Even without drama, I'll put Carolina on my line

January 20, 2004|by TIM KOELBLE

Whew! We can finally let out our collective sighs of relief now that the combatants have been decided for the Super Bowl.

All we have to do now is put up with the hype leading up to the big show on Feb. 1 in Houston.

Honestly, Sunday's championship games delivered a great deal of boredom if you compare them to the divisional playoffs the week before when all four games extolled end-to-end excitement.

Those four games kept me watching - unlike Sunday when I decided to get back to some inside painting chores while the less-than-captivating games were on the tube.


If there's one bad thing about the season being over, it's that I can't fall back on the NFL as an excuse to not do something around the house. At least it's as good to use as "the I gotta see the game" excuse for three hours on a Sunday when I'm not in the office. At least I'll take the time to tune in CBS around 6 p.m. on Feb. 1. I'll put up with about 25 minutes of pregame nonsense before kickoff.

For what it's worth, I'll chime in with my Super Bowl prediction.

New England is the early favorite by seven points over Carolina, only two years from a 1-15 record in the same season when the Patriots won their first Super Bowl.

Carolina has won two big playoff games on the road and is proving once again that defense is a major part of winning games.

Bill Belichick used to coach the Browns and is 5-0 in the playoffs with the Patriots. The Patriots have just as much defensively as Carolina.

I think this Super Bowl has the makings of something like a low-scoring 13-10 affair. And, I'll go with underdog Carolina.

All basketball now

Now that there's only one NFL game - that counts - left on the docket for the year, I can begin to put all of my interest toward the hardwoods and college basketball. That would be clarified as a fan and not to downplay prep sports and what I do here.

It won't be long and March will be on us with the NCAA Championships, better known as March Madness.

Conference races have begun in earnest on the college level even though the outcomes have little bearing on the postseason with so many tournaments a part of the structure.

If you caught the action this past weekend, especially on television where there were no fewer than 15 games televised, you saw another example of the parity in college basketball.

UConn continued to have problems with the ACC, and I still think they're far from the No. 1 team anyway. Wake Forest, No. 4 last week, lost to Texas and Duke. No. 5 Kentucky lost, No. 7 Arizona lost, No. 9 North Carolina lost to Maryland, No. 11 Oklahoma lost twice, No. 15 Missouri lost, No. 19 Wisconsin lost, No. 20 Mississippi State lost, No. 21 Marquette lost twice and Vanderbilt, Creighton and Illinois all lost once, bringing up the rest of the Top 25.

Looks to me like it's one of those seasons when a coach says "Polls really mean nothing," they'll be on the money.

Tim Koelble is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. His column appears every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2311, or by email at:

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