Buy, sell, or hold
Predicting whose stock will rise and whose will fall
Posted: Tuesday January 8, 2008 12:25PM; Updated: Thursday January 10, 2008 3:51PM
We know what has happened in the world of college basketball thus far. But with the conference season under way, what will the future hold?
The answer is provided below in the annual Hoop Thoughts Stock Report (HTSR). Once again, the idea of this exercise is to project where a team is headed relative to its current position. That position is defined by its record, its ranking and that amorphous, subjectively defined animal we call "buzz."
The operative word here is relative. I'm more concerned with where teams are headed than where they are. So just because I rate Team A a Sell and Team B a Buy, that does not necessarily mean I think Team B is better than Team A. You dig?
I selected a HTSR-record 30 teams for this year's ratings. I wanted a healthy helping outside the Top 25, so my apologies if your favorite team wasn't included. Also, as promised, I'm going to start to include my AP ballot every week in this space. Feel free to have at me.
So without further ado, grab your wallets, Hoop Thinkers, and get ready to do some trading:
I really, really want to like this Wildcats team, but they keep letting me down. I know they're playing without Jerryd Bayless right now, but that's no excuse for not showing up defensively at home against Oregon on Saturday. I like that Jordan Hill gives them an inside weapon they haven't had in a while, but unless this team adopts a tougher identity, it will continue to disappoint in the rough-and-tumble Pac-10.
Arizona State: BUY
You better scoop this one up quick before word gets out that the Sun Devils are legit. Between the Princeton offense and the zone defense, they play an unconventional style that is throwing people off. Everybody wrote them off when they got blitzed by Illinois in the opener, but since then they've trounced a good Xavier team at home and beat Oregon at home last Thursday (which Arizona couldn't do). Freshman guard James Harden, who leads the team in scoring at 17.6 per game, has certainly lived up to his billing.
The Blue Devils have a great Plan A: Spread the floor, drive to the basket, make threes. When that's working, they can beat anyone. But what happens if the threes aren't falling and you have to go to Plan B -- and you don't have a serviceable big man? My sense is that Duke's Plan B is to hope Plan A works.
The Gators only have two losses, and though everyone understood this would be a rebuilding year, I still get the sense people are anticipating a late surge from this young team. In a word: nagahappen. The Gators have a hard time generating offense off of their defense, and Marreese Speights has shown he is not quite ready to carry a team on his back.
The Hoyas were unable to impose their style at Memphis, but this is still far-and-away the class of the Big East. What's amazing about the Hoyas is they have arguably the best center in the country in Roy Hibbert, yet they're not overly dependent on him. I can't imagine a better fit for JT3's offense than freshman guard Austin Freeman, a big, strong athlete who can score inside and out.
Yes, the Zags have some good players and played a tough nonconference schedule, but the reality is, their best win of the season was by three points over UConn in Boston. (Not quite a neutral site, but still not as tough as Gampel Pavilion.) It would be silly to Sell them since they're already out of the Top 25, but unless they're able to pull off a win at Memphis on Jan. 26, they might have to win the WCC tournament again to get to the NCAAs.
Hoosiers are just outside the top 10 right now, but that will change in the next couple of weeks. Not only is Eric Gordon the front-runner for Big Ten player of the year as a freshman, but I think he should be the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft. The Hoosiers also have plenty room for growth. Look for freshman Jordan Crawford and juco transfer Jamarcus Ellis to steadily improve the next two months.
No need to overthink this one. The Jayhawks have more depth and talent than any team in America, and I love the way Darnell Jackson is playing down low. Plus, the Big 12 is just so-so and they only have to play Texas once.
Kansas State: SELL
I realize the Wildcats have a 9-4 record and are unranked, but I'd guess there are still some people out there who are thinking, "Well, they have Michael Beasley, so they're probably going to the tournament." No, they're not. You still need good guard play in college basketball, and with David Hoskins still not recovered from knee surgery, it looks like Beasley's one season of college basketball will have to end in the NIT.