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.
The Minnesota Golden Gophers are my favorite team, not named Syracuse, of the 2009-10 college basketball season. If Tubby Smith hasn’t already shown the country that he was not the problem in Kentucky, then he will most definitely have everyone convinced by season’s end. Look at what he’s done since taking over at Minnesota. Taking over a team with a 9-22 record, he’s gone 42-25 since and brought them back to the NCAA Tournament last year. They return every single meaningful player from last year’s squad, including leading scorer Lawrence Westbrook. While there’s nothing glamorous about this team, as a unit, they can play. Keep an eye on freshmen Royce White and Rodney Williams. White has the potential to be a superstar (once he’s able to play) and Williams is an absolutely electric dunker, as he recently displayed at Midnight Madness with his dunk over the Gopher mascot and his 360 from the foul line. Yeah, you read that right!
Tommy Amaker enters his ninth season as head coach of the Michigan Wolverines and this could be his best team to date. Oh wait, that’s right, Amaker was fired three seasons ago after his Houdini routine of convincing everyone that he was actually a good coach. Seriously how much must he hate John Beilein? Not only does Beilein take his job, but he also takes the mess that he made and turns it around the entire program in the matter of a year. Now Tommy is roaming the sidelines of perennial powerhouse Harvard. How do you like them apples? One major reason for Beilein’s success, aside from the fact that he’s an incredible coach, is the play of junior Manny Harris. Not to discredit everything DeShawn Sims has done over the past few years, but the engine that makes this team go is Harris. Don’t be surprised if he beats out the likes of Kalin Lucas, Robbie Hummel and Craig Brackins for the Big Ten Player of the Year. He’s that good.
13. Ohio State
Last season ended quite abruptly as the Buckeyes ran into the Siena buzz saw in the first round of the tournament. Well I could say that’s Big Ten basketball for you, but I’d be beating a dead horse. Fast-forward to the 2009-10 season and Ohio State is back, but this time, they deserve every bit of their top-20 ranking. The main reason is Evan Turner‘s return. Turner, who stepped up big time when David Lighty went down early in the year with a foot injury, went on to lock up first team All-Big Ten honors. With Lighty coming back from injury and starters Turner, Dallas Lauderdale, William Buford and Jon Diebler all returning, they’ll be in contention for a Big Ten title and could make some noise in the Big Dance. It’s a shame they didn’t have B.J. Mullens still around though. Actually, what am I saying? He’ll be asking “Would you like fries with that?” right next to Nick Calathes, before we all know it.
Continuing along with my trend of praising teams that I usually can’t stand (i.e. Georgetown, UConn, The Big Ten), we now find ourselves at Duke. As much as I hate them, I can’t deny the fact that they’re a very good team this year. The loss of leader Gerald Henderson obviously hurts and will be tough to overcome while the loss of Greg Paulus…well, who cares? He was terrible anyway and in case you haven’t noticed he’s terrible at football too. Don’t worry, Duke fans, he’ll be nestled up on the Duke bench sucking on Wojo’s teet in no time. Anyway, this team is loaded with talent and will push UNC for the ACC title. Kyle Singler and Jon Scheyer can flat out score the ball and Nolan Smith has emerged as one of the top point guards in the nation. Both of these are recipes for success come tourney time. If Lance Thomas and the rest of the bigs can hold it down, they’ll have a ton of success this season. P.S. if you’re waiting for the part of these rankings where I praise Luke Harangody, don’t hold your breath. I’d rather eat garbage than give him any credit.
11. Mississippi State
This may sound crazy, but is it possible that Mississippi State as a team could have over 400 blocks this season? Let’s assume they play 35 games in total. That means they would have to average 11.5 blocks per game to reach 400. Wait, 11.5 blocks per game? Are you nuts? Nope. For a team that averaged 7.5 blocks per game last season with 6-9 Jarvis Varnado and added 7-1 John Riek and 6-10 Renardo Sidney into the mix, 11.5 blocks per game is not all that far-fetched. This frontcourt is easily one of the best in the nation and if they had some decent guard play, they probably would be in contention for a national title. Unfortunately they don’t so they will only go as far as their big men can take them or as far as they’ll send your shots into the stands.