Friday, November 02, 2007

The preseason hierarchy

The 2007-08 college basketball season starts with a few scattered games next week. Why am I not yet excited? Well, the preseason is kinda pointless. (Unless you're Grand Valley State.)

When you're sizing up teams this time of year, you can either rank them based on how they look on paper now, or how you think they'll look at season's end. Both approaches share a trait: they mean nothing.

With that in mind, I'm just having fun. But I'm not so deluded as to make Duke one of the top 16 teams. The Blue Devils might become the ACC's second-best, but if I had to guess right now, they look about fourth. Mr. USA Basketball's back at his day job, and he's gotta earn it.

Some readers may remember my year-in-advance Final Four: Kansas, USC, Memphis, and Louisville. After a long offseason, I feel less confident about this prediction, but I wouldn't call it ridiculous just yet. So I'm sticking to it and bracketing those teams in different quarters.

South Regional (Houston)
01. Memphis: Probably the best record, maybe the best team.
08. Indiana: At game time, there's no need to use the phone.
09. Arkansas: Return top 9 scorers against the soft SEC West.
16. Oregon: The role of "ACC" will now be played by the Pac-10.

West Regional (Phoenix)
02. UCLA: If they win their conference, they deserve it.
07. Tennessee: Those Florida guys left, right? Just checking.
10. Louisville: Could wither under high expectations.
15. N.C. State: Surely this is the year for their breakthrough?

Midwest Regional (Detroit)
03. Kansas: Really, the top 3 could've gone in any order.
06. Washington State: The 2nd annual "Who are these guys?" tour.
11. Marquette: Have they considered a 6-guard lineup?
14. Ohio State: Losing stardom, but perhaps gaining cohesion.

East Regional (Charlotte)
04. UNC: Strong frontcourt kinda meaningless until March.
05. Georgetown: Would love to see them trip the Heels. Again.
12. Michigan State: Performance traditionally defies seeding.
13. USC: Will thrive or dive by their raw talent.

Also considered: Texas A&M, Gonzaga, Southern Illinois, Xavier, the other 6 Pac-10 teams.

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