If you’re itching for leather through nylon like me while the rest of the country is still fixated on the pigskin, Thursday was the first day of a five-month-long Christmas we call College Basketball. The first USA Today/Coaches Poll was released, leaving salivating hoops fanatics (such as myself) to digest the early-season rankings. Here are some initial takeaways on the rankings:
Hey look, they left off Georgetown by mistake! I better contact all the coaches! That can’t be right, can it?
Forgive me for being homerish, but I don’t understand how the Hoyas can be left out after returning DSR, the favorite for Big East POY, as well as 5-star talent that will shine in a bigger role this year. True, there is concern in the frontcourt following the departure of Josh Smith, but how do a depleted West Virginia and Vanderbilt make it above our Hoyas? Get out of here with that SEC bias!
Blue Bloods Crowd Top, With a Couple Misfits
Many had predicted either Kentucky or North Carolina to start the season on the highest perch, but hey, why not both? A tie between Carolina and Kentucky at #1 provides an interesting contrast between the two squads: the Wildcats return no starters and will be led by another stellar recruiting class and the steady play of PG Tyler Ulis, while the Tar Heels bring back their top four scorers and don’t add much in their incoming recruiting class. The big question for the Wildcats is how the lack of experience will affect decision-making and cohesiveness. The Tar Heels have a seasoned bunch, but have yet to separate themselves from the chaff, so to speak. Will they improve enough to shed the “good, but not great” label?
Maryland, Duke (blech), and Kansas round out the top 5. The Terrapins have shot into national title talks this year after a solid recruiting class following a season where they exceeded all expectations set for them. Melo Trimble is as cool a cat as they come, and looks to lead Mark Turgeon’s program back to the promised land. Duke, fresh off a national title, has hauled in the top recruiting class in the country and has aspirations of bringing another crew of young players to the Final Four. The Jayhawks are back in the mix yet again (will anyone ever wrest away that Big 12 Throne) and have a talented, deep, and experienced cadre in Lawrence.
It’s Wide Open, Folks
I can’t remember the last time we had so much parity amongst the contenders in College Hoops, as well as this strong a chance for an unknown to sneak into the discussion. Much like 2010, there is no squad that you look at as “unbeatable.” Who will it be this time? Will we see a mid-major Cinderella like Butler make a name for itself, or will the blue bloods eat? Without a clear-cut favorite, all these teams will be jockeying for position. Hold onto your butts come March, we’re in for another rollercoaster.
Of course if Duke goes back-to-back this year, the Monstars will have won, Voldemort will have prevailed, and we will never enjoy college basketball again. (That is, until the next year, and the next preseason ranking).