March 2012 Sports Calendar
by Jonathan Zeller, 02/22/2012
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Jeremy Lin is the biggest story in the sports world right now. The virtually out-of-nowhere Knicks star has captured the imaginations of fans everywhere, especially in New York City. In his honor, this month's sports calendar is a "caLindar," in which we will "Lin-k" every major NYC sporting event to the player with whom we're so completely "Linfatuated." It's March, which means NYC will host numerous college basketball games featuring NCAA tournament hopefuls. Among them: Ivy League front-runner Harvard, Lin's alma mater. Hockey rivals the Islanders and Rangers are set to face off at Madison Square Garden, where Lin plays his home games. (And the Rangers, like Lin's Knicks, have been on a tear lately.) The Red Bulls, too, should take "Linspiration" from our City's new hero as they open their season in search of an MLS title.
More than anything, Lin has breathed hope into a previously sputtering Knicks team. Yankees and Mets fans may identify, because their squads are currently down south engaging in spring training, that most hopeful of sports rituals, during which every team is in first place. They'll open their seasons in early April. Let's be serious, though: this is all about Lin—and we've got a full accounting of when you can see him take the court all month long. Read on, and be "Linundated" with still more "Lindispensible" sports "Linformation."
New York Knicks and the Jeremy Lin Show
All month long; Madison Square Garden
It seems everyone in New York City has caught "Linfluenza"—the inability to stop talking and thinking about point guard Jeremy Lin. The Harvard grad was largely unheralded before he more or less single-handedly led the Knicks to a seven-game winning streak in February. According to ESPN, he's the first player since LeBron James, in 2003, to tally 20 or more points and eight or more assists in his first two NBA starts. He outplayed Kobe Bryant and the Lakers on national TV. He sank a game-winner against the Raptors with less than a second remaining. He made the cover of Sports Illustrated. Why, we're practically "Lincredulous" at his sudden success. With Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony by his side, the young star may be practically "Lindestructable." For tickets, visit ticketmaster.com.
All month long; Prudential Center
Lest we forget, Deron Williams and company are also playing basketball on the other side of the Hudson as they prepare for their move to Brooklyn. In fact, they even exacted a measure of revenge and defeated the Knicks at MSG. For tickets, visit ticketmaster.com, or check out StubHub, which frequently has some attractive day-of-game deals.
Northeast Conference Tournament
March 1, 4 and 7; potential games at Long Island University Wellness, Recreation and Athletic Center, Wagner College Gymnasium and St. Francis College
No Division I NCAA league has more New York flavor than the Northeast Conference (NEC). This year, every one of the NEC's NYC-based squads—Long Island University, Wagner and St. Francis (NY)—looks strong. Since the higher seed hosts home games from the beginning till the end of this playoff, Brooklyn and Staten Island may welcome their fair share of thrilling win-or-go-home games during the first week of March. (Last year's title game at LIU was a scene, man. Fans screamed themselves hoarse and stormed the court when the Blackbirds clinched a trip to the NCAAs.) Julian Boyd and company want a return to the Big Dance, but Wagner—coached by Dan Hurley of the famed basketball family—has a victory over Pittsburgh under their belt and could pose a serious threat if they reach the final. St. Francis, meanwhile—ranked next-to-last by coaches in a preseason poll—has come straight out of nowhere to contend for the conference crown. For more information, including game dates, locations and times, visit northeastconference.org.
Harvard at Columbia
March 2, 7pm; Levien Gym
Despite playing competitively in all of their conference games, Columbia is not going to win the Ivy League—and that would be their only path to the Big Dance. But hard-core hoops fans should still head to Morningside Heights on March 2, because Harvard will be in town. The Crimson have played everyone tough this season and are bound to be a trendy upset pick when the brackets come out. Perhaps you'll see the next Jeremy Lin on the court. As for the Lions, an upset over a favored opponent would be a satisfying payoff for a season of hard work.
2012 USA Yoga Asana Championship
March 2–4, various times; Hudson Theatre
Isn't yoga about anything but feeding the ego? Might the very idea of a yoga "championship" be fundamentally antithetical to the ancient wisdom at the heart of the aspiring discipline? Perhaps. But take a gander at these incredible athletes bending themselves into cool-looking shapes! Regardless of what some purists have to say about the notion of competitive yoga, this event surely has much to offer from an entertainment standpoint. And for the amateur yogis among us, the competitors' achievements can serve as an inspiring reminder of how much improvement is possible with hard work, persistence and patience. For more information, visit usayoga.org.
USA Gymnastics: AT&T American Cup
March 3, 11:30am; Madison Square Garden
The AT&T American Cup will draw some of the world's foremost gymnasts to New York City as they prepare for the London 2012 Olympic Games. Local hero John Orozco—who hails from the Bronx and was a 2011 World all-around finalist—is among those hoping to join a pantheon of former winners including Mary Lou Retton, Paul Hamm and Shawn Johnson. For more information, visit thegarden.com.
Tennis: BNP Paribas Showdown
March 5, 7pm; Madison Square Garden
Usually, people think of the US Open when they link tennis with New York City. For fans who want something to tide them over during the long wait until August, this showcase promises ample excitement. Boldfaced names—Roger Federer vs. Andy Roddick, Maria Sharapova vs. Caroline Wozniacki—combined with one of the most famous venues in sports mean that, for one night, the tennis spotlight will certainly return to NYC. For more information, visit thegarden.com.
Big East Basketball Championships
March 6–10, various times; Madison Square Garden
This may just be the last year for the Big East tournament (and, indeed, the Big East itself) as we know it. Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia already have one foot out the door, while non-Eastern newcomers Houston, Southern Methodist and Memphis are on their way in. So do yourself a favor: go see this dramatic, intense New York City tradition while you still can. You might catch something like Syracuse's legendary six-overtime win—and, no matter what, you'll see title contenders including no. 2 Syracuse, no. 9 Georgetown and no. 13 Marquette. Furthermore, for locals St. John's, winning here is the last hope for an NCAA berth. Pro tip: check StubHub in the days leading up to the first few sessions—you might find some very favorable deals from fans who can't make it to the day games.
Rangers vs. Islanders
March 11, 7pm; Madison Square Garden
Sports rivalries don't get much nastier than Rangers vs. Islanders, a grudge match that often produces vulgarity in the stands and—while we would never condone it, we must report it—spirited pugilism on the ice. Chants reference heroes and villains of long ago (Rangers fans frequently use salty language to demean Denis Potvin, who is more than two decades removed from his time as an Islander), and the atmosphere is always charged, regardless of the standings. It won't hurt, though, that the Rangers are red-hot and look primed for a title run. (Just ask their owner, but maybe not their coach.) Tickets sell out quickly, so the official Rangers TicketExchange and StubHub might be your best bets for seats.
March 13–April 2; TV Sets Everywhere
March Madness culminates, of course, with the Big Dance itself. Though the NYC area won't host any games this year, you can watch all the action in the company of your fellow screaming fans at any number of sports bars. For your convenience, we've listed an assortment here.
Boxing: Sergio Martinez vs. Matthew Macklin
March 17, 7:15pm; The Theater at Madison Square Garden
On St. Patrick's Day, Ireland's Matthew Macklin will attempt to pummel his way to a middleweight title, currently held by Argentina's Sergio Martinez. For more information, visit theateratmsg.com. The Theater at MSG will also host the finals of the storied Golden Gloves amateur boxing tournament, March 29–30.
National Girls and Women in Sports Day
March 17, 11am; West Bronx Recreation Center
Bring your daughter to this day of instruction and inspiration. Activities will include tutorials in volleyball, basketball and soccer. Get details at nyc.gov/parks.
NYC Half Marathon
March 18, 7:30am; starting at Central Park
Half, schmalf—13.1 miles is still a heck of a long way to run. Take to the streets and cheer the hardy athletes who are taking on the challenge as they trot their way from Central Park to Lower Manhattan. For more information, visit nyrr.org.
WWE Presents "Road to WrestleMania"
March 18, 5pm; Madison Square Garden
World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) has become one of America's most popular and enduring pastimes, hooking generations of viewers through an in-your-face mixture of athleticism and theatricality. On March 18, some of TV wrestling's biggest personalities clash at the "World's Most Famous Arena." Come watch and get in the mood for WrestleMania, which will be held at MetLife Stadium in 2013. For tickets and more information, visit thegarden.com.
New York Red Bulls Home Opener vs. Colorado Rapids
March 25, 4pm; Red Bull Arena
Thierry Henry, Rafa Marquez, Joel Lindpere and the rest of New York's MLS side hit the home pitch for the first time in 2012, taking on the Colorado Rapids. After seeing their 2011 MLS Cup dreams end with a playoff loss to David Beckham, Landon Donovan and the LA Galaxy, Red Bulls fans hope that this will be their year. Keep an eye on rookie goalkeeper Ryan Meara, who, we are proud to say, attended college at Fordham University in the Bronx. For tickets, visit newyorkredbulls.com.
National Invitation Tournament (NIT)
March 27 and 29, 7pm; Madison Square Garden
Some naysayers dismiss the nation's second-oldest postseason college basketball tournament—created just a year after the NAIA tournament and a year before the NCAA tournament—but savvy fans know that's a mistake. There are around 350 Division I college basketball teams, and only 100, not even a third of them, compete in either the NCAA tournament (68) or the NIT (32). This means that the NIT field, which generally includes a few regular-season conference champions, is bound to be strong. Plus, well-known MSG heroes (Walt Frazier) and villains (Reggie Miller) actually starred in the NIT long before making their marks on Knicks history. For more information, visit ncaa.org.
NYC Mayor's Cup Basketball All-Star Games
March 30, 5pm (girls) and 7pm (boys); CCNY Nat Holman Gym
Come see the best players in the Public School Athletic League play an all-star doubleheader. Shaquille Stokes and Moussa Kone—from last year's Mayor's Cup—are currently playing for Hawaii and Hofstra, respectively, and it's possible that some of the players taking the court on March 30 could star in future March Madnesses. Admission is free, so you can afford to come and decide for yourself. For more information, visit the NYC Mayor's Cup Facebook page.
Big City Classic Lacrosse
April 1, 1pm; MetLife Stadium
This college lacrosse triple-header features St. John's against Notre Dame, Syracuse vs. Duke and Johns Hopkins squaring off against North Carolina. Many of these squads traditionally find themselves nationally ranked, and lower-level seats start at $25—perhaps the least you'll ever pay for admission to the state-of-the-art home of the New York Jets and New York Giants.
New York Mets Home Opener vs. Atlanta Braves
April 5, 1:10pm; Citi Field
Jose Reyes has left town. Experts contend that the rest of the National League East has "won" the offseason with high-profile acquisitions. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson has taken to joking about the financial questions surrounding the team on Twitter. But if the right pieces fall into place, the Mets could fulfill Alderson's belief that they'll be competitive and fun to watch. Johan Santana hopes to complete his long road back from a shoulder injury to lead the rotation, while Ike Davis aims to return from his own medical setback to add some muscle to the lineup. If R.A. Dickey can maintain last year's form on the mound and David Wright and Jason Bay respond well to the new dimensions of Citi Field, this summer could turn out better than many pundits anticipate. If not? Well, we'll leave that brand of speculation to the tabloids. For tickets, visit mets.com.
New York Yankees Home Opener vs. Los Angeles Angels
April 13, 1:05pm; Yankee Stadium
In the movie Election, overachieving student Tracy Flick tells her teacher: "Coca-Cola's by far the world's number one soft drink, and they spend more money than anybody on advertising. I guess that's how come they stay number one." The Yankees are kind of like that. Again last year, they made the playoffs—as they have done in all seasons but one since 1995. But you know why they stay on top? Because of acquisitions like young ace Michael Pineda, whom they snagged from the Seattle Mariners. Bolstered by the addition, Derek Jeter, A-Rod, Curtis Granderson and company look primed for another strong campaign. For tickets, visit ticketmaster.com.