March is already upon us. Where did the first two months of 2013 go? The Stack does not have an answer, but can't be more excited for this month because of in my opinion, the best sporting event of the year...March Madness. There will be plenty of college basketball talk over the next few weeks with conference tournament predictions, championship game previews/predictions and more. So if you like college basketball, make sure to check back early and often. There are a few other things we need to get to today as well so let's get right to it and see what made "the stack" for today, Monday, March 4:
Blackhawks extend streak to 22 games
Not very often hockey is the lead story, but it needs to be following the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 shootout win over the Detroit Red Wings Sunday. The win moves the Blackhawks to 19-0-3, further extending their NHL record for most consecutive games with at least one point to start a season. What's more, dating back to last season, the Blackhawks have earned at least one point in 28 straight games, second longest streak in NHL history. Only the 1979-80 Philadelphia Flyers have a longer streak at 35 games. This is unprecedented what the Blackhawks are doing. In a lockout-shortened season, for them ot find a way to do all of this is truly extaordinary. They have a ton of talent, but also are on the end of some lucky breaks. The Red Wings hit a couple of posts in yesterday's game that would have ended Chicago's streak. Goalie Corey Crawford made some outstanding saves. You get that when you're on a streak like the Blackhawks are on. When will it end? Who knows. The Minnesota Wild come to town on Tuesday and they are playing better hockey as of late. The Wild have a ton of talent with Zach Parise and company, but have struggled to score goals. Still, they can knock off the Blackhawks. Just don't think it will happen. The streak has to end at some point, but it seems almost impossible to predict who will end it. One game at a time. That's what the Blackhawks have to do. Their streak though is great for the NHL as they are getting plenty of talk generating throughout the sports world.
Heat win 14th straight game, other NBA headlines
Speaking of streaks, the Chicago Blackhawks aren't the only team in professional sports with an eye-opening win streak. The Miami Heat won their fourteenth straight game Sunday, beating the New York Knicks 99-93. It was really impressive as the Heat played excellent defense in the second half. New York could not buy a bucket. They scored a mere 34 points in the second half and blew a fourteen point halftime lead. LeBron James was his normal terrific self scoring 29 points and grabbing eleven rebounds while also dishing out seven assists. He is playing at a completely different level than everyone else in the NBA right now. The Heat play at Minnesota tonight. Expect their streak to continue against the woeful Timberwolves.
Speaking of LeBron, Magic Johnson is offering him a deal that he might not be able to refuse. Specifically, one million reasons not to refuse. Johnson is offering LeBron one million dollars to participate in the NBA dunk contest. LeBron says he is mulling his decision over. What's there to think about? Why wouldn't LeBron do this? He already puts on a show during pregame warmups. He's the best player in the NBA. It would be a ratings bonanza to see him participate in the dunk contest as almost everyone wants to see him do it. So why won't he? The only real explanation is that LeBron is scared he will fail and lose. Don't know why he would think that, but what else is there? He is so scared of being ridiculed, but the fact of the matter is is that it would take some unimaginable dunk and effort by another player to beat LeBron in a dunk contest. LeBron makes it looks so effortless. The dunk contest is a joke right now. LeBron can change all that. And he should. It shouldn't take one million dollars from Magic Johnson to do it. But if that's what it takes, then finally. Come on LeBron. Do it!
And finally, Dennis Rodman of all people has some advice for President Obama. Call North Korea President Kim Jong Un. Rodman says that's all the dictator wants is a call from the President and that he doesn't want war. Rodman was in North Korea as part of a tour with the Harlem Globetrotters. Whether or not Obama follows up on this advice remains to be seen, but why is Dennis Rodman of all people the one to bring this up? I guess he was just craving some national headlines and the sportlight. Well done Rodman, well done.
NFL free agency starts tomorrow
The official beginning to the NFL year is on Tuesday and that is when NFL free agency is slated start. Teams can apply the franchise tag to one player on their team by the end of the day today. Some will not. NFL free agency is always exciting and full of rumours and changing stories hour by hour, minute by minute. Of course, there will be some big headlines caused by signings where no one expected a player to go. There will also be headlines created by players going to where they are projected to go. But the crazyness starts Tuesday. I'll have all the big headlines as they go down. This is when the NFL becomes a lot of fun for fans as they see who their favorite teams can bring in. The fortunes of a team are built through the draft, but free agency can certainly help as well.
College basketball thoughts
Another wild weekend on the hardcourt in college hoops. The regular season has ended for several conferences as they gear up for their big conference tournaments, looking to punch their ticket to the big dance. For others though, the regular season is still going on and today, we will have a new number one team and that team should and will be Gonzaga. It will be the first time in school history the team is ranked number one. They have a very good team and coached by one of the best men in the country in Mark Few. They had a very good non-conference schedule. Don't know if I'm quite sold on them being a team to win it all this year or even make it to the Final Four, but in a year where everyone seems to lose when they're at the top and there is a surprise around every turn, nothing will come as a shock.
#5 Miami lost a thrilling game to #3 Duke 89-86 in Cameron. Both teams lost one game last week (Duke lost to Virginia Thursday night who subsequently lost to Boston College yesterday), and both teams likely will be bounced off of the one seed at this time. Miami will win the ACC regular season should they win out and I think they should still be a one seed. Losing by three to Duke is not a bad thing, especially not when Ryan Kelly comes back and plays the game of his life, scoring 36 points against you. With Kelly back, the Blue Devils are that much more difficult and on a short list of championship contending teams. Heck, they might even be the favorite. With #1 Indiana losing earlier in the week and #4 Michigan losing to Penn State of all teams earlier in the week, the top five is going to be different. It's just one of those years in college basketball. And the madness is only beginning.
It's been a season full of frustration for some teams, but none more so than for Grambling State who finished the regular season at 0-27. That's right, not one win. Feel bad for the kids and coaches at the program, but they'll get it turned around. The sad part is that they're still in the conference tournament so who knows, they may win a game. Wouldn't that be absolutely shocking?
Coming up Tuesday: Reaction to top sports stories from Monday