The Tarheels are just too easy. A flawless team in a flawed college basketball season; a roster with no weaknesses when virtually every other roster in every other conference has myriad; and a four year star in an era of one and done’s. Yes, March in North Carolina is going to be something special this season…assuming you’re a Duke fan.
It’s always tough to tell which Husky team we’ll see in a given season, the highly rated one that gets upset in the first round of the tournament, or the highly rated one that gets upset in the Elite Eight.
Good enough for us to make a momentary digression. Given that Pitino is still synonymous in hoops circles with college to pro futility should it worry a person that one of his star players (Francisco Garcia) and one of his star assistants (Reggie Theus) are two of the foundations of your favorite NBA team?
At this point penciling in the Bruins for another Final Four is a mere formality. Ben Howland is simultaneously one of the greatest recruiters and defensive coaches in all of college hoops. Unfortunately the two don’t always lend themselves well to one another. If Howland had Pete Maravich on his roster for three seasons the Pistol would be leaving with averages of 12 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists.
As has been discussed in these parts previously College Basketball is the one sport where coaching clichés and generalizations tend not to last. Given the length of the season, structure of the tournament and instantaneous improvements of incoming kids a coach can fairly easily outlive his legacy (see Boeheim, Jim and Carmelo Anthony) or just as easily live theirs down (see Calhoun, Jim and UConn’s tournament history in the post-Emeka era.) Point being each and every year Pitt gets us geared up for a Final Four and each and every year stops just short. Not this year.
Michigan’s year in review: The auto industry is on the brink of collapse; Kwame Kilpatrick is embarrassed out of office; the Wolverines are channeling their inner Lions; the Lions are channeling their inner Lions; Kid Rock is channeling his inner Rob Thomas; and Semi-Pro was the least successful Will Ferrell film since Drowning Mona. This ranking may be the only inspiring thing to happen The Great Lakes State in the entirety of 2008.
You know what we were saying about coaching clichés and outliving legacies in the Pitt section? That doesn’t apply to Rick Barnes.
Probably the most underreported but intriguing storyline in regards to Krzyzewski’s sojourn with Team USA is his relationship with Kobe Bryant. Speculating on the collegiate careers of penultimate preps to pros is a favorite game of college hoops fans but none more so than Kobe and Duke. No two figures in all of basketball have legacies so dependent on one another while that dependence is simultaneously completely useless. Without Kobe Krzyzewski will forever remain haunted by the legacy of Duke NBA busts. And without Krzyzewski Kobe will perpetually have to answer questions about his deficiencies as a teammate. And we’ll all be left to wonder if the two, already considered insufferable by the public at large, could really have been that much less liked.
So let’s recap, Connecticut, UCLA, Pitt, Michigan State and Notre Dame are all in the preseason Top 10. The question you should be asking isn’t “Will this be one of the most boring seasons in the history of college basketball?” It is “Will this be the most boring season in the history of college basketball?”
People talk about this team as still being fairly young but doesn’t it seem like the roster’s been around for forever? Didn’t Heytvelt and Rony Turiaf share the same front court? Wasn’t Jeremy Pargo a Dan Monson recruit? Why is Richie Frahm still playing? Oh, sorry about that Matt Bouldin.
Take heart Big 10 fans, after spending four months being inaccurately told you have the worst conference in college football you get to spend the next four months accurately being told you have the worst conference in college basketball.
The Big 12, where the football teams score like basketball teams and the basketball teams score like football teams.
Calipari’s kids could discover a stomach cancer cure during the third quarter of a February game against UAB and pundits would still complain about their inability to hit free throws.
Top 25 polls aren’t always the best indicator of conference quality. Tennessee may be one of only two SEC teams in these rankings but we have a gut feeling, with Florida on the rebound, Georgia on the rise and Trent Johnson at LSU, that this could be as durable a season as we’ve seen from the Southeastern Conference.
As for Kentucky? They’ll just have to take comfort in Pat Forde’s Ashley Judd induced erection.
Perhaps the most underrated aspect of Lute Olsen’s tenure in Tucson was his ability to recruit Southern California effortlessly without giving short shrift to prep stars in Phoenix. This almost never happens. But given the hometowns of this year’s Sun Devils squad, and given our feeling that this ranking is a little low for them, it appears Herb Sendek figured that formula out much sooner than we ever could have thought or Wildcat fans could have feared.
The best part about this ranking? We’ve already established the long-term highlight of Buzz Williams’ wikipedia bio.
How is it that a school with a football program synonymous with Michael Irvin, Ray Lewis and Jeremy Shockey has a basketball program synonymous with…John Salmons?
What would make DeMar DeRozan’s one year tenure as a Trojan more successful than his predecessor’s? Saving Tim Floyd from another first round upset or spending Bill Duffy’s money at someplace other than the Carson Sizzler?
Florida is always so much more entertaining when it has a scrawny white kid with a flat top dishing out no look passes. Speaking of, while it is well established that Pat Calathes, former Temple standout, is Nick Calathes’ older brother, why, consequently, hasn’t there been a bigger deal made about Nick’s younger brother, the Gators head basketball coach?
That this ranking makes no sense is exactly why it makes perfect sense, at least for Davidson. We don’t dispute the magic of March Madness nor the good fortune of a virtual home crowd your first few days of the tourney. But to dismiss this team as a Cinderella novelty hurts only the other 19 squads they’re ranked below. Allow us to momentarily channel our inner Skip Bayless. There is a whole hell of a lot of good basketball teams in North Carolina this year, this team we believe to be the best.
Side-note, are we the only ones intrigued by where Curry gets drafted next year? Particularly with the Bobcats and their xenophobic tendencies competing in the lottery with the Kings and their love of scrawny shooting guards.
Because so many potential one and dones have ended up one and dones the talent pool in college basketball is stretched strangely thin this season. Incoming Freshmen aren’t so much additions as stopgaps, Kevin Love leaves UCLA? Here’s Drew Gordon. Kosta Koufas leaves Ohio State? Here’s B.J. Mullens. Derrick Rose leaves Memphis? Here’s Tyreke Evans. Wake is one of the few classes where the blue chips aren’t addition by subtraction. In a wide open season that should mean something.
Georgetown & Villanova
For those keeping score at home there are the sixth and seventh Big East teams to make the rankings, which brings us to one of the season’s more intriguing storylines, whether or not Myles Brand would at all consider including Euroleague teams in the 2009 tournament.
Now that Bill Self’s gotten that championship out of his system it’ll be nice to see him returning to his old self and us to ours; Kansas will be getting knocked out of the first round of the tourney by some WCC team and we’ll have said Kansas team in our Final Four.
One of our bosses is from Wisconsin and we figured we put the Badgers in strictly as a favor to him. Until we realized we weren’t making the list, only commenting on it.