While most of the world is focused on the 22nd Winter Olympic games taking place in Sochi, Russia, not everyone around the globe is thinking about snow and ice right now.

While most of the world is focused on the 22nd Winter Olympic games taking place in Sochi, Russia, not everyone around the globe is thinking about snow and ice right now.


Specifically, 55 of the world’s best bass anglers are thinking about the color green.


As in the big green largemouth bass that roam Lake Guntersville, the Alabama water body that will serve as the home of the 44th edition of the Bassmaster Classic.


Those anglers are also thinking about the green that comes by way of the big bucks that the winner of the 2014 Classic will take home.


For starters, the angler who captures the Classic crown will cash a check for $300,000. Although down from $500,000 a year ago, that is some serious pocket change.


Then there is the residual after-effect of winning a Classic crown, something said to be worth a million dollars or more (through appearance fees, seminars, and endorsement deals).


Cliff Pace, last year’s Classic champ on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake, knows all about that after the whirlwind tour that led him around the country as the reigning champ.


Unfortunately, the Mississippi pro will not be able to defend his title next week, thanks to a severely broken leg that occurred in a deer hunting accident a few weeks ago.


Nonetheless, next week’s Feb. 21-23 Classic should be as good as any - perhaps even the best ever - since Guntersville is one of the best bass lakes in the nation.


How good? In 2012, it was ranked as the third best bass lake in America by Bassmaster Magazine. Last year, it slipped down a notch, landing in the fourth best spot to wet a line.


Some 75 miles long as it stretches between Nickajack Dam and Guntersville Dam, this 69,100-acre big bass oasis is filled with acre after acre of grass including huge stands of hydrilla and milfoil.


With ample Florida-strain largemouths living in its vegetation infested waters, Guntersville is a premiere winter fishery, even in the aftermath of a cold winter and this week’s Deep South snow and ice storm.


So who will win? Here’s my bet on how the Top 10 will look - and why - when it is all said and done.


10. Randy Howell - Howell is an Alabama guy, hailing from Springville. With a qualifying Northern Open win in 2013, a runner-up finish at the 2012 Elite Series event on Oneida Lake, and good results in a couple of pinch-hitting appearances for Major League Fishing, expect Howell to have a chance to win in his home state.


9. Mike Iaconelli - Been there, done that, coming back for more. That’s a good way to describe New Jersey’s Mike Iaconelli, the entertaining angler who captured the 2003 Classic in last-second, dramatic fashion on the Louisiana Delta. With a 2006 B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year award, a 2006 Elite Series win on Guntersville, and a qualifying Northern Open win last year, Ike should do well here.


8. Skeet Reese - The 2009 Classic Champ is one of the best ever, having a 2007 AOY trophy and six more B.A.S.S. wins to go with his signature Classic triumph. With a 2010 Elite Series win on Guntersville and another runner-up finish here, expect Reese to be in the thick of things next weekend.


7. Chris Lane - Lane is the 2012 Classic champ. He won in the 2013 Elite Series season finale on Lake St. Clair to even get here. And he lives at Lake Guntersville. Because of all of that, he’s the heavy local favorite to win. But all of that expectation - another word for pressure - and the "locals-never-win-the-Classic" curse will keep Chris Lane from capturing his second Classic trophy.


6. Alton Jones - Like his beloved Baylor Bears did for years, Alton Jones often flies under the radar screen. But like the resurgent Bears, the Waco, Texas resident has plenty of big game ability in his back pocket including a 2008 Classic victory. With several good finishes on Guntersville in recent years, don’t bet against Jones being in contention for the win.


5. Aaron Martens - He’s the best ever…to never win a Classic. With four runner-up finishes in fishing’s marquee event, Alabama transplant Martens has the game to win the Super Bowl of bass fishing. He’s won on Guntersville, has three more "Top 20" finishes on the lake (including two in February), and has finished in the "Top 12" in the last six tournaments he has fished in (five Elite Series events and the Major League Fishing Summit Cup in Alpena, Mich.). So why will Aaron Martens not win on Guntersville? The pressure to do so may be too great for him on this Alabama stage.


4. Bobby Lane - He’s the other Lane brother, sibling to 2012 Classic champ Chris Lane. But being a Floridian, he knows how to fish vegetation like the grass that fills Guntersville. Then there’s his penchant for strong Classic performances including a couple of "Top 10" finishes. He’s also a top performer on the Elite Series circuit and the Major League Fishing trail. And since brother Chris - who lives at Lake Guntersville - will be the one under the spotlight, don’t be surprised to see brother Bobby take home the family’s second Classic crown.


3. Gary Klein - When Klein made a strong showing at the 1979 Classic on Lake Texoma, few thought he was far away from winning the event. But next week, the Weatherford, Texas angling pro will make his 30th Classic appearance…without notching his name on the sport’s most coveted trophy. So far, at least. But with one of the best resumes in the business - not to mention a couple of strong performances in recent Guntersville events - Klein should be in position to win here. Especially if these next two anglers somehow falter at the end.


2. Edwin Evers - Evers came agonizingly close to winning the AOY title last summer, losing it in the final event to Aaron Martens. That gives the Talala, Okla. pro - who went to college at Southeastern in Durant - ample motivation to get his first Classic win. He’s got the game to do so, holding eight B.A.S.S. titles and the 2013 Major League Fishing Challenge Cup from Florida’s Lake Istokpoga. After failing to capture last year’s Classic in his own backyard, there’s no hometown pressure for Evers this year. That should mean that E-Squared will be near the top of the heap come next Sunday.


1. Kevin VanDam - Four Classic titles. Seven AOY titles. 20 wins and more than $5.5 million in career earnings on his B.A.S.S. resume. And a record-setting smash-fest of a win in the last tournament he fished, the Major League Fishing event last summer in Alpena, Mich. Simply put, Kevin VanDam is the best bass angler in history. With the Klamazoo, Mich. angler all but owning Guntersville over the last decade, there’s little reason to believe that KVD doesn’t win and accomplish the "Drive for Five" next week on Guntersville. He’s the best now - and the best ever - and the guess here is that he’ll prove it once again next week in Alabama.