BLUEDOGHOUSE END OF THE REGULAR SEASON TOP 25 | The Boneyard

BLUEDOGHOUSE END OF THE REGULAR SEASON TOP 25

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Final 4 in Bold....

1. North Carolina
2. Baylor
3. Kentucky
4. Memphis
5. Duke
6. Ohio State
7. Syracuse
8. Xavier
9. Connecticut
10. Vanderbilt
11. Louisville
12. Florida
13. Alabama
14. Texas A & M
15. Pittsburgh
16. Michigan
17. Iona
18. Wisconsin
19. Cincinnati
20. Kansas
21. Florida State
22. UCLA
23. Arkansas
24. Gonzaga
25. West Virginia


Next eight (8) IN (no particular order): Temple, Villanova, Harvard, Saint Mary’s, Michigan State, North Texas State, UNLV & Missouri


Charles Barkley will be running his BIG MOUTH this March Madness. Alabama as my dark horse.


Thoughts? Comments? criticisms? I would love to know your Top 25 for seasons end.



Best Always
 
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Final 4 in Bold....

1. North Carolina
2. Baylor
3. Kentucky
4. Memphis
5. Duke
6. Ohio State
7. Syracuse
8. Xavier
9. Connecticut
10. Vanderbilt
11. Louisville
12. Florida
13. Alabama
14. Texas A & M
15. Pittsburgh
16. Michigan
17. Iona
18. Wisconsin
19. Cincinnati
20. Kansas
21. Florida State
22. UCLA
23. Arkansas
24. Gonzaga
25. West Virginia

Next eight (8) IN (no particular order): Temple, Villanova, Harvard, Saint Mary’s, Michigan State, North Texas State, UNLV & Missouri

Charles Barkley will be running his BIG MOUTH this March Madness. Alabama as my dark horse.

Thoughts? Comments? criticisms? I would love to know your Top 25 for seasons end.

Best Always

Top 25 analysis for general public consumption and debate...20-25

#25. West Virginia- Baylor vs. West Virginia (Dec. 23rd/Vegas). Despite a horrific performance against Division II Northern Kentucky which resulted in a 77-74 pre season defeat I hold steady with WV @ # 25. Seniors Truck Bryant and Kevin Jones should keep WV in the middle of the Big East pack. Junior Deniz Kilicli (6.6 ppg) should add consistency up front. The wild card in the front court for WV this year could be former Mr. Basketball out of the State of Minnesota Kevin Noreen who averaged nearly 40 ppg in high school. Although there is some diversity in the front court WV is thin here.

UConn recruit Ryan Boatright decommitted from WV when 2 time Westchester County POY Jabari Hinds signed with WV. Hinds will have to have a great year for WV to stay ranked.

#24. Gonzaga- The Zags and St. Mary’s should battle again for WCC bragging rights. Out of conference against Notre Dame, Illinois, Butler, Arizona, Michigan State and Xavier is very strong. They will need to split these 6 games to stay in the end of the year Top 25. Robert Sacre is a beast up front and they need him on the court at all times for the team to be successful. Expect Hall of fame Guard John Stockton to be in the stands for every game.

#23. Arkansas- Big time recruiting class in which none of the Freshman started in the opening exhibition. Freshman Madden, Young and Abron all recruited by Baylor. Madden recruited by UConn. December 3, 2011 Arkansas will play @ UConn. Will 40 Minutes of Hell return with power under coach Mike Anderson? I am predicting UConn will find that out on December 3, 2011 at the Hartford Civic Center. I believe it will….

#22. UCLA- UCLA will get an early test in Maui against Georgetown or Kansas. I have always thought highly of Ben Howland as a coach. Non conference also includes Texas at home and St. John’s at the Garden. Cal and Arizona are projected at the top of the Pac 10 with UCLA. 305 pound Joshua Smith will be hard to handle down low (last year Pac 10 All Freshman team). There are enough complimentary pieces here for UCLA to win the Pac 10 and maintain its Top 25 rank.

#21. Florida State- Florida State will head to the Bahamas for a potential showdown with defending National Champion Connecticut. They will have to defeat either Harvard or Utah before that matchup. Look for a Harvard/FSU game to be tight to the finish. FSU looks to clearly be the 3rd best team in a weak ACC behind NC and Duke. Xavier Gibson and Bernard James bring tremendous senior bulk up front for the Seminoles. James had a double double (15/10) in FSU’s 68-61 victory over Baylor last year. Throw in Okaro White and Michael Snaer and you have a team based on toughness. Snaer will have to put up big #’s for FSU to hold their Top 25 spot.

# 20. Kansas- History, tradition and respect is what keeps Kansas in the Top 20. Notable non conference game is home against Ohio State on December 10, 2011. Very strong point guard play is the reason for inclusion of Kansas in the Top 20. Tyshawn Taylor has the intangibles you are looking for in a great college point guard. Thomas Robinson has great heart but I do not see the accompanying pieces for Kansas to maintain elite status this year.
 
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#19. Cincinnati- It was a struggle putting Pitt ahead of Cincinnati this year. Pitt is a notoriously strong regular season performer so just like Kansas the respect factor came into play. A few months ago Rick Pitino and Jim Calhoun were interviewed together and both confirmed that Cincinnati had a roster to be reckon with. UConn bounced Cincinnati in the 2nd round of last years NCAA tournament. The top 4 players for Cincinnati will be able to hold their own against all Big East competition. That quartet includes Yancy Gates, Sean Kilpatrick, Cashmere Wright and Dion Dixon. Cincinnati has several newcomers and I’m not as high on some of them as others are. The big 4 will need to produce for Cincinnati to make a surprise run at a top 2 finish in the Big East. Calhoun’s praise is enough for me to put them in the Top 20. Cincinnati non conference @ Xavier 12/10. Cincinnati gets Syracuse and Louisville @ home.​

#18. Wisconsin- The best home court advantage arguably in all of college basketball. Play UNC on the road non conference on 11/30 (which will be a loss) and Marquette at home 12/3. The same Wisconsin story year after year (need I say more?). Jordan Taylor will compete with Jared Sullinger for Big Ten POY. A fundamentally sound team per the usual without the athletic ability to compete with the most elite programs when it counts the most. Will be near the top of the Big Ten which isn’t saying much thus protecting their ranking.​

#17. Iona- This team is loaded with guards. If you believe guard play is a prerequisite to deep tournament runs then this team could be this years sleeper. Iona has seven quality guards that can all score. They will play the 4 guard set most of the year rotating all seven. Jones and Machado will be the top duo. Behind them a bevy of hot shot guards including Trinity Fields, Jermel Jenkins, Sean Armand, Kyle Smyth and Ra’Shad James (maybe the best vertical leaper in college basketball). The frontcourt is anchored by pre season MAAC conference POY Mike Glover. The Gaels are extremely thin upfront with no depth in the front court. The roster has 8 NYC players making this team New York’s team this year. This will be a high scoring dangerous team come tourney time. Open the season in Puerto Rico against Purdue. Conference Schedule should enable the Gaels to make a solid run into the Top 25.​

#16. Michigan- Welcome to Maui Michigan! 11/21 against Memphis and possibly Duke on the 22nd. At Arkansas on 1/21 and Michigan will be tested for a Big 10 team come March Madness. Novak and Douglass give senior leadership. If Hardaway Jr. can elevate his game to the Naismith hype then Michigan should find themselves in sweet 16 contention with a long distance shot at elite 8.​

#15. Pittsburgh- Similar to Kansas this is a respect pick as a long time follower of the Big East. History has shown Pitt can never be counted out when choosing teams for contention for Big East titles. It is worth noting Pitt lost many key contributors to last years BE regular season championship team. Three starters are gone in Gilbert Brown, Gary McGhee and Brad Wanamaker. Despite Ashton Gibbs being a legit contender for BE POY the teams success will hinge on two highly touted new additions Isaiah Epps and Khem Birch. Great start for Birch going 7-7 for 16 points in 22 minutes in an exhibition game this season. Pitt is always tough which is their trademark. Never count Pitt out.​
 
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#14. Texas A & M- The big question here is how will the team respond to coach Kennedy’s diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. Will the long term treatment plan include a return to the bench this season? If Parkinson’s is caught early drugs and treatment is much more effective which could lead to a possible return. Obviously the teams success is secondary to the coach’s health.

Interim coach Glynn Cyprien will take over in Kennedy’s absence. Coach Cyprien’s background as a coach includes stints with Memphis and Kentucky. Coach Cyprien will look to rebound from his resume issues (2004) at UL and lead Texas A & M to the promised land. The coaching staff is pretty close. Can he?

If Chris Middleton has anything to say about the success of coach Cyprien then I like A & M’s chances. Middleton is a proven commodity. Khris tallied a 14.4 ppg last season ranking him @ #9 in the Big 12. I first watched Middleton play during March Madness his Freshman year against Utah State. A & M came is as a #5 seed and Middleton hit for a game high 19 pts. A & M is a veteran team that will look to play fast this year going at least 9 deep. I question whether Branch will be able to step up and provide the quality minutes they need at the point. Middleton may play the 4 to extend the defense this year. Hibbert will have to step his game up for this ranking to hold. Jordan Green will also bring a lot to the table defensively and is athletic. These are just a few thoughts on Texas A & M.

#13. Alabama- If you believe DEFENSE wins championships then Anthony Grant and Alabama could easily sneak in uninvited to New Orleans. Last year Alabama lost to Wichita State in the NIT final after finishing first in the weaker SEC West. Last season Alabama went 12-4 in conference including 5-3 against the East. Even more impressive was the fact Alabama finished ranked #8 in scoring defense nationally @ 59.4 ppg. For an SEC team that number is impressive to say the least.

So what does Alabama need to get over the top? They return their three top players in All American candidate JaMychal Greene, point guard Trevor Releford and Alabama’s very own Tony Mitchell. It will take the emergence of a highly touted recruiting class to get the Tide to New Orleans. Led by 5 star recruit and shooter Trevor Lacey Alabama is off to a great start. Lacey under went surgery in June and is progressing fine this pre season. He was a 2 time Mr. Basketball selection in the state of Alabama and chose UA over the likes of Kentucky and UConn. Freshman Levi Randolph, Rodney Cooper and Nick Jacobs will have to contribute immediately. The wild card on this team has been the work ethic and leadership of Charles Hankerson Jr. this off season and pre season. The loss of Moussa Gueye to a torn ACL almost took me off Alabama as 1 of my Final 4 teams. I decided to go with them anyways.

#12. Florida- I will make this quick. The guard tandem of McDonald’s All American Brad Beal, Rutgers transfer Mike Rosario, and vets Kenny Boynton/Erving Walker represent the best group of guards in the USA. Will the front court provide any assistance? This team will sink or swim with the play of Patric Young up front. This is a tough team to gauge but #12 seems about right.

#11. Louisville- The injury to highly touted Freshman Wayne Blackshear cost Louisville a few slots in the rankings. New reports have Blackshear retuning in 2 months. Point guard Peyton Siva literally schooled Kemba Walker last year. Siva has the potential to be 1 of the best in the nation at the point. Interesting match up against Vanderbilt @ Louisville on 12/2. The big question I have for this team relates to Rakeem Buckles and when will he finally contribute to Louisville? The guy is a stud but is still rehabbing a torn ACL and out until mid December. The expectations were he would be playing by now. His Freshman year he scored 20 pts in the first round of the NCAA tourney against California.

#10. Vanderbilt- Can Vandy finally win an NCAA tournament game. If it doesn’t happen this year it never will (hahahaha). They return the best pure shooter in America in John Jenkins. This guy is lights out and deadly any given night. Very sweet stroke like Ray Allen. They return all major contributors from last years first round exit in the NCAA tournament including potential NBA candidates Ezeli and Taylor. They are steady at the point with Tinsley therefore everyone has Vandy ranked pre season very high. Stallings has shown himself to be a choke artist in the NCAA but Vandy escapes this year and gets knocked out in the sweet 16.
 
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#9. Connecticut- How will UConn respond after losing the best player to ever play at the University of Connecticut? That is the question the whole state of Connecticut is asking. Kemba “EZ Pass” Walker will go down in history as the most celebrated UConn hoopster. UConn not ranked last pre season literally shocked the basketball world with an unprecedented run winning its final 11 games which included the BE Tournament Championship and the National Championship. Kemba has been present on campus and practiced with the team regularly but will not be cooking dinner for the team this year at his apartment in an attempt to air any team grievances.​

The transition to life without Kemba initially will be in the hands of tough Sophomore Roxbury, Massachusetts point guard Shabazz Napier. The “Bazz” was a secondary recruit for UConn last year that was the perfect piece to the UConn National Championship puzzle. UConn’s primary targets at the point were Josh Selby/Kansas, Cory Joseph/Texas and Brandon Knight/Kentucky.​

In the National semi final against Kentucky Napier turned the ball over at a crucial point in the game. After the turnover the following occurred:​

“In the huddle, the UConn coaching staff was worried about how the freshman point guard was going to react. He had been an integral part of UConn’s defense, playing a major role in holding Knight to just 6-23 shooting from the floor, and Kentucky still had one possession left with a chance to tie or win the game.​

But during the timeout, Napier looked at UConn head coach Jim Calhoun and said “Coach, I’ll make it up next play”. And while he didn’t exactly make it up the next play — when DeAndre Liggins missed a 24 foot three that would have won the game — Napier buried two free throws with 1.7 seconds left that clinched a trip to the national title game for the Huskies, 56-52.” The quote per nbcsports.com​

I love Napier but to expect this kid to provide the intangibles Kemba Walker did is unfair. Leadership and trust is earned simply by performing at the highest of standards on the court. Shabazz will be inconsistent to a fault in my opinion. This inevitably could lead to the welcoming of Ryan Boatright as the teams primary playmaker. Boatright AKA “The Boatshow” (former project of Reggie Rose/the brother of Derrick Rose) is being investigated by the NCAA for violating rules relating to improper benefits during his AAU tenure. More specifically the question has become…who paid for a particular plane ticket ect ect ect…? After following Ryan’s high school career and watching him play live at East Aurora High it is my belief Boatright is the key to UConn’s chances at a repeat and trip to New Orleans. As Calhoun has already stated he sees the Kemba in Boatright.​

UConn will rely on Napier, Boatright and a walk on Brendan Allen to man the point. Taking Jeremy Lamb out of his natural scoring position will be a liability to the success of the team. UConn throughout the season will be susceptible to any team that has the personnel to apply pressure full court press defense for prolonged periods of time. This especially is true without Boatright cleared (Boatright himself expects to play in the Bahamas).​

This brings us to Andre Drummond. Drummond is projected to go #1 in several 2012 NBA mock drafts (the last I checked). This projection has tremendous merit considering Drummond runs the floor like a gazelle, has the handle of a guard, passes with a Magic Johnson twist in the post and by years end will defend as well as any center in the country. For all of Drummond’s upside the downside lingers. Drummond is an abysmal free throw shooter to the point where he will be a liability on the court in end game situations. The “and 1” will not be commonplace in the Big East and Drummond will be at the line. Drummond has a game similar to Shaq in the low post with the power stop/drive and drop step as his signature move. Put backs and dunks will have to be the norm. If I were an NBA GM Drummond would be my #1. Unfortunately that does not necessarily materialize into a first team All American at the college level. Drummond should average a double/double (but at what price?).​

Jeremy Lamb will have to average 21+ and become a vocal leader. Lamb is a guaranteed lottery pick in 2012. Everything has already been said about Jeremy Lamb this pre season. All of it is accurate. National Player of the Year is a reasonable goal. Freshman DeAndre Daniels will follow in the foot steps of Jeremy Lamb into All American status.​

The rest of the core returning from the National Championship team includes Neils Giffey, Roscoe Smith “Scoe”, Tyler Olander (my dad coached against his father in high school) and co-captain Alex Oriakhi with an MVP caliber performance in the title game (11 rebs, 11 pts, 4 blks) making the team at Mentoring At Risk Athletes proud.​

To conclude my selection of UConn into this years Final 4 is heavily reliant on the fact I have been a Connecticut basketball fan my whole life. The enjoyment and pride over the years associated with the program does breed loyalty. My heart says UConn but my instincts and mind are moving in a different direction. The target/bulls eye will be huge this year on the back of Calhoun and the Huskies. Despite the fact this team is made up of some of the greatest kids character wise…other well publicized events will continue to attack the program. It is for this very reason that UConn will become more dangerous as the season progresses and we head toward March.​

When Jim Calhoun is backed into a corner….he comes out swinging Ali style.​

#8. Xavier- Tu Holloway (Hempstead, NY) is a good kid and tremendous talent. Is there a better point guard in the nation? If so then who? It won’t be enough and Xavier @ #8 will be over hyped going into March Madness after securing a #3 seed (best projected guess). Xavier is the class of the Atlantic 10 and will coast to an A10 title. Out of conference challenges include @ Vanderbilt on 11/28 and @ Memphis on 2/4. Sweet 16 max for Xavier and that will take a couple big shooting nights from Brad Redford one of the nations best three point shooters.​

#7. Syracuse- My pick to win the Big East regular season championship. SU loses the talents of Rick Jackson (13.1 pts, 10.3 reb, 2.5 blk). Jackson had a great regular season last year leading to a 2nd round loss in the NCAA tournament to Marquette. Against Marquette he was putrid (7 pts, 4 rebs, 1 blk and 3 to’s). In comes Fab Melo the Freshman bust from last season. Bust in this case also applies off the court as Fab Melo was arrested on a domestic violence charge. The court hearing has been delayed 5 times and is now scheduled for November 30. Despite the baggage Melo is primed for a breakout year. The Brazilian has the potential to be a double/double machine if he keeps his head screwed on right. Melo is the key to SU winning the BE and I will take the risk on him.​

Cuse loses Jackson and replaces with Melo then adds Trevor Cooney (USA hoops under 18 team/Gold medal 8.8 ppg) Michael Carter-Williams (McDonald’s All American), Rakeem Christmas (McDonald’s All American).​

The returning core from last years team that was 7-4 against AP top 25 is ready to rumble. SU also secured an over all record of 26-7 last year. 12-6 in BE play. Senior Kris Joseph the teams leading scorer and Naismith Finalist will pair with Junior Brandon Triche in the backcourt putting a smile on the face of ole Jimmy Boeheim this year (not looking forward to it). The Carrier Dome will be rocking 12/2 when Florida comes to the Dome. Syracuse and UConn play twice this season. Even though SU has a legit shot this year at a title I expect to see Jimmy Boeheim mouth open and hands spread wide as they get knocked out in the Elite 8 (please let them get knocked out sooner).​

#6. Ohio State- Headquarters of this years National Player of the Year Jared Sullinger. OSU rolls to a Big 10 Championship and finishes at #6 in the rankings. Many have OSU as a Final 4 selection and possible National Champion. I like William Buford as a Senior leader and shooter with Sophomore Sullinger but the loss of David Lighty (12.1 ppg) and Jon Diebler (12.6 ppg) will be painful at some point during the season. As a matter of fact Jon Diebler is arguably the best 3 point shooter to ever lace them up in college hoops. Diebler holds the Big 10 career three point shooting records. Lighty it can easily be argued was the best defensive player in the Big 10 and maybe the country. As a collegiate player he was exceptional.​

OSU brings in Shannon Scott who averaged 13 pts and 7.2 assists his Senior year in high school while garnering McDonald’s All American honors. He is a team player and a good chemistry guy for OSU (although the thought of Boatright not making McDonald’s All American and this guy getting the honor is a complete mystery and scam job). Freshman Amir Williams combining with Sullinger, DeShaun Thomas and McDonald admittedly will be strong front court. The back court is not strong enough outside of Craft and Buford. Ohio State will be very good but again get their hearts broken.​

#5. Duke- Key games out of conference for Duke will be 11/15 @ Madison Square Garden against Michigan State (I’ll be there), Memphis possibly in Maui on 11/22 or 11/23 (mark your calendars for that one), Ohio State 11/29 @ Columbus. Throw in Belmont (home) and Temple on the road and the out conference schedule for Duke is very strong. It has to be since the ACC will be CUPCAKE CITY almost every night.​

25% of the Duke roster will be made up of Plumlee’s. There will be Plumlee’s everywhere you look. Marshal. Miles and Mason no less (hahahahahahahaha). Add 2 inexperienced Freshman guards in Rivers and Quinn Cook and you have a recipe for growing pains. Good thing Duke has Dawkins and Curry in the mix to ease the transition. Rivers is a mega talent that can take over games and I expect big things from Austin Rivers this season. One big thing however I am not expecting is a trip to New Orleans. Duke splits their non conference and picks up easy wins in the ACC to end the season ranked high. Dick Vitale cries in his chicken soup bowl and the Cameron crazies pray Rivers comes back for his Sophomore season.​
 
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#4. Memphis- Will Barton the Memphis All American guard states at a large party in the
Home of a Memphis booster:

"We're going to win the national championship this year. I'm guaranteeing it!"

After being questioned about the comment Big Willy states below:

"Everybody making a big fuss about me guaranteeing we win the national championship but I don't see what the big deal is," Barton wrote. "What was I suppose 2 say? We gonna go 2 NCAA tournament. Think big & do it bigger."

I love the kids moxie and there is a reason for it this year. The addition of strength and conditioning coach Frank Matrisciano. Frank is no ordinary strength and conditioning coach. It could easily be argued he is the best in the world at his craft with basketball players. Just ask Blake Griffin who worked out with Matrisciano before the 2009 draft. Frank’s nickname is “Hell’s Trainer” . Frank insists on working outside the spotlight. This trainer is a major weapon to the Memphis arsenal breathing fire in the hearts and minds of the Memphis Tigers.

The hearts and minds that Matrisciano has been working with this off season are talented and confident. Joe Jackson played this summer with Jeremy Lamb as member of the USA Basketball’s U 19 team that played for the FIBA World Championship. Jackson led the team in assists and was the second leading scorer on this talented team. Jackson the starting point guard is on the John Wooden preseason watch list. Will Barton a 6’6” shooting guard joins Jackson in the back court. Barton is also on the preseason Wooden watch list. Senior Wesley Witherspoon will look to be this teams rock. It should be a breakout year for the 6’9” SF. Many thought Witherspoon would leave for the NBA after his Sophomore year. Frank and coach Josh Pastner will continue to work this kid hard. Witherspoon may be this teams most valuable player and senior leadership is necessary. The talent keeps on keepin on in Memphis. Antonio Barton (Will’s brother), Chris Crawford, Tarik Black (a baller no doubt) and last but not least McDonald’s All American and projected lottery pick Adonis Thomas.

Memphis will press and run and play an exciting brand of basketball. Most importantly they will wear teams out at the end of games because of conditioning. My expectations are sky high for Memphis and I never have been a big fan of the program (I usually root against them). The Elite 8 will be the shortest stint for Memphis after they roll into the NCAA tournament killing Conference USA opponents to death. Memphis plays Michigan and Duke in Maui (tentatively). Then the Tigers play Louisville. Tennessee, Georgetown and Xavier out of conference.

There is no team I fear more this year then Memphis. Luke Walton will leave the assistant coaching position if the strike ends. Pastner is a tough hard nosed coach looking to break into the spotlight. It is almost unthinkable that I don’t have Memphis in the Final 4. If they returned everyone next year other than Witherspoon they would have to be consensus preseason #1. I chose UConn over Memphis for the Final 4. The reason is I’m a UConn fan (and UConn does have an excellent team).

#3. Kentucky- Kentucky has the deepest and most talented roster this year. If playing head to head with the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers Kentucky would win 6 out of 10 times. Lets take a look at each teams top 7.

Kentucky

Terrance Jones ( NBA mid 1st rounder)
Darius Miller (potential 2nd round)
Michael Gilchrist (McDonalds All American
NBA mid 1st round)
Doron Lamb (NBA 1st or 2nd round)
Anthony Davis (NBA Lottery pick)
Marquis Teague (McDonalds All American)
Kyle Wiltier (McDonalds All American)

VS.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Kyrie Irving
Baron Davis
Anderson Verejao
Tristan Thompson
Antawn Jamison
Daniel Gibson
Ramon Sessions

Now that we have confirmed Kentucky can handle an NBA team with all the talent on the Wildcats roster lets figure out why Kentucky WILL NOT be cutting down the nets. Kentucky fans expect a championship and they may be gone in the Elite 8 (hopefully sooner).

The four big favorites this year are North Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio State and UConn. All 4 have point guards that are either Sophomores or Freshman. Kentucky will roll this year with Freshman Marquis Teague. Since 1990 only 3 Freshman point guards have led their team to a National Championship. The players accomplishing that feat were Mike Bibby (Arizona 1997), Chris Duhon (Duke 2001) and Gerry McNamara (Syracuse 2003). That is 3 point guards in the last 21/22 years. Point guards breed good team chemistry similar to an NFL QB. Is trust and respect handed out like a new pair of Air Jordan’s? The answer is no and I don’t believe Teague will win over the upper classmen at Kentucky. Teague is a great player but it takes the intangibles to win it all at this level. I think Teague will have to grow into the position despite the immense talent that surrounds him.

The luxury of time is not on the side of the Freshman point guard. It will be up to Calipari to develop it. He has had Freshman point guards in the past and none have won a championship. This year will be no different….
 
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1. North Carolina- Its was a cold snowy evening on April 5, 2009 and I was sitting in a cab at the Palace in Auburn Hills. The Final 4 that year was in Detroit. UConn lost to Michigan State on Saturday April 4. The Charlotte Bobcats had just played the Detroit Pistons. Auburn Hills is about an hour outside of Detroit. Two former UConn players were in the game. Emeka Okafor finished with 14 pts and 16 rebs. Rip Hamilton was ceremoniously ejected after scoring 13 pts. The Pistons won the game by seven. I traveled with my parents to the Final 4 and we were keeping our tickets for the final game on Monday April 6.

My parents and I were sharing a cab that ran out of gas in the Auburn Hills parking lot. In the cab with us were a father and a son who both knew Roy Williams personally. We spoke for hours about basketball until triple A was able to rescue our cab (yes a bad snow storm). These two gentlemen were incredibly knowledgeable about basketball and UNC. The younger son had worked in several basketball camps set up by Roy Williams and was an aspiring coach. Both guys were humble and friendly. I learned a lot and we spoke in detail about several of the prospects that UNC was recruiting at the time (that are now on this years team).

The 2009 North Carolina National Championship team starting line up consisted of:

Deon Thompson
Tyler Hansbrough
Ty Lawson
Danny Green
Wayne Ellington

Bobby Frasor and Ed Davis were their top guys off the bench in the championship game.

This years Carolina team will start:

Harrison Barnes
John Henson
Tyler Zeller
Dexter Strickland
Kendall Marshall

Key reserves: Reggie Bullock, James McAdoo (McDonald’s All American), P.J. Hairston (McDonald’s All American)

This Carolina team is arguably a more talented team then the 2009 championship team with six of the top 8 players headed for the NBA. Williams has won 2 National Championships in 2005 and 2009. He is a seasoned Hall of Fame coach.

Carolina is my unanimous pick for the #1 slot at the end of the regular season. All eyes will be on the match up December 3, 2011 between Kentucky and North Carolina in Lexington. Regardless of the outcome of this matchup I expect UNC to be on top of the polls come year end. They end the season @ Duke in an abysmal ACC. There is no way Carolina loses more than 3 regular season games including the ACC tournament.

I will be rooting against Carolina all season in every game they play. It is my hope they have “issues” as the season progresses and they get bounced early in the NCAA tournament. I just don’t see that happening as I write this.
 
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I would bet a lot of money that UConn will finish better than 9th and there is no way Baylor finishes #2. As a UConn fan I am more scared of Kentucky than Carolina, not understanding why Carolina is everyones run away #1. They have a nice well balanced team and are talented but I think they are soft and they don't have the talent of UConn or Kentucky. I think Lamb and Drummond have more nba talent than anyone on UNC.
 
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I would bet a lot of money that UConn will finish better than 9th and there is no way Baylor finishes #2. As a UConn fan I am more scared of Kentucky than Carolina, not understanding why Carolina is everyones run away #1. They have a nice well balanced team and are talented but I think they are soft and they don't have the talent of UConn or Kentucky. I think Lamb and Drummond have more nba talent than anyone on UNC.
In my analysis of Kentucky it was confirmed Kentucky has the most talent in the USA. In my opinion it will not translate into a Final 4 appearance for the reasons given. The intent of the post was to focus on rankings at the end of the regular season. North Carolina has a schedule that is conducive to finishing at the #1 spot. Memphis could also sneak up to #1. Baylor for most people will be in dispute the most.
 
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Don't agree with a lot of this, but interesting read. Why the all caps?
 
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Thanks for the list bluedog! Good way to get info on some of the teams i'm unfamiliar with.

My biggest gripe is probably with memphis. They strike me as Kentucky jr. A bunch of talented young kids that won't be able to put it together when the postseason comes. Plus I really don't think Joe Jackson can lead a team deep in the postseason.
 
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Good effort and I'm sure it took a while to compile. I too have some differences but I'm not going to discredit your valiant effort. Thanks, we will see how your projections pan out in a few months.
 
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Memphis is way too high. The team was a 12 seed in the tournament last year and had to win their conference tourney to even get in.

The Cavs would romp Kentucky.
 
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With such an IN YOUR FACE title, I expected this to be some kind of post from the future, where you were going to talk about the season and the results like it was already in the past.
 
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I would bet a lot of money that UConn will finish better than 9th and there is no way Baylor finishes #2. As a UConn fan I am more scared of Kentucky than Carolina, not understanding why Carolina is everyones run away #1. They have a nice well balanced team and are talented but I think they are soft and they don't have the talent of UConn or Kentucky. I think Lamb and Drummond have more nba talent than anyone on UNC.

I think soft is fair. I hadn't thought of it before, but it's true. Hansborough was never soft. I can't say the same for Zeller.
 
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They have a nice well balanced team and are talented but I think they are soft and they don't have the talent of UConn or Kentucky. I think Lamb and Drummond have more nba talent than anyone on UNC.

This is something that does not get mentioned enough, anywhere. UNC may have 3-5 guys get drafted this year and are frequently called the most talented team but I think that Lamb, Drummond, Davis and Jones and possibly Gilchrist are higher level prospects than anyone on UNC. I am of the opinion that Barnes is overrated and that a lot of guys went all-in on him last year, calling him a future face of the franchise guy, are simply doubling down and are ignoring his obvious flaws. A lot of the other guys like Zeller, Henson, MacAdoo are/will be very good college players but there is a big difference between them and game-changing, future NBA stars.

Both Davis and Drummond are possible NBA superstars and if either are the real deal, AD as a Dwight/Amare hybrid or Davis as a Garnett type, UK and Uconn could be significantly better than anyone else
 
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the passage about UK beating the Cavs, or any NBA team for that matter is laughable, hard to take this post too serious if you actually believe that.
 
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Don't agree with a lot of this, but interesting read. Why the all caps?
BECAUSE WHEN YOU POST SOMETHING THAT BIG YOU HAVE TO SCREAM IT OUT THERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Really- that had to take a while.
 
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I would bet a lot of money that UConn will finish better than 9th and there is no way Baylor finishes #2. As a UConn fan I am more scared of Kentucky than Carolina, not understanding why Carolina is everyones run away #1. They have a nice well balanced team and are talented but I think they are soft and they don't have the talent of UConn or Kentucky. I think Lamb and Drummond have more nba talent than anyone on UNC.
I agree. I think Carolina is good, but they're not better than either of their natl champ teams. Lawson and Hansborough were both better than any guy on this team. Same for Mccants, May and even Felton maybe. Carolina lacks NBA athleticism. Their two best athletes, Barnes and Henson, are both athletic but neither is explosive or has that bounce to them. We're taller, longer overall, and more athletic at basically every position. Barnes is listed at 6'8 but hes all neck (ala Hilton) so hes really like 6'5 or 6'6. Heneson is uncoordinated, real skinny, and limited offensively. They dont have a good 2 guard and Marshall is a good floor general, but a threat to score. Carolina is good, but theyre not the runaway favorites, nor this powerhouse team the "experts" would lead you to believe.
 
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I agree. I think Carolina is good, but they're not better than either of their natl champ teams. Lawson and Hansborough were both better than any guy on this team. Same for Mccants, May and even Felton maybe. Carolina lacks NBA athleticism. Their two best athletes, Barnes and Henson, are both athletic but neither is explosive or has that bounce to them. We're taller, longer overall, and more athletic at basically every position. Barnes is listed at 6'8 but hes all neck (ala Hilton) so hes really like 6'5 or 6'6. Heneson is uncoordinated, real skinny, and limited offensively. They dont have a good 2 guard and Marshall is a good floor general, but a threat to score. Carolina is good, but theyre not the runaway favorites, nor this powerhouse team the "experts" would lead you to believe.

I think Henson is an elite athlete who just doesn't have the skills yet to match his ability. But when I say he is elite, he's certainly no Robinson, Drummond, Gay level athlete.
 
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I think Henson is an elite athlete who just doesn't have the skills yet to match his ability. But when I say he is elite, he's certainly no Robinson, Drummond, Gay level athlete.

Uh, let's take Robinson off that list, please. The kid was barely a Big East caliber athlete, as everyone knows.

Carolina's always going to get the benefit of the doubt, and get hyped beyond belief. I think Henson, Zeller, Barnes, McAdoo is a pretty good core of frontcourt players, but I don't think they're some kind of juggernaut. We'll see.
 
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Thanks for the list bluedog! Good way to get info on some of the teams i'm unfamiliar with.

My biggest gripe is probably with memphis. They strike me as Kentucky jr. A bunch of talented young kids that won't be able to put it together when the postseason comes. Plus I really don't think Joe Jackson can lead a team deep in the postseason.
kobebeanbryant thats a classic name superstar! Keep in mind that Memphis came into the NCAA tournament last year as a #12 seed and lost to Arizona 77-75 in the 1st round. http://espn.go.com/ncb/recap?gameId=310770012

I hope you are correct about Memphis and my prediction on their season turns out to be wrong.
 
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This is something that does not get mentioned enough, anywhere. UNC may have 3-5 guys get drafted this year and are frequently called the most talented team but I think that Lamb, Drummond, Davis and Jones and possibly Gilchrist are higher level prospects than anyone on UNC. I am of the opinion that Barnes is overrated and that a lot of guys went all-in on him last year, calling him a future face of the franchise guy, are simply doubling down and are ignoring his obvious flaws. A lot of the other guys like Zeller, Henson, MacAdoo are/will be very good college players but there is a big difference between them and game-changing, future NBA stars.

Both Davis and Drummond are possible NBA superstars and if either are the real deal, AD as a Dwight/Amare hybrid or Davis as a Garnett type, UK and Uconn could be significantly better than anyone else
I agree with you that Kentucky and UConn have the better NBA ready talent. My selection of North Carolina as the end of the regular season #1 (polls/AP and coaches) takes into consideration many factors including schedules. It is safe to say UConn and Kentucky will be significantly better than anyone else.
 
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