The funny thing about the Miami Heat situation is that if the same thing had happened at the college level, people would love the story. Imagine if D-Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh knew each other through the AAU circuit and had become friends in high school. Let’s say they were all deciding what college to go to at the same time and decided to go to the same school because they wanted to play together. The public would love that story, especially if they decided to go to a school that hasn’t been very good in a while. Also, they would probably make their decision on TV or in front of a large audience by pulling a hat out of a bag or something lame. People love it when high school athletes do it, and hate it when professional athletes do anything of the sort.
This is why college basketball can be refreshing, it’s different from the pros. College basketball is more about the team and less about the individual. The majority play defense on every possession like their lives depend on it. Coaches can coach and instruct more rather than tiptoe around trying to keep their superstar millionaires happy. Sure the college game has plenty of head cases, but they have to put in the effort or they are toast. These kids (especially the ones with next level potential) have to show up every day with energy to impress the potential scouts. There aren’t many Baron Davis scenarios of guys coming into the season fat and out of shape in college.
Anyway, that was either an intro or a tangent. I am going to list the underrated and overrated teams from the preseason ESPN rankings for each of the BCS conferences, and then the non-AQs as a whole. I love going back in time and looking at the “experts’” picks. For the most part they do a good job, but there are always a couple of teams included or left off that make them look silly. The overrated teams have their preseason ranking in parenthesis, and the underrated teams have their current ranking in parenthesis.
Overrated: UNC (9), Virginia Tech (23)
Underrated: uh…thinking…Boston College (2 receiving votes in the AP poll)
Outlook: Duke looked unbeatable until Kyrie Irving went down with an injury. Even without them they are still the best team in the country. No one
else in this basketball “power” conference is ranked. My how the mighty have fallen. The ACC will still somehow get as many teams into the tournament as anyone else. UNC has played some tough games and they may end up having a good year in the ACC (someone other than Duke has to) but how were they a
preseason top 10 team? That is as dumb as voting someone who just graduated high school to be on the All-American first team…wait that happened too.
Overrated: no one really
Underrated: Uconn (4), Georgetown (9), Notre Dame
Outlook: As always, the Big East is a very solid conference this year. I’m not sold on any of them being a national title contender but there is a lot of depth. Uconn was way underrated (picked to finish 10th in the Big East) but I would be shocked if they finished in the top 5 in the conference. I see these teams beating each other up a lot throughout the season. Pitt would have to be the favorite to win this conference right now.
Overrated: Michigan State (2), Illinois (16)
Underrated: Ohio St (2), Minnesota (16)
Outlook: Michigan State has lost to four good teams, but their best win is against a South Carolina team that just got beat badly by Furman. They have talent and Bob Izzo, but they aren’t playing well right now. Ohio St. was ranked 5th to start the season but they have even exceeded those expectations. They look like one of only two teams (the other being Kansas) that can hang with Duke. The Big Ten is a good conference right now at the top with Purdue, Wisconsin, and Illinois also showing the potential to have a deep run in March.
Overrated: Kansas St. (3)
Underrated: Kansas (3), Texas A&M (24)
Outlook: The poll people did well with this conference. Kansas, Baylor, Texas, and Missouri have been in the same neighborhood all year long. Kansas (I didn’t think they would be very good this year, they started at #7) looks like a national title contender despite have some very close calls. They are a prime example of reloading every year. Kansas St. looks like it really misses Denis Clemente, but the top of this conference is as good as any in the country. Kansas will once again be the team to beat.
Overratted: Washington (17), California
Underrated: USC in the month of December
Outlook: The conference just isn’t very good, but they should be able to get more than 2 teams in the tournament this year. Washington St. may be the team to beat in the conference this year, but Washington has had its moments too. It’s just not a relevant conference right now. On the bright side, Utah beat Bradley earlier in the year and Colorado beat Indiana. Enjoy those additions.
Overrated: Florida (11), Tennessee (20)
Outlook: I fully expect Florida and Tennessee to be out of the top 25 when the rankings come out on Monday (12/26). Tennessee has some good wins, and ugly losses. Even Kentucky has looked a little erratic at times. They played like freshmen against UNC and they haven’t played much on the road. I’m surprised that this conference doesn’t get more publicity for being mediocre. Florida, Kentucky, and Tennessee have a lot of talent, but they play to the level of their competition too often.
Overrated: Gonzaga (12), Butler (18)
Underrated: San Diego St. (7), BYU (16), UCF (21)
Outlook: I always root for the smaller conferences. I don’t think any of these teams can make a Butler like run, but there could be a couple in the sweet sixteen. I thought it was obvious that Butler wouldn’t be able to sustain much success after losing an NBA talent and replacing with no one. Memphis is probably still overrated. SDSU is very athletic, but they can’t shoot and have had to squeak by some mediocre teams. BYU will always get beat by big, athletic teams. UCF has some quality wins, but I don’t know much about them. My sleeper is Wichita St. Their only two losses are to Uconn and SDSU. They have a very balanced attack, which means someone can have an off game and they can still win.