There are a lot of people who get seriously bummed out when the last second ticks off the clock at the Super Bowl. Hey, I get it. The NFL has become the sports king in this country, not just for a ton of fans throughout the U.S., but for networks as well. Countdowns have unquestionably begun as football fans await training camps in July, but even without the NFL, the next eight weeks are my favorite time of year in the sports universe. And hey, there’s still the XFL, right?
From early March to early May, the calendar is filled with some of the most exciting events in sports. While there are those that follow the NFL and not much else, the general sports fans like myself, those that love everything about the nature of competition, the next eight weeks are jam-packed. Just look at what’s coming up.
March Madness, otherwise known as the NCAA Tournament, is one of the most entertaining events all year. 132 of the best men’s and women’s college basketball teams (68 on the men’s side, 64 on the women’s side) will compete for national championships over the course of 130 games in three weeks. Every team has to bring their best every single day and with these being single-elimination tourneys, there’s a Game 7 feel to each and every matchup throughout March Madness, which actually does run into April but nobody really ever seems to mention that.
The 68-team field for the men will be unveiled on Sunday, March 15, and the 64 women’s teams will be known the following night. The Final Four for the women will be on Friday, April 3, with the men going on Saturday, April 4. The national title games will be held on Sunday, April 5 and Monday, April 6.
The start of the Major League Baseball season
There’s nothing quite like Opening Day in Major League Baseball. Yes, the dog days of summer can get a little long but the start of the MLB season is an exciting time. Spring training games are currently taking place, and while it’s nice to have baseball back in the mix, we’re all waiting on games that actually matter.
There are a number of great storylines heading into the 2020 MLB season. Can the Washington Nationals repeat? Can the Los Angeles Dodgers get back to the World Series? Can the New York Yankees make a run? Can the Chicago Cubs get back to the playoffs? How many Houston Astros will be hit? We’ll start getting answers when all 30 teams kick off the season on Thursday, March 26.
Okay, I know not everybody loves golf as much as I do, but The Masters is one of the best events on the sports calendar. The best golfers in the world compete for four days on arguably the most aesthetically pleasing course in the world, Augusta National Golf Club. Terms such as Magnolia Lane, Rae’s Creek, Hogan’s Bridge, and Amen Corner are just a few phrases that we’ll hear over those four days.
Yes, more people tend to watch when Tiger Woods is involved. But right now, we don’t even know if that’s going to happen. Even without Tiger, the game is in great shape with so many fantastic young players. The Masters is one of my favorite events in sports. I wait all year to hear Jim Nantz say “Hello, friends” and the wait is almost over. The Masters kicks off with the Par-3 Contest on Wednesday, April 9. The actual tournament begins that Thursday and runs through Easter Sunday.
The start of the NHL playoffs
Right around the time The Masters is kicking off, the NHL Playoffs will get rolling as well. The 82-game regular season concludes on Saturday, April 4, and the postseason gets going just four days later on April 8. 16 teams will battle in best-of-seven matchups in the first round and it’s an absolute frenzy. Yes, the Stanley Cup Final runs into June, which falls out my eight-week timeline here, but the start of arguably the best postseason in sports falls into it.
The defending champion St. Louis Blues are having another excellent year, currently leading the Western Conference. Their opponents from last year’s finals, the Boston Bruins, are leading the Eastern Conference and a rematch certainly wouldn’t shock anyone. But before we get there, we’ll see a ton of great matchups, hopefully series that will run deep. There is nothing like a Game 7 in the NHL playoffs.
The start of the NBA Playoffs
Not soon after the NHL regular season ends, the NBA season concludes. The last games of the regular season take place on Wednesday, April 15, and the postseason begins three days later on April 18. As always, there will certainly be no shortage of storylines once the NBA playoffs begin.
Can Giannis Antetokounmpo lead the Milwaukee Bucks to their first NBA title in nearly four decades? Can LeBron James and Anthony Davis help the Lakers to their 17th NBA crown? Can Kawhi Leonard and Paul George help the Clippers become the team in LA? Can the surprising Toronto Raptors actually repeat as champs? Can James Harden and Russell Westbrook lead the Houston Rockets to the promised land?
The 2020 NFL draft
Not to worry. Even without actual games, the NFL will certainly be gobbling up plenty of headlines in the next eight weeks as all 32 teams prepare for the 2020 NFL draft. Over three straight days from April 23-25, hundreds upon hundreds of college football’s best will hear their names called as teams prepare for the future.
For the first time since 2003, the Cincinnati Bengals hold the first overall pick and the logical choice seems to be LSU quarterback Joe Burrow. And if you are looking for some actual competition that weekend, the XFL Championship Game takes place on Sunday, April 26.
The 146th Kentucky Derby
It’s not called “the most exciting two minutes in sports” for nothing.
Capping off the eight weeks of fun is the 146th Kentucky Derby from historic Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. While the field isn’t yet known, millions of people will tune in on Saturday, May 2. Even those who know absolutely nothing about horse racing will watch. It’s just one of those types of events.
Buckle up, sports fans. The next eight weeks are going to be incredible.