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Friday, November 9, 2012

College Basketball Tip-Off: Is Louisville No. 1?

Tonight the 2012-2013 NCAA Division I men's college basketball season tips off, headlined by the Carrier Classic (featuring Ohio State vs Marquette off the deck of the USS Yorktown docked in Charleston, SC) and Maryland versus Kentucky, among others.

So I figured it would be fitting to provide my overview on how I think this season might play out. It seems everyone and their mother has Indiana at No. 1, and, while I can see their point, I don't necessarily agree. They are talented, and Cody Zeller might be the best player in the nation, but they seemed a bit streaky last season. Plus, Zeller's 6.6 rebounds per game isn't very impressive, either. As a matter of fact, I think on the whole Indiana wasn't very good rebounding the ball last season, another reason I can't put them at No. 1.

Kentucky is fairly young, but loaded with freshman talent.  Center Nerlens Noel might be even better than Anthony Davis was offensively for the Wildcats last season. If he can be half as good as Davis on the other side of the ball, UK may make another deep tournament run. Right now, however, I think it is too early and the team is too young to be called No. 1 in the nation.

Ohio State and Michigan are both loaded with potential but are very inexperienced. The Buckeyes have some big shoes to fill in Jared Sullinger and William Buford. If they can get help from sophomores Laquinton Ross and Amir Williams, among others, they could do some damage come tourney time.

The Wolverines are in a similar situation to the Buckeyes, as they must replace the loss of veterans Evan Smotrycz (transfer) and Zack Novak (graduated). Returning for Michigan are freshman of the year point guard Trey Burke and guard Tim Hardaway junior, both of whom will be hard to stop. It will be interesting to see how these guys mesh with incoming freshman Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary.

But, when it comes down to it, who ultimately is No. 1 then? Well, Wildcat fans may not like to hear this, but I believe that Rick Pitino's Louisville Cardinals are the best team in the nation right now. Guards Petyon Siva and Russ Smith return to lead one of the nation's best backcourts this season. Center Gorgui Deng's 9.1 rebounds per games were among the top in the Big East last year. Could this be the year Pitino's squad finally cuts down the nets? Quite Possibly.

Of course, this is just my opinion, and like everyone else, it is highly subjective. Especially when you consider the fact that I haven't seen any of these teams play yet this year. But I figure hey, if the other guys can do it (and not that well I might add) I can't be any worse.

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