What Parity?

Posted by rtmsf on January 7th, 2008

Is it just us, or has college hoops halfway through the season been almost completely devoid of big upsets so far this year? Last night’s UNC-Clemson game was exciting on many levels, but it failed to deliver in the one key area that makes the college hoops regular season so great – the big upset (leading to a home team RTC, of course).

RTC

On the Horizon – More of This?

In the aftermath of the wild and wacky college football season that saw several teams out of the national title hunt/back into the picture/out/then in again, as well as some eye-opening early college basketball losses (ahem, Gardner-Webb, Mercer), pundits wondered aloud whether we were in store for another zany hoops season where a new #1 team would last about as long as it takes to hang the banner (sup, Carolina fans).

This may all become completely irrelevant as conference play begins in earnest, but this is one of the quietest pre-conferences we’ve seen in many years. It turns out that the Kentucky loss to Gardner-Diego wasn’t that much of an upset as anyone with a starting five can beat UK this year, and the few other eyebrow-arching intra-top 25 losses (e.g., Texas over UCLA and Tennessee) aren’t what we’re talking about. Don’t agree?

  • Consider that we’re two months into the season and the AP top 10 consists of nine of the same teams as the preseason poll (Louisville has been replaced by Duke).
  • Consider that those preseason top ten teams are a combined 127-9 and four of those nine losses are accounted by Rick Pitino’s injury-prone Louisville squad.
  • Of the five other losses, two of them came against other preseason top tenners (Georgetown against Memphis; Michigan St. against UCLA), and two of them were against Texas (#15 preseason). The other top ten loss was Indiana against Xavier.

So this means one of two things. Either we can expect an oligarchy of about 6-8 power teams this year running roughshod through their respective conferences; or, none of this analysis means a damn thing and we’ll have a brand new top 10 in a couple short weeks of conference play. Let’s lace em up and find out.

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Top 10 Teams 1998-2007

Posted by rtmsf on May 9th, 2007

ESPN put out its top ten individual teams of the last decade, and we see some definite problems with some of their choices. First of all, only fourteen teams received votes, and we figure that at least four others – Kentucky 1998 (a champion, mind you), Arizona 2001 (runner-up), Duke 2002 and Arizona 1998 – deserve to be mentioned. As it stands, here is our list of the best teams of the past decade:

Khalid El Amin

Team of the last decade?

1. UConn 1999 (34-2) – nobody on this list had a better season from start to finish as this Huskies team. People tend to forget this team because it was considered at the time a bit of a fluke that they’d beaten a loaded Duke team for the title, but they actually had held the #1 position for more weeks that season than Duke. Make no mistake about it, this team was legit across its lineup (Voskuhl, Freeman, Hamilton, El-Amin, Moore), and simply went about its business methodically winning game after game on its way to the championship.

2. Duke 1999 (37-2) – the primary reason UConn 1999 is #1 is because they proved their mettle by beating the sickest team of the last decade in a knockout championship game. Duke 1999 was the last “great” team of its era – along with its counterparts UNLV 1991, Duke 1992 and Kentucky 1996. This Duke team destroyed just about everyone they played all season long, but for a miraculous finish against a very talented Cincinnati squad in Alaska and the UConn “shock the world” game in the title matchup. A couple more baskets by Trajan Langdon and this team would be considered in the top five or ten of all-time.

3. Florida 2007 (35-5) – in terms of effectuating a repeat championship, and the manner in which they did it (virtually unchallenged in the NCAAs for two consecutive years), the 2007 Gators will be mentioned as one of the greatest teams of all-time. Horford, Noah, Brewer, Humphrey and Green were a true definition of “team,” with someone different stepping up in the clutch every time they needed it. However, a mind-boggling (albeit forgivable, considering the pressure on this team) midseason hangover including ugly road losses against Tennessee and LSU are all that keeps this team from jumping to the top of the list with UConn 1999.

4. (tie) Duke 2001 (35-4) - this Duke championship team exhibits the type of team that wins titles in the 2000s – those with versatile inside/outside players, a solid core of experienced veterans, but not much depth. Battier, J-Will, Dunleavy, Boozer, and Duhon were an all-star cast that makes you wonder what has happened to K’s recruiting in the last few years.

4. (tie) UConn 2004 (33-6) – a belief in our eyes that this team was better than its record is based on Emeka Okafor’s back problems during this season. Coming from behind and closing out a scrappy Duke team in the final three minutes of the semifinals was a testament to just how good this team could be. Read the rest of this entry »

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