W2W: New Year’s Edition (Dec. 30-Jan. 2)

New Year’s Eve is upon on us provided yet another long weekend meaning more sports for everyone. After a busy last weekend this one will be almost as busy with a number of great events and games. Hockey is in full swing as the Spengler Cup and World Juniors are at the end of their tournament. This weekend the Juniors will see the end of the round robin on New Year’s Eve and the beginning of the playoffs at the end of the weekend. The Spengler Cup will see the end of their tournament as four teams look to win the oldest invitational tournament in Europe. The NHL is also in full swing as they approach their midseason point with the annual Winter Classic on New Year’s Day. Meanwhile the rest of the leagues are going strong with seasons starting and ending. The NBA will enter their second weekend with an interesting matchup full of superstars. Basketball is also represented by the NCAA that will see a massive rivalry take place in a battle to stay in the top five of the rankings. The NFL is ending their season with the last week of regular season that will end with a big game on Sunday Night Football. The NCAA is also nearing the end of their season as the Bowls continue to roll with two BCS Bowls taking place on New Year’s Day. Of course there is also the UFC that will move their show to Friday and feature two of the biggest fighters in the UFC. This long weekend will be a great one with plenty to watch in sports so while recovering from New Year’s veg out and watch some great sports.

 

UFC 141: Lesnar vs. Overeem

 

 

 

 

 

The UFC will finish off their year with two of the biggest fighters in the UFC as Allistair Overeem takes on Brock Lesnar in a heavyweight bout. Lesnar stands at 6’3” and weighs in at 265 lbs while Overeem stands at 6’5” and weighs in at 256 lbs. There will be over 500 lbs in the octagon as the two biggest fighters will face off for a chance to fight for the Heavyweight Title. Lesnar is a former UFC champion who has had his struggles with Diverticulitis that kept him out of the lineup for the better part of the year. Meanwhile Overeem will be making his debut in the UFC but has been at the top of the MMA world for years with belts in Strikeforce, Dream, and a Grand Prix win in K-1. Lesnar is a great wrestler with speed and athleticism that lets him get after people and take them down then ground and pound them. The Allistair is much more well-rounded as he has trained as a kickboxer but has more submissions than KOs in his career. The winner of the fight will become the #1 contender for the Heavyweight Title and will move on to face Junior dos Santos. Before they decide who will take on do Santos there will be a matchup of lightweights who cannot stand each other. Nate Diaz and Donald Cerrone will fight in what could have lightweight title ramifications. Both fighters do not like each other as was evident in the pre-fight press conference when both men almost started the fight early when Cerrone said something to Diaz and Diaz knocked off Cerrone’s hat. The fight card is full of great fights and with the main event featuring over 500 lbs in the octagon this event will be a good one.

 

When: Friday December 30th

Time: 6:40pm (Prelims)/9:00pm (Prelims)/10:00 pm (Main Card)

Channel: Facebook/Sportsnet/Pay-Per-View

 

NCAA Football: Insight Bowl

 

 

 

 

The Bowl season continues as the march towards the BCS Bowls and the National Championship. This weekend will open with a wild Friday that ends with the Insight Bowl that will feature #14 Oklahoma from the Big 12 and the Iowa Hawkeyes from the Big Ten. The Oklahoma Sooners started the season ranked #1 as they looked to take their spot in the National Championship. The Sooners lost their first game on October 22nd to an unranked Texas Tech Team that gave the BCS a chance to knock them out of contention as they were replaced by LSU and Alabama in the top of the rankings. The Sooners added two more games on the season including their last game that saw them lose to their in state rivals in a blowout. The Sooners will be looking to salvage a season in which they expected to be playing much later in the bowl season as they take on the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Insight Bowl. The Hawkeyes have not reached the top 25 all season but have won two bowl games in a row and would like to make it three. It is pretty obvious that the Sooners are the favorites as they have one of the best offences in the NCAA as they are ranked 4th in passing and running offence behind Landry Jones. They also have the better defence ranking 37th in the NCAA in points against. As with any bowl game though the potential for an upset is there as anything can happen on the night especially with Oklahoma not looking as dominant as they could at the end of the season.

 

When: Friday December 30th

Time: 10:00 pm

Channel: The Score

 

Spengler Cup Final: Dinamo Riga/HC Vitkovice vs. HC Davos/HCE Wolfsburg

 

 

 

 

 

On Friday the Spengler Cup will play their semi-finals to determine the two teams that will face off for the Spengler Cup Finals. With Team Canada out there will be no chance for their 11th title but the other power is still involved. HC Davos has won the most Spengler Cups in the championships history with 14 and this year they still have a good chance to win. They will try to do this at home as well as they are the hosts of the tournament in 2011 and have had a great tournament. Beating HK Vitkovice 2-1 and then Team Canada 8-1, Davos has earned their spot in the semi-final. They will take on EHC Wolfsburg who beat Team Canada in a shootout in the Quarter Finals for their first win of the tournament so far. Both will face off on Friday to find out who will get their spot in the finals. On the other side Dinamo Riga represented the KHL well going undefeated in their group and beating the Kloten Flyers in 9-2 and then beating EHC Wolfsburg 3-1. The young team, they were created in 2008, will be looking for their first Spengler Cup as they take on the HK Vitkovice Steel. The Steel earned their spot in the Semi-Finals by beating the Kloten Flyers in the quarter finals. These four teams will play on Friday but the main game will be Saturday as the winner of these two games will face off. The teams will battle hard to win the club championship of Europe as teams from Switzerland, Czech Republic, Latvia, and Germany will all hope to get their spot in this game for the title.

 

When: Saturday December 31st

Time: 5:55 am/1:30 pm

Channel: TSN

 

NCAA Basketball: #4 Louisville Cardinals vs. #3 Kentucky Wildcats

 

 

 

The Battle for the Bluegrass will take place again as the rivalry between these two schools from the heart of Kentucky. The rivalry between these two schools is a natural one as both schools are located in the same state and play each other every year. The First game took place in 1913 when the Kentucky Wildcats beat the Cardinals 34-10. Since then the Wildcats and Cardinals have faced off almost every year until 1959 when the rivalry stopped. Then in 1983 the rivalry saw a spark when both teams faced off in the elite 8 of the NCAA Championship tournament. Since then these two schools have met every year with the rivalry heating up with every meeting. Since 1983 has remained the ruler of the rivalry winning repeatedly with Louisville taking a few wins themselves. Overall the rivalry record sits at 28-14 for Kentucky and this year they hope to add one more to the win column. This year it was also be a much closer game as both teams are ranked in the top five with only one loss all year on each of their records. Louisville will be coming off of their first loss on the season as they hope to bring the rivalry record a little closer while also recovering and preventing their second loss of the season. The Kentucky Wildcats were considered one of the best teams in the nation but their first loss on December 10th against Indiana brought up some doubts. The Wildcats have the better offence as they average 82.5 points per game while Louisville is averaging 72.8. Louisville has a slightly better defence averaging 58.0 points against with Kentucky averaging 59.1 points against per game. This game will be a good one as both schools do not like each other and will have a spot in the top 5 on the line as the loser of the game will likely fall below 5th in the rankings.

 

When: Saturday December 31st

Time: 12:00 pm

Channel: CBS

 

NCAA Football: Autozone Liberty Bowl

 

 

 

 

 

New Year’s Eve will see the continuation of the Bowl season as the Autozone Liberty Bowl will feature two somewhat forgotten teams but both are on the rise. The Liberty Bowl will see the Cincinnati Bearcats from the Big East take on the Vanderbilt Commodores from the SEC. The Commodores are a bit of a forgotten team among the monsters of the SEC as the national Champion has come from the SEC for the last five years. Vandy has had to face this talent for years but they are far from a pushover anymore. With new coach James Franklin at the helm the Commodores are beginning to show signs of life as they earned only their fifth bowl appearance in school history with a 6-6 record. Meanwhile the Bearcats seemed to have peaked in 2009 as they ended their 2010 season with a 4-8 season. 2011 was much different though as the Bearcats were able to rebound from their bad season and earn a 9-3 record. This record also allowed them to take a share of the Big East conference title but due to the tiebreaker they lost out to West Virginia on the Big East title and missed out on a potential BCS bid. The Bearcats will be an even better team going into the bowl game with their starting QB back in the lineup as Zach Collaros looks to return to the team after recovering from a broken ankle. Cincinnati will look to their QB as they hope to win their first bowl in four years while the Commodores look to win their fourth but only first since 2008. The Liberty Bowl may not feature the biggest names or schools but both teams are looking to win this bowl game and take the momentum into next year.

 

When: Saturday December 31st

Time: 3:30 pm

Channel: The Score

 

World Junior Championship: Canada vs. USA

 

 

 

 

The World Junior Hockey Championship is nearing the end of the round robin portion as the first part of the tournament ends on New Year’s Eve. One of the biggest games of this New Years Eve will be a classic matchup of two bordering rivals. The Canadians and Americans have continued to battle for supremacy in Hockey with the Americans catching up in the past few years. The last two times these teams have faced each other in the World Juniors have been polar opposites. In 2010 the USA took on Canada in Saskatchewan for the Gold Medal and beat the home team in overtime. In 2011 the two teams faced off in the semi-finals with the Canadians taking home the win by a convincing score of 4-1. The Americans will be looking for revenge this year as they meet the home team on one of the biggest nights of the tournament. The Canadians have had a good tournament so far winning every game in convincing fashion. The Americans have not had the same success as they won their first game convincingly but then suffered the first upset of the tournament when they lost to Finland. Canada will need to take the win if they hope to clinch a first round bye in the playoffs while the Americans may be able to do the same, if they beat the Czech Republic on Friday. With playoff seeding on the line both teams will be playing hard but this is not the only reason they will play hard. Both teams play a North American game that puts emphasis on physical play and that makes both teams closely matched. With the rest of the teams from Europe and playing a more skill based game the true challenge of these teams will be whether or not they can play a physical game against a physical team. The Classic matchup will be a highlight of a very big New Year’s Eve schedule that will feature a number of games with playoff ramifications.

 

When: Saturday December 31st

Time: 8:00 pm

Channel: TSN

 

NFL Football: New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys

 

 

 

The New Year will start off with a full day of NFL Football that will all lead up to the biggest game of the week. Sunday Night Football will have the big game that will feature the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys. With only one week left in the NFL season there will be a lot of games that could mean the difference between teams continuing their season and looking towards next season. No games have more on the line in the game as the Sunday Night game as the Cowboys and Giants will be playing for the division. There is nothing else that can eliminate them or put them in the playoffs except a win on the night. Both teams are currently tied for the NFC East division with the Giants holding the tiebreaker after beating the Cowboys in a thrilling game in week 14 of the season. This week is a simple win and you’re in situation as the Cowboys and Giants will need to win to continue playing this season with the loser having an outside chance of making the wild card. The Cowboys will go to New York and attempt to complete their up and down season with a playoff berth. With starting QB Tony Romo nursing a bruised hand the Cowboys may be at a disadvantage but he will still play as he tries to lead his offence to the playoffs. The Giants will look to stop this with the best defensive lineman pairing in the NFL as Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck take care of the edges and will put pressure on the injured Romo. Eli Manning will be Romo’s counterpart as he has proved to be a reliable QB in dire situations and would like to prove it again against the divisional rivals. It is fitting that this game will end the regular season as the thrilling NFL season will end with what promises to be an exciting game.

 

When: Sunday January 1st

Time: 8:20 pm

Channel: TSN/NBC

 

NBA Basketball: Portland Trail Blazers vs. Los Angeles Clippers

 

 

 

 

The fast paced NBA season is through their first week with teams looking to make the best of a 66 game season. The second weekend in the NBA will see a number of teams playing but one of the more interesting matchups will be between the Portland Trail Blazers and L.A. Clippers. The Portland Trailblazers are playing well this year as they are in 3rd in the Northwest Division. They are led by LaMarcus Aldrige who is averaging 24.5 points per game. Meanwhile the L.A. Clippers are in happy to have Chris Paul and Blake Griffin on the same team as they are 1-1 but playing much better than their record shows. Griffin is averaging 25 points per game so far this season as he takes on the Trail Blazers. The two teams will be looking to continue their opening success in the season as they continue the beginning of the NBA season. This season will see more back to back games than ever with only 66 games to be played as teams that would never have a chance could pull out some key wins while great teams may struggle with the fast pace. The season should be good and with opening weekend done the second weekend will feature two teams that are looking to take advantage of the shortened season.

 

When: Sunday January 1st

Time: 9:30 pm

Channel: Sportsnet One

 

NHL Winter Classic: Philadelphia Flyers vs. New York Rangers

 

 

 

 

 

The NHL will hold their fifth annual Winter Classic as the league goes back to their roots with another outdoor game. This year the league will go to Philadelphia and Citizen’s Bank Park as the New York Rangers take on the Philadelphia Flyers. The still new tradition is a glimpse into the roots of the NHL. The NHL never played outdoor games as a league but the sport of hockey was created on outdoor ponds and is still played on ponds in Western Canada and the Northern USA. The NHL Winter Classic is an homage to these pond games as they take place outside in the elements. Added to this event is the HBO series 24/7 that follows both teams for the weeks leading up to the Winter Classic the event becomes one of the biggest events in the NHL schedule. The game will be an important one for the NHL as they continue to try to grow the game in the USA. The game will also be an important one for both teams as they sit on top of the Atlantic Division. Both teams are tied for the lead in the division with the Rangers having one more game before the Winter Classic. The game will be a hard-fought one with the Rangers playing a hard-nosed style of hockey that is reflective of their head coach John Tortorella. The Flyers have always been known for their hard-nosed play but have much more skill this year with the addition of Jaromir Jagr who is playing well younger than his age would show. The game will be a hard-fought one as the NHL looks to draw in more Americans fans and the Rangers and Flyers look to gain an advantage in the Atlantic Division.

 

When: Monday January 2nd

Time: 1:00 pm

Channel: CBC/NBC

 

NCAA Football: Rose Bowl

 

 

 

 

 

The BCS Bowls will kick off in the New Year and as usual the first of the BCS Bowls will be the Rose Bowl. The Rose Bowl is the most prestigious of all bowl games and is known as “The Grand Daddy of them All.” Officially kicking off the BCS Bowl Series the Rose Bowl is proceeded by the Tournament of Roses Parade and is steeped in tradition as the oldest bowl game in the NCAA, first played in 1902. The Rose Bowl is unlike the other BCS Bowls as the selection process is simple with the Pac-12 Champion and Big Ten Champion facing off. This year one new aspect was added to the Rose Bowl as the Pac-12 and Big Ten conferences played their first ever Championship games to find out who would make an appearance in the Rose Bowl. This year the Bowl will feature the Pac-12 Champs the #5 Oregon Ducks who beat UCLA in the Pac-12 Championship Game for their shot and will be making their 5th appearance in the Rose Bowl. The Ducks will take on the #10 Wisconsin Badgers, who beat Michigan State in a thrilling Big Ten Championship Game, who will be making their 8th appearance in the bowl. Oregon has been a dominant force in the past years with their fast paced offence led by RB LaMichael James and QB Darron Thomas. The Ducks are known for their rapid pace on offence as they continue to put pressure on defences who have been known to fake injuries just to slow the Ducks down. The Badgers are almost the polar opposite but still just as good on offence as they love to grind it out and waste a lot of time while marching towards the endzone. The Badgers are led by RB Montee Ball, who finished 4th in Heisman voting, and QB Russell Wilson. This game looks to be an all out offensive attack with both teams in the top five in the NCAA for scoring. Wisconsin has 44.6 points per game while Oregon has 46.2 points per game with neither team being held to below 27 points this year. This Rose Bowl could be a record breaker for offence and should be an exciting fast paced game to start the BCS Bowl Series.

 

When: Monday January 2nd

Time: 5:00 pm

Channel: TSN2

 

World Junior Championship: Quarter Finals

 

 

 

With the Round Robin finishing up in the beginning of this weekend the start of the New Year will see the playoff rounds begin. Although the teams will not be determined until the end of the games on Saturday there are some more likely possibilities. As it stands right now the Russians and Canadians are at the top of the pools and may get their first round bye depending on what happens on New Year’s Eve. It is looking more likely, although anything can happen, that there will different teams in these quarter-finals. In Pool A the two quarter-final teams look to be Slovakia and Sweden who will have their shot at the first round bye but are currently looking to play the first round of playoffs. In Pool B it is looking like the USA and Finns will move on to the quarter-finals. All four of these teams will be fighting for their chance to play in the semi-finals where they will likely play Russia or Canada on the path to the Gold medal. Of course nothing is for sure in the tournament as anything can happen in the last two days of the round robin forcing any team out, or into, the quarter-finals.

 

When: Monday January 2nd

Time: 5:00 pm/9:00 pm

Channel: TSN

 

NCAA Football: Tostitos Fiesta Bowl

 

 

 

 

 

The BCS Bowl Series will continue on the same day as it starts with the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. This bowl is an exciting one too as it is being built as the best BCS bowl in the series, yes even better than the National Championship. This year it will feature two great teams as #3 Oklahoma State from the Big 12 will take on #4 Stanford from the Pac-12. The main reason this game could be the best is the fact that both teams will feature two of the best QBs in the NCAA this year. The Stanford Cardinal have reached the #4 spot in the BCS thanks to one man as QB Andrew Luck has put the team on his back. Luck is known for his leadership and ability to manage an offence with the ability to call plays at the line. Luck is also considered the best QB prospect in the upcoming NFL Draft and finished second to Baylor’s Robert Griffin III in Heisman voting. The Oklahoma State Cowboys also boast one of the best in Brandon Weeden who led the second ranked passing offence in the NCAA along with the best WR in the NCAA, Justin Blackmon. Both QBs have shown their abilities this year and could give the defences fits throughout the game. The Cardinal boast a much more balanced offence that operates more like an NFL team and this has led them to an 11-1 record . Meanwhile the Cowboys have a very one-sided offence that concentrates on the pass but it has been successful with the Cowboys being ranked #2 earlier in the season and ready for a National Championship berth until they lost their first game and could not earn the #2 spot back. Instead of the National Championship they will take on the Cardinal in what could be a better game than any other bowl this year.

 

When: Monday January 2nd

Time: 8:30 pm

Channel: TSN2

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