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Nobody does it like Sports According to Neil!

Monday, September 9, 2013

I'm going to have to go on hiatus...sorry guys!

As you all know, I am a college student and I currently work for the university, two papers, a television station, a blog and I am part of a fraternity. Between all of those factors, plus homework, watching soccer and being the social social man I am, it has gotten quiet busy. I don't think I'm going to be able to get content out to you as much as I would like to. 
So with a heavy heart, I must take a hiatus from Sports According to Neil. It has been a good run, but life as caught up to me and in some ways I have out grown the blog (for now). I would like to thank you all for the support over the years and would encourage you to look for my stuff on,,, MHTV and anywhere else I happen to appear. 
Thanks again and I hope to be back soon! 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

My quick pick for the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals

After a season that barely even happened, we now find ourselves at least four games away from know who will be the champions of the NHL. There is not much I can say about either of these two teams that everyone doesn’t already know.
The Chicago Blackhawks are the best of the west have their high powered offense which has averaged 2.76 goals per game during the playoffs. They came from three down to beat the Detroit Redwings and became the first team to beat the Los Angeles Kings on their home ice.
Goalie Corey Crawford has not always looked the best, but he has put together some good streaks of net minding. Kane, Sharpe and Hossa have been dangerous for most of the playoffs and seem to be getting in rhythm at just the right time. Their offense can overpower almost any goalie in the NHL right now, but there will be one it can’t. Tuukka Rask.
That’s right, I’m picking the Bruins because of the brick wall that has popped up in front of their goal. Rask only allowed two goals in four games against the number one offense in the league and made it look very easy. Though it is said every year, defense wins championships and that’s what the Bruins have.
Rask will continue his great net minding and will vanquish the Hawks in 6 games with the help of David Krejci who will add to his impressive 21 points in the postseason.

Thanks for reading! 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The NHL's Tournament of Champions

Last time I talked about the NHL Playoffs, I preached the importance of expecting the unexpected when it comes to May hockey. After all four favored teams reached the Conference Finals, I might have to rephrase that statement.
It doesn't take much research or brain power to remember the four teams left in the playoffs are the winners of the last four Stanley Cups. The Penguin's 2009 trip should stick in the minds of many of my Detroit Red Wings friends, as well as the 2010 run made by the rival Chicago Blackhawks. 2011 and 2012's champions, the Boston Bruins and Los Angeles Kings will also be remembered for their recentness and their incredible goal tending. Now as hockey fans should we start worrying that our beloved league has become top heavy? No we should not.
This is just the normal growth of a league. Teams become great and stay great for a few seasons before that one trade or injury changes the course of the franchise forever. In fact, we should applaud the 'tournament of champions' now placed in front of us. All of these teams have been playing some great hockey all playoffs if not all season. We should be licking our chops for the delectable series that will offer fans of all kinds some good hockey. It's going to a darn good concentration prize for anyone's team who didn't make it this far.

Now time for some picks!

Pittsburgh Penguins - 4 Boston Bruins - 2
Offensively minded teams vs defensively minded teams seems to be the theme of the Conference Finals. The Boston Bruins come in flying underneath the radar after a very impressive season. It seems as if everyone has forgotten how good of a team they are and that they won a Stanley Cup just two years ago. (Wait, I picked against them last week?) Tuukka Rask has been impressive throughout the playoffs and season. The 26-year-old has allowed an average of 2.00 goals per game this season and has showed his mental toughness in many key moments during the playoffs. He is 3-1 in overtime games in the playoffs which is pretty good for a guy who is getting his firs real playoff run as the main man. When you add in the fact Boston has top notch defenders like Zdeno Chara and Johnny Boychuk, it is easy to see any offense will struggle against them.
The Penguins will rely heavily on their offense to beat the Bostonians. I don't know about you, but I don't have much faith in the Penguin's goal keeping, so their best bet is to try to score four goals a game and hope Vokcoun can stop a few shots. During the regular season, the Pens averaged 3.4 goals per game which is best in the NHL. Unfortunately for the teams left, the Penguins have gotten better in the playoffs scoring an average of 4.2 goals per game. The Penguins have also been held below three goals once, and when they score four or more they are 8-1. Those have to be scary numbers for an opponent and that is why I am picking them to win.
With Malkin, Neal, Kunitz and Crosby playing out of their minds, it is nearly impossible to pick against them. Plus, I don't think the Bruins have enough fire power to keep up. They have hit a scoring streak in the playoffs, but I don't think they will be able to maintain it. They also lack in the power play department, where they have converted 14.8 percent of their chances, which is one of the worst percentages in the league. Boston will be able to take advantage of the Penguin's bad net-minding, but they will simply be outgunned in the end.

Chicago Blackhawks - 4 Los Angeles Kings - 1
After Chicago's thrilling seven-gamer with Detroit, they move on to face LA. The Blackhawks have a hot offense just like the Penguins, but they have better goal keeping. This alone makes them favorites for this series and to win the Cup. During the regular season, they scored an average of 3.1 goals per game and allowed an average of 2.00 goals per game. They are really good at killing power plays and only lack in converting power plays. Patrick Kane will be the key player of Chicago because of all he does for the team. He leads the 'Hawks in goals and assists, and may be the reason Chicago is this good. When he is playing well and creating chances for his teammates, the Blackhawks look unstoppable.
The Kings will combat the high flying Chicago offense with their almost mythical goalie, Johnathan Quick. Last season, he was the biggest reason why LA won the Cup and is one of the biggest reasons the Kings are still in contention this year. In the playoffs, Quick has allowed an average of 1.53 goals per game and has three shutouts. In addition to his shutouts, he has the ability come come up in big moments and keep his team in games. All five of the King's losses have been by one goal and five of their wins have come by the same margin. He knows how to handle pressure, which will be vital for this series.
Unfortunately for the Kings, I don't think they can score enough goals to keep up with the Blackhawks. more Importantly, they are 1-6 in away games which won't cut it this deep into the playoffs. Though they are undefeated at home, I think the Blackhawks kill the King's spirit early by winning the first three games then going on to win the series in five.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

5 Reasons Bayern Munich will win the Champions League; Prediction

Speed on the wings.
It's no secret the Bavarians can burn teams on the wings. With world class players like Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, it's hard to find a team they can't over power near the touchline. I just don't see how the likes of Reus and Blasykowski can keep up. Sure, they are good players, but they don't have the experience these two do. Ribery has supplied 4 assists in the Champions League and I believe he will play a huge role in any goals Bayern will get. Robben will a great scoring threat and will once again show why he is such a great compliment to the great Thomas Muller.

They are the in-form team.
Though Dortmund have the in-form man, this whole team has struck great vain of form. You have to go all the way back to March 13 for their most recent loss which was against Arsenal in the Champions League. They have only lost one Bundesliga match all season and they haven't lost to Dortmund yet this year. Also, you have to take their 7-0 thrashing of Barcelona into effect. Even though Messi wasn't close to healthy, Barcelona doesn't lose like that. It takes a very special team to score seven goals over two matches in the Champions League and Bayern did it with ease.

They have had a tougher schedule.
Let's do some simple math. How many 2013 League Champions did Bayern defeat? The answer is three (BATE Borisov, Juventus, Barcelona). How many did Dortmund defeat? Two (Ajax, Shakhtar Donetsk). How many Champions Leaguge titles have BATE Borisov, Juventus, and Barcelona won? Six. And Ajax and Donetsk? Four. I rest my case.

Manuel Neuer.
I feel bad not being able to put this man's work into words. The only analogy that comes to mind is a 12 foot brick wall. Neuer is unstoppable and has had maybe the best season of any goal keeper. He allowed an average of .53 goals per game throughout the Bundesliga. Point five three. Good lord. Plus, in the four games against Dortmund this season he has held them to three goals. After some more simple math, this equates to .75 goals per game which is far less than the 2.38 Dortmund usually average.

They have been here before.
I don't think I can say to much more about this one. They have been in two of the last three finals and have nothing but pain to show for it. They will fight even harder and will do anything to finally raise that cup. There is little doubt in my mind they will let this chance slip away for a third time.

Well folks, that's it. I feel bad not writing more about one of the best team's I've seen in a long time, but I can't even conjure up the words to describe them and to be honest, I won't even waste your time another post on a prediction. This one is already in the bag.
I would have to be completely insane to not pick Bayern Munich to win this. Just look at all the records they broke in Germany and the caliber of their players. They are by far the better team. They have be disrespected this entire season which makes me sick. They were beaten by a team last year that got their one in a million shot to beat them (and that's coming from a Chelsea fan) and ever since no one in the media takes them seriously. I have no doubt they will win the whole shebang this season and many more in the coming years. If they don't win it this time, I will literally eat one of my cleats and post a video for you all to see.
Dortmund will come out nervy and will concede early. They will get back into it with a goal in the second half, but Bayern will bring it in the closing minutes to score two more. That's right boys and girls, I see Bayern winning 3-1 with two goals from Muller. Though the score doesn't reflect it, I believe Bayern will dominate this match and really put Dortmund to shame before stealing all their talent this summer. So until next time, Mia san mia!

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

5 Reasons Borussia Dortmund will win the Champions League

1. They have the in-form player.
Robert Lewandowski is one of the hottest players in the Champions League and world right now. Just look at his personal 4-0 thrashing of Real Madrid. The man knows how to score no matter where the defense pushes him. He leads Dortmund with 10 goals in 12 appearances in the Champions League and is a handful for even the most experienced back fours. In Bayern can't contain him, it could be a long night in Wembley.

2. They only have one loss in the Champions League this year.
Right up until their ultra-conservative, "don't-mess-this-thing-up" second leg against Real Madrid, Dortmund hadn't suffered a loss in the Champions League. This is quite amazing once you look at the fact they played Real Madrid three times, and came out of a group that featured Amsterdam Ajax and Manchester City. Though is wasn't always pretty, men in yellow always seemed to find a way through for some sort of result.

3. They have come through in the clutch.
Remember that stunning 3-2 victory over Malaga in the Quarter Finals? That's what I call playing in the clutch when your back is against the wall. The pressure they faced then will come in handy if they need a goal in the closing minutes of Saturday's match. Plus when all the lights got turned on them in their tie with Real Madrid, they came out strong with a ton of goals which could be very crucial in their match against their rivals.

4. The Klopp Show
Manager Jurgen Klopp has gotten four pieces of silverware in his five year reign at Dortmund. He knows how to get the best out of his players and is very sound tactically. I believe he his a better manager Jupp Heynckes at the moment and will have nearly kicked himself to death over his teams performances against Bayern this year. That being said, I'm sure he's done nothing but study what has gone wrong and right against Bayern this season and will come out with one heck of a match plan.

5. Ignorance is bliss?
This team hasn't had the feeling of losing a European Final which could calm their nerves before the match. Bayern, who lost in thrilling fashion against Chelsea last year and were unconvincing against Inter in 2010, could have a small seed of doubt in the back of their heads as they line up on the pitch. They could become a little timid not wanting to throw away another chance at European glory. This small seed of doubt could be all Dortmund need to take over the match and win the title.

By the looks of it, Dortmund should be able to win this, but wait, I haven't even talked about Bayern yet! Not so fast, come back tomorrow to hear all the reasons why Bayern Munich will be European Champions. Until then, Echte Liebe!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

NHL Conference Semifinals

The NHL Playoffs, were the seeds are made up and home ice doesn't matter. This is how I've treated the NHL's second season for many years and this year continued to show why it is a good mantra to use when watching these games.
Five out of the eight lower seeds won in the last round, which means the Conference Finals could feature all six and seven seeds. Could is the key word in that phrase. 
Despite the lower seeds having their way with the league's "elites", the two best teams in the league navigated their way into the second round. Since the beginning of the season I thought both the Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins would make it to the Stanley Cup, and so far that prediction is looking pretty good. Though the Penguins had an issue with the Isles, they showed some moments of brilliance  Now that Thomas Vokoun is in net, I expect the Penguins to get back on track. So who will be fighting for the conference crowns next round? Let's take a look. 


Pittsburgh Penguins - 4 Senators - 2
I did a good job talking up the unpredictability of the NHL Playoffs, but the Penguins will take care of business. The Penguins haven't lost against this Ottawa team this season which is something the Senators will have on their mind. This series will get very interesting because it pits one of the highest scoring offenses in the league against one of the best defensive teams in the league. The Senators allowed an average of 2.1 goals per game in the regular season and have a penalty kill percentage of 88. To many other teams, these stats could spell trouble, for the Penguins, it presents a challenge. The Pens averaged 3.4 goals per game in the regular season and have a power play percentage of 24.7. Though defense wins championships most of the time, I think the Pens have too many offensive weapons and will pepper Craig Anderson to escape the series in 6 games. 

Boston Bruins - 3 New York Rangers - 4 
These two rivals haven't met in the playoffs since 1973 and when they meet this year, sparks will fly. This is going to be a great series between two teams that have been grinding out results in the playoffs. Both teams went seven games in the first round and I fully expect them to go the distance in this round. Both teams have stud goal keepers which will keep these games close all the way until the final whistle. Boston's Tuukka Rask allows an average of two goals per game, while New York's Henrik Lundqvist is allowing a fraction more with a 2.05 GAA. This series will be scrappy and close, but I think the Ranger's 5-0 blasting of the Capitals gives them huge emotional boost. Lundqvist looks like he's heating up with two straight shutouts, which is another good reason to go with the Blueshirts.  


Chicago Blackhawks - 4 Detroit Red Wings - 3 
This is the series I am looking forward to the most. Playoff rivalries almost always exceed any meeting in the regular season. With regular season meetings between these two already at playoff levels, the excitement may just blow the roofs off both venues. The Red Wings have the momentum after winning a whole bunch of overtime games in their series against the Ducks and their game seven beat down. I find it really hard to pick against the Wings, but the Blackhawks have the rest and haven't lost to the Wings yet. Plus the Blackhawks are the best team in the league. They allow an average of 2 goals per game and score an average of 3.1. That is what I call dominance. They will struggle with the Wings, but ultimately they will be too much for the boys from Detroit. 

San Jose Sharks - 2 Los Angeles Kings - 4 
The battle for California will be yet another entertaining rivalry series. The Kings will be looking to continue their defense of their title and what better way to gear up for the conference finals than beating your rival? The Sharks may have the better set of overall statistics, but their inefficiency on the offensive end of the ice and playoff history both scare me. Many hockey fans know how bad the Sharks are when May comes around and it's hard to win a title when you are scoring an average of 2.4 goals per game. The Kings are heating up, and I believe Jonathan Quick will get back on his game and take over this series. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

NBA Playoffs: Conference Semifinals

Due to some college finals preparation, I was not able to post anything about the opening round of the NBA playoffs. Do not fret though, I have been watching games and taking all the information I can so I can make some educated picks.
So far, it has been a very interesting year for the playoffs. Most of the favorites powered through their first round match ups while many of the closer seeded series proved to be very close. I have to say that the Warrior's dispatchment of the Denver Nuggets was the highlight of the first round. This team has surprised a lot of people and I would love to see them continue to advance as far as they can. Another big moment in the first round was the Knicks near collapse. I think this series showed some of the weaknesses this team has going forward. It will be interesting to see how they can cope with the Pacers.
So what surprises lurk for us in the next round? Let's take a look.

The San Antonio Spurs vs The Golden State Warriors- As much as I would like to see the Warriors continue to be successful  it will be very hard for them to move forward against the Spurs. Known as the Quiet Dynasty, the Spurs possess the defensive talents to take them to the promised land once again. Tony Parker will lead the Spurs on the offensive end and will be aided by the return of Bois Diaw. Steph Curry will continue to be explosive, but will only manage a couple of good games.  The one thing that will really hurt the Warriors is their inability to beat the Spurs. The last time they won in San Antonio was in 1997 and to be able to win playoff series, you have to win at home. I see the Spurs jumping out to a 2-0 lead and winning in 5 games.

The Oklahoma City Thunder vs The Memphis Grizzlies- I think the Thunder could be in some trouble in this series. It seems like year after year, the Griz meander through the regular season, just to turn it up come playoff time. The Grizzlies' core of Randolph, Conley and Gasol will shine down low as the Thunder's fading Ibaka starts to crack. This will not be enough to beat this Thunder team though. Durant will put this team on his back, which should be good enough for a few wins. In the end, the Griz will make the Thunder nervous, but Durant will pull the series out for the Thunder in game seven.

The Miami Heat vs the Chicago Bulls- Let's be honest. Does anyone see the Heat losing this? Lebron is on another level right now and the Heat have all the supporting cast. The Bulls are without Rose which means they still don't have that feared attack they had last year. The Bulls might be able to snatch one game at home, but I see the Heat sweeping the series.

The New York Knicks vs The Indiana Pacers- I think the Knicks are going to have some major issues with the Pacers. This Indiana team place with such a togetherness and it's really hard to beat them at home. With Hibbert, Hill, West and George all averaging double figures in scoring, they are a really hard team to beat when they are on a role. Their issue is that they struggle on the road. The Knicks have a different issue. They are a very talented team, but I don't think they believe they can win it all. This shows as they were trying to close out the Celtics. It almost seemed as if they didn't believe they were good enough to close out the series. The other issue is they rely on Carmelo Anthony too much. If he can stop taking so many low percentage shots and find the open man, the Knicks could be deadly. I believe someone will rise for the Knicks and lead them past the Pacers. The home team will win every game in this series as it goes the distance with the Knicks coming out on top.

Thanks for reading!