Jan. 30, 2004
"Team" introductions:
Super Bowl's best "new tradition": Two years ago, Pats intro'd as a team, not individuals; Sunday, both will come out as teams (Cats not dumb).
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

It's been a slow Super Bowl week, but a tight game with an unprecedented result will make up for the buzz-free week.

QBs Brady and Delhomme get all the individual pub, but there's no secret to both teams' success: Lucky as hell. Defense. That's why it'll be so much closer than people think.

The Prediction:
A Panthers upset won't be nearly as shocking as the way it happens: Overtime! (Don't say you haven't seen it coming all these years.)

Carolina will win the coin flip, rumble into FG range and win the Super Bowl without the Pats' offense even getting a chance. Mayhem ensues.

Panthers 19, Pats 16 -- in OT

Don't expect P. Diddy and Kid Rock to mack like Britney and Madonna at last year's MTV Awards ... Janet Jackson will experience a nice career bounce ... No one will miss Aerosmith at halftime (but as the default NFL house band, they're the pregame show, naturally).

The Prediction:
Beyonce provides the best "Banner" since Whitney Houston in '91. (OK, maybe we'll just be ogling.)

The Commercials
Key matchups:

* Clydes vs. other animals
Bud offers twist on tradition

* Levitra vs. Cialis
ED the new dotcom, apparently

*Wild Card: IBM vs. Apple
Never underestimate The Champ

The Prediction:
Favorite: Pepsi, showcasing music-pirating teens ... Darkhorse: FedEx, which may wow viewers with sick special effects ... Rookie: Staples, with the humor ... Dud: AOL, using the guys from "American Chopper."

Your Party
As always, stake out the good chair and claim "LOTR" (Lord of the Remote) status -- two steps that will mitigate the threat from the lame party-goers who (a) don't care about the game; (b) say they love the ads; but (c) still yak incessantly during those ads.

1 SB: Hype is over; two defenses will rule in close game
2 College football recruiting sex parties? Say it ain't so
3 NBA All-Stars: Yao passes Shaq, will start at C for West
1 Buzz-free SB week: Bored? At least it's nearly game time
2 James Brown's mug shot: How did I miss that Thurs a.m.?!
3 Mocking kiddie-look Nets coach Lawrence Frank: 2-0 start
The Prediction:
Make it more fun by taking a sip (and a handful) every time someone passes on the classic Super Bowl snack food, boasting that they're "on Atkins."

Yao Defeats Shaq
Shaq may never get elected All-Star starter again: 55,000-vote swing over the last voting period earned Yao his second straight come-from-behind election as Western Conference starting center.

Credit Yao's massive Chinese fan base, whose participation in Western democracy is irony on a global scale.

BUT ... maybe the right guy was voted in:
        Shaq  Yao
Pts     19.6  16.3	
Reb     11.3   9.3
FG%     54.9  53.6
Blk      2.4   1.8
Team   27-15 26-19   
Games     28    45
Recruiting Tactics
Stop the presses: Using sex parties ... to recruit meathead high school guys ... to play college football? No!

Whether Colorado prosecutor allegations turn out to be provable or not, this isn't a shocker -- it's a cliche. (But it'll make for a heck of a made-for-HBO movie.)

"That '70s Hoops"
It's 1979 in East Lansing, Mich. on Saturday night when Michigan State plays Indiana (8 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Great spin on the usual retro night: Beyond telegenic retro unis (have Indiana's unis even changed since '79?), the broadcast will have 1979 graphics and the announcing team (including Dickie V) will dress in clothes that will probably make you wonder how '70s fashion was ever resuscitated as cool.

Best part: Concession food will be set at 1979 prices. Mmmm ... cheap arena food ...

"Perfect Score"
Out in theaters today, so here's your "Analogies" question about sports' newest thespian:

Darius Miles : Actor ::

(a) D-Miles : Entertaining
(b) D-Miles : Overrated
(c) D-Miles : Career Oblivion

Rasheed Wallace:
Hilarity would be today's hot rumor coming true: 'Sheed traded to the oblivion known as Golden State, in exchange for Nick Van Exel and Erick Dampier.
Today on ESPN.com
P2: Simmons' Super Blog
NBA: Stein's All-Star ballot
NFL: Kiper's latest Big Board
More Super Bowl Ads
Matchups to Watch
Blockbuster movies
Halle's Catwoman will rule
Soda vs. snack food
Pepsi strong; Lay's goes "old"
Mastercard vs. Visa
Watch for Homer Simpson
Chevy vs. Caddy
Can cars connect w/fans?
More wild cards
Charmin, Monster, PETA

HGH testing at the Olympics? Would make the THG scandal look like *nothing,* but wait for HGH testing results in pro sports ...

Int'l hoops governing org adopts anti-doping policy; NBA players calm, after initially misinterpreting as "anti-dope" policy ...

Dodgers sale to new owner OK'd, meaning a new chump suckered into buying the biggest waste of a major-market city in sports ....

Next Amare or next Kwame? Watch likely NBA No. 1 draftee Dwight Howard play tonight (8 p.m., ESPN2) in another h.s. showcase game ...

Lot of happy Washington ex-pats at ESPN.com this morning after the inspired Huskies toppled No. 9 Arizona last night ...

Huge coup for the Browns, landing personnel guru Ron Wolf (architect of the Packers mini-dynasty) to be their talent specialist ...

Pro FB Hall of Fame vote on Saturday: Elway, Sanders will eclipse all other enshrines for 98 percent of the public ...

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