Whelan & Dealin’

Whelan & Dealin

Whelan & Dealin’

Ben Whelan

Welcome back sports fans! A lot has happened over the break in the world of sports, so I thought that that I would use this week’s column to try to address as many of these events as possible.

First, just to get them out of the way, let’s talk about the Celtics. They are awful. As Jackie MacMullan wrote in a recent column, and as many in the local media have said, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing as this dreadful edition of the Green Team will have the benefit of being in prime position to draft old man-child and future franchise maker Greg Oden. However, even if the Celtics end up with the worst record in the league, they have a marginal chance of landing the top pick in the draft because of the lottery, and thus throwing away an entire season for nothing (anyone remember the Tim Duncan fiasco?). Furthermore, Oden is also not a lock to declare for the draft after this year, and many people who know him personally and have followed his career have hinted that there is a strong possibility that Oden will remain until at least next year, if not longer. The Celts could still end up with Texas phenom Kevin Durant, but where would he play?

…The Patriots’ recent playoff run has only highlighted one of the teams shortcomings that I’ve been talking about all season, which is Tom Brady’s recent mediocrity. In the final two games of the playoffs, a scrappy win against the Chargers and a heartbreaking loss to the Colts, the team succeeded in spite of Brady (3TDs/4INTs, 57 percent completion, 68.5 QB rating) instead of because of him. It’s clear that this is not the Tom Brady of the recent past and it makes one wonder if there is something to Brady’s often joked about presence on the weekly injury report.

…On the other hand, the quarterback on the winning team of the AFC championship game is finally distancing himself from the label “incapable of winning the big one,” something that has dogged him his entire career. While it is accurate to say that Peyton Manning up to this point had never won a championship, he has led his team to being the second most successful franchise of the oughts after the Patriots, and for the most part his failures have had more to do with his teams than with his play. A lot has also been made of his problems against Bill Belichick, but what quarterback plays consistently well against the Hooded Genius?

…Finally, if you were to pick one year to invest in a cable college basketball package, this would be it. There is heated competition in every major conference and a rejuvenated Pac-10 makes losing sleep to watch their games more than worthwhile. Also, for the first time in a while, there is no consensus number one that steamrolls its way through the regular season, but instead the top ten has fluctuated more than Lindsay Lohan’s weight and will continue to do so right up until the tournament. Each of the top teams has proven to be vulnerable enough to lose to any other team on any given night, which will make for a very interesting and contentious tournament selection process come March. The combination of older stars, like Wisconsin’s Alando Tucker, Florida’s Joakim Noah and Al Horford and Nevada’s Nick Fazekas, and a freshman class that has lived up to its hype, like Oden at Ohio State, Durant at Texas and Brandon Wright at North Carolina, has also made every game a must watch as every team has at least one player worth tuning in to see.