Edition 1.14.14

QUIPS FOR THIS WEEK

 NBA

Defending champs, the Miami Heat lost to both the struggling New York Knicks and the floundering Brooklyn Net this past weekend. No one likes to lose, but for a team that’s been to the NBA finals the past three seasons, the Heat knows they’ve got to get their rest and pick their spots. Look for LeBron James and the Heat to bounce back against the Washington Wizards on Wednesday. Until proven otherwise, they’re still the favorite.

In a deal that drew sparks across the league, the Chicago Bulls traded forward Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers for center Andrew Bynum.  Deng joins a stumbling Cavs team that features fellow Duke alum and star point guard Kyrie Irving. Key questions are whether Deng can help the Cavs make the playoffs and if he’ll re-sign in the off-season. Meanwhile, the Bulls released Bynum and will continue their season without him. The verdict is out on where Bynum will sign next, but don’t be surprised if it ends up being the Miami Heat or LA Clippers.

Less than a month away from the NBA All-Star break, the top teams look roughly the same. In the Eastern Conference, the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat remain on top, while the best of the rest sees theToronto Raptors and Washington Wizards making strides. The Western Conference is more of a toss-up. At the moment the San Antonio Spurs, Portland Trail Blazers and the Oklahoma City Thunder are all deadlocked in a race for the top spot. The Thunder definitely miss Russell Westbrook, but Kevin Durant is doing everything he can to keep this team afloat. Look for the battle for the 4th spot between the LA Clippers,Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets to get even more interesting as the young Warriors continue to shine, the Clippers get healthy and the Rockets get more in sync.

NFL

Saturday’s games featured a windy, rainy showdown between the Seattle Seahawks and the New Orleans Saints. Both teams struggled, but the top seeded Seahawks prevailed and moved on to the NFC championship. In the later game, the New England Patriots faced the Indianapolis Colts on their own wet and cold turf. Turnovers doomed Andrew Luck and the Colts from the start, and the Patriots rode a dominant running game performance by LaGarrette Blount to a victory. They’ll move on to the AFC Championship next week.

On Sunday, sunny weather in Charlotte didn’t help the Carolina Panthers use home field to their advantage. A strong performance by the San Francisco 49er’s defense led them to a big victory. Niner’s quarterback Colin Kaepernick looked strong in the win, and will look to increase his 4-1 postseason record next weekend in Seattle.  Sunday’s final matchup featured the top seeded Denver Broncos hosting the San Diego Chargers at home in windy Denver. Keenan Allen had a great day for the Chargers, but Peyton Manning and the Broncos never looked back from the start. The Broncos will host their familiar foe, the New England Patriots next week at home.

Onward to the NFL Playoff Conference Championship matchups! Next weekend’s schedule is:

AFC Championship – New England Patriots at Denver Broncos (January 19th 3:00pm CBS)NFC Championship – San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks (January 19th 6:30pm FOX)

COLLEGE SPORTS

It was a wild weekend of upsets in college basketball. The #3 Ohio State Buckeyes suffered their second straight loss after losing to #5 Michigan State Spartans on the road last week and at home to #20 Iowa Hawkeyes on Sunday. The struggles continue for the #16 Duke Blue Devils on the road, as they fell to 1-2 in ACC play in a loss to the unranked Clemson Tigers. The #9 Iowa State Cyclones suffered their first loss of the season to the unranked Oklahoma Sooners.

It was a good weekend for others in college basketball. The #2 ranked Syracuse Orange improved their record to 16-0 and looked dominant in a big win over the North Carolina Tar Heels at home.  And the #6 Wichita State Shockers came back from down 19 to beat the Missouri State Bears and remain undefeated as well.

College basketball continues as conference play picks up this week.  Look for all the top teams to be back in action, with a number of good games to be played over Martin Luther King Weekend.

OTHER

It may be the off-season in baseball, but there’s still plenty of drama. The New York Yankee’s Alex Rodriguez suspension for the use of performance enhancing drugs was reduced from 211 games to 162 games in an arbitration ruling that will still see him out for entire 2014 post-season.

In tennis, the Australian Open is off and running. The men’s side features familiar faces such as Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Roger Federer preparing to bring their best to the tennis court. On the women’s side,  Serena Williams is the one the watch as usual – will anyone be able to stop brilliant dominance? Look for Sloane Stephens and Victoria Azarenka, among others to try.

JUST FOR FUN

Don’t Worry, the Puppy Bowl is Back! 
Read more about the stars of the show

STORIES FOR INSIGHTS, COOL FACTOR + DEBATE

This One’s for the Mamas
Get ready to weep – this P&G thank you to mothers is a tear jerker
When you fell, who picked you up?

Does Television Change the Game?
TV allows the fans to get closer to their heroes and bad guys
When golf – and other sports – are televised, viewers find themselves more invested in the players and the sport itself

Football Fervor
His passion for football crosses oceans and language barriers
Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts, cheers for American soccer players regardless of which team they land on

Triumphs and Tragedies
U.S. figure skating championships leave some women brushing off their disappointment
Prep doesn’t always triumph over pressure, but we have to respect Ashley Wagner’s mindset

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