by Trevor Freeman
There are two sets of college basketball fans. There are the diehards who tune in for the full season and there are those who jump in feet first immediately after football season ends so they can get their love of the game back…….or so they can do an ample amount of research before filling out their NCAA Tournament brackets. Many purists dislike this second group, but I for one think they provide the NCAA Tournament with the gusto it needs to remain with the Super Bowl as one of the two greatest sporting events on the planet (for those of you who just said, “Wait a second what about the World Cup”…feel free to board a Concorde and fly back to France).
Seeing a need to provide a cliff notes version on the first half of college basketball season, I have seized the moment. Our midseason awards have been completed. While these are awards, they are also little nuggets to remember when filling out your third bracket and forking over another $50. Without further ado we begin with………
The Carmelo Anthony/Danny Manning Award:
Let’s put it this way. If you said I could start an NBA franchise with any player on the planet, both pro, college and European. This is how my top four would read:
- Dwyane Wade
- LeBron James
- Tim Duncan
- Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant is the best freshman I have ever seen play college basketball. He’s better than Melo was. He’s better than Pervis Ellison was. He’s better than all of them. Just remember that when you are picking Texas in your NCAA bracket.
The Rip Van Winkle Award:
New Mexico State is going to beat somebody very big in this year’s NCAA Tournament. Reggie Theus has put together one of the most athletic mid-majors in the country. There are a lot of names you may recognize on the roster. Elijah Ingram (St. John’s) and Justin Hawkins (Utah) are in the backcourt and Martin Iti (Charlotte) is in the frontcourt. What really makes New Mexico State’s impending trip to the Dance special is the return of Reggie Theus to network television. I think I speak for all of us when I say that I miss one of the great television actors of our time. His work on “Hang Time” is the stuff that Emmys are made of.
The “Dazed and Confused” Award For Best Ensemble Cast:
This award can go nowhere else than Florida. All five starters will play in the NBA with Joakim Noah and Al Horford having star potential. The only thing separating them from a national championship is the difficulty of winning the NCAA Tournament twice. Even a stacked UNLV team could not get the job done.
The Minka Kelly “Underrated” Award:
People should not forget about Butler and what they did at the beginning of the season. This is a good team with good guard play. A.J. Graves and Mike Green complement each other very nicely and are impossible to press. Butler has already beaten Notre Dame, Indiana, Illinois, Tennessee, Gonzaga and Purdue. They can play with anybody in the country and have Elite Eight written all over them.
The Britney Spears “Maybe I Should Have Been Wearing Underwear” Award:
This goes to Duke’s Josh McRoberts and Greg Pawlus. My goodness they are overrated. I’m not saying they can’t shape up and become the ballplayers they were projected to be out of high school. However, neither of them are ready to lead a team to the NCAA Championship.
The Clint Eastwood “I May Be Old, But I Am Still Worth Watching” Award:
Under no circumstances do you want to bet against Bobby Knight’s Texas Tech Red Raiders. They play smart. They play tough defense. They have a star in Jarrius Jackson. And most of all they have the ultimate “I will not be intimidated by any of you” coach in Bobby Knight. I can honestly see Texas Tech getting to the Elite Eight with the right draw.
The Emily Procter “Best Fastball That Nobody Really Talks About” Award:
Nick Fazekas, Ramon Sessions and Marcellus Kemp form the core of a Nevada team that is a legitimate Final Four sleeper. Unless everybody voting for the All-American teams falls asleep at the wheel, Nick Fazekas will be a first teamer. Joining him on the outside are two dangerous scorers in Sessions and Kemp. They may be from a smaller school, but Nevada can put a serious whupping on anybody in the country.
The Mischa Barton “Slightly Overrated” Award:
I am sure Greg Oden, Daequan Cook and Mike Conley Jr. will all be great NBA basketball players. They are all extremely talented and look like stars every now and then. However, anybody who picks them to win the national championship is smoking a little too much of the Humboldt County Greens. I am not even fully convinced that they are the second best team in the Big 10 let alone one of the top four teams in the country.
The Kenneth Lay “Fraud Alert” Award:
We should actually name this award after Kansas University because they are once again the biggest frauds in college basketball. Picking them to get to the Final Four is the equivalent of handing over $50 as a gift for all of your friends to split. That Texas Tech game was not an aberration. Kansas is a soft team that will collapse against some Missouri Valley/West Coast Conference/Atlantic 10 team in the first or second round of the Dance. Any team that gets physical with their guards and pounds the glass can beat them.
The Trevor Award For Shameless Plugging Of His Alma Mater:
Keep an eye on the Fordham Rams. Wins over St. Louis and St. Joe’s have lifted Fordham to a 4-2 conference record. It would not shock this completely unbiased observer if Fordham wins the Atlantic 10 tournament (held in Atlantic City this year………great f*ckin idea) and goes Dancing. It also would not shock this observer if Trevor Freeman drinks so much Cuervo after Fordham qualifies that he ends up at the Atlantic City Medical Center.
The “How I Met Your Mother” Award For Best Emerging Team:
Anybody who watches “How I Met Your Mother” knows that this show is already “LEGENDARY”. Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris) is probably the best character currently on television right now. There’s not a man between the age of 18-25 who wouldn’t hang out with Barney, which is why this show is so successful. Likewise, there is not a team in college basketball that couldn’t win with Billy Gillespie as their coach. I honestly think Texas A&M will be in the Final Four. They have three of the most underrated players in the country in Acie Law IV, Joseph Jones and Antanas Kavaliauskas. The Aggies play a suffocating brand of defense that can carry them on a cold shooting night. Both of their losses came on the road and were against teams that made the Final Four last year in UCLA and LSU. No shame in that.
The “If Trevor Was A Gambling Man, Which He Knows Is Completely Illegal And Should Be Discouraged….But Nonetheless If Trevor Was Going To Las Vegas on March 14th On The 8:30 A.M. American Airlines Flight #570 That Got In At 11:15 Las Vegas Time And Was Hypothetically Going To Place A Wager Of Approximately $150 On Two Teams” Award:
Wisconsin and UCLA. Of all the teams I have watched this season, they have been the best. Both teams play great team defense and execute well in the halfcourt. Wisconsin and UCLA each have a big-time perimeter player in Alando Tucker and Arron Afflalo who can get their own shot with time running down. The coaches are good and are hungry for their first title. It would surprise me if both of these teams weren’t playing in the Final Four.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me at [email protected].