Looking ahead to 2013

sports@macon.comJanuary 1, 2013 

With 2012 now just a memory, it’s time to make my predictions for what I think will happen in the sports world in the new year.

I looked back on my forecast for 2012 and actually did better than I thought. In basketball, I correctly picked the Baylor women’s team would win the NCAA championship and the Miami Heat would win the NBA title beating Oklahoma City in the Finals.

In baseball I was right about Atlanta being a wild-card team in the NL and Texas in the AL. I had the New York Yankees winning the AL East and Detroit the Central. In the NL, I predicted San Francisco would win the West.

Other correct calls came in tennis where Novak Djokovic won the Australian Open and in women’s play Serena Williams took both the Wimbledon and U.S. Open singles finals. And finally in football I had Georgia winning the SEC East and Alabama winning the West with the Tide taking the championship, and I predicted the Atlanta Falcons would win the NFL South with a 12-4 record. They were one game better than I figured at 13-3 after the loss to the Tampa Bay Bucaneers on Sunday. Overall, I was incorrect on much more than I got right.

For 2013 I see Alabama beating Notre Dame for the BCS national championship next week in Miami, which will give the SEC its seventh straight national crown. Georgia also will run away from Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl on Tuesday in Orlando.

As much as I would like to pick the Falcons to play in the Super Bowl, I don’t see it happening. I have the Green Bay Packers taking on the Denver Broncos with the Packers getting another Lombardi trophy.

In basketball it’s a repeat in the NBA with the Miami Heat beating Oklahoma City in the Finals. In men’s College basketball, Duke wins the ACC, Florida the SEC and Mercer gets back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1985 by taking the A-Sun title. I have Duke cutting down the nets in Atlanta for head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s fifth national championship. In women’s hoops the choices are Duke in the ACC, Georgia in the SEC and Florida Gulf Coast in the A-Sun. As for the national champion I’m going with Connecticut after what it did to Stanford on Saturday.

In golf, it’s time for Phil Mickelson to pick up another green jacket in Augusta, Rory McIlroy takes both the U.S. and British Open titles, and Tiger Woods finally gets major No. 15 by winning another PGA Championship.

On the tennis court, Djokovic is the choice to win the Australian and French Opens and Roger Federer at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. Williams takes Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, Maria Sharapova the French and Victoria Azarenka the Australian.

In NASCAR, look for Tony Stewart to dominate. I have him winning at Daytona and also taking the Sprint Cup Series championship.

In baseball, without the leadership of the retired Chipper Jones, I don’t see the Braves making the playoffs. My choices in the NL are Washington in the East, Cincinnati in the Central and San Francisco in the West. The two-wild cards are the St. Louis Cardinals and the Los Angeles Dodgers. In the AL, it’s the Yankees in the East, the Tigers in the Central and the Los Angeles Angels in the West with the wild cards being Tampa Bay and Texas. I have Detroit beating Washington in the World Series.

And finally in football next fall, look for Florida to win the SEC East and Alabama the SEC West with the Crimson Tide heading to another BCS championship game. I am staying with the Tide until some other teams prove they can beat them. No team in the SEC goes unbeaten. In the ACC Clemson meets North Carolina in the championship game with the Tigers prevailing. Georgia finishes the season at 10-2 and Georgia Tech goes 8-4. Mercer goes 7-5 in its football revival season. The Falcons capture another NFC South Division title with a 12-4 record.

And Braxton Miller of Ohio State wins the Heisman Trophy with sophomore running back Todd Gurley of Georgia finishing second. Johnny Manziel suffers a sophomore slump and is not invited back to New York for the trophy presentation.

A lot of off the wall predictions, so let’s see what sticks.

Contact Bobby Pope at bobbypope428@gmail.com

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