That’s right, the start of the college hoops season is just one week away and you know what that means: it’s time to unleash the mother effing fury! For the past seven months, I’ve been bottling up a vicious mixture of excitement and rage, just waiting for the moment to release my emotions onto the rest of the world. Well that time has come. Your boy Matty D is back to give you a look at the top teams in the country and to separate the champs from the chumps.
This entire week, I’ll be counting down my top 25 teams in the country and giving you a breakdown of each team so that you too can be prepared for this upcoming season. Chances are I’m going to say some things you don’t like, and chances are I’m going to say some things you may not necessarily believe, but trust me, I will give you my honest opinion every single step of the way.
So, I apologize in advance if I hurt anyone’s feelings, especially the guy who told one of our writers this weekend that Maryland was a lock to win the ACC. Dude, drugs are bad! As much as it may suck, if I don’t hurt people’s feelings, then I’m not speaking the truth. Unfortunately winning isn’t for everyone and the sooner you figure this out, the better off you’ll be. So without further ado, here is my Top 25 teams of the 2009-10 Men’s College Basketball Season.
Possibly the only team who can contend with Cal in the Pac-10 is the Washington Huskies. Reigning Pac-10 freshman of the year, Isaiah Thomas, and soon to be 2010 freshman of the year Abdul Gaddy will give opposing guards fits in the backcourt. I’m not sure if there’s a quicker duo in the country and truthfully, I’m not sure there’s a better backcourt, period, in the country. I really mean that. If Quincy Pondexter, C.J. Wilcox, and company can capitalize on the opportunities Thomas and Gaddy create, they’ll be a team to watch and to fear. Towards the end of last season, Pondexter showed some flashes of true potential and if he can continue to progress, they could go a long way. Not to mention, Lorenzo Romar will have his team convinced that a national title is a real possibility. Trust me, if they catch a hot streak, that dream could easily become a reality.
In a traditionally down year for the Pac-10, the shining star of the conference is the Cal Golden Bears. I can easily see this team winning 30 games when all is said and done. A team with a ton of experience will be hungry to reverse their post-season misfortunes from a year ago where they got knocked out in the first round of both the Pac-10 Tournament and the NCAA Tournament. The fact is they ran into two hot teams at the wrong time. They return four of their five starters form a year ago, including senior Jerome Randle who was just named to the Preseason Wooden Award List. The guy to watch though, is Patrick Christopher, who will be counted on if this team wants to get to the next level. Coming off a mildly disappointing season where most people had expected him to break out, he’ll be out for blood.
I trying to imagine how the borderline crazy Bruce Pearl is able to contain himself when he thinks about how good his team could be this year. They’re another team that returns their entire starting five as well as their top bench players. Everyone knows how good Wayne Chism and Tyler Smith are, but what most people don’t know is that Scotty Hopson is a ticking time bomb just waiting to explode. These guys will be looking to run the floor and their size and length will cause major problems for opponents. Athleticism, maturity and experience make an SEC title a real possibility for the Vols. Make sure you keep an eye on Hopson and remember where you heard it first. And make sure you keep an eye on Pearl. Don’t be surprised if you see him break down and doing something crazy in the next few weeks.
7. West Virginia
Athletic Freaks! That’s the best way to describe this West Virginia team. They’ll run past you, jump over you, block your shots, steal your lunch, and wear you down physically and emotionally. If I had to peg one dark horse team to make a run to the title, it would be the Mountaineers. This team is capable of destroying the souls of every team in the country if they get hot. They’re the type of team that turns a two-point game into a twenty-point game in a matter of minutes and Da’Sean Butler is the type of guy who will give you eighteen of those eighteen points. Devin Ebanks, Kevin Jones, Wellington Smith and John Flowers have the ability to posterize anyone, anytime. Factor in the return of their court leader, Joe Mazzulla aka “The Pride of Rhode Island” and this team is a serious contender.
It’s been a few years since Kentucky fans had legitimate reason to be excited about their basketball team, but they’ve got good reason to dream this year. Of course, if they want to win a championship with Patrick Patterson, John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, they’ll have to do it this year as all three of those guys will be playing in the NBA next season. Talent alone is enough to make anyone believe that they’ve got a shot to win but its definitely not going to be an easy ride. Gone are days of Calipari playing Tyson vs. Spinks like he did in Conference USA. The SEC has a number of solid teams that could take down this young Kentucky team any day. With the exception of Patterson, these guys have a ton to prove before I start drinking the Kentucky Kool-Aid. And if Wall’s eligibility questions become a real issue, you can drop them down a good 10-15 spots in the rankings. Coach Cal just can’t stay out of the way of controversy. Weird.