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Wednesday, April 23, 2014 | Last updated: 5:02am

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Staff picks: Olympics and NBA All-Star Weekend



Arizona men’s basketball at ASU
Even without Brandon Ashley, Arizona still has what it takes to blow out ASU. Last week ASU needed overtime at home to beat Oregon State, which the UA beat up 76-54 on Sunday. It’s at least a moral win if the Wildcats escape Tempe, Ariz., without getting spit on or called a racial slur.

Arizona 86, ASU 72

USA men’s hockey at Russia
There’s been no love lost between these countries over the years, especially on the ice. Russia has elite NHL forwards Evgeni Malkin and Alex Ovechkin. However, the American offense features Patrick Kane and Zach Parise. USA has the edge in net with 2012 Conn Smythe Trophy winner Jonathan Quick, who has performed his best in big games.

United States 4, Russia 3 (OT); Do you believe in miracles?! Yes!

NBA Slam Dunk Contest
Sigh, if only LeBron James decided to participate in the dunk contest this year. It should still be a great showing with the likes of defending champ Terrence Ross, along with Paul George and John Wall in the mix. It’s too tough for me to pick against a former winner here.

Terrence Ross, Toronto Raptors

—Follow Joey Putrelo @JoeyPutrelo

Arizona men’s basketball at ASU
This game will be much closer than the first matchup was. ASU is back at full strength and looking for a signature win for its tournament résumé. However, even without Brandon Ashley, the Wildcats are just too talented to give one away in Tempe, Ariz.

Arizona 68, ASU 63

USA men’s hockey at Russia
I’m not a big hockey fan, but I do know Russians sure can play hockey. Having Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and Ilya Kovalchuk on the same team is a scary thought. Team USA is lucky its goaltenders are very good. It’s tough to go against America, but I think Russia takes this one.

Russia 3, USA 2

NBA Slam Dunk Contest
The Slam Dunk contest used to be a premier event at NBA All-Star weekend, but sadly has been reduced to a contest of who has the best props. This year’s event consists of several up-and-coming highflyers, but I’m sticking with one of my favorite players, Paul George.

Paul George, Indiana Pacers

—Follow Roberto Payne @HouseOfPayne555

Arizona men’s basketball at ASU
Coming off two wins against both the Oregon schools, ASU fans might be doing some more spitting as head coach Sean Miller and the Wildcats head north to Tempe, Ariz. Look for the Cats to come out rolling and defeat their rival school, with Sparky the Sun Devil getting squashed by Wilbur the Wildcat.

Arizona 82, ASU 65

USA men’s hockey at Russia
In 1980, USA pulled off the biggest upset in the history of sports, defeating the Soviet Union in the “Miracle on Ice.” This year, it will happen again. Even though the Russians have four of the most talented players in the world, look for the youth and speed of Team USA to shock the world.

USA 3, Russia 2

NBA Slam Dunk Contest
Besides sharing the same last name, John Wall and I have absolutely nothing in common. His off-the-charts dance moves and quickness will surely get the crowd fired up in what is to be a contest of epic proportions in the first year of the new slam dunk rules.

John Wall, Washington Wizards

—Follow Matt Wall @mwall20


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