Thanks to a great regular season, the Indianapolis Colts won’t be playing during the first round of the NFL playoffs, which are set to kickoff at 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon. While the team focuses on getting healthy and preparing for next weekend’s game at Lucas Oil Stadium, an impactful decision was announced by the team during the bye week.
Kicker Adam Vinatieri, who’s kicked an NFL-record 40 postseason field goals during his 14-year career, has been deemed too injured to reclaim his job from Matt Stover. The team announced that Stover, a 20-year NFL veteran, will be the team’s primary field goal kicker next weekend, although Vinatieri will remain on the active roster just in case Stover falters.
Colts fans will want to pay close attention to this weekend’s slate of games. If the Baltimore Ravens defeat the New England Patriots on Sunday, they’ll travel to Indy to take on the 14-2 Colts next Saturday. If the Patriots win, Indianapolis will host the winner of the Cincinnati Bengals/New York Jets game.
After defeating the Southwest Division leading Orlando Magic on Tuesday, the Pacers look to post back-to-back wins for the first time since early December when they visit the Minnesota Timberwolves tonight at 8:00 p.m. Roy Hibbert is coming off his best game as a professional (26 points, 8 rebounds, 4 blocks against Dwight Howard), and with the Pacers somehow only four games out of the 8th playoff spot, Jim O’Brien is hoping his center can continue his recent run of strong outings. Indiana travels to Oklahoma City to take on the Thunder Saturday night.
The Hoosiers were dismantled by Ohio State 79-54 in their first Big Ten road game Wednesday night. Tom Crean voiced displeasure with the team’s lack of intensity and leadership after the loss and promised to run the team ragged during practice this week. Hoosiers fans will get a chance to see if the practice pays off on Saturday when IU takes on Illinois at Assembly Hall. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m.
After easily handling #6 West Virginia on New Year’s Day, the Boilers ran their record to 14-0 when they topped Minnesota 79-60 at Mackey Arena Tuesday evening. The 14 wins are the most to start a season in Boilermaker history, and Matt Painter‘s squad will get a chance to improve upon that mark when they travel to Wisconsin to face the 17th-ranked Badgers Saturday afternoon.
After a frustrating loss to UAB just before Christmas, Brad Stevens‘ Butler Bulldogs took out their anger on a couple of Horizon League foes, defeating Wisconsin-Green Bay and Wisconsin-Milwaukee by a combined score of 152-116. The Bulldogs, who find themselves unranked for the first time all season, travel away from Hinkle Fieldhouse to take on Wright State tonight. Wright State is led by former Indiana high school standout Vaughn Duggins (Pendleton, Indiana).
The Jaguars, who started the season with nine wins in their first 12 contests, have dropped four of their last five, including a heartbreaking loss to Ohio on a buzzer-beating three-pointer by former IU player and Terre Haute, Indiana native Armon Bassett. Ron Hunter‘s club will look to get back on the winning track Saturday night when they play a very beatable Western Illinois squad at The Jungle.
INDIANAPOLIS MIXED MARTIAL ARTS
The first local MMA fight card sanctioned by the recently formed Indiana Athletic Commission takes place tonight at the 8 Seconds Saloon, which is located on Indianapolis’ Westside. With the growing popularity of Mixed Martial Arts — a full-contact style of fighting that combines a variety of martial arts, wrestling and boxing — unsanctioned events have been thriving across the state over the past few years (there were 187 matches held in Indiana last year).
Without a governing body, professionalism and safety procedures varied greatly depending on where the fights were being held. The goal of the Indiana Athletic Commission is to provide a uniform set of rules and regulations that fight promoters must adhere to. By requiring an emergency medical technician to be present, along with other medical guidelines, the commission hopes to make MMA as safe as the violence of the sport allows it to be. Also, by sanctioning events and working with promoters who are on the up-and-up, the quality of the matches should greatly increase.
A byproduct of regulating Mixed Martial Arts in Indiana is to make the state more attractive to the highest levels of the sport — namely the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the top level of MMA competition. It has been rumored that Conseco Fieldhouse officials have shown interest in hosting a UFC card in downtown Indianapolis.
Tickets can still be purchased for tonight’s event at the 8 Seconds Saloon through ticketmaster.com or at the Saloon. Prices range from $20 to $70. Doors open at 6 p.m., with the first of 13 bouts scheduled to begin at 8 p.m.