BY ALEX MULHALL – STAFF WRITER
If you’re reading this, you probably already know that this is the last issue of the Cento for the current staff. If you didn’t know that, I’m sorry for bursting your bubble.
There are a lot of games and sports moments yet to occur before the beginning of next year, when someone else will take over this column just as I took it over from CJ Donald eight months ago. Here are my takes and predictions for the biggest sporting events between now and August.
The Masters: At the time of this writing, the Masters tournament has not happened yet. Vegas odds makers have Rory McIlroy as the favorite, but relative newcomer Jordan Spieth has been rocketing up the charts. At only 21 years old, Spieth is brimming with potential. If he were to win, he would be one of the youngest to achieve the feat, only a few months older than Tiger Woods who set the record for largest margin of victory at age 21 in 1997. Woods is making his return to the tour at the Masters after dropping out earlier in the year to work on his game. It definitely needed help. In the brief appearances Tiger made this year, he looked absolutely atrocious and nowhere near ready to compete at a high level. Odds makers are split on whether or not he’ll even make the cut, but Tiger is a dangerous man at Augusta National. Anything could happen.
Prediction: Because the field is so wide open, I’ll have to just agree with Vegas and go with McIlroy, although I also like Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson, and Rickie Fowler.
NBA: The NBA regular season is coming to an end, but don’t think that means teams are coasting to the finish. In both conferences, there are three teams battling for the 8th and final playoff spot. In the East, the Boston Celtics have a .5 game lead on the Miami Heat for the eight seed, but Indiana sits only one game back with the Charlotte Hornets right on their heels. In the West, the New Orleans Pelicans and Oklahoma City Thunder are within .5 games of each other. If the playoffs were to start today, New Orleans would be in, but there is still quite a bit of basketball left.
The Playoffs themselves should prove interesting. The Golden State Warriors already clinched the number one seed in the West. The Warriors have the best record in the league by a long shot and boast the best offense in the league as well. In the East, the Atlanta Hawks are the one seed as of right now and will in all likelihood remain that way heading into the post season.
Prediction: I’m predicting a Western Conference Finals matchup between the Warriors and the Memphis Grizzlies with the Warriors winning in six games. For the East, I’m predicting a Hawks and Cavaliers conference finals with the Cavaliers winning in seven games. The Warriors will then win the Finals in six games, giving Stephen Curry his first of many rings.
Awards: The MVP race has been very tight all year. Part of the problem with the award is the semantics of it. If the award were given to the best player, LeBron James would win hands down. If it were given to the most electrifying player, Russell Westbrook would walk home with the award after averaging a triple-double for most of the 2015 calendar year. The best player on the best team is Stephen Curry, who is having one of the best shooting seasons in NBA history. But the player most integral and vital to his team’s success is James Harden. He has almost single handedly drug the Houston Rockets to a second place record in the very competitive Western Conference.
I think Curry will win because of his team’s success, but it would be hard to argue with any of the players above winning the award.
And finally, I’d just like to say thank you to Sarah Cornett, John Wyatt, and the rest of the editing staff for being patient with my articles and making me sound better than I normally do in every issue. I’d also like to thank you, the reader. I would write these articles for fun, but I appreciate the feedback that I have gotten from many of you. It’s been a really fun year writing this column. I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have.
Stay classy, everyone.