Need some quick odds on the week’s biggest storylines? (“Need” might be an overstatement; kind of want?) You’ve come to the right place. Let’s run through the newsworthiest happenings and transpirings from the world of sports, entertainment, and politics from the last seven days.
The Final Four, the Masters, MLB Opening Day, the Raiders’ departure from Oakland: could there be anymore going on in the world of sports right now? Apparently all the excitement is distracting LeBron and the Cavs, who have given up top spot in the Eastern Conference. That’s fine by me. With the Indians projected to contend for the World Series, there was just a bit too much winning going on in Cleveland. I was left searching for terra(ble) firma.
Will the Celtics roll into the NBA playoffs as the one-seed? Will the Cubs go back-to-back? Who’s cutting down the nets in Phoenix? Potential spoilers below.
North Carolina: 31/19
South Carolina: 11/1
While Gonzaga came into the tournament a number one seed, this is their first Final Four. It’s also the first Final Four for South Carolina. But now, one will make it to the Championship game. That’ll probably be the Zags.
They’ll likely match-up against North Carolina, which is making its record 20th Final Four appearance. It’s something coach Roy Williams is very familiar with. His players won’t be in awe of the stage, either, as most of the team came oh-so-close to winning it all last year, losing to Villanova in the championship game. I can’t see them settling for heartbreak for a second year in a row.
It’s been a rough ride of late for the Cavs. They’ve fallen from first in the East after losing four of five. And while a mini-slump happens to the best of teams, the nature of the losses might have fans worried: first they gave up 126 points to the sub-.500 Nuggets; then they surrendered 127 at home to the Wizards (a team they might meet in the second round of the playoffs); then they were run out of the building by the Spurs (103-74); most recently, they fell to the mediocre Bulls (99-93). James acknowledged that his team is in a “bad spot” after the Chicago setback.
It’s not time to hit the panic button yet. The Cavs could easily get their act together and finish first in the East. They’re only half a game back of Boston with one head-to-head tilt remaining; plus they have a bunch of seemingly cake matchups left on the schedule, including home dates with the Sixers, Pacers, and Magic. That said, Boston also has a favorable schedule, so the April 5th clash between the Cavs and Celtics could prove crucial.
Dustin Johnson: 7/2
Dustin Johnson is the heavy favorite going into next week’s event. The 32-year-old world no. 1 has won his last three tournaments, and is playing the best golf of his career.
Jordan Spieth: 7/1
Jordan Spieth should be considered something of a dark horse at this year’s Masters. He hasn’t had the best season so far and a second career win at Augusta would change things dramatically. Spieth suffered a major meltdown at last year’s tournament, blowing a big fourth-round lead to finish second. There is no doubt he’s focused on redemption.
Rory McIlroy: 11/1
The Green Jacket is the last piece of the puzzle when it comes to Majors for Rory McIlroy. He’s one of the best players in the world, but the closest he’s come to winning the Masters was a fourth-place finish in 2015. Expect to see him near the top of the leaderboard next week.
Jason Day: 11/1
Jason Day is dealing with a few family issues at the moment, but that could serve as motivation for the Aussie. Day recently said there is a chance he may still pull out of the tournament, depending on his mother’s status. (She’s currently undergoing cancer treatment.) Day tied for tenth last year, but has showed he can play well at Augusta with a runner-up finish in 2011.
The odds for back-to-back winners isn’t good. The last team that pulled off the feat was the N.Y. Yankees in ’99 and ’00. Before that, it was the Toronto Blue Jays in ’92 and ’93.
The Cubs return most of their major contributors. Their core of all-stars is still young and on the rise, plus there is more talent coming up through the minors. With a lineup that can mash and a stacked starting rotation, they are the early 2017 World Series favorites. What better way to make sure the curse of the billy-goat is really dead than by starting a championship winning streak?
Odds another team moves before an expansion team is added: 3/7
Three teams have applied for relocation in the last two years. Ultimately all were approved. The Rams and now Chargers call L.A. home, while Vegas will be the Raiders’ new stomping grounds. But does that have other owners interested in bigger markets? Maybe. The Bills have talked about moving to Toronto for years, and London has also been on the NFL’s radar. But more unlikely is an expansion team joining the league. It hasn’t been a hot topic, and with teams now in L.A. and Las Vegas, the highest profile untapped markets are filled.
Photo credit: By Tour Pro Golf Clubs [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
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