It might be a little late, but check the opinions about college basketball this season. This year isn’t dominated by any annoyingly over hyped players (cough, cough Greg) but some freshmen are looking to make a big impact. There isn’t one clearly dominant team (cough, cough Florida) but plenty of squads are on the verge of greatness. Here are some thoughts:
1) UCLA: Arron Afflalo will be sorely missed, but Kevin Love is more than ready to fill his spot. A less than stellar PAC-10 will help this team get a good seed, not that they’ll need it.
2) Georgetown: These guys will (hopefully) prove that the Princeton offense can actually contend for a national title and their stellar defense won’t hurt. Roy Hibbert is one of the top college players and he’s backed up by capable guards in Tyler Crawford and Jonathon Wallace and role-players in Patrick Ewing Jr. and Jessie Sapp.
3) Memphis: Derrick Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts are more than able to lead the high octane Tigers back to glory. Their only weakness lies in their inability to create easy shots. For a powerful offense, they don’t run the break nearly enough.
4) Kansas: With Darrell Arthur on the verge of greatness, the perimeter will be opened up for some clutch Jayhawk shooters.
5) North Carolina: I’m tired of all the hype around Taylor Hansbrough. Maybe if he hadn’t been punched in the face last season, he would have lived up to it, but I think he still has something to prove. Having him run around in traffic with Deon Thompson can only add to the problems they had with Wright last year. They have a breakout star in Wayne Ellington.
1) Connecticut: Okay, so maybe Uconn isn’t exactly synonymous with Cinderalla, but they are poised to make an impressive run. Hasheem Thabeet (7'3") has the ability to stop any big man in college, and A.J. Price can run the offense. They haven’t gotten anyone new, but an improved squad from last year is more than enough to make a surprising run.
2) Pittsburgh: The hardest working team in college hoops is ready to make an impact. Sam Young is a perfect example of the teams dedication and hard work paying off.
3) New Mexico State: This one might seem a little out of left field, but stay with me. Justin Hawkins is one of the most underrated players in college and Herb Pope was an excellent pickup, who will get plenty of minutes this year assuming he can recover from being shot.
Eric Gordon, Indiana: Indiana has a surprisingly exciting squad this year and Gordon is the main reason why. He plays a lot like another Gordon, Ben, including his 33 points against Tennessee-Chattanoga.
Kevin Love, UCLA: After a sick haircut, Love proved he’s ready for the season by averaging 20 and 10 in two games this season. He can step out and hit near NBA-range threes and his fundamentals rival Duncan’s. He’s the poster boy for High School basketball; we might be able to say the same about him in college.
O.J. Mayo, USC: The bad: He gets in trouble, fights teammates and chose USC. The good: He’s playing with Lil’ Romeo and scored 32 in a loss. I doubt Mayo cares too much about whether USC wins or loses, but getting his stat sheet filled out every night can’t hurt the Trojans.
Michael Beasley, Kansas State: Easily the most beastly freshman. 6’9”, 235 lbs and averaging 31 and 19, I don’t expect this guy to stay in college for too long.
Chase Budinger, Arizona: The curly haired soph looks like he’s going to improve on a decent freshman year, from 15, 2 and 6 to 25, 4 and 6. The Wildcats aren’t too good but this high-flyer will make them interesting to watch.
Scottie Reynolds, Villanova: After only one game, his stats haven’t been that impressive, but better than last year. Expect him to have some crazy games as the go-to-guy on ‘Nova.