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.
Samardo Samuels is pretty much the only reason that Lousiville cracks the top 25 this season. With Terrence Jennings and Jerry Smith facing suspensions and all of the distractions surrounding Coach Pitino this offseason, Samuels may prove to be the saving grace of this basketball team. After leading the team in scoring in five of the first eight games last season, Samuels petered out a bit towards the end of the season. With the losses of Earl Clark and Terrence Williams, Samuels will have a lot more pressure on his shoulders and will have no choice but to keep his stamina up. If college basketball’s streakiest player, Edgar Sosa, can play with some level of consistency this season, it will translate to even bigger success for Samuels. I see big things for him this year.
It’s been two years since the Gators won back-to-back National Championships and two years since the team made the NCAA Tournament. Florida fans, rejoice! The Gators are back! Well not exactly, but it’s a start. Look for the Gators to be highly competitive in the SEC this year and to get back to the Big Dance. They return four starters from last year’s team, including Alex Tyus and Erving Walker, both of whom will look to capitalize on their breakout years. While the loss of Nick Calathes may seem like a big hit to the team, freshman phenom Kenny Boynton will make Gator fans forget all about him. He’s as pure of a scorer as you will find in college basketball and he will have no problem filling the void. In fact, when Calathes serves them a Big Mac in a couple of years, chances are that his former fans won’t even recognize him. Seriously, though, good luck in Greece!
Am I biased for putting them in the rankings? Maybe. But am I serious when I say that they’ll be one of the best teams in the Big East this year? Yes. Obviously the loss of Jonny Flynn is still tough to swallow, but ‘Cuse will be ok. While the other losses of Eric Devendorf and Paul Harris also sting a bit, the much-anticipated arrival of Wesley Johnson will ease the pain. The transfer from Iowa State will be the centerpiece of the Orange offense along with Andy “Buckets” Rautins. He showed some serious potential in his time as a Cyclone and the word on the street is that he is ready to takeover! The tandem of Arinze Onuaku and Rick Jackson proved to be surprisingly effective and gave a few teams some trouble in last year’s Big East Tourney. Don’t be surprised to see that trend continue. The biggest question mark is the PG position. If either freshman Brandon Triche and/or Scoop Jardine can step up, they may shock some people. And I’m not saying that through Orange colored glasses.
Reigning Horizon League Player of the Year, Matt Howard and preseason all-conference players Gordon Hayward and Shelvin Mack are out for redemption and to prove that their mid-season top 15 ranking from last year was not a fluke. After starting the season 22-2, the Bulldogs completely pooped themselves down the stretch going 4-4, including an unexpected loss in the finals of their conference tournament. Don’t bank on that happening again. Butler will have a breeze of a time this year in the Horizon League and shouldn’t lose a game in conference. A strong non-conference schedule that includes Georgetown, Ohio State, Minnesota and a potential showdown with West Virginia or Clemson, will give them a pretty healthy taste of what to expect in the NCAA Tournament.
Willie Warren’s decision to return to Oklahoma means only one thing. He wants to show the country just how good he is. Being overshadowed by last year’s college player of the year, Blake Griffin, Warren is ready to put his own stamp on college basketball this season. It’s a shame that the Sooners will have to play the role of red-headed stepchild all year while big brothers Kansas and Texas bask in the spotlight. They’ll have their hands full when they meet up against these teams but they should be able to beat up on the rest of the conference. That is if freshman Tiny Gallon can steer clear of the “All You Can Eat Buffet.”