Pick a Four That’s New | January 28, 2013
College Basketball enters the last week of January, and there is a certain level of parity starting to occur with several heralded teams at the start of the season losing their way, ranked teams losing on the road in conference clashes and with no definite Number 1 team appearing from the wreckage of competition.
Most teams organise their own non-conference schedule usually to not test the resolve of youngsters or increase confidence before the conference slate begins. Now there is no place to hide and the landscape of College basketball is changing from game to game rather than week to week.
This is partly down to the one and done rule, where precocious youngsters hang around in college for only one season at a top program and then jump ship to the NBA for a pay-day. Due to this, no program is getting a great side and so the quality of the basketball being played is suffering. Not since the Tyler Hansborough North Carolina side have we had a formidable side that was built around a nucleus of stars who played together for three years.
Also the sport does not have a star in the making as College sport should be; there is no transcendent talent like Kevin Durant, Greg Oden, Derrick Rose or from last year Anthony Davis; the sort of player who stops the schedulers and gets the twitter-verse fired up by his night in, night out performances.
This season it was meant to be Cody Zeller who is struggling to cement his legacy by drifting in and out of games too frequently. Trey Burke is suffering from a poor supporting cast as he has to take the brunt of shots and stop them on the defensive end. Instead we look to Doug McDermott from Creighton to score regularly 25+ points a night like Jimmer Fredette did.
The title of my piece is a pun on a Stereophonics song, but also the fact that the selections of my Final Four are changing from week to week. Two weeks ago I tweeted that it would be the Florida Gators, Indiana Hoosiers, Duke Blue Devils and Kansas Jayhawks.
The Hoosiers muscled past the Michigan State Spartans at home, but have not fully recovered from the Badgers beating. The Blue Devils still miss Ryan Kelly and were whipped at Miami by 27 points, never mind the resurrection of the North Carolina State Wolfpack and Maryland as well as the Tar Heels and Miami making the ACC now as competitive as the Big Ten.
The Gators are one of only two ranked SEC sides (the other is Missouri), but as strong as the SEC is in College Pigskin, it sucks in Hoops this year not helped by the woeful Kentucky Wildcats squad this season; Billy Donovan should be able to navigate the SEC championship with ease based on the sheer consistency and solid performance.
The Jayhawks are like the Gators the strongest team in a poor conference, yet they themselves nearly fluffed their lines at home to Iowa State, the conference shows signs of life in the form of Kansas State and Baylor, however Kansas have the best player in the country in Ben McLemore as well as big point man Jeff Whitey defending powerfully.
The Final Four for me now may read more like Kansas, Florida, Michigan and UCLA. The Bruins are an exciting team and in an elimination tournament will be the sort of 5th or 6th ranked side you will want to avoid. And let us not forget the mid-major forces of Butler, Gonzaga and Creighton.
This post is dated 27th January, by 7th February it will have changed again. The wonderful world of College Hoops allows the story lines to change from day to day.