The last time the Georgetown Hoyas were a consensus top 10 ranked preseason team was in the fall of 1995 when they were ranked fifth and led by a skinny sophomore named Allen Iverson. Since then, a lot has changed. That skinny sophomore became one of the NBA’s greatest-ever scoring guards with a distaste for practice, and somehow Tom Cruise and Mel Gibson went from being elite actors to just plain acting insane.
So, as only The Voice can do, we’ll try and recall some of those pop-culture memories from 1995 that can make us appreciate just how long it has been since the basketball program has been this highly regarded in the preseason top 25. Here’s The Voice’s version of the poll.
1995 was the year that Ross, Rachel, Chandler, Phoebe and all the rest graced our T.V. screens with all their annoying quirks for the first time. The reigning champion Florida Gators are the college basketball version of Friends. They just won’t leave each other alone: all five starters are returning for Billy Donovan’s squad. Joaquim Noah’s facial expressions and ponytail are more painful than Phoebe’s singing voice. Yet, just like the show, there’s no doubt they’re the national favorite, and it could be a long time before someone knocks them off.
UNC’s Tyler Hansborough plays with the intensity and effort of William Wallace of Braveheart. This guy’s face is as red as a blood-stained kilt after games from all the jostling and banging he does as the nation’s best low-post scorer. Along with freshman guard Tyson Lawson, the sophomore center should lead the Tar Heels deep into the tournament, so long as he isn’t drawn and quartered by the Cameron Crazies on Tobacco Road.
3. Ohio State:
When Notorious B.I.G. wrote the song “Big Poppa,” he was definitely not talking about Ohio State freshman center Greg Oden. Oden was seven years old at the time. Now he’s seven feet tall and the most highly touted freshman center since Patrick Ewing came to the Hilltop. A wrist injury will keep him out until January, but look for the Buckeyes to blow up like you thought they would late in the season.
The Jayhawks are looking to improve on last year’s first-round ousting by Bradley. Though Kansas is set on the perimeter with sure-fire first-round pick Brandon Rush carrying the scoring load, they’ll be hurting in the paint. They lost senior center Sasha Kaun to a patellar tendon tear. Plus, Jayhawk center C.J. Giles decided to make Manhattan, Kansas a little too much of his own Gangsta’s Paradise for Coach Bill Self’s liking. Several academic and behavioral issues reportedly led to Self suspending the would-be star center for the entire first semester.
The normally husky Glenn “Big Baby” Davis is looking downright svelte coming into this season for the Tigers. The fact that he shed the equivalent poundage of a Blues Traveler lead singer in the off season will make Davis one of the more explosive and versatile big men in the nation. They’ll surely miss their athletic forward Ty Thomas, who helped lead the team to the Final Four and kept Davis away from the cafeteria jambalaya.
Toy Story taught everyone the valuable lesson that your toys do actually walk around and talk when you’re not paying attention to them. Well no one seems to be paying too much attention to the Pac-10 favorite Bruins. Sure, they lost star point guard Jordan Farmar to the city’s pro team, but forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and the rest of the gang just might get up and play their way back home to the Final Four if you leave them be.
“This Is How We Do It”
Since head coach John Thompson III has taken the reigns of the program, he’s definitively digressed from his dad’s style of play and made a point to say “Thiiiis is hooow we dooo iiiit.” O.K., maybe not in so many words or to the beat of Montel Jordan’s jam, but his Princeton-style offense, mixed with the tenacious defense preached by his poppa, should carry the Hoyas into the early spring with a strong record. Plus, record-setting sales in season tickets will have the Blue and Gray feeling so good in their hood, the Verizon Center.
Alando Tucker is one of the most talented forwards in the nation. As versatile as puddle-prone Alex Mack, Tucker is quick enough to squirm past big men down low and strong enough to overpower wings on the outside. He’ll have the Badgers challenging for the Big Ten title, while opponents will be wondering if they’ll have to put themselves through some sort of chemical accident just to keep up with him.
Remember that part in Congo where the silver back gorilla rips one guy’s head off and then throws it at the rest of the group? Scary, right? Well, Aaron Gray and the rest of the Pitt Panthers will provide Georgetown with their biggest scare during Big East play. Gray averaged a double-double last year but has yet to record his first career head-toss.
You might mistake Chase Budinger for the guy who measured your height before you could make your way into the ball pit at McDonald’s years ago. His lanky frame and fiery red mop may draw comparisons to one Ronald Mac, but Wildcat fans know him as the most prized recruit of the Lute Olsen era. This old volleyballer, along with point guard Mustafa Shakur, could have his squad dancing all the way to the Georgia Dome for the Final Four.
Legends of the Hidden Temple
In the show Legends of the Hidden Temple, the young contestants would have to sprint their way through an Aztec-ian obstacle course as part of the final challenge. This part featured grown men dressed as guards who jumped out of hidden corners and trap doors to scare the living crap out of the kids playing (and —I’ll admit it — sometimes those watching). Anyways, Duke is like the guards on this show. You know they’re there, and you know they’re probably going to get you at some point, but there’s not really much you can do about it. Coach K has also taken on the mythical proportions of the big talking rock that hosted the same program. Even with Greg Paulus injured and with an inexperienced roster led by sophomore forward Josh McRoberts, the Dukies will knockout someone in the Sweet 16 just as they’re piecing together the silver monkey.
Buns of Steel
Buns of Steel sold like hot cakes on VHS in 1995. On an unrelated note, Ronald Steele just might be the quickest and best point guard in the country. He and forward Jermareo Davidson will make up one of the best inside-out combos in the country. A tough in-season schedule that features two games against Buns of Steel subscriber Glenn Davis and LSU may keep the Crimson Tide from moving up this list.
13. Boston College:
There was always one kid in class who had more than one great slammer for any time pogs were in play. No one liked this kid. His pogging accessories were in different colors or sparkled a certain way or were heavier than everyone else’s. And he could lose one or give one away and still have some of the best slammers around to spike on your pogs when you might least expect it. BC is that kid this year. They lost one of their best slammers in Craig Smith, but they still have a slashing scorer in Jared Dudley, a three-point shooting point guard in Tyrese Rice and the most athletic big man in the ACC in Sean Williams. No fair.
14. Texas A&M:
“Houston, we have a problem.” Everyone knows this line, which eventually got way overdone and annoying after someone said it everytime something went bad during his day. Well, the Aggies seem to be having no problems, as they’ll be returning four starters from last year, including guard Acie Law who hit a game-winner last year to beat the state rival Longhorns.
Hootie and the Blowfish
The Tigers lost a boatload of talent from last year’s squad with Rodney Carney, Darius Washington and Shawne Williams departing. But as long as the young Tigers hold the hand of John Calapari and as long as they play in Conference USA, they’ll get to the tournament. Only then will we see if the gel-infused mind of their coach is enough to get time on their side come spring.
1995 was the year of the Budweiser frogs commercials. They were pretty entertaining at first but kind of one-dimensional, and Marquette wins the honor of being this year’s frogs. With three guards to focus on — Wesley Matthews, Jerel McNeil and Dominique James arguably the best guard in the Big East — they’ll be cause for a lot of smiles in Wisconsin. They’ll still be looking for a talking lizard-like big man to eventually spice things up a little bit, though, and give them a new twist to keep people watching.
We all can admit, reruns aside, the removal of the Full House cast from our TGIF nights was pretty jarring. We tried to recover and watched shows like Family Matters and Step by Step, but it wasn’t until Corey Matthews and Topanga came into our T.V. world that we picked ourselves up again. Well, Coach Jim Calhoun just lost last year’s entire cast to graduation and the NBA. He’s hoping sophomore forward Jeff Adrien and senior Tanzanian center Hasheem Thabeet can be his Minkis and Mr. Feeney to get them back on their feet and into the big dance.
No doubt Cher from Clueless would hate on the Orange-Crush-inspired jerseys they sport in upstate New York. They’ll be without perennial point guard Gerry McNamara, but their stylin’ young guards Eric Devendorf and Paul Harris will try and pick up where McNamara left off at the end of last year’s Big East Tournament when they beat the Hoyas in the semifinal. Whateverrr.
For the last two years, Curtis Sumpter was like the one unlucky kid on GUTS who got caught up in the sticky glitter at the bottom of the Aggro Crag with nowhere to go and a confused look on his face. After sustaining not one but two ACL injuries and missing the last two seasons, Sumpter will finally make his way out of the fog and dodge the boulder to try and win his squad a chunk of the coveted Crag come March.
In 1995, the movie Jumanji was pretty wild. Animals of all shapes and sizes running amuck in a small neighborhood made for sheer craziness. Imagine this going on at a college basketball game, and you have UWashington’s own Dawg Pack. Hopefully they won’t be crushing cars and destroying off-campus houses when they realize they’ll miss last year’s most well-rounded guard, Brandon Roy, but their home-court advantage could help them to big wins over LSU, Arizona and UCLA.
21. Georgia Tech:
The Yellow Jackets were R.L. Stein-level spooked by a stress fracture in their leading scorer Anthony Marrow’s back. This cold-blooded sniper has been deemed ready for the season opener. He’ll be giving fans goose bumps all season if he can continue his ACC-leading .429 three-point shooting percentage.
“You Are Not Alone”
Coach Rick Barnes must have serenaded freshman stud forward Kevin Durant with Michael Jackson’s tune to get him to play for the Longhorns. This might go down as the creepiest recruiting tactic in NCAA history, but something Barnes did worked. Because after losing, LaMarcus Aldridge, Daniel Gibson and Big 12 Player of the Year P.J. Tucker, Texas is looking like a green one-man machine. They will go as far as Durant takes them this year, which will likely be his first and last as a college athlete.
“You Oughta Know”
Alanis Morissette’s angry ballad is pretty representative of fans’ resentment every year Nevada knocks off some goliath in the NCAA Tournament. You oughta know it’s going to happen by now, so why not pencil them into the top 25? Plus, senior center Nick Fazekas withdrew from the NBA Draft and as a John Wooden Award finalist, should unleash some Morissettian fury around the boards.
“Crazy, Sexy, Cool”
This program covers just about every aspect of crazy, sexy, cool. Their Big Blue Madness drew the largest and craziest crowd ever for any Midnight Madness event. Their man in the middle Randolph Morris has built himself up into a sexy physical specimen after missing the first half of last season due to injury. And Head Coach Tubby Smith is always cool under pressure, having led his team to the dance every year since his arrival in 1997.
25. Wichita State:
Wichita State making it to the Sweet 16 was just about as likely as the Snapple lady becoming famous. But it happened. And though the Shockers line-up may not be made from the best stuff on earth like some of the other teams on this list, they won’t be surprising anyone this year with the return of sweet-shooting forward Kyle Wilson.