Okay, this is going to be the culmination of three weeks of ridiculous speed typing. One man. 347 teams. My goal. Hope and faith for all. But before we get started three ground rules.
1) It's one man typing 347 paragraphs with no research team. I am bound to make errata in these posts. Let me know and I will fix them.
2) I try and avoid the obvious. So you know what that means? If you're Luke Harangody, you may not make the list. Stay Tuned Notre Dame Fan!
3) Odds are I will have to punt if a team is that decrepit. I was able to hit the New Jersey Institute of Technology, so odds are yes I can. That being said? I apologize in advance, if no I can't.
Albany: There's an opening for a team to crash the big dance with the actafoolery of Binghamton. Albany does have a worthwhile case. Now, Anthony Raffa did transfer, but this is a team that has two solid low post workers in Will Harris (and he has a decent shot from three too) and guard Will Ambrose (seriously, Ambrose does work). If Mike Johnson can run the point and if Ralph Watts can be a swingman fit? They'll spit hot fire.
Binghamton: The decision to rid the team of the talented bad eggs means you're looking at a team whose awesome comes from cool names. You have someone obviously named for a former Canadian Prime Minister in Chretien Lukasa and a baller built for an annoying public address announcer in Moussa Camara. It may not be much, but somebody should have told Malik Alvin not to steal the condoms.
Boston University: This is team number two who now has an opening for Conference Championshippery. This team has four returning starters, the past three conference newcomers of the year, and super-scorer Corey Lowe, who fits in the first category, and yet not the second. If point guard Tyler Morris stays healthy? This will be the team that crashes the party.
Hartford: With the return of unrepentant gunner Joe Zeglinski to get paired with steady defender Andres Torres, the upside is that the Hawks are going to be more competitive. Not to say that they're going to be contenders, but if the polish Z-Man can bring it? Out of the cellar and into the light.
Maine: Gerald McLemore is a talented guard. But you know what? That's not why I'm here. They have a junior big guard. He has an all-time great name. Malachi Peay. It's biblical and hilarious all at once.
New Hampshire: With the outlaw Binghamton program's head assplosion? This is the third of four programs that find themselves with legitimate party crashing hopes. I know that all conference Tyrece Gaines Tyrece Gaines has graduated. It doesn't matter. Alvin Abreu is a steady force at guard and they have a strong rotation to work with. They definitely have more than a punchers chance.
Stony Brook: They may not be one of the four contenders. But you know what? They've made a quick rise from obscurity. And while three returning sophomore starters, hot mid-major freshamn Preye Preboye, as well as a super-scorer senior two guard named Muhammad El-Amin? You can't count team SeaWolves out.
UMBC: The transfer dance has done well before in Bodymore County. And after last year when a ton of scoring left after a hard-fought run to the conference finals. Chris De La Rosa (from mid-major superpower Siena) joins the backcourt with Chauncey Gilliam. If De La Rosa infuses the team with some of what graduated? This conference gets even wider open.
Vermont: A lot graduated from the consistent contender. I mean, it's hard to fill the shoes of a Mike Tromboli. But you still have Marqus Blakely. That's a lot of skill in one man. And if they can fill in the stats? (Maurice Joesph, I'm looking at you.) They have an opening for the big dance.
Charlotte: One would think loneliness may be killing Shamari Spears in terms of the talent around him. After all, it's an 11-21 team that just lost LaMont Mack. But there are two other pieces and a spectacular name that will help lead the team out of the wilderness. The An'Juan Wilderness. LOL! Okay, for real? There are few who can take care of the ball like DiJuan Harris and there's a freshman sensation named Chris Braswell.
Dayton: There is a lot of hope in Dayton. Chris Wright and Marcus Johnson are all-conference powers who ended up beating West Virginia in Round 1. There are four seniors in the backcourt. And Chris Johnson was a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest last year. His leg has healed.
Duquesne: While I take a second to make a pun for spectacular three point shooter Jason Duty, consider this fact. This team is a team that loves to throw it up from beyond the arc. (6 had more than 100 attempts.) And they did it without size? It was a Philadelphia Freedom version of seven seconds or less. And Damian Saunders had to play Boris Diaw. He had seven boards with two blocks per game last year being a center in a small forward's body. That's spectacular. (Heheh...Jason.)
Fordham: Even if he's here more by judicial fiat than by actual desire, Jio Fontan is still a Ram. And that's something. He led the team in scoring with 15.3 points per game, and was so valuable a building block, Fordham refused to release him from his scholarship. If he matures his game? He will be an intriguing talent.
George Washington: To say that Pops-Mensah Bonsu is rolling over in his grave at the state of this team would be a gross overstatement. He's not dead after all. But his alma mater is having some real issues. The Fighting Omo Moses' lost 11 straight last season. But with Damian Hollis as the middish major Landry Fields? We'll see if they can't improve on it.
La Salle: If you look at collegiate basketball awesome in the Philadelphia area? It's been a long while since you took a gander to the Explorers.
There is no dynamic Lionel Simmons-esque force on this team. You just have an experienced team with Rodney Green moving to the point and saying that it's my time to shine.
Massachusetts: How this helps UMass would be debatable, but let's make a projection. The only candidate to get 20 PPG in the A-10 is a Minuteman. His name? Ricky Harris. He had 18.2 last year whilst Tony Gaffney and Chris Lowe provided quality help. Gaffney and Lowe have graduated. The rest is just science.
Rhode Island: Lost amongst the ricsickulous Coach's son gunnery of Jim Baron and the solid low postery of Kaheim Seawright was a breakout 2-guard. The name? Orion Outerbridge. Okay, it's Keith Cothran. But with the team needing someone to take another step into the breach? It's his show. (But if Orion Outerbridge can join him? That would be cool too.)
Richmond: The backcourt of David Gonzalvez (Love the extra V, dude) and Kevin Anderson are amazing fits in a Princeton offense. Anderson scores just a little bit better than Gonzalvez, and yet? Gonzalvez has a jumper that will kill you dead. If Dan Geriot is healthy and strong? This could be a stealthy Cinderella pick.
Saint Joseph's: You want someone who can be a stealth replacement for Stephen Curry in both scoring and looking like he was on a Nickelodeon program? Check out newcomer Carl Jones. From the school that brought you a quality, if not flaky, lead guard in Delonte West? Carl Jones can find his way into being quite interesting very quickly.
Saint Louis: Okay, they say that youth is wasted on the young. The Billikens may be the personification of that feeling. One junior, and he's the dean of experience on this team. But there are three building blocks of intrigue. Kwamain Mitchell is a fine lead guard, Willie Reid is a spindly shot disruptor, and Cody Ellis is Australian. (Remember, Majerus always seems to find himself good Australians.)
St. Bonaventure: This team rolled up on everybody like boo, motherhubbard last year. I go with the clean version, for they merely shocked by being mediocre. I mean really, when your best player is a low post rebounder and shot changer from CANADA? You need to keep it clean for the Andrew Nicholson nation.
Temple: I will avoid making a pun at the expense of graduated scorer Dionte Christmas and tell you that Temple has a double double machine. It's true! His name is Lavoy Allen. And he garnered 9 rebounds per game last year. Yay, low post dirty work!
Xavier: Oh hello. Did you hear that somebody had dunked upon LeBron James and he reacted badly? Did you know that he plays at Xavier now? Is this trope of me pretending that a major bloggershpere sporting event going under the radar annoying? Okay. Just suffice it to say that Jordan Crawford plans on realistic funk on several nasty dunks.
Boston College: It's a rare thing for somebody to kick up their level of play as they transfer up a level. But former America Easter Joe Trapiani had a fine debut. Now, he has to step up and play Eric B. to Rakim Sanders to keep this team at a level they're accustomed to. If not? There's always Reggie Jackson.
Clemson: Trevor Booker is still a punishing low post force and Demontez Stitt is a fine distributor. But I'm sufficently hyped for the debut of Noel Johnson. Clemson has an opening for a gunner. And everybody loves a Freshman sensation right? Right.
Duke: If you switched Kyle Singler with Robbie Hummel? You would learn to hate Robbie Hummel with a passion and a fury. There. That's the nicest thing I can say about Duke.
Florida State: Solomon Alabi is tall. And he actually has athleticism to go with that height. Add to that conference tournament hero Derwin Kitchen? And you find a team that's in decent shape. So long as Mr. California Michael Snaer can fill at least one aspect of Toney Douglas' abscence.
Georgia Tech: Derrick Favors. I know there's Gani Lawal and Iman Shumpert. But that doesn't matter. Derrick Favors. Jay Bilas trembles at that name. That length. (All right. I'll admit it. I am pushing him because I want Derrick Favors to come to Milwaukee and play with Brandon Jennings next year. It would be the greatest tag team in the world.) So, I will also donate to you the gift of bloodlines. Glen Rice Junior. Glen Rice was a deadly scorer when the NBA was still the NBA. The kid can impersonate.
Maryland: Some who are feeling irrationally exuberant would call Greivis Vazquez the preseason player of the year. I would not so much. That being said? Jordan Williams may fill the one thing that has turned Gary Williams from a championship caliber coach to someone who stayed too long. If he does? J'INTRIGUE!
Miami (FL): The sick gunning of Jack McClinton has gone on to (sigh) Turkey. But that being said? This is kind of like the indie film version of Clemson. The low-post mauler is there, (Dwayne Collins), tnere's also an interesting transfer in Malcolm Grant. He could very well do the McClinton thing. But there's no distributor either.
North Carolina: Yeah, we all know that this team lost a lot of starters. But this is a team with reloading capabilities. I know a lot of teams would go to war with a Deon Thompson-Ed Davis-John Henson as a frontcourt. And with the Larry Drewish bloodlines of Larry Drew II? Don't shed a tear for the graduate departed.
North Carolina State: I know it seems like there are dark days in this corner of Tobacco Road, but you do have a ray of light here. Javier Gonzalez emerged as a fine point guard as the rigors of the conference season wore down the general overrateds in the front court. And few are as deadly from beyond the arc. He'll at least give you one shining moment as a poor man's Isaiah Thomas two.
Virginia: There's all sorts of fun for Virginia. New coach with a strong pedigree? (Tony Bennett.) Surprisingly interesting bloodlines? (Mustapha Farrakhan, he launches 3's for the Nation of Islam.) Freshman of intrigue? (Jontel Evans. He's a high school QB from Iverson territory.) And fun Sophomore? (Sylven Landesberg.) That's four checks for fun.
Virginia Tech: Malcolm Delaney maintained the clutch from 07-08, but yet he is not a star. Granted, last year was rich in great guardplay. I don't mean to repeat myself here, after all, Jeff Allen is mighty fine too. But you know what? Malcolm Delaney is awesome.
Wake Forest: Al-Farouq Aminu does not have anyone nearly as gifted as Jeff Teague to feed him down low. But that's okay. He has a senior backcourt to handle these things. Ishmael Smith is steady. And as such? Wake Forest may not have the crazy peaks that they did last year, but they sure as heck won't crater out like they would have on a bad day.
Belmont: I'll be frank. This Country music factory lost a lot. Outside of Dr. Jon House and one month of awesome from Jordan Campbell? It's kind of a lot of unknown. My gut says that Drew Hanlen is going to find himself as the man who saves the day. But there's no empirical evidence for that.
Campbell: Experience makes this team interesting. Jonathan Rodriguez didn't have to be as productive as he was as a sophomore. That being said? When you have a solid supporting cast, led by Lorne Merthie, is a massive plus. The Camels are going to be interesting to watch.
East Tennessee State: It's a dull name. But after the graduation of Pigram and Tiggs? Mike Smith is going to have an opportunity to be a superscorer. Now his game is quite versatile, and if you live in the Southeast? You'll have a chance to see him.
Florida Gulf Coast: So you know what? Dave Balza has a couple of interesting pieces. It's a backcourt (you'll be surprised by exactly how many low-major teams are solely backcourt strong). Reed Baker is the backcourt scorer. And Reggie Chambers? He's a super distributor. Yay!
Jacksonville: Ben Smith is a fine scorer without a fun name. It's not his fault. He just doesn't have a name nearly as fun as their All-Conference power forward. His name? Lehmon Colbert. CAN HE GIVE THE FIGHTING ARTIS GILMORE'S THE COLBERT BUMP TO THE BIG DANCE? Yes! Now this post is worth the price of admission!
Kennesaw State: Kurtis Woods may have the honors? But no one is going to say that Kelvin McConnell is not the better guard. He's better from beyond the arc by far. If Woods or Jon-Michael Nickerson allow McConnell to get more shots? This team climbs out of the cellar. If, in fact the experience level doesn't do it for him.
Lipscomb: There's a center here who needs a nickname. Adnan Hodzic is his name. He's strong like a bull in the low post. I would call him The General. But that's just me. If Johnny Lee feeds the man in the low post? This could be a tournament team.
Mercer: There are four senior starters that power this team. And two of them are truly nasty. James Florence is one of the best returning scorers in terms of sheer points per game (nearly 24). And Daniel Emerson does the dirty work necessary to be a worthy double double master.
North Florida: I like Eni Cuka. Mike Smith should have a name like that. He's a fine scorer, esspecially from beyond the arc. The new coach, Matt Driscoll, has to trust him. He's the Osprey's best hope for success this season. Really.
Stetson: A.J. Smith is a lot of why the Hatters are interesting. After all, he nearly dropped the rare beast of a triple double in last years conference tournament. And in general? He is a mighty fine scorer. I know, I know. pretty occam's razor thinking, right?
USC Upstate: Nick Schniders is a giant of a man. He's seven foot three and he always threatens to bring a double double every game that he goes out and gets it. He is a very good reason for smartasses like me not to wonder just why in the heck USC Upstate is playing on the wrong side of the continent.
Baylor: An interesting recruiting class joins the returning Tweety Carter and LaceDarius Dunn. Ekpe Udoh will be a nice lockdown replacement for Kevin Rogers, Nolan Dennis was supposed to be a dribble drive motion extraordinaire for Calipari in Memphis, and Duran Diaz was a starter in the SWAC. These guys should at the very least keep them interesting.
Colorado: They may not be a mustachioed private investigator who drives a Ferrari or an African-American in a helicopter in Boulder? But you know what? There's a Higgins. Oh yes. There's a Higgins. Cory Higgins. He averaged about 17 points per game last year. He'll shepherd a team that's still trying to find its way.
Iowa State: Dear Craig Brackins, it's all on you. This team actually has a level of expectations here. And you're the frontman for it. A healthy Marquis Gilstrap would mean you wouldn't have to do it on your own, but you need to find a was to have a more efficient 20 and 10. And I think you can do it.
Kansas: Expectations are high amidst the tumult of the offseason. Cole Aldrich, Sherron Collins, and Marcus Morris all came back. And into the breach? Welcome hotshot recruit Xavier Henry. Just so long as no one gets photographed stealing football quarterback Todd Reesing's America jacket? This team should manage a deep run for glory.
Kansas State: The number two reason why I'm glad Chris Berman lives in a world where college sports do not matter lives here. There's a potential one and done of boldness and genius power. The name? Wally Judge. While pun based nicknames are obvious, the athleticism is real. And Curtis Kelly protects him down low.
Missouri: A steady backcourt in the 40 minutes of hell, even a backcourt without known star quality, is a big help. J.T. Tiller and Zaire "Afrika Bambaataa" Taylor are now the face of the team. And they will lock some suckers down. The problem? Only Keith Ramsey seems adequately prepared to fill the gap left behind by the frontcourt graduations.
Nebraska: There's a lot of whimsy in Lincoln. Retruning leading scorer? Sek Kenry. Potentially healthy two guard with the same name as a Samoan Bouncer at a strip club? Eshaunte Jones. German recruit with a name that sounds just awesome when you give it your bad Ahnuld? Christian Standhardinger. Try it. It's worth a win.
Oklahoma: "Tiny" Gallon. He's a Freshman sensation. He may not be a replacement for Blake Griffin, but the man is all sorts of burly. And he actually has handles and just a bit of touch from outside the arc. Willie Warren made the right call coming back.
Oklahoma State: With the graduation of Byron Eaton and Terrell Harris? It's time for a professional level swingman to take the next step. James Anderson was always a good shooter. It got him to Stillwater. But he's learned how to attack the basket and get rebounds.
Texas: Texas has a history of solid end of the lottery based point guards. It doesn't matter if they are adorably tiny. It doesn't matter if they are coming from a program where they got aced out for the giant douchey looking guy. This is why Jai Lucas came to Texas. A shot at a final four, the league, and a fun offense.
Texas A&M: There's always been a weird run of early exits from Texas A&M. I won't even bother to spell it. But that being said? Bryan Davis is still there. Add to that the steady point guardery of Donald Sloan and potential Josh Carterness of Naji Hibbert? There could be fun to be had?
(An aside. Did you know that Bernard King is the career leading scorer at Texas A&M? And he's NOT the guy who dominated the early 80's?)
Texas Tech: There is a quarterback that Mike Leach would be proud to have on his roster, whether or not he had a fat little girlfriend. Sure, John Roberson is the teams returning leading scorer? But did you know that holds the season record for assists? That's some B.J. Symons stuff there.
Cincinnati: Lost amidst the Renardo Sidney noise down south was a member of the Gunning for That #1 Spot crew whos gained more controversy than on-court noteriety. That being said? Lance Stephenson is a super-talent. If his head even gets mostly right? Deonta Vaughn doesn't have to do everything anymore. And that will be huge.
Connecticut: While Yahoo Sports begs for somebody to catch this team ridin' dirty? They will find a way to get into the second weekend again. They have a Kemba Walker-Jerome Dyson backcourt, and that's fun. Stanley Robinson will find a way to get a lot done in the frontcourt? And they will find a way to reload with some combination of Ater Majok, Alex Orahki, or Charles Okwandu.
DePaul: You have to wonder if Dar Tucker's early exit wouldn't be some sort of addition by subtaction. Not to say losing 18.5 ppg is a good thing? But when they went 0 for the Big East, something was wrong with the structure of the team. They still have Mac Koshwal down low and Will Walker putting up a nice array of shots. It may not be enough, but 6 conference wins may not be a stretch.
Georgetown: The Hoyas got destroyed by the rigors of conference play last season. But amongst the ashes? There is a triumverate that will emerge. Chris Wright and Austin Freeman are a veteran backcourt of some renown. Add in Hollis Thompson? And you'll have a spry team.
Louisville: They lost two lottery picks from last years team and Rick Pitino? You know. Anyway, Samardo Samuels had a mighty fine debut last season, and he will find his way into a better year this year. And since Edgar Sosa has been around since the days of N'Sync? You would think that either being pressed by Peyton Siva will finally untap his potential or it will allow him to be a fine sixth man.
Marquette: To help Lazar Heyward, who will be a mighty fine Boris Diawish post presence in their running and pressing plans. The veterans who waited their turn in Maurice Acker and David Cubillian get the first shot. Acker was a former MAC player of the year, and Cubillian (Koob-e-on) can be vicious from beyond the arc if he gets rolling.
Notre Dame: If you're a white person, or just into stuff white people like? Check these Irish out! We know all about the double-doublry of Luke Harangody. But with three freshman recruits (Joey Brooks, Mike Broghammer, Thomas Knight) and Jack Cooley and Mississippi State transfer Hansbrough Brother Number 2? This team is just all white with me! Yay! Puns!
Pittsburgh: There is a distinct lack of star power in this iteration of the Panthers. Jaime Dixon can coach his way out of a paper bag, and theres interesting pieces. I mean, Ashton Gibbs could break a defense from beyond the arc. And Dante Taylor can make a 75% impersonation of DeJuan Blair as a low-post presence as well. Don't sleep on them.
Providence: If Sharaud Curry feels lonely? One can understand. He's a strong combo guard and he is expected to fill the gap for their multitude of losses. Add in Marshon Brooks? And there could at the very least be an avoidance of falling all the way off the cliff. It's not much, but last years team was NIT-bound and senior dominated.
Rutgers: Mike Rosario may be a one-man army, but he, himself, and him can keep Rutgers in a lot of games. They need someone else to be a good scorer as well, but they do have a tough low post defender. I personally like Hamady Ndaiye. He blocks shots.
Seton Hall: There will be certain themes that develop in a lengthy post like this. I'll give you a free one. I find fat centers to be awesome. And while he was sitting out last season for academics? Jersey rumblings had Melvyn Olvier looking to be pushing four bills. Awesome.
South Florida: For a team that doesn't look strong? There's fun to be had here. Dominique Jones won't have to try and be compared to Jesus Verdejo. And when you add Augustus Gilchrist and a son of Joe Dumars into the proceedings? This team may not win much, but there's good entertainment value.
(And as an aside? Isn't it weird that Joe Dumars named his son Jordan? Just saying.)
St. John's: Like in the ACC, there's opportunity for advancement in the Big East. Not to say that the Storm are going to be better than Villanova? But what they have is interesting. All five starters, and the son of Anthony Mason, return. My favorite players out them? Obviously, Mason Jr. But D.J. Kennedy and Paris Horne are rocking swingmen and Sean Evans is a bull in the low post.
Syracuse: It's odd to be hyped at someone who lived in Ames, Iowa during 2007. But Syracuse may have found the small forward who would be that black swan. His name is Wesley Johnson. He actually showed himself to be a double figure scorer in the Big-12. And considering the backcourt exodus? There are shots to be had.
Villanova: Under Jay Wright, Villanova has been a team that's strong like bull with the guards. And this year? It's no exception. Scottie Reynolds has come back to haunt Pittsburgh for yet another year. Reggie Reddimg is scary on the wing. And Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes are a starting backcourt at many universites. And add to that two mighty recruits Maalik Wayans and Dominic Cheek? I'm growing more impressed as I keep typing.
West Virginia: If this was a full preview, and if I was mean? I'd make a crack about how Huggy Bear has two point guards who would have been out on their ass if they had a coach with principles or a soul. But that's if I was being mean. Devin Ebanks is a powerfully athletic swingman. He'll be a pro by this time next year.
Eastern Washington: There is a likeable, all-conference threat of a big man here. The name? Brandon Moore. He'll get six baskets, 8 or 9 boards, and 2 blocks. It's pure disruptive powers for them. Add in adorably tiny guard Benny Valentine? And it's a fun inside-outside threat.
Idaho State: Big man Chron Tatum qualifies under the Cyrus Tate corrolary. You have an energizing banger in the low post with a name that would fit better in a different era, you automatically gain The Grand National Championships favored status. Chron will hunt. Chron will kill.
Montana: This is one of the great sharpshooting backcourts you need to look for. Anthony Johnson has a strong claim to be the player of the year as he is a superb scorer and a solid distributor. His mighty wingman? Ryan Staudacher. He was good 45 percent of the time beyond the arc. They could very well make a splash on the rim of the NCAA tournament.
Montana State: Remember how I was all about Divaldo Mbunga last year? No? Well I was. And I said that he had no help. This year, it's kind of reversed. You have Will Bynum and Bobby Howard as a strong 2 and 3. But you don't have the Mbungan banger. .500 may be a good goal again, that is, if Michael Seitz doesn't break in and show a lot.
Northern Arizona: Was last season the cratering of the traditional power? The Lumberjacks hope so. They do have some superb pieces. Shane Johansen is a low post banger with a limited, but super effective offensive game. And Cameron Jones is a starkly underrated force as a two-guard. It all depends on how they fill in around them.
Northern Colorado: I don't want to give you irrational hope. But if I am going to make a lowish major sleeper for the dance? I'm coming here. Will Figures is a steady force at the point. Chris Kaba was tremendous in his limited playing time. And Devon Bietzil? He's a super gunner. It's a gutsball pick, but I like these guys.
Portland State: The coaching dominoes took Ken Bone away. Jeremiah Dominguez's adorable tiny? Gone. But there's someone who can play the point very well to return. The name? Dominic Waters. He's solid in terms of assists to turnovers and scary good from beyond the arc. He'll keep them at a level they were accustomed to.
Sacramento State: A two win team that just had it's star gunner graduate? There's still hope here. Justin Eller has a strength and power down in the low post. And while Loren Leath's gunnery is gone? Antonio Flaggs has the potential to be someone who could close the gap.
Weber State: Last years sharpshooting was ridiculous. Ken Pomeroy said they were 8th in the nation of effective field goal percentage. Graduation has limited the sharpshooting options. But they still have three quality snipers (Damian Lilliard, Kyle Bullinger, and Nick Hansen) and an emerging banger down low in Steve Panos.
Charleston Southern: A young team that got snakebit by injury has the pieces for a quick rise. Kelvin Martin and Billy Blackmon were limited last year by injury, and the post game suffered. Their health will allow Jamarco Warren and Omar Carter to be better players. And as such? A quick climb may be in the cards.
Coastal Carolina: Unfortunately, transferring circumstances have decimated their front court. But there's still a sharpshooter of some renown rolling up on you like release, rotation, splash. The name? Mario Edwards. He's a nice three point shooter. If he developed a mid-range game? Interesting.
Gardner-Webb: We still have one more year to enjoy the name Grayson Flittner, as well as the nice scoring game that goes with it. But I want to talk to you about a 6'4" guy who averaged 10 rebounds a game last year. The name is Josh Henley. He does not have a nickname to rival Charles Barkley, but dude. 10 boards a game.
High Point: Must...fight...urge...to pun. Cruz Daniels is the sort of disruptive force that can go all Godzilla on an opponent defensively. Active? You bet he is. Shot-changing? Also true. Soft touch on the putbacks? Correct as well. Opponents who enter into his territory are looking for trouble.
Liberty: It's rare for me to feel sympathy for the fighting Jerry Falwells. But Seth Curry ditched them for Duke as soon as he got famous. And that's just cheap. As such, Kyle Ohman gets all the gunning responsibilities to fall upon his shoulders. He just might be up to the task.
North Carolina-Asheville: It's DickeyPrimm-ania in Asheville. Matt Dickey is a killer from beyond the arc. J.P. Primm was quite the effective distributor. Both were Freshmen sensations. There should be a fun leapability (Yes, that's a word) in year two and this will be led by DickeyPrimm!
Presbyterian: You know what? The Blue Hose don't get one. They're redshirting Al'onzo Coleman, Josh Johnson, and Pierre Miller in an attempt for a North Dakota State run when they attain tournament eligibility. Gregg Nibert? You have made an enemy that you will never know about. COURAGIZE YOUR SCENARIO!
Radford: I have to say, I'm feeling good about Radford. Someone emerged last year as a small major power player. A banger down low? A shot changer? Someone with a good ten foot game who actually gets fed? He is all that and more. Ladies and gentlemen? The best player the mainstream has missed out on. Artsiom Parakhouski. He's the best Greek from the Big South since Zack Galifinakis.
Virginia Military: The superpowered Holmes twins may be gone? But you will find that Austin Kenon is no shrinking violet. I mean, as the third banana from last year, he chucked up 300 threes and hit 39 percent of them. He can tag team with Keith Gabriel and keep them in a lot of games.
Winthrop: Do you like your defense from a vaguely supervillanous name? Do you like it to come with versatility? How about critical acclaim? Welcome to Winthrop. The Mantoris will lock you down now. Because Mantoris Robinson just stops people.
Illinois: I know the name already brings nightmares to their neighbors to the east, but Mike Davis is a might fine high energy power forward and one of the stronger players in the Big 10 at the four. He is the face of a very interesting bunch of juniors. And if Dimitri McCamey can further mature? This team will be powerful.
Indiana: After last seasons cratering? Tom Crean has to be happy that Indiana basketball is still a legitimate name. I mean, how else are you going to explain the quality basketball bloodlines that flow through Jeremiah Rivers veins deciding that Bloomington is the place for him? Doc's kid is going to be smart and steady as the slog back begins.
Iowa: There are no gold pants when it comes to Iowa Hoops. At least not with all the transfers and whatnot. But there is two fun things here. One is would be Freshman sensation/slash 1990's independent comic book antihero Cully Payne. Number two is Matt Gatens. He's a shooter!
Michigan: The Harris-Sims combination gets yet another year of perculation. Manny will score 17 a game. Sims will get his double doubles. And that alone will be worth contention. But that being said? There's a lot of youth energy to fill the other two guard slots. If two emerge (Laval Lucas-Perry? Stu Douglass? Darius Morris? Eso Akunne?) This will be one scary 4th place team.
Michigan State: It's hard to be the team that has been designated to carry the hopes and dreams of the downtrodden living in and around 8 Mile Road. But this team is a legitimate top 5 force. You know Kalin Lucas and Raymar Morgan. But did you know about Delvon Roe? He was limited early in his Freshamn year, but as they made their magical run? Roe was ready to rock. This year? He's primed to make a splash.
Minnesota: Minnesota takes the fun of Jarvis Vanardo, ands NBA tragic figure bloodlines, and the dagger scoring of Russell Westbrook, and just makes it fun. Damian Johnson, Ralph Sampson, and Colton Iverson just kill shots dead. And add to the fact that Johnson and Al Nolen generate a lot of steals? This team is turnover sexy.
Northwestern: For the first time in a forever? There is a legitimate chance at an NCAA Tournament berth. The key? Luka Mirkovic and Kyle Rowley. Northwestern teams traditionaly get punished on the boards. Growth from these two? And the Coble-Shurna-Thompson triad? They get entry into the big dance.
Ohio State: Evan Turner is the man you need to know if you're a fan of crazy versatility. But for an Ohio State University? The intrigue is more than a feeling. (I just had to make a Foreigner reference). The replacement for Byron Mullens is going to heavily involve Zisis Sarikopoulos. Who's actually from Greece, unlike a Kosta Koufos we've known before.
Penn State: Talor Battle is a funsastional salad bar of undersized versatility who led his team to a National Championship last year. It's true! If Sasa Borovnjak can roll up on you as a taller Euro Jamelle Cornley? This team will be pretty strong for a second division Big Ten team.
Purdue: I know, we've mentioned Robbie Hummel before. But with his health? Purdue is a top five force as well. And with the developing would be T.J. Ford in Lewis Jackson becoming a sophomore? This team is well balanced, and I would not be surprised if they end up getting the conference crown. I would go deeper, but I actually kind of hate them.
Wisconsin: If you're a fan of the floorburn guy? Meet Joe Krabbenhoft's replacement in Tim Jarmusz. He was a lockdown defender and 42% shooter from beyond the arc while he suffered from a mysterious groin injury for most of the season. He needs to step up if the long streak of tournament berths has to continue this March.
Cal Poly: Backcourts are strong at the home of the disappeared San Luis Obispo. Lorenzo Keeler is not a finished product yet, but you do enjoy a player who's more accurate the further away he gets. And Shawn Lewis? He's a better shooter. He knows how to work the defensive glass as well. Two nice building blocks.
Cal State Fullerton: Here's how good this league was last year. Josh Akognon stepped his game up to help fill the void in 2008-2009. They finished in a tie for seventh. And Akognon is gone now. But I love this team for Jacques Streeter. He's a good three point shooter and distributor who plays basketball with the power of Frenchness.
Cal State Northridge: For 33 minutes? This team held the nation hostage by nearly going toe to toe with Memphis. But never mind all that, those guys are all gone. Outside of Mark Hill, who was crazy good at the scoring in limited time, as well as a decent rebounder/sharpshooter in Willie Galick. These guys are nice to watch with the hoops.
Long Beach State: There does not seem to be any drama in the LBC. For this is a team rich in the good. Casper Ware? The improving distributor. Stephan Gilling? The good shooter. Larry Anderson? The sharpshooting freshman sensation. And T.J. Robinson? He's a good rebounder. Add to that Kyle Richardson and all of his hyperdido? And this could be fun.
Pacific: Sam Willard is a rebounder of high energy and genius power. And when you consider that the bulk of the scoring was senior oriented? Mr. Willard looks like he's primed to be in a breakout for his junior season. He just needs to get fed.
UC Davis: Mark Payne picks his spots with style and aplomb. He's a big two that has no shot beyond the arc. (2 for 16 last season). That being said? Inside the arc he as deadly accurate with his shot with defenders in his face as he was from the line. Not often somebody has a .738 Field Goal Percentage. It's black swan rare as a guard.
UC Irvine: Michael Hunter is a fine sniper. He can threaten the 90-50-40 shooting plateau. Also? Patrick Rembert is what many would consider to be a quality distributor. And add to that a would be J'Nathan Bullock in Eric Wise?
UC Riverside: There can be only one! And in the Big West, the most immortal of the Highlanders is the 6'7" wing transfer from USC Kyle Austin. He brings a lot to the table. And if Kyle Gurgainous can roll out with some Gonzaga justice?
UC Santa Barbara: Justin Joyner was a point guard who was looking to improve in his junior season. He was experienced and learning how to be steady. Last year? He missed the season. The team finished .500 without him. 4 experienced starters return. A couple are promising. I'm saying here, that Joyner's health equals contention.
Delaware: In the only state without a national forest or park? Another backcourt, or at the very least two-thirds of it, fits the bill. Brian Johnson plays the distributor. Jawan Carter plays the gunner. If Alphonso Dawson stops channeling Larry Hughes? Well then, that's something else entirely.
Drexel: In terms of the Dragon Warriors? You're looking at a party of three. Gerald Colds is the overly arrogant archer who will keep up with the firing no matter if he's missing. Leon Spencer is a rebounding ninja. You don't see him often, but when you do? He hits the glass hard. He is on the bench because Evan Neisler is such a skilled rebounding fighter.
George Mason: If I have made this joke before, I apologize. But would Cam Long be ironic if he was shorter and couln't hit the three? But that's fine that he's 6-4 and can hit the three at a 40 percent clip. And Luis Birdsong's shotblocking is quite nice as well.
Georgia State: If Rashanti Harris is as good as people say? Then this team has a chance to be really good. Joe Dukes and Trae Goldston are a senior backcourt. Dukes is a strong at the assist to turnover ration and a decent shooter. Goldston us a decent scorer as well. If they all co-exist? This could be a tough draw come tournament time.
Hofstra: I may strain myself with this analogy. But if college basketball is like pro wrestling? Then Hofstra's guards are Steenerico. Charles Jenkins is a force of nature that can do a little bit of everything. Cornelius Vines rises and fires like a would be luchador. Combined? They are a two year lock for twenty win season.
James Madison: Julius Wells came in last season and won Freshman of the year. And with the missing members of the frontcourt? He gets an opportunity to improve and be the go-to guy. I know I'm not being nearly as creative or awesome as I could be. But hey. Si haya lo que haya.
North Carolina-Wilmington: It's a return to Chad Tomkotown. I know this team was not superbly successful last season. But Benny Moss has an interesting habit of being either really good or really bad. His first year had seven wins. His second year had 20. Year 3? Back to 7. Does he go back to 20 in year 4? With 8 juniors? Perhaps.
Northeastern: There's a lot of fun to be had here. The wings are major contributors who allow each other to succeed while making sure neither has to be the go-to guy. But the low-post (who really should be mentioned in only the most Harry Caray of tones) they're good defenders. Manny Adako and Nkem Ojougboh combined with Chaisson Allen and Matt Janning equal tournament contention.
Old Dominion: When you have five returning starters from a tournament championship team? You have a right to feel hyped. Gerald Lee is the opposite of Larry Sanders in that he's tall and a silky smooth scorer. Ben Finney is a fine swingman. And Frank Hassell? Actually took the collegeinsider.com Championship seriously and went for an 18-15 with a stress fracture in his leg. With Maynor gone, their March level of competition looks to climb.
Towson: Despite the loss of Junior Hairston? There's a lot to be intrigued by. If Tony Franklin's shot selection improves? He will be a top quality point guard. Isaiah Whitmore is a potentially interesting recruit for the three. And for the cinderella run to the Semifinals? Robert Nwanko could step in and fill the loss of Junior Hairston.
Virginia Commonwealth: Hey Now! This is only one of a million comedish-references to the active disruptor in the low post named Larry Sanders. It's his team now after the graduation of Eric Maynor. Though there is still some under the radar awesome in the back court with Jay Gavin and Joey Rodriguez.
William & Mary: It's the comedy team of Schnider and Sumner that gets the Tribe on the road back to contention. Schnider is the one with the seemingly questionable shot selection but solid way to avoid the turnovers. At least in comparison to his assists. Sumner is the one with better shot selection, but a finesse game on the low post.
East Carolina: Brock Young nearly had 8 assists per game last year as a Sophomore. He loves to distribute. And he has a couple of people who have the potential to do great things with his passes. Darius Morrow rocks it down low, and Jamar Abrams from beyond the arc.
Houston: This years answer to Jermaine Taylor as a two-guard with an NBA future resides in Houston. The name? Kelvin Lewis. Now, he won't have near the statistical explosion as Taylor did last year, as Aubrey Coleman is worthy to get fet the ball as well? But that being said? Lewis will keep this team fun to watch.
Marshall: In this go-go dribble drive motion world? You have to have gunners who are worth it to kick the ball out to. You already have yourself Chris Lutz. But with the addition of Catamount bomber Cam Miller? Damier Pitts has two people to rock the kickout casbah.
Memphis: Josh Pastner may be in an untenable situation. There was a mass exodus after John Calipari left. Two recruits are going to miss extended time with knee injuries. But you know what? Eliot Williams came to Memphis for the most noble of causes. He stayed after the mass exodus. He deserves a good year.
Rice: When Lucas Kalpers broke his wrist? Rice started its downward spiral. He was one of the stronger offensive threats on a team that needs offense if it cannot stop people. If there's a bounce back from out of the cellar? Kalpers is going to have to start the revolution.
Southern Methodist: Yeah, SMU had a pretty dark season last year. But out of this darkness, a hero did rise. Strong, fast, and relentless in his quest for buckets. Enter Paul McCoy. He only won nine games last year. But he was spectacular in doing it. If Myles Luttman or the enegmatic Papa Dia do some work in the low post? More wins will come.
Southern Miss: If I had any guts, I would consider R.L. Horton the breakout candidate for the C-USA? Why. One, he has a team that's lost scoring punch. Two, he knew most of them would be gone anyway, so I'm sure he worked on his shot. And three? He's playing shooting guard this year. But that's if I had any guts. I clearly do not.
Tulane: If ever they went to old school High School woman's basketball rules? I could never do a post like this. Because that means a scoring backcourt would not exist. So thank your male chauvinist forefathers. Because without them? Kevin Sims and Kris Richard would never be able to succeed at putting the biscuit in the basket.
Tulsa: The best chance at party crashing comes from the best mid-major center who doesn't enjoy the Krispy Kreme, Jerome Jordan. He'll cull about seven putbacks and 7 boards a game. He gets to the two blocks a game and he come backs into the first round.
UAB: With the ladeling away of seniors like so much film off of a school lunch soup? There are openings for the new Blazers to fill holes. Into the breach steps a man with quality bloodlines. Elijah Millsap comes in with Raging Cajun roots and double-double dreams. If he succeeds? Someone's going to give him a good long look.
UCF: Don't sleep about this teams scoring power now that Taylor is gone. Issac Sosa was ridiculous from beyond the arc as the kickout guy last season. And A.J. Rompza should improve his distributon center going into his year two. And then there's rebounding ninja Tony Davis. Do I keep going? Naaah.
UTEP: I don't know if Derrick Caracter has had his come to Jesus moment yet. But considering that he did not exactly have the smoothest exit from Louisville? He finds himself in a potentially interesting scenario. Memphis is down, and there is a conference championship to be had. If he can be the low-post B.A. Baracus for this team of merc's? He still has a pro future.
Great West and other Independents
Bryant University: I don't know if I've mentioned the immortal Papa Lo before, but he's the sort of man who could come out and be a Jarvis Vanardo for those who are going to be looking for a guaranteed non-conference win. Also, he has a nice name for a PA announcer to yell out.
Cal State Bakersfield: Santwon Latunde has the lyrical nature of a name that is just simply delightful. He has the build that will make some NFL team interested in seeing if he couldn't be a passcatching tight end. But until the Chiefs sign him to a training camp? Enjoy his low post boldness and genius power.
Chicago State: Lost in the pure running and gunning of David Holston and John Cantrell was the outright burly of Carl Montgomery. He was rough and tough in getting his fair share of Holston's 248 bricked 3's. And in the Great West? He will be a fine candidate to get major honors.
(An aside: The New Jersey Institute of Technology is a member of the Great West. Really. They fail geography, and it most definitely is possible.)
Houston Baptist: Well. Here's a tough one. Do you know what the most experienced team in college hoops was last season? It was the fighiting Baptisteers. It got them five wins. The best returning player? Mario Flaherty. He's like Dan Stonkus without the awesome last name. But then I saw they signed a JUCO named Remy Boswell. And the love child of the dad from Happy Days and a Cajun Exotic Dancer? I'm on board.
Longwood: With the graduations of David Holston, Ryan Toolson, and Gordon Watt? The Lancers have the best player in the independents. The name? Dana Smith. He's a swingman with a versatility that a fraternity brother would deem as "Sick, bro." Add in Durann Neil's playmaking and the hype of Aaron Mitchell? And this team could get to 20 wins.
N.J.I.T.: The steps are slow, and they need to get themselves players who can score. Because while Jehryl Wilson is a good guard, he is still more gunner than scorer. Not to say that they can't find a way to make a dent in the greatest misnomer of a conference since the Atlantic Ten expanded. After all, Gary Garris is the only senior.
North Carolina Central: Two reasons to love this team. One? They generate steals. It's always a good characteristic to have even when you can't get 5 wins. But while adorably tiny Jamar Briscoe's decided to go to the Atlantic 10? Adorably tinier Michael Glasker's ready to pick up the tiny gunner slack.
North Dakota: Here's a reason to like the entire team. They're growing mustaches this month in solidarity with Aussie JUCO Chris Clausen. The Movember Iniative has raised 47 million dollars for testicular cancer and other Men's Health Concerns since it's inception in 2003. And if you're a Fighting Sioux named Travis? Your stache is tight!
Savannah State: You like defense? This is the team for you. Jovonni Shuler and Patrick Hardy stole a lot of basketballs for their time on the court. They have had scoring problems as only scoring 29 points versus Bethune-Cookman would attest. But Rashad Hassan is someone who's willing to take a shot. If he matures? The team will follow.
Seattle: For an independent? This is a school with a history. One of the greatest players in the NBA led this University to a Championship game (Elgin Baylor). Now, obviously Chris Gweth does not have that sort of an upside. But he is the returning leading scorer as Seattle makes their way back into basketball. It's a solid piece.
SIU-Edwardsville: A good rule of thumb. If you can't be good? Play fast. The Cougars (really? That's lame.) are early on in the process of making the climb to divsion one. And struggles are expected. That being said? Ken Pomeroy deems their pace to be in the Top 10. I love it. And you should too.
South Dakota: Another pullback behind the curtain is that I don't do these in order. I can go from Albany to Utah State and ping-pong from there. It allows me to get a little punchy on these. But with the Coyotes disruptive forward Tyler Cain? He's just too strong in terms of rebounds, blocks, and steals for me to go all biblical in terms of a pun.
Texas-Pan American: When you're doing something involving 347 teams, sometimes you cannot swing for the fences. You have to find yourself taking what a team can give you. Enter Nick Weiermiller. He's a good distributor who's dangerous from beyond the arc. Not sexy, but it's quite helpful.
Utah Valley: There's not going to be anybody for the statheads to love nearly as much as the departed Ryan Toolson. He nearly shot the spectacular 90/50/40. So I'm saying that there's a hole. Or...there's an opportunity. Jordan Swarbrick actually managed to cull two fifties in field goal percentage. And with Toolson gone? Do we have a breakout? Hmm...
Winston-Salem: They call Andrew Jackson money because he's on the twenty dollar bill. For a team coming off eight wins? You could use a steadying recruit down at the point, and considering that the Rams won him from interesting low majors in the recruiting battle? It's a good step one.
Butler: The question here isn't if Butler will win the Horizon, it will be by how many games. No offense to any others on the Horizon, but they crushed a lot of people playing with a team led by a then sophomore Matt Howard. Literally, every player is back from last year. If this team can bring it every night? Few will beat them.
Cleveland State: He has a name built for smooth jazz. He's lost a lot of seniors from what that for which made the tournament. But I do not have any doubts that Norris Cole looks like he can be a go to scorer for this team. They just have to fill in the blanks around him.
Detroit: Even on a team that broke as badly as the formerly named Detroit Mercy, someone emerged as a stud. Woody Payne has fast hands and generated a lot of steals. With two former Kelvin Sampson transfers to join him in Xavier Keeling and Eli Holman? (Keeling for a full season.) It only gets better from here.
UW-Green Bay: Rahmon Fletcher and Troy Cotton were two bastions of efficent scoring on a team that knew how to maximize offense opportunites last year. But with the bulk of last year's Senior dominated team gone on to other pastures? These two are going to have to step their game up. It's as simple as that.
Illinois-Chicago: Dead or Alive, you're coming with me! Voop. Voop. Poom poom poom! Wait, Robo Kreps? Aww. I thought this team had a RoboCop. Anyway, Mr. Kreps is the sort of guy who has an outside shot to put up a season where he goes for a 90-50-40. His shot is that good. It's almost as if he's...
Loyola (IL): When the possibilities for this team in terms of returning talent is making a Kimmie (Kyle) Gibler reference and or talking about (Andy) Polka music? There's either something bery wrong going on here, or a coach who recruits based on whimsy. I perfer the latter. I mean, Aric Van Weedlen? That's funsational.
UW-Milwaukee: Here's some Dexter Pittmanish news writ smaller. But last year, James Eayrs was a junior college Oliver Miller. This year, he's a little leaner. A little meaner, and dare I say, a little greener? (Losing 40 pounds means you've lost something in terms of various fast food wrappers.) There's an opening for new contenders. And James Eayrs may return the Panthers to an interesting place.
Valparaiso: If it's Valpo? It's a sharpshooting guard and a Euro of some renown. I will concede I have an irrational like of Valpo in general, I guess. Because Milos Milosevic and Howard Little are going to be fun. Even if the win-loss record may disagree with me.
Wright State: As I type this, we're on Veterans day, so I feel that we do deserve to make mention of Naval Serviceman Paul Darkwa who's moved on to be Dayton's hot recruit. But I will tell you this. With a healthy Vaugh Duggins and a healthy John David Gardner and a general expereience to the team? This team will not go quietly.
Youngstown State: Not since the days of SirValiant Brown have we seen a would be knight of the parquet be as interesting as this low post penguin. His name? Sirlester Martin. He came on strong as last year wore on. And this year? It's his time to shine.
Brown: I told you that matt Mullery was going to get real good real quick, right? Anyway. Team him up with Peter Sullivan? And you have a frontcourt that will allow for fast improvement if someone can merely take care of the ball. I mean, Adrian Williams is a sharpshooter.
Columbia: The backcourt is steady. It comes with experience and a core competency. But I like transfers to a smart guy school. It amuses me. You have a seven-foot dude like Max Craig coming from Loyola Marymount to team with Ryan "Grimey" Grimes (LaSalle). It's funny because there's a stigma to people who transfer! Get it?
Cornell: The fighting Andrew Bernards will get a very similar post to last year. They are even money to win the first entry into the NCAA Tournament. Ryan Wittman is at once awesome and spectacular. If you're asking for something different next year? You'll get it. Cornell is senior dominated.
Dartmouth: Defense is going to have to be the watchword here. Alex Barnett leaves a gaping hole for this team. And yet? Robby Pride and David Rufful are strong in the defense. And I am sure that Jabari Trotter is going to be up for the challenge of scoring more. So, yeah.
Harvard: Another name that I've mentioned before. All league shooter Jeremy Lin. He is a stat-sheet filler, and a mathlete thriller. Good rebounding, steals, sharpshooting, as well as strong distributing. Add in Keith Wright on the low post and it's all good.
Pennsylvania: The big two guard for the Quakers has a name that was tailor made for the late great Harry Kalas. All six feet and six inches of Tyler Bernardini were a force for good on an injury prone ten-win team. And Rob Belcore is somebody who can be a veritable Vinnie Johnson off the bench. Microwave style sixth man.
Princeton So I checked the recruiting lists, and it seems there's a player that's not without intrigue. And seeing as I love 12 year old jokes? I have to smile at the premise of Ian Hummer. I also enjoy the passing center-play of Pawel Buczak. They may not catch Cornell, but they're not going to be a team that you can pass over.
Yale: Did I make a joke about Alex Zampier's last name before? Nope. So, from K-Tel Records, we proudly present, Zampier, master of the two guard! He steals passes like a Centaur plays the pan flute! He shoots threes like a bear! And he's smarter than you are. After all, he went to Yale.
Canisius: Everybody's back. Which means Baskeatball candidate Chris Gadgley? Back (I'll explain later). Ironman point guard Frank Turner? Back. Low post presence Greg Logins? Back. By the sheer coalescing of last years talent, this team should be more mature, and thereby better. You cannot hate that.
Fairfield: Fairfield is not fiddling. There is nothing burning. But the personification of Stag basketball (hardworking lowpost play) needs to be called the Emperor, damn the historical connotations. A healthy Greg Nero means this team will improve. And he will have you killed if you disagree with him.
(That sound you just heard was me puncuating that pun with a vocal fist pump.)
Iona: Scott Machado walked onto the floor and distributed like a professional as a Freshman. He also drew fouls. He also generated a nice amount of steals as well. This team may be lost in the shuffle of the MAAC, but Machado is a real comer. Keep an eye on them.
Loyola (MD): The gunner of all gunners lives here. The name? Jamal Barney. He shoots fearlessly. He shoots early. He shoots often. And if Maryland transfer Shane Walker allows him to find a way to shoot more? Barney will be thrilled.
Manhattan: Now as we're living in a world where some would consider Shane Walker to be the recruit of the year. But the Jaspers have somebody who could make a big splash. The name. Rico Pickett. He's a big point guard who had some interest from Florida and UConn and compared favorably to more than competent guards like Demetri McCamey and Chris Wright. He keeps his head right? He'll be a great force for Jasperdom.
Marist: I know Alex Vouyoukas burned me last year in terms of quality play. But that being said? The returning roster doesn't inspire me nearly as much of Casiem Drummond. He's a Villanova transfer. And he either spells Kassim strangely, or his parents wanted to stealthily show their love for Casey Kasem. Either way? Whoo.
Niagara: For most every other conference? Having Bilal Benn and Tyrone Lewis would be worthy for the tournament. Benn especially, he nearly hit the triple double of statistical leadership. And if the man the kids call Scooter can step in and replace the Benson Egemoye graduation? We have a team that wins most likely to have to face down Siena for a tournament berth.
Rider: Bloodlines alert. While Siena is a team that's built to win and generally destroy anyone in their path? Remember how Jason Thompson suddenly climbed into the lottery with a strong senior season? Ryan Thompson is a 6'6" combo guard who just might be able to be the player of the year.
Siena: They aren't a five man band anymore as Kenny Hansbrouck is gone onward to graduation. Edwin Ubiles is a fine swingman who could sneak into the draft. And Ronald Moore, Alex Franklin, and Ryan "This Island Earth" Rossiter are all threats to be all-MAAC. 30 wins is not a stretch. And of course, I could make a pun about Just'in-love Smith, but that Greg Nero pun came too strong.
St. Peter's: Simplicity for searching out for a low major awesome? It equals check the guardplay. And if you have two strong juniors like Wesley Jenkins and Nick Leon? You have yourself a chance for the winning season. Add in the solid frontcourtery of Ryan Bacon? And I'd say you could get a winner of a season.
Akron: Here's the pitch. An adorably tiny point guard with a digital underground nickname who led his team to the NCAA tournament last season has found his way to leading a team with four returning starters. Add to this the most hyped freshman in the conference, a seven-footer named Zeke Marshall. My question? Could this team be good enough to crash the party sans a tournament championship? The brothers McKnight might not have the schedule on paper to do this, but don't them out.
Ball State: Here's a rhetorical question for you to ponder. Indiana collapsed after Kelvin Sampson got caught with a stronger calling plan than he was supposed to have, right? And as such, they were scouring the fjords of the Midwest for talent, right? Well, how in the blue hell did they miss Jarrod Jones? Dude was straight freshman sensation last year.
Bowling Green: If ever I achieve my dream of having a competitive eating/3 on 3 basketball tournament? I would choose two partners. One, of course would be Dennis Scott. But my other partner? Otis Polk. He eats shots and deflections like a fat man eats cake. So if I was going to have a Baskeatball team? I would take the most giantest Falcon as a wingman.
Buffalo: Four starters return from a team that got 21 wins, made some form of the postseason, and nearly took down UConn. So the hopemeter is pretty high here. Rodney Pierce and Calvin Betts were an undersized batch of super-contributors. If Tony Watson just takes care of the ball in replacement of Greg Gamble? It's another year of fun.
Central Michigan: There's a theme that developed in the MAC last season. Teams lost their go-to guys for injury redshirts. Chris Kellerman was the Chip that fell and nearly took the team with him. As such? Robbie Harman and Jordan Bitzer became a fierce backcouret that did well for 35 minutes last season. Now the go to guy is back. Yay.
Eastern Michigan: Here's a very interesting team to watch. And those of you who know how bad the football team has done, this team will give you hope. Last year, Brandon Bowdry and Justin Dobbins were a mighty fine frontcourt that developed after Carlos Medlock busted his foot. Medlock got a redshirt. And if he's healthy? This team will scare the crap out of people/
Kent State: Kent State is always a team that hovers near and above 20 wins. This season should be no exception. With Chris Singletary as the engine that makes it go and Tyree Evans as the sharpest of sharpshooters, they will have a punchers chance.
Miami (OH): There are two players who seem to be interesting here. Kenny Hayes was set to have a great senior year last season before he got hurt. He gets the redshirt. And he should replace Michael Bramos' scoring at a nice level. And in limited playing time? Antonio Ballard was a vacuum of getting the defensive rebound. He'll get more time.
Northern Illinois: Sometimes? It's all about finishing strong. For the Red and Black Attack, Michael Fakuade is that man. He got an opportunity to start towards the end of last season and made a lot of hay with it. He doesn't have to be a good scorer, they have Darion Anderson for that. But he will make this team better.
Ohio: John Groce is the man credited with bringing the Thad Five to Columbus. And his first year in the cradle of journalism actually won them a recruit over such powers like Gonzaga. Now there is a question as to just how he can translate his talent to the five on the floor. But if he can keep getting Ivo Baltic's to come to Athens? He'll be okay.
Toledo: A recruit here brings some sort of interest to me. This is the sort of European four that's going to be coming down the pike. He's tall, he's lanky, and he's got a range beyond the arc. I have no empirical evidence as to just how good this kid is going to be, but I like the chances of Hayden Humes.
Western Michigan: The Broncos have themselves a great team for lazy headline writers. So, here's a protip. Whenever David Kool leads the team in scoring and the team loses? Type out Kool Lacks Gang, Broncs fall by whatever score they would lose by. You're welcome.
Bethune-Cookman: Scrappy coaches son alert! Cliff Reed is the head coach. C.J. Reed is his best player. Don't let the Historically Black College and University Designation fool you. C.J. Reed is a scrapper.
Coppin State: In the Coppin State star system? Someone will get an opportunity to replace Tywain McKee as the super scorer. But they have three interesting candidates who can fill the hole. I would put my guess on Vincent Goldsberry as some sort of a lead guardish type of year. But Michael Harper and Sam Coleman cannot be ignored.
Delaware State: This team has to start over after falling down to the bottom of the hill last season. But here's Fransisco Sandridge, and he's a solidly consistent scorer. And if Trevor Welcher can find a way to break last year's promise of three turnovers a game? They'll be back to decent.
Florida A&M: There's an opportunity for Dale Hughes to rock a Dale Ellis impression this year. With an 8th place team that has lost three senior starters? It has ample opportunities for scoring. Dale Hughes can find himself with a breakout.
Hampton: After the death of Theo Smalling? This team has to find a way to come together. But as for sheer, on paper talent? Michael Freeman is a fine man to generate the big turnover. And the backcourt of Brandon Tunnell and Vincent Sampson are quality. But the loss of Smalling hurts.
Howard: Here's how my mind works. The four returning starters have three people who had pretty good years playing second banana to Eugene Myatt. One is strong in the low-post and two guards are good shooters and or scorers. And yet, none of them are named Kandi Mukole. So yeah. He gets named while the other ones don't.
Maryland-Eastern Shore: Neal Pitt is burly HBCU would-be Charles Barkley without the quotability. But he's not why we're here. There's a Boy named Sue all up on the eastern shore. He's a transfer from St. Bonaventure. His name? Hillary Haley. Really.
Morgan State: If someone emerges to play the point? This team will be wildly successful. They're more than good enough right now to be the tournament representative. Reggie Holmes is going to be a contender for becoming the player of the year. Kevin Thompson has a chance to get there by the time he graduates.
Norfolk State: Michael DeLoach is a tremendous scorer. In fact, I would say that he's the best scorer in the entire state of Norfolk. Okay, I'll allow for the fact that I made an indefensible pun. But let's be honest. DeLoach is so good he can overcome my faux pas.
North Carolina A&T: The key to this team is going to be a young Mr. Joshua. There's a lot of interesting here. But Duane Joshua is somebody who has to translate his microwavability off the bench into starter worthy play. If he does, and if Thomas Coleman can take the next step in the frontcourt? And here's a stealth contender.
South Carolina State: This is one of those severely undersized, and yet scrappy enough to contend teams. The personification? Jason Flagler. He's 6'4" and 185 pounds of low post firepower. He averaged 12 and 6 last season. He'll come up with another season beyond his physical limits this year.
Bradley: The backcourt is deep at a pretty interesting level. I may gloss over a couple of names here. But Andrew Warren should be back after a broken foot. And with the heroics of Chris (not Douglas) Roberts as well as Eddren McCain and Sam Mainasco's solid starterdom? You have a backcourt that can go toe to toe with anybody.
Creighton: They lost Booker Woodfox. But you know what? There's still a lot here. Justin Carter will move back to the wing. P'Allen is still a gunner of renown. Kenny Lawson is a fine shotchanger down low as well. And don't sleep on the potential of a Freshman sensation that is California point guard Andrew Boch.
Drake: It was a little surprising just how far this team fell off the cliff after Keno Davis went to greener pastures. That being said? When you have the leagues leading returning scorer (Josh Young)? You have hope. When you have a very interesting recuriting class (Ryan Wedel and Ben Simons front it)? You have hope as well. It's not a full return to contention? But there's a chance this team is better on parquet than on paper.
Evansville: Size in a league like this can help patch over potential problems. And the Purple Aces have lost a lot from last year. Enter Bryan Bouchie, a transfer from Valparaiso. He will get a major opportunity to make an impact. And if a guard can take an opportunity to shoulder some of the scoring load? (Looking at you Colt Ryan.) The doomswitch may be averted.
Illinois State: Since Osiris Eldridge decided that discretion was the better part of valor and returned to school? This team definitely has a punchers chance. Not to say that they have much else beyond the rugged low postery of Dinma Odiakosa. Just that you have a team that can turn Arch Madness into their own playground.
Indiana State: A team finishing strong and only losing one player from that finish? Even though Jay Tunnell was good? This team is intriguing. Harry Marshall may not have much of an interesting name, but he's got skills that can go toe to toe with anybody in this league.
Missouri State: On a team that cries out for a scoring hero like Gotham for its Batman? Someone just might be ready to take up the mantle. Into this fray steps Adam Leonard. He was a fine scorer for the unrepentant gunners that are your Eastern Kentucky Colonels. Now? He takes that culture into Bear territory.
Northern Iowa: There's a low-post competency that would befit a traditional BCS program. Jordan Eglseder is a strong seven-footer. Adam Koch is nice as a 4 as well. But they also have the magic of The Amazing Kwadzo!
The Amazing Kwadzo shows no fear!
And they have a reservist named Lucas O' Rear. Come on! Get hyped! O'Rear demands it!
Southern Illinois: It seems almost mysterious how this team has fallen into mediocrity. On paper, there is still a bevy of power-packed guard play. Tony Freeman has decided to make an appearance in the Crimson from Iowa, and he was good in Iowa. Team him up with Kevin Dillard? And they should be good.
Wichita State: If you play as a man without fear? Mistakes will happen, but mistakes won't stop spectacular play. Toure' Murry was a freshman who wanted the ball when the game on the line. You can't question his heart. If he tightens his fundamentals? Gregg Marshall has a situation of interest.
Air Force: Well, huh. This was a very young team last year. (12 letterwinners return). Evan Washington is starterworthy for the Non-BCS Mid Major level of college hoops. But I'll tell you what? Avery Merriex. He's got that last name magic I like.
Brigham Young: There's a them in the MWC. Most good players on the Mountain West have awesome names. Case in point? Jimmer Fredrette! With the graduation of Lee Cummard, and the fact that Jonathan Tavernari seemed to hit a wall at the end of the year? The sharpshooting point guard now gets the keys to the castle. And his name is Jimmer! Jimmer!
Colorado State: The low-post glass eating of Andy Odige is beyond good and evil. He is vicious. He is burly. He does not care about the quality of the rest of the team. He will swat the ball away. He will get the boards. He will get five or six putbacks.
New Mexico: The best Ramon Martinez since the days of Pedro's older brother lives here. He's a decent rebounder, an efficient scorer, a sharp shooter, and has nice handles. Add him in to a solid backcourt of Dairese Gary and Phillip McDonald? They should probably have 20 wins again.
San Diego State: Oddly enough? Two Pepperdine transfers are the most interesting aspect of a team that lost four senior starters. Tyrone Shelley led the Waves in scoring as a Freshman two guard. Malcolm Thomas was a solid banger down low who was a great double double threat. If Steve Fisher can jell these two with other recruits? Excellence could happen.
TCU: I pronounced Zvonko Buljan's first name in my most Kevin Harlanish timbre. It was hilarious to me. His low-post magic is less comedic, but it has more gravitas. But if ever I get around to writing that Die Hard in a College Party script? I have just found my villain's name.
UNLV: With the graduation of Wink Adams and Rene Rougeau the offense falls to the shoulders of Tre'von Willis. He's top ten in assists and steals and was able to generate double figure scoring. And if the sharpshooter Kentucky transfer Derrick Jasper can step in? They won't lose much on the offensive end. That much is certain.
Utah: His name is Luka. He lives upstairs from you. I'm sure you've seen him before. He shoots 38% from beyond the arc. And his last name is Drca. If he combined forces with Zvonko? That would be the single-greatest force in the history of America that comes from the former Yugoslavia.
Wyoming: With Brandon Ewing's graduation? The onus of who's going to lead the Cowbows falls on a transplant from Queens. Afam Muojeke is a super athlete and one of the toughest wings to defend in the conference. The expectations are low in Laramie. But they actually have a recruiting class of transfers and jucos that could come quickly. I have no empirical evidence, but my gut says this team can go.
Central Connecticut State: There's a nice duo here. Shemik Thompson is a great distributor with fast hands. And Ken Horton? Ken Horton does a little bit of everything. He's really an interesting player. If he had help? There would be more to the "other Blue Devils"
Fairleigh Dickinson: There was controversy in the offseason, due to the late firing of longtime coach Tom Green after the coaching carousel for the most part, stopped. But that being said? Sean Baptiste is in no way the athletic department. He's one of the best scorers in a league with a star system.
Long Island: A trifecta of names is the strength of this team. Jaytormah Wisseh is a well-skilled scorer. Aurimas Adomitas is the vaguely Grecian burly man of the low post. And point guard Lucas Faggiano is the tough ballhandler (heh) who probably gained his mental toughness after a series of schoolyard taunts.
Monmouth: The five foot nine Will Campbell is the one of the five starters that I like here. He took the scoring upon himself in the last 11 games of the season. Now whether or not it's a good thing? It's questionable. Travis Taylor is great in the low post, and he deserves to be fed as well.
Mount St. Mary's: The undersized point guard Jeremy Goode got the Mountaineers achingly close to something beyond the collegeinsider.com tournament. But this gifted playmaker gets the number two, three, as well as four options coming back? There is a lot more expected to the table.
Quinnipiac: There are few in the low-post in this conference who are as burly as Justin Rutty. And because of his power in the low post and his skill in getting the putback? The J-Crew of Jeremy Baker, James Federline, as well as James Johnson can gun like the world's going to end when the buzzer goes off. If they shoot better? There's a chance at a conference championship here.
Robert Morris: A fun name doesn't have to have a weird combination of consecutive vowels to be worth a shout-out. It could just be lyrical. See: Rob Robinson. The fact that he's the man who needs to replace Jeremy Chappell? Only makes him more interesting.
Sacred Heart: The watchword here is sharpshooting. There are four players who are greater than 37 percent from beyond the arc. Chauncey Hardy and Shane Gibson provide a nice amount of steals as well. Corey Hassan is a good distributor. If they get someone down low? This could be a serious team.
St. Francis (NY): There's a triumverate of very interesting for the Terriers. Ricky Cadell is a fine scorer as well as an all-conference candidate. Stefan Perunicic is crazy delicious from three. And Kayode Ayeni was a fine frontcourter for the 10 games he was healthy. And as such? A contender lives here.
St. Francis (PA): Not to go too crazy and say a contender lives here? But there are interesting pieces. Devin Sweetney is someone who has over 1000 points for his career, and considering how likeable of a pure PG game would be Freshman sensation young Umar Shannon has? He could very well get himself an additional 500-600 points. Add the Mislavian force of Mislav Jukic down low and Cedric Latimer on the wing? And Carl Weathers himself would approve of this stew.
Wagner: I know rooting for someone who reminds you of Coldplay is negative fun, but considering that the Staten island Seahawks have lost four double figure scorers? That's where we are. Not to say that Charis Martin sucks. He is very nice from beyond the arc, after all.
Austin Peay: Bolivar Central is going Peay. With the graduation of Drake Reed, there is an ample opportunity for two graduates of Tennessee powerhouse to make an instant splash alongside Wes Channels. Eric Moseley is an unrepentant gunner, and Chris Reaves is a superb athlete.
Eastern Illinois: Lettuce and the Laser! They're back and they're pissed. Lettuce and the Laser! Sharper than a Blazer! Lettuce and the Laser! Voiced over by Jon Glaser. I love the backcourt of Romain Martin and Tyler Laser so much, I did some crappy poetry, sitcommy jinglish thing.
Eastern Kentucky: Now we all know about the crazy bomb squad of awesome that you have at VMI. But here's the thing. Eastern Kentucky is a team that lives for getting crazy beyond the arc. I know, Mike Rose is gone. But they have the arc de triumph culture. And that is always fun.
Jacksonville State: Jeremy Bynum, like many before and since, is a pretty solid guard for you to enjoy. But there's a funtastical Nebraska transfer that's coming to the lesser known Jacksonville. The name? Jay-R Stowbridge. The battles he will have with Isacc Miles will be poor in syntax, but excellent in play.
Morehead State: I believe it was the website Hardwood Paroxsym that came out with a study of which statstics translate most readily to the pros. And it turns out that one of the high-corrleation statistics is rebounds. By this logic, Kenneth Faried is someone who has a real NBA future, for he is the best rebounder that has returned to school.
Murray State: I'm not here to mock a man for his parental mispellings. But Isacc Miles? Damn the misspelling, this kid has a real game to him. How many people had triple doubles in the OVC? 1. And it wasn't Lester Hudson. He's a versatile son of a gun.
Southeast Missouri State: It will be a while before this team gets good. They were slapped with sanctions going into Spetember and the fact of the matter? This team is coming off of a .100 winning percentage. But this is a team with the giggity. Dickey Nutt is a blood relative to Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt. So, while it will be a while while they get good? They will get good. JaJuan Maxwell will build on this.
Tennessee State: Here's a team in some real flux. Go-to guy Gerald Robinson was amongst the mass exodus that faces John Copper. But if you have a steady point guard? You have a change to build it up faster. All in all? Jeremiah Crutcher deserves love for the tall task ahead of him.
Tennessee Tech: Will Barnes is a serious man. He brings the shooting from beyond the arc that every team needs. He is one of four returning starters. Kevin Murphy's success is directly tied to Will Barnes inheirent stoicism. He would not take kindly to jokes about Tennessee having an Institute of Technology, either.
Tennessee-Martin: Yeah, your coach resigned in shame and Lester Hudson got snagged by the Boston Celtics. Don't lose hope. There's still some good ingredients in the cupboard. Marquis Weddle was a solid scorer last season. And if half-Ben, half-Dinosaur Benzor Simmons can step up? They could surprise some people.
The only known photo of the Mercedes Ben-Zor.
Arizona: Arizona has always had a history of interesting, if undersized guardplay. And with the graduation of the frontcourt talents? It all falls upon the slender frame of Nic Wise. If the Kyryl Natyazhko-Solomon Hill-Derrick Williams-Lamont Jones rotational freshman conclave shows up strong? They will not break the streak.
Arizona State: It's hard for a team to lose two professional level talents in James Harden and Jeff Pendergraph. But there are reasons not to abandon all hope. For one? Derek Glasser is a pretty steady force at the point. For two? Richards Kuksiks is a killer from beyond the arc taking about 4 times as many threes and shooting as well from beyond the arc. And for three? Ruslan Pateev. He's a giant Russian!
California: The #1 reason as to why I am glad ESPN's plague of Chris Berman has been contained is spending his first semester in Berkley. The name? Bak Bak. I will leave this entry as you already know, man and or woman. You already know.
Oregon: You have a team that had to rely on freshmen in a year where the Pac-10 was one of the strongest conferences in hoopdom. Garrett Sim and Michael Dunigan had their moments, but they ultimately fell flat last season. I do declare this team has a shot at redemption.
Oregon State: It's going to be hard not to make a joke about Craig Robinson and how he got all the change you can believe in. But for a team that went from 0 for conference to winning a postseason tournament in one year? That was dang impressive. And with the Roeland Schaftenaar and the Tarver Twins as seniors and a dude named Angus coming in? The Beaver Boys are back. SHRIMP AND WHITE WINE!
Stanford: Now while Da'Veed Dildy has a very lyrical name? I've always been a fan of the team with one awesome dude who's stuck on a team with no expectations. Enter small forward Landry Fields. As the hot start fell by the wayside? Landry went all Dylan Thomas on his defenders. And I'm hyped for the encore.
UCLA: For better or worse, this is Nikola Dragovic's team. He's the sort of a guy who can bring a little bit of everything to the table. If Jerime Anderson and Michael Roll fall in in some form of sidekickery? The Powder Blue nation won't lose a step.
USC: You can find yourself getting lost in the shuffle on a better team. You haven't lost your skills, you just have hit the wrong mixture of timing and opportunity. Redemption can come in a new location. Transfers can make the most of a second chance, right? Alex Stephenson wants to believe it.
Washington: There's a certain nomenclature diad in the Sea-Tac area. You have Isaiah Thomas, and yet he's not completely insane. In fact? He's very Nate Robinson. You also have Quincy Poindexter. And you know what? He's not a nerd. He's quite a low post threat.
Washington State: Now, with the loss of Tony Bennett and Taylor Rochestie, you would think that this would be a team on the decline. I say to you? Not so fast. Ken Bone is the new coach and he knows how to build a program. Add to that Klay Thompson and DeAngelo Casto and you've got a very intersting scenario.
American University: You will think the graduation of such a senior dominated team will allow for a complete collapse down the hill. I say not so fast. The recruiting class has a lot of interesting. Daniel Munoz, Mike Bersch, Jeff Holton, and Vladimir Moldoveanu all come highly recommended. It may mean nothing this year? But this team is seniorless.
Army:After the late offseason firing of Jim Crews, it gets lost in the shuffle that this team is quite pesky. Marcus Nelson can block a lot of shots for a 5'11" guy and Josh Miller and Cleveland Richard generate a lot of steals. If they can circle the wagons? They'll stay in the middle of the pack.
Bucknell: Bryan Cohen had to step into a team that lost an electrifying force in Stephen Tyree to an ACL. He may not have shown it in terms of record. But he was spectacular last year. If the team can find a way to fit Tyree back into the scenario? They will be strong. Bucknell inside joke? The return of Stephen Tyree is a G.W. Boon.
Colgate: Kyle Roemer was stuck in the hurt locker last season. But his return makes this team very interesting. Fit his scoring ability with Mike Venezia, Ben Johnson, and the delightful Yau Gyawu? And you have another middle of the pack team with upside.
Holy Cross: An inside-outsidde combination keeps this team that's always hovering around the top from falling too far despite three key graduations. Andrew Keister is a tough low-post man who keeps his opponents from kicking butt, and R.J. Evans is a good scorer who is a solid and versatile defender. They will keep the Crusaders...crusading.
Lafayette: The Leopards do have somebody to love in terms of game. His name? Ryan Willen. He's a decent rebounder and a pretty good shooter. Many would say that Andrew Brown will be missed, I see a gunner who couldn't shoot straight from beyond the arc. His graduation is the Ewing theory writ small.
Lehigh: The Bright Dynasty of Zahir Carrington gets one more chance at being NCAA Tournament worthy. I know I said this last year, but the team that's been so talented on paper, always seems to find a way to fall short. 15-15 and 5-10 in conference is simply unacceptable.
Navy: In order for the Midshipmen to thrive? Romeo must live. Romeo Garcia is a lockdown defender limited to nine games due to hamstring injuries. If he stays healthy? This teams version of seven seconds or less will be strong. Just so long as Mark Veazey keeps improving and Chris Harris doesn't get hurt.
Alabama: Now I told you about Senario Hillman and his super slam dunkery last season. Enter Anthony Grant. He's the man that nutured Eric Maynor into a first round draft choice. Hillman has good handles. I may be two steps ahead in being a fan, but there's hope here.
Arkansas: Last season fell off a cliff as the fighting Hogs came into conference play. But there's still a lot of interesting here. I mean, you have the salad bar of Courtney Fortson. Lot to like there, and if he can shake that whole actafoolery thing? He can lead them. But if you need a plan B? Draft Express compares Michael Washington to Amir Johnson. That's vaguely cult heroic.
Auburn I grant you the premise that this team is expected to fall off from being one of the final 8 teams out of the big dance. They do lose any frontcourt experience beyond rotational levels. That being said? The point guard whose emergence sparked the teams run at the postseason, e.g. DeWayne Reed? He has returned.
Florida: Two reasons why Alex Tyus is going to be a power. One, he has a solid low post game while being forced to be an undersized five. But with the entry of Vernon Macklin into the proceedings? He now gets to play off the pivot. I can see a breakout.
Georgia: They made an inspired hire when they made a run at Mark "Star" Fox. It allowed them to keep the freshman sensation Trey Thompkins. And he did have a big run in the Under-19 FIBA championships. If Dustin Ware and Travis Leslie can come together in the backcourt? Then maybe the team on-court can destroy the team on paper.
Kentucky: I've always felt that the NCAA is at its best when there's a black hat in the mix. Kentucky is the perfect fit for the outlaw program. Calipari burns down programs to the point that they never recover from when he exits. And when you add John Wall and the B & E he was arrested for? You have the coolest batch of heels since the heyday of the nWo.
LSU: A lot has graduated, but you know what? Tasmin Mitchell, the coolest single combo forward since Marcus Landry left to take over the big city, is back. And so long as he is at the peak of his powers? The Bayou Bengals have a punchers chance.
Mississippi: Lost amidst the injuries to Chris Warren and Eneil Polynice was the emergence of a man I wish I remembered how his name was pronounced (My SEC Phonics expertise is in Football.) But you have to love how Terrico White stepped up last season. After the team broke down in all facets, White stepped in and got this team a winning record. Now that the team seems healthy? Terrico Suave just might be going to the big dance.
Mississippi State: Let's call this the Starkville Block Party, shall we? Because until the Vanardo leaves, the Vanardo is why you must love the fighting cowbells. The misadventures of Renardo Sidney are also fun, but Jarvis blocks out everybody. In the face.
South Carolina: Sadly, the Zam and the Zowie has graduated and is long gone from our lives. But you know what? There's still two all-conference contenders here. Devan Downey was mentioned last season, so we'll give the versatile offensive game of Dominique Archie the love here. He's a 3/4 extraordinare. If Judge Brandis Daley-Ross can replace some of the Zam? This team threatens again.
Tennessee: The triad of a backcourt in Bobby Maze, J.P. Prince, and Scotty Hopson struggled last year. If they find consistency? The Fighting Pearls will be back to good. In that they will be a bunch of 6'7" guys who have super athleticism. Fun.
Vanderbilt: Surprisingly, Vanderbilt kind of fell off a cliff last year. But they will seemingly bring it with the bounce back. A.J. Ogilivy is still working it down in the low post. And John Jenkins is a freshman sensation on the papers. But I like Festus Ezeli's name best of all.
My composite photo of young Ezeli.
Appalachian State: This is another team with intrigue in terms of the power vacuum. All five starters return. And yes, that does include the Fabio-like hilarity of Issac Butts. But he is a legitimate low post force. Add to that Kellen Brand, Donald Sims, and Josh Hunter? You have an experienced team with power in the low post.
Charleston: With Stephen Curry interlocked in the morass in San Fransisco, there's an opening for a new conference superstar. Meet your leader at the starting gate. The creator of Kenny Anderson and Lethal Weapon 3 has two quality guards to contend this season with. Andrew Goudelock is sharp like sniper.
Chattanooga: The cupboard disappeared. Though Jasper Williams and Ty Patterson are good backcourt scoring? The team lost what got them right to losing to UConn by 56. Keegan Bell and Troy Cage are the transfers with a pedigree and can step in right away to keep the team from bottoming out.
Citadel: The Citadel hit on a milestone season. First 20 win-season. First postseason berth. And they do have a high-energy backcourt triad in Austin Dahn, Cameron Wells, and Zach Urbanus. But how far this team goes will be wholly dependent on how Bryan Streeter or Harrison Dupont can replace Demetrius Nelson.
Davidson: After the special run of the Stephen Curry era, you have a lot of scoring that you need to replace. But there is an interesting challenger to step into the breach. Yes, it's a scrappy coaches son alert. Brendan McKillop has to fill the shoes under the eye of dear ol' dad. Should be fun.
Elon: Chris Long is a statistical freak. Not just for the fact that he's the returning leading scorer for the Phoenix. See, Long shot 40% from beyond the arc. A nice number. But here's the weird part. He shot 26.5% from inside the arc. It'll be a fun stat to watch out on.
Furman: I was wrong. This team was as bad as last year. Ah, but therein lies the hope. For it's the sophomore triad of Bryson Barnes, Jordan Miller, and Justin Dehm who were the best part of last season. And if you consider their general lack of history? A better than .500 season means the Paladins play beyond the conference tournament.
Georgia Southern: With Willie Powers and his ACL injury, the team lost something of a mojo. But into the breach strode Ben Drayton the third. He could not replace the highlight-film of the inside game? But when you shoot 49% from beyond the arc? It's pretty interesting.
Samford: I know this is a team that is in dire need of a low post presence. But the guy who interests me is Josh Bedwell. Like Josh Davis and Andy King? He's a terrific bomber. But he actually has a mid-range game as well. I can see him having something of a breakout.
UNC Greensboro: I wish Damian Eargle didn't leave, because now I have to return to Mikko Koivisto, and make jokes about the era that Finland was supposed to be the new evil empire. I mean, if Ludvig Borga was an unprepentant three-point gunner? He would be Mikko Koivisto.
Western Carolina: I had to double-check to see about this. But apparently, I did not make mention of Harouma Mutumbo. But he's a man of sensational Freshman based play. In fact, team him up with Brandon Giles, and you have two gunners of mystery. And I'd like to imagine some situationally comedic antics betweem those two.
Wofford: One of the most surprising declarations for the NBA draft was a Terrier named Junior Salters. He's pretty much a Jack McClintonish scorer. And if you add in the efficient offense of Noah Dahlman? You have a chance for them to be quite awesome.
Central Arkansas: You know why they call the leading scorer Marcus Pillow? Because the ball rests comfortably in the net after he shoots. I refuse to allow for any sort of other reason. Unless that reason be he's the heir to the pillow fortune.
Lamar: The most under the radar dystopian nightmare in college hoops lived here last year. They won the conference championship and returned everybody going in. They didn't even make the conference torunament. Now, they have 4 starters gone and a redshirt from 07/08 is gimpy coming in. That being said? Coy Custer has the bloodlines to make a stand against the onrushing forces.
McNeese State: With the loss of the man-beast Kleon Penn? There is a real loss of low post power. Into the breach steps Diego Kaplan. He shoots and shoots. More consistency would be nice, but for a team that lost its low post power, someone unafraid to pull up from 30 feet is a good thing.
Nicholls State: The Aussie tag team of Ryan Bathie and Anatoly Bose have been split up by graduation. Sure, Bathie is gone. But Anatoly remains, and with the Freshman of the Year in Fred Hunter? This is still a team that can bring lots and lots of contention.
Northwestern State: There is a strong low-post force here. He was a freshman sensation named William Moseley. He generates a lot of rebounds and blocks. If he can get stronger and get his free throw percentage to a merely bad level? He'll be really fun to watch.
Sam Houston State: In a conference like this, good guards come in spades. I've mentioned several already. But few have two consensus first-team all conference players. Ashton Mitchell is a strong distributive force and Corey Allmond is the guy who he loves to kick it out to. They have a chance to win.
Southeastern Louisiana: Here's a team with a potential to be fun. You have a steady force in guard Brandon Fortenberry. There's also quality low-post play in Patrick Sullivan. Add in a former Mr. Louisiana in Rodney Jones? And this team can break into the big dance.
Stephen F. Austin: They lost a lot from last season's team that made the tournament. But what they still have is adorably tiny point guard Eric Bell and a culture of strong defense. They are, in a way, Missouri writ smaller. Can a team win without its star quality? It will be fun to watch.
Texas A&M-CC: If you want a team that loves to force the transition game? The Islanders are for you. If you want to bandwagon a team that's got deep veteran experience? The Islanders are for you. Kevin Palmer is the frontman for a team with a lot of reason to hope.
Texas State: The other basketball playing royal a Moute is back? But if you're looking for comeone in terms of the Cyrus Tate school of awesome names? Meet the new recruit, J.B. Conley. If you don't call him the sheriff, Bobcats nation? You have failed.
Texas-Arlington: Marquez Haynes was a nice infusion for a team with grand plans for last season. Unfortunately, they have lost Anthony Vereen and the Gran Guignard from last years team. But Marquez Haynes is back. And he's ready to rock.
Texas-San Antonio: And here, I have found a one year stopgap for my Cyrus Tate Memorial Basketball Player or Robber Baron best name award. He is a senior guard. Named Morris Smith IV. If I had my way? He would have his own empire of a natural resource.
Alabama A&M: Once again? I must ride upon the Trant Sampson train. He's just too good of a scorer not to get a second look in this epic. He attacks the basket with force and can kick it out when it breaks badly. Trant!
Alabama State: They've lost a lot here. The pain I am feeling is the loss of Chief Kickingstallionsims. But namewise? Someone has stepped up. Menji Mundadi. He can step in and fill that shoe. Even if he can't fill his game. (Because he's a guard, silly.)
Alcorn State: Troy Jackson is the entity that gives the Braves a punches chance every week. Few people were as Iron Mannish as Troy last season. He gives them their best scorer and rebounder. He stays healthy? And they have hope.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff: The five starter didatic is why the Golden Lions get love. This team is so deep, that a 6'6" guard/gunner like Gavin Montgomery has to get run off the bench. So long as Terrence Calvin is healthy? This team will be very interesting by March.
Grambling State: They do have a pretty good SWAC backcourt. Ariece Perkins is an all conference one who can score like a lead guard. But he doesn't have to. Because he is teamed up with an adorably tiny gunner, Donald Qualls. He has a sick range and can attack the basket fearlessly.
Jackson State: The Tigers have a player who can play up to and beyond max power. Okay, it's a wordplay thing, but Grant Maxey is someone who can take it down low and from the outside. And with Garrison Johnson and Rod Melvin? These kids have a shot at going to the dance.
Mississippi Valley State: Amos Studivant is a developing low post threat with an Amish name. He's on the right track to be a solid collegian. He's getting tutored by a solid pro in Sean Woods. If he keeps it up? He's got a chance to make this team good.
Prairie View A&M: If you're wondering what Tim Meadows has been doing in-between being the black guy on the Bill Engevall show and crying over the lack of success post Saturday Night Live? Apparently, he's doing well shooting it from beyond the arc at a HBCU as well. But you know what? I could be wrong.
Southern University: I can't make another reference to Jazz Williams, can I? Apparently I can. But as I made a reference to good comedy? I will bring a reference to hackery. For you see? This is a team that is forced to tolerate the Asian-based jokery of Bobby Lee. I sympathize with the Jaguars team.
Texas Southern: The signing of Whitmore Treasure will be worth so much to me. For you see, he is worth a lot of adventure movie based jokes. Like "I shall call him Uncharted 3, for he will be be worth a Drake's fortune for the Tigers." I'll find a better one.
Centenary: Within these past few seasons of an on-rush of teams to Division One? It's almost stunning to see a team decide to put academics before athletics and drop down to Divsion Three in two seasons. But that's were the state of the Gentlemen is. Expectations are low. But a hot weekend from Senior Guard Chase Adams? And we will have our ultimate cinderella story.
IPFW: Dane Fife has finally turned 30. And the former college guard has brought his skills onto a triad of potential awesome. Ben Botts brings buckets against the best (and with the non-con schedule? They could use the guy who put up 22 versus michigan State). Nick Daniels is a bomber and a half. And Zack Plackenmeier? He's the player of the year candidate.
IUPUI: Of the four returning sterters, the one you need to get hyped about is Robert Glenn. He's the power forward, newcomer of the year, crooked cop, and celebrity pharmacist. Okay, two of those may be lies, but you have to admit that he is dangeresque.
North Dakota State: There's points to be had with the graduation of the Winkleman and Woodside show. In this political intrigue? Steps Mark Felt. If the Minnesota recruit can withstand the inevitable Deep Throat nickname? (And yes Deep Throat was a guy named Mark Felt) He's got a chance to work some real mojation.
Oakland: They kept getting hung out to dry last season. Ben Woodside shocked them in the conference tournament. And a cursory glance of the youtube shows us this...
So we can safely say that it was a bad March in Oaktown Midwest. But like most of the mid-major Little Mac's? Redemption is only three games away. You have four all conference starters. This is led by steadying force Jonathan Jones at the point and low post presence Keith Benson. Redemption starts here.
Oral Roberts: I may be completely wrong in regards to the pronunciaton here. And if I am? So be it. But Junior College Recruit Michael Craion has the potential to go all Burnt Sienna in the Summit! Yes! I'm going to take a victory lap now.
South Dakota State: I know that all five starters are back. But I'm only going to talk about one. Garrett Callahan. He is the motor of the Jackrabbits. He led the team in scoring, assists, steals, and three point shooting percentage. He can lead the Jackrabbits to the glory.
Southern Utah: Now I personally have a strong distrust of those who have two last names. It's just me. I mean, in a situation like this I don't know Davis Baker. Well, outside of the fact that he's an unrepentant gunner. And that's fun.
UMKC: The Korver Dynasty Continues! The Kangaroos lost three quality starters off of last years team. But considering what they have coming in? Especially low post threat Kirk Korver? Really? Low post Korver who can still bomb? Okay. Good. The Roos will continue to be interesting.
Western Illinois: They have a same name and a bloodlines alert that at once confuses and intrigues me. The name? Emeka Okeafor Jr. But he's the cousin of the NBA Center. Families with two prongs of people with the same name baffle me. And thus? This Leatherneck is vaguely intriguing.
Arkansas State: Everybody loves the top backcourt recruit Brandon Reed. I know I do. If he can jell with Oklahoma State transfer Martavius Adams? John Brady might have himself a contender this season.
Arkansas-Little Rock: Solomon Bozeman is my pick to click on the Trojans. He was a solid point guard for South Florida in his last season there. But he decided he would rather not be in Tampa. The Trojans get a lot of help from this.
Denver: The Princeton based offense gave this team a real boost in 2008. In 2009? You have an inside-outside all-conference duo named Nate Rohnert and Rob Lewis. This, and the Denver location mean they'll get 10 conference wins.
Florida Atlantic: Yeah. Last year happened. But things are bound to get better. Mike Jarvis is an ace recruiter. And with the strong class coming back? Adorably tiny guard Ray Taylor is going to start the rebuilding process.
Florida International Martavius Kee is a guard who has transferred from Temple. He will have to take control of this team after the transfer of Freddy Asparilla. But I have faith that this will happen, because with Michael Dominguez and Josue Soto? They have three strong guards. They hired someone with high comedic value as well, but who?
Louisiana-Lafayette: Maybe I would be the guy who force a misspelling to make a bad pun if I were lazy. But the big guard talents of Chris Gradnigo are too good for that. So no. I'm not going to make a pun about how maybe the dingo ate your baby. You're welcome.
Louisiana-Monroe: Guards. This team literally has 8 guards that can play at most schools. Three are hot in-state recruits, one is a sophmore in the middle of a logjam. Tony Hooper was busted last season, but he was awesome in 2007-08. Dynile Forbes is a toaster oven of a 6th man. And add two seniors who got the lions share of starts and you have a great backcourt. That being said? The frontcourt needs good health for this team to go anywhere.
Middle Tennessee State: Last year, this team did not go anywhere near where they were expected. 93 percent of the scorring from 07 came back. It led to a middle of the pack finish in the Eastern division. Now? Most of that is gone. But if anyone can rage against downward trends? It is Desmond Yates.
New Orleans: If a team broke bad, you take good news where you can get it. And getting a decommit from the Mountain West conference in Devin McDonald as well as a three-star recruit in Jacolby Pittman? It's a step in the right direction. And with the majority of the conference in flux? You have something to live for.
North Texas: This is another team that has come with five starters returning. Eric Tramiel snacks on danger and dines on death. Dominique Johnson is an unrepentant gunner. And Josh White is great from the line. All they have to do is beat Western Kentucky when it matters and they go dancing. Don't thik it can't happen.
South Alabama: There's a lot gone from last season. Like there's only one starter and one interesting newcomer. But fun fact about Javier Carter? His game was good enough that he generated interest from a Big East school. Sure, it was St. John's, but still. It counts!
Troy: The boys from Troy came into last season looking for a quick fix. Mission accomplished. Now it's time to take the next step. They have a three guard triad of power in Michael Vogler, Richard Delk, and Brandon Hazzard. If they don't let down in the conference tourney? They got this.
Western Kentucky: Yes, you may have lost Orlando Mendez-Valdez. And I do feel bad for you. But you know what? You have the super bloodlines. And it's not as if the build is different either. You need to meed Juco Recruit Cliff Dixon. He's family with Kevin Durant. Good looking out.
Gonzaga: I know that Matt Bouldin has returned, and I'm sure that his fantasy basketball team is going to be named The Bouldin The Beautiful. But who cares? They have a great recruit from Sudan. The expectation? He's the Micah Downs replacement. Ladies and gentlemen, one hand against the other for Bol Kong.
Loyola Marymount: Max Good inherited a disaster zone, and you know what? There is some talent there. My favorite player is a man with a salad bar of defensive skills, Kevin Young. If Vernon Teel scores efficently? They could make things a little bit better. Improvement is good.
Pepperdine: They have the coach back that got them to the Sweet 16. They have a sophomore lead guard in Keion Bell who, with a little more help and a little less foolish gunnery? They can make a stand.
Portland: This is your best chance of dynastic interruption in the West Coast Conference since the days of Steve Nash and Malibu domination. Five returning starters. Nik Raivio is the All-Conference threat. T.J. Campbell is the steady mercenary point guard. And if Luke Sikma isn't with a 1982-styled perm? He's doing it wrong.
Saint Mary's: It's probably not going to be as strong of a year with Patty Mills leading the four starter exodus. But you still have two major reasons for love. Mickey McConnell performed admirably after the dirty pool of Jeremy Pargo took Mills out. And Omar Samhan is a low-post bull who is not afraid of getting down and dirty his own self.
San Diego: The upside? It cannot possibly be as bad as last season. A blown achilles and Gyno Pormare's senioritis sank a team with high hopes. That being said? Brandon Johnson gets a second senior season, and some say Chris Manresa can do the Pormare-work. If they can get the defensive glue to replace Rob Jones? They threaten again.
San Francisco: If it wasn't for Dior Lowhorn they would finish in Division II. He's a scoring champion, a solid rebounder, a tough low post threat and a celebrity optometrist. He will win them ten games on his own merits. I also like Nikola Stojiljkovic. But only because I can't pronounce his name.
Santa Clara: Did you know about the history of great Canadians who decided to come down to Santa Clara? It's true! There even was this point guard who had a pretty solid pro career. I think his name was Nish or something. But anyway? Marc Trasolini is looking like he's the next one in line. Even if he looks like a nerd.
Boise State: Not to be all Bill Simmons here, but wouldn't he make a reference to the coach from Teen Wolf here? After all, he said never play cards against a person with a last name of a city. And seeing as I'm tired and they have a JUCO named Daequon Montreal? That's where we are.
Fresno State: Considering that this team is expected to finish in the second division? This team is a microchasm of the strength of the conference as a whole. Paul George is a veritable sniper. Sylvester Seay is an all-conference four. And Greg Smith is this years answer to Luke Babbitt as new recruit hotness.
Hawaii: There are few expectations for this team. Bob Nash is on the hot seat. Steadying force Kareem Nioto? Transferred. But they still have Roderick Flemings. And he fought off his defender in such a way that a Seven Nation Army couldn't hold them back. They jell? And he could be POTY.
Idaho: So, apparently? Scheme was an improtant starting point. The three guard attack shocked most observers with extra games in March and a third place finish in the WAC. And if Steffan Johnson can handle the move up from the Big West? They have a chance to have something that sounded so crazy a year ago happen. An NCAA berth.
Louisiana Tech: The key to this team comes from Navarro. For you see? Outside of Kyle Gibson, scoring comes as easily as a humor blogger not aping a Simpsons quote. (That means they struggle). Into this breach comes DeAndre Brown. If the tiny gunner can put the biscuits in the baskets in the WAC? There's an opening for the dance.
Nevada: The Star Fox travelled between the hedges. And as such? David Carter gets a good program with high expectations? Why, because Luke Babbit was awesome. You have to believe the hype on him. Him and Armon Johnson are a great way to rage against a dropoff.
New Mexico State: Can they hang on until the second semester? If they can, they've got Wendell McKines coming back to possibly save the day. Why is that so important? Because he is the only WAC player to average a Double-double last season.
San Jose State: Adrian Oliver came around last year and electrified when he played. But this was in limited work. If he plays the entire season? They have a solid frontcourt and the lockdownery of Justin Graham. Not for nothing, I'm willing to go back to the well and say this will be a good team.
Utah State: Stew Morrill always finds a way to replace the superstar. Jaycee Carroll graduates? In walks Gary Wilkinson. Gary Wilkinson's gone? Nate Bendall or Tai Wesley potentially replace him. It's a circle of life in Logan.
Boom. That just happened. Learned.