Predictions. In part I, our writers goes head-to-head on what predictions really mean, whether they actually impact the game and if they are actually necessary (or valuable) in the first place. Now, in Part II, the Bros will be putting their forecasting powers on the line and making predictions about the sports world (e.g. NCAA Basketball Champion). Start the
1. The 2013 MLB World Series Champion will be:
(JR): Atlanta Braves. After the Bulldogs got time clocked, the Braves got infield fly ruled and the Falcons got Kaepernicked…one of these Georgia sports teams has to be due, right? All the pieces are there for the Braves this year: balanced lineup, lockdown bullpen, deep starting rotation. Beyond that, they have a nice blend of veterans (Hudson, McCann, BJ Upton) and young talent ready for the next step (Freeman, J. Upton, Heyward, Simmons). If Brandon Beachy can come back healthy and Dan Uggla can strike out less than 400 times, don’t be surprised if Atlanta fans finally get their happy ending.
(DR): Nationals. They built a team the right way (i.e. great draft picks, smart trades/deals and solid player development) and I think this year it will all pay off. They have dominant pitching from their starting rotation to the back of their bullpen. They’ve also got some great bats and stout defense. I think it’s a recipe for success especially if they finally let Mr. Strasburg pitch in October. Time for the World Series trophy to finally make its way back to the capital for the first time since 1924.
2. The next Major Leaguer to get caught for steroids is:
(DR): Jonathan Papelbon. Alright, I’ll admit this might be mostly based on hatred than fact, but every time he makes his “angry face” and stares down hitters, all I can think of is ‘roid rage. And I’m not saying we find out he is on steroids, I think we’ll find out that he was when he was on the Red Sox. Maybe that’s why they were curiously okay with letting him leave a year ago…oorr maybe I just don’t like the guy. Either reason works for me.
(JR): Edwin Encarnacion. Let me tell you what I said when people were lauding him for his breakout 2012 campaign…”This guy? No. I know this guy.” Look at his career stats: in his first 4 full seasons, he averaged 17 home runs. He then struggled with injuries and poor performance, including demotions to the Minor Leagues, over the next two seasons before hitting a respectable, yet average, 17 home runs in 2011. But oh…2012! 42 bombs! Breakout?! Sorry to be that guy but he just fits the profile too well: struggling to keep a job, injury-riddled and on the wrong end of 30 years old. STEROIDS.
3. The 2012-13 NBA Champion will be:
(JR): Miami Heat. I knew Dan would appease his better half by choosing the Thunder but sorry Aly, let’s face the facts: the Heat are nauseatingly that good. Since last year’s championship run, they’ve only added a plus team defender (Battier), a prolific shooter (Allen) and stretch 4 that can give you 6.5 good minutes a night (Lewis). And they still happen to have an alarmingly focused superstar whose game is virtually slump-proof for longer than a single quarter. So let’s think about the ways the Heat CAN lose. During their current 22-game winning streak, we’ve learned there are no bad matchups that can give this team trouble. Do I think they’ll lose another game this year? Yes. If the other team plays close to perfect basketball and the Heat get off to a slow start. But do you want to count on that happening multiple times, let alone 4 times in a 7 game series? No way.
(DR): Oklahoma City Thunder. I know, I know. They lost “The Bearded One” (James Harden) and haven’t decided to show up yet to play the Heat. But I really think now is the time for KD and Westbrook and gang. Durant has elevated his game to new levels, Westbrook is his usual fiery self and Ibaka has further improved his offensive game. I think the sting from last year’s Finals still burns inside them and will prove to be the deciding factor when they face an out-of-this-world Miami team that might be lacking some of the spirit that guided them last year (i.e. the quest for the first title). Besides, history has shown us the progression and I’m just going extrapolating out the results – in 2010, the Thunder lost in the 1st round, in 2011 they lost in the West Championships and in 2012 they lost in the Finals so in 2013 it’s only logical that they’d finally win the big one…
4. Over/Under — Derek Rose will be back by April 1st:
(DR): At this pace, I say Over (next season). Rose has been extra cautious with his recovery and with ~1 month and 17 games left, I don’t think he sees the need to push the envelope and rush his return. His team is already on pace to make the playoffs, but they’re not really fighting for a top seed. And with Miami dominating everyone these days, the Bulls might even bow out from the tournament in the 1st or 2nd round. Thus, I think the upside to an earlier return at this point is minimal and Rose will just target being ready for day one next season.
(JR): Over. Too much can go wrong for the under to happen. If he did come back, best case scenario is that we get some great theater between the Bulls and Heat in the conference championship with Rose willing his team to two victories before bowing out in 6 games and guaranteeing a championship next year. Worst case? He re-injuries himself and his career is ruined. For all you Bulls fans out there, you better HOPE he doesn’t come back because then you have something to hang your hat on. Because what if the reality is that he’s simply not enough to overcome James and Wade by himself?
5. And finally, the big one, the 2013 NCAA National Champion in Men’s Basketball will be:
(JR): Louisville. I don’t like this pick, for the record. I can count on one hand the number of teams that I would want to win LESS than Louisville. In March, everyone knows you need steady leadership from the bench and on the court. You need players that can catch fire and take over a game when needed. Rick Pitino’s squad has that in spades. With the backcourt of Siva and Smith, the Cardinals cause fits on the perimeter and have the right clientele on a deep bench to be physical up front. That talent combined with tournament experience may be enough to overcome my hexes and curses from the stands.
(DR): Indiana. They’ve got the talent, the mental toughness, the coaching and the bumps and bruises (from Big 10 play) to make a long run in the tournament. I first began to like this team last year when I saw them play Kentucky in the tournament and was treated to an unbelievably intense, energetic and athletic game that I truly thought Indiana deserved to win. Oh and I also like what this school and coach stand for in today’s NCAA. They’ve got guys that not only buy into the system, they’ve got guys that stick around for 3-4 years and develop their game as well as get their degree.
6. The biggest upset in this year’s…NIT Tournament will be:
(DR): (8) Robert Morris over (1) Kentucky. Oh yeh, the defending national champions will get bounced in the first round…of the NIT. And I swear I’m making this pick for more reasons other than the fact that I hate John Calipari and what he stands for (i.e. a lack of respect for the academic institution with a sole focus on getting kids “drafted high”). The reason I like this match-up is due to the peculiarity of where its being played – typically higher seeds host their games, but because Kentucky’s Rupp Arena is being used for the NCAA tournament, this game will be played at Robert Morris. And RMU has a gym that is small for a high-school team, let alone for a Division I NCAA NIT game. That’s a decidedly home-field advantage.
(JR): (8) Northeastern over (1) Alabama. Truth be told, this is the only matchup where I know legitimate details about both teams. But that doesn’t mean I don’t believe firmly in the pick! The Tide are deflated after a late-season flop that resulted their bubble being burst and strike me as a team that plays down to their competition. On the other hand, the Huskies come from a disappointing CAA to show that their conference still houses some of the best mid-majors in the country. Not to mention, I really don’t think Alabama students or alumni realize their school has a basketball team so home-court advantage is kind of a wash. Hey, maybe AJ McCarron’s girlfriend will be there!
Your Turn – tell us if you agree with our thoughts or if you’d answer the questions differently…