College Basketball – Playoffs That Work

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As sad as it is to see college football leave us until August, I’m kind of glad that we don’t have to hear about the runaway beer truck that is the BCS again for eight months.

The focus now can be on a sport that actually has playoffs nobody ever complains about: college basketball. For me, the month of March is amazing because years ago, the heads of the athletic departments of colleges around the country figured out how to satisfy all the major programs: have an end of the season tournament and allow even the small schools to get involved with the winner taking everything.  It was genius and to this day has still not been emulated except for lower level college football programs.

Do we ever hear complaints made about this system? Nope. Why? Because it’s the closest you can get to being fair and it benefits the little guy as well with automatic bids. If you’re a small I-A school in football, you may as well wave a white flag come December because there’s nothing you can do but surrender to the high BCS powers even if you have an argument that you should be included in the discussion.

That’s why it is so refreshing to jump into a season that knows what its doing from start to finish. I’m especially fired up this year because my alma mater JMU is playing considerably well and definitely looks like it could compete for the conference title in the CAA and get that automatic bid. Sure we might end up playing UNC but as we’ve learned in the recent past, nothing is ever pre-determined which allows all the smaller schools to dream big.

Maybe someday football will get a clue but for now, let’s concentrate on the magical two months ahead of us. Here’s the top five schools in the nation according to yours truly:

1) North Carolina Tar Heels, 17-0 (2-0) – My team since I was a little guy growing up in Charlotte, NC. The Heels are the best in the business until proven otherwise. They played a tough non-conference schedule and absolutely dominated NC State at home. This team is built to go all the way led by MVP favorite Tyler Hansbrough and their very underrated two guard, Wayne Ellington who has put on a shooting clinic all season.

2) Memphis Tigers, 15-0 (2-0) – Another dominating team that is scoring like its going out of style. Joey Dorsey is a force inside while Derrick Rose is establishing himself as one of the best point guards in the nation. Don’t forget Chris Douglas-Roberts as well. He’s the X Factor and provides the leadership for this team. Their schedule puts them at two for now but they aren’t far behind the Heels.

3) UCLA Bruins, 15-1 (4-0) – They’re third and Kansas isn’t because the Bruins have earned it due to two consecutive Final Four appearances and that this team hasn’t really changed since. It’s Kevin Love and not O.J. Mayo that has made the bigger splash in LA LA Land averaging a double double and forcing teams to concentrate on him which allows the other big playmaker Josh Shipp to carve up defenses. Lost within the big men is little Darren Collison who is averaging 12.5 points as a point guard along with 4 assists a game.

4) Kansas Jayhawks, 16-0 (2-0) – Undefeated and looking as dominant during the regular season as ever. Brandon Rush is once again vying for the player of the year and Rock Chalk is rolling toward another high seed in the postseason. The question that always haunts this team is “Can they get it done in March Madness?” The last several years, they’ve been bounced out in the elite eight or earlier which has made the KU faithful restless. Don’t be surprised if Bill Self finds his seat a bit warm if they come up short again this year.

5) Duke Blue Devils, 13-1 (1-0) – Coach K is doing it again with players that nobody outside of the ACC really knows. Names like Paulus, Henderson, Nelson, Singler and Scheyer have turned this Duke team into a legitimate ACC contender. They’ve blown out virtually everyone and their only loss has come to #9 Pittsburgh by a point. When they meet UNC for the first time on February 6, all eyes will be on what should be another classic in the historic rivalry.

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