clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

A college basketball guide for diehard football fans

New, comments

Love football? Like post-Super Bowl college basketball and want to be educated before the NCAA Tournament starts? We're here, bruh.

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

We know why you're here. We don't really understand it, we absolutely don't approve of it, but we accept it.

We know you only watched bits and pieces of the Maui Invitational because it was an alternative to Thanksgiving family interaction. We know you've only seen Buddy Hield for 60-second spurts on SportsCenter. We know you have, at best, a limited understanding of the majesty of the Monmouth bench and the inability of any conscious being to resist it.

We know you're only here because football is over. It's cool. You've been missing out, but it's cool.

Thankfully, we at SB Nation college basketball have been living and dying with every dribble that has occurred since the evening of Nov. 14, and we're here to answer every question you would have asked if you hadn't been so consumed with Cam Newton-fueled anger for the last five months.

Who is good?

Interesting you should start there since the prevailing theme of this season so far has been that nobody knows who's good. Five No. 1 ranked teams lost before the month of February for the first time in a college basketball season since 1949, leaving freshly crowned No. 1 Villanova as the sixth team to assume the throne.

The best answer to your question is that we don't think there are any great teams like last year, but we think that teams like Oklahoma, North Carolina, Maryland, Villanova, Kansas, Xavier, Virginia and Michigan State are pretty good .... yet we're still not totally sure.

This has already been remarkably unhelpful. So, like, who are the No. 1 seeds going to be?

As of right now, Chris Dobbertean has Oklahoma, Villanova, Iowa and Xavier as his top seeds ... but certainly that could all change as soon as Tuesday night.

So if all these teams ranked at the top keep losing and we're not sure if they're any good, then it's probably going to be a pretty wild tournament, right?

That is the common thought, yes.

I bet Duke's probably pretty good.

That's not a question, but the Blue Devils are just okay.

The defending national champions fell out of the Associated Press Top 25 last week for the first time since 2007 and were unranked again when this week's polls were released on Monday. They've already lost six games and are just 7-4 in the ACC, but they notched a big win over Louisville on Monday and could be a threat in the tournament again if they get senior forward Amile Jefferson back and healthy before March.

What about Kentucky?

The Wildcats have also struggled a little bit, but have been playing a bit better as of late. They're still in the SEC race and are coming off a dominant win over Florida.

So they're not going 40-0 again this year?

Well, they actually didn't end up going 40-0 last year because they lost to Wisconsin in the Final F--

Oh yeah, the Frank guy.

our. They've lost six games this season and are 7-3 in the SEC. The sport actually lost its final unbeaten team on Jan. 24, so there is no "quest for perfection" storyline this year.

What good games have I missed?

Lots! But the one that most people would point to as the best of the season so far came when Kansas defeated Oklahoma, 109-106, in triple overtime back on Jan. 4. The Jayhawks were ranked No. 1 in the AP Top 25 for the game and the Sooners were No. 1 in the coaches poll. It was one of the best regular season games that college basketball has seen in quite some time.

That sounds incredible, and I can't believe I missed it. Tell me something that will make me feel better.

Well, how about this? You're just in time for the rematch between the two teams, which will take place at Oklahoma on Saturday afternoon.

Awesome! Doesn't Oklahoma have somebody who's really good?

Yep, Buddy Hield, who is the runaway favorite to win national Player of the Year. He scored 46 points in that loss to Kansas, and actually just buried a clutch game-winner against Texas Monday night.

You said National Player of the Year front-runner? TV told me it was that freshman from LSU.

TV lied to you.

So he's not good?

Oh no, he's really, really good and he's going to be the first player taken in the NBA Draft, he's just not the best college basketball player in the country right now. His team also has eight losses.

What other players are good?

Junior guard Kris Dunn from Providence is tremendous. Senior forward Denzel Valentine from Michigan State was actually the early front-runner for Player of the Year until a knee injury forced him to miss three weeks in late December/early January.

Cool. What about great dunks? I like dunks.

We all like dunks.

Here's Kerwin Roach from Texas dunking.

How about this cool dunk from Gary Payton II of Oregon State?

Those are cool dunks. What about buzzer-beaters? I enjoy those as well.

We got you.

Here's Virginia capping off an unreal 8-0 run in the final 17 seconds of a game against Wake Forest last month:

Javan Felix barely beat the buzzer to give Texas a huge win over North Carolina in December.

It didn't look like he got that off.

Well, they reviewed it an determined that he did.

Well I still don't think he did.

Ok.

I see Louisville and SMU are both ranked pretty high. Either one of those teams have a chance to go all the way?

Actually, both teams are banned from playing in the postseason this year. SMU was dealt its ban from the NCAA, while Louisville self-imposed its ban.

Oh, wow. So I bet they probably both had a lot of players transfer to other schools so they could play in the tournament, right?

Well, SMU was handed its penalty in late September and Louisville didn't announce its self-imposed ban until last week, so in both instances players were unable to leave their programs for ones that will have a chance to participate in March Madness.

That doesn't seem like it's very fair.

No it does not.

What about Wichita State? They have a shot at going undefeated again like they did a few years ago?

We already talked about this and told you that there are no undefeated teams in the country.

Yeah, I remembered that right when I finished that question. That's on me, man.

Wichita State actually is very good but they lost several games early in the season when Fred VanVleet was in---

Oh my God, he still plays?

jured. Since he's come back, however, they've been on a tear and have just one loss in Missouri Valley Conference play. They're definitely a dangerous team to be on the lookout come March.

Who are some other dangerous "Cinderella" teams I can impress my friends by knowing next month?

Stony Brook is undefeated in the America East, boasts a 20-4 overall record and has a terrific player in Jameel Warney. Monmouth proved during the non-conference portion of its season that it's more than just bench antics. And Valparaiso is going to win at least one game in the NCAA Tournament. Write that last part down.

Is DePaul still bad?

Yeah.

Rutgers?

Really bad.

So at least a few things are still the same?

You got it.

What conference is the best?

The most common answer you'll get is the Big 12, which currently has three teams ranked in the nation's top 10. Of course the Big 10 can say the exact same thing, and the Big East actually has two teams ranked in the top five.

Is one of them UConn?

No, UConn is in the AAC.

The what?

We're not doing this again.

I know, I was just messing with you to see what you'd say. Hey, how good is Gonzaga?

Not as good as they've been in recent years. In fact, there are some people who think their streak of 17 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances might be in jeopardy if they don't win the West Coast Conference Tournament.

I don't like smart people. Can I make fun of Harvard?

Sure, I guess. The Crimson are just 1-5 in the Ivy League and are going to miss the big dance for the first time since 2011.

Ha.

But, yeah, whatever team wins the Ivy League is probably going to have some pretty smart players.

Whatever. Is there anything else I need to know?

All right, let's rapid fire this:

--Villanova is ranked No. 1 for the first time ever right now.

--Oregon is looking like the most formidable team on the West Coast.

--Kansas is still rolling fools at home, but its streak of consecutive Big 12 regular season championships is in extreme danger.

--We make fun of how much people on TV talk about Ben Simmons, but he's really, really good.

--Michigan State looked like the best team in the country for the season's first month. Then Denzel Valentine got hurt and they kind of got off track, but they're going to be as good as always come March.

--In keeping with the theme of the season, this year's crop of freshmen is good, but not great.

--Duke has learned the hard way about the troubles that come with a sub-par crop of freshmen.

--The number of top-ranked teams losing this season has been of historic proportions.

--Intentionally tripping a referee is going to get you a suspension.

I want to win my work office pool, is that going to happen now?

Yes.