Love the post Mike, you offer lots to consider. And as I began my considerations I realized this post would simply be too long for the comment board. So, fanpost, we meet again.
Let's take it from the top:
1) I started out the season feeling UNC was undeniably the best team in the land. I was in pretty good company. Now, I'm not so sure. They've lost Ginyard and Graves, and something else that I can't quite put my finger on. They're going to win a lot of big games, and they are going win the ACC. No doubt. But the intangible piece they are missing is, I think, important enough to stop them somewhere in the middle of a 6 game tourney run. Here's the telling thing, Roy is bringing Tyler Zeller back from what everyone thought was a certain red-shirt season. You don't do that on a whim, you do that because you know that you need a defensive presence should you happen to run into the Thabeets, Griffins and Blairs of this world. The Miami game went a long way toward demonstrating UNC's defensive weakness. Hansbrough doesn't play defense (he does draw inexplicable phantom charges in crucial moments late in the game when his feet are literally in mid air, but that's not defense). Miami got hot from the beyond arc and has enough size in the paint to get the defensive boards it needs to keep UNC from getting those deadly second chance points. Miami isn't really that great a team. Nor by Big East standards are they really that big of a team. So Roy is calling up the broken-wristed Zeller to fill the gaps because he knows that 5 soft minutes of shooting in the second half of a tourney game will absolutely end his season if he can't keep the other team's score down.
All of that to say - The Zeller move is indicative of the team's knowledge that it has a serious chink in the ole armour, the only question is whether or not he is the solution. He may very well be, it's hard to imagine that adding a 7-footer into that team's lineup doesn't make the Heels the best team in the country. But we'll find out as early as tonight. Personally I'll be pulling for a bust.
2) I agree that it is a shame that the mid majors are down this year and aren't going to be getting many at-large bids. But the Davidsons of the world will still be there and they'll still get their runs. And while we love those runs, more often than not the potential Davidsons get spanked early, as God intended. Last year alone of the 28 teams seeded 10 or higher only six advanced beyond the first round. Of those teams, only 4 came from mid majors, and then I believe only two of those didn't get automatic bids (San Diego & Siena). So yeah, we're losing something, but what we are gaining is a tremendous amount of major conference parity. When all of the bigs are getting 5-8 teams into the mix then the games should be more competitive across the board. We won't get as much Davidson v Goliath, but we'll get more Hagler v Leonard. Which may not make as good a sound bite, but it could mean tighter games. Besides, this way there will be, I think a greater likelihood of major conferences seeing each other more often in the early rounds which will help iron out some of this "which conf is the strongest" debate. And I'd bet next year the mids will be back in force. So hopefully it is not an end of an era.
3) I think screaming something unique as you block shots is a fine idea. HAMMM SAMMIICH! might be fun, it'd certainly be confusing. But why not take it all the way and sell the rights to your shot-block-scream to a corporate sponsor, like Ford, or Southwest Airlines. Screeching DRIVE A FORD!!! or YOU'RE FREE TO MOVE ABOUT THE COUNTRY!!!! may help generate some revenue at a time when the economy is tight for everyone.
4) Anyone else think Thabeet's arm was going to come straight off Monday night? I did. But the thing that no one is really mentioning is that, yes, Thabeet was in the middle of a foul, and yes, Blair had position and the ball, BUT Blair intentionally hooked his arm with Thabeets elbow and intentionally flipped him over his back. This was more than just a dude securing the ball, this was a dude getting in another dude's head with a violent move. Legal? Yes. Badass? Double Yes. Potentially immoral? Check. Unsportsmanlike? Oh hell yeah.
Of course I was rooting pretty heavily for Pitt so, you know, whatever.
6&7) Agree completely about Okla. Have they really improved that dramatically year over year with basically the same cast? Griffin was there last year, I don't recall hearing a whole lot about him. Did he grow six inches? Figure out how to board? I don't get it, where was this kid last year. Or maybe the Big 12 is a little softer this year and somewhere between Griffin getting a little better with age and the conf. being down, OK has developed into a superpower. Still, you know what they say about the devil you know...maybe a Pitt rematch wouldn't be the worst thing in the world, you know, unless we can convince Samardo or TJ to sucker punch Thabeet early on, then maybe a UConn matchup would be preferable.
8) Was watching Psyche the other night and Shawn Spencer (the lead guy who makes a living picking up on subtle clues) says. "I hope we're aren't here long, I forgot to record The Mentalist." I love that USA is taking a shot at CBS for stealing their premise, adding a handsome Australian, some sexual tension and calling it their own. USA shows are better than network shows. There, I said it.
15) I don't think Hansbrough deserves to be 1st team All-American this year. He's not even the most important/best player on his own team (ty lawson). Thabeet and Blair both have more impact on the game then Hansbrough (especially if you take out the aforementioned phantom charges). Don't get me wrong, you would be a fool to not put him up there because there is NO WAY he doesn't make that team, I'm just saying he shouldn't. I wonder, does anyone else agree with me there? Or am I just so blinded by my hatred of that guy that I can't appreciate what he does?