One could be considered lucky.
Two may be the start of a trend.
Three could be the charm, or to see my attempt at a third consecutive year of making some solid – and fairly accurate – predictions go crashing down like the stock market and my college and professional football picks this past fall.
Nonetheless, it is tradition I use this space this time of year to predict what will happen in the sports world for the upcoming year. Here is my forecast for 2019.
In 2018, I predicted the University of Wyoming football team would win six regular-season games. Nailed it. I also predicted the Cowboys would play in their third consecutive bowl game. Does getting bowl eligible count for anything?
UW will get to six wins again in 2019, but this time it will go bowling. Not at Laramie Lanes, but to the Arizona Bowl in Tucson.
Middle linebacker Logan Wilson, nickel Tyler Hall and kicker Cooper Rothe – all seniors in 2019 – will earn All-Mountain West honors. Quarterback Sean Chambers, a redshirt freshman, will continue to wow and progress, and sophomore Jevon Bigelow will become the Cowboys’ No. 1 running back.
Last year, I predicted former UW quarterback Josh Allen would be taken between the 10th and 20th overall picks in the 2018 NFL draft by Arizona, Washington or the New York Jets.
Wrong on both accounts, as Buffalo traded up and took Allen with the seventh overall pick.
This year, two UW players will be drafted in the middle to late rounds – defensive end Carl Granderson and safety Andrew Wingard. However, offensive guard Kaden Jackson, safety Marcus Epps, offensive tackle Zach Wallace, nose tackle Sidney Malauulu and tight end Tyree Mayfield will get into NFL camps, and at least two of them will be on opening-day rosters or practice squads.
Moving on to UW men’s and women’s basketball, my predictions in 2018 were a mixed bag.
I had the men going to the NIT for the first time since 2002. There was no postseason tournament for the Cowboys, despite a 20-win season.
There won’t be a postseason in 2019 after a 4-9 nonconference record marred by injuries, suspensions, attrition and inconsistent play.
Record-wise, this could be one of the worst seasons since the 2009-10 and 2010-11 teams won 10 games overall and three games in conference play. The last time UW won fewer than 10 games in a season was in 1973-74, when it went 4-22 overall and 0-14 in the Western Athletic Conference.
Not sure if third-year coach Allen Edwards is a superstitious man, but if so, maybe he can do something to change this team’s mojo heading into the new year. If anything, at least prevent any more injuries to a team that is down to seven players.
Bigger roles and more playing time for many of the players who remain healthy will benefit them down the road, but for the immediate future, there will be some growing pains, and some painful moments and games.
As for the Cowgirls, this is an intriguing team that could make a run at the MW regular season and tournament titles. I see 20-plus wins and a WNIT appearance in 2019.
As for other UW sports predictions:
n Wrestling will send five to the NCAA championships. This is what I predicted last year, but the Cowboys sent six. Here’s hoping I come up short again.
n The men’s cross-country team will follow up its 12th-place finish at the NCAAs with a top 10 finish in 2019.
n Volleyball will finish in the top three in the Mountain West.
n Track and field will send at least six athletes to the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
For the high schools, the Laramie boys and girls swimming and diving teams will win state titles in 2019.
The Cheyenne East boys and girls both will play for Class 4A state basketball titles, but only one will win. I will go with the boys.
Casper Natrona County will repeat as 4A state football champions. I predicted the Mustangs would win it in 2018. Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good in terms of my predictions, but Natrona didn’t need luck in 2018.
And my failsafe pick that hasn’t changed in more than a decade: the Cheyenne American Legion Post 6 baseball team will win its 17th state title over the past 19 years.
Moving on to national sports:
Golden State will win its third consecutive NBA championship, beating Boston in six games. I’ve picked the NBA champ correctly four of the past five years, including the last two.
There will be another above .500 season for the Colorado Rockies, and a National League Wild Card appearance. The Rockies will get past that, but will lose in the divisional round.
I had the Los Angeles Dodgers beating the New York Yankees in six games in the World Series in 2018. At least I got the Dodgers right in terms of getting there, but Boston won. Why not stick with what works? I have the Dodgers over the Yankees in seven games.
The New Orleans Saints will defeat the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl LIII. That prediction pains me as a Pittsburgh Steelers fan.
I had Villanova winning the NCAA men’s basketball tournament last year. Chalk up another one for me. I will go with Duke this year. Nevada of the MW has what it takes to win it all, but it will be eliminated in the Elite Eight.
Tiger Woods will win two PGA events in 2019, but not a major. I had him winning one event last year.
And in a week or so, Clemson will defeat Alabama 26-20 to win the college football national championship.
Last, but certainly not least, I want to thank you, the readers. Your interest and feedback make my job fun and worthwhile.
Here’s to a happy and prosperous 2019 for all of you.
Robert Gagliardi is the WyoSports senior editor. He can be reached at email@example.com or 307-755-3325. Follow him on Twitter at @rpgagliardi.