Monday, November 8, 2010

Washington Post Column - College basketball is far from perfect, but still worth following

The following is this weeks column for The Washington Post on the start of the college basketball season -----

Gary Williams has been around the college basketball block long enough to know that preseason polls are about as valuable as Confederate war bonds. Yet when his Maryland team didn't receive a single vote last month, he didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

"Let's see, we tied for first in the ACC last season with the team that won the national championship," he said. "I know we lost three seniors and one of them was a first-round draft pick. But not a single vote? I look at some of the other teams that are ranked, and I honestly wonder if the guys voting even know who's on their teams."

The way college basketball is these days, it's entirely possible they don't. At least one panel of experts picked North Carolina freshman Harrison Barnes as a first-team all-American before he has played a college game. Of course, some folks who follow prep basketball nationally are asserting that the five best players in the country this season might be freshmen.

That's what one-and-done has done to the college game. Great players flash through college gyms so fast that if you blink you miss them. Hey, Kentucky fans, did you enjoy John Wall? Does anyone realize that, in a different era, Derrick Rose would be a Memphis senior this season?

Williams's disgust with the preseason polls makes absolute sense. People aren't voting anymore on what they know or what they've seen; they're voting on what they've heard. John Calipari, the same coach who recruited Rose to Memphis and Wall to Kentucky, has another freshman class full of guys who likely will be in the NBA at this time next year. How good are they? Who knows?

In the meantime, the college hoops season begins Monday night. Maryland is one of four teams hosting games in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. This event has become part of a disturbing trend in early-season hoops in which four teams are actually designated to play in the so-called "semifinals" even if they lose. Why? TV, of course. These events are much more marketable when the big-name teams are playing. The only way to guarantee that: Win and you advance; lose and you still advance (just as Texas will do, even if it falls to Navy on Monday night).

Click here for the rest of the column:  College basketball is far from perfect, but still worth following


JJ said...


Sorry, I'm not a fan. College BB regular season is a glorified exhibition one. With so many teams getting into the tournament, it means almost nothing. Yes, every once in a while there is a Cleveland State pulling an upset, or the stars align and Butler almost wins it. But, more often than not all the top seeds advance through round 1 and 2. Too many bad big conference schools make it as well. Give me the days of a 32 team tournament when getting really meant something.

PS. Congrats on the new baby. Would love to hear where the name Jane came from.

Gunnar said...

125 days to selection Sunday...I love that day. Have a look at Washington, they should be really good, although the Pac-10 is going to be down again this year. Washington will be in Maui, so we'll see where they stack up.

Gordon said...

As it relates to the Blog/BCS entry. Thats the total beauty of NCAA Basketball Polls...... THEY ARE TOTALY WORTHLESS.

A champion is determined on the court. What a novel concept. Teams actually playing each other in a field of 68 or whatever it is now.

Oh but thats right the BCS is worried about the "Student Athletes".

Anonymous said...

not one mention in this space of the Giants World Series victory. It's a drip drip drip on BSC,ESPN, and Tiger is bad. Cmon John you perpetuating the East Coast Sports Writers Bias.

You've said yourself that your are biased..(mostly on Tiger Woods) does this include all things West Coast including my beloved Giants.

I'd love Oregon Ducks versus Boise State...I don't see that happening. College Football is a insults our intelligence every year.

NorCal BBal Dude!