The biggest controversy of the college basketball season is already here:
How could any "expert" in their right freaking mind POSSIBLY pick
Start with this: The argument for
It's not simply that they're the defending champs. There have been a lot of defending champs who don't deserve to start the next season No. 1.
It's that this defending champ RETURNS ALL FIVE STARTERS. And that's from a team that demolished 5 out of 6 NCAA Tournament opponents.
The Gators' frontcourt is, arguably, the best in the last 25 years of college basketball history. I challenge you to find any that are better, that combine this much talent with championship experience:
Joakim Noah, the reigning Tournament MOP; Al Horford, perhaps the most NBA-ready big man in college hoops; and Corey Brewer, even more versatile than either of the other two. (Oh, plus backup PF/C Chris Richard, who could start for every other team in the country.)
Then layer in the attitude: Everyone knows about the Big Three forgoing the NBA Lottery to return to school to defend their title. But you have to follow the team closely to hear the talk: There's no ego, no sense of entitlement. They're hungry.
If anything, the run to the title in March taught this team precisely what they have to do to win another -- no other team can say that, certainly not UNC. (Last time I checked, UNC was losing to a team from the Colonial Athletic Association.)
So, let's see:
Superstar talent? Check.
Championship experience? Check.
Hungry attitude? Check.
That's the thing: Talent without experience can win SOME games in the NCAA Tournament. (LSU over Duke) Experience without talent can win SOME games in the NCAA Tournament. (George Mason over UNC or UConn) But Talent AND Experience, combined, will beat either, handily.
Line up the rosters:
In fact, I'd argue that
(Or, more accurately: When you're picking out the team most likely to win the national title – which is what the preseason Top 25 ranking is supposed to be – how can you NOT pick Florida?)
So, here we go: Explain to me again how UNC is better than
I understand the greatness of Tyler Hansbrough, but he's not better than Noah or Horford -- and he's certainly not better than both COMBINED.
Then there's the heralded UNC freshman class. Absolutely: They are an awesome collection of talent. But as we've seen, talent isn't enough in March.
There's no evidence that these UNC freshmen are ready to sublimate their high school egos in the way necessary to win a national title. A year from now? Sure. (That is, if they all stay in college. Good luck with that.) But they'll need this year to figure it out, in order to make a run in 2007-08. They could take a lesson from this
(If anything, the team of young talent most likely to make the Florida-type leap is
(And if you're looking for the top freshman class, forget UNC:
OK, so back to UNC: They might be a Top 5 team, but I think it's ridiculous to project how this freshman class will deal with (a) college competition, (b) playing with a bonafide superstar in Hansbrough, and (c) winning six straight in March, which -- in the end -- is all that matters. I don't think they can do it.
And to argue that ANY team – UNC or anyone else – is better positioned to win the title than
That's the REAL Madness.