My immersion into March and its obsessive focus on college basketball continues today, pegging today's SN column lead off SN giving its National POY award to Evan Turner.
Now, I had been on the John Wall bandwagon all year -- and he remains the biggest, most exhilarating talent in college basketball and an all-time freshman -- but something clicked for me when I finally recognized that Wall plays with 3 NBA Lottery picks, including another NBA point guard. If Wall didn't go to Kentucky, Eric Bledsoe, Cousins and Patterson would have been more than enough to get Kentucky into the Top 10.
Now, if Turner wasn't available for Ohio State -- as he wasn't for four weeks -- I would be surprised if the Buckeyes could make the Tournament. He lacks Wall's ultimate sizzle, but he is far more well-rounded... and valuable to his team.
All that said: Both Turner and Wall will be judged not on their sublime regular seasons, but on how they do in the NCAA Tournament. Turner needs nothing less than a Wade-like run to the Final Four. For Wall, the Final Four is a minimum; he really needs a championship if he wants to be spoken of in the same context as Carmelo, who I think is, game-for-game, the greatest college basketball player of the modern (post-ESPN, post-64-team-tourney, post-3-point-shot) era.
Anything less, and -- absolutely -- I think less of their college careers. Just look at Kevin Durant, who was amazing in college but couldn't even get out of the first weekend of his one and only NCAA Tournament. For me, that layers in huge disappointment.
There is a reason that college hoops is defined -- quite intensely, thank you -- for March, and not for November through February. Make your mark now, or don't make it at all.
More you'll find in today's SN column:
*UConn really stinks.
*Seton Hall-ND: Should be a NCAA play-in!
*Butler saves a Bubble spot.
*Stephen Strasburg will be just fine.
*Heat < Bobcats?
*Is NASCAR heading for crisis?
See the complete column here. More later.