Posted: Wednesday November 15, 2006 4:53PM; Updated: Thursday November 16, 2006 9:40AM
Grant Wahl will periodically answer questions from SI.com users in his mailbag.
Who's in your Final Four?
I have Kansas, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Arizona. The Tar Heels may be the nation's most talented outfit, and I've been struck by how much raw desire Hansbrough has to make the most of what will likely be his last NCAA tournament. (For as much attention as Adam Morrison got for his tourney tears, I'm told Hansbrough was just as emotional in the locker room after UNC's loss to George Mason last year.)
I'm not the only person who sees Wisconsin's frontcourt depth and Alando Tucker's star power and thinks the Badgers are headed for big things. And despite Arizona's season-opening loss at Virginia, I think the Wildcats will maximize their main strength: the best set of wings in the country in Marcus Williams, McClellan and Budinger. All that's left is for Mustafa Shakur to show some leadership at the point, and I think he's ready to do that.
Who's in your personal Top 20 (not to be confused with SI's Top 20)?
1. Kansas. With Sasha Kaun out to injury the Jayhawks may have a hard time with Florida's frontcourt in Vegas next week, but these rankings are for March, not November.
2. Florida. Keep an eye on Walter Hodge, who could have a big role as a sixth man.
3. North Carolina. Hansbrough can't hide his disappointment over the injury to Ohio State's Greg Oden, which will keep Oden out of the Nov. 29 matchup in Chapel Hill. "You always want to play a whole team and see how you match up," Hansbrough says. "But when it all counts we may play 'em again in the end."
4. UCLA. Jordan Farmar was a heck of a college player, but we don't think there's a huge drop-off with Darren Collison replacing him. Plus, the return of Josh Shipp is huge.
5. Wisconsin. This is the year Bo Ryan hits critical mass when it comes to being regarded as one of the game's finest offensive minds.
6. Georgetown. How smart is Jeff Green? We go back a long ways with coach John Thompson III, all the way back to his No. 3 assistant days at Princeton. Quoth JT3: "You'll stop and think when I say this, but it's true: Jeff Green is the smartest player I've ever coached. You would know this better than most: that's a hell of a statement."
7. LSU. Is the massive weight loss of Glen (Not Quite So) "Big Baby" Davis that big a deal? You bet, says coach John Brady. "He's already the MVP of the league averaging 18 and 10 at 328 pounds," Brady says. "I just anticipate him improving even more at 295."
8. Creighton. Coach Dana Altman has done a job worthy of Robert Altman constructing this talented ensemble cast. "With Nate Funk and the development of Anthony Tolliver and Nick Porter, that gives us three seniors to build some things around," Altman says. Look for the Bluejays to carry the Valley banner this time around in the NCAAs.
9. Alabama. With frontcourt stars getting most of the attention around the country this season (see our "Big Is Back" story in this week's Sports Illustrated), it doesn't take an Einstein to pick Ronald Steele as a pre-season All-America in the backcourt.
10. Arizona. Not even the Wildcats P.A. announcer could pronounce Budinger's last name correctly at their opening practice. You'll be saying it plenty during the season, so make sure you do it with a hard G.