Feb 4, 2013, 8:00 PM EDT
A hearty welcome to those of you just now joining the rest of us in following college basketball now that football season has ended. We’ll be running a series of posts to get all you football fans caught up on the season at-large. To read through them all, click here.
Out of any season in recent memory, there are more contenders this season than there have been in recent years. There does not appear to be a great team as of now — although Florida is doing everything they can to convince us otherwise — as opposed to a handful of really good teams that have the pieces to win six straight games in the tournament but a fatal flaw that could leave them exposed in the right matchup.
Here are the nation’s five leading contenders and pretenders:
Contender: Florida Gators
We wrote on the Gators earlier today, so I won’t go into too much detail here. The long and short of it is that Florida is as tough defensively as any team we’ve seen in the last decade, and they can just as effective playing man, going zone or throwing on a press, That’s a nightmare to prepare for, especially when they have an offensive attack that rivals Michigan and Indiana.
Pretender: Arizona Wildcats
Arizona is 19-2 on the season and carries with it a No. 7 national ranking. They are a good basketball team that could end up winning the Pac-12. But that gaudy record is the result of some lucky breaks: Nick Johnson’s game-saving block against San Diego State, Sabatino Chen’s game-winner that was incorrectly waved off, Florida playing like a high school JV team in the final minute. There is nothing about the roster makeup of the Wildcats that scares a championship-caliber team.
Contender: Indiana Hoosiers
The Hoosiers have arguably the most talented player in the country on their roster in Cody Zeller, and he isn’t even the MVP of this team. Victor Oladipo is. That’s how good Indiana is. They are still scoring like they did last season, only now they have a defense that ranks in the top 20 and one of the best on-ball defenders in the country in Oladipo.
Pretender: Duke Blue Devils
Duke is currently sitting at No. 4 in the country, but that has as much to do with what they did at the start of the season — rolling through the Battle 4 Atlantis, where they beat Louisville, VCU and Minnesota — than what they have done recently — which includes a 27 point loss to Miami. Duke is missing Ryan Kelly, who is a key piece on both sides of the ball. Duke will be a pretender until he’s back in the lineup.
Contender: Michigan Wolverines
John Beilein’s club is the most potent offensive attack in the country and led by the most dangerous point guard in the country in Trey Burke. The Wolverines have a typical John Beilein-esque roster makeup in terms of their versatility, but instead of having guys like Zak Novak and Stu Douglass on the wings, they have NBA prospects in Tim Hardaway Jr., Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III.
Pretender: Kansas Jayhawks
Ugh. It kills me to say this because I picked Kansas to win the title this year, but I just think they have too many concerns offensively. They don’t have a point guard, as Bill Self made quite clear. Their star player can’t create on his own. They don’t have a viable low-post scoring threat. As good as Kansas is defensively, I just see them having issues scoring against good teams.
Contender: Louisville Cardinals
Louisville was the No. 1 team in the country and a popular pick as the best team in college hoops as recently a two weeks ago. But then they went out and lost three games — by a total of 13 points — and dropped to 12th in the country. Three close losses changes that much about how a team is viewed? Louisville’s pressure is unmatched, and as long as they avoid extended droughts offensively, they’ll be fine.
Pretender: Ohio State Buckeyes
Deshaun Thomas may be the best scorer in the country. Aaron Craft may be the best defender in the country. Beyond that, there’s a lot of ‘meh’ when you look at Ohio State’s roster. Craft is too often forced into the role of secondary scorer, and that’s not how you want him to play. No interior scoring presence hurts as well.
Contender: Michigan State Spartans
Typical Tom Izzo. Sparty is big, they are tough and they are physical. They rebound the ball and they defend. Most importantly, they have a pair of guards in Keith Appling and Gary Harris that are a threat to go for 20 on any given night.When Tom Izzo has a good team, you don’t want to get caught betting against him.
Pretender: Gonzaga Bulldogs
This one hurts, too. I really like this Gonzaga team. They are as good as they have been since Adam Morrison was stache-ing it up in Spokane. They have a pair of big men that are an awful lot of fun to watch in Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris. Kevin Pangos is as good of a shooter as you are going to find. They just don’t defend well enough — especially when Olynyk is on the floor as the same time as Pangos and David Stockton — to stop good teams with elite guards.
Jun 19, 2013, 10:45 PM EDT
With Rutgers guard Jerome Seagears having a change of heart and deciding to return to New Brunswick after initially announcing his decision to transfer to Auburn, head coach Tony Barbee found himself in need of a guard. On Wednesday the school announced that 6-3 guard Malcolm Canada, who played at Ellsworth Community College in Iowa…
Jun 19, 2013, 9:35 PM EDT
Much has been made about the reaction to Kansas freshman wing Andrew Wiggins’ first workouts for his new coaching staff, with an unnamed source stating to Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com that watching Wiggins was “like watching a video game.” On Wednesday some lucky campers at the Kansas Basketball Camp got to watch Wiggins play some…
Jun 19, 2013, 8:06 PM EDT
Villanova landed its first verbal commitment in the 2015 class, as 6-9 forward Tim Delaney committed to the school according to multiple outlets. Delaney, who attends Pitman (N.J.) High School, held offers from schools such as Oregon State, Penn State and Rutgers and also visited both Indiana and Butler according to Jeff Borzello of CBSSports.com.…
Jun 19, 2013, 6:40 PM EDT
With talented players such as forward Ryan Anderson and guard Olivier Hanlan returning, there’s a feeling among many that Boston College can be one of the ACC’s most improved teams in 2013-14. A group that has taken its share of lumps in Steve Donahue’s first two seasons on the Heights, the Eagles took both eventual…
Jun 19, 2013, 5:20 PM EDT
Kentucky Speedway announced on Wednesday that Kentucky head coach John Calipari has been named the honorary pace car driver for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400, which takes place on June 29. In the release, Speedway general manager Mark Simendinger proclaimed the opening lap to be “one of the quickest fast breaks in…
Jun 19, 2013, 3:56 PM EDT
With the addition of Pacific, the West Coast Conference will have ten members beginning with the 2013-14 campaign. The arrival of the Tigers not only helps from a scheduling standpoint, but it also necessitated a change in the format the WCC uses for its conference tournament. The WCC announced the changes on Wednesday, with seeds…
Jun 19, 2013, 3:35 PM EDT
It’s no secret that Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor want to play their college ball together. They’ve been talking about it for a while, and given the fact that they are both ranked in the top three for Rivals Class of 2014 — Okafor is currently No. 1 while Jones is No. 3 — I’m…
Jun 19, 2013, 2:49 PM EDT
Earlier this month, Alabama forward Devonta Pollard was arrested and charged in conjunction with the kidnapping of a six-year old girl over a family land dispute. Given that he was facing a serious felony charge, one could only imagine that Pollard would only be a member of the Crimson Tide for so long, and on…
Jun 19, 2013, 2:30 PM EDT
Spike Albrecht spent the majority of the college basketball season as the answer to a trivia question: Who is the little white kid that backs up Trey Burke, the best player in the country? The way the 2012-2013 campaign ended, however, was much, much different. If you’ve forgotten, the kid who was signed late by…
Jun 19, 2013, 1:06 PM EDT
Northwestern head coach Chris Collins has filled out his coaching staff, as he added Armon Gates as his third assistant coach on Tuesday. Gates is a Chicago native that spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach at Loyola (IL). “We’re very excited to add Armon to our staff,” Collins said in a statement…
Jun 19, 2013, 12:25 PM EDT
Darius Cobb, Ben McLemore’s former AAU coach, will be meeting with the NCAA’s Enforcement staff today to discuss the involvement that Rodney Blackstock had with the former Kansas all-american and those close to him, according to a report from Eric Prisbell of USA Today. That could end up being a thorn in the side of…
Jun 19, 2013, 11:30 AM EDT
A recent growing buzzword in college basketball is the importance of the “culture” of a program. Culture within a college basketball program dictates how things work and it’s use as a word and as a concept is meant to influence players — and in some cases fans — into believing that certain activities or teachings…
Jun 19, 2013, 10:52 AM EDT
Mark Few picked up his first commitment in the Class of 2014 as Portland native and Rivals top 150 shooting guard Silas Melson pledged to the Zags on Tuesday night, according to a report from ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman. Here’s how ESPN breaks down his game: He has a smooth shooting stroke out to 20-feet and…
Jun 19, 2013, 10:17 AM EDT
Michigan State needed Adreian Payne to return to school if they were going to make a run at a national title. With Derrick Nix graduating and with their only incoming front court player being Gavin Schilling — who isn’t exactly the second coming of Greg Oden — Tom Izzo’s team was going to have a…
Jun 18, 2013, 11:25 PM EDT
If you aren’t familiar with Vine, it’s an app that allows users to record up to six seconds worth of video. That was plenty of time for Tennessee rising junior forward Jarnell Stokes to film Oklahoma State star sophomore guard Marcus Smart taking a sideline bounce pass and throwing down a 360 slam while the…
Jun 18, 2013, 10:12 PM EDT
Gorgui Dieng is gearing up for next Thursday for the 2013 NBA Draft. On Tuesday, following a workout with the New York Knicks, the former Louisville center had time to talk about his old team. “I think they’re going to have a better team this year,” Dieng told Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com and SNY.tv on…
Jun 18, 2013, 8:42 PM EDT
A week after being cut loose by Iowa State, Indian Hills Community College forward Richard Amardi made a commitment to the Oregon Ducks. He has one year of eligibility left. Jeff Goodman first reported the news via Twitter on Tuesday night. The 6-foot-9 Amardi was on the wrong-end of a scholarship issue. He had originally committed…
Jun 18, 2013, 7:52 PM EDT
After three years with the Penn State program, rising junior forward Jon Graham was granted a release and will be allowed to transfer for his final two seasons of eligibility, the school announced on Tuesday afternoon. “Jon and I have had several meetings to discuss his future and he has decided to seek opportunities to…
Jun 18, 2013, 6:42 PM EDT
The return of Greg Whittington was going to be a crucial for the Georgetown Hoyas, entering next season without Big East Player of the Year Otto Porter. However, on Tuesday it was confirmed that Whittington has suffered a torn ACL in his left knee. “Greg will return when he is 100 percent healthy,”Georgetown head coach John…
Jun 18, 2013, 5:46 PM EDT
Harry Giles (Wesleyan Christian Academy/Winston-Salem, N.C.) was one of 12 players selected to the USA Basketball Under-16 team, playing in the FIBA World Championship in Uruguay. The 6-foot-9 2016 recruit injured his left knee on Wednesday in a win over Argentina. On Tuesday, Giles told Jason Jordan of USA Today that he torn his ACL and MCL.…
- Report: Devonta Pollard no longer enrolled at Alabama 0
- Communication plays vital role in development of Marquette’s Vander Blue 0
- This week is a very important week for Ed O’Bannon’s case against the NCAA 0
- A broken foot failed to derail C.J. McCollum’s trek to the lottery 0
- The most important skill Michael Carter-Williams learned as a freshman? Work ethic 0