Our takes on three sports questions we find important.
#1) What was the best story of the 2018 Winter Olympics?
Brendan: The best story was Yun Sungbin winning the men’s skeleton race. Team Korea was able to capture various medals in the speed-skating events, but this unexpected gold medal was not only the first medal for South Korea outside of speed-skating, but it was also the first medal for an Asian country ever in a sliding sport. It was an astonishing breakthrough for a country that wasn’t known for historical athletic accomplishments yet promptly delivered both as a team and as the host nation.
Grayson: The integration of North Korean athletes into a broader Korean peninsula team. The overall South Korean performance as host nation was impressive, but the best story is one with much wider implications than simply athletic performance. The nature of the Olympic Games is such that it is fundamentally a unifying and celebratory event. With that in mind, this year’s Games were more what they were intended to be than they have been in recent memory. With all of the international tension today, the ability that sport has to alleviate some of that is more important than ever.
#2) What are your current Final Four picks?
B: My favourite to win March Madness is the University of Virginia, as I believe this team has a defensive identity that is unrivalled in college basketball. Two others are Texas Tech and North Carolina. Whereas Texas Tech is the most consistent team in a very talented pool of teams from the Big 12, North Carolina is starting to gain momentum at the right time and look motivated for another championship run. My wildcard team is the University of Rhode Island as they’re arguably the most underrated team, which could bode well for them in a tournament full of upsets.
G: At the moment I would pick Virginia, Duke, Kansas, and Michigan State as the four teams I think have the best chance to make a deep run into the tournament. The parity in Division I basketball this year makes picking teams even more difficult than it usually is, and with so many top-10 teams losing to low- or un-ranked opponents the past few weeks brackets will inevitably be more full of guesses than usual. One team outside of the current AP top-10 that I’ll be watching to make a run, is Wichita State. Having beaten a top-10 team recently in #10 conference opponent Cincinnati, they’re in a good place near the end of the regular season.
#3) How many Canadian NHL teams will make the playoffs this year?
B: Three. Toronto and Winnipeg are locks for postseason play, but the Calgary Flames will sneak in, as their talent will allow them to overtake the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild in the standings. The only caveat to this is if the Wild and Blues make substantial improvements at the trade deadline because then the Flames are most likely toast. However, if they don’t, Western Canada will have a team to root for in this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs.
G: Two. Toronto and Winnipeg are going to get in, even if they hit a slump late. Their spots near the top of their respective divisions put them ahead of much of the Eastern Conference, and their ability to score is unlikely to wane in the last leg of the season. With goal differentials of 43 and 33 respectively, Winnipeg and Toronto can and will score, and with 83 and 85 points they’re 11 and 21 points ahead of the team in each conference that they would need to worry most about.