It's time for the first little bit of college basketball talk we've had here at Three and Out. I'm a huge fan of college ball, and almost all of it is watchable - especially when Duke or North Carolina are losing. I grew up very close to the University of Massachusetts, so I'm a default fan of them; it was real exciting growing up to be following the best team in the land. Unfortunately, it didn't last very long. (Though we're having another good year finally, and leading the weak A-10 for the first time in a long time.) I went to RIT, but they don't have much in the way of sports outside their men's hockey team. As I alluded to, my favorite sports days of the year are the four days of the NCAA tournament leading up to the Sweet Sixteen. It's a true free-for-all, and with so many games going on at the same time, so many amazing stories and Cinderellas. It's riveting.
With that in mind, let's take a quick conference-by-conference look at what's going on in the world of college ball:
ACC: The top two teams in the league are currently unranked and not Duke or UNC. That's news in and of itself. All the teams pretty much beat up on each other, which is good considering most of them have little in the way of redeeming qualities. (Big ACC fan here, no?) Boston College, the top team right now, lost to Vermont earlier in the year. This of course is a sure indicator that our national champion will come from the ACC. That's how these things work, you know.
Big East: It's not easy for a 16-team league to have an off-year, but the Big East is managing it with only 3 ranked teams; of course, they'll get 8 in the tourney somehow. Mike Tranghese must have some dirt on the committee members or something. Connecticut, who was at one point was 11-0 by merit of beating illustrious competition such as Texas Southern, Coppin St., and Sacred Heart, is now sitting in 11th place. They'll probably make the tourney too.
Big Ten: I gotta tread lightly here, because for some reason everyone else here either went to or grew up near Big Ten schools. With that in mind, everyone in this conference sucks except Wisconsin and Ohio State, and the Mountain West Conference should get more bids than the Big Ten. (Am I going too easy on them? Let's move on.)
Big 12: A little shakeup is here too as little-known Texas A&M seems to be the most dominating team in the conference along with Kansas. Kevin Durant-led Texas is struggling somewhat, hindered by the fact that one person can't really carry a team, especially if the person can't play good defense yet. (Do we still want him over Oden, Simmons? Really? Ricky Davis version 4.0?) A resurgant Kansas State is making some noise too, but their play will probably start to falter once Bob Huggins' recruiting violations take hold and players start shooting each other on the court.
Memphis USA: Yeah.
Missouri Valley: Is this really a major conference now? Really? Ok, well, Southern Illinois knocked out Virginia Tech, Missouri State took out Wisconsin, and.. you know what? No. No, too soon. Give it a few years. Look what happened to the A-10.
Pac-10: The strongest conference by far this year is the Pac-10. However, being the Pac-10, they'll have one team reach the Sweet Sixteen and get knocked out by Air Force, so take that as you will. They're all capable of beating each other on any given night, but nobody on the east coast knows or cares considering they play so late. And the Californians are too content to watch the games, and cliche cliche cliche. Keep an eye on Oregon St. and Arizona St., whose only conference wins have been against each other; they should be vastly improved by the draft next year. Oh, there's no draft? Guess they're fucked.
SEC: Vanderbilt, hoops powerhouse? Sure. Why not. Florida's still in control, but they're not getting much in the way of competition. Final Four team and once top ten member LSU has fallen to dead last despite having Baby Shaq. (His Baby Kobe left him for a career showboating in the NBA and trash-talking the Slam Dunk contest.) Tennessee, likewise, has fallen off the face of the earth, while Kentucky rose from the dead to.. well, get beat by Vanderbilt at home.
Miscellaneous: No one's talking about Duquesne, who despite always inept and having 5 players shot in the preseason, is now 10-11 and on a 5 game win streak. How? By implementing a unique strategy with a constant full-court press, a 11-man rotation who all play at least 10 minutes a game and no more than 30, and an offense that always takes the first available shot. They've averaged 98.5 points per game over their last six games. I imagine their games would be highly entertaining.
Everyone talked about Iona being the last winless D-I team, but now there's another team even more inept; North Florida, whose two wins are both against inferior D-II competition. Congrats on your Savannah State Award for Incredible Ineptitude for 2007!
And now, I leave you with the best college dunk of the year.