Wednesday, October 17, 2012

DWG College Basketball Preview: Teams #46-39

Man weather is such a dick.  The Cards/Giants are still sitting there, like 3 hours after their delay started, waiting to resume play in the 8th and the Yanks/Tigers has been postponed now until tomorrow.  Sucks.  So here's something else that's a thing you could do:

46.  Detroit Titans.  Ray McCallum is still there.  Three years ago two big-time recruits signed with smaller schools to play for their dads.  One (Trey Ziegler at CMU) saw his father fired after two dismal seasons and bolted to Pitt, the other is McCallum and after advancing to the NCAA Tournament by winning the Horizon tournament last year the Titans are looking to do even more.  There are some notable losses, particularly size-wise in Eli Holman, but there are a couple of senior forwards capable of putting up good numbers who should help balance things with McCallum.  Plus they got Juwon Howard, Jr. this year.  Juwon Howard Junior!  Hell yeah!

45.  Tennessee Volunteers.  Bruce Pearl left Tennessee looking like a mess, but behind some solid leadership from Cuonzo Martin (CUONZO!) they actually had a pretty solid year last season (NIT berth) and now return almost the entire team for another go at it.  And guys, their PF Jeronne Maymon is just a monster, and out of nowhere, too.  He was nothing, and then he just exploded into a guy who had double figure points or rebounds (or both) in the Vols last 15 games last year and put up double doubles against three of the teams toughest opponents last season (Kentucky, Memphis, and Duke) including a 32 point, 20 rebound performance against Memphis.  He's very Mbakwellian on the glass, just attacking every rebound as if his very life, nay, the fate of the planet, rested on him getting that ball.  Tennessee was always able to recruit under Pearl but he was such as shitty coach they were chronically underachieved.  Martin is a far better coach, and if he continues to get the same caliber of players to come to Tennessee this team is going to be a major player going forward. 

44.  UCONN Huskies.  UCONN can't play in the postseason this year because of I don't know grades or some dumb arbitrary NCAA rule that punishes players who had nothing to do with the infraction, and as a result of that had to watch Alex Oriakhi and Roscoe Smith bolt to Missouri and UNLV respectively (along with Andre Drummond and Jeremy Lamb to the NBA) and will be going with a new coach in Kevin Ollie, but there's still plenty of talent here to screw over at least a Big East team or two's at-large hopes with some big wins.  That is, of course, if DeAndre Daniels can become what he was supposed to become.  Daniels was a top-10 recruit last season who chose UCONN over Kentucky, Florida, Duke, and Kansas but ended up buried on the bench much of last season.  If he can blossom with a bigger role and mesh with outstanding guard tandem Ryan Boatright and Shabazz Napier the Huskies could be awfully good.  Of course without cheater Calhoun who knows how this all shakes out.  They could win four games and I wouldn't be surprised.

43.  Davidson Wildcats.  Davidson is a little bit annoying to me in their consistency, but here they are, back again, heavy favorites to win the SoCon and just good enough to scare or beat a team or two once they inevitably get to the NCAA Tournament as an 11 seed.  Pretty much the entire team returns from last season when they put a scare in Louisville in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, but what's interesting about this iteration of the Wildcats is rather than being overly dependent on guards and 3-pointers, their two best players are a pair of forwards (including the SoCon Player of the Year and the other guy might actually be better) who can hit it, but don't need to.  They leave that to the 200 guards Davidson has running around.  Again.

42.  Harvard Crimson.  Well Tommy Amaker's got a nice little thing going here.  In 2010 they made the CIT.  In 2011, the NIT after tying for the Ivy League crown and losing in a one game playoff.  Then last year they won the Ivy to make the NCAA Tournament, losing to fifth-seeded Vanderbilt by nine (yes, I picked Harvard).  They do lose last year's Ivy League Player of the Year, but have everybody else back and Nevermind somehow I missed that Harvard has a bunch of guys embroiled in an academic scandal including their best player and both co-captains who are no longer on the team so drop these guys off the list, bump everyone up one, and throw Northwestern at the end or something.  Gotta have some nerds, somehow.

41.  Florida State Seminoles.  Maybe I'm way off on FSU because they are 24th in the first Coaches' Poll that just came out, but I'm not seeing it.  Losing four starters including your entire inside presence in Bernard James and Xavier Gibson is, like sticking a paperclip into a power outlet, no picnic.  Yeah, they still have Michael Snaer and you know they'll be tenacious on defense and won't back down, but you know who else is tenacious and never backs down?  My two-year old, and by the end of most days he's either run into a wall face first or fallen off some random piece of furniture and landed on his head.  Every once in a while, however, he'll get a big win by throwing a matchbox car and hitting Mrs. W right in the face. 

40.  Murray State Racers.  Things could be a bit tougher for the Racers this year, what with losing three starters and having to deal with Belmont's move to the OVC, but Murray State has developed a "Gonzaga-lite" reputation for a reason.  They have a whole bunch of experienced seniors and generally play a deep bench so even if these guys don't have impressive stats you can bet they can play, and Murray State keeps bringing in solid recruiting classes to keep that pipeline going as well.  Not to mention they still have Isaiah Canaan who led them to the tournament last year, winning the OVC Player of the Year Award, and then promptly sucked (8-30 in two NCAA Tourney games).  Now a senior, Canaan should be able to do more assuming they get to that point again, because everyone knows that noted chokers always get better over time, right A-Rod?

39.  St. Joe's Hawks.  I actually feel like I might be underrating these guys a bit, because this team kind of has that feeling of building something that might be cresting this season.  Last season the Hawks won 20 games (9 in A-10 play) and snagged an NIT berth, not bad considering the two previous years they won 22 games combined.  Carl Jones, C.J. Aiken, and Langston Galloway (who you remember from such games as against the Gophers two straight years) are now in their third year playing together with Aiken growing into a force in the paint, Galloway developing into a dead-eye shooter from the wing, and Jones, well, he's pretty much the same chucker he's always been since he arrived in Philly and maybe these guys will be even better when he's gone next season (the other two are juniors) but whatever.  St. Joe's' has been crappy since Jameer Nelson and Delonte West left and now they have hope.  Can't you just let them have hope with their cheesesteaks?

Teams #68-60
Teams #59-53
Teams #52-47

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