If you enjoy championship-level sporting events, this is the weekend for you. On Thursday, the Cricket World Cup, Women’s College World Series, and NBA Finals all get underway. Then, on Saturday, the Stanley Cup Finals move to St. Louis, while Liverpool and Tottenham meet to decide the championship of European soccer.
One of the most-followed sporting events in the world, the ICC Cricket World Cup, got underway this morning, with hosts England facing South Africa. An estimated 2.2 billion people watched four years ago, with 1 billion tuning in to see arch-rivals India and Pakistan. England (2-1) have never won the World Cup, and they might not get a better chance than this year. The oddsmakers love the hosts.
Eight softball teams advanced to Oklahoma City to square off in the Women’s College World Series. In one bracket, #5 Florida meets #13 Oklahoma State, and #1 Oklahoma faces #8 Alabama. On the other side, #3 Washington will play #6 Arizona, then #2 UCLA takes on #7 Minnesota. The winners of these twin, double-elimination tournaments will meet in a best-of-three for the national title.
For the first time, the world championship of professional basketball will be played outside the United States. Fresh off of sweeping the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference Finals, the Golden State Warriors (-280) are, once again, overwhelming favorites to win the NBA championship, their fourth in five years. Standing in their way, the surprising Toronto Raptors (+230), making their first appearance in the NBA Finals, after beating the Milwaukee Bucks, owners of the league’s best record.
After Chelsea crushed Arsenal, 4-1, to win the Europa League title Wednesday, Europe’s other all-England final kicks off Saturday. Liverpool FC (19-20) face Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotspur (7-2) in the UEFA Champions League Final in Madrid. The Spurs are making their first appearance in the Final, while the Reds are going for their sixth Champions League title, and first since the 2005 Miracle of Istanbul.
The Stanley Cup Finals shift to St. Louis Saturday, with the best-of-seven series tied, 1-1. Carl Gunnarsson hit the post in regulation, but beat Boston in overtime, giving the Blues their first Finals win in franchise history. Game 2 was a physical affair, and the Blues will hope the hits keep on coming this weekend.
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