It's almost here!!! I hope everyone is as pumped as I am...the college hoops season opens on Monday with a pair of games. So here we are, only 10 more teams left to preview, and they're what I think are the ten best teams in the country. If you're wondering how we got here, check out Part 1 and Part 2. Onward!
How could a team that lost so many nasty players still have such a stacked roster? Boggles my mind. Chris Lofton is gone, Ramar Smith is gone, as is JaJuan Smith. Those are three big guys to lose. Yet they still have big men Tyler Smith and "he of the two-sizes-too-small-headband" Wayne Chism. Combine those two with big time freshman Scotty Hopson and returning swingman J.P. Price and these guys keep the stars rolling through. Kind of reminds me of the song Long Train Runnin' by The Doobie Brothers. Every time a few stud players leave, a few more come running in with this team. Look for them to smoke a few teams as they bowl over the competition in the SEC.
9. Michigan State
Gone is resident cracker Drew Neitzel, but Michigan State is still one of the stronger teams in the Big 10. A big reason for that is big forward Raymar Morgan. He's tall, strong, he can score, he's great with his back to the basket, he attacks the glass, and he blocks shots. Combine him with center Goran Suton and guard Kalin Lucas and the Spartans are ready to contend for a Big 10 title. Also keep an eye on freshman Delvon Row, a big 6-8 freshman and top prospect. He should give Michigan State some solid minutes off the bench. With all the big men the Spartans have, I'm going to award them the song Mr. Big by Free. And Rayman Morgan is going to be Mr. Big.
Let's make some boilers! Purdue returns all five starters this year, two of them coming off solid freshman seasons. They're led by Robbie Hummel, who can score down low and crash the boards, but can also pop out and drain 3's. He's also Mr. Automatic from the line. Combine him with other top scorers in E'Twaun Moore and Keaton Grant and the Boilermakers will have a solid offense. But where they're going to win games is on defense. Coach Matt Painter works his players hard, and they may have the best overall D in the Big 10. I'm going to award them the song I'm a Man by The Spencer Davis Group because of their tough man-to-man defense. They'll be in that almost exclusively this season, and they can't help but love it so.
At first glance, this team looks unbelievable. Sure they lost Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook, but they still have point guard and 3-point assassin Darren Collison, as well as Josh Shipp on the wing. Combine those with true freshmen Jrue Holliday, Malcolm Lee, and J'Mison Morgan. Holliday is likely the only one who will start, but the other two will play big roles off the bench. No doubt this team is going to be nasty, but I wonder how much they will miss Kevin Love. Right now their center is Alfred Aboya. Who? Well, he's a senior who has played solidly off the bench for the past few seasons and obviously has experience, but clearly he's not ready to replace an All-American. That's why I'm going with the tune A World Without Love by Peter and Gordon. This song was actually written by Paul McCartney and credited to Lennon/McCartney. The British duo recorded it in 1964, and UCLA is going to find out what a world without Kevin Love is like this season.
6. Notre Dame
Two words: Luke. Harangody. With all due respect to a certain Beaker from the Muppets look-alike, I think Harangody is the best player in the country. He's first team All-American in the pre-season, and really, what can't this guy do? He's an absolute prolific scorer with over 20 ppg on average, he rebounds in double digits, he's tall, he works the paint, he blocks shots... he is the real deal. Combine him with another ghost face in Kyle McAlarney and the Irish are not going to have any problems on offense. McAlarney is a threat from the outside, burying 108 threes last year while dropping 15 ppg. With this inside-outside game the Irish have in place, it makes me think of Squeeze Box by The Who. In and out and in and out...wait...so that song's NOT about an efficient offensive system?
Maybe I should just call this entire deal a Big East Preview, because I'm basically going over every team in the damn conference. They have four legit national championship contenders in my mind, and here's one of them now. The Panthers took a big hit last year when Levance Fields broke his foot in a game against Dayton, ended up missing 12 games, and even when he returned to the lineup he was visibly not 100%. When he finally was back to full strength, it really showed how much this team needs him. He averaged 21 ppg in the NCAA tourney last year while shooting over 50%. Combine him with impact big men DeJuan Blair and Sam Young and Pitt is going to be a lot better this year. Which is why their song is Getting Better by the Beatles. Just make sure to stay away from the brown acid.
Let me make one thing clear. I hate Duke. Always have, always will. I remember being a kid and wanting to fight Christian Laettner. I hated JJ Reddick and I hate hate HATE Greg Paulus. Seriously, fuck those racist ass white assholes. And fuck Duke. What is doubly frustrating is that they are going to absolutely tool on URI next Sunday, they're going to have a sick team, and they may very well make the Final Four. Paulus will run the show by hitting threes, flopping, and crying like a little bitch. They also have Gerald Henderson (not white!!! someone in admissions got fired for that one I bet) who really came on down the stretch last year, leading them to another choke job in the NCAA Tourney. So Duke, I am awarding you the song We Built This City by Starship. Why? Because I hate that fucking song. Deal with it.
"The negativity in this town sucks." Well Mr. Pitino, you've come a long way since that, now commanding one of the best college basketball programs in the country. I'm hesitant to put this many Big East teams this high, but even though they'll beat the crap out of each other in conference play, I'm basing the rankings on chances at a national title. And this team has some stacked guard play. How many times do you see a team with four...FOUR (!!!) guards who have been full-time starers in D1 ball in their careers? And these guys aren't slouches, believe it. It starts with Jerry Smith, a point guard who can score off the dribble, dish to the open man, and even rebound a bit. Mix in Edgar Sosa, who began last season as a starter, Andre McGee who emerged as stud which forced Sosa to the bench, and Mississippi State transfer Reginald Delk. Guard play wins in the tourney, and guard depth like this is a once in a lifetime thing. Which is why their song is Once in a Lifetime by Talking Heads. And to think, I didn't even mention Earl Clark!
OK, we're finally done with Big East teams, and this is the best of the bunch. These guys would have been included in my local preview if I didn't think they were one of the best teams in the country. The Huskies have a well-balanced offense that includes three potential lottery picks. The first is point guard A.J. Price. This dude combines scoring and passing so well that he might just be the best pure PG in the country. Then there's forward Jeff Adrien, who is an animal down low - he can score and he can sure as hell rebound. His presence on the block is huge. Combine him with Hasheem Thabeet and this lineup is really something to be reckoned with. Thabeet is maybe the most intimidating player - he's 7'3", he averages close to 5 blocks per game, he scores, and he rebounds. He is a huge key for UConn this year, which is why I'm picking We Got the Beat by the Go-Go's. Think about it. Corny? You bet.
1. North Carolina
No drumroll necessary. These guys are the best team in the country. Period. I mean, look at this lineup! It starts with He Who Must Not Be Named, who is an automatic double-double, putting up 20 and 10 night in and night out. He also rocks a SuperCuts haircut better than any white big man since Detlef Schrempf. Combine him with Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington, and Danny Green and holy. shit. This team is going to have to fuck up a lot to not be ranked #1 wire-to-wire. Sure bet 1 seed in the dance and a Final Four appearance. As if we didn't have enough Karate Kid references on the blog, I'm going with the song You're the Best by Joe Esposito. GHABB,Y~! is going to be so proud.
So there you have it. 30 teams, 3 sluts with guitars, 2 people who actually read this, and one blogger who loves some college ball. Let's tip it up already!