Sunday, December 9, 2012

Previewing Super Sports Sunday

When it comes to being a sports fan, Sunday is definitely the best day of the week.When you're also a fan of American sports and live in Israel with a 7 hour time difference, Sunday is pretty much the only day of the week when you can follow all your favourite sports at once, at a decent time.Throw in a batch of quality European soccer - and you get what I call Super Sports Sunday.

Today's Super Sports Sunday starts at 15:15 (my local time) with the biggest match the English Premier League has to offer - the Manchester Derby, as league leaders Manchester United travel to Etihad Stadium to play current champions, Manchester City, who are currently ranked second, three points behind United.
Still in Europe, 45 minutes after the kick-off in Manchester - 5 matches in the Italian Serie A are kicking off.The most interesting one will be played in Sicily as struggling Palermo will host league leaders Juventus.Palermo are having an unusually bad season as they're only 2 points above relegation zone, while Juventus are still leading the league (2 points clear of Napoli).The real match of the day in Italy will be played at 21:45 - but I'll get to that a bit later.

Moving to 20:00 o'clock and across the ocean - its week 14 in the NFL, with no less than 10 matches kicking off (3 more will kick off between 23:15-23:15, and the Sunday Night Football match at late night).The Chicago Bears are travelling to Minnesota for a classis NFC North rivalry match.The Vikings are quite mediocre this season (which is an improvement compared to last year), but have lost at home only once this season, and would like nothing more than to ruin the Bears' playoff aspirations.The Dallas Cowboys will try to gain ground in the messed up NFC East, but they will have to get it in Cincinatti, where the Bengals are trying to keep their heads above the water in the AFC wildcard race.Another team with an outside chance at wildcard contention are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, that will host the circus that's going on with the Philadelphia Eagles.Atlanta will play in Carolina, and are unlikely to stumble against a team that has won only once at home this season.Pittsburgh (hosting San Diego) and Indianapolis (hosting Tennessee) are unlikely to stumble either.

Moving to 21:45, and back to Italy - as #3 Inter are hosting #2 Napoli.Inter are currently 4 points from the top, Napoli are 2.I won't even try to predict that one.

Back in the NFL - in the three matches that start between 23:15-23:25 the Giants (host New Orleans), 49ers (host Miami) and Seattle (host Arizona, and still undefeated at home) will likely get the Ws

No really interesting basketball games tonight, and thats too bad.But nonetheless its still going to be a great day of American Football and European Soccer.

So pour yourselves a glass of beer, seat back and enjoy the show!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A recommendation

While I'm not posting anything new, let me suggest one of the greatest sports blogs I know - Let, Second Serve is a tennis blog written by a friend of mine, and is one of the deepest, more serious blogs on the net.

Let, Second Serve

I'll post new stuff towards the weekend.
Cheers till then.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

MMA - UFC Welterweight Division power rankings

For a long time the UFC Welterweight division has been the most fascinating one for me.Of course, its a bit hard to call a division that for the past 4.5 years has been totally dominated by a seemingly unbeatable champion fascinating, but for the past 3-4 years the top of the division has been filled with fighters of seemingly even level, where each can beat the other on any given night, and each can deserve a title shot without raising an eyebrow.I'll try to sort out my current rankings at the top of the division, and see where things seem to be going for the near future.

1. Georges St. Pierre
In other news, the sun will shine tomorrow from the east, Stefan Struve is one tall dude and Chael Sonnen doesn't deserve the title shot.Move along, people, nothing to see here.

2.Johny Hendricks
He KOed John Fitch and Martin Kampmann in a combined time of less than a minute, and grinded decision victories over expert grinders Josh Koscheck and Mike Pierce.And he's the official #1 contender, so who am I to argue.

3.Carlos Condit
Although he's coming off a loss to GSP, he's still 5-1 in his last 6 fights, with four of these five being Jake Ellenberger, Rory McDonald, Dong-Hyun Kim and Nick Diaz.If I was Joe Silva, I would give him a rematch against Kampmann next.

4.Jon Fitch
His only two losses in the last 10 years were against the men ranked #1 and #2 on this list.However he's 1-1-1 in his last three fights, and with all due respect to the victory over Erick Silva, he still needs one more win to rise back to #2 or at least #3.This win will most come at the Demian Maia fight at UFC 156 in early February.

5.Martin Kampmann
Pretty much the same reasoning as the one that put Condit at #3 over Fitch.He's coming off a brutal loss to Hendricks, but he was in a #1 contenders match for a reason, and that reason being victories over Rick Story, Thiago Alves and, most importantly, Jake Ellenberger.

6.Jake Ellenberger
The KO loss to Kampmann was Ellenberger's only loss in his last 8 fights.Although his only upper-tier victories in this period were over Jake Shields and Diego Sanchez, its still a record to be reckoned with

7.Rory MacDonald
Seriously - I have no idea why I'm jumping on this bandwagon, with all due respect to the youngster's heroic performance in the loss to Carlos Condit.I suppose this one would be more based on upside than on record.After he beats BJ Penn next week (which I'm sure he will), he'll probably jump to #5, and this time I'll be less doubting.

8.Nick Diaz
He's one of the dumbest fighters to ever step foot in the octagon, and most of the time he's a disgrace to the sport of MMA.But he also has a really good record of 11 wins in a row before his loss to Carlos Condit - which was controversial enough to give him the benefit of the doubt.I hope he will get the fight with Koscheck they both want so badly, so I can see two of my least favourite fighters beat the living hell out of each other.

9.Demian Maia
He has just moved to the welterweight division, but victories over Dong-Hyun Kim and Rick Story are a nice start.I'm quite certain he'll lose to Fitch in February (although he does have a submission win over Chael Sonnen at middleweight).

10. Josh Koscheck
Currently not in a great momentum, and injured.But his track record can't be ignored.

So that was a recap on the UFC welterweight division.The Rory MacDonald - BJ Penn fight on Saturday will probably shake some things up, and so will an impressive outcome in the Mike Swick - Matt Brown fight on the same card.At some point I'll probably try to do similar rankings regarding other divisions.

College basketball - stories to follow in December

College hoops season has wrapped up its first month, its a good time to look forward to December and the most interesting stories to follow before conference play starts.
The most interesting one would be the struggle between Duke and Indiana for the #1 spot in the rankings.Indiana has got the talent, probably the best roster in college basketball today.And they're about to get big men Peter Jurkin, Hanner Mosquera-Perrea and Derek Elston back from suspensions (the former two) and injuries (Elston).Duke, on the other hand, just keep winning.Having beaten Kentucky, Louisville and Ohio State should have been enough for the #1 spot for them, especially considering the fact that the only quality victory the Hoosiers have so far is over North Carolina, which is ranked lower than the three previously mentioned.Both teams have six non-conference games to play, all against low-level teams, with the only exceptions being Indiana hosting Butler, and Duke hosting Temple - games in which they shouldn't stumble.Most probably until the Hoosiers lose they will still possess the #1 spot, and that might take time, as their conference schedule in January is probably the easiest they could get, with home games against Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan State, and the only semi-tough away games being at Northwestern and at Purdue.At that time Duke will have to play at NC State and at Miami, with a big enough chance to drop one of those two.I expect the chips to fall somewhere around the second week of February.

The second interesting story for me leading into December would be the Kentucky Wildcats.The team that tried to reload right after losing their six leading players in the summer simply doesn't look as frightening as they were expected to.The loss to Duke at the Champions Classic was understandable and forgivable, the loss to Notre Dame - now that one starts to rise eyebrows.Then came the loss to Baylor (I actually started writing this post long before the game, but by the time I reached this sentence I've received the update).Things are not looking well for the team that was ranked #3 before the season, and they still have a game against Louisville in the end of December right before conference play begins.When it begins the first four games will be at Vanderbilt, at home against Texas A&M and Tennessee, and then at Auburn - four games that should be won.

A team that will gain the most from a Kentucky downfall would be the Florida Gators.Currently at 6-0, carrying a quality win over Wisconsin, and a trashing of Marquette at the SEC-Big East Challenge, the Gators actually have a tougher schedule in December than in November, with games at Florida State, at Arizona, and at home against Kansas State.Entering conference play even with two losses will still make them SEC favorites.One loss will put them in the top 5 ranking, and in the unlikely case of finishing December undefeated one could make the case for them as potential Final Four contenders, at least for the time being.

In other places:Louisville, that have dropped from the #2 ranking to #5 following the loss to Duke, Syracuse, that are currently at #6 but without any really impressive wins so far except for maybe the win against San Diego State, and Cincinnati who are still undefeated, will be all looking to gain momentum before the upcoming Big East season.#4 Ohio State and #10 Kansas will try to avoid upsets before their clash at Value City Arena in Columbus on December 22nd.And there is also a North Carolina team that like Kentucky seem to be struggling early in the season and a Michigan team that seem to be ready for the battles against Indiana and Ohio State at the top of the Big Ten, which currently seems to be the strongest conference until the ACC and the Big East strugglers prove otherwise.

So its going to be a long month of college hoops, that will probably raise more questions than answers.And thats before conference play even begins.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Hello World

So this is my first post on my new sports blog, Sleepwalker's Sports.In this blog I will share my thoughts on what's going on in all my favourite sports - basketball, baseball, MMA, soccer and football.I hope you'll enjoy reading, my first real post will be up probably tomorrow.
Cheers till then.