Friday, February 13, 2015

College Hoops Top 25 (2/13)

College basketball lost two titans, this week. With the passing of both Jerry Tarkanian and Dean Smith. Two coaches known for their high scoring, super-athletic teams, who should really be known for their commitment to tough defense (you can only get out and run if you get a stop), and how they always seemed to put their players' welfare before their performance on the court...

And I don't say that latter part lightly. Granted, I never met either man. And yes, they admittedly operated within the confines of the NCAA. Arguably the shadiest and disingenuous association of all time. But just listening to the respect and the passion with which their former players have always talked and continue to talk about them, and having heard stories and watched various documentaries on their storied careers. It's just impossible not to come away feeling like they didn't so much spending their lives coaching, as they did mentoring and positively altering the lives of hundreds of young men. Many of whom would have been lost without that necessary guidance...

So they're gone now, but won't ever be forgotten. Mostly due to their records and titles. But mostly because those whose lives that they positively influenced, myself included, will never shut up in singing their praises.

RIP Dean Smith and Tark The Shark. And here's to hoping that, wherever you are, that there's a kid or two with a will to win, and a weak defensive stance. Rest well, fellas...

College Hoops Top 25

1. Kentucky (24-0) 1

I've already made up my mind. Even if Kentucky runs the table, I won't ever consider them the best college team of all time. Not their fault, but the level of competition just isn't there this year. Not in the SEC, not in the NCAA. Not like they'll give Shits Twoman about anything some Ted like me thinks. But here we are. I've made a sketchy and unnecessary proclamation, and need be, I'll take it to my grave. And, no. I don't have a "best team of all time" at the ready. That's how sketchy this proclamation is...

Oh, and take every home team playing Kentucky and the points. The target on their backs is large, and they're everyone's Super Bowl. I mean, they already were, but now they really are. Lots of tight games from here on out. So, yeah. Make that paper...

2. Gonzaga (25-1) 2

3. Duke (21-3) 3

4. Virginia (22-1) 4

5. Wisconsin (22-2) 6

6. Louisville (20-4) 8

7. Villanova (22-2) 11

I never seem to buy into Villanova. Not since the days of Scottie Reynolds OR Kyle Lowry, at least. But they came into Providence and popped my boys, and have now won 9 of 10 after an OT loss at Seton Hall. They win at Butler on Saturday, and I might have a mind to jump them all the way into the top 5...

8. Arizona (20-3) 5

9. Kansas (20-4) 9

10. Utah (19-4) 14

11. Northern Iowa (23-2) 12

12. Wichita St. (22-3) 16

13. Notre Dame (22-4) 7

14. Oklahoma (17-7) 20

I wouldn't exactly call Ryan Spangler a poor man's Kevin Pittsnogle. But if you were to call him that, for all of the purely stereotypical reasons, then by no means would I attempt to disagree with you. Such a great name, too. And definitely one I long to hear Gus Johnson scream in near orgasmic late game ecstasy...

15. North Carolina (18-6) 13

16. Butler (18-6) 21

17. Ohio St. (19-6) 23

18. Arkansas (19-5) 22

I know I said the SEC is weak, and it is. But Arkansas is clearly the best of the rest. They struggle to get stops at times, but at 10th in the country in both points and assists, they're definitely capable of running people out of the gym. Something Auburn learned earlier this week when the Hogs put up an NBA-like 101 during a 14 point victory...

19. VCU (18-6) 10

20. Providence (17-8) 15

21. Oklahoma St. (17-7) NR

22. West Virginia (19-5) 19

23. Iowa St. (17-6) 18

24. SMU (20-5) NR

The Mustangs lost 3 of their first 5 (Gonzaga, Arkansas, Indiana), but Larry Brown's boys have settled down and gone 18-2 in their next 20. With those 2 both coming at the hands of Cincinnati. So, yeah. Be ready for the combination of their "good losses" and Larry Brown's pedigree to make them a hot commodity come tourney time. AKA you'll shadily cruise them into the Elite 8 like you did San Diego St. OR New Mexico, and curse the day you did. They're still pretty good, though. So there's that, too...

25. Maryland (20-5) 24

just missed: Baylor; URI; Indiana; San Diego St.; Texas; Georgetown; Xavier; Michigan St.; Cincinnati

dropped: (17) Baylor; (25) Miami

What To Watch This Week
Green Bay @ Valparaiso

UNC @ Pitt
Ohio St. @ Michigan St.
Duke @ Syracuse
Baylor @ Kansas
VCU @ George Washington
Villanova @ Butler

Illinois @ Wisconsin

Pitt @ Virginia
Kansas @ West Virginia

Texas @ Oklahoma
Michigan St. @ Michigan

Louisville @ Syracuse
Iowa St. @ Oklahoma St.
UNC @ Duke
Xavier @ Cincinnati

Temple @ SMU
Utah @ Oregon St.
UCONN @ Memphis

And there you have it, friends. Catch you next week...



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