Overtime: Jan. 28, 2010

Story by Ashley Hofer and Nick Gourdoux

Overtime is a weekly prediction column where Sports Editor Ashley Hofer and staff writer Nick Gourdoux make their picks concerning upcoming sporting events. Questions about Blugold outcomes comprise the first four quarters, while the overtime question poses a national scenario. The staffer with the most correct picks wins the all-important bragging rights for the week.

First Quarter — Who will win the men’s basketball game Saturday? A) UW-Eau Claire or B) Finlandia (Mich.)

Ashley: The Blugolds played Finlandia earlier this month and won by 17 points. Finlandia has a 7-9 record but has won its last two games by pretty decent margins. Even though this isn’t one of the critical conference games Eau Claire needs to win to stay competitive in the WIAC standings, I think the team will be eager to keep its winning ways. My prediction: (A) UW-Eau Claire.

Nick: Eau Claire won seven of its last 10 games heading into Wednesday night’s game against UW-Oshkosh. I do not know the results of the game as I write this prediction, but the fact that the Blugolds are 7-3 in the games leading up to it gives me good reason to pick Eau Claire. My prediction: (A) UW-Eau Claire.

Second Quarter – How many individual first place finishes will the men’s track and field team earn at the Warren Bowlus Open? A) Eight or more, or B) Seven or less

Ashley: The men’s track and field team is off to a great start this year: it’s won both of its first two meets and several individual firsts. Blugolds won 10 of the individual events at the Blugold Open and six individual events last weekend at the Triangular. But with the change of scenery from Eau Claire to Menomonie, I say the Blugolds will still do well, but on a lesser scale. My prediction: (B) Seven or less.

Nick: As Ashley said, the Blugolds are off to a tremendous start this year. Winning 16 individual events in two meets is an impressive accomplishment, but I don’t think the team can keep the pace away from Eau Claire. My prediction: (B) Seven or less.

Third Quarter – How many games will the men’s hockey team win against Stevens Point and St. Norbert this weekend? A) zero, B) one or C) two

Ashley: The men’s team has played both Stevens Point and St. Norbert earlier this season, winning only one game out of the four. The Blugolds average 2.4 goals per game, while Stevens Point and St. Norbert average 4.1 and 3.6 goals, respectively. But over the season, Eau Claire has given up just 2.5 goals per game, so I say the defense steps it up and limits the oppositions’ offenses. The men have lost the last two games, but I say they break that little streak this weekend. My prediction: (B) one.

Nick: In the last 15 years, Eau Claire is a dismal 1-37-2 against St. Norbert – one of the best teams in the nation. While that one win did come earlier this year, I don’t think the team can repeat the performance. The Blugolds are a much better, but still terrible, 26-60-6 all time against the Pointers. Earlier this season the Blugolds took a pair of 2-4 losses, and I don’t see things changing much this time around. My prediction: (A) zero.

Fourth Quarter – How many total goals will the women’s hockey team score versus Lake Forest College (Ill.) during the upcoming games? A) Five or more, or B) Four or less

Ashley: Lake Forest College is tough: the team has a 13-2-2 record and has put up some impressive wins.

But the Blugolds have been doing well too; the team has been averaging 3.7 goals per game, and its last five games have been three wins and two ties. I’d say the team’s on a bit of a roll. (A) Five or more.

Nick: When the Blugolds win, they score a lot of goals; when they lose, they don’t. The Blugolds haven’t been shut out all year, so they’re pretty much guaranteed to score at least two goals in this two-game series. If they win a game, which I think they will, they will easily score more than four goals. My prediction: (A) Five or more.

Overtime – Who will win this weekend’s Pro Bowl? A) The National Football Conference team or B) The American Football Conference

Ashley: I know, I know. The game is more about the honor of being selected than actually battling for a meaningful outcome. But there are limited opportunities in spring to discuss football, so we will make our picks anyway. The new date for the game means both teams will be missing seven players from the Saints and Colts, and injuries have forced other starters to sit out. The AFC has lost quarterbacks Peyton Manning, Phillip Rivers and Tom Brady for these reasons. But I still think the Texan connection between QB Matt Schuab and receiver Andre Johnson, with help from Titans’ RB Chris Johnson and an All-Star defense, can push the AFC to a win. My prediction: (B) The American Football Conference.

Nick: Ignore any reasoning Ashley gave. She chose the AFC simply because her favorite team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, plays in that conference. My favorite team, the Green Bay Packers, plays in the NFC. The Packers have more Pro Bowlers – QB Aaron Rodgers, LB Clay Matthews Jr, CB Charles Woodson and FS Nick Collins – than the Steelers – TE Heath Miller, NF Casey Hampton and LB James Harrison. That is why I am going to predict a win for the NFC. My prediction: (A) The National Football Conference.