Thursday, December 31, 2009
Updated: January 7, 2:18 PM ET
NFL expert picks are 2009's top search
By Maalek Marshall
Surprise Searches of the Year ...
1. NFL expert picks
"I told you!" That well-known statement pretty much sums it all up. When your team not only wins but you let everyone know in advance that it was going to win, it's the ultimate bragging right. Of course, as a professional courtesy, the esteemed members of the Bristol brain trust would never rub their correct picks in each others' faces (yeah, right), but as regular sports fans, we are almost obligated to do it to each other. The sports fan's obsession with not only winning but predicting the win is what lies at the heart of the weekly expert picks' immense popularity. Combine that with the fact that the picks are coming from the always exciting, parity-filled NFL and it's no wonder searches for the NFL expert picks far outpaced all others in 2009.
- 2. Boxing: All those predictions about boxing's demise certainly didn't register with users as exciting bouts featuring Manny Pacquiao and the return of Floyd Mayweather kept users searching all year long for the latest news on the "sweet science."
- 3. NCAA tournament bracket: NCAA tournament bracket searches took place only in a few short weeks in March, yet this still ranks as the no. 3 overall search of 2009 -- March Madness, indeed!
- 4. NFL Power Rankings: Surprising teams (both positively and negatively) such as the Bengals, Chargers, Steelers and Titans kept users constantly checking each week's NFL Power Rankings and helped make this the fourth-most searched term all year.
- 5. Power rankings: Sure, it's probably the most ambiguous of the top searches, but it provides users with the choice of every sports' power rankings list, which makes it good enough to be the year's no. 5 search.
- 6. Golf: Golf searches were high all year as both Tiger and Lefty made triumphant returns after long absences and parity prevailed as neither won a major.
- 7. NIT: The "other" big college basketball tournament in March received plenty of love from users as it was the seventh-most searched term of the year.
- 8. Streak for the Cash: Streak for the Cash's popularity continues to grow as the game has received more than 2.5 million unique entries in only its second year.
- 9. Mount Rushmore of Sports: Users from all over the country searched like mad to vote for their home state and make their argument for why it most deserved the boastful moniker.
- 10. Bracketology: Hardcore college hoops fans know the NCAA bracket is not just a March thing
it's an all-year thing. Searches for Bracketology peak just before March, but they remain strong all year long as bracketologist Joe Lunardi keeps users updated on the most likely NCAA tournament matchups.
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Rivalries, excitement and personalities abound in motorsports' most popular league.
- 2. NHRA: Despite the new safety measures, the hot rod association is as exciting and popular as ever.
- 3. Formula One: Brit Jenson Button had Formula One all sewed up in '09.
- 4. IRL: Dario Franchitti managed to edge out game competitors Scott Dixon and Ryan Briscoe to finish No. 1 in the IndyCar standings.
- 5. Danica Patrick: After finishing fifth in the IndyCar standings in '09, Danica looks to make her mark in NASCAR's Nationwide Series in 2010.
- 6. NASCAR Power Rankings: Ryan McGee's weekly rankings kept NASCAR fans informed and highly engaged throughout the '09 season.
- 7. Indy 500: Helio Castroneves won his third Indy 500 in '09, edging out Dan Wheldon and Patrick.
- 8. Tony Stewart: The new Chase points system wasn't kind to Stewart, but he still managed to finish No. 6 in the standings.
- 9. Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Dale Jr. finished 25th in the standings in his first season with Hendrick Motorsports but first in NASCAR fans' hearts.
- 10. Carl Edwards: Edwards finished second in the Nationwide standings for a second consecutive year but didn't fare as well in the Sprint Cup Series.
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1. Manny Pacquiao
The first boxer to win titles in seven weight classes continued in '09 the way he finished in '08 -- demolishing all of his competition.
- 2. Floyd Mayweather: Undefeated Mayweather ended his semi-retirement in '09 and agreed to a 2010 megabout against Pacquiao.
- 3. Miguel Cotto: After his '08 loss to Antonio Margarito, Cotto came back to win a WBO title in '09 before losing it to Pacquiao.
- 4. Ricky Hatton: Hatton suffered his second career loss in '09 to Pacquaio.
- 5. Pacquiao vs Hatton: The popular, hard-charging Brit was knocked out by Pacquaio in just the second round of their '09 bout.
- 6. Arturo Gatti: The shocking death of the recently retired slugger prompted many searches as it was controversially ruled a suicide.
- 7. Pacquiao vs Cotto: The 12-round battle between Cotto and Pacquiao generated more than $70 million on PPV.
- 8. Kelly Pavlik: After suffering his first career loss to Bernard Hopkins in a non-title bout in '08, Pavlik successfully defended his titles twice in '09.
- 9. Mayweather vs Marquez: Mayweather defeated Juan Manuel Marquez by unanimous decision in his return to the ring in '09 after a nearly two-year absence.
- 10. Juan Manuel Marquez: The 16-year vet moved up to welterweight to take on Mayweather in 2009.
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1. NCAA tournament bracket
The NCAA tournament bracket really is the best thing since sliced bread.
- 2. NIT: The Nittany Lions outdueled Baylor at MSG to win the popular annual tournament in '09.
- 3. Duke Blue Devils: The Sweet 16 wasn't so sweet for Coach K's squad as Villanova ousted the team, but the Devils look forward to a strong 2009-10 season.
- 4. North Carolina Tar Heels: Even with added pressure from the president to win, the Tar Heels still took the NCAA tourney title in '09.
- 5. Syracuse Orange: After defeating UConn in six overtimes in the Big East tourney, the Orange were eliminated in the NCAA tourney's Sweet 16 by the Sooners.
- 6. Michigan State Spartans: Although they lost to the Tar Heels in the championship, they should be commended for resisting the urge to yell "This is Sparta!" at opposing teams in their great run through the tourney.
- 7. Kansas Jayhawks: There weren't many "rock chalk" chants for the '08 champs in '09 as they suffered a Sweet 16 loss to the Spartans.
- 8. Connecticut Huskies: UConn was definitely college hoops' most consistent program in '09, with the men making the Final Four and the undefeated women winning the championship.
- 9. Memphis Tigers: Eliminated in the Sweet 16 by Mizzou despite Tyreke Evans' herculean 33-point effort.
- 10. Louisville Cardinals: Rick Pitino's top-seeded squad suffered a crushing loss to Michigan State in the Elite Eight.
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1. Bowl projections
Also known as "CliffsNotes for the BCS."
- 2. Notre Dame Fighting Irish: After a .500 record in '09, the Charlie Weis era ended in South Bend.
- 3. Michigan Wolverines: The Wolverines improved in Rich Rodriguez's second season as coach but still had a dismal conference record in the tough Big Ten.
- 4. Florida Gators: The defending national champs missed their chance to repeat after their only loss came to Alabama in the SEC championship.
- 5. Auburn Tigers: After riding high opening the season at 5-0, the Tigers lost three straight and never quite recovered in Gene Chizik's first season as coach.
- 6. USC Trojans: Freshman QB Matt Barkley led the Trojans to an Emerald Bowl win after a rough season.
- 7. Ohio State Buckeyes: Everything came up "roses" for the Buckeyes after they went 10-2 with only one conference loss.
- 8. Tim Tebow: Despite suffering a concussion early on, the '07 Heisman winner still led the Gators to a 12-1 record and the Sugar Bowl in his final season.
- 9. Clemson Tigers: Succeeding Tommy Bowden, coach Dabo Swinney led the Tigers to an 8-5 record and a Music City Bowl win.
- 10. Alabama Crimson Tide: Year 3 of the Nick Saban era produced a BCS national title game and the school's first Heisman winner.
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1. Streak for the Cash
The popular contest is the answer to sports fans' prayers during the recession.
- 2. Mount Rushmore of Sports: With MJ, Sweetness, Mr. Cub and Ditka gracing its landscape, Illinois easily claimed the title.
- 3. Arcade: Sure, Xbox 360 and PS3's graphics are superior, but do they offer "Speed Back" and "Zoom: Cheerleaders"? Didn't think so.
- 4. Fantasy football: Fantasy football's popularity just continues to grow. Even the players aren't in denial anymore -- just ask Maurice Jones-Drew.
- 5. Pigskin Pick 'Em: The NFL's parity always makes Pigskin Pick 'Em extremely exciting, whether playing straight up or against the spread.
- 6. Tournament Challenge: Even the president had a Tournament Challenge bracket for 2009's March Madness.
- 7. Fantasy baseball: Even though they still haven't figured out a way to count pitchers' HRs, the fantasy version of America's pastime is as popular as ever.
- 8. College Pick 'Em: The added challenge of a confidence ranking in College Pick 'Em makes it a favorite for fans of the college game.
- 9. Bowl Mania: As if the bowl games weren't exciting enough, fans playing Bowl Mania get to play Nostradamus with all the matchups in hopes of winning a prize.
- 10. Fantasy basketball: ESPN and the NBA teamed up to bring users the best version of fantasy hoops in '09, and it skyrocketed in popularity.
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1. Tiger Woods
In '09, the world's best golfer had a successful comeback year in his profession but a dreadful end of the year for his marriage.
- 2. PGA: The popular golf tour welcomed back its most popular player in 2009.
- 3. LPGA: The competition on the LPGA tour was fierce as Lorena Ochoa and Jiyai Shin won three tournaments each.
- 4. The Masters: Angel Cabrera prevailed in Augusta after an intense playoff with Chad Campbell and Kenny Perry.
- 5. John Daly: Slimmed-down and sporting a new extremely colorful wardrobe, Daly returned to the PGA Tour in '09 and was as popular as ever.
- 6. Phil Mickelson: Despite taking several leaves of absence in '09 because of his wife's and mother's ill health, Lefty still managed to nab four PGA Tour wins.
- 7. British Open: Americans Stewart Cink and 60-year-old Tom Watson battled it out for the win in an intense four-hole playoff at the '09 British Open.
- 8. Michelle Wie: The 20-year-old joined the LPGA Tour in '09 and got her first professional win at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational.
- 9. FedEx Cup: Tiger won his second FedEx championship in '09 after finishing in the top four in three of the FedEx Cup events.
- 10. Anthony Kim: The young golfer continued to impress in '09 with three top-3 finishes and his excellent play that contributed to the U.S. winning the Presidents Cup.
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1. World Baseball Classic
Japan showed that its win in the inaugural WBC was no fluke as it repeated three years later.
- 2. New York Yankees: Twenty-six overall just wasn't enough as the Bronx Bombers ended the decade winning yet another championship.
- 3. Manny Ramirez: Manny wasn't quite Manny in '09 as he never regained his form after returning from suspension for violating MLB's PEDs policy.
- 4. Alex Rodriguez: A-Rod's year began with him admitting past steroid use and ended with him winning his first World Series.
- 5. Albert Pujols: "The Machine" had yet another stellar year in 2009 and won his third NL MVP award.
- 6. Boston Red Sox: The Sawx looked poise to make another World Series run but were stopped short by the Angels.
- 7. Derek Jeter: The Yankees' captain had a great season and an even better postseason on the way to winning his fifth World Series.
- 8. MLB Power Rankings: A season full of surprises and crazy streaks kept users checking back every Monday for the latest team rankings.
- 9. MLB rumors: A hot search all season, but particularly around the end of July.
- 10. David Ortiz: Big Papi's season started roughly with news of his inclusion on a 2003 list of MLB players to test positive for PEDs and a prolonged HR drought, but he ended '09 with 28 HRs and 99 RBIs.
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Mixed martial arts' most popular league continues to dominate in pay-per-view sales and in searches.
- 2. MMA Live: ESPN's weekly 30-minute video update is a must for all MMA fans to watch.
- 3. Brock Lesnar: Lesnar's strong UFC 100 performance propelled him to superstar status in early '09, but he later suffered an intestinal disorder that threatened to end his MMA career.
- 4. Kimbo Slice: Bounced back from an embarrassing loss in '08 to win his first UFC bout in '09 and appeared on the reality show "The Ultimate Fighter."
- 5. UFC 100: Lesnar's sound defeat of Frank Mir was the biggest highlight of many in UFC's 100th event.
- 6. Gina Carano: In '09, Carano ranked 16th on Maxim's Hot 100 and graced one of ESPN The Mag's Body Issue covers, but she suffered her first career loss -- to Cris Santos.
- 7. UFC 101: Anderson Silva's knockout of Forrest Griffin highlighted UFC 101.
- 8. Dana White: The controversial UFC prez received plenty of searches after his famous profanity-laced tirade on YouTube.
- 9. Anderson Silva: The Brazilian redeemed his lackluster performance in UFC 97 by returning to form and knocking out Forrest Griffin in UFC 101.
- 10. UFC 98: Both Lesnar and Rampage Jackson, who initially were scheduled, were unable to fight, but Lyoto Machida's knockout of Rashad Evans was a highlight.
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1. LeBron James
LBJ won the NBA MVP in '09, but his Cavs failed to make the Finals plus he was infamously posterized by college player Jordan Crawford.
- 2. Kobe Bryant: Won his fourth ring and the Finals MVP in '09 as he led the Lakers to the championship.
- 3. NBA trade machine: Allows users to play GM and see whether "LeBron James-for-Marcus Banks" could ever happen (it couldn't).
- 4. Los Angeles Lakers: The Lakers won their 15th NBA championship in 2009 -- second only to the Celtics all time.
- 5. Michael Jordan: His Airness was celebrated for his HOF induction and criticized for his HOF speech.
- 6. Allen Iverson: The Answer pulled a Favre-ish retirement and landed back in his beloved Philly.
- 7. Dwyane Wade: Erased all injury concerns in '09 and has teams salivating to land him in the 2010 free-agent market.
- 8. NBA draft: They should've renamed the venue Madison Square Guard-en after so many guards were taken in the first round of the '09 draft.
- 9. Cleveland Cavaliers: After failing to reach the Finals, the Cavs brought in Shaq to help "get a ring for the King."
- 10. NBA Power Rankings: ESPN.com spoils NBA fans by providing both weekly and daily NBA power rankings.
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1. NFL expert picks
It was the top overall search, so of course it's the No. 1 NFL search.
- 2. NFL power rankings: A must for all NFL fans to check on Tuesdays during the season.
- 3. Brett Favre: Just call him the 40-year-old surgeon as he sliced up the competition in his first residency with the Vikings.
- 4. Michael Vick: Vick's comeback season prompted plenty of searches as he sought to turn his life around while playing for the Eagles.
- 5. NFL mock draft: Mel Kiper's and Todd McShay's mock drafts feed NFL fans' draft jones all year long between the April festivities.
- 6. Michael Crabtree: The talented rookie wide receiver garnered plenty of searches with his extremely long contract holdout.
- 7. NFL draft: Provided plenty of surprises (just ask Michael Crabtree) as well as the inspiration for the year's 10th-highest-grossing film.
- 8. Dallas Cowboys: "America's team" let its best wide receiver go yet still rallied to make the playoffs in '09.
- 9. Pittsburgh Steelers: 2009 had a sweet beginning but a rough ending for the Super Bowl champs as they struggled and didn't make the playoffs.
- 10. Super Bowl: Super Bowl XLIII's exciting big plays and incredible finish made it an event talked about for weeks after it ended.
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1. Alex Ovechkin
Ovie's immense popularity can be matched only by his remarkable scoring prowess.
- 2. NHL Power Rankings: For NHL fans, the puck stops here with Scott Burnside's weekly Power Rankings.
- 3. Pittsburgh Penguins: An 0-2 series deficit didn't stop the Pens from rallying to win Lord Stanley's Cup in '09.
- 4. Sidney Crosby: Sid the Kid notched his third 100-point season and first championship in '09.
- 5. Detroit Red Wings: The '08 champs were unable to beat the Pens again in '09 for a second consecutive Stanley Cup.
- 6. Chicago Blackhawks: The Hawks look to get to the Stanley Cup finals in 2009-10 season after losing to the Red Wings in the conference finals this past season.
- 7. Washington Capitals: The once-disregarded Capitals are now a force to be reckoned with in the Eastern Conference.
- 8. Marian Hossa: The four-time All-Star signed a big contract with the Blackhawks in 2009 after Martin Havlat's departure.
- 9. Boston Bruins: After making the conference quarters in 2007-08 and semis in 2008-09, the Bruins look to make the leap to the next round or beyond in 2009-10.
- 10. NHL draft: The Islanders hope to turn around their dismal 2008-09 season with their No. 1 and No. 12 selections.
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1. College baseball
Aluminum bats, college pride and regional tournaments -- what's not to love about college baseball?
- 2. Little League World Series: Chula Vista, California's dominance in the tournament made '09 the fifth consecutive year a U.S. team has won the LLWS.
- 3. Softball: Searches soared as the U.S. defeated Australia in the '09 World Cup of Softball.
- 4. Horse racing: Filly Rachel Alexandra's historic victory at the Preakness was one of many highlights for the sport in '09.
- 5. Poker: Not only did Joe Cada win the 2009 WSOP but he became the youngest ever to do so at the age of 21.
- 6. Cycling: Lance Armstrong's surprising return to pro cycling and third-place finish in the Tour de France was one of the sport's many highlights in '09.
- 7. Tour de France: Alberto Contador won cycling's biggest race for Team Astana, but his chippy relationship with teammate Armstrong dominated the news.
- 8. College hockey: It was "April Madness" as the Frozen Four ended with the Boston Terriers edging the Miami RedHawks in a thrilling OT victory.
- 9. College World Series: The classic 2009 CWS battle between LSU and Texas ended with the Bayou Bengals capturing the crown.
- 10. Cricket: ESPN Cricinfo keeps users up-to-date with all the latest news on the increasingly popular international sport.
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Kornheiser and Wilbon's banter and hilarious antics keep "all you knuckleheads" constantly searching for show clips on ESPN.com.
- 2. "Outside the Lines": Hard-hitting OTL remains a favorite in search as it continues to push the envelope with its coverage of sports' most controversial subjects.
- 3. "Mayne Street": Kenny Mayne's irreverent Web sitcom managed to become even more popular in its third season.
- 4. ESPYS: 2009's ESPYS were hosted by Samuel L. Jackson and dominated by Michael Phelps (of course).
- 5. "E:60": The diverse "E:60" coverage ranged from follow-ups on Donte Stallworth and the fate of Michael Vick's dogs to profiles of Bryce Harper and trick-shot artists Dude Perfect.
- 6. Mike & Mike: Golic and Greeny are as different as night and day, but they make a perfect combo for sports fans in the mornings.
- 7. "First Take": Highlighted by Skip Bayless' entertaining battles with Chad Ochocinco, the popular morning show received plenty of searches throughout the year.
- 8. "Around the Horn": Searches continue to soar for the show that allows sports' top columnists to battle each other about the day's hottest topics.
- 9. "SportsCenter": Searches for "SportsCenter" remained strong as ESPN's flagship show expanded its online presence with a constantly updated blog.
- 10. "30 for 30": Highlighted by films about the USFL, Len Bias and The U, this incredible series commemorating ESPN's 30th anniversary has been a top search since it debuted even though only eight of the 30 films were shown in 2009.
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1. UEFA Champions League
Barcelona shut out Manchester United in the exciting and highly anticipated final between the two high-powered clubs.
- 2. Cristiano Ronaldo: His transfer from Man U to Real Madrid was the most expensive in soccer history at 80 million euros.
- 3. Ronaldinho: After leaving Barcelona, the skillful footballer had a resurgence with AC Milan.
- 4. Gold Cup: Held in the U.S., the Gold Cup garnered plenty of searches despite Mexico's shutting out the U.S. team 5-0 in the final.
- 5. David Beckham: In addition to being the world's most popular player, Becks received plenty of searches after his teammate Landon Donovan made negative remarks about him.
- 6. Kaka: Real Madrid also managed to pull off the third-highest transfer in soccer history, at 65 million euros, when they signed Kaka.
- 7. Lionel Messi: Barcelona's diminutive scoring machine is as popular and productive as ever.
- 8. FA Cup: Chelsea defeated Everton in a hard-fought battle in the English football cross-league final.
- 9. World Cup: The world's biggest sporting event heads to South Africa and is a sure bet to be the top soccer seach in 2010.
- 10. Landon Donovan: The U.S.'s top player had his share of drama with teammate Beckham and will be on loan to Everton in 2010.
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1. Serena Williams
Serena took Wimbledon and the Aussie Open but made headlines with her John McEnroe-ish outburst at the U.S. Open.
- 2. Roger Federer: Federer was his usual dominant self winning Wimbledon and the French Open.
- 3. Rafael Nadal: The "king of clay" expanded his accomplishments after defeating Federer in the Aussie Open to win his first hard-court Grand Slam title.
- 4. U.S. Open: Juan Martin del Potro's win over Federer, Melanie Oudin's emergence, Serena's outburst and Kim Clijsters' victorious return highlighted the '09 U.S. Open.
- 5. Australian Open: Both Federer and Serena displayed their dominance in winning the tournament Down Under.
- 6. Andy Roddick: Failed to capture any Grand Slams in '09, but he did capture Federer's respect at Wimbledon
as well as Brooklyn Decker's heart.
- 7. French Open: Federer won the championship at Roland Garros sans Nadal, who was ousted by Robin Soderling.
- 8. Wimbledon: A classic battle between Federer and Roddick highlighted the '09 Grand Slam in London.
- 9. Maria Sharapova: Failed to win any Grand Slams in '09 but had a successful return from her shoulder injury.
- 10. Venus Williams: Lost to younger sis Serena in Wimbledon final but ended the year ranked No. 6 in the world.
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1. Bryce Harper
Dubbed the "LeBron James of baseball," Harper seemingly possesses Ryan Howard's prodigious power, Albert Pujols' hitting eye and Pudge Rodriguez's arm. And after hitting a 570-foot HR, it's no wonder he was the top mover with more than a 9,600 percent increase in searches in 2009.
- 2. Stephen Strasburg: His minuscule ERA, high strikeouts and 102 mph fastball made him a sensation and the No. 1 draft pick in '09, by the Nationals. Searches for the young flamethrower increased more than 5,800 percent in 2009.
- 3. John Wall: He's got more game than Jesus Shuttlesworth, draws comparisons to Dwyane Wade, and has managed to surpass even all the hype and expectations in his rookie season at Kentucky. Searches for Wall increased more than 3,100 percent in 2009.
- 4. LeGarrette Blount: Whether people thought it was an ill-advised reaction to taunting or just a mean-spirited sucker punch, Blount's right hook to Boise State defensive end Byron Hout's jaw is the reason searches for the Ducks running back increased by more than 2,700 percent in '09.
- 5. Phil Ivey: The "Tiger Woods of poker" accumulated his sixth and seventh WSOP bracelets and finished seventh in the Main Event, all the while sporting a poker face that would make Lady Gaga jealous. Searches for Ivey increased more than 2,500 percent in 2009.
- 6. Lance Stephenson: Searches for the highly coveted shooting guard from Coney Island increased more than 950 percent in '09 as he delayed his school commitment until the end of June, eventually choosing the Cincinnati Bearcats.
- 7. Michael Crabtree: Crabtree's first two months in the NFL consisted of a prolonged contract holdout with the 49ers as well as tampering allegations against the New York Jets. Searches for the talented wide receiver increased more than 900 percent in '09.
- 8. Michael Oher: Ole Miss and Ravens fans were definitely searching for him when he went 23rd in the '09 NFL draft, but searches spiked for the outstanding offensive tackle once "The Blind Side," the inspirational movie about his rags-to-riches life, was released. Searches for Oher increased more than 650 percent in 2009.
- 9. Andre Agassi: Searches increased more than 500 percent in 2009 for the retired eight-time Grand Slam winner after he recently admitted using drugs and wearing a wig while playing tennis professionally in the '90s.
- 10. Jordan Crawford: Nike and LeBron James didn't want anyone to see the most talked-about dunk of the year, but it propelled Xavier sophomore Jordan Crawford into the limelight. Searches for Crawford increased more than 400 percent in 2009.
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Despite one franchise folding and another relocating, reduced roster sizes and new corporate-sponsored unis that rival those of NASCAR drivers, the WNBA remained popular throughout '09.
- 2. Serena Williams: Serena continued to dominate in '09 with two Grand Slam wins and a 50-12 record.
- 3. Candace Parker: Despite missing most of the '09 WNBA season to have her baby, Parker returned to help lead the Sparks to the Western Conference finals.
- 4. Maria Sharapova: Sharapova recovered from a shoulder injury to rank No. 14 in the world in 2009.
- 5. Gina Carano: Carano is a knockout both visually and physically as she has graced many magazine covers and sports a 7-1 MMA record.
- 6. Biba Golic: One of table tennis' top players, Golic's appearances on ESPN's Follow Your Sports commercial and on Mike & Mike made her a search darling in '09.
- 7. Danica Patrick: Danica's need for speed can't be contained by IndyCar, so she's gearing up to race part time in NASCAR in '09.
- 8. Venus Williams: The five-time Wimbledon winner lost to her sister in London but still amassed a 38-16 record in 2009.
- 9. Michelle Wie: Wie got her first LPGA Tour win in 2009.
- 10. Shawn Johnson: Searches for the Olympic gold medalist were high in '09 as she competed on "Dancing with the Stars" -- and had to get a restraining order against an alleged stalker.
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1. Obama's bracket
Users were highly interested in checking out the president's March Madness bracket. President Barack Obama correctly chose the Tar Heels to win it all, and there were more than 54,000 searches for his bracket as users followed his picks throughout the '09 NCAA tournament.
- 2. Elizabeth Lambert: Although the New Mexico soccer player gained much notoriety after her extremely rough play against BYU in the MWC tournament, all the attention she received also prompted discussions about whether women's sports are reported fairly in the media. In all, Lambert garnered more than 25,000 searches in '09.
- 3. The Body Issue: ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue celebrated the perfect blend of form meeting function as it featured the amazing bodies of many of sport's top athletes, including Gina Carano, Carl Edwards, Dwight Howard, Adrian Peterson, Sarah Reinertsen and Serena Williams. The issue prompted more than 25,000 searches on ESPN.com as users checked out behind-the-scenes footage of the photo shoots and exclusive online photo galleries.
- 4. Caster Semenya: The 18-year-old South African was subjected to a gender test after blowing away the competition while winning the gold medal in the 800-meter final at the 2009 world championship. Semenya received more than 7,200 searches in '09 as users followed the developments, although it ultimately was ruled that she could keep her medal and that the results of the test would be kept confidential.
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Check out the new ESPN Search Index for all the latest sports buzz in search, including the top daily searches, surprises and movers.
Maalek Marshall is ESPN.com's search editor.
Note: The results listed are the summation of actual search results that were manually typed in by site users of ESPN.com throughout the year 2009. All prelinked searches were excluded from this summation.
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