(Editors’ Note: Call us Tar Heels haters all you want. We’re not, at absolute worst we’re Tar Heel ambivalents but the reality is the following: going into next week Sacramento State will have played Kansas State, Stanford, Oregon and Marquette on the road. North Carolina will have played BYU and Pennsylvania. Yes we know those are fine teams, but unless the Orange Bowl selection committee is picking this year’s Final Four we wouldn’t get too excited just yet.)
2. Memphis – Memphis is to College Basketball 2007-08 what USC was to College Football 2007-08. Inspirers of all things hyperbole while still a work in progress, they’re neither as good nor as bad as we perceive them to be. On the list of undefeateds they’re the lock to lose first. They’re also the lock for the Final Four.
3. Kansas – Don’t think we don’t know what you’re doing, Kansas. Tarting yourself up in that short skirt to show off the results of those pilates classes you’ve been taking, making nice with us, inviting us over for dinner, we’re not falling for it. We’ve been hurt too many times before. Don’t lose our number though.
5. Georgetown – Certified Final Four material right now, but here’s my issue. College baseball is a great sport but falls short of required viewing because they use equipment, specifically aluminum bats, that gives them more in common with T-ball than major league baseball. Hell, even the Baseball Furies had the good sense to use wood bats. Now it’s not exactly the same thing, but college basketball having 5 personal fouls per player unlike the 6 allowed by the NBA often changes the dynamics of a game in a way unseen in pro ball. For instance, a team that relies on a dominant big man, like Georgetown, can be screwed should said big man pick up two quickies. Yes I know colleges use aluminum bats because they’re cheaper, and I know college hoops has five fouls because there’s less running time and the end of games are too damn long as it is. I’m not saying I have the answer, I just wish there was one and we wouldn’t have games like Sunday’s Cal/Kansas State game where DeVon Hardin saw more time on the floor in pre-games warm-ups than he did the first half.
6. Duke – Josh McRoberts is currently 42nd on David Thorpe’s rookie rankings, a few ahead of Marcin Gortat and just behind such luminaries as Joel Anthony and Carl Landry. Remember when this kid was a potential Lottery pick? Duke fans don’t.
7. Washington State – Believe it, Wazzou is a legitimate threat to UCLA in the Pac-10. They’re balanced, smart, well-coached, and play defense as if they were told they were going to school on the West Coast and then had to spend four years in Pullman, Washington.
8. UCLA – It’s ironic that a team whose success is so predicated on their mastery of the fundamentals (passing, man defense) could ultimately be undermined by their inability to be consistent with THE fundamental (jump shooting).
9. Michigan State
11. Pittsburgh – After several years of building teams around Chris Taft, Chevon Troutman, Aaron Gray, and other amorphous leviathans, the Panthers have started walking upright and are finally learning how to use tools. Now let’s see if playing more uptempo can finally evolve them past the second weekend of the Tournament.
13. Indiana – The Washington State of the Big Ten – much, much more dangerous than you realize. Now that I think about it, that makes them the Amy Winehouse of the Big Ten.
14. Texas A&M – Is Aggie apathy outside of College Station and the Bush administration a direct result of school colors that conjure all the excitement of my grandmother’s Christmas sweatpants?
15. Clemson – Trying to make an impression on the committee now, as the NIT likes to reward early season success with home games.
17. Xavier – I was going to make a joke about Drew Lavender having played with both Stacey King and Ebe Ere, but now that I think about it I’m not sure he didn’t.
18. Butler – If the early season is any indication, and as much as we’d like to pretend that it’s not it almost certainly is, stay tuned for an apocalyptic March. This may be yet another year where a well placed mid-major in the Elite Eight wins you your tournament. We bring this up because Butler could easily be that team.
20. Vanderbilt – Mr. Inside (A.J. Ogilvy) + Mr. Outside (Shan Foster) + Fucked-up home court = SEC Champs.
21. Arizona – No jokes about Lute, because frankly it looks pretty shitty whatever it is. As far as the Cats are concerned, maybe it’s too early to say we told you so but they sure look a hell of a lot better relying more on Jerryd Bayless and less on Jud Buechler, I mean Chase Budinger.
22. Louisville – Ladies and gentleman, we give you Derrick Caracter, the most ironically named athlete since Rod Smart.
24. Saint Mary’s – In the long run, playing a good team on a hostile floor will be good for the Gaels. Of course, in the short run they’ll be rewarded by being lumped in the purgatory that is Others Receiving Votes in next week’s poll.