The AP Top 25: New, Improved, and The Likely Source of Public Ridicule In Two Months

As a show of good faith for our extended absence from the blogosphere, we’re unveiling our new, improved look inside the AP Top 25. Like the USA Today, it includes shiny graphics and is written for a fourth-grade reading level.

Each team in the Top 25 is assigned a label. The key for that labeling system is as follows.

tilleyjpg.gif For The Elite we use the New Yorker’s Eustace Tilley, symbol of elitism for almost 100 years.

earnie_shavers23.jpg For The Contenders it’s our favorite 1970’s heavyweight contender from the golden era of heavyweights, Earnie Shavers.

pretenders1.jpg The Pretenders get…well, I think it’s fairly obvious, though I think it’s important to point out that we used the original lineup as the first two albums are certified classics while the succeeding ones were certified classics to your dad.

bateman1.jpg Don’t sleep on The Darkhorses, the teams who, like Jason Bateman’s career, you just never saw coming. They’re legit, as is Bateman for those of you who didn’t watch “Arrested Development”. According to the ratings and the show’s subsequent demise, that’s most of you, but like these teams you’re only hurting yourself if you continue to miss out.  

lithium-2.jpg 600 mg of Lithium for The Bipolars, typically big conference teams we could easily see losing to the Mountain West champ in the first round, yet have the talent to prove everyone wrong and make a run as a 9 seed.

1. North Carolina tilleyjpg.gif

2. Memphis tilleyjpg.gif

3. Kansas tilleyjpg.gif

In a fit of either extreme juvenile egotism or paranoid solipsism, I am now convinced that whatever I do with Kansas in my pool will determine their fate. Should I pick them to lose in the Final Four, they will win their first Championship since Larry Brown was lucky enough to hire this guy named Ed Manning as an assistant coach and then found out his son was, like, a really good basketball player. Should I pick them to win they will lose to a 6 seed in the Elite Eight. Bad news for me, good news for you if you know which way I’m leaning.

4. UCLA tilleyjpg.gif

Among the other things we did during our time off spent catching up on the docket of Lifetime Original Movies, was to have a live view of Russell Westbrook’s near-Frederic Weising of Jamal Boykin against Cal on January 5. Having seen both of Cal’s games against the LA schools, the conspicuous difference between the two opponents is jarring. Tim Floyd and Ben Howland both procured the one freshman they dearly wanted, but the difference with the Bruins is that no matter how big the dog, they go to Westwood knowing that they will need to buy into a system. The same can be said, for better or for worse, of coaches like Coach K and Dean Smith. Not so in South Central, where it is clear that to a certain extent the lunatics are running the asylum. With UCLA there is a clear commitment to playing defense and crashing boards, from the tallest of high school phenom freshmen to the shortest of walk-on seniors. You can’t get lazy with passes and on the boards or the Bruins will bury you. In comparison, USC looks to only have a commitment to disarray.

5. Georgetown earnie_shavers23.jpg

We’re going to keep the Hoyas as Contenders even after their loss to Pitt, but they’re on watch. Poor Roy Hibbert really should have cashed in his chips, but he can still be a force in the middle, and we like the backcourt especially if freshman Austin Freeman continues to develop. He, along with Vernon Macklin, who had moments against Pitt where he looked like a player, are the X factors for Georgetown.

6. Tennessee pretenders1.jpg

Here’s the thing with Tennessee – both their offense (threes) and defense (steals) is predicated on a gambling philosophy. They do both well, but that’s not exactly a strategy you want to rely on in a one-and-done format. Kansas and UCLA get buckets of steals as well, but their all-around perimeter and interior team defenses make the Vols’ look as permissive as Indonesian child labor laws. 

7. Duke earnie_shavers23.jpg

8. Washington State earnie_shavers23.jpgpretenders1.jpgbateman1.jpg

Our most wishy-washy pick. We hesitated to dub them a darkhorse except there still seems to be a contingent of the unconvinced or uninformed out there. Don’t be. We also think they are legitimate threats to just about anyone, but their prolonged scoring droughts and the lack of a go-to offensive threat (whither Kyle Weaver?) concerns us.

9. Indiana earnie_shavers23.jpg

10. Texas A&M lithium-2.jpg

11. Michigan State pretenders1.jpg

We know Tom Izzo likes to win ugly but fuck, I’d rather watch Kelly Osbourne stretch in a bikini.

12. Butler earnie_shavers23.jpg

The SEC sucks, the ACC is down, the Big 10 and Big 12 are woefully shallow. This could be a big year for the little boys in the Tourney, but the truth is this Butler team would be a threat in any year. Love the Bulldogs – they can shoot their way past anyone, a characteristic for any March David, but with freshman post Matt Howard they now have the requisite beef down low. Sweet Sixteen may not be appreciated as much as it is expected.  

13. Marquette earnie_shavers23.jpg

The one team everyone seems most ready to write off. We’ve already made our feelings on future Italian League All-Star Dominic James known, but that’s a pretty damn good college backcourt and if Hayward and Barro can carry the freight inside they will make some noise in March. All that being said, they’re going to lose to Louisville tonight.

14. Dayton pretenders1.jpg

15. Pittsburgh pretenders1.jpg

We admit this sucks, because if this team were healthy we’re convinced they could finally break past the Sweet Sixteen, but the injury gods have been most unkind.

16. Vanderbilt pretenders1.jpg

Nice team, but this is bad, bad year for the SEC, and unfortunately they can’t take that stupid arena to the Tournament. 

17. Wisconsin lithium-2.jpg

18. Mississippi pretenders1.jpg

19. Texas lithium-2.jpg

20. Xavier earnie_shavers23.jpg

21. Miami pretenders1.jpg

Somebody has to finish 3rd in the ACC.

22. Arizona State lithium-2.jpg

23. Rhode Island bateman1.jpg

We’re kind of pissed that our favorite sleeper is now ranked, but Rhode Island should be winning games deep into March even if they can no longer sneak up on people. We love the Will Daniels/Jimmy Baron inside/outside combination. Plus they have a guy named Parfait, a highly underrated dessert, though we’d like them even more if he were named Creme Brulee.

24. Clemson pretenders1.jpg

25. Villanova pretenders1.jpg

The Oscar voters who thought “Crash” was Best Picture think the Wildcats belong in the Top 25. 

  

I Ain’t Dead Yet (Not in the Top 25 but could make some noise in March):

  • Louisville/Arizona – Both are better than half the teams above. The five votes to Arizona is a nice gesture for scheduling the toughest slate in the country and having their best player out for a couple of weeks.
  • Notre Dame 
  • Oregon
  • New Mexico 
  • St. Mary’s 
  • Syracuse – The Orangemen still have a lot of talent, and as much as everyone seems to want to write them off as “too young”, we can’t help but remember the last time that was said about a Syracuse team.

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