Wednesday, October 22, 2008


So there you are, sitting in an office, proud of yourself for wearing a tie, hoping like hell that your boss will forget you exist today. And you’re combing the internet for softcore porn. And football news. Because there you are, fat and happy, thinking its Football McTitty season.

Right? Wrong. Dead wrong.

Well, only partially. It’s always football titty season. But it’s also time for college basketball. Why? Because Kentucky says so, that’s why. While the rest of the world sees college basketball as relegated to December – March, UK sold 24,000 tickets to a fucking practice in 40 minutes, and bumped the date up to October 10th, all thanks to a loophole exploited by Coach Billy Clyde. That’s right ladies, there’s more to the man than a 12 pack of Red Dog and a half tank of gas – he’s a strategerizer, too.

Thus I, Old Booker Pogue (Photo), have authored your ’08-’09 NCAA basketball preview. I’ll explain each BCS conference (poorly) to give you an objectively omniscient biased perspective on the season ahead.

NB: We aren’t going to waste time on mid-majors because nobody cares until they can upset Kansas in the first or second round of any year but last year. Bucknell, we’ll see you in March. Until then, talk to Kyle Whelliston’s shittybeard. (We’ll actually talk about Memphis, Davidson, and maybe somebody else, because they’re proven pains in the ass of the BCS conferences.)
For your first conference, I give you the…
Big East.
Alias: “The conference for all schools unwelcome in other BCS conferences, regardless of geography, religion, or criminal record.” see: Louisville, DePaul, USF, Seton Hall, Rutgers, Cincy...

Regrettable Truths:

  1. Joe Alexander foolishly went pro. Just as the young man raised in Chongkong, Koreastan (or some other God forsaken place without forks) was overcoming his lack of AAU experience and the dumb look on his face with quick footwork and surprising athleticism, he goes pro. Prone to the Kevin McHale “every shot is a fade-away” syndrome, he still had great touch around the rim. Now, still raw, he’ll probably get benched by the Bucks. WVU plays Davidson and Ohio State in December. We’ll see how the transition from Beilein’s trapdoor-cardigan-layup style to Huggabear’s Gangviolence-n-Bloodvapor offense fares without Big Joe. Look for WVU to miss the cross-eyed young chinaman with the American name.
  2. TV is going to tell me that Luke Harangody is good at basketball. Luke Harangody looks like the ogre from Goonies. I don’t understand the physics behind his game. I look at him warming up and think he’s the kind of guy who should be making dream catchers out of sticks and yarn at a local community center run by nuns and/or former middleweight title contenders. But somehow he gets the job done. Look for him to be the next Big Country – dropping 30+ against weaker, perimeter oriented teams (‘Nova, Marquette, U of L) but struggling against big boys. In two games against Hasheem Thabeet and one against Roy Hibbert he shot a combined 21-60. Hibbert’s gone, but if Thabeet snorts his ‘uppers’ in the pregame, we’ll get a preview of the “Harangody Pre-NBA-Futility Experience” (HPNFE).
  3. Derrick Caracter essentially forced Rick Pitino to get rid of him. Caracter stays, U of L loses 10+ games. Caracter gone, they’re scary. This guy was locker room cancer in the biggest way, and now he’s gone. As it stands, they return Edgar Sosa, Earl Clark, and Terrence Williams while adding Samardo Samuel, the #1 recruit of this year’s class at alternating points by Rivals and Scout. I would have preferred that they sucked, but odds are good that the stars will all flee to the pros next year and karma will once again dine on the festering remains of Rick Pitino’s soul.
Players to Fear:
  1. I’d say the entire UCONN team. They’ll finally be back, depending on how many of its players Calhoun can keep out of prison. Seriously, is any NCAA basketball non-affiliate more important to a basketball program than UCONN’s parole officer? The answer is yes, and that would be the guy who paid OJ Mayo in retro jerseys, corndogs, and trips to the zoo. But that’s another debate for another day. In the meantime, AJ Price’s knee has healed, Hasheem Thabeet wisely turned down the NBA, and Jeff Adrien is back for his senior campaign. Freshmen Kemba Walker and Ater Majok (actual name, not anagram of Jak-o-Mater) are game-changers. Much as I dislike him, kudos to Calhoun for beating cancer during the offseason (makes your Saturday streak of beer-pong wins a little less impressive, doesn’t it?) and to Price for recup’ing the knee he blew out in the upset loss to San Diego last year.
  2. Jerel McNeal. This guy’s a fuckin warrior. He’s the floor general of a deceptively strong Golden Eagle squad with some great weapons and better defense provided by Dominic James, Wesley Matthews and Lazar Hayward. His stat lines in March were ridiculous. For a 1-guard, he gets his baskets when the team needs him. Should he have gone pro? Probably not, as he pisses away turnovers. But he’s the glue. Absurd prediction: so goes Jerel McNeal, so goes the Big East. Longer teams like U of L may give them a hard time, but this is my dark horse in the conference, provided the new coach doesn’t try to fuck up a well-oiled machine.

Probable Outcomes:
  1. Pittsburgh will disappoint all of its believers and choke. Far and away the “Kansas of the East.” Why isn’t this team in the Big Ten? They hate running the floor, they hate high-percentage shoots, but they love running clock and ill-advised slinging of the ball to aloof caucasian centers. I’ll say this: Dejuan Blair and Sam Young are tough. Make up a pretty imposing defense on paper. Just like the teams Ben Howland had before his mildly successful vacation in Westwood. Since ‘00-‘01, they have been in the Big East championship 7 times. In that time frame, they never made it out of the Sweet 16. These guys suck. Disclaimer: I hate them because they have cost me several tournament pools. ***UPDATE: I'm so right on this it's disgusting. Levance Fields is injured - take as much money on Pittsburgh as you can before they start to choke under pressure. The hard part there is finding somebody to lay money on Pittsburgh in the first place.
  2. Syracuse still won’t get it together. I’m thinking that the primary issue is Eric Devendorf’s line beard, but here’s a bold prediction: Jim Boeheim gives up his spot coaching the Dream Team. Both his and Scha’scheffski’s NCAA teams have slid during their tenures with LeBron. I think Boeheim does the right thing for his school and gets back to recruiting the way he used to. Corollary: Melo doesn’t play in the FIBA’s summer after next, we lose to Tajikistan in the bronze medal game, and Kobe blames Eric Montross. Jerry Colangelo shits a kidney stone.

  3. It’ll be some combination of Louisville, UConn, and Notre Dame in the conference championship game. Who is going to win the regular season? I don’t care because it doesn’t matter when you have a 16-team, single elimination conference tournament. It’s like a fuckin tee-ball league.
  4. Write it down: the Big East is to basketball what the (Texan) whiners claim the SEC is to football, with a ton of teams nationally ranked on reputation. But whereas the SEC dominates bowl games, the Big East usually can only put 1/8 of their tourney teams in the Elite 8. Look for this trend to hold form. I only see Louisville and UConn as legitimate Final Four threats. Georgetown, Villanova, and Pittsburgh are all ranked on association rather than assets and experience. I could be wrong about the Hoyas, but you’ll have forgotten I said this by the time Greg Monroe adjusts to being the spoke of Thompson3’s bizarre offense.

Much as I hate to say it, they’ve still got the highest concentration of upper-level talent this year. The ACC is thinning out from the middle of the pack to the cellar, the Big Ten is up in the air, the Big 12 has nothing after the top two or three teams, and the SEC is a couple years away from being competitive on this scale. But don’t worry, I still say most of these teams are too young to challenge outside of the Sweet 16. So let it be written, so let it be done.