Sunday, May 01, 2005

SPORTS: In my crystal ball ...

A week before the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, aka March Madness, got started, I opined the final four would be North Carolina (winners of Illinois in the final, according to my prognostication), UConn, Louisville and the aforementioned Illini of Illinois. My only miss was UConn, who ended up in the same bracket as UNC. Felt pretty good about those predictions.

Unfortunately, had more than a few wrong picks on the road to the final four and went without winning a prize in the various pools I entered this season (One pool is still adjudging a tie-breaker, so there might be a Sony PlayStation afterall). But, for some reason, I just don't succeed in March Madness contests in odd-numbered years.

Enough complaining about the roundball, time to turn to rubber-necking.

The World Men's Hockey Championships started today (well, yesterday. This IS Sunday afterall. But I'm still on the Saturday clock). All four of my first-day picks won. And not ONE of them won convincingly enough for my tastes. I thought this was the easiest day of selection, only to watch Canada struggle against Latvia, the Russians need an empty-net goal and the Finns BARELY beat Denmark. Hunh?

Going into this tourney, I thought to myself that the prevailing winds were going to blow badly for two-time defending champion Canada. And today's contest seemed to back up my feeling that this squad was going to trip up somewhere before the gold medal game's anthem. The Czechs and the Swedes were popular choices to join Canada at the medal podium. But my gut told me Russia, Canada and Finland were going to be the medallists.

The feeling in my gut today? I hope it was something I ate, cuz right now, none of the three look particularly threatening. Still if Nash, Thornton and Gagne are the dynamite line they can be and Martin Brodeur shook all the rust off against Latvia, the Canucks will at least be PLAYING in the game for the gold. But those are no lead-pipe cinches. Maybe the Czechs, Slovaks and Swedes will look awful tomorrow. If not, this might be the final cruel blow of a cruel winter that has seen Canadian property, the world Junior Mens, Senior Women's and Under-18 Men's titles end up in the USA rather than there rightful place here in the Great White North.

Damn odd year.

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