Monday Morning Locks - Week 7

Monday, February 14th, 2011 at 12:00 AM
Monday Morning Locks - Week 7 by Alex Sibley

Consistency in life is always a good thing. At least that’s what they say.

But when it comes to Monday Morning Locks, I’m in a pattern I need to shake.

For the second straight week, I finished at 3-2, pushing my overall record to 20-16 as we enter Week 7. I guess it’s not too bad, but the elusive 4-1 or even the dream week of 5-0 is something I crave more than Tiger Woods craves a Perkins waitress.

I went right with Duke beating North Carolina; the Wizards beating the Cavaliers for their first road win of the season and not betting against Kobe Bryant, as the Lakers went into Boston and earned a clutch road victory.

Like I said, you never, under any circumstances, bet against Kobe Bryant.

But of course, the good times couldn’t last forever as Syracuse lost to Georgetown at the Carrier Dome and my friend Erich, who told me Jeff Gordon was a lock for the Budweiser Shootout, couldn’t have been more wrong.

Thanks, Erich.

But the beauty of sports is that there is always another game and always another team to steer your luck, or in my case, record in the right direction.

But enough of the chinwag, let’s start off this week with one of the most explosive young players in the NBA.

Lock No. 1 – Blake Griffin (dunk contest champion)
I’m 0-3 when I pick an individual to win an event or award.

I whiffed on Tiger Woods finishing fifth or better in his return to the PGA Tour. I also saw Hines Ward being named MVP of the Super Bowl, which went to Aaron Rodgers and his WWE belt and missed on Jeff Gordon winning the Budweiser Shootout.

But Friday night in the NBA will be a sure thing.

Blake Griffin will be in the dunk contest inside the Staples Center for the first time in his career. In case you haven’t been watching ESPN, the kid is a once-a-night highlight for his incredible jams this season.
If you don’t believe me, just check him out on YouTube.

Aside from Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic, nobody in the league can rattle a rim like Griffin when he soars with bad intentions towards the cylinder. His dunks are half the reason the Clippers are getting attendance.

So do yourself a favor Friday night and watch him do things in this contest people have only dreamed of seeing.

Lock No. 2 – The Western Conference
It’s the NBA All-Star Game, which means great dunks, high scoring, no defense, and hopefully some more robot dancing from Shaquille O’Neal.

Aside from the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics, the majority of the talent in the NBA hails from the Western Conference – Bryant, Gasol, Rose, Durant, Duncan – I could go on.

But honestly, who cares who wins? It means nothing. It’s just a blast watching all that talent on one court for an evening of basketball.

Get in the La-Z-Boy with a cold one and watch the dunks and points tally up.

Lock No. 3 – Michigan State
On paper, Tuesday’s game between Ohio State and Michigan State easily has the Buckeyes ahead of the Spartans in every category.

Record, roster and home court advantage just to name a few.

But this time of year, I always like Michigan State for one reason – Tom Izzo.

Since he became the coach of the Spartans in 1995, he has led them to six Final Four appearances, six Big Ten Championships, nine Sweet 16 appearances, seven Elite Eight appearances and one National Championship.

There is no doubt Michigan State is down this season with a 6-6 Big Ten record as of Sunday afternoon. But Izzo can coach, and this team of the year, he knows his team has to win to get a decent seed in the tournament.

Ohio State has been dominant all season before Saturday’s loss at Wisconsin. That win wasn’t only huge for the Badgers, but it also may have given Izzo a blueprint on how to win against the Buckeyes.

It’s a Big Ten game in late February, anything can happen.

Take the Spartans.

Lock No. 4 – St. John’s
I guess I’ll stick with the long shot’s this week.

St. John’s has beat Duke, Georgetown, UConn and Notre Dame this season to make a big slash across college basketball.

On Saturday, the Red Storm will look to topple another elite team – Pitt.

In my opinion, the Panthers are the second best team in the country behind Texas. But St. John’s has beaten good teams this year and thrives when they play at home, which is where this game will take place.

It’s going to take a huge effort, but don’t sleep on St. John’s, especially at home.

Take the Red Storm.

Lock No. 5 – Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Top-5 finish)
We can’t spend all five picks on the hardwood this week, so why not travel down south and take a look at the biggest race of the season?

The Daytona 500 begins at 1 p.m. Sunday, and with renovations to the track, the Super Bowl of NASCAR finally has a pristine track that goes three wide to race on.

To most people, that’s just mumbo-jumbo, but to fans of racing, that’s paradise.

I’m not a NASCAR nut, and have rarely watched it in the past, so I’m not going to waste your time and try to break down why he will win or what will be his keys to victory.

But I am a fan of great stories, and that’s why I think Earnhardt Jr. has a chance to win this one, the 10th Daytona 500 since his father, Dale Earnhardt, died on the same track.

Could you imagine a better ending then that?

~Alex Sibley covers sports for the Erie Reader. You can contact him at, or follow him on Twitter @ErieReaderSport.

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