UNC takes top spot in first regular-season rankings
Posted: Wednesday November 22, 2006 11:17AM; Updated: Wednesday November 22, 2006 8:31PM
Welcome to the first, radically-different-from-the-AP-Poll Power Rankings of the 2006-07 regular season.
Ground rules for this edition are as follows: 1) Preseason rankings played no role in the formulation of this top 16. (Lucky you, Maryland.) 2) Teams with questionable home losses were not considered. (Unlucky you, Kansas and Georgetown.) 3) The final list is composed of three types of teams: those with significant November wins, early surprise squads, and certain untested schools who I believe have played well enough to be ranked.
So who, exactly, made the cut? Let's begin with North Carolina, which falls into the untested-but-extremely-impressive category ...
If Tar Heel nation gets fat this winter, and Bojangle's goes bankrupt, we'll know the reason: UNC is scoring too many points. Bojangle's, a southern fast-food chain specializing in fried chicken and other anti-health foods, offers fans two sausage biscuits for a buck if the Heels put up 100 points at home. For most teams that's a rare feat, but UNC's high-speed attack has already broken the century mark twice in its first three games. In Sunday's win over Gardner-Webb, students were chanting "We Want Biscuits" as Alex Stepheson's free throws gave Carolina its 100th and 101st points, and afterwards, Bobby Frasor told the Fayetteville Observer, "Hopefully we can get those biscuits a lot for them."
Next three: 11/22 vs. Gonzaga (NIT), 11/24 in Preseason NIT, 11/29 vs. Ohio State.
In lieu of commenting on Gator massacres, I offer this nugget: While walking through the Gators' locker room this August, I got to see a fine white-board caricature of Corey Brewer, drawn by reserve guard Brett Swanson. It was headlined "The Drunken Dribbler," Brewer's nickname, and it depicted him handling the ball in typical wild fashion. It was also labeled with his lesser-known, auxiliary nickname, "The Golden Darkness." I'm told that's an ode to the Rick JamesTrue Hollywood Story on Chappelle's Show, in which Charlie Murphy -- who bears a faint resemblance to Brewer -- goes by Darkness.
Next three: 11/24 vs. Western Kentucky (in Vegas), 11/25 vs. Kansas (in Vegas), 11/28 vs. Southern.
Forgive me if I'm already thinking about next year in L.A. college hoops. Not that the scene right now is lacking; it's just a little imbalanced, what with the Bruins in the top five and USC in the middle of the Pac-10. The 2007-08, season, however, is going to serve as a showcase for arguably the nation's two best freshmen. Oregon-bred big man Kevin Love, whom coach Ben Howland called "the best outlet passer I've seen at any level since Bill Walton," will be starting in Westwood -- and No. 1 overall prospect O.J. Mayo, a combo guard who's the latest in the LeBron-Oden line of super-hyped prospects, will be playing for the Trojans. Mayo advisor Rodney Guillory told the L.A. Times, "He wanted to ink himself as the individual that changed USC basketball forever, like Patrick Ewing at Georgetown or Sean Elliott at Arizona." So why, then, did he go to the only city in America where he'd be the second-most famous Juice?
Next three: 11/22 vs. Georgia Tech (Maui Invitational final), 11/28 vs. Long Beach State, 12/3 vs. Cal-Riverside.
After watching a few preseason practices in Baton Rouge, I left feeling confident that the Tigers were a top-five team, but also wondered who would step up and hit the big threes Darrel Mitchell used to provide. The answer, thus far, has been another dude named Mitchell -- Tasmin -- who has shot 8-for-11 (72.7 percent) in LSU's first two wins, blowouts over Nicholls State and Louisiana-Monroe. Tasmin is no guard, but seeing that 74.3 percent of his points have been scored on the perimeter thus far, he and Glen Davis have to be considered one of the most dangerous inside-outside duos in the country.
Next three: 11/25 vs. Wichita State, 11/29 vs. McNeese State, 12/2 at Tulane.
I Amtraked down to D.C. on Sunday to catch the team I thought was the class of the Big East, Georgetown ... and saw the cold-shooting Hoyas get upset by scrappy Old Dominion. The Pitt victory (over UMass) I had on my DVR, however, was impressive. Despite star center Aaron Gray playing just six non-garbage-time minutes, the Panthers routed a decent A-10 team by 17. There have been two promising developments in the Pitt camp: East Carolina transfer Mike Cook is a solid wing scorer (shooting 61.1 percent and averaging 11.6 points, second-best on the team), and Levance Fields, after being made the starting point guard, has a stellar 3.7-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Carl Krauser's ratio last year, if anyone cares, was 1.6-to-1.
Next three: 11/24 vs. Florida State, 11/29 vs. Robert Morris, 12/3 at Auburn.