The Answer Man makes a visit to thaw out his typing fingers:

What are the chances of the Syracuse Orange finishing the regular season undefeated?

Answer: Very slim. They’re a brilliant 22-0 and have answered every test, but the road to 31-0 is loaded with potholes:

Sunday host Clemson, 6 p.m.

Wednesday, Feb. 12 – at Pittsburgh

Saturday, Feb. 15 – host North Carolina State

Wednesday, Feb. 19 – host Boston College

Saturday, Feb. 22 – at Duke

Monday, Feb. 24 – at Maryland

Saturday, March 1 – at Virginia

Tuesday, March 4 – host Georgia Tech

Sunday, March 9 – at Florida State.

 SU could very well win the remaining four home games. Going 3-2 in the five remaining road games would be a decent feat and 29-2 would be a great regular season..

Question: What do you think about USA Today Sports Weekly putting the Buffalo Bills 28th in its post-Super Bowl Power Rankings?

Answer: The Bills, ranked ahead of only Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Jacksonville and Oakland, are better than that. I’d rank them above Houston, Washington, Minnesota and the New York Jets – at least. But Buffalo isn’t going to get much mainstream respect until the quarterback situation becomes more stable.

Question: If Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins still is available at No. 9 overall, should the Bills select him?

Answer: I would. He’d immediately become the game-breaking receiver the Bills have been lacking and make it easier for quarterback EJ Manuel to shine. Watkins also would be a starter for at least five years. I don’t t believe he’ll still be there at No. 9, but ESPN.com’s Todd McShay has him going to the Bills at that spot.

Question: Do you still think only five or six NBA teams are capable of winning this season’s NBA championship?

Answer: No. Now I believe only FOUR teams have a chance to go all the way. The conference championship series should be great – Miami vs. Indiana in the East and Oklahoma City vs. Los Angeles Clippers in the West. Too bad we have to wait so long to see them.

Question: What do you think about Fred Smerlas saying on his show that the Denver Broncos would beat the Seattle Seahawks “at least 7 out of 10 games”?

Answer: I believe Fred’s AFC bias was showing. I think the Seahawks would beat the Broncos at least 8 out of 10.

Question: Do you think Roger Clemens deserved to be elected this week to the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame?

Answer: Sure. I think he was clean with the Red Sox. Dirty or clean, I believe he should be elected to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

BASEBALL PREVIEWS: THREE UNANIMOUS DIVISION CHAMPIONS

The flood of Major League Baseball 2014 Preview magazines has hit the newsstands. Detroit, St. Louis and the Los Angeles are unanimous picks to win their divisions.

Here is how Athlon, USA Today Baseball, Sporting News and Lindy’s rate the teams in each division (the lower total the better):

AL East

Boston – 2nd-1st-1st-1st (5)

Tampa Bay – 1st-2nd-3rd-2nd (8)

New York Yankees – 3rd-4th-2nd-4th (13)

Baltimore – 4th-3rd-4th-3rd (14)

AL Central

Detroit – 1st-1st-1st-1st (4)

Kansas City – 2nd-2nd-2nd-2nd (8)

Cleveland – 3rd-3rd-3rd-3rd (12)

Chicago – 4th-5th-5th-4th (18)

Minnesota – 5th-4th-4th-5th (18)

AL West

Texas – 1st-2nd-1st-1st (5)

Oakland – 2nd-1st-2nd-2nd (7)

Seattle – 3rd-4th-3rd-3rd (13)

Los Angeles Angels – 4th03rd-4th-4th (15)

Houston – 5th-5th-5th-5th (20)

NL East

Washington – 1st-2nd-1st-1st (5)

Atlanta – 2nd-1st-2nd-2nd (7)

New York Mets – 4th-3rd-3rd-5th (15)

Philadelphia – 3rd-4th-5th-3rd (15)

Miami – 5th-5th-4th-4th (18)

NL Central

St. Louis – 1st-1st-1st-1st (4)

Cincinnati – 2nd-2nd-3rd-2nd (9)

Pittsburgh – 3rd-3rd-2nd-3rd (11)

Milwaukee – 4th-5th-5th-4th (18)

Chicago – 5th-4th-4th-5th (18)

NL West

Los Angeles Dodgers – 1st-1st-1st-1st (4)

San Francisco – 3nd-4th-2nd-2nd (11)

Arizona – 2nd-3rd-5th-4th (14)

Colorado – 4th-2nd-4th-5th (15)

San Diego – 5th-5th-3rd-3rd (16).

HAPPY 80TH BIRTHDAY TO HAMMERIN’ HANK AND GRAPES

Wednesday was the 80th birthday for two of my favorite sports personalities – Hank Aaron and Don Cherry.

Aaron will forever be my home-run king. He hit 755 HRs and was clean with every swing. Barry Bonds hit 762 career HRs – 7 more than Hank – but he was a big-time cheater for the last 9 years of his brilliant but flawed big-league career.

Cherry was an unsung hero on coach/GM Joe Crozier’s three Calder Cup championship teams in the 1960s as a hard-nosed defenseman and battler who often stood up for more-skilled but more timid teammates. He might have saved the Amerks as a super-popular coach in the early 1970s. He was as popular in Rochester as he has been in his native Canada as a TV icon for more than three decades.

SCHILLING – WAS HE A HALL-OF-FAMER?

Last week, at a meeting of the Rochester Red Wings Hall of Fame Committee, we weighed the credentials of pitcher Curt Schilling. It was shocking to learn on Wednesday that he is battling cancer and will be sidelined indefinitely as a baseball analyst for ESPN.

I believed Schilling is a more worthy candidate for the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown than the Red Wings Hall of Fame at Frontier Field.

Here’s how Schilling fared with the Red Wings:

1989 – 13-11 record... 3.21 ERA...27 starts...185.1 innings...176 hits...59 walls...109 strikeouts...The team’s best pitcher probably was Mickey Weston (8-3 record; 2.09 ERA)...Pittsford product and left-hander Mike Jones was 9-7 with a 3.35 ERA.

1990 – 4-4 record... 3.92 ERA...15 games; 14 starts...87.1 innings...95 hits...25 walks...83 strikeouts.

Totals with Wings: 17-15 record... 3.43 ERA...42 games; 41 starts...272 .2 innings....271 hits...84 walks...192 strikeouts.

Here’s his big-league regular-season pitching line:

216-146 record (.597)... 3.46 ERA...20 shutouts...83 complete games...3,261 innings...2,998 hits...711 walks...3,116 strikeouts.

Three 20-win seasons...finished second in Cy Young balloting three times.

What makes Schilling a worthy candidate for Cooperstown is his post-season work:

12 series...11-2 record (.846)...2.23 ERA...19 starts...4 complete games...2 shutouts...133.1 innings...104 hits...25 walks...120 strikeouts...0.96 WHIP.

Schilling received 38.8 percent of the votes in Hall of Fame balloting in 2012 and 29.2 percent in 2013.

SHORT SHOTS

The Minnesota Twins have signed veteran left-handed slugger Brad Nelson for the Rochester Red Wings. He’s 31 years old, 6-foot-2 and at least 255 pounds. He was selected by Milwaukee in the 2001 entry draft and was a hot prospect in 2003 (rated No. 23). He has spent most of the past nine season in Triple-A for several organizations. He’ll be insurance in case 2013 International League MVP Chris Colabello makes the Twins or is traded. He also could platoon at 1B/DH if Colabello spends any time in Rochester. If Nelson plays the entire season with the Wings, he figures to hit around .265, with 20-to-25 HRs and 65-to-70 RBI.

Ralph Kiner, the baseball Hall of Famer who died Thursday at age 91, was an exceptional power hitter on some terrible Pittsburgh Pirates teams. He took advantage of a short porch in left field at Forbes Field (“Kiner’s Korner”). He was very slow, a poor outfielder and just barely made the Hall of Fame in his final year of eligibility. His greatest statistical feat was leading the major leagues in home runs for six consecutive seasons (1947 through 1952). No other player has done that. His career batting line: .279 (1,451x5,205), 369 HRs, 1015 RBI. Assorted injuries forced him to retire in 1955 after only 10 big-league seasons.

Only 43 days until the 2014 Major League Baseball season opens in Sydney, Australia: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Arizona Diamondbacks.

  44 years ago Thursday (Feb. 6, 1970), the NBA expanded to 18 teams with the addition of Buffalo, Cleveland, Houston (from San Diego) and Portland. Sadly, they’re all still there – except Buffalo.

Believe It Or Not: new Pro Football Hall of Famer does not hold the Buffalo Bills record for most TD catches in a season. Bill Brooks had 11 in 1995.

Sales of this week’s issue of Sports Illustrated will be brisk in Seattle. The cover story and billing: “BOOM...Ball-hawking Seattle Takes Its Place (Loudly) In the Pantheon of Dominant Super Bowl Champs. It’s Just the Start.”