North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Duke Blue Devils – March 4th @ Dean E. Smith Center
A rivalry rematch is a must for Top Five Live. UNC seemed to have control in enemy territory, but a late rally from Duke enabled them to pull out a victory. North Carolina is ready to exact revenge.
Duke is one of the best teams in the country that closely resemble a Jekyll and Hyde personality. At their best, they can dominate ranked teams and easily come away with wins. On the other hand, lapses in concentration (cough, Grayson Allen) can doom them in untimely losses. Although Grayson Allen gets his fair share of criticism, the kid can ball. Allen is the unquestioned leader on Duke, and his teammates love playing with him. He can shoot the three, drive the ball, and either finish at the rim or kick it to a wide open shooter. Speaking of wide open shooters, Luke Kennard is lethal from all points on the floor. His NBA future could see him as a professional scorer, but for now he leads Duke with 19.8 PPG.
UNC is comparable to an expensive foreign car. Usually on the highway with no one in front of them, the Heels can speed up and down the court with ease. However, on rare occasions when the terrain gets a little tougher, UNC can be frustrating to watch. With impressive wins over Louisville, Virginia and and NC State, UNC can look like the best team in the country. A 53-43 loss last week to Virginia has the best analysts scratching their heads a bit when it comes to the Tar Heels.
Liverpool vs. Arsenal – March 4th @ Anfield
One of the English Premier League’s biggest rivalries will be turned up a notch this weekend. In the EPL, it is every team’s goal to win the league. However, once that is settled, the rest of the league shoots to finish in the top four. The top four teams qualify for the UEFA Champions League, the most prolific tournament a club team can qualify for.
Arsenal is currently in the coveted fourth position, while Liverpool is slipping fast. Liverpool has lost three of their last five matches, and with the season winding down, it’s the wrong time for poor form. As a result, Liverpool will be the aggressor at home against their rivals this weekend.
Liverpool has a creative force of players, but their inability to physically dominate other teams might be their downfall. Look for rising star Sadio Mane to make an impact. He is the team’s leading scorer with 11 goals. From the midfield, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho are some of the most inventive players every time they step on the pitch. With precision passing and dazzling dribbling skills, they are bound to set up and or score a few goals on Saturday.
As for Arsenal, their title aspirations have withered once again this season. They are still in the driver’s seat for a spot in the Champions League, but taking care of business on Saturday is crucial. Arsenal has one significant difference, their top man on the roster is world class. Alexis Sanchez is one of the most dynamic players the EPL has ever seen. With 17 goals, Sanchez sits atop the league with a few other players. He also leads Arsenal with 8 assists, displaying exactly how important he is to the Gunners’ success.
Liverpool won a brilliant shootout on the road in the first meeting between the two sides.
UFC 209 – Woodley vs. Thompson II – March 4th @ T-Mobile Arena
Many people will point to UFC 205 being a historic point in the UFC. Superstar Conor McGregor winning his second belt at the first event ever hosted at Madison Square Garden is currently the pinnacle for the sport. UFC 209 can come close to topping it with a card filled with entertaining fights.
At the top of the list is a title fight in the Welterweight division between Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson. A majority draw was the decision last time and fans cannot wait for the rematch. Both fighters were shocked with the decision in their prior fight. As a result, both will come out swinging to prove that they were the winner at UFC 205.
The fight prior includes a match up for the Lightweight Interim title. Khabib Nurmagomedov has never lost a professional MMA feat in over 20 bouts, an incredible feat. On the other hand, Tony Ferguson has won nine fights in a row and believes he will easily make it ten. Both are masters when it comes to grappling and taking the fight to the ground. Expect this fight to be one of the most exciting of the year, and to end in a submission.
Other fights include Rashad Evans much anticipated return to the octagon against Dan Kelly. Also, two top ten contenders in the Heavyweight division square off when Alistair Overeem takes on Mark Hunt.
New York Knicks vs. Golden State Warrirors – March 5th @ Madison Square Garden
The Warriors were an amazing team prior to signing Kevin Durant this offseason. With him on their roster, they were a shoe-in to win the Finals. Unfortunately, KD recently suffered a knee injury that is keeping him on the sideline indefinitely. Reports have disclosed that it is an MCL sprain, and the recovery times for those injuries always vary.
Golden State has no time to complain at this point in the season. Life without KD will be interesting, and one of the first tests will come against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. With KD, the Warriors would most likely blow out the Knicks. With team morale affected due to his loss, the Knicks will have a chance to pounce and put forth their best effort against the Warriors. Steph Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson will assume their normal roles and should be able to adjust accordingly.
As for the Knicks, they have been a team in the news for all the wrong reasons. Phil Jackson seems unenthusiastic whenever the topic of his star player, Carmelo Anthony, comes up. Their owner also recently banned an ex-player and fan favorite Charles Oakley. The ban was lifted but long after the damage was already done.
Derrick Rose has stayed healthy throughout the season, a major plus for the Knicks. Carmelo Anthony is still a threat offensively, but it seems as if the team is never on the same page. New York has struggled as a result, and another season where one of the league’s marquis franchises misses the playoffs.
BNP Paribas Showdown: Juan Martin Del Potro vs. Kei Nishikori – March 6th @ Madison Square Garden
On Monday, Top Five Live throws another sport in to the mix. Besides the Australian Open, tennis is on the back burner in the sports world during the first couple months of the year. That will all change when some of the biggest names in the game head to Madison Square Garden. Rarely a venue for tennis, Madison Square Garden always sells out for the BNP Paribas Showdown.
The main event will be Argentinian Juan Martin Del Potro against the Japanese up-and-comer Kei Nishikori. Nishikori is an interesting player. He has yet to win a major title, but is currently ranked 5th in the world. His game is defensive-minded and he uses his stamina to his advantage. Nishikori has the ability to frustrate his opponent every time he steps on to the court.
His opponent will Juan Martin Del Potro. It wasn’t at Madison Square Garden, but the biggest moment of Del Potro’s career did come in New York. Undoubtedly, his best years are behind him. The energetic Argentine burst on to the scene in 2009 with an impressive run in almost every Grand Slam. He capped the year off by winning the U.S. Open against Roger Federer. Injuries have derailed Del Potro’s career.
A man with strength, size and speed that could have enjoyed a career similar to Novak Djokovic’s was never able to reach his full potential. He has shown signs of the player that we once knew and loved, but only time will tell if he’ll be able to win another major.
The women will be well-represented at MSG as well. 2016 French Open Champion Garbiñe Muguruza will take on the Hall-of-Famer Venus Williams. Venus is 36, but just reached the Australian Open Final in 2017, proving she can still compete with the best in the world.
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