By Robert Vincent
There are certain tunes that are stuck in sports fans’ heads. The Monday Night Football theme. SportsCenter. The list goes on. One of my favorites is CBS’s College Basketball theme.
Now, in November, while football is in full force and baseball has just bowed out (congrats to Royals fans), college basketball is starting. In Kentucky, that everything pretty much stops.
The AP Poll and Coaches poll pretty much looks identical up top. You got UNC and UK taking the top spots (tied in Coaches poll and the Tar Heels taking #1 in AP, because the press hates UK). Maryland is #3 in both and Kansas and Duke flip flop #4 and #5.
But is this how it will play out in March and April?
We know that UNC’s Marcus Page broke his hand and that will take a hit for the Heels. While Duke was playing in a meaningless exhibition, F Amile Jefferson hurt his wittle-bitty ankle. Will this hurt them in March? Probably not. The ACC will be decided between Duke, UNC and Maryland.
The SEC is a shadow of what they used to be. Florida no longer has Donovan. Tennessee is not what they were with Pearl. They will be lucky to have four teams in the NCAA tourney.
UK is young, but talented. Louisville is in a muck of trouble with extracurricular activities that you wouldn’t brag about at church.
In all honesty, it’s wide open. My Final Four picks (albeit five months early) are UNC, Kentucky, Kansas and Duke. Yeah, this is pretty much a chalk pick. The Championship? Kansas over Duke.
Speaking of college basketball…
Before 1978, if you watched college basketball in the state of North Carolina, you probably rooted for a light shade of blue. However, in 1978, something big started. A little school (then) known as Duke made it all the way to the NCAA Championship for just the second time in their existence and was beaten by Kentucky.
From that moment on, Duke began on the road to what I consider to be the 17th Greatest Sports Dynasty. It started with that 1978 Championship appearance, and took off in 1980 when the school hired Mike Krzyzewski (who from this point on will be referred to as Coach K, because, well, you try typing that name more than once.). In 1984, Coach K began a remarkable run where his Blue Devils went to every…single…NCAA tourney except for one…1995.
He gave them 23 Sweet 16 appearances. 15 Elite Eights. 12 Final fours.
His Five rings are tied with their cross-the-street rivals, North Carolina, and Indiana for third all time. He got them 26 All-Americans, 23 NBA first round picks, and 1018 career wins. During his tenure, Duke has been ranked #1 for a total 235 weeks.
This, along with names such as Grant Hill, Elton Brand, J.J. Redick, Jason Williams and more (yes, there is a name that I REFUSE to type. I can honor the fact that Duke is an all-time great, but I will not repeat the name of the guy who steps on people, doesn’t get fouled out and hits a luck 3-pointer to win a game that he should have been tossed out of) make them the Seventeenth greatest sports dynasty.
BITS AND PIECES
It seems Peyton Manning doesn’t have to be Peyton Manning to get the Broncos to 7-0. There are a few teams in the NFL that are having fire-sales…one of which is the 49ers. And I think LSU beats Alabama to move up the rankings.
Until next week: Marv Harshman, former coach of the Washington Huskies basketball team once said about size vs. speed, “Quick guys get tired. Big guys don’t shrink.”