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Weekend Sports Watcher: January 11-13

Evan Budrovich |
January 10, 2013 | 1:45 p.m. PST

Staff Writer

Stephen Curry leads the Warriors (22-12) against Portland. (Keith Allison/Creative Commons)
Stephen Curry leads the Warriors (22-12) against Portland. (Keith Allison/Creative Commons)
Rejoice sports fans, Weekend Sports Watcher has returned to narrow down hundreds of matchups to give you the best sporting events to watch this weekend.

The NHL lockout is effectively over, the NFL Playoffs have reached the Divisional Round, and conference play in college basketball is off and running.

That being said, only five great sporting events can make our list. The second weekend of January will not dissapoint as here are the top-five Sports Watcher Events.


Two of the biggest surprises in the Western Conference square off in Oakland, showcasing sensational young point guards. Portland rookie sensation Damian Lillard is starting his career strong, averaging 18.2 points and 6.5 assists per game. Lillard has dominated the likes of Steve Nash, Mario Chalmers, Jeremy Lin, and Tony Parker, using his speed and decpetion to control the basketball game. These results have propelled Lillard into the discussion of top-ten point guard in the league.

On the other side of the court, third-year point guard Stephen Curry is no slouch. Curry is averaging 20 points per game, shooting an incredible 45 percent from downtown. The development of Curry's game on the defensive end has helped spark a Golden State revitalization under second-year head coach Mark Jackson.

The fifth-seeded Warriors and eighth-seeded Trail Blazers will play an emotional, high-paced basketball game surely to make for some great action for your Friday Night viewing pleasure. Expect the Warrior faithful to arrive in droves, making life intense and extra difficult for the young Trail Blazers.

Another great individual matchup to watch is Golden State's David Lee and perennial All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge. Lee's 20 points and 11 rebounds per game are placing him in the discussion for a first-time All-Star bid as he squares with 20-point machine and immense post presence LaMarcus Aldridge.

Prediction: Golden State 107, Portland 102


In a loaded Big Ten Conference slate, the Golden Gophers travel to Indiana to battle Tom Crean's championship-contending Hoosiers.

The guard-heavy Golden Gophers will rely heavily upon the Hollins duo, Andre and Austin (the two are not related), who are combining for 24 points per contest on 43-percent shooting. Minnesota made quick work of USC in their matchup in November behind a balanced scoring effort, something that must translate in conference play.

Minnesota is one of the most athletic teams in the nation. Tubby Smith's ballclub capitalizes on turnovers and fast-break points to spark their offense. The Gophers also average 41 rebounds per night, the most in Smith's history, one of the strengths of this team.

For Indiana, a trip to the National Championship would be the only recipe to make this season a success. Behind a steady campaign, with only one blemish to Butler on the schedule, Indiana is primed for a deep NCAA Tournament run. Led by Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo, the Hoosiers use size and finess to overpower their opponents on a nightly basis. Indiana leads the NCAA in points per game (87) behind a seventh-ranked shooting percentage and a bevy of depth. With nine players registering double-digit minutes, Tom Crean can find big shots and experience all over the court.

Both teams are undefeated in Big Ten play and are desperate to win this battle for conference supremacy. Playing in Indiana will be a big advantage, allowing the Hoosiers shooters the chance to relax in what will be an intense showdown.

Prediction: Indiana 81, Minnesota 72 


Kaepernick and the 49ers are aiming at a spot in the NFC Championship Game. (Jason Ku/Creative Commons)
Kaepernick and the 49ers are aiming at a spot in the NFC Championship Game. (Jason Ku/Creative Commons)

In a rematch of an affair from Week 1, in which San Francisco won 30-22, the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers square for a spot in the NFC Championship Game. This time around, Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers will be loaded with a full ammunition of recievers, while the 49ers are led by second-year sensation Colin Kaepernick.

Rodgers is playing like the man on a mission from last season, posting 11 touchdowns to zero interceptions in his last four games. With 39 touchdowns to only eight interceptions on the season, Rodgers is prime for a big night in S.F.

The 49ers' main objective will be to stop Rodgers and his potent passing-attack. In their first meeting, the 49ers applied relentless pressure from Justin and Aldon Smith. Justin Smith will play, but is seriously injured, which will limit the 285-pound country-strength's effectiveness.

On offense, San Francisco will look to pound the rock with Frank Gore. After limiting rushing-leader Adrian Peterson to under 100 yards last week, the Packers defense will be ready for an elite rusher like Frank Gore.

In what should be a thrilling rematch, both teams are primed for a classic strength vs. strength thriller from the windy and cold Candlestick Park. Expect a high-scoring affair, similar to the first contest, with the game resting on Kaepernick's shoulders to make big plays down the stretch.

Prediction: San Francisco 28, Green Bay 24


The recent news of a Seattle-based group negotiating to purchase the Sacramento Kings could signal the end of the NBA in California's capital city. In the second home game since rumors of a sale, expect a rilled-up fan base, at what has always been recognized as Arco Arena.

Cousins and the Kings are still in Sacramento -- but rumors continue to fly. (US Army Corps of Engineers)
Cousins and the Kings are still in Sacramento -- but rumors continue to fly. (US Army Corps of Engineers)
The challenger, the Miami Heat, is a team who can handle being called the hated villain entering the gym. The Heat have struggled recently, going 3-4 in their last seven. Lack of size on the Heat roster has been detrimental to the club, getting outrebounded by 19 in their most recent loss to Indiana, and by 20 against the Chicago Bulls.

The Kings sit near the cellar of the Western Conference, but have always played inspired basketball in Sleep Train Arena. With a 10-8 home record, including wins over Golden State and New York, the Kings come to play at home. DeMarcus Cousins continues to act immature, showing a lack of consistency, which has limited his growth as a player. Luckily, with a fired up crowd and a matchup against Chris Bosh, expect Cousins to play his best.

In what should be a very testy game, the Sacramento Kings will come out with a flurry early in the contest. The LeBron James vs. John Salmons matchup will utlimately decide this game late in the fourth-quarter.

Prediction: Miami Heat 99, Sacramento Kings 91


In the second contest this week between two top-ten women's basketball opponents, Cal and Stanford square from Palo Alto for Pac-12 bragging rights. In the first matchup, Stanford gutted out a victory in Berkeley 62-53 led by Chiney Ogwumike, who scored 26 points.

No. 7 California will be thrilled for this rematch because of their inherent advantage on the glass. As the best statistical rebounding team in the conference, Cal can present problems for Stanford with their size and tenacity in the paint.

In the first meeting, the Bears nearly overcame a poor shooting percentage by racking in 21 offensive rebounds. For Stanford, the key to victory lies in the hands of Ogwumike and Amber Orrange. Both ladies dominated in the first meeting versus Cal, combining for 41 out of Stanford's 62 total points.

Although women's college basketball does not get the average sports fan off their seats, the deep rivalry between these elite competitors should get some attention this weekend. You could sit around and wait for the beginning of the Seahwaks and Falcons, or instead watch some tremendous basketball action.

Prediction: Stanford 60, California 47

Reach staff writer Evan Budrovich here, or follow him on Twitter.



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