The calendar has turned to March and the basketball world is heating up at all levels. I said I would provide an update on how our varsity team is doing, and I will later, but first I actually wanted to talk a little bit about college basketball. Obviously, the NCAA has been in the news lately, as multiple schools are embroiled in scandals. I am finding it hard to care about this news, because in my mind college basketball in general is a scandal. Division 1 college athletics is a billion dollar industry that doesn't reward the main people who drive the industry. I genuinely do not care that some schools found ways to pay athletes because the athletes actually deserve the money. The NCAA is such a two-faced organization that I don't care that people broke their rules, and in any case this wasn't really a secret. People in the know could've told any of us that guys have been getting paid under the table for decades. The faux outrage from the sports community just doesn't make sense to me.
My college fandom has waned dramatically in the last decade. Part of that is simply getting older and realizing that it just isn't a very good product anymore, and part of it is time related. I don't really having passing hobbies, I dive in deep when I follow something so in all honestly I barely ever watch college basketball anymore. There just aren't enough hours in a day to keep up with college basketball when I care so much more about my two jobs plus following the NBA, international soccer and good television. Also, it is a secondary level for a reason, the players aren't nearly as good as the pros. Unless you have a specific tie to the school, be it academic or geographic, I don't understand why you would choose to watch a college game over a pro game if what you care about is quality. Why watch a college team try to solve a zone on a Tuesday night when I could watch Damian Lillard or Anthony Davis? However, with all of that being said, there was a time when I did care deeply about college basketball, and since it is March, this week's top five is my five favorite college teams of all-time.
1) '05 North Carolina Tar Heels
This was the peak of my college basketball watching days. All of my friends at school were really into basketball and we debated college and pro related things at lunch every day. One of my best friends was also a bit of a Carolina fan and we watched this team closely all year. They brought Marvin Williams off the bench and had an incredible starting five of Raymond Felton, Rashad McCants, Jackie Manuel, Jawad Williams and Sean May. This is one of the best college teams of all-time.
2) '08 Memphis Tigers
This team lost in the national championship game in overtime against Kansas thanks to Mario Chalmers' clutch three to force the extra session. This team was so fun to watch and I found Derrick Rose enchanting at that time. I was in attendance for the title game that year in San Antonio and was really hoping they could cap off their excellent season with a title. Shouts to CDR and Joey Dorsey.
3) '12 Kentucky Wildcats
This is basically because of Anthony Davis. His game in college reminded me of Tim Duncan. His numbers weren't overly gaudy but he effected every single possession and always had to be accounted for. The fact that he led his team to an NCAA title is just the cherry on top.
4) '09 North Carolina Tar Heels
This was my senior year of high school and the last team I truly cared about. Psycho T was a monster in the paint, with Ty Lawson running point and Wayne Ellington on the wing. Their run to the title featured massive blowouts as they proved without a doubt they were the best team in the nation.
5) '03 Syracuse Orangemen
This Carmelo Anthony led squad was a lot of fun to watch and went on a wild run in March to the NCAA title. Hakim Warrick was always a favorite of mine on the NCAA basketball video games and Gerry McNamara was the perfect lead guard for this team.
This week got into the 70's on our greatest moments list and this morning we posted #77, which was MJ's cold blooded game winner against the Jazz in game 1 of the '97 Finals. Check out our whole list here, which is getting quite robust.
On our players list we posted five more profiles this week, and they include...
#79, Dennis Johnson
#109, Bailey Howell
#206, Doc Rivers
#223, David Lee
#276, Mehmet Okur
As mentioned before, I wanted to provide an update on the varsity team I help coach. Last week, I said we were in the district championship game, well, we won that game by 29. We were up by nine at halftime then exploded in the second half to take control. Our defense was phenomenal, as it has been for last six weeks now. Then, on Wednesday we played a couple hours away in the sectional game. After a poor first half (we led by three at the break) we again turned it on in the third quarter and ended up winning by 17. That win puts us in the state quarterfinal on Saturday afternoon. This is the furthest our school has ever made it in the state playoffs and we are one win away from making the final four. The ride continues and again, I will definitely provide an update next week. For now, though, here is a little taste of what our locker room is like after these wins...