The ‘must-see’ events of the winter

NCAA football

 

The last heavyweight contest before the conference championship games and bowl season was the game between Auburn and Alabama, which took place over Thanksgiving break. Arizona against Oregon is a notable game for sure, as is the Oklahoma-Oklahoma State matchup, but the real “must-see” games will take place in the form of conference championship games and the bowl season.

 

Conference championship games — Saturday, Dec. 4

 

The ACC, the Big 12 and the SEC all have games that determine who is the champion of that conference. The ACC has had a down year and we will see a matchup that looks something like Virginia Tech vs. Florida State/NC State/Maryland. If it turns out to be Virginia Tech vs. Florida State — the best possible scenario for fans — at least we will have some name recognition, but the ACC is downright boring.

The Big 12 title game will be immensely more intriguing than that of the ACC. At this moment it appears that Nebraska will earn a bid to the conference title game coming out of the Big 12 North, and in the South it is a three-team race between Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M. The most likely scenario would matchup Nebraska vs. the winner of the Oklahoma-Oklahoma State game. 

In the past two years, the SEC championship game has given us two of the best teams in the country battling for a trip to the national championship, with classic matchups between Florida and Alabama. The winner of each of the last two league championship games — Florida in 2008 and Alabama in 2009 — went on to win the national championship a few weeks later.

This year the game sees a less conventional SEC title game, as Auburn will play South Carolina. If Auburn enters the game undefeated and is able to defeat South Carolina, they will most certainly earn a trip to the national title game.

South Carolina is playing for a berth to the Sugar Bowl and will give Auburn all they have. South Carolina upset Alabama earlier this season and has the capability to crush Auburn’s national title hopes.

Even though this matchup doesn’t hold the weight of the Florida vs. Alabama title game, the SEC championship will be the best of the conference title games.

 

Bowl season — Dec. 18 through Jan. 9

 

Bowl season is a special time of year for sports fans, especially for college students home on winter break. There are more than 30 games that are played with the grit and determination of a championship game.

Whether it is a matchup of small, less popular unknowns such as in the Godaddy.com Bowl or the powerhouse schools that participate in the BCS bowls, each bowl has a chance to produce an iconic image of college football.

 

BCS bowls — Jan. 1 through Jan. 4

 

As much as I wish there was a playoff system in college football, it isn’t like the BCS bowls suffer from a lack of excitement and intrigue. Some of the best teams in the country square off over the course of only a few days, satisfying our thirst for competitive and meaningful competition.

Possible teams that could fill these bowls include Oregon, TCU, Auburn, Boise State, Ohio State, Nebraska, Stanford and others that make up the elite echelon of Division I college football.

 

BCS national championship game — Monday, Jan. 10, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

 

It is the Super Bowl of college football. Well, not really. It won’t hold that same significance unless a playoff system is implemented.

But nonetheless, the BCS national championship game still holds great significance and is one of the best football games — both collegiate and professional — of the year.

 

NCAA men’s basketball

 

The NCAA basketball season has just begun, and there are hundreds of intriguing games that any fan would be more than willing to sit and watch.

Trying to pick even 10 games to write about would be immensely difficult, and leave equally as deserving games out in the cold. 

Conference championship tournaments

Being a Syracuse fan and an avid follower of the Big East, one of my favorite times of the year is the week during which the conference tournaments are played out. There is as much intensity and ferocity in these games as there is in the championship tournament that follows.

Some of the best moments in the history of the sport have been seen during this week of conference tournaments — see the Syracuse victory over UConn in six overtimes. If nothing else ,it whets the appetite for the most hyped, loved and followed athletic tournament in the world.

March Madness

It may run into spring, but the NCAA Tournament starts in the final days of winter and for that reason we had to include it.

Like the Super Bowl, almost everyone celebrates March Madness.

Even the most apathetic person toward sports will print out a bracket and get caught up in the excitement.

The Super Bowl may be the most exciting single game of each year, but as a tournament, March Madness elicits the most emotion in the sporting world. There is no better way to celebrate the arrival of spring than with the thrill that is March Madness.