Monthly Archives: April 2013

2013 NHL Playoff Predictions

The 2013 NHL playoffs are about to begin. In about 60 days, a new Stanley Cup champion will be crowned. Let’s take a look at the first round match-ups as well as which teams have what it takes to make it all the way to the end.

Eastern Conference

(1) Pittsburgh vs (8) New York Islanders

Prediction For Series:

Pittsburgh In Five

How Far Can Pittsburgh Go?

The Penguins have a lot of talent on their team. It is almost unfair to have players like Jarome Iginla and Brenden Marrow on the same line. Once Sidney Crosby comes back, they will have what it takes to win the Stanley Cup.

(2) Montreal vs. (7) Ottawa

Prediction For Series:

Montreal In Six

How Far Can Montreal Go?

Montreal has struggled down the stretch. Don’t be shocked if this is the only series that they win as Boston and Toronto look like strong teams heading into the playoffs.

(3) Washington vs. (6) New York Rangers

Prediction For Series:

Capitals In Seven

How Far Can Washington Go?

Look for the Capitals to be completely gassed after playing seven games against the Rangers. After a tough first series, they will be hard pressed to advance much farther. The Capitals played in a weak division and only have a chance of advancing to the conference finals if Alex Ovechkin scores at least a goal a game.

(4) Boston vs. (5) Toronto

Prediction For Series:

Boston In Six

How Far Can Boston Go?

The Bruins have the best chance to play the Penguins for the right to advance to the Stanley Cup finals. While the Pens have the edge in offensive talent, the Bruins have one of the best goalies in the game in Tuukka Rask.

 

Western Conference

(1) Chicago vs. (8) Minnesota

Prediction For Series:

Chicago In Four

How Far Will Chicago Go?

They will be playing at least into the third round. However, it is uncertain if they can beat Anaheim to get to the Stanley Cup finals.

(2) Anaheim vs. (7) Detroit

Prediction For Series:

Anaheim In Six

How Far Will Anaheim Go?

The Ducks will face a Red Wings team that is hungry after barely extending its 22 year playoff streak. However, once they get past the Red Wings, it will be easy sailing until the conference finals.

(3) Vancouver vs. (6) San Jose

Prediction For Series:

Canucks In Seven

How Far Will Vancouver Go?

To be fair, neither of these teams would be advancing if they weren’t playing each other. Both teams are too inconsistent to be considered serious contenders. Therefore, Vancouver will be exiting in the second round.

(4) St. Louis vs. (5) Los Angeles

Prediction For Series:

Los Angeles In Five

How Far Will Los Angeles Go?

They will be a sleeper team this year. While they could be bounced in the second round by Chicago, they could also play like they did last season when they were practically undefeated in the playoffs.

Projected Stanley Cup Finals:

Pittsburgh vs. Chicago

Prediction For Stanley Cup Finals:

Chicago In Six

What Decides The Series?

The Blackhawks have too much premium talent on their team. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are two of the best players in the league and the play of Ray Emery has been a revelation. Although it will not be a cakewalk, the Blackhawks will benefit from playing as many as four games at home. If the series does go past six games, that will be the deciding factor.

 

2013 Men’s NCAA Championship Basketball Post-Game

The Louisville Cardinals defeated the Michigan Wolverines 82-76 in one of the most exciting NCAA Championship games in recent memory. For the second game in a row, the Cardinals needed to overcome a slow start to claw their way back into the game and eventually pulled it out in the end thanks to their superior defense and ability to create turnovers.

The first half of the national championship game was perhaps the most exciting 20 minutes of basketball throughout the entire tournament. While many expected Russ Smith of Louisville and Trey Burke of Michigan to steal the show, it was Luke Hancock and Spike Albrecht who lit up the scoreboard. Albrecht got the ball rolling by hitting four three pointers en route to 17 first half points while Hancock answered with four straight three pointers to help Louisville erase a double digit Michigan lead right before the first half.

National Player of the Year, Trey Burke, had a quick start to the game, scoring Michigan’s first seven points, before being whistled for two fouls in the first half. When Burke received his second foul of the game, he was forced to sit on the bench for the remainder of the first half. This opened the door for Spike Albrecht to pick up where he left off on Saturday night, which was knocking down outside shots. Albrecht quickly hit a long three pointer right when he entered the game before scoring 14 more first half points.

However, not to be outdone by the freshman backup point guard, bench player, Luke Hancock of Louisville showed that he could hit three point jumpers as well. Trailing 33-21 with just over four minutes remaining in the first half, Hancock helped lead the Cardinals on a 16-3 run by knocking down four three pointers in a row. Michigan hit two free throws right before halftime to take a 38-37 lead into the locker room.

Once the teams emerged for the second half, the Louisville Cardinals picked up their defensive effort and made a few adjustments while on offense. The biggest adjustment the Cardinals made was to isolate guard Peyton Siva in the pick and roll game. Siva did an excellent job running the offense and either creating a wide open look in the lane for himself or finding an open teammate for an easy dunk. Chane Behanan was the biggest recipient of Siva’s improved play in the second half as he finished with a double-double for the game, scoring 15 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. It was Behanan’s seven points in just under six minutes in the early stages of the second half that gave Louisville the momentum it needed out of the break.

After the Cardinals found their way on offense, they were able to clamp down defensively as well. Outside of Trey Burke, the Michigan Wolverines had a tough time scoring in the second half. Mitch McGary was a virtual non factor because of foul trouble while Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas also struggled to find any room on the offensive end.

While Spike Albrecht was able to provide a huge spark for the Wolverines in the first half, he was unable to provide much of anything in the second half as he seemingly wore down from the extended playing time he received during the first 20 minutes.

Even though the Michigan Wolverines were struggling on both sides of the ball, they never really fell out of the game. Whenever the Louisville Cardinals would make a small run, the Wolverines seemingly had an answer and kept the game close. This created an exciting finish that saw the Louisville Cardinals knock down several key free throws to secure the victory.

At the end of the day, the Louisville Cardinals were the better team and it showed in their execution down the stretch. The Cardinals knew exactly what they wanted to do on both offense and defense and were able to force a couple of key turnovers late. Once Louisville received the ball after those turnovers, they had several options on offense that were not there in the first half. When Hancock hit a corner three with 3:20 to go, the Cardinals saw their lead balloon to 10 points, and it seemed to be too much for the Wolverines to overcome.

For those college basketball fans hoping for an exciting championship game, they certainly got everything they had hoped for and more. Monday’s game featured several scoring runs and all of the momentum swings that make college basketball so great. If next year’s NCAA title game is as entertaining as this one was between Louisville and Michigan, then college basketball fans will be in for another treat.