs. Purdue(Nov 13) – This game happens as part of a series of games between the Big East and the Big Ten. It is an exciting game because Purdue is one of the best teams in the Big Ten and Villanova is coming to their stadium, Mackey Arena. West Lafayette is a historically tough place to play for a road team. Defending champions don’t typically play true road games likes this one early in the regular season. The game against the Wildcats could be a big chance for Caleb Swanigan and the Boilermakers to make a statement at the beginning of the season.

Kansas vs. Duke (Nov 15) – This game is happening as part of the Champions Classic. These two storied franchises don’t often meet during the year. Duke is ranked as the number 1 team in the nation this preseason. Kansas is always a stacked team that has the potential to win it all. One issue for Kansas is that they are playing Hawaii the week before. That means that they could be worn out for this game against the best team in the country. Still, it’s hard to completely count out a well-coached and highly-talented Kansas team.

Michigan State at Duke (Nov 29) – When you’re the best team in the nation your games are going to be important to fans. The Spartans are coming to Durham as part of the annual Big Ten/ACC challenge. This game is Michigan State’s third tough road game early in the season. The team is loaded with freshman talent, so it should be a good way to help them gel and get a feel for college basketball early in the season. Can Sparty pull off an upset in the third act of their tough early non-conference schedule?

UCLA at Kentucky (Dec 3) – UCLA and Kentucky are probably the two most successful college basketball programs in history. UCLA has seen some down years in recent history, but they are loaded with talent this year. There could be as many as six players taken in next summer’s NBA draft. Of course, a lot of this is thanks to Kentucky’s coach, John Calipari, and his propensity to draw players that are talented enough to go to the NBA after just one year playing college ball. I think this could be the best team that UCLA has put on the court in a decade. Alford’s system is finally getting a stronghold in LA. It will be interesting to see how much he can improve the team from last year’s performance with the new roster. His son Bryce will be running the offense from the point guard position this year.