All-Star Weekend, Soccer, and More!

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Portland Trail Blazers
Tuesday, 7 PM @ Rose Quarter, Portland, OR

Can the Trail Blazer slow down the frontrunner for MVP?

The Thunder are looking like the league’s best team, leading the NBA with 41 wins and a .774 win percentage, so they’ll give Portland all it can handle in this match up. However, OKC has stumbled away from home, going 18-9 compared to 23-3 at home. The Trail Blazers look to be what the Thunder were a couple years ago — a young team that came out of nowhere to eventually become the best in the West. Led by Damien Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge, the Trail Blazers will look to bridge the 4-game gap between them and the #1 Thunder.

#1 Syracuse vs. #25 Pitt
Wednesday, 7 PM @ Peterson Events Center, Pittsburgh, PA

Pitt will try to handle Cuse its first loss

Even with contests like Duke-North Carolina, Heat vs. Warriors, and Canadiens vs. Red Wings happening on the same day, this is the game you want to see. Syracuse is the unanimous #1 team in the country in both the AP and Coaches polls, but they’ll be at the Peterson Events Center in Pittsburgh for this one. Pitt has slipped a little recently after starting the season 16-1, losing 3 of their last 6 — including a 59-54 loss at Syracuse. The home-court advantage could be exactly the lift the Panthers need to get over the hump and hand the Orange their first loss of the season.

NBA Slam-Dunk Contest
Saturday, 7 PM @ Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, LA

John Wall will look to bring some new energy to the contest

The lineup has been OK at best for this event over the last few years, but in 2014 the NBA attracted some of the best. Paul George, Damien Lillard and John Wall are a few of the competitors looking to take down reigning champion Terrence Ross. Between jumping over cars and 360-windmills, we’re sure to get a show at the New Orleans Arena. Say what you will about the non-compeiative nature of the All-Star Game on Sunday, these guys want to win.

Arsenal vs. Liverpool, FA Cup Quarterfinals
Sunday, 4 PM @ Emirates Stadium, London, UK

Will Liverpool trounce Arsenal for the second time in a week?

A rematch of the 5-1 thrashing Liverpool just gave the Gunners in the Premier League on Saturday, this is a great contest between two of soccer’s best clubs. We are unlikely to see another instance of Arsenal giving up four goals in the first 20 minutes, but Liverpool’s attacking play is hard  to stop. Whether it’s Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge or Raheem Sterling, the Reds offense is set to send them back to the UEFA Champions League for the first time since the 2008-09 season. Arsenal looks to be headed back to Europe as well, but the club hasn’t won a trophy since the 2005 F.A. Cup. Lots on the line here.

 

 

Basketball, Basketball, Basketball…. and Hockey

It’s time for the NBA to shine, now that the Super Bowl has come, gone, and disappointed most of us. Bring on another 7-game NBA Finals to get us out of this funk, basketball. This week has a slew of good match ups, but not ones you would have been excited about before this year. With the emergence of the Pacers as the NBA’s best team (by record, at least) and the Trail Blazers, Rockets and Suns heading for the playoffs, we’re getting some exciting non-traditionally contests.

Oh, and there’s quite a bit of good hockey this week as well.

Boston Bruins vs. Vancouver Canucks
Tuesday, 7PM @ TD Garden, Boston, MA

These two teams still don’t like each other

It’s been a couple years since the fantastic Canucks/Bruins Stanley Cup Finals, eventually won by Boston, but the there’s still no love lost here. While Vancouver is fighting for one of the last playoff spots in the West, the Bruins are cruising with the second best point total in their conference. A loss at home for Boston would be a bit embarrassing, while the Canucks need something to get them going.

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Indiana Pacers
Friday, 7PM @ Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN

Two of the new titans of basketball

The Trail Blazers and Pacers have become two of the best teams in the NBA, led by some young stars that could be the faces of the league sooner rather than later. Paul George (pictured above) burst onto the national scene during last year’s playoffs, when he went basket-for-basket with Lebron James. Damian Lillard was named NBA Rookie of the Year in 2013 after putting up 19 ppg while never missing a game. Lamarcus Aldridge, Roy Hibbert, Nick Batum… you’ve got to believe these two teams could be taking the torch from the Heat and Spurs very soon, if they haven’t already.

Michigan Wolverines vs. Iowa Hawkeyes
Saturday, 2 PM @ Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City, IA

Can Michigan rebound from a loss to Indiana?

It’s the best college basketball matchup of the weekend, as #10 Michigan takes on #17 Iowa in Iowa City. The Wolverines took a beating from Indiana recently, but were about to best the Hawkeyes a few weeks ago in Ann Arbor. Iowa lost an overtime thriller to Michigan State, but have gotten back on track with a 81-74 win over the Illini. This game could have Big Ten title implications, and a win for the Wolverines will set the stage for a huge contest with the Spartans on March 6.

Don’t Miss a Thing

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Portland Trail Blazers
Tuesday, 7 PM @ Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK 

KD is a favorite for NBA MVP this season.

Current 2nd and 3rd in the Western Conference, this is an intriguing match up. A win could move someone into 1st place, and the way Kevin Durant has been playing, most bets might be on the Thunder. KD threw up 54 points last week, but LaMarcus Aldridge and Damain Lillard might be even better than the Durant-Westbrook combo.

Montreal Canadiens vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
Wednesday, 7 PM @ Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA

Crosby leads the league in points, and it’s not even close

The Penguins sit in 1st place in the Eastern Conference, while the Habs are in fourth. A big win in Pittsburgh could give the Canadiens the confidence they need to start climbing that ladder to secure home ice advantage in the playoffs. Montreal is strong defensively and kill 85.6% of power plays, so Crosby and Malkin will have their hands full.

Australian Open Men’s Single Semifinals
Friday, 2:30 AM @ Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia

Oh, the possibilities.

The Australian Open. While we aren’t quite sure who will be playing in the semifinals quite yet, you can bet it will be at least one of these two legends. All but one of the top eight seeds have made the quarterfinals, and with a Rafa-Roger semifinal possibly looming, it’s worth making up early for (or going to, if you’re lucky enough to live in Australia).

Michigan vs. Michigan State
Saturday, 7 PM @ Breslin Center, East Lansing, MI

No love lost in this matchup

In the only game of the weekend featuring two ranked teams, the #21 Wolverines are looking to knock off #3 Michigan State on their home court. Last year the Spartans demolished their rivals 75-52 at the Breslin Center, but then lost a nail-biter in Ann Arbor 58-57.

San Antonio Spurs vs. Miami Heat
Sunday, 1 PM @ American Airlines Arena, Miami FL

The shot that cost the Spurs their 5th title

The Spurs lost a heartbreaking 2013 NBA Finals to the Heat, and this will be the first time the two meet since Game 7.  San Antonio is in first place once again, while the Heat trail only the Pacers in the East. You can bet the American Airlines Arena will be packed to capacity, and the Spurs would love nothing more than to silence the Miami fans.