Sportin’ Up

Sports fans have been in hibernation of late between bowl season and basketball season. I gave you lots of predictions over bowl season on my last blog. Overall I went 18-17 in bowl predictions, and 4-2 in BCS games.

Griz basketball season is at the beginning of conference play. Both teams, the ladies and men, are looking to win the conference. It seems as if it is going to come down to 2 teams in both the men and women’s conference. On the men’s side it is between Weber St. and the Montana Grizzlies. On the women’s side its between the Eastern Washington Eagles, and the Montana Grizzlies.

The men’s team hasn’t faced off against the Weber St. Wildcats, but do so at the end of the month at Dahlberg arena. This game is huge for both teams, especially when it comes down to hosting the conference tournament. The Lady Griz lost their first game against the EWU Eagles, in Cheney, WA. Next time it will be in Missoula as the Lady Griz look for revenge. The Ladies are going to have to win the next one if they hope to host the women’s Big Sky Conference tournament.

I mention hosting the conference tournament, because this is huge for the Grizzlies since we play better as a whole at Dahlberg arena. For that to happen the women’s team is going to have to shoot better, and get better point guard play from junior Torry Hill. For the men to come away with victories they will have to work on better post play from senior Eric Hutchinson who has struggled all season, and improvement from freshman Andy Martin. Also they will need Will Cherry to come back to form. I think both of these are very possible for both teams and look to see both teams winning the conference.

Now on to national sports.

There were many surprises this year in college football. One of them being Notre Dame in the national championship game against Alabama. Nobody though it would be possible for the independent Fighting Irish to make it that far. They did and disappointed.

I myself didn’t think that they were a quality enough team to play Alabama, especially being an independent team that doesn’t have as hard as a schedule as teams in the SEC, Big 12, and Pac 12. They also don’t have to play in a conference championship game. This is where the BCS is flawed and why the 4 team playoff will help eliminate these problems.

Say Ohio St. the other undefeated team was bowl eligible this year. The 4 team playoff would have been Notre Dame vs. Oregon, and Alabama vs. Ohio St. This would have eliminated the good from the bad. Oregon would have won and Alabama would have won. I think Oregon is a more quality team then both Ohio St. and Notre Dame.

 Now we will discuss the NFL PLAYOFFS!

Who doesn’t like the NFL playoffs?! No one, because the NFL is America’s most popular sport. In the wild card round there weren’t any upsets in my mind, but there were more blowouts then expected. The wild card round was a disappointment when it comes to quality playoff games. The Seattle Hawks, Green Bay Packers, Baltimore Ravens, and Houston Texans moved on to the divisional round.

Here is the rest of my playoff predictions.

Broncos over Ravens                           Patriots over Texans                          49ers over Packers                      Seahawks over Falcons

NFC Championship= 49ers over Seahawks

AFC Championship= Broncos over Patriots

Superbowl= Broncos over 49ers

I think the key for the Broncos is the return of running back Willis McGahee. He gives the Broncos so many more options when it comes to play action with Peyton Manning. If they can draw in the linebackers then nobody will be able to stop Peyton Manning especially on his home field. The key for the 49ers is for Colin Kapernick to not make mistakes, and for them to utilize running back Frank Gore, and tight end Vernon Davis on third downs.

The reason I don’t think the Patriots can continue to win in the playoffs down the stretch is because of their young defense. When they face a quarterback like Peyton Manning he will be able to beat their blitzes and man to man coverages. I also don’t think that the run game for the Patriots is good enough to keep pressure off of Tom Brady.

The Packers lack a good offensive line, and a true running game. Their defense is getting better, especially with the return of Charles Woodson. I don’t think they faced a very good defense when they defeated the Minnesota Vikings. They play a very stout 49ers defense this weekend, and they are playing on the road.

The Atlanta Falcons have lots of flaws, and I think Matt Ryan has been making too many mistakes as of late. I think that the Seahawks corners and defensive backs will slow down Julio Jones, and Roddy White. That will force Matt Ryan into mistakes, and will put a lot of pressure on Michael Turner.

For some quick NBA coverage I will give you my studs and duds and dark horses who will improve before playoffs.

Studs

Miami Heat

New York Knicks

Boston Celtics

Oklahoma City Thunder

L.A. Clippers

San Antonio Spurs

Memphis Grizzlies

Golden State Warriors

Duds

L.A. Lakers

Portland Trailblazers

Denver Nuggets

Minnesota Timberwolves

Chicago Bulls

Milwaukee Bucks

Darkhorses

Philadelphia 76ers

Atlanta Hawks

Indiana Pacers

Brooklyn Nets

Houston Rockets

Utah Jazz

To finish this weeks blog it seems like the Sacremento Kings might be sold, and be brought back to Seattle. The Sonic nation will be proud for a new beginning with promising young players Demarcus Cousins, Tyreke Evans, Jimmer Fredette, Isiah Thomas, and Thomas Robinson.

Find out more information on these topics and plenty more upcoming local/national sports news at Play Missoula’s/playmissoula.org website- Shane’s  Sportin’ Up Blog. Or KBGA 89.9 Sports talk.

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