Overtime

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.

Last week, Nick claimed the victory by beating Ashley 4-3. The difference maker? Nick correctly picked the Bucks to beat the Utah Jazz, which they did 95-87. This week, Nick hopes to pick up another weekly win to tie Ashley in the semester standings.

First Quarter – How will the women’s tennis team do this weekend against the College of St. Benedict (Minn.) and St. Catherine University (Minn.)? (A) Win both (B) Win one (C) Lose both

Ashley: The last event for the women’s tennis team was the WIAC championships in October, so we’ll see how they start 2010. Looking at their opponents’ stats for this year, St. Kate’s is 5-1, while St. Ben’s lags behind at 2-4. Coincidentally, those two teams faced each other just last Sunday with St. Kate winning the match 6-3. But I think the Blugolds can top the two Minnesota teams. They were pretty strong last fall – they were 8-3 – so I think they can pull off the wins. My pick: (A) Win both.

Nick: As Ashley pointed out, the Blugolds lost only three meets last season – to UW-La Crosse and UW-Whitewater. Those teams are also the only ones that finished higher than Eau Claire in the WIAC championships. I think Eau Claire should be included in the upper echelon of teams in the Midwest, and they will prove it this weekend by beating two Minnesota teams. My pick (A) Win both.

Second Quarter – What will be the outcome of the men’s tennis matches against Monmouth College (Ill.) and Augustana College (Ill.)? (A) Win both (B) Win one (C) Lose both

Ashley: While Monmouth is 1-4 on the year, Augustana is a more respectable 12-4 and could pose a challenge for Eau Claire. But looking at teams they’ve both faced this season, the Blugolds have either won more decisively or lost by less each time. For instance, take the matches against St. Ambrose and St. Norbert College. The Blugolds defeated both teams 9-0, while the Vikings only won 5-4. I’m giving the weekend to Eau Claire. My pick: (A) Win both.

Nick: The men’s tennis team is on a roll. They have won nine consecutive meets and 12 of their last 14. I think they will easily handle Monmouth College but will have a tougher time against Augustana. Still, I think the Blugolds will sweep their final meets before traveling to Orlando, Fla., for a week of tennis over spring break. My pick: (A) Win both.

Third Quarter – Who will win Friday’s NCAA tournament round one game between UW-Madison and Wofford College? (A) Wisconsin Badgers (B) Wofford Terriers

Ashley: Let the madness begin. For round one, the No. 4 seed Badgers are facing the No. 13 seed Terriers, who will compete in their first NCAA tournament. While the Badgers have had a great season going 23-8, the Terriers have quite a record too. They’ve won their last 13 games, meaning they haven’t recorded a loss in 2010 yet. But Wisconsin is seeded higher than the Terriers for a reason. I don’t see the “underdogs” pulling out a win this time (Get it? Terriers?). My pick: (A) Wisconsin Badgers.

Nick: There is some debate about whether or not Wisconsin deserved a No. 4 seed, but they are definitely formidable. Yes, the Terriers have a good record, but they play in a less competitive conference than the Big 10. I think the Badgers will win this game, and the one after, advancing them to the Sweet 16. My pick: (A) Wisconsin Badgers.

Fourth Quarter – Who will win Saturday’s NBA game? (A) The Milwaukee Bucks (B) The Denver Nuggets

Ashley: Milwaukee has been on fire recently and poses a major challenge to the Nuggets. They actually beat Denver last November, but this time, the game is on the road for the Bucks. Milwaukee’s road record is lackluster at best. Since the game is in Denver, I’ll go with the Nuggets. My pick: (B) The Denver Nuggets.

Nick: The Bucks have won 12 of their last 14 games and are one of the hottest teams in the league. Their hot streak has been spurred by the addition of John Salmons and the continued dominance of Andrew Bogut. The Bucks have recently defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics and Utah Jazz – three of the best teams in the league. The Nuggets are very, very good this year and will be the toughest challenge to date for the new-look Bucks. As much as I’d love to see them win, I don’t think they can pull off the road victory. My pick: (B) The Denver Nuggets.

Overtime – Who will win Monday’s NHL game between Pittsburgh and Detroit? (A) Pittsburgh Penguins (B) Detroit Redwings

Ashley: The teams have battled each other in the last two Stanley Cups – Detroit winning in 2008 and Pittsburgh coming home victorious in 2009. When the teams were matched up in late January, it was again the Penguins on top as they won 2-1 after a shootout. Pittsburgh – currently battling for first place in the Atlantic division — also has a better record than the Redwings, who are mired at No. 3 in the Central standings. On top of all that, the Penguins have NHL and Olympic star Sidney Crosby. I think the Pens will again be the winner of this rivalry. My pick: (A) Pittsburgh Penguins.

Nick: I don’t follow the NHL, but even I know this is an intense rivalry. Back-to-back championship appearances don’t happen often in any sport, and it’s even rarer to have both the winning and losing team repeat the next year, and rarer still to have a different winner. I think Pittsburgh is the better team this year, and I think Crosby will be the difference in this game. My pick: (A) Pittsburgh Penguins.