The Week Ahead

In an effort to push past my disappointment with this weekend\’s sporting events, I decided to take a look ahead at some big games coming up this work week to distract us all. This could be a long one…

Regardless of who is playing, Monday Night Football is fun to watch. Tonight is a match-up of two teams who are a combined 5-11. The Ravens, behind their 2nd year QB out of Delaware, Joe Flacco, have been decent on offense and bad on defense, which is the opposite of normal. The once powerful and intimidating defense around Ray Lewis, has become soft and penetrable. On the other side of the field, the Browns come into tonight\’s game having scored 131 points fewer than their opponents this year. In eight games, they have scored a total of 78 points. Do I need to say more? None-the-less, it is Monday Night Football and all the hype that surrounds playing under the lights.

Of course, if you are like me and watched two of my favorite NFL teams lose yesterday, there is always early season college basketball to be watched tonight. #5 Kentuky, #6 Villanova, #8 Duke, #14 UConn, and #18 Minnesota are all in action, with #14 UConn and #8 Duke playing a double-header on ESPNU. There are no particularly compelling match-ups, but these games provide a pleasant alternative to the NFL.

Finally, if you are not interested in the NFL or College basketball (why not?), then there is the first of three Bruins games this week at the TD Garden. The Islanders are coming to town sitting last in the Atlantic Division, but having won 6 of their last 10 games. The only other time these two teams have met this season, the Bruins pulled off a 4-3 OT win at home.

College basketball begins to heat up with some compelling early season tests for #1 Kansas and #2 Michigan State (both game son ESPN). #1 Kansas will show off against a pesky Memphis club that is a perennial favorite to go deep into the post-season. #1 Kansas is a superior team, but Memphis knows how to play in big games, especially since this game is being held at a neutral location. #2 Michigan State is facing a strong Gonzaga team who are led by underrated coach Mark Few. Gonzaga is a young team and will be over-matched by #2 Michigan State\’s athleticism, strength, and experience.

The NBA is on tap for Wednesday. The Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks will square off for the early season lead in the Southeast Division. Both teams play one game this week before Wednesday\’s match-up, but as of now, the Heat sit 1/2 game behind the Hawks who are on top of the division with an 8-2 record. PF Josh Smith for Atlanta has had a great year thus far averaging nearly 16 points and 8+ rebounds per game. He will be matched-up against PF Michael Beasley, the highly-talked about pick from Kansas State who has been improving, but has made a lot of mistakes typical of a young player. 

If college is not your cup of tea, Golden State is coming to town to face off against the Celtics. Golden state has struggled mightily this year and sits at 3-6. Golden State also just traded F Stephen Jackson and G Acie Law for G Raja Bell and F Vladimir Radmanovic. Jackson has wanted out for awhile and finally got his wish granted. If the Celtics play their game, this may not even be fun to watch, unless you love lop-sided games.

The headliner in college basketball on Thursday is #4 North Carolina at #17 Ohio State. For both teams, this will be an early test to see how good they really are as a unit. As usual, UNC has had strong play from their forwards inside and has a deep bench. Ohio State, on the other hand, has a small team with the tallest forward listed at 6\’-7\”. Thus far, OSU has had balanced scoring with 5 players averaging double-figures, but since they have not faced any tough competition, only time will tell what type of team they become. It should be interesting to see OSU\’s guards/forwards trying to score inside against 7\’-0\” Zeller of UNC.

If you really want more football, the NFL Network is providing it for you. Thursday night the Miami Dolphins will head to Carolina to take on the Panthers. Should be an interesting battle between two 4-5 teams. The wildcat could be extremely successful against the 25th ranked rush defense of the Panthers, who give up more than 128 yards per game to opposing teams.

In the NFL, the Bruins with take on a solid Atlanta Thrashers team. Atlanta has had strong goal tending as of late from Ondrej Pavelec and Johan Hedberg and Ilya Kovalchuk, after a slow start, has been on fire, now with 12 goals and 6 assists on the season

To take us into the weekend, both the Bruins and Celtics are playing. The Bruins will be playing on the second consecutive night, creating some potential fatigue problems, which could be a problem heading into Buffalo. The Sabres this year are and impressive 12-4-1 thus far and their success stems from their young goal tender, Ryan Miller, who has a 1.77 GAA average playing in 15 of the teams 17 games this season.

The Celtics play a tough one on Friday night on ESPN against C Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic at home. The Magic are 7-3 entering this week and Howard has been dominating inside averaging nearly 20 points per game. Perkins is going to have to stay out of foul trouble early and try and limit the amount of touches Howard has in the paint.

If you can\’t find anything to watch from this list, you aren\’t a sports fan.

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