What 2 Watch (March 16-18)

The Spring is here with great weather and a very special unofficial holiday in St. Patrick’s Day located on a Saturday. As the celebrations begin for St. Patty’s Day there will be plenty of sports to keep everyone busy as they prepare for a great day and also recover from a great day. This weekend will see a number of different sports as hockey continues to work towards the playoffs as the CHL enters their last weekend and the NHL enters their last few weeks. Basketball is also preparing for the end with the NBA looking towards the playoff race and the NCAA beginning the infamous March Madness championship tournament. Downhill racing will also come to a conclusion as Red Bull Crashed Ice will see their last race in Quebec City determine a champion. Curling is also continuing on as the Canadian women look for another championship as they start the Ford National Championship of Curling. Meanwhile Summer makes an appearance and so do the summer sports with Racing continuing on as NASCAR enters their fourth race and the F1 begins their season with the Australian Grand Prix. Soccer will enter their second weekend as the Montreal Impact make their home debut as they take on the Chicago Fire looking for their first win. Golf also continues to run as golfers look towards the Masters in a few weeks and the superstars take a break making the Transitions championship wide open for anyone to win it. Then of course is the ultimate summer sport as the MLB continues Spring Training as they reach the halfway point of the Grapefruit League. With so many sports this weekend your preparation/recovery for St. Patty’s can be full of great sports creating a perfect weekend for the Sports Junky in all of us.

 

NCAA March Madness

 

 

 

 

It is that time of year again as the NCAA Basketball Tournament is back as March Madness begins. This weekend will see the first and second round of the tournament as the round of 64 will finish on Friday and the Round of 32 fills up the rest of the weekend. March Madness is a crazy time of year where the top 64 schools from around the nation meet up in different parts of the US to play one of the fastest tournaments in sports. Unlike many sports there are no series for these playoffs as every game is do or die for every team. When every game is single elimination the unpredictability ramps up as anything can happen. The top teams are always favoured and although no #16 has beaten a #1 that does not stop them from making a game of it. Many #16 teams will be blown out but it is almost sure that one of the four games will come down to the wire. Meanwhile the other teams are all looking to make a name for themselves in the tournament as well. The rankings can be essentially thrown out in the middle of the rankings as the teams are so close that both teams are good enough to win. This year the usual suspects are at the top again with Kentucky and Duke ranked #1 and #2, respectively, in the South, Syracuse and Ohio State in the East, Michigan State and Missouri in the West, and North Carolina and Kansas in the Midwest. Then there are the bracket busters that can rarely be predicted as they win against all odds. This year there a few teams to look at that may be able to be the Cinderella story like Harvard, Memphis, Long Beach State, Belmont, South Dakota State, and West Virginia. It could even be another team that becomes the Cinderella story this year but it all comes down to this weekend when the games get underway and madness begins.

 

When: Friday March 16th – Sunday March 18th

Time: Various Times

Channel: TSN/TSN2/CBS

 

CHL Hockey: Sarnia Sting vs. London Knights

 

 

 

 

 

The CHL continues their march to the Memorial Cup as the they finish off the regular season in the network. This week Friday Night Hockey will kick off the last weekend of the OHL season as the Sarnia Sting take on the London Knights in a Western Conference Matchup. The London Knights have been strong again this season as they have clinched their division and hope to clinch first place in the conference. A battle with the Plymouth Whalers will be the focus for the Knights as they will be looking to pull away from the Whalers and earn their first place spot. This will give them the top seed in the playoffs and a chance to face the last place team as they hope to go through everyone to the memorial Cup. Led by Seth Griffith, 45 goals and 40 assists, and star defenceman Olli Maatta, ranked 12th in the ISS prospect rankings, the Knights hope to take the win as they try to claim the top spot in the last weekend of the regular season. Meanwhile the Sarnia Sting will look to play spoilers for the Knights while also looking to get a boost by beating a top team just before the playoffs. The Sting are in the playoffs and will sit in 4th place but do not have much chance of moving up the rankings. They will however be looking to fend off the Owen Sound Attack and remain in a position to host the first round of the playoffs. The Sting will try to put distance between them and Owen Sound with Charles Sarault, 20 goals and 65 assists, and top ranked draft prospect Nail Yakupov, 31 goals and 38 assists.  Both teams are looking towards the playoffs as they will both make an appearance this year but they still have something to play for. The Knights will be looking to take the top spot in the OHL as they try to fend off Plymouth while the Sting look to stay at #4 and avoid being overtaken by the Owen Sound Attack. As the playoffs approach every game becomes more important as teams look to either get in the playoffs or look to get on a roll heading into the playoffs. Either way all games are important including this Friday when the Sting and Knights face off.

 

When: Friday March 16th

Time: 7:00 pm

Channel: Sportsnet

 

MLS Soccer: Chicago Fire vs. Montreal Impact

 

 

 

 

The first week is in the books as the MLS season kicked off last weekend with a number of games. One of these was the Montreal Impact’s first game in the MLS and the home opener for the Vancouver Whitecaps. This weekend the Impact will take their turn as they host the Chicago Fire in Montreal’s home opener. The Impact did not start off their season well as they lost their first game to the Whitecaps 2-0. They will be looking to pick it back up as they host their first ever home game in front of their home crowd. The Montreal faithful will be waiting to introduce their newest team as fans from the amateur team and fans of pro soccer all will be there to cheer on the Impact. In front of their hometown fans the Impact will be looking to get their first win as an MLS franchise and work their way to a 1-1 record. The players will also be looking to make history as the first player to score a goal for the franchise and to do it at home would surely create an instant legend. The Impact will welcome the Chicago Fire on Saturday as they have yet to play this year. The hopes are high for the Fire this year after struggles in the last few seasons that gave way to hope last year. Struggling out of the gate the Fire made some big changes to their organization in the middle of the season adding reinforcements to the squad and replacing their coach. With these changes came some success as they qualified for the US Open Cup Final, they lost to Portland, and earning 24 points in their last 12 games of the MLS season. This year they hope to continue the trend of the end of the season to start this year off right and will try to do so against the expansion Impact. The season is young meaning every team has a shot at the postseason but all will be looking to begin their season in a good spot including the Fire and Impact who hope to do so this weekend.

 

When: Saturday March 17th

Time: 2:00 pm

Channel: TSN

 

PGA Tour Golf: Transitions Championship

 

 

 

The stars of the PGA Tour will be taking a break this weekend as they rest up after a long stretch of great lineups. With the Masters continuing to come fast the superstars of the Tour are taking some time off as many will not make an appearance at the Transitions Championship. This means that the field will be wide open for a number of golfers to get a win on the tour and move up the earning rankings. Without Tiger or McIlroy the field may seem to be a bit light on the star power but that is far from the case. There will be a number of stars on in the tournament who have not had the best start to the year but are hoping they can get it going with only a few weeks until the Masters. One of these golfers is Steve Stricker who will be the class of the field at the tournament. Stricker has a habit of dominating weaker fields as he showed in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions when he started off the season with a win in the first tournament. This weekend the Transitions Championship will give him another opportunity to win a tournament without the biggest names in the field. Meanwhile there will be plenty of other golfers looking to take the win from Stricker. One of these golfers is Vijay Singh who has been much better lately finishing in the top 11 in the last two tournaments and looking to find his swing at Innisbrook where he won in 2004. Another golfer looking to take the win will be Charles Howell III who finished second last year in this tournament and will be trying to move up one spot from there. Along with these golfers there will be a host of others including Stewart Cink and Kenny Perry who will be looking to take a win before the big boys come back to prepare for the Masters. With only a few weeks left until the first major of the year the field will be wide open as anyone can take the win at Transitions.

 

When: Saturday March 17th/Sunday March 18th

Time: 3:00 pm

Channel: NBC

 

NHL Hockey: Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Ottawa Senators

 

 

 

 

The battle of Ontario has been a good one this year with both teams in the thick of the playoff race. That was until now as the Senators and Maple Leafs will face off for the last time this season with not a lot on the line for one team except pride. The Toronto Maple Leafs are all but out of the layoffs with only a mathematical chance of making the postseason. Realistically they will not be able to make the playoffs as they will face some tough teams and need to turn things around and get a lot of help if they hope to make it. Again it is very unlikely that they will and so they enter the home stretch as spoilers instead of contenders. Meanwhile the Ottawa Senators have quietly made their way to the playoffs as they sit in the 7th spot. The Sens have done this by some great performances by their goalie, Craig Anderson, and Milan Michalek. They still sit in a precarious position though as they are only two spots away from missing the postseason. They have gained a lead in their playoff spot from the battle for 8th but could slip out of the playoffs if they start to struggle at the end of the season. More importantly than this is the collapse of the Boston Bruins that has given the Senators a chance to take a run at the northeast Division and home ice advantage for a few rounds in the playoffs. If the Sens can pull off a win against their provincial rivals they can inch closer to the top of the division and pass the Bruins. The Sens would also like nothing more than to get this win against the Leafs as they look to rub salt in the wound by winning the season series and moving up in the rankings thanks to a win against their longtime rivals. The Leafs will be looking to prevent this as they try to tie the season series at three a piece and stop the Sens rise to the top. Both teams have already found out if their season will end soon but they will both be playing for something in front of a National Audience.

 

When: Saturday March 17th

Time: 7:00 pm

Channel: CBC

 

Red Bull Crashed Ice: Quebec City, Quebec

 

 

 

 

After a wild winter of races the Red Bull Crashed Ice will come to a close this weekend as the World Championships finish off in Quebec. The Quebec City race has been the staple of Red bull Crashed Ice for years and is the crown jewel in the race schedule. This year will be no different even as all four races having been broadcast. This year the championship will again come down to the last race but this year it will see a difference. With every race being seen the championship has been followed much more closely throughout the winter and the competition has found a place on broadcast TV. With one race left the competition is a close one as Kyle Croxall remains in the lead after winning two of the three races. Last month in Are, Sweden Croxall took his first loss and in a big way as he finished in 13th spot opening the door for his challengers. The main challenger for the title is Arttu Pihlainen who could not take advantage of Croxall’s mishap in Are and finished 2nd. With Croxall’s 13th place finish Pihlainen did have a little luck as he was able to make up the big deficit between him and the first place spot. While these two battle at the top Kyle’s brother Scott Croxall finishes off the top three after finishing in third in Are. Scott is not out of the race yet either as he can win if he wins the race in Quebec and get some help by Kyle and Arttu finishing much lower. Either way the Quebec City Race should be a good one as there will be plenty of opportunities to any three of these players to win the world championship. As always the Quebec City Race will be thrilling as the fans pack in around d the track to watch these athletes fly down a hill of ice on skates. With the World Championship up in the air the last race of the season will come down to the end and will be sure to be a great race.

 

When: Saturday March 17th

Time: 8:30 pm

Channel: Sportsnet

 

Ford Women’s Curling World Championship

 

 

 

 

 

Fresh off of their win at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts Heather Nedohin and her team will represent the host country at the World Championship of Curling. The best teams from around the world will meet in Lethbridge, Alberta to determine who the best team in the world is. Heather Nedohin is a favorite as the home rink and as the team representing one of the most tradition rich programs in the tournament. Canadians have always had one of the best teams in the tournament as they have been a powerhouse for years. Another traditional power that will be looking to spoil the homecoming party for the Canadians is the rink from Scotland where the sport originated. The rink led by Eve Muirhead will be looking to remain as one of the best teams in curling and win the world championship. Meanwhile the defending champions from Sweden will see a new skip in Margaretha Sigfridsson. Sigfridsson will be looking to keep the winning tradition alive as she looks to give Sweden their second championship in a row. With the traditional powers looking to fight it out on top there will be the non traditional powers looking to make an impact as well. The best of these unusual suspects is the Chinese who boosted their athletics funding after the Beijing Olympics. This funding extended to the curling team as they have become a threat in every brier since then. Led by Bingyu Wang the Chinese have been able to threaten most of the top powers in the world and will be a threat to win the championship this year. Last year the finals came down to two of the common faces as Sweden and Canada faced off for the championship. Both of these teams will be looking to their new skips to get back to the finals this year as the Swedes look to defend their title and the Canadians look to win at home. The best curlers in the world will all meet in Lethbridge as the World championships begin this weekend with all teams looking ahead to the big prize.

 

When: Saturday March 17th/Sunday March 18th

Time: 9:00pm/9:30pm

Channel: TSN

 

Formula One Racing: Australian Grand Prix

 

 

 

As closed wheel racing continues to march on at the beginning of their season the open wheel season is just starting. Formula One racing will kick off their 2012 season this weekend as the teams and drivers assemble in Australia for the Australian Grand Prix. For the first race of the season all eyes will be on two-time defending champions Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing. Vettel has dominated the F1 for the past two years as he has been able to win almost every race both seasons. This year he looks to make it three in a row and officially become the new Michael Schumacher who dominated the sport for years while he was driving with Ferrari. Vettel started his success last year with a pole and a win in Australia and will be looking to do the same this year but there will be plenty of people looking to dethrone the champion. Teams and drivers will be looking to unseat Vettel as everyone has hope at the beginning of the season. Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, and Fernando Alonso will all be looking to win the race as they all have won their share of races. In terms of teams Ferrari will be looking to get back to their winning ways while McLaren Mercedes and Mercedes both look to change their fortunes and begin a winning attitude this season. Any of these drivers and teams will have their shot as well with the introduction of new tires by Pirelli. The new tires are made up of a softer compound than before and will require drivers to be smooth and less aggressive. The aggressive drivers, like Hamilton, may need to change their style in hopes that they do not burn through the tires too quickly. With new tires comes a period of adjustments for teams and drivers meaning that Australia could prove to be unpredictable. Add all of this to the fact that the weather could be a bit rainy and the unpredictability continues to grow. With so much up in the air Australia looks to be a good start to the F1 season as anyone has the ability to win the race and start their season off with a win.

 

When: Sunday March 18th

Time: 2:00am/10:00am

Channel: TSN/TSN2

 

MLB Spring Training: Toronto Blue Jays vs. Philadelphia Phillies

 

 

 

 

With only two weeks of Spring Training left teams are beginning to determine what their lineup will be like on opening day. As they find out who they want to keep and who will be sent to the minors the teams will also begin preparing in earnest for the regular season. They will begin to play their starters for longer that includes their pitchers who will begin to play 4 and 5 innings rather than just three as their arms begin to arm up to season form. Position players will also get more time as competitions end and starters are revealed. This weekend the trend will begin as the Toronto Blue Jays will get their first opportunity to shine on national TV. The Jays will take on the Philadelphia Phillies in a preseason matchup. The Blue jays have had a good preseason as they have seen their starting pitching hold off almost all lineups. Their batting has also been good as Travis Snider has emerged as a reinvigorated power hitter. The only competition coming in to the preseason for the Blue Jays was in Left Field and so far Travis Snider has seemed to be the more valuable bat in that position. Meanwhile Eric Thames and Ben Francisco are both looking to earn their spot in the Jays lineup. This competition will be on full display against the Phillies as the Jays put out a Split Squad team in this game. The Split Squad will give everyone an opportunity to get playing time as they split the team in two and play two games allowing them to get a look at the players they don’t get to see that much of. As for the Phillies they look to shore up their bullpen and build a team that can finally make a run at the World Series. Meanwhile their starting pitching has stayed the same and their middle of the order powers has also remained intact. That has not helped them much in the Grapefruit Leagues as they have not been able to find a rhythm all month. This weekend teams will be looking closely as they hope to find out a little bit more before they begin to make their big cuts.

 

When: Sunday March 18th

Time: 1:00 pm

Channel: Sportsnet

 

NASCAR Racing: Food City 500

 

 

 

 

The NASCAR season moves on as the close wheel racing circuit makes its first stop in Bristol for the Food City 500. As the season progresses the top drivers are beginning to show their stripes as they start to battle for the top spot. This is true of the defending Sprint Cup Champion Tony Stewart who won the Kobalt Tools 400 last weekend. With the win Stewart moved up the standings by 8 spots to 7th place as he looks to continue his winning ways in Bristol. Unfortunately for Stewart his luck is almost non-existent at this track as he has only had one top 15 finish in his last six races at the track. With Stewart looking to change his fortunes the leader of the pack will be looking at matching expectations. Greg Biffle has yet to in a race this year but has finish in the top 5 in all three of this season’s races. As a result Biffle has taken the early lead in the Sprint Cup and will look to extend that lead as a favorite in one of his favorite tracks. Meanwhile Kevin Harvick will be looking to prove the doubters wrong as he looks to take a win at Bristol and move up the Sprint Cup Standings. Harvick currently sits in 2nd place in the Sprint Cup and has been trending upwards at Bristol but is still not expected to have a good showing. He will try to disprove this prediction as he will try to get the win and move ahead of Biffle for the Sprint Cup lead. There will be another host of drivers who will be looking to take the win and move up the main standings as Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhart Jr., and Carl Edwards are all within striking distance of the Sprint Cup lead. As the NASCAR season continues to roll on trends will begin to show as the best drivers will start to show their true colours as the cream begins to rise to the top.

 

When: Sunday March 18th

Time: 1:00 pm

Channel: TSN

 

NBA Basketball: Miami Heat vs. Orlando Magic

 

 

 

 

The Battle of the Sunshine State will make its way to the hardwood as the Orlando Magic take on the Miami Heat. It is not a traditional rivalry like the Celtics and Lakers as the two teams have not been a force in the NBA at the same time. That is until recently when the Magic and Heat became two of the better teams in the NBA. The Magic did this when Dwight Howard came into his own and became one of the best big men in the NBA. With Howard leading the Magic they have become one of the top teams in the NBA but have not been able to win a championship. Meanwhile the Heat had won a championship with Dwayne Wade leading the team to the 2006 NBA Championship. Miami then struggled to repeat their performance until last year when the Heat made a big splash in free agency signing Chris Bosh and Lebron James. Last year they returned to the NBA Finals but lost to the Mavericks but have remained a powerhouse team in the NBA. With both teams looking better than usual the natural rivalry of being from the same state begins to take more meaning especially when they continue to compete for the division title. These teams are not poised to be two of the better teams in the NBA and they will face off this weekend as they look to continue the battle for the Southeast Division. As it stands the Miami Heat sit in first place in the Southeast while the Orlando Magic are right behind them and looking to make waves in the division. The Magic will try to do this with Dwight Howard who leads the team in almost every category and has done so amidst trade rumours. The Heat will be looking to fend their in-state rivals with the big three as Lebron James leads almost every category with Dwayne Wade taking one category and Chris Bosh playing well. Both teams will be sure to play their best as they begin to prepare for a playoff run when they take on their Florida rivals.

 

When: Sunday March 18th

Time: 7:00 pm

Channel: Sportsnet One

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