A big year ahead for D.C. sports

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Cheers and Jeers,Sports,MLB,Nationals,D.C. United,College,Craig Stouffer

If 2012 was the year that put D.C. teams back on the map, 2013 could be the year the District becomes one of the best sports cities in the country. We've already seen what Robert Griffin III can do, and he's not going anywhere. But while the Redskins sit at the head of the table -- and the Capitals remain a potential no-show -- here's who else will be a part of the feast in the coming 12 months.

It's hard to imagine the Nationals not contending in 2013 -- barring a rash of injuries. Basically the entire roster returns save for some new arms in the bullpen and maybe a change at first base if Adam LaRoche doesn't re-sign. Washington also added center fielder Denard Span in a trade. Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman had offseason shoulder surgery and should be healed next year. The Nats also get a full season of Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper. It should be another fun summer in the District.

Georgetown and Syracuse will write the final chapter of their Big East rivalry March 9, but three weeks later Verizon Center will welcome the second weekend of the NCAA tournament. The last time the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight took place in the District, George Mason stunned Connecticut. Could Maryland be this year's local Cinderella?

Speaking of the Terrapins, sophomore center Alex Len has rocketed up draft boards. Regardless of how Maryland finishes this season, the Ukrainian 7-footer will be a player to watch once the NCAA season ends. He doesn't seem likely to ever face Georgetown sophomore forward Otto Porter Jr. thanks to the schools' ongoing childish feud, but they both could be prospects to watch in June's NBA Draft. (The Wizards have all but locked up a lottery pick already.)

By then, Tiger Woods again will bring the PGA Tour to Congressional, and D.C. United could be an MLS favorite with Dwayne De Rosario. If the District doesn't get the chance to host a U.S. World Cup qualifying match, the compensation could be a rumored friendly in June vs. Germany to celebrate the U.S. Soccer Federation's 100th anniversary. Add in the potential announcement of a new D.C. United stadium, and Southwest Washington could be the site of more than pennant fever by this fall.

- Craig Stouffer and Brian McNally

cstouffer@washingtonexaminer.com, bmcnally@washingtonexaminer.com

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Craig Stouffer

Staff writer - sports
The Washington Examiner