Monday, November 10, 2008

Money’s college basketball preseason picks

Unless you have been living in a cave, then you know that North Carolina is the unanimous preseason number one team in the nation. They return everyone and will obviously be talented and the team to beat. However, the same case could be made for Georgetown in 1985 and UNLV in 1991. The best talent does not always win and if you know anything about Money is that he never picks the team with the most talent. So the question that needs to be asked is, if not UNC then who? My pick is LOUISVILLE again. If you remember, I picked them this time last year too and Kansas won. And who did I pick the year before that? Kansas! And we all know how that turned out. I see things clearly, but I am just a tad (1 year) too early in some cases.

Louisville has the same team that nearly knocked off UNC last year in the Great 8. Earl Clark stayed put and did not go pro and will break out this year. Terrance Williams is a pass first player and is among my favorite players in the college basketball. Freshman Samardo Samuels is a legitimate low post player who will make an immediate impact. They have good outside shooters led by Jerry Smith, a very solid backcourt with Sosa returning and the best defensive pressure in the land. LOUISVILLE wins it all this year.

Is the title game a repeat of the Great 8 game last year? Nope. UNC falls short again due to the defensive woes and a poor decision of Hansbrough to come back and play another year. He starts the year off hurt, never fully recovers and ends up not playing in March Madness due to health reasons. Pity. Fear not, ACC backers, because you will be represented. WAKE FOREST, who returns a fantastic core from last year, plus an incredible 3 man recruiting class this year will make a great run but ultimately fall to Pitino. No team added more from a recruiting perspective, as Al-Farouq Aminu, Ty Walker and Tony Woods will mesh well with Jeff Teague, Ish Smith and James Johnson.

My other two teams in the final four will be Uconn and Gonzaga. Both teams have great guards, big studs and a history of performing well in the tournament. I can’t believe I just compared Gonzaga to Uconn. Oh well, I love them both.

Money’s top 25 (preseason ranking in parenthesis)

1) Louisville (3)
2) Wake Forest (NR)
3) Uconn (2)
4) Gonzaga (10)
5) UNC (1)
6) Georgetown (22)
7) UCLA (4)
8) Notre Dame (9)
9) Pitt (5)
10) USC (18)
11) Michigan State (6)
12) Oklahoma (12)
13) Arizona State (15)
14) Saint Mary’s (NR)
15) Duke (8)
16) Purdue (11)
17) Florida (19)
18) Syracuse (NR)
19) UAB (NR)
20) UNLV (NR)
21) Miami (17)
22) Kansas (24)
23) Memphis (13)
24) Texas (7)
25) Ohio State (NR)

Some general thoughts about this list.

--Tennessee (14) is not included and Texas (7) may very well could have been left off. I think the core of these teams are gone and am not convinced they can rebuild quickly.

--I loved the Stephen Curry story last year. Not buying the book this year. They lost their PG and more teams will be prepared to shut down this one man show.

--SMC is going to be great. They return a very talented team. Among them, Patty Mills who went toe to toe with Kobe and Lebron this summer in Beijing. Mills, a sophomore, is a top five pick in the NBA draft this year if he leaves early.

--UCLA, a fixture in the final four, will just fall short this year, even with stand out frosh Jrue Holiday leading the way.

--While the Hoyas lost Hibbert, they get an even more mobile big man in Greg Monroe. Add him to DaJuan Summers and speedster Chris Wright and you have a fantastic team.

--The Big East is absolutely loaded and should get 10 teams into the dance. They have 5 teams with a legitimate shot to win it all too.

--USC loses super frosh OJ Mayo but gains another in DeMar DeRozan, who comes in with just as many credentials, but less of a circus environment.

--I would love to go to an Oregon state game to get a glimpse of Coach Robinson and his secret service agents. What a great pickup for OSU.


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