OK it’s just about that time. Baseball is finito, ESPN is in full on “NFL ALL DAY EVERYDAY UNTIL IT HURTS!!!” mode, and it’s getting effing cold in the Northeast. That can only mean one thing…National Novel Writing Month college basketball is about to finally tip-off. We’re not that into the whole preseason prediction crap–we’ll leave that to the talking heads. But even so we must post something. So we will stick to a quick top ten, as we finally get this blog rolling.
#5 DUKE BLUE DEVILS
There’s a lot of Dukie haters out there, we fully understand that. Those haters are already piping off about how Kyle Singler and Greg Paulus have no business being in the discussion of All-Americans. They’re piping off about how Coach K will surely have an Olympic hangover, and they’re piping off about how Duke is a school for tools. We get that, but Duke is back.
Despite only three tournament wins in the past three seasons, the Blue Devils will have a swagger again, despite having the highest percentage of Caucasians in this top ten. That’s OK though, cause white boys can shoot and usually come from wealthy families that were able to pay for superior private education. This means they are smart and resourceful.
Expect an unbelievable season from Gerald Henderson. This guy is a poor (yes very poor) man’s version of Kobe Bryant, with his ability to slash and beat anyone off the dribble. Nolan Smith will see more minutes this year, and can play any guard position, as well as help out Paulus at the point.
Also take note of incoming freshman Elliot Williams. He’s drawing Jason Williams comparisons, which is good news for Cameron Crazies. He also has a nick name: E-Mail, we guess that kind of makes sense. They rumble with UNC on February 11th, and again on March 8th to close out the season. Hopefully the Dukies, and “E-Mail”, can fill the Tar Heels inbox with spam. ZING!!!!!!!
#4 MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS
It’s easy to forget about how consistent the Michigan State program has been under Tom Izzo. But hey, they play in the Big 10 and that conference can’t really be analogized with anything overly exciting.
Despite losing fan favorite Drew Neitzel, the Spartans return more experienced and more athletic. Kalin Lucas will take over the point. He’s a solid all-around player who will pose more of a scoring threat than Neitzel. Raymar Morgan is the league’s most versatile player and our darkhorse for national player of the year. And while he won’t make or break the season, Idong Ibok is back. He’s off the charts in terms of unintentional humor.
Keep an eye on incoming freshman Delvin Roe, who missed much of his senior year of high school after severely injuring his left knee. Tom Izzo is high on this kid who is from talent rich Ohio and could make an immediate impact once he’s 100 percent.
College basketball enthusiasts will get a good read on the Spartans early in the season, as they once again have some great match-ups against the likes of UNC and Kansas, and are playing in the Old Spice Classic with headliners Gonzaga, Tennessee and Georgetown.
#3 UCONN HUSKIES
If incoming freshman Kemba Walker is as advertised, then Jim Calhoun will just have a ball with his backcourt rotation. Between him and team mainstays AJ Price, Craig Austrie and Jerome Dyson, this quartet could moonlight selling ball-handling instructional DVD’s to AAU coaches across the country.
Price will probably start the season off a little slow. Let’s not forget he suffered a torn ACL in the 1st round of last year’s tournament, which they were beaten at the buzzer by San Diego and bounced from the tourney. Another story line to keep an eye on: Jerome Dyson. He’s gonna have to stop pissing off Jim Calhoun if he wants to stay in the rotation. Hey UCONN fans, does it hurt thinking about all this? Should we cut deeper. OK we’ll stop.
On the flip side, Calhoun absloutely loves Hasheem Thabeet. The big man really came into his own last year, and we expect him to be the most imposing player in the country by the end of the season. Also, don’t forget about Jeff Adrien — “The Banger from Brookline, Mass” (We totally just coined that ourselves). If someone gave us three to one odds that he throws down at some point during the always grueling Big East schedule, we’d wager 50 bucks and expect a $150 payout. We’d also bet on them winning 30+ games, and making the Final Four.
#2 LOUISVILLE CARDINALS
A lot of people get peeved at Rick Pitino, and a lot of people think he gets dressed in the dark, but we like him even though he made a mockery of the Boston Celtics by letting roughly 27 Kentucky Wildcat guys play for the green during his tumultuous tenure. Nonetheless, he’s a great recruiter who has put together a roster of upperclassmen and underclassmen who can all contribute, and will certainly compete for minutes throughout the season.
Earl Clark is back for his junior season, Terrence Williams is our choice for Big East Player of the year, and incoming freshman Samardo Samuels will easily fill the void of David Padgett and Juan Palacios. Thankfully, the negativity in Louisville doesn’t suck like it does in Boston, so their departure won’t lead to a Pitino rant justifying why his team is in shambles. No really we do forgive him, seriously.
Not a lot to complain about this team, except how we’re still not sure how to exactly pronounce Louisville (is it Lulville, Loulville, or Louisville). Whatever, we’re never going to live there so screw em. Just enjoy this team, and their fairly easy schedule even though they’re in the Big East. This team is destined for the Final Four, and a potential 2008 Elite Eight rematch with UNC, only this time it could be for the national title.
#1 NORTH CAROLINA TARHEELS
Duke fans can bitch and moan all they want, so I (Nick) guess I will too, but this could become the season of the ubiquitous Tar Heels. Anyone not predicting UNC to tear down the nets on April 4, 2009 either wants attention, or is a complete and ignorant homer of one of these other nine teams.
We love attention and we hate UNC, but have to be rational and give them their props. Ty Lawson is back, Wayne Ellington is back and, oh yeah, that goon with limited NBA potential who has Medusa like powers when others look at his face, Tyler Hansborough, is back to patrol the middle and bother us tremendously.
The good news for the Tar Heels is obvious: there’s a wealth of talent and experience from top to bottom and that should allow them to overcome any and all obstacles thrown at them. The bad news is they will be expected to win nearly every game, and anything less than a title will certainly be labeled a failure. If they fail it will be awesome but, realistically, don’t expect it to happen.