Monday, November 3, 2008

Rockin' College Basketball Preview - Part 1

It's that time of year again. A chill is in the air, Chris Berman is interviewing presidential candidates, and college basketball is tipping off around the country. Sure, you've seen the preseason polls and the national previews, but who really knows a lot about all these teams at this juncture? Well fear not, readers. I have come to break down my own personal top 25 in a way every rock music fan can understand. That's right, I will be comparing every team to a rock song - that way you're sure to be able to carry on a water cooler conversation about all the national favorites waaaay before March rolls around. First though, I'll talk about a few local teams before I get into the rankings.

Rhode Island
If it's not clear yet to our readers yet, let me clarify - I bleed Rhody Blue. Much like GHABB,Y~! with the Florida Gators, URI is "my thing." I know very few fans, no one I talk to seems to care about them, but every since I can remember I have been an absolute die-hard Ram fan. I've cried over like 5 sporting events in my life, and 4 of them have been URI related. I still maintain my season tickets, opting for the "weekend package", making the trek from Boston down to the Ryan Center about 10 times a year. But enough personal crap, last year was a strange year for the Rams. They started off 19-3, good for some Top 25 action and plenty of national love. Then they proceeded to absolutely collapse, losing 9 of their last 11 games, finishing with a 21-12 record and a first round NIT exit. Seems like that has been the story in recent years for URI - they start off awesome and just get worse as they go along. That's why this team from The Ocean State is like The Ocean by Led Zeppelin. This song starts off so kick-ass, with a crazy Page riff totally rocking you, and then the a cappella harmony with Plant and Bonham in the middle...but then...ugh. The hokey little shuffle towards the end, with the "Aw, so good!" lyrics from Plant is just so dreadful. It completely ruins the entire song for me, and I often turn it off or block it out before it gets to that part of the tune. Much like URI basketball, I like focus on the first half of awesomeness rather than the crappy ending.

Ah yes, the "other" team from Rhode Island. PC comes into this year with a new coach, signing Keno Davis from last year's NCAA upset favorite Drake University. And with the new coach comes optimism for a strong season. However, as you will see from my rankings, this is going to be by far one of the strongest years for the Big East in their history. The Friars may do well in their out-of-conference schedule, but once they're facing their Big East foes, they are likely in serious trouble. And it sucks for them, because any other year they could probably do some damage and content for a NCAA bid. But not this season, and because they wish things were different, they remind me of I'd Love to Change the World by Ten Years After. An absolute kick-ass song with a face-melting solo by underrated guitarist Alvin Lee, the Friars would love for the Big East to be slightly less kick-ass this year.

Boston College
Ah yes, Hazel Mae's Landing Strip's own BC Eagles. The good news for the Eagles this year is they're returning their leading scorer and best player Tyrese Rice. This first-team All-ACC beast is the core of BC's offense, and they're going to rely on his play throughout the year. Like Providence, they're going to struggle in a very tough conference, but expect Rice to put on quite a show in his senior season before likely getting drafted for a unmemorable NBA career (sorry, he's just too short). Since the Eagles are basically going to live and die with his play, Boston College is much like Live and Let Die by Wings. Much like the song, the Eagles are certainly going to have some explosive moments, but in the end they'll be kind of a letdown when people realize that without Rice, BC wouldn't be anything special. Sound familiar, McCartney?

The Minutemen were probably the best local team in college basketball last year, and I don't think this year will be any different. Even though the lose stud Gary Forbes to the NBA, they still have plenty of depth to replace the production of the reigning A-10 Player of the Year. But this year, they'll be doing it with excellent ball-handling guards rather than a beastly big man like Forbes. Expect to see a backcourt of Chris Lowe and Ricky Harris control the tempo and control the scoring, much like the song Complete Control by The Clash. With a punching riff and raspy lyrics from Joe Strummer, this is by far one of my favorite Clash songs. And who cares if it's about fucking the system? I can't think of a better song for a state that's about to decriminalize marijuana.

Ah yes, the forgotten college team from Massachusetts. The four teams above really highlight the four biggest D1 basketball schools in New England (Note: I do not consider Connecticut part of New England. Fuck Connecticut.) and they're really all you think of when you think local college ball. But this year Northeastern might have the best chance to go to the Dance out of all of them. True, they only went 14-17 last year, but they improved as the season wore on, and they're bringing back their top 9 (NINE!!!) scorers. The CAA in general retained a lot of players (surprisingly the CAA to NBA bridge is not well travelled), but expect the Huskies to make some noice in the conference. And since everyone around here will likely be focusing on BC and UMass, the Huskies fit the song Don't You (Forget About Me) by Simple Minds. This one is kind of self-explanatory, and this tune popularized by The Breakfast Club fits this forgotten Boston team.

Now that the local teams are out of the way, let's start running down my Top 25:

25. Wisconsin
The Badgers squeak into my rankings here at the 25 spot, and I have to say it's their history that put them over the hump and got them in here. The defending Big 10 Champions lost their top scorer and rebounder, but I really think their #2 scorer Marcus Landry is going to emerge as one of the better players in the country this year. Plus, it's hard to bet against head coach Bo Ryan. Whether he's drawing up a sick 2-3 zone defense or just doing the Soulja Boy, Ryan is one on my fav. D1 coaches to watch. And based on his playbook skills, the Badgers remind me of Everyday I Write the Book by Elvis Costello. This awesome track has a hard-hitting bass line that Bo Ryan can certainly dance to, plus Marcus Landry has some sick Elvis Costello-like goggles. Dudes with glasses always get extra points.

24. Davidson
Let's get something straight right off the bat: Stephen Curry is a fucking monster. Like seriously, this guy scores at will on the court, then visits your dorm and requests that you forfeit your girlfriend so he can continue scoring. Dude dropped 26 ppg last year and DIDN'T go to the NBA, which pretty must ensures us that Davidson won't be one of those Cinderella teams that makes a run one year and gets forgotten the next. These guys are going to be the real deal this year, and it all starts with Curry. Expect them to shock some people, which is why I'm assigning them the tune Shock the Monkey by Peter Gabriel. Just remember now, when the Wildcats start blowing teams out of the gym, remind the shocked folks that Smarty Barrett saw this coming.

23. Florida
And we find the apple of GHABB,Y~!'s eye here at 23. The Gators had a real down year last season, missing the tourney and getting bounced in the NIT by the aforementioned Minutemen of UMass. Coach Billy Donavan (former standout at the aforementioned Providence College) was none too happy with his team last year, so expect big-time improvement this year. And I'm not saying it will happen just because Donovan wills his team to get better, I'm saying it because resident cracker Nick Calathes has a full season under his belt and he's going to rock his pasty whiteness all over the floor. This guy is the full package, offense, defense, rebounding, assists, you name it. Combine him with 3-point machine Jai Lucas, also entering his sophomore year, and the Gators have some real talent emerging in these two. With Calathes disappearing during a snow storm and Lucas being a real-deal black man, I'm calling Ebony and Ivory by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder the song for the Gators. These two guys are going to combine whiteness and blackness into a great season for Florida. And yes, GHABB,Y~!, I intentionally picked a crappy song to piss you off.

22. Wake Forest
The Demon Deacons are certainly poised to get back to the big tourney this year. They're returning every single scholarship player from last year, and they're also adding three stud prospects, all ranked in the top 50 recruits by nearly every media site you can find. The big strength for Wake this year is going to be their speed. It may take an early hit as Ishmael Smith busted his foot in preseason and needed surgery, but he should be good to go very soon. And when he's full strength, there won't be many teams in the country than can run with these guys. Being that they have a player named Ishmael, I was tempted to go with Moby Dick by Led Zeppelin as their song, but I can't ignore how much their going to ride their lightning-quick speed. So, you guessed it, Ride the Lightning by Metallica is the song for the Demon Deacons. James Hetfield is reading this right now and suing me.

21. Arizona State
Not particularly known for their academic prowess, the Sun Devils will look to improve on a season that saw their NCAA bubble burst on Selection Sunday. Once again, their returning all of their stars and coach Herb Sendek is building a solid program. They were one of the nation's most improved teams last year, and this year they figure to get even better. Clearly Herb runs a solid ship, but it likely doesn't involve players going to class. Because, come on, who goes to college to do that? It's Arizona State, for cripes sake. So that is why the Sun Devils are awarded the ever-popular tune Another Brick in the Wall, Part II by Pink Floyd. Ah, I'm sure it's a fine institution...

So there's part one of my three-part preview. Be sure to rip my college basketball knowledge, my music knowledge, or preferrably both in the comments!


GHABB,Y~! said...

Nick Calathes is a walking triple-double, and the Gators have one of the top three recruiting classes in the country. To rank them at 23 is an insult. If Speights had come back, they would've been a legit national championship contender, as is, they're at least top-15. Though Jai Lucas is the only 5-10 guard on the planet who plays like he's 5-3.

Also, ASU = sleeper Pac-10 champ pick. Harden is fucking money.

SmartyBarrett said...

The loss of Speights gives the Gators no front-court threat though. They need a scorer and a rebounder there before I'm sold. If Vargas or...the other guy (too lazy to look it up) become that guy then I'll choke on my words. But too soon to put them top 15.

Harden will have more steals than Hansbrough will have bloody noses this year. Now THAT'S an accomplishment.

futuremrsrickankiel said...

Damn... this definitely marks the first time in memory that I've bothered to learn anything about college basketball before, oh, the last week in February. Nicely done!