10 Sporting Events To Get Michigan Sports Fans Through The NFL Offseason

Written By Drew Ellis on February 24, 2023
Sports to watch before football season.

If you’re like me, you probably found yourself craving football this past weekend.

And no, I’m not talking about XFL football.

I’m talking about the NFL. The king of American pro sports.

For Detroit Lions fans, the 2022-23 season ended with a lot of momentum. But, that momentum can’t be tested for another six months.

While that seems like an eternity, and may feel like it at times, there are still some big sporting events from now until the NFL preseason.

Here are 10 events that will help get you to the fall.

1. March Madness

The second largest event in Michigan sports betting, and around the world, outside the Super Bowl is March Madness.

Three weekends of wall-to-wall college basketball drama.

The field for the 2023 NCAA Tournament will be announced on March 12. Game action begins on March 14 and runs to April 3.

One problem with this year’s tournament is there could be a significant lack of in-state representation.

Both Michigan State and Michigan are struggling to secure a spot in this year’s Big Dance.

ESPN Bracketology lists MSU as a No. 7 seed right now, while Michigan isn’t included at all. The Wolverines aren’t even in the “Next Four Out.”

Michigan is just 16-12 on the season while MSU is 17-10. Both teams could use some big wins over the next few weeks to make sure the state has some rooting interest in the NCAA Tournament.

MSU hasn’t missed March Madness since 1997, while Michigan hasn’t sat out since 2015.

Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan are all near the bottom of the Mid-American Conference. Oakland and Detroit Mercy are going to need some luck in the Horizon League Tournament to get an automatic bid.

2. NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs

Don’t look now, but Detroit may actually have a postseason contender.

The Detroit Red Wings have won seven of their last eight to make a push toward a Wild Card spot at 28-21-8.

With 64 points, the Wings are currently tied for the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference with the Florida Panthers. Florida has played three more games than Detroit.

A more unlikely scenario has them 12 points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning for a top-3 spot in the Atlantic Division.

With 25 games remaining this season for the Wings, it seems they will be in the mix for their first playoff appearance since 2016.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs begin in mid-April.

3. 2023 NFL Draft

Not all is lost for NFL fans.

Right in the midst of the offseason sees the 2023 NFL Draft taking place.

From the home of the Super Bowl winners in Kansas City, the NFL Draft will be held April 27-29.

This year’s draft is a big one for the Detroit Lions, who hold two first-round (6, 18) and two second-round picks (49, 56).

Coming off a winning record with a young team, the Lions have a chance to add some quality talent to this young roster.

Of course, general manager Brad Holmes is also known for wheeling and dealing during trade weekend. Don’t be surprised if Holmes tries to make another big splash in this year’s draft.

4. MLB Opening Day

I know, I know.

Look, the Detroit Tigers are probably going to be hot garbage in 2023.

There’s a reason they are the biggest longshot to win the World Series this year.

Still, everyone starts 0-0 and we should get a good couple of weeks of misplaced optimism before reality sets in.

The Tigers open the regular season in Tampa Bay on March 30. The home opener at Comerica Park will be on April 6 against Boston.

No matter where the Tigers are at, opening day in Detroit is a special event that is worth experiencing.

This season also marks the farewell tour for Miguel Cabrera. There will only be so many chances to see one of the greatest hitters in franchise history.

5. 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup

Fresh off the buzz of the FIFA Men’s World Cup this past November, the FIFA Women’s World Cup returns this summer.

Taking place in Australia and New Zealand the 2023 Women’s World Cup will be held July 20-August 20.

Unlike its lack of success in the men’s event, the United States has won the last two Women’s World Cup. Of the previous eight, the US has won four Women’s World Cup titles.

Coming into 2023, the USWNT certainly will be a top contender for the title once again.

6. 2023 World Baseball Classic

Before the 2023 MLB season gets underway, we get the first World Baseball Classic since 2017.

The 2023 WBC takes place from Japan, Taiwan and the US from March 8-21. Chase Field in Phoenix and LoanDepot Park in Miami will play host to games in the U.S.

In 2017, the United States won its first WBC and now is ready to finally defend its title. The Americans will be in Pool C with Mexico, Colombia, Canada and Great Britain.

The United States has a great roster of talent. However, it doesn’t include any Detroit Tigers.

The Tigers have eight representatives in the World Baseball Classic this year. They are:

  • Miguel Cabrera (Venezuela)
  • Eduardo Rodriguez (Venezuela)
  • Javier Baez (Puerto Rico)
  • Jonathan Schoop (Netherlands)
  • Andy Ibanez (Cuba)
  • John Valente (Italy)
  • Chavez Fernander (Great Britain)
  • Jack O’Loughlin (Australia)

7. NBA Playoffs

The 2022-23 NBA season has been disappointing for Detroit fans.

At 15-45, the Detroit Pistons have the worst record in the East. With just 22 games remaining, Detroit isn’t far from being eliminated from playoff contention.

As it sits right now, Lebron James and the Los Angeles Lakers sit outside the playoffs. Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors are barely in.

Even if some of the top stars are left out of the postseason, the NBA playoffs still can provide some thrilling television.

This year’s playoffs start on April 15 and could run until June 18. That’s a lot of time to help erase the NFL offseason.

8. The Triple Crown

For a six-week span each year we pretend to be experts on horse racing.

Another hot event for sportsbooks is the horse racing Triple Crown.

The Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes give a shot for a horse to become an American legend.

Justify was the last Triple Crown winner in 2018. American Pharoah won in 2015, ending a 37-year drought for the honor.

This year’s Triple Crown schedule is as follows:

  • Kentucky Derby: May 6
  • Preakness Stakes: May 20
  • Belmont Stakes: June 10

9. Golf Majors

Even if you aren’t a big golf fan, it’s hard to deny the entertainment of the four major championships.

With LIV Golf taking away some of the top names from the PGA Tour, these majors now are the rare opportunities to see all the best players in one event.

Included in the mix will be Tiger Woods, who is still attempting to catch Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championships. Woods has 15 right now.

The four majors are:

  • The Masters: April 6-9
  • PGA Championship: May 18-21
  • U.S. Open: June 15-18
  • The Open Championship: July 20-23

10. FireKeepers Casino 400 at MIS

The NASCAR Cup Series returns to Michigan International Speedway on Aug. 6 for the FireKeepers Casino 400.

NASCAR’s history at MIS dates back to 1969. MIS used to hold two Cup Series races each season, but now is down to just an August race.

Kevin Harvick is the defending champion and has won four of the last five FireKeepers Casino 400s.

Hometown hero Brad Keselowski has never been able to take home the checkered flag at his home track.

Along with the Cup Series race on Aug. 6, the Xfinity Series will also compete at MIS that weekend.

The Xfinity Series race will be on Aug. 5

Photo by Shutterstock.com
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Drew Ellis

Drew Ellis is the Lead Writer of PlayMichigan, the No. 1 source for online gambling news in Michigan. A lifelong resident of the state, Ellis has been working in various forms of media since 1998, including more than a decade in the sports betting industry prior to transitioning into US casino markets in 2020.

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