by TOM WEPPEL
NCAA College Basketball
We are only a few weeks away from the Conference tournaments, which will lead us in to the selection of the 68 teams that will play in the NCAA Tournament, March Madness, and the Final Four!
It seems as if the season has moved along briskly, with plenty of action and multitudes of games available on various networks. When watching the teams in the Top 25, it is easy to see the overall parity that is prevalent in college basketball.
Except, in my opinion, at the top.
If you’ve seen Kentucky (25-1) and Syracuse (26-1) play, the general feeling is they are two pretty powerful teams that have been assembled by two kick-ass Head Coaches in John Calipari and Jim Boeheim.
On top of that, both teams have a solid group of guys that have been contributing! For the Wildcats, it is all about one main standout player, in power forward Anthony Davis, who is averaging about 14 points, 10 rebounds, and 4-5 blocks per game! He has been a dominant force for Kentucky, without a doubt.
For Syracuse, it has been more of a balanced group of guys, with G Scoop Jardine, F Kris Joseph, and C Fab Melo all doing a good job for the Orangemen.
My feeling is these two teams will both get through their respective conference tournaments and land a #1 regional seeding, then get into the Final Four! After that, you can look at a number of various teams who have played well so far this season, including Duke and UNC from the ACC, Missouri and Kansas from the Big 12, and Ohio State and Michigan State from the Big Ten.
In the end, though, it should be Syracuse and Kentucky in the Final.
That said, I also believe the chances of a ‘Cinderella’ emerging this season are quite slim. Of course, you never know…
National Football League
In the past few weeks, a lot of the discussion has, without question, focused on the status of Colts QB Peyton Manning. The storylines and drama surrounding his current status with the Indianapolis Colts are certainly intriguing, to say the least.
As you all know, Manning did not play this past season due to his neck problems. Without question, it led to the Colts having the worst season they’ve had in a long time…since before Peyton came on to the scene over a decade ago.
With the Colts producing the worst record in the NFL this year, they were granted the top pick in the upcoming Draft in April. The consensus opinion is that Indianapolis will choose Stanford QB Andrew Luck, no matter WHAT they do in regards to keeping Manning, or releasing him. Currently, Manning has a contract he signed last year for four years and $90 million. That contract also notes that he should be receiving a bonus amount of $28 million, due to him on March 8th. If he does not get it, then he will be released from his deal and become a free agent.
You can now throw Colts owner Jim Irsay into the mix and discussion! There is a huge question as to how he feels about this whole scenario, and what he will or will not do in regards to his relationship with his QB! Some people are feeling he is doing wrong by possibly letting Manning go. Others feel as though he is making the right move in moving ahead with the rookie QB Luck, and cutting ties with Peyton.
In the last week or so, we have now heard that Manning has indeed had multiple operatic procedures on his neck…and more than three, as was originally reported. It has been reported Manning had (or still has) a bulging disk in his neck/vertebra, which has certainly contributed to his losing arm strength in his throwing arm. Those who have seen Manning in recent private workouts have seen improvement in his physical strength, but also wonder if he can get back to his previous abilities.
And that right there is the bottom-line question! Can Peyton Manning still play like he has in the past, at age 36, after suffering these neck/back problems? Jim Irsay and the Colts certainly want to know!
Consider it the $28 million question!
It is of course possible Irsay and Manning can work something out that will be fair for both sides. It will be quite interesting to see how this whole deal continues to play out. Stay tuned!
National Basketball Association
So far in the last few weeks, the main storyline has easily turned out to be the play of New York Knick point guard Jeremy Lin!
Here’s a kid who, three weeks ago, wasn’t even getting much playing time at all within the normal rotation of Knicks contests! He was relegated to sitting on the bench, watching the action, while his teammates continued to show subpar action, producing a record below .500.
But then Lin was thrown into playing, especially after both Carmelo Anthony (injury) and Amar’e Stoudamire (family death) were not able to play. It gave Jeremy Lin an opportunity to get out on the court and make some things happen.
And that is EXACTLY what he and his teammates have done!
Over the last two weeks, Lin has started at PG, and the Knicks have gone on a seven-game winning streak. They have now climbed back up to an even .500 record. Lin has been scoring over 20 points a game, doing a good job in handing out assists, and performing well enough so that he has drawn a frenzy of interest, from New York fans as well as a slew of Asian basketball and sports fans!
Tickets sales to Knick games have been hot, to say the least! Scalpers have doubled and tripled their sales! Jeremy Lin Knick T-shirts and jerseys have sold out easily in Manhattan and surrounding areas! Its been crazy!
It will now be interesting to see where it goes from here. Will the Knicks continue their winning ways for the rest of the season, especially when they get Carmelo Anthony back? Will Jeremy Lin continue his level of play for the rest of the season? You know that is what a whole lot of Knick and Asian fans are wanting! Should be fun to follow…