The U.S. men's hockey team was a disaster waiting to happen. Most of them got stuck in a blizzard before the Games started. Several of them were over age 60. And they had the combined mental toughness and discipline of former FEMA Director Michael "Brownie" Brown.
That they went 1-4-1 in Turin is no surprise. Keith Tkachuk embarrassed himself throughout the tournament with worse hands than Daniel Day Lewis in My Left Foot, and Mike Modano humiliated himself complaining about his hotel arrangements afterward. They were supposed to suck, and they did. But what the heck happened to Canada? I called a repeat Canadian gold in this very space a couple weeks ago, and, um, well, not so much. (You may remember, however, I said that Russia and Finland were dramatically underrated.
) Typical of Team Maple Leaf's frustrating tourney: the lone shot I saw of Wayne Gretzky during Canada's quarterfinal loss to Russia last Wednesday included Wayne standing in a suit coat and tie, spitting on the rink floor. I suppose that's better than a shot of him calling his bookie. Speaking of old: in retrospect, including Joe Sakic (36), Rob Blake (34) and Adam Foote (34) turned out to be a huge mistake. In such a compressed tourney, the fresh legs of, say, Sydney Crosby and/or Jason Spezza sure would've looked nice wearing red.
Joe Thornton was an unmitigated disaster, Vincent Lecavalier got hurt, Rick Nash barely ever got a stick on the puck and on the flight back home from Italy Chris Pronger just took another penalty. And the Gretzky Gambling Debacle certainly took a toll. Sure, the U.S. was awful.
But frankly they were awful on paper, and their best player literally was 44 years old. Canada, meanwhile, was obviously the best team in this tournament, no question about it, and they got shut out three times. Just amazing. There were indications (in this very space) that the Winter Olympics would pretty much be a non-factor for sports betting. Has that been the case? Have people at least been able to get up for the ice hockey? What do you think of North America's struggles in this tournament? Greg Jorssen, BoDog.
com: The Olympics have been a non-factor, with the exception of the hockey. We've realized decent handle on the games, particularly the quarterfinal games. The games that have received the most handle of course involve the Americans.
Unfortunately, most bettors believed that the Fins would win their quarterfinal game against the U.S. The poor play of the Americans in the round robins swayed bettors against them.
Americans put together a very old team, which is not conducive to the bigger rinks in international play. As for the Canadians, I am still scratching my head with them. The young players did not seem to have the passion and drive that we are used to and it clearly showed in their losses to the Swiss and to the Fins. Did the Daytona 500 do any serious action? Was Jimmie Johnson's win a (relatively) big victory for the books? GJ, BoDog.com: NASCAR does not generate the handle I would like to see due mostly to the unpredictability of the sport.
In football, if a receiver blows out his hamstring, the game goes on and the team still has a legitimate shot at winning. In NASCAR, if Tony Stewart blows a tire, chances are it is over for him. The Daytona 500 had a lot of wacky things happen that leads me to believe that NASCAR will just never be predictable enough in a single race to attract massive handle. As for Jimmie Johnson's tainted win (come on now, his car was illegally modified), it was a favorable outcome for the books.
I'm curious, though, what impact this controversy will have on the action from here on in on Johnson in future races. I guess we got our answer by the Villanova hoops team; they leapfrogged UConn, and sit #2 behind Duke in this week's poll. How do you see the Villanova at UConn game this weekend? What do the books hope happens? GJ, BoDog.com: UConn will definitely be favored due to the home-court advantage, and because of the handle we usually receive on the home favorites, I suspect we will be once again big Villanova fans this weekend. As I stated before, UConn is the better team and will be leapfrogging back ahead of 'Nova come Monday morning. Last week I asked what college hoops team could come out of nowhere and stun folks while getting to the Sweet 16.
This week, I'm setting my sights a little higher. If I had to pick one team that's currently outside the AP Top 16 who could stun folks and get to the Final Four, I'd say LSU. How about you? GJ, BoDog.
com: LSU is once again a solid pick; however, year after year I always tend to go back to Michigan State. Izzo has this uncanny ability to get his team focused at the right time and this year is fielding a team that is as talented as any team in the past. Maurice Ager leads the team currently in scoring and his hot hand (when it is on) can easily lead the Spartans to the Final Four. With Shannon Brown playing as well as he is right now and Paul Davis being consistently a force night in and night out, they are my team right now and one I will ride in my bracket pool this year!!!!! .
By: Christopher Harris