Now that the College Football season is officially over, we can finally get in depth with College Basketball. This is the perfect time too because January begins conference play, where we find out who the real deal is and who are the fakers. I haven't really been that into the basketball season, both college and pro, not just because of football season but also basketball has been a little boring for me. For some reason basketball also wants to eliminate any type of contact with these horrible fouls every 5 seconds. In college, you can't put your hands on a player at all, even when they are posting you up, you can not put a finger on them. Only way you can play defense is with your hips and keep your hands up. Of course that gives a major advantage to the offensive player because now the defensive player can not fight for position. I don't know what the purpose of the rule is other than to score more points. But this is not to bad mouth the stupid NCAA rules, instead this is our introduction to the College Basketball season.
Here are the rankings as of January 13th(courtesy of ESPN):
AP Top 25
10San Diego State14-11,020
- Others receiving votes: Missouri 42, Oregon 39, Connecticut 35, Kansas State 25, Gonzaga 17, Michigan 11, California 10, Virginia 6, Louisiana Tech 5, Xavier 3, Illinois 3, New Mexico 3, Harvard 3, George Washington 2
- Dropped from rankings: Oregon 17, Missouri 21, Gonzaga 22, Illinois 23, Kansas State 25
I'm happy that we waited until January to speak on this season, I feel like things are really about to get interesting. So far this season we have a few good story lines, as you can see in the rankings we have 4 undefeated teams. Out of the 4, Wichita State has the best opportunity to finish the regular season undefeated, with only conference play left on their schedule. The Shockers play in a mediocre Missouri Valley conference but they will have 3 games that can potentially end their undefeated season hopes. Two games against the 2nd place Indiana State Sycamores who are 13-3 and 1 more against Missouri State Bears who are 12-4. The Shockers and Bears played recently on January 11th, Shockers only winning by 3 in overtime. The Shockers were down 18 in the first half and outscored the Bears 48-27 in the 2nd half. Last time to go undefeated was St. Joesph in 2003 led by Jameer Nelson and Delonte West. St Joeseph loss in the A10 conference tournament to Xavier and made it to the Elite 8.
I know a couple die hard Duke fans, one being my colleague, and I always talk about how a team full of athletic players always give them problems. So when this season was about to start, they was so excited about Jabari Parker and the rest of the athletic Dukies that was going to play for the Blue Devils this year. Unfortunately, those athletic Dukies are not living up to that hype, currently sitting at 12-4 and at the bottom of the AP polls. One more loss will completely knock the Blue Devils out of the top 25, first time since 2007 that will happen. It's very surprising to see the Blue Devils struggle like this because they actually have a good team. This is the most athletic team Coach K has had in a long time but the one thing they were missing is a bonafide shooter. Even though the Blue Devils have great athletes, they didn't change the style of play. Duke still live and die by the 3-point shot but those big 3-point shots that they usually knock down at the most opportune moments, are not dropping. Also the Blue Devils are small with no true inside presence, leaving Parker playing the 5, not to say he can't but on defense it's a liability with him in the middle. I still think Duke will make a bunch of noise in the tournament because they have a tournament player in Parker. They just have to get through the struggle.
I'm sure the the great Lute Olson is proud of his former squad being ranked #1. The Wildcats started the season off ranked #6, thanks to a good recruiting class led by Aaron Gordon. I haven't been that impressed with the Wildcats but I do respect the record. They have great games on their resume so far, defeating Duke in the Garden, comeback victory against Michigan in Ann Arbor, and just recently holding off a tough UCLA team in LA. Defensively, they are very good which is a reason why they are undefeated because offensively they are average at best. I like the combo of Nick Johnson and Aaron Gordon but I need to see more before I pick them as the best team in the country.
This year's freshman class has been very exciting, might be the best one we seen in a long time. Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, Aaron Gordon, and Julius Randle all have wowed so far this season. Parker is my personal favorite because he seems to do everything on the court, reminds me of when Melo played at Syracuse but if I had to say who the best is I would go with Julius Randle. Randle is a straight beast in the paint. He is strong, athletic, and no matter what he always get his shot off. I think he will be the number 1 pick in the 2014 draft not just because he is the only true big man out of the bunch. The one thing about him that do bothers me is he tends to keep the ball low, allowing guards to get into his hands but he has time to fix that. I would like to see all 4 diaper dandies stay but we all know that is a long shot.