Let’s be honest, the sporting world has been relatively boring since the football season ended. I don’t know about you, but I can only take so much regular season NBA, NHL, College Basketball, and NFL collective bargaining news. To lift our spirits I thought I would take a look at some noteworthy upcoming sporting events to get excited about. If there’s anything I missed that you think should be on here, leave a comment and I’ll see if it needs to be added.
Photo via globalgiants.com
NCAA March Madness:
With the field expanded to 68 this year, the First Round or “First Four” tips off next Tuesday, March 15th with the Second Round (formerly the first round) action starting Thursday, March 17th. The Final Four is in Houston, Texas this year with the semifinal scheduled for Saturday, April 2nd and the National Championship on Monday, April 4th (on CBS I believe). Selection Sunday – when the brackets are announced – is this Sunday(13th) as conference tournaments are in full swing this week. Just over a week until the Madness begins.
It may be hard to believe, but Spring Ball is already underway at several schools across the country. Rivals.com has a pretty comprehensive spring football schedule for Division I programs. I did notice Boise State was omitted from the list – their spring practice starts today with the spring game scheduled for April 16th. Anyway, Spring Ball gives fans something to read about in the off season and provides a glimpse of what to possibly expect in the Fall.
The 1st Round of the 2011 NFL Draft is scheduled for Thursday, April 28th with the 2nd and 3rd Rounds on Friday, April 29th and Rounds on Saturday April 30th. I believe NFL Network will have coverage of the event and possibly ESPN as well. I can’t say I’ll watch the whole thing but it’s worth paying some attention to.
I’m not sure anything is more grueling and intense than the chase for Lord Stanley’s Cup. The regular season concludes April 10th which could provide some interesting hockey through March as teams battle for playoff spots. The East has a handful of teams capable of winning the conference where as Vancouver looks like the class of the West but have been known to struggle in the playoffs. The Playoffs are scheduled to start April 13th and could run into June depending how long each round takes to play. National TV coverage will be provided by Versus and NBC.
With at least four contenders in the East (Celtics, Bulls, Heat, & Magic), four in the West (Spurs, Lakers, Mavericks, & Thunder) and the revamped Nuggets and Knicks – this could be one of the more exciting NBA playoffs in recent history. Playoffs start Saturday, April 16th and with the Finals scheduled to start no later than June 2nd. Between TNT, ESPN, and ABC, nearly every game of the NBA playoffs will be on television.
English Premier League Title Race:
The EPL Title is determined based on the final regular season standings which is a little foreign to American sports fans. Manchester United (60 points) is currently at the top of the table (standings) with a three point lead over Arsenal (57 pts) but the Red Devils have played one more game than the Gunners. Behind Arsenal is Manchester City (53 pts), Chelsea, & Tottenham (48 pts each). The teams have between 9 and 11 games remaining with the season ending Sunday May 22nd so there’s still plenty of time for teams to make up ground on Man United. Coverage can be found on Fox Soccer Channel, Fox Soccer Plus, and ESPN2.
UEFA Champions League:
Champions League takes the best teams from each league in Europe and they play a “tournament” that begins with 32 teams in pool play with the top two in each group advancing to the Round of 16. The teams then play two matches with the winner advancing on aggregate. The Final will be played at Wembley Stadium in London, England on May 28th. With the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea, Manchester United, Marseille, Inter Milan, AC Milan, and Bayern Munich among others still alive, catch as much of this competition as you can (there are a handful of games tomorrow and Wednesday) . Games are played on Tuesdays & Wednesdays during the day so set your DVRs.
Men’s Lacrosse Final Four:
The 2011 Division I Men’s Lacrosse Final Four weekend will be in Baltimore, Maryland and is scheduled for the end of May – the semi-finals are scheduled for the 28th and the final on the 30th. This is lacrosse’s signature event that brings much needed coverage and attention to the exciting, growing game. If you don’t know very much – or anything – about lacrosse I would suggest you try and catch some of the action on ESPN & ESPN2 at the end of May. There’s a good chance you’ll like what you see.
ATP World Tour:
If tennis is your thing, here are the remaining Grand Slams and tournament dates: French Open (clay court) – May 22nd, Wimbledon (grass court) – June 20th, and U.S. Open (hard court) – August 29th. Even if tennis isn’t your thing, watching the likes of Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, and others can help bridge the gap until football season starts again.
All four of the PGA Tour Majors have yet to be played this year. The Masters – always played at Augusta National GC – is scheduled to be played April 7-10th, the U.S. Open will be played at Congressional CC June 16-19th, the British Open will be played at Royal St George’s GC July 14-17th, and the PGA Championship will be played at the Atlanta Athletic Club August 11-14th. With Tiger’s divorce and drama from the last year behind him, let’s hope he can get things figured out and be in contention on Sundays to make golf more exciting again.
Major League Baseball:
If baseball makes your blood flow, (it certainly doesn’t mine) – Spring Training is already underway and the endless regular season starting March 31st. I’m in a good mood today and figured I would put this on here – don’t expect much baseball coverage throughout the season.
This is an award show I can actually get excited for and stand to watch. Seth Meyers is returning to host this year’s ESPYs. I couldn’t find a specific date for the award show other than July 2011.
Anything I missed that’s worth tuning into until football season starts?