Despite being the shortest month, February can sort of drag on sometimes. Perhaps it's just the almost always cloudy Michigan weather and snow storms every other day, but I've never been a big fan of February. Football season ends after the Super Bowl, and although spring training begins and it is an exciting time for college basketball, I am always ready for March to arrive.
As Good Ol' Jim Ross might say, business is about to pick up for sports fans with March now here. The month of March is known for being all about the NCAA basketball tournament, but that is nowhere near the only thing going on in the coming weeks, as the list after the jump highlighting the different sports happenings this month shows.
- If a new collective bargaining agreement is miraculously agreed to in the coming days, free agency for the NFL will start on Friday. If the NFL and NFLPA can't work anything out, it is expected that the owners will lock out the players. If a lockout goes into effect, all league activity outside of preparing for the draft will come to a halt. Pro days will go on as scheduled so teams can continue scouting players for the draft, but the main thing on everyone's mind will be the lockout.
- The Big Ten women's basketball tournament begins later this week in Indianapolis, and the men's tournament will take place next week in the same city. First things first, however, Michigan and Michigan State will wrap up the regular season on Saturday at Crisler Arena in one of the biggest matchups between these two rivals in a long time.
- Also getting started later this week is the CCHA playoffs. The quarterfinals are next week, and in two weeks the four teams remaining will head to Joe Louis Arena for the semifinals and championship game.
- Selection Sunday is on March 13. The NCAA tournament begins days later with the "First Four," which Michigan and Michigan State could be a part of. If either or both teams make the tournament but aren't sent to Dayton first, they will play their first games on March 17 or 18. If they don't make the tournament, the Wolverines and Spartans would undoubtedly receive an invite to the NIT, which gets started the same week.
- Brady Hoke's first spring practice as Michigan football head coach begins on March 19. Three days later, on March 22, Michigan State will start its spring football practice.
- The regional round of the NCAA hockey tournament will take place from March 25-27. Michigan is knocking on the door of securing a one seed, so they will be in the field of 16 teams as either an at-large team or an automatic qualifier depending on what happens in the CCHA playoffs.
- The Tigers will continue spring training throughout the month and wrap up the Grapefruit League schedule on March 29 against the Yankees. Two days later, on March 31, the Tigers will play the Yankees again (this time in New York) on Opening Day of the regular season.
- The Pistons will go through their second-to-last month of games and either somehow fight their way into the playoff hunt or, as most expect, continue to fade and better their position for the NBA Draft Lottery.
- The Red Wings will also go through their second-to-last month of games. Unlike the Pistons, the Wings will be fighting to secure the top seed in their conference as the regular season winds down.