Hello and welcome back to the Sports Roundup! Many sporting leagues worldwide are in the middle of their seasons, with teams either focusing on the looming final series, or consolidating their strong starts. For individual sports, this period is full of activity as they prepare for a high-intensity winter (in the Southern Hemisphere) or summer (in the Northern Hemisphere). Therefore, it seems like the perfect time to make some new predictions for upcoming sporting competitions, events and tournaments! However, before we get to that, here are my Top 5 Sporting Moments of the Week!

Top 5 Sporting Moments of the Week:

5. A new format for the NRL? The NRL revealed this week that they are planning to expand the competition from 16 to 18 teams, which could result in a conference system being implemented, similar to American sporting leagues. This would mean increased team rivalries, more crowd attendance and interest, and 3 major finals in 1 season. I love the idea and would love to see it implemented!

4. The Cancellation of the IPL? India was confident that the infection curve had been eliminated; however, they’ve paid the ultimate cost for their hubris, with a new wave of the virus causing widespread destructions across the nation. The IPL is one of the richest sporting competitions globally, and although it is played in a bio-secure region with no risk to the players, it is starting to feel unacceptable for the competition to continue amidst the widespread chaos in India.

3. Steph Curry continues to dazzle! In the 1985-86 NBA season, the great Larry Bird led the NBA with 82 three-pointers for the season. This week, Curry knocked down his 83rd shot from deep, in the month of April alone! He knocked down another 2 for good measure, overtaking James Harden’s record for the most triples in a calendar month. With the NBA introducing a play-in tournament this season for seeds 7 to 10, allowing them to make the playoffs, the Warriors led by Curry have a chance of progressing into the latter stages of the playoffs.

2. Ash Barty does it again! Barty claimed a 3-6 6-0 6-3 win against Aryna Sabalenka in the Stuttgart Final to notch her second ATP win in a month after claiming the Miami Open. The victory against Sabalenka was Barty’s 10th in succession over a top-10 opponent, and consolidates her position as number one in the WTA rankings. Just to put the cherry on top, Barty also went on to win the Stuttgart doubles tournament!

1. Nothing is better than UFC 261! I’ve been consistently watching the UFC for over two years now, and nothing was quite as memorable, exciting and dramatic as UFC 261. It was the first event with a live audience since the beginning of the pandemic for the UFC, and the card did not disappoint! My personal highlights include Rose Namajunas’ perfect head kick to defeat highly regarded strawweight champion Weili Zhang and Kamaru Usman’s beautiful right hand, which knocked out Jorge Masvidal for the first time in his career. The boss, Dana White, would not be disappointed about how the night played out!

Feature Article: Upcoming Sporting Predictions 2!

Last October, I attempted to make some sporting predictions, which I reviewed in February this year (https://thelevinelowdown.com/2021/02/09/the-sports-roundup-week-15-reviewing-my-sporting-predictions/).

The results?

6 out of 14.

Not a terrible result; however, I’m determined this time to improve my score! So, here are my upcoming sporting predictions!

NRL

It currently feels like a three-horse race between the Panthers, Rabbitohs and Storm, with the Eels and Roosters currently keeping pace. However, I think the Panthers can go one step further this season and win the Premiership. They’ve won 7 of their first 7 games, and if they continue playing how they have been, it’s hard to see them being beaten in the final’s series.

AFL

This year’s AFL season is exhilarating! The table has been very volatile, and teams have surprised fans and analysts with their current form. The Western Bulldogs and Melbourne Football Club look like the teams to beat at the moment, although Geelong and Port Adelaide are starting to find impressive form. I’m going to go for Port Adelaide, but anything could happen!

V8 Supercars

Can anyone stop Shane van Gisbergen? He is driving at a supreme level, and the Red Bull Racing Triple Eight Team seem to have the edge over their competition this season. Other drivers will have to hope for numerous DNF’s by van Gisbergen throughout the remainder of the season, or else it seems inevitable that he will wake away with the championship.

Formula One

We finally have a title race on our hands! Lewis Hamilton vs Max Verstappen! The first two races at Bahrain and Imola have showcased how tight the competition between Mercedes and Red Bull is this year. I believe the battle could go down to the very last race in Abu Dhabi, and I’m going to back Max Verstappen to put everything together this year and bring back a world title to Red Bull Racing!

MotoGP

I believed the pace of the Yamaha’s last year and predicted they would soar to championship glory. However, I made my prediction too early, and they ended up being no match for the consistency of the Suzuki drivers. This year, Fabio Quartararo seems determined to right the wrongs of the 2020 campaign, and his pace over the first three race weekends has been outstanding. I look forward to seeing what challenges Suzuki and Ducati can bring to the Yamaha’s; however, I think this is the year for Fabio Quartararo.

NBA

The recent poor string of results by the Philadelphia 76ers has made me seriously question their ability to be consistent during the playoffs. The Brooklyn Nets have built a team to win the NBA Finals this year, and I think they will progress out of the Eastern Conference and into the finals. The Western Conference is fascinating, with no analyst predicting the Jazz and Suns to be sitting in the top 2 seeds. Can the Clippers or Lakers challenge these two teams? As of right now, I’m not seeing enough to be convinced, and believe that this is the year the Utah Jazz can make the NBA finals. And, I think they can win the NBA Finals!

IPL

I mentioned earlier that it seems almost certain the IPL will be cancelled for this season. But, if they decide to continue with the competition, I believe Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore will finally win the title that they have worked for many seasons to achieve. Their performances have been carried by inspired batting performances, adequately supported by their bowling attack, albeit with some inconsistencies. Still, with four world-class batters in form, I think RCB will win the IPL.

UEFA Champions League

Chelsea looked ultra-impressive in their performance against Real Madrid, and I think they could progress into the final. However, I believe they will be up against a revitalised PSG side who will overcome the failures from the 2020 campaign and claim the Champions League trophy.

I look forward to reviewing these predictions in the coming months and seeing how I fare! If there are any sports you think I missed, which I should predict, let me know in the comments below! 

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