What 2 Watch (March 2-4)

March Is here and that means spring which is only one step away from the summer which means a new sports season is about to start and another is about to end. The summer season is coming which means baseball is back and it starts this weekend with the first spring training games of the 2012 season. NASCAR is also back and after a very strange start to the Sprint Cup season last week the season continues with the subway Fresh Fit 500. Along with these the PGA Tour continues to roll with one of the first big tournaments of the year in the Honda Classic. The winter season is nearing the end and so is the hockey season the NHL and CHL marching towards the playoffs. The NBA and NCAA are also working towards the playoffs with March Madness only a few weeks away and the NBA season entering its second half. Lacrosse will also enter their second half this weekend as the Rock continue their defence as they face their opponents from last year’s finals. Curling also continues as the men get their chance to find out who will represent Canada in the world championships. UFC also continues with another free fight that will start the first UFC Flyweight tournament. The transition period is underway and there will be plenty to watch as winter and summer seasons join together for a busy weekend in sports.

 

UFC on FX 2: Alves vs. Kampmann

 

 

 

The UFC will make their return to Australia this Friday less than a week after returning to Japan. Although UFC on FX will feature no title fight and far fewer fights, 4 are listed as main card, there will still be a great collection of fighters. Another rare spot in the UFC calendar UFC FX will not see the focus on the main event but instead the focus will be on two of the main card fights. This is because the UFC will kick off their Flyweight Championship tournament as they introduce the first four Flyweight fighters in UFC history. The first fight will feature UFC newcomer Ian McCall taking on former Bantamweight #1 contender Demetrious Johnson. McCall will make his UFC debut in this semi-final as he looks to continue a four fight win streak into the Flyweight title fight. Meanwhile Demetrious Johnson will move to a smaller weight class as he tries to get back to a title shot in the UFC. The second semi-final will feature another UFC newcomer in Yasuhiro Urushitani who will face off against a former UFC Bantamweight Joseph Benavidez. Urushitani will make his UFC debut after spending time with Shooto in Japan and will be riding a 5 fight win streak into UFC on FX. Benavidez is a member of one of the best light weight camps in the world with Team Alpha Male and will try to make his mark in the UFC in his third fight with the promotion. All four of these fighters read the same way as every single one is speedy and has endless stamina making sure that the fights will be fast paced and full of energy the entire time. With these fights taking the main focus the main event will be almost like a dessert and it promises to be a good one. Former #1 contender in the welterweight division Thiago Alves will take on Martin Kampann in a welterweight matchup. Both of these fighters have dreams of eventually getting a title shot in the crowded welterweight division. They are also built the same as fighters with both loving to stand up but able to hold their own on the mat. With a main event like this and the beginning of the Flyweight title tournament the return to Australia and the return to FX promises to be a great night.

 

When: Friday March 2nd

Time: 6:00 pm/9:00 pm

Channel: Facebook/Sportsnet

 

CHL Hockey: Oshawa Generals vs. London Knights

 

 

 

 

With less than one month left in the CHL regular season the OHL will make their return to the national spotlight. This week Friday Night Hockey will feature two historically great teams as the London Knights will take on the Oshawa Generals. The Knights are currently the best team in the Western Conference again and have guaranteed themselves a spot in the playoffs. The Knights have had a great season this year that has seen them amass 89 points as they enter the home stretch in what could end up being a tight battle with the Plymouth Whalers. This battle will not determine a playoff spot but will determine the seating as it will be the battle for first place in the West. The Knights have risen to the top spot above the Whalers thanks to the performance of Seth Griffith who has struggled to find respect on his way to the draft even with 41 goals and 38 assists. As Griffith has taken over the team scoring race the focus has centred around Andreas Athanasiou and Olli Maatta who are currently ranked 29th and 12th respectively in the ISS Draft rankings. Meanwhile the Oshawa Generals have not had the season they were hoping for as they are at the bottom of the playoff spots. Sitting in 7th place the Generals currently hold a playoff spot but are in a race with the Belleville Bulls and Peterborough Petes.  One of these three teams will not be in the playoffs and the Generals are hoping they can stay just enough ahead to earn one of the spots. Oshawa is led by Christian Thomas who has 30 goals and 30 assists this year and was a second round draft pick by the New York Rangers in 2010. The Generals are in the midst of a rebuilding phase but they will try to extend their lead and make it in to the playoffs by beating the Knights who will be looking to extend their lead in the race for 1st in the West.

 

When: Friday March 2nd

Time: 7:00 pm

Channel: Sportsnet

 

2012 Tim Horton’s Briar

 

 

 

 

After a wild week in Women’s Curling one team came out on top to represent Canada in the next world tour. This week it is the boy’s turn as the Tim Horton’s Brier is set to kick off to determine the best men’s team in Canada. The top teams from every province and territory will meet in Saskatoon as they all look to become the new Team Canada. This year there is a guaranteed new champion with defending champion Jeff Stoughton not returning to lead the Manitoba rink. Although the defending champion is not back the favorites are still around with the top teams looking to be at the top once again. One of these teams is the Ontario rink led by curling legend Glen Howard as he looks to lead what many consider to be the best rink in the Brier. Of course he will not be able to dominate everyone with Kevin Koe and the rink from Alberta looking to make it 2-2 for the Alberta rinks. Koe does have a shot as well with another very good rink that has played and beat Howard in some of the best matches over the past few years. It is expected to be another great match with Koe and Howard as the favorites and the hopefuls with everyone wanting to see both rinks go at it in another great game. There are other hopefuls as well with former champion Brad Gushue and the rink from Newfoundland back to try to take another title. Along with Gushue is Rob Fowler who will look to make it two in a row for the men from Manitoba. Filling out the lineup will be Jim Cotter from BC and Brad Jacobs from Northern Ontario, due to the lack of a Team Canada. Of course there could always be a surprise as Koe and Howard are not guaranteed a spot in the finals this year as they will need to win to get in and anything can happen. With one Canadian team already decided the Tim Horton’s Brier will give us our second team to cheer on this upcoming world tour season.

 

When: Saturday March 3rd/Sunday March 4th

Time: 2:30pm/7:30pm/9:30am

Channel: TSN

 

PGA Tour Golf: The Honda Classic

 

 

 

 

 

The race to the Master’s is in full swing as the PGA season continues to motor on with the Honda Classic this weekend. The Honda Classic is a bit of a gateway for the Tour as it represents an unofficial beginning of the golf season. By this time many tournaments have been played but few have seen all of the big names playing in a regular format together. The Honda Classic provides that as it has become a major stop for all golfers to attend on their way to a successful season and towards the Masters. The Honda Classic will be there again as the biggest names in golf get together for a very important tournament that could mean the start of a good season. Of course as usual all eyes will be on Tiger Woods as he looks to try to come back into the win column. If he can pull off a win it would be the first official PGA Tour win since 2009 and Woods probably knows that. He will try to get back to winning this year and the Honda Classic could be his first step in that direction. Meanwhile the rest of the field will be packed with names like Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Stephen Ames, Rickie Fowler, and many more. There will also be the new names as Kyle Stanley and Johnson Wagner look to keep up the pace for the FedEx Cup. It is a young season but so far Stanley and Wagner have taken the lead in the FedEx Cup with Mickelson filling out the third spot. As for the previous tournaments there has been no one player that has separated themselves from the pack with no golfer winning more than one tournament so far. There is also a trend forming in the Tour season as almost every victory so far has featured a come from behind victory and a late round collapse. The biggest question is will it happen again this weekend and who will it happen to as the Tour gets into full swing with the Honda Classic.

 

When: Saturday March 3rd/Sunday March 4th

Time: 3:00 pm

Channel: NBC

 

NLL Lacrosse: Toronto Rock vs. Washington Stealth

 

 

 

 

As the National Lacrosse League enters its second half the Toronto Rock sit at the top of the Eastern Division standings. After a win last week the Rock took over the top spot and are looking to make it a streak as they take on the Washington Stealth. The Stealth are looking to manage an upset as they sit last in the Western Division with a 1-6 record. Washington is hoping they can pull off a win against the Rock and begin a climb back up the Western standings. Led by Lewis Ratcliff and Rhys Duch the Stealth have struggled to get wins with their only win coming against the Buffalo Bandits in overtime. That game provided the only bright spot in a season that has been filled with close losses and some blowouts. If the Stealth can begin to turn the season around it will need to start now as the season begins to creep towards the playoffs. With 9 games left they hope that a win against the Rock can propel them into the top of the rankings. The Rock hope to prevent this with Garrett Billings at the helm and leading the Rock in every runner category. Along with Billings is Kasey Beirnes who is fresh off an NLL offensive player of the week nod after a great performance last week against the Rochester Knighthawks when he scored 5 goals in a winning effort. The Rock hope to continue to roll and begin to pull away from the pack in the East as they continue looking to be the best team in Toronto. With the Philadelphia Wings hot on their tail Toronto looks to extend a lead in the East and begin to climb into competition with the league leading Colorado Mammoth. The Rock and Stealth will face off on two opposite ends of the standings but anything can happen in the fastest game on two feet.

 

When: Saturday March 3rd

Time: 7:00 pm

Channel: TSN2

 

NHL Hockey: Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Montreal Canadiens

 

 

 

 

The NHL enters their last full month and with less than 20 games left for every team the playoff race is in full gear. It has been this way for the past month as teams began looking towards the playoffs and what they would need to do to make it. For the Maple Leafs the playoffs were the goal and an achievable one at that. Sitting around eighth place all month the Leafs were able to keep hold of a playoff spot. Then the bottom fell out with the Leafs losing a number of games in February that has seen them lose that grip in 8th place and begin a slide down the standings. With the sudden failure the Leafs trade rumours began swirling as everyone wanted to know what they would do to improve their team before the February 27th Trade Deadline. Aside from some minor deals that would affect the Marlies the Leafs stayed generally quiet, angering a lot of the Leafs fans. Along with this also comes the failure of the Leafs to start well with a trend beginning to form as teams have been able to score within the first few minutes forcing the Leafs to play catch up all game. The boos have started and the demands for Ron Wilson’s retirement have been heard as the Leafs are in full desperation mode. Meanwhile the Montreal Canadiens, who also stayed fairly quiet on Trade Deadline day, have been out of the playoffs since before the new year. The Canadiens have almost completely collapsed this year and are clinging on to the hope that a string of wins in March can put them into the playoffs but this hopes dwindles game by game. Although these teams are not in the same position the rivalry still stands with the Canadiens looking to take the Leafs out of the playoffs with them. Montreal would like nothing more than to hand the Leafs another loss pushing them further out of the playoffs and that is what they will try to do this Saturday in front of a national audience.

 

When: Saturday March 3rd

Time: 7:00 pm

Channel: CBC

 

NCAA Basketball: #1 Kentucky Wildcats vs. #13 Florida Gators

 

 

 

 

As the big tournament approaches the NCAA Basketball season leaves the regular season behind and begins their championship season. For some conferences the championship playoffs have already started while others will look to start this weekend. That is not the case for the SEC though as they will continue playing until March 8th meaning the upcoming games are of the utmost importance. This will be the case this Sunday as the #1 Kentucky Wildcats take on the #13 ranked Florida Gators in an SEC matchup. Both of these teams will be looking for a win in order to get better seeding in the SEC tournament but the Wildcats will be playing for their #1 ranking as well. The Wildcats have done great this year with only one loss all season and a perfect record in their conference. They will try to preserve that perfection against the Gators and will look to Anthony Davis to guide them to the win. Davis is averaging 14.3 points per game and 9.8 rebounds per game and is one of the best players in the NCAA right now. He leads the 20th ranked offence in the NCAA on a team that is all about balanced play. The Wildcats are not extremely great in any one aspect but they are good in every aspect leading to their #1 ranking. The Gators have not had the best season but still remain a solid team with a 22-8 record. The Achilles heel for the Gators has been their conference where they have gone 10-5 including their last two games against SEC teams that were losses. The Gators will look to Kenny Boynton to lead them to one last victory before the playoffs as he has led their offence with 17.1 points per game. As the season comes to a close every team is looking to win to get a good seed and in this game one team will be looking to keep their top ranking while the other will try to stop from sliding out of the top 15.

 

When: Sunday March 4th

Time: 12:00 pm

Channel: CBS

 

NBA Basketball: New York Knicks vs. Boston Celtics

 

 

 

 

The NBA season saw a great display of talent last weekend with the All-Star game but now it is time to get back to work. The second half of the season is under way and as usual that means the playoff race which becomes more important with the reduced season. Teams will be sprinting to the finish this year as they will need to power through the back to back games in order to earn a playoff spot. Two teams that are hoping not to miss the playoffs this year are the New York Knicks and the Boston Celtics but for very different reasons. The Celtics have seen a resurgence as of late but are showing signs of slowing down and missing the playoffs could be the biggest sign of all. Meanwhile the Knicks have not been good for years but are hoping that their midseason comeback can bring them back to the playoffs. The Knicks have had one of the more followed stories this year after trading for Carmelo Anthony last year and signing Amar’e Stoudemire after the 2010 season but neither of these players were the story. Instead a kid from Harvard who was cut from three teams before making it to New York and was only a few days away from being cut made the headlines. Jeremy Lin broke on to the scene earlier this year and has given hope to the Knick’s fans that they could possibly make the playoffs with him as their point guard. Along with the playoff hunt both teams will want the win over their longtime rivals. The Boston-New York rivalry has been around for a very long time and is one of the classic US rivalries in sports. The rivalry really heats up in the baseball season with the Yankees and Red Sox but it has moved over to every other sport that these two teams play in. This is true of the Celtics and Knicks as the classic city rivalry as they will both be looking to win one for their city.

 

When: Sunday March 4th

Time: 1:00 pm

Channel: ABC

 

MLB Preseason: Philadelphia Phillies vs. New York Yankees

 

 

 

 

The MLB season is almost upon us as the season begins in one month and with one month left before the regular season it is time for another tradition. As March kicks off so do the boys of summer who travel to their respective leagues in the southern USA for the beginning of Spring Training. Spring baseball is the beginning of the season as every team is 0-0 and every team has expectations. Along with the teams come the players and plenty of them as they begin to warm up for the upcoming season. Some players are simply there to get ready for the regular season as they will be sure to play with the big team but there are also a lot more players who will be looking to make an impact. These are the players that are signed to the small minor league contracts and have been given an invitation to spring training. These players will be trying to show the management and the coaching staff that they belong with the big club or at the very least they belong in the system. If they cannot express this through the one month of games they may very well be out of a job by the end of March. At the beginning of March there is still hope though as teams will take a look at every player to find out who will be a part of their roster this year. The Spring Training season will kick off this weekend and the first game of baseball since October will be between the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies. With the first game expect to see all of the stars playing but not for long. The top players will all want to get out there and play a game again but they will be reeled in by the managers so no important player is injured. This is more true of the pitchers who will be very limited in how many innings they are allowed to pitch. The Phillies and Yankees will face off in the first baseball game of the season and although it may not be as exciting as the regular season but for baseball fans this game means the beginning of the season once again.

 

When: Sunday March 4th

Time: 1:00 pm

Channel: Sportsnet

 

NASCAR Sprint Cup: Subway Fresh Fit 500

 

 

 

The NASCAR Sprint Cup season started with one of the strangest weekends in recent memory as the Daytona 500 was a mess. After rain delayed the race a day and a half the race finally started but came to an abrupt stop thanks to a massive crash that sent kerosene on the track. The kerosene lit on fire and stopped the race for even more time as the fire was just another part of the disastrous weekend. They will try to turn it around with the second race of the season as NASCAR will travel to Phoenix for the Subway Fit 500. With one race win under his belt Matt Kenseth hopes to make it two in a row as he will try to win in Phoenix after taking the Daytona 500. Of course winning the Daytona 500 does not translate to much as it is one of the most unpredictable races in the year. With Kenseth winning the first race he may the confidence to win but there will be plenty of other drivers looking to kickstart their season. Carl Edwards is one of these drivers as a consistent contender for the Sprint Cup every year he will try to start his season with a win in a track that he is very good at. Meanwhile defending champion Tony Stewart will also be looking to kick off his season with a win as he looks to defend his title this year and continue his dominance. New arrival Danica Patrick will have a lot of focus again as she enters her second race of the year hoping to have a much better weekend. In Daytona Patrick did not have the best luck as she was hit by her teammate forcing her to race in her backup car. Then she was involved in a crash during the race that saw her move to the back of the pack and not able to move up. She will try to make herself known for her ability this weekend as the Sprint Cup season gets rolling.

 

When: Sunday March 4th

Time: 3:00 pm

Channel: TSN2

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