NFL’s Super Bowl—This NFL season has truly been one of the most tightly contested campaigns in the league’s recent history. There are more than 10 teams that will potentially finish with at least 10 wins this season, including the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints. The Saints join the Atlanta Falcons and Michael Vick’s Philadelphia Eagles as the cream of the crop in the NFC conference, but most of the NFL’s heavy hitters reside in the AFC conference. Look for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, the New York Giants, the Pittsburgh Steelers or the Baltimore Ravens to bring the Super Bowl’s Lombardi Trophy back to the AFC.

NBA Finals—The Miami Heat became instant favorites among many basketball fans after superstar LeBron James decided to “take his talents to South beach” this offseason and team up with former Finals MVP Dwyane Wade. But the Heat will still have to get by Boson Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, who featured in 2010’s epic seven-game Finals. Kobe Bryant and the Lakers edged Boston for their second straight championship, and are looking to “three-peat.” But Boston added depth to their own star studded cast, signing Shaquille O’Neal to join Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. Don’t be surprised if we have a repeat Finals performance of the Lakers vs. Celtics.

College Football Championship—Auburn quarterback Cam Newton has done his best to dazzle America. The ultimate weapon on the football field, a quarterback who can run and throw, Newton’s Heisman Trophy wasn’t a fluke. He thoroughly dissected opponents all season, helping Auburn tie a school record for wins with 13 and ringing up scoreboards in the process. Headed by Newton, Auburn scored over 49 points seven times this year and finished sixth in the NCAA in scoring. However, they’ll need every point against their BCS Football Championship opponent, Oregon in January’s No. 1 vs. No 2 matchup. Oregon finished first in scoring this season, averaging 49.3 points per game, outracing teams to a 12-0 record.

Oregon became a featured attraction this year as their offense was simply too much for teams. It’ll be the legs of Newton vs. the speed of Oregon on Jan. 10 for a chance for collegiate supremacy. While dominant, Newton’s one-man band might not be enough to combat the quicks of Oregon as the school will likely take home its first national title.

College Basketball Championship—While the college basketball season is still early, parity seems to be the universal theme so far. Yes, Duke, the reigning 2010 champions, is still tops in the land, but it’s not as obvious as last year’s tournament run showed. Ohio State, Kansas, Connecticut and Syracuse have played impressive through the season’s first couple of months and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see some combination of the aforementioned school’s in this year’s Final Four.

But it’s something about Duke that just seems favorable. Maybe it’s the combination of skilled shooters and rotating defense. Maybe it’s the tradition or prominent head coach Mike Krzyzewski. Whatever it is, Duke remains as the favorite to bring home another title until they are dethroned.


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO