By Steve Williams

A little over a week ago, an Arctic blast dropped temperatures into single digits for a couple of days in the Knoxville area. Old Man Winter had a grip on just about the entire nation.

Maybe that had something to do with the Tennessee basketball team’s cold shooting in a 38-point showing against Alabama, an offensive performance that even brought back memories of the low-scoring days in the Kevin O’Neill era.

It was spittin’ snow last Thursday afternoon and the sun hadn’t been seen in Knoxville for days. It was suppose to warm up into the 50s over the weekend, but the extended forecast includes more cold weather and a chance of snow this coming weekend.

I began to wonder what I could do to help about freezing weather. I know, I’ll write a column on how close we are to the start of baseball and softball, the Daytona 500, March Madness and The Masters – sports events we associate with warm weather. Call it mind over matter.

(For best results, I suggest reading with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate).

UT Coach Dave Serrano’s Boys of Summer/Winter will play their home opener in less than a month (Feb. 18) against Tennessee Tech.

Can’t wait that long for baseball? Okay. Just make the short drive to Harriman in two weeks (Feb. 3) and watch Roane State play Cleveland State in a doubleheader, starting at 1. Don’t forget sunscreen and sunglasses.

It’ll be Feb. 27 before the Lady Vols’ softball team gets through playing games closer to the equator and makes it home debut, but you can get warmed up for the Tennessee Classic by taking in Carson-Newman’s softball opening day doubleheader Feb. 7 against Bluefield State, starting at 1 in Jefferson City.

It doesn’t matter what Punxsutawney Phil predicts on Feb. 2, Groundhog Day. According to the TSSAA sports calendar, high school baseball and softball teams can start practice three weeks from now (Feb. 9).

Cincinnati Reds pitchers and catchers report for “spring” training in less than a month (Feb. 18).

The Daytona 500 is just a little over a month away (Feb. 22). Knoxville driver Trevor Bayne, by the way, is a 60-1 pick to take the checkered flag, according to Jimmie Johnson and 2014 Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick are among the favorites to win NASCAR’s “Super Bowl.”

Ready to get back in the swing of things on the golf course? The PGA Tour has already had two events in Hawaii and this week plays in California. For the fun of it, I took a peek at the La Quinta weather forecast for this coming weekend. It’ll be 73 degrees and sunny Friday and Saturday.

Those beautiful azaleas will be blooming for The Masters at Augusta National, starting April 9.

After taking its chances with Mother Nature last year, football will finish this season in a toasty locale – Phoenix, Arizona – starting with the NFL Pro Bowl next Sunday, followed by Super Bowl XLIX on Feb. 1.

In case you forgot, the 2014 Super Bowl was played at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., making it the first-ever Super Bowl to be played outdoors in a cold-weather city.

Whoever had that brilliant idea got lucky. Just hours after the game was played in unseasonably mild conditions, a huge snowstorm blanketed the Super Bowl site.

Basketball isn’t affected by weather since it’s played indoors, but it does give us March Madness, another sign of springtime. And last week, we heard the first of thousands of bracket projections, which included Donnie Tyndall’s Vols as a No. 9 seed.

Yeah, before you know it, they’ll be singing “One Shining Moment” and “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”