Saturday, March 03, 2012

Sports Saturday: 3/3/12

Outside of football season, I think once every two weeks is about right for this.

College basketball

Oh, to be a Florida State basketball fan this season. Three wins at the buzzer! They won't always be this fortunate. It's a good feeling to be solidly in the NCAA Tournament at this point. If they lose this weekend...meh, no big deal. I may not even watch. Sure, this Sunday's game will theoretically affect their NCAA Tournament seeding, but I don't think there's much of a difference between a 5 and a 7, which is where the Seminoles are projected. Regardless, to be merely worried about seeding at this point in the season is a luxury. Clemson at Florida State - Sun 12:00p, ESPN2

With the tournament coming up, I don't want to overload on college basketball too much right now, so I have to pick and choose:

North Carolina at Duke (Sat 7:00p, ESPN): I know someone who somehow scored a free ticket to this game...and then sold it for $3,000. Yeah, I'd have sold it, too.
West Virginia at South Florida (Sat 12:00p, MASN): I don't think I've said a thing about USF all season, but as a team squarely on the tournament bubble, they've been the most fun team to watch the last few weeks.
Any conference championship game: Because these can be fun, too...
- Big South Championship: Sat 12:00p, ESPN2
- Ohio Valley Championship: Sat 2:00p, ESPN2
- Atlantic Sun Championship: Sat 7:00p, ESPN2
- Missouri Valley Championship: Sun 2:00p, CBS

Auto racing

When the Daytona 500 was rescheduled for Monday at 7, I was a little concerned. One thing I like about NASCAR is that they race when I'm awake, and never late on a school night. If the Monday primetime Daytona 500 did well in the ratings, then would this mean more weeknight NASCAR racing in the future? Nooooooo! Well, fortunately, the Daytona 500's final TV rating was actually worse than last year's Sunday afternoon number. Perhaps I can thank Danica Patrick (who crashed on lap 2) and Juan Pablo Montoya (we all know what he did) for that. Don't get any ideas, NASCAR! Stay on Sunday afternoons where you belong, please.

Daytona is fun, but it is its own separate entity, so you never really know what everyone's got until you get to a real race track with real racing. That's why I always look forward to the 2nd race of the season, especially with as many changes as we've seen since last year. I've always wondered how a champion driver would perform with a low budget team. With Kurt Busch and Phoenix Racing, now we have that opportunity. NASCAR Sprint Cup at Phoenix - Sun 3:00p, FOX

NHL

The trade deadline came and went, and the Carolina Hurricanes - who are in no position to make a run at a playoffs and thus would have been a 'seller' - did absolutely nothing. I could criticize, but...as a Florida Panthers fan way back when, I would always get frustrated when the team would always trade its best players at the trade deadline, make no attempt to re-sign them, and forever be a young team in rebuilding year after year. You've got to try to pay some of those players, right? So, at least the Hurricanes aren't letting everyone walk. Fact is, I don't know a thing about how one would assemble a winning NHL team, so... Tampa Bay at Carolina - Sat 7:00p, Fox Sports Carolinas

Unless the Hurricanes make a surprise run at the playoffs (ha!), hockey discussion will return once the playoffs start.

Soccer

Soccer is pretty much the only sport where exhibition games (a.k.a. "friendlies") are watchable, and actually matter. Does the United States beating Italy on Wednesday (which I watched, by the way) matter? Well, certainly more so than if your favorite NFL team wins its first preseason game.

So, that's one random thought on soccer. Here's another. I think Raleigh should pursue a Major League Soccer expansion team. We could totally support it. Support for the minor league Carolina Railhawks is pretty good. Double or triple the capacity of WakeMed Soccer Park, and we're all set. How about it? I might pay more attention to the MLS if we had our own team.

Speaking of the MLS, I think it's interesting that English Premier League games currently get more attention and better ratings in the United States than Major League Soccer games. Is that the MLS's fault?

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