Jan 162006
Authors: Scott Bondy

This past year in the sports world has been wild, as always. From the highs (North Carolina winning a college basketball title) to the lows (anything involving Terrell Owens), it was a year to remember. But now we are fortunate to enter a new year, graced with an exciting start and even more to look forward to.

Let's start with the biggest thing to happen so far: the Rose Bowl. College football certainly made a strong argument that it, not the NFL, is the superior football league in this country. The game was an instant classic. It was the best championship game since Miami-Ohio State in 2002. Finally, the Bowl Championship Series made sense and there were no complaints. The two best teams played each other and in the battle of heavyweights, Vince Young led his Horns to victory. If you didn't catch it, no problem, just keeping tuning in to ESPN Classics.

Other bowl games were equally exciting. Old-timers Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden, with a combined age of 155, battled their respective teams in the Orange Bowl. The game lasted more than four hours and consisted of three overtimes and a combined four missed field goals, with JoePa coming out victorious. Games like that have the potential to turn anyone into a sports fan.

So what's coming up? The first thing that comes to mind is the XL of Super Bowls. Will the Broncos beat the Steelers this weekend and reach the big game? Who will represent the NFC, Carolina or Seattle? Either way, the most watched game of the year rarely disappoints. I'm going out on a limb and picking Seattle to win it all.

But back to the college game. The only thing better than college football is college basketball. Even though it's about three months away, the tournament is already a hot conversation topic. Unfortunately Duke is atop the national rankings and looks impressive. Luckily, anything can happen, which is what makes the tourney the single best sports event. Look for UConn, Gonzaga and Memphis to go deep into March and make title runs.

Last year was also a steppingstone for female athletes. Golfer Michelle Wie turned pro and showed flashes of brilliance (although not all the time). I expect her to win a WPGA event this year. Danica Patrick, known for her Indy Driving as well as her physique, created a stir in the racing world. She could go either way, become great and win some races, or at the rate she's going burn out like Anna Kournikova and stick to modeling. I think she has strong potential to win if she stays focused.

Hockey seems to be as exciting as ever. You may ask five people about the new rule changes and get five different opinions but the numbers don't lie. Everyone likes high scoring games. It just so happens that scoring is up 20 percent. Stadiums are filling to 91 percent of capacity. I deem the new rules great and look forward to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

A few more predictions for the road: the Pistons will win another NBA Championship but fall short of the 1995-96 Bulls record of 72 victories, the Yankees will win another World Series (I can't believe I just said that) and Maurice Clarrett win find himself in prison.

Scott Bondy is the Collegian's associate managing editor for sports and special sections.

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