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Braves, Astros, Dodgers Tops in National League

By Bo Light
Associate Sports Editor

Well, the college basketball season is finally over. If you missed it, Kentucky beat Syracuse on Monday to win their first National title since 1978. When asked how his team stayed focused during the tournament, Kentucky Coach Rick Pitino was quoted as saying, "that smart-aleck kid from MIT said we weren't going to win this year. That was all the motivation we needed."

The NCAA hockey tournament also came to a conclusion last week. In a thrilling final, Michigan captured the National Championship with a 3-2 overtime victory over Colorado College. The Wolverines, who beat defending champ Boston University, 40, in the semifinal, also made headlines (and highlight films) earlier in the week.

During a game against Minnesota, junior Mike Legg stunned the crowd with an amazing, had-to-see-it-to-believe-it lacrosse-style goal that should be replayed on sports shows regularly until sometime in 2005. Surprisingly, the goal was Legg's first (and only) one of the playoffs. Maybe if he spent more time working on his slap shot

In other college sports news, it looks like Northwestern could get a Rose Bowl victory after all. Two USC football players stated last week that they received As in a course without ever having done any work for the course. According to reports, as many as fifteen football players were registered for the course, and all received As. The NCAA has begun an investigation; if the investigation uncovers wrongdoing, USC's Rose Bowl win could be forfeit.

The Batter's Box

It always happens; you take off for spring break a week early, and they start baseball season without you. Well, Opening Day has come and gone, but here, nonetheless, is the EA Sports National League Preview.

NL East

Is anybody going to argue that the Atlanta Braves won't win another pennant this year? No? Good. The Braves still have the best pitching in the league, and though their offense is not particularly strong, you can't lose if the other team doesn't score.

The Amazin' Mets should take second in the East behind another solid pitching rotation and excellent defense. Florida made a lot of great moves in the off-season, but the Marlins will need their beefed-up offense to make up for the lack of reliable pitching and fielding. Hey, it works in Boston.

The Montreal Expos have fallen big time; they should be able to sue someone for the opportunity they missed during the strike year. As it is, they should finish just ahead of Philadelphia, whose only real strength is the Blight on Baseball known as Lenny Dykstra.

NL Central

No one in the Central has particularly good pitching, so offense will be the determining factor in this division. The most offensive team in the Central is the Houston Astros, who should muscle their way into the playoffs. The Reds and the Cardinals look pretty similar; powerful teams with good defenses and bad pitching. Their tight race for second should keep either of them from getting the wildcard.

The Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908. That should be enough to motivate any team, but motivation alone won't help this one, though Ryne Sandberg might. And the Pirates, who lack both pitching and scoring, have finally returned to that familiar place in the basement.

NL West

There's been talk that the San Diego Padres have finally gotten returns on their bargain-basement deals over the past decade, and their new talent makes them contenders for the West title. Well folks, don't believe the hype. These are, after all, the Padres.

The Dodgers are still the best in the West, with the excellent defense and pitching found in the East teams. The Rockies are once again the wild card team, if only because the high-octane games at Coors Field are so television friendly that the network covering the playoffs might pay off the rest of the division to throw games.

Third are the Padres, whose talent upgrades at least make them better than the Giants. Yes, the Giants are basement-dwellers this year; Matt Williams and Barry Bonds are talent sadly wasted in San Francisco.

Trivia Question

Who holds the major league record for the most times on base before his first stolen base? Send answers to easports@the-tech. There was no question last week, so there's nothing to answer this week. But next week