2009-10: Exciting Season Ahead
Lets be honest, last years' college basketball season stunk. It was very predictable, lacked excitement, and the absence of star players was evident. And worst of all the NCAA tournament featured a shortage of upsets and close, entertaining games.
Sure last year featured a compelling player of the year and #1 pick in Blake Griffin and a return to glory of the UNC Tar Heels behind their inspirational leader Tyler Hansbrough. But for all around talent and entertainment, it was a snoozer. What follows is an overview of why the 2009-2010 season promises to be much better than last.
There is no clear favorite this year, unlike last when everybody, including myself and President Obama, picked North Carolina to win the championship. Sure Kansas and Kentucky are who most people are considering to have the best chance at a title but there are literally twenty or so teams that have a legitimate chance to win it all.
Come tournament time everyone will be captivated due to the high number of teams that could be dangerous. Each major conference has at least two teams with a chance at cutting down the nets. No matter what part of the country you are from, or what team you root for, chances are you will have something to look forward to when the NCAA tournament rolls around.
Kansas, Texas (Big 12), Kentucky, Tennessee (SEC), North Carolina, Duke (ACC), Michigan St, Purdue (Big 10), Washington, California (Pac-10), West Virginia, and Villanova (Big East) stand atop their respected conferences and all look to make a deep tourney run hopefully resulting in a national championship.
Lets not forget about the little guys. Last year there was minimal upsets. Last season for the first time in history all of the top 3 seeds from each region made it to the sweet sixteen. To make matters worse, there was only one team with a double-digit seed that advanced to the sweet sixteen.
That lone team (Arizona) happened to be from a major conference. Out of the thirty-two first round games ten resulted in an upset. Out of those ten upsets only one was considered a big surprise. That surprise was the Cleveland St. victory over Wake Forest.
I expect all that to change this time around. There are a handful of scrappy teams that on a neutral court on any given night can beat any team in the country. To name a few, teams such as Dayton, Xavier, Siena, Butler, and Nevada will certainly be in the big dance. All five of these teams have veteran leadership as well as players with pro potential. So hold your breath the chance of a major upset still looms.
Like every other year there is a lot of new faces in new places. Many players transfered and will be eligible to play this year. Many coaches moved on to different locations. Most notably the Kentucky Wildcats nabbed John Calipari. Coach Cal has the whole state in a frenzy as the Wildcats' huge fan base anticipates a return to the so called glory days. Calipari is already making his presence felt by landing the number one recruiting class in the nation.
Meanwhile other high profile teams including Arizona, Virginia, Alabama, and Georgia all have new head coaches. These schools certainly have a reason to be excited too considering the future is beginning to look brighter by the day. Many teams will get a boost from new transfer players. Elliot Williams hopes to keep Memphis atop Conference USA. Luke Harangody is joined by two new teammates this season. Ben Hansbrough (Tylers' younger brother) and Scott Martin will give the Fighting Irish enough fire power to make a return to the big dance. Jai Lucas will make an immediate impact for Texas and the same can be said for Taylor King joining Villanova.
It will be interesting to see how all these coaches and players that switched schools blend in with their new teams. For a more in depth look at the coaching changes and transfers take a look at these sources...
Another promising factor is the overall talent pool has greatly improved. In the 2008 NBA Draft there were 12 Freshman selected. In the 2009 NBA Draft there were 4 Freshman selected (not including Brandon Jennings).
The Sophomore class is still largely intact, and history has shown us that many players make great strides their sophomore years in college.
Look for these 2nd year players to rise to the occasion this season. Guys like Ed Davis, Devin Ebanks, Willie Warren, Terrico White, Greg Monroe, William Buford, Al-Farouq Aminu are all big time talents. We all saw how good these players were last year, so imagine the impact they will have on the game this season with a year of collegiate experience under their belts. Every single one of these guys could be a first round pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.
Don't worry I haven't forgotten about the loaded incoming Freshman class. Yes, this Freshman class is very strong and is thought to be considerably better than last year's. Many of these youngsters have the talent to make a major impact on the college level as first year contributors. Anywhere from six to eight of these Freshman are projected to be selected in the 2010 draft.
Don't be surprised to see that number rise as these players get acclimated to the college level and their games progress during the season.
Overall you can expect the 2010 NCAA season to be more like 2008 instead of 2009. We all saw how Derrick Rose and Kevin Love lead their teams to the final four as Freshman. It isn't much of a reach to think that a couple of this years' Freshmen can do the same thing. Players like John Wall, Derrick Favors, Xavier Henry, John Henson, and Avery Bradley are in a position to do just that.
In closing, you can see why I am so excited about the upcoming year in NCAA basketball. Trust me, this season will trump last year's. Get your popcorn ready and enjoy a great year in college hoops!
good post, but damn i have no popcorn. Luckily i have some time to go to the corner store and get some........hope im back in time.
Mr. Smith you are an excellent basketball mind butt... KU is the clear cut favorite to win it all, period. Sure this is year is way deeper with quality players and teams, but this KU team is going to be legendary.
I don't totally agree that Kansas is the clearcut favourite to win it. Originally that was the case, but now that Kentucky got John Wall and returned Patrick Patterson I'd have to say they are close to Kansas' level (I'd still take Kansas over them though).
I'm not buying the Kentucky hype. Yea they've got tons of talent, but it's mostly Freshmen, and freshmen virtually ALWAYS falter come March when the season is on the line. Don't be surprised if they're upset in the Elite Eight by a 4 seed that starts four or five seniors.
Kansas, on the other hand, is the real deal. They've got veteran leadership inside and out, loads of talent, and great experience. Even with Xavier Henry, though, they look like they're a wing-player short of where they need to be to win. Still, I'd put my money on them.
North Carolina has an outside chance to repeat IF Larry Drew II can step his game up in a big way. They're stacked at least two deep with legit players at every other position, so he doesn't even have to be brilliant - he just has to take care of the ball, play solid defense, and stay on the court. If he can handle that, then UNC has a real chance to play Kansas for the championship.
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