It’s A Love/Hate Relationship: Volume VIIPosted by jbaumgartner on January 31st, 2013
Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC columnist. His Love/Hate column will publish each week throughout the season. In this piece he’ll review the five things he loved and hated about the previous seven days of college basketball.
Five Things I Loved This Week
I LOVED…. Kansas guard Ben McLemore. I’ve been captivated this guy since the first time I turned on a KU game this year – the only comparison for pure smoothness as a freshman might be Melo at ‘Cuse. I can usually judge a guy’s talent by how willing I am to prioritize his Thursday snoozer at 8:30 PM on ESPN2. Do I delay dinner? Do I push work off till tomorrow? Do I accidentally forget about Date Night just to marvel at a net-snapping three when the Jayhawks are already up 20? If the answer to any of those is yes, I’m hooked. And for me, McLemore is that year’s player. Watch out for this KU team – they might just have all the pieces.
I LOVED…. trying to figure out Duke. 27 points. TWENTY-SEVEN POINTS. The Miami Hurricanes looked like a pro team taking on the high school JV squad – running, slamming, jamming… even Barry Larkin was lovin’ it. So is Ryan Kelly that important to the Blue Devils? Is he the difference between cutting down the nets and a Hurricane doormat? Is he worth all 27 of those points? I guess we’ll find out.
I LOVED…. in a way that only a true John Calipari hater could love, the following headline: “Wiltjer, Noel Help Kentucky Upset Mississippi.” How a team full of Top 10 recruits can “upset” anyone is beyond me. They must realllllly be underachievers to pull off that one…..
I LOVED…. how the real point of this season seems to be how many teams can claim and then quickly relinquish the coveted (or maybe at this point, despised) Number One ranking. Indiana, Duke, Louisville, Duke, and now Michigan. It’s a tribute both to the difficulty of winning on the road with today’s insane fans, but also to the parity of this year’s college crop. I wouldn’t feel comfortable putting money (sorry NCAA, I mean “friendly non-financially based wager”) behind any of these teams. But it should all add up to one crazy March.
I LOVED…. Kansas showing me what a legit title contender does – winning on the road when giving in just this one time would probably be easier. It’s so common to let the tide swell for the home team during the regular season, and it’s hard for me to believe that a team can really go all the way if they can’t grind out some of these less-than-aesthetically-pleasing victories. KU took West Virginia’s best shot on Thursday, but they still toughed it out.
Five Things I Hated This Week
I HATED…. UNC’s Dexter Strickland somehow managing to go for a rebound and completely knock out his team’s best player – P.J. Hairston. Ouch.
I HATED…. Louisville’s inconsistency. Here I go, trumpeting the Cardinals as the team to beat, the anti-Indiana, the title favorites. So naturally they repay my confidence by losing three straight and then barely beating Pitt. In case anyone cares, I promise they still have a ridiculous backcourt, athletic wings and will be right there till the end in March…. unless of course they aren’t.
I HATED…. seeing Cody Zeller disappear. How is it even possible for a seven-footer to do that? The Indiana big man has a combined 11 points and 11 shots in his last two games, including a 0-for-4, two-point dud against Penn State [ed. note: Zeller went for 19/11 against Purdue last night, after this article was written]. Let me spell this out very carefully, in case you were planning to bet the house on the Hoosiers. If Cody Zeller does not show up every game, for 40 minutes, this team has a 50/50 shot to get past the Sweet Sixteen. And that’s being nice.
I HATED…. and by that I mean literally cannot under any circumstances begin to comprehend how N.C. State is this inconsistent. If we could recap the last six games: Beat Duke, lose to Maryland, beat Clemson, lose to Wake, beat UNC, lose to Virginia. If you’re looking for a team to bet against come Tourney time, I think you just found your guaranteed first-round upset.
I HATED…. the three headlines a day reminding me of the tragedy that Big East basketball is becoming – “St. John’s, Syracuse Agree to Play Post-Big East,” “Big East Eyes 12th School,” you get the picture. For some reason it didn’t hit me until now, but the breakup of this conference and its historic hardwood tradition confirms exactly how much I hate conference realignment and everything that it stands for.