OK, so I doubt I stand alone in my prognostication here, and to any fan of UofL basketball this seems like a "DUH" moment. But if you like hearing it (or reading in this case), let me put it this way. Ten weeks into the season, I have had the opportunity of watching EVERY team in the top 25 play multiple games and there are really only 4 teams that stand out. In particular but non-biased order (saving the best for last obviously, oops, a little biased):
- First, Duke. Do I really need to get into why they are on the same level plane as UofL and the rest of these teams? Healthy, they really are one of the three best teams in college basketball. Sound fundamentally, but rely on the three too much. Give 'em two months and we'll see them in Final Four, promise!
- Second, Kansas. The Jayhawks have been nothing short of intimidating to most of their competition this year, but mainly because Big Ben is a huge risk taker that rarely comes up empty. He alone destroyed Iowa St. with that last second three last week, and if you don't believe me, go back and watch the overtime period and come tell me different.
- Third, Indiana. Go Hoosiers! Can't help it. Since I was a child I cheered my heart out for UofL and Indiana to both beat UK each year, and so my heart still cheers them on because they are a local team not named Kensucky. But that aside, how can you not like watching this team play? They play as hard as UofL and almost as fast. They lost to a VERY slow Wisconsin team and you can see what can happend when they are just out of their element and can't speed the game up. I think the Butler loss was one of those cliche' , "The other team wanted it more" scenarios where Rotney Clarke could hit threes from the parking lot blindfolded in a thunderstorm. Besides those two losses and maybe two more by schedule's end, I don't see this team not being in Atlanta.
- Finally, LOUSVILLE! It never gets old saying that there is no other team in college basketball that is as consistent on both ends of the floor as Louisville. Notice I didn't say efficient, just consistent. 9 of our 16 games were within 4 points of 80 (our average being 76.9, go figure) and other than a few blowouts and tight close calls, we have performed at a consistent level each game. Defensively, our points allowed have been trending the same. 9 of 16 games we held teams around 58 pts (give or take 5). Our plus/minus right now according to Stats LLC is +20.6. That is sick seeing as how we have played a pretty good schedule so far, and a decent one still to play.
In conclusion, I think its way too easy to say these are the best four teams so they will be the ones to make it, but when the rubber meets the road in March, I really don't see too many teams challenging these four until they make inroads at one another in the final four. Who knows, we may get a little drama with one of these being a two seed in the other's bracket, but barring that anomaly, I think we can all agree that these will be the teams vying for a national championship, and I firmly believe that UofL stands above them all as the best team, with Duke and IU right behind. Whatever March brings will be enjoyable, but we have to wait for the elite 8 for any real kind of drama in my opinion. It will be a fun ride, and I hope I can be there with you all to enjoy it.