Now that we have said Auld Lang Syne to 2011, we look forward to 2012 and what will occur in the sports world. I offer my predictions, for whatever they are worth.
Indianapolis is hosting the Super Bowl on Feb. 5, but the Colts won’t be there. But the New Orleans Saints will as quarterback Drew Brees leads them to their second championship, beating the Baltimore Ravens.
Danica Patrick begins a 12-race schedule on the NASCAR circuit but don’t look for any wins from her. Tony Stewart opens the year winning the Daytona 500. Dale Earnhardt Jr. will win three times this year and go on to take the Sprint Cup Series championship.
In men’s college basketball, North Carolina captures the ACC title, Kentucky wins the SEC, and closer to home, Mercer takes advantage of the home court in the conference tournament and wins the A-Sun crown and qualifies for the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1985. Ohio State captures its first national championship since 1960, beating North Carolina in New Orleans at the Super Dome.
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On the women’s side, Duke takes the ACC, Tennessee the SEC, and Florida Gulf Coast wins the A-Sun in its first year of eligibility for an NCAA berth. Baylor wins its second national championship behind 6-foot-8 center Brittney Griner, beating Notre Dame in the finals.
In the NBA, if anyone cares, the Miami Heat beat Oklahoma City for the title in the abbreviated labor dispute season.
Turning to the links, Tiger Woods regains some of his luster and takes his 15th major by winning his fifth green jacket at the Masters. Nick Watney captures the U.S. Open, Graeme McDowell the British Open and Brandt Snedeker the PGA. In the fall, the United States team returns the Ryder Cup where it belongs.
In baseball, there will be no division title for the Atlanta Braves, but they do capture the NL wild-card berth only to lose out to the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLCS. Philadelphia wins the NL East, Milwaukee the Central and San Francisco the West. In the AL, the Yankees are the East winners, Detroit takes the Central, and the Los Angeles Angels win the West. The Texas Rangers will be the AL wild-card representatives. The Tigers beat the Phillies in six games to win the World Series.
In horse racing, there will be no Triple Crown winner again. The last horse to accomplish that feat was Affirmed in 1978. Union Rags wins the Kentucky Derby but finishes back in the pack at both the Belmont and Preakness.
Novak Djokovic continues his dominance in men’s tennis, winning at Wimbledon, the Australian Open and U.S. Open. Rafael Nadal captures the French to prevent Djokovic from winning the Grand Slam. On the women’s side, Serena Williams claims the Wimbledon and U.S. Open titles with Maria Sharapova taking the Australian and Caroline Wozniacki the French for her first major.
The Georgia Bulldogs open the 2012 football season ranked sixth with Georgia Tech coming in at No. 16. The Bulldogs take advantage of their second consecutive favorable schedule and win the SEC East again, finishing with an 11-1 overall record. They lose to top-ranked Alabama in the SEC title game.
Georgia Tech winds up at 9-3 but does not qualify for the ACC championship game.
In the NFL, the Falcons take the NFC South title, finishing the season at 12-4.
And Southern California’s Matt Barkley, coming back for his senior season, wins the Heisman Trophy.
As confident as I am about my predictions, I wouldn’t put a lot of money down that all or even a few of them will come to pass.
Contact Bobby Pope at email@example.com