Monday Morning Locks

Monday, January 31st, 2011 at 8:58 AM
Monday Morning Locks by Alex Sibley

The start of the Major League Baseball season is just over three months away, but that didn’t stop me from taking one big swing and a miss last week for my picks.

The NFC jumping out to a 42-0 lead in the second quarter of the NFL Pro Bowl last night was just last dose of salt in the wound, as I went a pitiful 1-4, my worst week of the year.

The horror started when Daniel Gibson missed a 3-pointer that would have given the Cleveland Cavaliers a win over the Nets, but the shot rattled around the rim before falling to the ground as the buzzer rang.

I didn’t expect much with that pick, but it was definitely closer than I expected. Plus, I felt pretty darn confident with my other four picks.

But little did I know that was just the tip of the iceberg for me.

When the dust finally settled, I was left with the Pitt Panthers being upset at home against Notre Dame, Tiger Woods coming nowhere near fifth place, and the AFC enjoying the sights of Honolulu while getting destroyed.

My only saving grace was Jimmer Fredette, who torched San Diego State for 43 points, as BYU pulled away in the second half for the victory.

After two weeks where I lost just two games, I was served with a big helping of humble pie. There apparently was a piece left behind by Rex Ryan.

No need to go into further detail about the week that was. It’s time to get back on the horse and improve my 14-11 record.

Where to begin?

I hear there is a pretty big football game this Sunday in Dallas. Not a better place to start this week’s picks than predicting the winner of the Super Bowl…hopefully.

Lock No. 1 – The Pittsburgh Steelers
Stop me if you’ve heard this before – the Pittsburgh Steelers are representing the AFC in the Super Bowl.

The Steelers are playing in their third Super Bowl in six years and are going for their seventh ring after beating the Ravens and Jets to get to the big game.

In this contest, Pittsburgh is matched with Green Bay, who defeated Philadelphia, Atlanta and Chicago – all on the road – to make it to its fourth Super Bowl.

It’s going to be a great game, with no team really having a distinct advantage in an area.

But when it comes to this time of the year, you almost expect Pittsburgh to be in the Super Bowl, and more than that, you expect them to win it. They just have that swagger that you hate, but wish your favorite team had when it comes to playing in big games.

Despite being an early dog in Vegas, I have to go with the Steel City.

It’s not going to be easy or pretty, but I just see Ben Roethlisberger playing well enough to get the job done and taking advantage of a Packers team that has just one player – Charles Woodson – who has played in a Super Bowl.

Take Pittsburgh.

Lock No. 2 – The Miami Heat
On Thursday night, the Heatles will take the short trip north to Orlando to take on the Magic.
A week ago, I would have taken the Magic all day, with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh not in the lineup because of nagging injuries.

In that time, the Heat struggled as LeBron James may have felt like he was back in Cleveland – surrounded by far less talented teammates and having to do the majority of the work by himself.

The Heat cooled off and once again the critics came out and said that they just don’t see them winning a title this season.

Don’t poke the bear, kids.

All the negative comments seem to inspire Miami, as it held on to earn a tough road win against the Thunder yesterday afternoon. The Heat sure looked like a team that could compete with anybody in that game.

Take Miami, and expect a long winning streak in the near future.

Lock No. 3 --The Georgetown Hoyas
For me, college basketball is always more fun to watch when Georgetown is doing well.

I’ve been a somewhat Hoyas fan ever since Allen Iverson rocked his navy No. 3 jersey and drove to the hole with fire and passion.

And after Saturday’s win at Villanova, Georgetown has quietly put together a four-game win streak and is becoming more relevant week after week.

No doubt they have been up and down this season, losing some games that looked like easy wins when the schedule first came out.

But tonight, the Hoyas have a chance to beat another ranked opponent in Louisville.

Guard Austin Freeman should be able to have another good outing against a Louisville team that has trouble stopping the ball.

Take Georgetown.

Lock No. 4 -- The Duke Blue Devils.
If you’re a North Carolina fan, you had to love watching Duke get abused by St. John’s Sunday afternoon.

You know who didn’t love it? The Maryland Terrapins.

They host Duke Wednesday night. This could get ugly.

If Duke, arguably the best team in the country, ever had to prove itself, it’s in this game.

This is always a great ACC game that more times than not comes down to the wire. But not this game. Duke’s going to be angry and out to prove that the NCAA Championship goes through Tobacco Road.

It’s going to be close for about the first 10 minutes or so, but I see Duke pulling away and winning with ease.

Take the Blue Devils.

Lock No. 5 – Hines Ward (Super Bowl MVP)
I’m not a Steelers fan by any means, but I have always loved the way Hines Ward has played.

You don’t see any receivers throw blocks like him, and probably never will again.

Rumors have circulated this week that Ward may retire after this season. I’m not one for sappy stories, but this one has Hollywood written all over it.

Green Bay at times has struggled to stop the pass, and Ward has a knack for playing at his best in the biggest games.

I have a feeling in my guts that Ward is going to have the game of his life and be named the MVP and ride off into the sunset in the following weeks.

It’s just too good of an ending to ignore.

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

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IN THIS ISSUE

Now serving up good vibes on State Street

Fighting for change in our most vulnerable communities.

Running into a blazing building can be ‘terrifying,’ but some choose to do it, anyway. 

Here are three good opportunities to lighten up as the nights grow longer.

Dancing Wheels bring a world premiere to Mercyhurst.

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Some ‘multigrain’ bread has a little more protein than you’d like. 

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If De Palmas trip down memory lane whets your appetite, come back to the museum for one of his most underrated movies a week later.