But none of them have anything to do with the Mitchell Report. In fact, they're better and they didn't cost $20 million to put together. In celebration of the last day of the worst sports week of the year, I will be taking the time to first, summarize my Big 12 conference predictions in a sentence or two each. And secondly, I will be giving you my national Top 10 based upon this young season. Those picks will also be accompanied by a sentence or two of justification.
King in the Castle Division
1. Kansas: The only team that could argue it has looked better is Texas. And since Kansas has an easier schedule and has been playing without 2 of the 10 best players in the conference, I don't think there is much room for argument here.
Nursultan Tulyakbay Division
2. Texas: No one in the country has done more. Augustin is unbelievable. Damion James and Connor Atchley are much improved and playing great. The question becomes, can the undersized James and/or the pussified Atchley provide an inside presence with any consistency.
3. Texas A&M: How do they replace Acie Law? Will DeAndre Jordan hit a freshman wall? Where will the assists come from? This is a very solid, balanced team and will perform well even without answering those questions, but if they can answer them they could do some things on a national level too.
The Jake Taylor – "I Don't Know What the Hell He's Thinking" Division
4. Kansas State: Michael Beasley will be great. Bill Walker should be good when he's not pissing himself. And Hoskins will be solid when he returns? But will they get solid point guard play? And more importantly, how many games will Frank Martin cost them?
5. Oklahoma State: I said in the preview that they were here solely because of Gallagher Iba. I have since reminded myself that Sean Sutton's ineptitude far outweighs a good home court advantage over the course of a season. I won't re-submit my preview, but look for them to be closer to 7ish.
You Serious, Clark? Division
6. Baylor: They've got the talent to be here. So why am I less convinced by the day that this is where they'll finish? Oh yeah, they have never been above .500 in league play and only been in the top half once – 10 years ago.
Colin Cowherd Division
7. Oklahoma: I tried to defend them by saying that they had beaten the teams they were supposed to and been somewhat competitive against USC and Memphis. And then they promptly lose at home to Stephen F. Austin. Their next 3 are against Arkansas, Gonzaga and WVA – and if they don't win at least 2 of those, they are going to have to come up with a hell of a conference season to be thinking about the big boy tourney.
8. Methzouri: I said at the time that I thought I was underrating them and the more I watch other teams, the more I think I did. But then I watch them play and I start to think this is about right. But given that their only bad loss was at Cal (which isn't a terrible team) and they play in the north, I wouldn't be surprised to see them bump up a few slots.
9. Nebraska: Aleks Maric is a big camel toe, but can score some points. We'll know a bit more about the team after the Oregon game tomorrow. Doc Sadler is already begging for people to come, saying that Oregon is the best team that will play in the Qwest Center this year. Let's hope not, considering that would make for a nice 1st/2nd round destination for the Jayhawks as a high seed.
10. Texas Tech: As I said, I'm not sure they are quite this bad. And it pains me to put a Bob Knight team this low. But I don't see how they aren't the worst team in the south and they're certainly not decidedly better than any team not in the JLH Division.
Jennifer Love Hewitt Division
11. Colorado: When I previewed them I said they only had one "hard" OOC game left, at Wyoming. Of course they lost that one, but then they went ahead and lost to New Orleans as well. The only thing this team is trying to accomplish this year is not to embarrass itself. Best of luck.
12. Iowa State: Aside from an aberration excuse, I couldn't not put them here after losing to Drake by 35. Fucking Drake. Amazingly, they do have wins over the Pac 10 and Big 11. If they work hard, maybe they could get to the top of this division, but that's probably as high as they're climbing.
National Top 10
1. Texas: How can I put them second in the Big 12 and 1st nationally? Because one is a prediction and one is an evaluation. No one in the country has done more than them with a humiliating of Tennessee in Newark and a win in Pauley Pavilion. They still have games against Sparty and Bucky – win those and no one in the country will have a better OOC.
2. North Carolina: I'm surprised and mildly impressed they are only playing 2 of their first 9 at home. But beating Kentucky is nothing Gardner Webb couldn't do and beating aOSU is nothing Butler couldn't do (and even Coppin St. held them to 47 points). That said, they've looked good and if they find some consistency behind the arc, they will be really good.
3. Kansas: Amazingly, they seem to be flying under the radar. I knew they would locally with people not used to following two sports, but I wasn't so sure it would happen nationally as well. But along the way, they have beaten UofA and won at USC without their full team.
4. Duke: They a far cry from the team that went 8-8 in the ACC last year and still managed a 6 seed. Even though their best win was a 4 point one over Marquette and they have absolutely NO inside presence, they have probably sown up a #1 seed.
5. Washington St.: Their best wins are at Gonzaga and Baylor and neither was decisive, but this feels right to me. They remind me a lot of Kansas football because they: get the most out of their ability, don't make mistake, are opportunistic, and always get a little less respect than they've earned.
6. Memphis: Now here's a team that's overrated. Watching USC zone them, shadowing Rose and CDR and making the others shoot jump shots was highly comical. I will be shocked beyond belief if they make it to San Antonio and they seem like a prime candidate for a second round upset.
7. UCLA: To be this high with a home loss says a lot about them. And yet I'm still not sold. Their defense looks decidedly worse than the past two years and Kevin Love isn't half as effective as he was made out to be. That said, he is a great rebounder and once/if he gets up to speed they will be a lot better. No Aaron Afflalo, no San Antonio though.
8. Georgetown: I know they're undefeated and were a Final Four team last year, but look at their schedule. Their "big" win is over Alabama and their only decent game left is against Memphis. Win that and at the least, they'll flip flop. If I was mildly impressed with many more teams, I would have held them out.
9. Marquette: This really says something about the top of college basketball this year. But they destroyed Oklahoma St., won @ Wiscy in a rivalry game and lost a close one to Duke.
t10. Pittsburgh, Michigan St., and Vanderbilt: None of them have done anything to separate themselves. MSU has won "tough" games on the road and should have beaten UCLA. Pitt and Vandy are undefeated, but their best wins are by 1 point @ Washington (Pitt) and a toss up between 6 @ DePaul (Vandy) or 13 over GT (Vandy).
And finally, congrats are in order for Tim Tebow.