The Pirates are starting up this Monday afternoon against the Boston Red Sox and there are a lot of questions. Can the pitching staff bounce back from a lousy 2016? Could Gerrit Cole rebound and be the staff ace that the team is looking for. Who will be the fifth starter and can Tyler Glasnow be able to fulfill his potential? Who will replace Jung Ho Kang at third base? Kang is dealing with a DUI charges in South Korea and maybe lost for the whole season. What will happen to him if and when he comes back to the team? How will Andrew Mccutchen adapt to playing right field? If he has a great season will he get traded a the deadline? Can the Pirates make the playoffs after a bad season? Starting Monday those questions will be answered.
The University of Phoenix Stadium will be the site of the Final Four this weekend. I look at both matchups and they will be close. In the first game, South Carolina will take on Gonzaga and both teams are a new to the Final Four. South Carolina has an outstanding team who before this tournament has not won a NCAA tournament game since 1973. Gonzaga has grown into a national power and had finally made the Final Four. This game will come down to the size of the Gonzaga’s front line against the guard play of South Carolina. Gonzaga will win a close one.
In the second game, Oregon will take on North Carolina and that match-up will be a close one as well. North Carolina is trying to win the title after losing it last year in Houston, Texas. Oregon returned to the Final Four for the first time since 1939. The Tar Heels will win the game and have a great National title game this Monday night. I predicted the National title game and who will win in the next blog.
The NHL trade deadline came and went with the Penguins acquiring defensemen Ron Hainsey and Mark Streit without giving up much in terms of young talent. Now that Kris Letang, Trevor Daley, and Olli Maatta are out with injuries. The Penguins had to make moves to give them depth going into the playoffs. They also didn’t trade Marc-Andre Fleury to acquire someone who could have been a two month rental. They have two good goalies who have won Stanley Cups. Yesterday’s 4 to 3 comeback win over the Buffalo Sabres was a pretty good example. Matt Murray had a rough start in the first period giving up 3 goals, and was replaced by Fleury. Fleury shutout the Sabres the rest of the way as the Penguins made a great comeback. Fleury being traded will occur during the off-season and could happen before the expansion draft when the Las Vegas Golden Knights come into the league. If everyone is healthy going into the playoffs don’t be surprised if the Penguins would repeat as Stanley Cup Champions.