WE say it every year, but 2016 is set to be a massive year in sport.
From the Olympic Games in Rio to the NFL Superbowl to the AFL grand final, 2016 has opened with more sporting promise than ever.
Ride with us while we take a look at the big ones that will have sporting fans and punters alike salivating.
It’s our 2016 smorgasbord of sport.
Australian Open – January 18-31
The summer heat wouldn’t be the same without Melbourne coming to life with the Australian Open tennis Grand Slam championships. It’s the first major of the year and runs from January 18-31. It will be the 104th incarnation of the event and is one of four grand slams of the year. World number ones Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams won their fifth and sixth Australian Open titles last year and it is no surprise that that pair is again the favourite to take out the men’s and women’s divisions, respectively. Serena has a knee problem, but that has not scared off punters, who have put down plenty of money on her at the $3.75 quote at Sportsbet.com.au. Similarly, they think Novak is the man and have not been worried by the very short $1.80 on offer.
NFL Superbowl 50 – February 8
One of the biggest single day sporting events in the world, thousands pack into the stadium and millions watch it on the box across the world, the NFL’s flagship event, the Superbowl rolls out for the 50th time, with the Carolina Panthers the favourites with sportsbet.com.au at $4.50. Last year’s champions the New England Patriots were once the favourites, but a topsy turvy final regular season round has them out to $5.50. The Seattle Seahawks have been smashed into $7, with the Green Bay Packers also seeing plenty of money at $13.
ICC World T20 – March 8-April3
The ICC World T20 Cup will feature the best short form players the world has to offer, converging on India for a chance at the spoils. The event kicks off on March 8, curiously with minnows Zimbabwe vs Hong Kong and Scotland vs Afghanistan, rather than a marquee match up. The final will be played on April 3 in Eden Gardens Kolkata. The home side is $4 favourite with WilliamHill.com.au to take out the tournament on their familiar decks, backed by their rabid crowd support, but the Australians are hot on their heels at $5. South Africa is next in line at $7, while ODI World Cup finalists New Zealand are $8. A glut of three teams – Sri Lanka, West Indies and Pakistan – are all $9 chances and are the only other teams under double figures.
Formula One Australian Grand Prix – March 17-20
Melbourne’s Albert Park Lake sets the stunning scene against a back drop of the city’s remarkable sky line as the fastest drivers in the world put themselves to the test in the Australian Formula One Grand Prix. While it is a little bit early to get odds on the event, you’ll find that it’s no surprise three time champion Lewis Hamilton is the $1.57 favourite with bet365.com.au ahead of his Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg at $3.75. Sebastian Vettel is the big mover at $4.50 and the next best man is Kimi Raikkonen at $34. Aussie Daniel Ricardo is $51.
NCAA Division I championship game – April 5
March Madness is over and it’s time to crown the best college basketball team of 2015/16. We’d have our fingers crossed that superstar Aussie Ben Simmons – who is already a consensus number one NBA draft pick – can lead his LSU side to the Big Dance, but it is not looking likely – they simply don’t appear to have the cattle, or a coach that wants to utilise his prodigious talents correctly. sportsbet.com.au has the Kentucky Wildcats as the top pick at $7.50, while North Carolina is the only other team under double figure odds at $8.50. Simmons LSU side is a gaudy $61, but you can guarantee there will be plenty of Aussies doing their dough there.
UEFA Champions League final – May 28
Who will be the best soccer team in Europe? The group stages will be done and dusted and the two teams that stand above them all will come together for a chance at the 61st European final at the San Siro, Milan, Italy. Reigning champions Barcelona are the $3.25 favourites with CrownBet.com.au, while Bayern Munich are next in line at $3.75. Champions of two years ago Real Madrid are the only other team in single figures at $6.
NHL Stanley Cup Finals – June 1
NBA Finals – June 3
It’s probably the biggest month on the US sports calendar with the National Basketball Association and National Hockey League running their pinnacle finals events simultaneously. The peerless Golden State Warriors are hunting history and back to back titles and are the deserved $2.70 favourites with bet365.com.au, just ahead of King Lebron James at $3.75. The San Antonio Spurs are going about their business quietly in the west, but they are smoking every one at $5, with only the Oklahoma City Thunder, at $9, in the market. On the ice, CrownBet.com.au has the dominant Dallas Stars as $6 favourites to bring home the Stanley Cup, with the Washington Capitals at $7.50 and the Montreal Canadiens at $9.
Tour de France – July 2-24
Gun Brit Chris Froome is the raging $2.10 favourite with sportsbet.com.au to take out the world’s greatest road race for the second straight time. The famed race is made up of 21 stages and covers a gruelling distance of 3519 kilometres that features flats, hills, mountains and time trials. The riders only get two rest days and they will need it. Dual winner Alberto Contador is rated a $5 chance, just behind Colombian Nairo Quintana at $4.50.
Summer Olympic Games – August 5-21
Here it is. The pinnacle of sport. The biggest event on the planet, with the greatest sports people in the world heading to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the that’s 10,500 athletes from 206 countries battling it out for a share of the 306 gold medals on offer from 42 sports. All the best bookmakers in Australia will be offering odds on the events and you can expect some great bonuses to be on offer.
Ice Hockey World Cup – September 18-October 2
The sun might be close to coming out in Australia, but it’s about to get cold as ice as the best ice hockey players in the world forget their league duties to represent their nations on the ice in Russia. While it’s a bit early for the Aussie bookies to offer odds on the World Cup, a quick check overseas and you will find that Canada is the raging favourites, with Russia and Sweden sharing the second line of betting and the USA just behind with 10Bet.com.
AFL Grand Final – October 1, 2016
That last Saturday in September is now the first Saturday in October with the Melbourne Cricket Ground set to play host for yet another massive game of football that simply makes the city stop and watch. Hawthorn Football Club has been the bench mark of the competition for the last three seasons, completing a three peat in 2015 and the punters are not jumping off the band wagon just yet, with the club the $4.25 favourite with WilliamHill.com.au to again salute for an unprecedented fourth straight.
Major League Baseball World Series – October 27-November 4
We know it starts in late October, but the action really hots up as the MLB’s World Series Champion will be crowned in November. This one is a complete toss of the coin, with no team enjoying clear cut favouritism – or single figure odds. The Chicago Cubs, who many wished would win last season in what would have been a fairy tale, are the $10 favourites with CrownBet.com.au, just edging 2013 champions the Boston Red Sox, who share the same $11 quote as the Toronto Blue Jays and the Washington Nationals. The reigning champion Kansas City Royals are a $13 chance, along with the big spending Los Angeles Dodgers, 2014 champions San Francisco Giants and last season’s runner up New York Mets.
Boxing Day Test – December 26
No list of big sporting events is complete without closing out the season on Boxing Day with the traditional MCG after Christmas Test. The usual 90 odd thousand fans will pack out the home of cricket as the punters try to separate the Australians. We’re hoping the Pakistanis, who were this week confirmed to be playing on Boxing Day, can provide a little more fight than the woeful Windies did last month.
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