Hey the Preseason Top 25 polls just came out. You know what that means, time to write about how bad all these teams suck. I'm taking a look at the AP poll instead of the Coaches poll because I chose it at random. Spoiler alert: The Gophers aren't in here.
1. NORTH CAROLINA. They only lose J.P. Tokoto who entered the NBA Draft for some reason but that's fine because I think he mostly made people mad at his shooting. Marcus Paige is back and he's really good when he's not being terrible. They had zero outside shooting other than him last year, and unless one of the freshman can shoot (one supposedly can) or somebody else learned how to hit a 3-pointer in the offseason this is not the best team in basketball. Also I just read Paige is out for 3-4 weeks with an injury so maybe that will lead to somebody else being good. SPOILER: nope.
2. KENTUCKY. Hell I don't know.
3. MARYLAND. It's hard to wrap my head around Maryland being this high, but I can't argue with it. They were a 4 seed in the tournament last year and even though they didn't make it out of the weekend they were still a solid team. Melo Trimble came back and might be the best player in the conference, they added two big time transfers, and got a late commitment from Diamond Stone who is supposed to be awesome despite the ridiculous name and fills their only real hole. Still, three seems really freaking high.
4. KANSAS. Want to hear something that will blow your mind? Perry Ellis is back for another year. Even so, these guys are my pick for title winner. Ellis sucks but he's not completely useless, and even if he is Kansas has everybody back (except Kelly Oubre who was meh anyway) and they're adding two McDonald's All Americans who are both forwards. This team is deep as all hell, all they need is someone to make the leap. With so many above average players in both ability and pedigree you'd think somebody's going to do it, and if two or more do these guys will be really, really good. Bet on them. Do it. Go do it. They're like 10-1. Do it.
5. DUKE. Uh, you guys know they lost Tyus, Okafor, and Justice Winslow, right? This is all because Grayson Allen, who makes J.J. Redick look downright lovable, had that good stretch in the National Championship game, isn't it? Does he really seem like the kind of player who can carry a team for a while season. NOT BLOODY LIKELY. Good luck with him and one million freshmen. Oh, right, they got a transfer from Rice coming in too. Yes, Rice. The college. If you read any preview of Duke this year they call out a transfer from Rice as a huge positive. I am currently making a dismissive wanking motion.
6. VIRGINIA. Hoops nerds like to tell you that if you think Virginia basketball is boring, you don't really understand basketball. Well I understand basketball and I know what the pack line defense is and all that and I'm telling you - Virginia basketball is freaking boring as all hell. And basically the whole team is back again to be boring and annoying and get handjobs from announcers. Ugh. Stop already.
7. IOWA STATE. If you asked me to guess where Iowa State was rated I would have said like I don't know, maybe mid-20s or something so this is a bit of a surprise. But I guess Georges Niang is back which seems impossible and possibly illegal, and, you're not going to believe this, but the Cyclones get a couple of big deal transfers from other programs. Add that to almost the whole team being back and I guess I see why they're this high. They should be really fun and pretty good until one of their players gets suspended.
8. OKLAHOMA. The opposite of Virginia, these guys are fun as hell to watch and since Buddy Hield, who is basically a lock to lead the Big 12 in scoring, is back they probably will be again. They also ranked 8th in defensive points per possession, so it is actually possible to play fast, fun, and good defense all at the same time. Take notes, Cavaliers. Also, this is way too high for these guys.
9. GONZAGA. Lots of people say stuff like man Gonzaga is overrated, they stomp the WCC, get all this Final Four type buzz, and then flame out. Last year they finally made the Elite 8, which is definitely an accomplishment, but also just the second time they've gotten that far, the last coming in 1999. So I don't know that they've proved that they're anything more than a small conference bully. They've got a rock solid front court, but lose their entire back court so things could be rough early. This section was extremely boring.
10. WICHITA STATE. They have Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet back. That right there is enough to win the Missouri Valley. No really, you take those two and Greg Marshall and you could roll out of their with three toddlers and the Shockers would roll. Unfortunately it is both unsafe and illegal to play with toddlers so Wichita State will use real players to complement those two. I don't really feel like looking up who any of those players are, but since Wichita has been good for so long at this point I'm guessing they're probably pretty good.
11. VILLANOVA. God that sucked when these guys got bounced last year, and not just because they were my non-Kentucky pick to win. They were so freaking good. Then a dopey NC State team knocks them off. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, that's kind of Villanova's thing. Also their thing: guards. And they have a bunch of them again. So expect the Wildcats to shoot a ton of three pointers, own the Big East, grab a high seed, and flame out early. It's what they do. Lesson learned.
12. ARIZONA. Stanley Johnson, T.J. McConnell, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and Brandon Ashley are all gone. That is a lot of people to be gone. However Arizona is Arizona, and it must be nice to be Arizona, because they get a star transfer from Boston College and picked up one hell of a recruiting class, including stealing Allonzo Trier from the Gophers. Also, they still have Kaleb Tarczewski and he is awesome and looks like he would fight you. And you would die.
13. MICHIGAN STATE. Another team with a couple of big losses which catches a break with a big time transfer, ready to step right in. For Sparty it's Eron Harris who only scored over 17 points per game in his last season at West Virginia, no big whoop. I'm really fascinated by Lourawls Nairn (remember him?) here. He only took 8.5% of the team's shots when he was on the floor. The lowest Gopher with any real minutes played was Bakary Konate at 11.1%, which is actually way higher than Nairn. I only found two other Big Ten players under 10% last year (Jaylon Tate of Illinois and Jeremiah Kreisberg of Northwestern) but both played far fewer minutes than Nairn. So like, is that his thing? What does he do if nobody guards him? He's the anti-chucker, which in a way, is as fun as a real chucker. I love watching how teams guard Rajon Rondo - they don't. I hope that's what happens with Nairn.
14. CAL. This team could be like whoa. I bet them at 60-1 to win the whole thing this summer, and I still like them now down all the way at 20-1. They have a ton back from last year's team, not a great year, admittedly, and add two Top 10 recruits. Yes, that's TWO top 10 recruits. If the name on the jersey was Duke instead of Cal this would be a Top 5 team. Plus, I like Cuonzo Martin as a coach. This is my favorite sleeper this year.
15. INDIANA. Oh come on! Do we not play defense any more in basketball, because if this is offense only I would say the Hoosiers are too low, but overall? No chance. It's the same team. The only difference is they got some stud recruit center, but can one player suddenly take a swiss cheese defense and make it good? Or even passable? No. Maybe Antoine Broxsie back in the day, but nobody can make Yogi Ferrell look good on defense. Should score a lot of points though. Gopher/Hoosier games should be in the 160s.
16. UTAH. I know they have at least one, and maybe two, big giant tall guys, and that's generally a good start when it comes to basketsball. Ok I decided to check and they only have one, but he's really good you guys! His name is Jakob Poetl and he's a possible lottery pick who held Jahlil Okafor to 6 points and 4 turnovers in March. He can score, rebound, and block shots and now that Delon Wright is gone he should be the offenses focal point. Should be fun. No idea about all these other guys.
17. WISCONSIN. Oh come on! You're kidding me. Look, I love Nigel Hayes, I love him as much as I could ever love a Badger. I think he's most likely a more skilled Noah Vonleh and I loved Noah Vonleh and thanked Jehova every day that Tom Crean was such a terrible coach. But the Badgers are basically Hayes, Bronson Koenig who is whatever fine, and then nobody else. I know people say it's stupid to bet against the Badgers and Bo Ryan, but people like blood sausage too. People are morons. Badgers suck this year.
18. VANDERBILT. Here's another team I like, although I can also see them sucking. On paper it looks good - a potential lottery pick at center (Damian Jones) surrounded by shooters (Riley Lachance (remember him) and Wade Baldwin (him too) among others, and a team that really gelled as the season went on with most of the team back. Vandy started out 1-7 in SEC play, but closed out 8-2 and looked really good, so yeah, on paper this looks good. In reality, it's Vanderbilt so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
19. NOTRE DAME. Jerian Grant is gone, which is a fairly huge deal considering the game plan was generally "hey Jerian, go do everything for us." The back-up for that was, hey Pat Connaughton, you go do stuff instead but oops, he gone. Zach Auguste is a super stud, I'll give you that, and he's probably going to be better than Noah Vonleh, but somebody has to get him the ball. In summation, these guys suck.
20. UCONN. They have Amida Brimah who I love because he blocks like, every shot ever taken, and their transfer train is rolling, picking up Sterling Gibbs (who is kind of a dick) from Seton Hall to go with Rodney Purvis whom they stole from NC State last year or maybe the year before. Actually looking at this roster I've heard of like, everybody which seems goodish. How the hell is Omar Calhoun still in college basketball? That's insane. Also, I probably watch too much basketball.
21. LSU. One of my favorite sleepers this year. Tons of guard play back and they're bringing in the #1 recruit in the country and another big deal new guy too who just got eligible. As far as negatives go, I have a short list of what I call "dumb teams to never ever bet on" who are always dumb and do stupid stuff and lose when they shouldn't because they are dumb every year no matter what. LSU is on that list.
22. BAYLOR. Baylor still? I figured they'd drop off the face of the map with recruiting violations or something by now, but here we are. The front court has a monster in Rico Gathers who is basically a bigger Montrezl Harrell (yes bigger) without the jump shot, but their entire back court is gone. Oh what's that? A really young back court coached by Scott Drew? I smell some early season anti-Baylor wagers.
23. PURDUE. Another team I like, mainly because facing them is like going against a bunch of gigantic monsters from a Goosebumps book. A.J. Hammons is seven feet tall, 261 lbs., Isaac Haas is 7-2, 297 lbs., and incoming freshman Caleb Swanigan is 6-9, 260 lbs.. It would be pretty sweet if they figured out a way to play all three at the same time. I mean, it wouldn't make a lick of sense, but it would be pretty sweet. Anyway, Purdue plays pretty good defense, and it's probably going to be even better next season. They also can't shoot at all. So there are going to be some ugly, ugly games.
24. BUTLER. I tried to write about Butler like 4 times. That's probably enough.
25. MICHIGAN. Michigan loses nobody from last year's team, and that's good even though last year's team missed the tournament. That was more because Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton played only 37 combined games than Michigan being an actually crappy team, because I am learning John Beilein is a wizard who doesn't make crappy teams. They're still basically lacking any kind of skilled or capable big man and Zak Irvin is kind of wild out there, but this should be a pretty good team. Probably better than this ranking. Man, if Purdue could trade one of their big dudes for a shooter from Michigan, that would be pretty sweet. College sports needs trading, would be so awesome. Not like they care about the kids anyway, which is ok because neither do I. PLAY GAMES FOR MY AMUSEMENT!!!