Five sports events to see in 2010

Pull out your 2010 calendar and insert these five must-see Syracuse sporting events.

The 2010 sports schedule has the Winter Olympics, the World Cup and the imminent return of Tiger Woods. These events are more than a spin up the Thruway, so what can the local fan look forward to in 2010? Halftime Snack has five ideas:

Chiefs flame-throwing farm hand – The major league baseball draft in June centered on right-hander Steve Strasburg from San Diego State. He went 13-1 and led the NCAA with 195 strikeouts in 109 innings for the Aztecs in 2009. Drafted first overall by the Washington Nationals, Strasburg carries the weight of the floundering major league franchise. He signed a record-breaking $15.1 million contract and pitched this summer in the Arizona Fall League (a twisted knee scratched his final start). The Nationals have hidden Strasburg at the start of 2010, limiting his exposure to a press release about getting married. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for a stop in Syracuse with the Chiefs.

Outdoor ice hockey game – Seen as a softie among American snow-bound cities (think Buffalo, Green Bay, Chicago, Boston) with their domed stadium, Syracusans have the chance to show off their icy mettle on Feb. 20 at the first-ever outdoor minor league hockey game. Dubbed the Mirabito Outdoor Classic, the hometown Syracuse Crunch will host the Binghamton Senators at 1 p.m. in the middle of the racetrack oval at the Great New York State Fair. The parent ice hockey league, the NHL, holds the chilly spectacle annually—the 2010 version was held at Fenway Park in Boston.

NCAA men’s basketball Division I East Regional – The NCAA East Regional returns to the Carrier Dome for the sixth time on March 25 and 27. If the last three East Regionals are any indication, the pomp and panache will be memorable this year as well: in 2005, Villanova’s Allen Ray was called for a late travel, allowing North Carolina to move onto the eventual championship (the first of Roy Williams’ career); in 2002, Juan Dixon and the Maryland Terrapins shot down Caron Butler’s Connecticut Huskies en route to a championship; and in 2000, Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem of Jon Glass’ Florida Gators ended tournament runs by Shane Battier on the Duke Blue Devils (semifinal) and Doug Gottlieb’s Oklahoma State Cowboys (Note: Due to NCAA policy, the No. 4-ranked Orange are unable to play on their home floor and, they continue at their current clip, will probably get a No. 1 seed and be relegated to the West site, which is Salt Lake City).

Connecticut women play in Dome – The Syracuse women’s basketball team is off to a fast start in 2009-10, posting a 16-5 record with an early-season national ranking. But the big, bad wolf of the Big East—scratch that—of women’s college basketball, the top-ranked Connecticut Huskies, have won 60 consecutive games and are handling the ranked opponents by a whopping 25.7 points per game. Get an up-close look at the most dominant college basketball team since Bill Walton wore light blue in Inglewood, Calif.

Syracuse/Albany men’s lacrosse game – On April 3 at in the Carrier Dome 4 p.m.. Much is being made of the road slate for this year’s title defense, but this in-state rivalry hit new heights when the younger Thompson brothers (kin to new SU midfielder Jeremy Thompson) committed to play for the Great Danes. "SU didn't seem like they were that interested," Miles told The Post-Standard. Read the rest of Trish LaMonte's story.

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