Thursday, February 1, 2018

College Basketball: Catching you up if you haven't been paying attention.

I get it, you live in Houston and you don't really follow College Basketball.  You love your Texans and all forms of football, you've been (correctly) paying attention the the Astros and you understand the Rockets might be pretty good this year but you just can't get into round ball.

But you WANT to understand the game a little.  So you turn on Houston sports talk radio and you get, conversations about who the Texans back-up QB will be next year and two low-functioning idiots arguing on the air.  Or so-called "man-talk" which doesn't resemble any conversations that males actually have.

Houston, in short, is a sports media wasteland. It's a bad sports town that really only celebrates it's worst professional franchise.

That's OK however, because we're here to provide you with some simple talking points that will place you well out in front of your fellow coffee-klatch conversation mates....

1. Trae Young (G-Oklahoma) is really (really) good.

He's averaging 30.3 pts per game and is shooting 40% from 3 point range. He's the best player in college basketball right now and it's not close.  If you've paid any attention the the NBA of late the player to whom he gets the most comparisons to is Steph Curry. His school is not too bad either, currently sitting at 16-5, 2nd place in the conference and 1 game behind perennial conference champion Kansas.

2. Speaking of the Big XII, they're really good this year.

The conference has 4 of ten teams in the top 25, with Texas, Oklahoma State, TCU and Kansas State having shots at the big dance. (granted, OSU is a stretch and will need a strong close). The best team, at the moment, is Kansas, who are ranked number 7 in the country, seem to be on track to win the conference championship yet again and should slide in as a solid #2 seed in the tournament, with a real shot at winding up a one.  Bob Huggins has West Virginia playing well, and Texas Tech is a contender in the tournament, and for the regular season title.

3. The American could be a 3-bid conference.

Since Houston is in your town, you might want to say that they're really pretty good this year. They sit at 16-5 and have good wins over Wichita State, Providence and a 34 point demolition of Arkansas. Cincinnati is ranked #5, is 20-2 and just beat the Cougars by 10.  Wichita State is a shoo-in for the tournament, but they're finding life much harder in the American than the Missouri Valley Conference, something that should make them much better come tournament time.

4. Virginia is the best team in the ACC. Not Duke or North Carolina.

If you only pay scant attention to college basketball, you might want to know this come tournament time. Because the Hoos are real, they're long, athletic and should make a deep run in the tournament.  Duke is 2nd best, but they're three games back from Virginia and just got beat (at Duke) on National television. They are also the team in college basketball that is the easiest to dislike. It's not beyond reason to think that the ACC could be a 10 bid league this year. Granted, some teams will need to finish strong, but I put them at at least 8.

5. Remember the Big East?

After they accepted a bunch of Conference USA teams to member ship the basketball only Catholic schools broke-off, kept the name and have played one of the more entertaining brands of basketball. Villanova, Creighton, Seton Hall, Xavier and Butler will be in the Tournament, with Providence having an outside chance with a strong finish. Marquette and Georgetown will be contenders in the NIT. (But you won't watch the NIT because you're in Houston).  Villanova is the best team in college basketball right now but injuries are a huge concern.

6. Arizona is good, again.

At the beginning of the season I picked the Wildcats as the eventual National Champions, they then proceeded to start off slowly and make me look a little silly, but they've righted the ship, currently stand atop the Pac-12 and are in serious contention for a number one seed.  Behind them is a good USC team, followed by Washington and UCLA.  When the season first started Arizona State looked like they couldn't lose, but they've cooled off, losing five games in conference play and while they should make the tournament that could be in jeopardy if they continue to slide.

7. The top four are.....

Here's where I see it today, with the number one seeds going to these teams:


For last four in/out and other bracketology I recommend reading Joe Lunardi of ESPN He and I are pretty much in agreement except that he has Kansas with the 4th 1-seed and I still have Arizona. (which he has as a 3-seed, I disagree with that).

So, there you go. A primer to college basketball so you don't sound totally clueless when speaking to your co-workers, friends or random people at a sports bar.

You're welcome.

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