So the slew of tip-off tournaments already has me reassessing the top 25 I had preconceived in my head. It may take until January to digest all of the transfer comings and goings. However, actually watching the games so far can differentiate what teams are ready to compete versus which rosters look good on paper.
Kentucky, unfortunately, is damn good. They’re as good as advertised, but that doesn’t mean I’ll stop searching the land for the best underdogs to surprise. I say unfortunately, because, well who can root for a team that already stands at 9/5 odds to win a championship. On the other side of the ledger, VCU and Trayveon Graham are having trouble ramming through that next step as a program, pun intended.
My biggest take-away from the tip-off marathon (granted, I have hours left on my DVR still to consume) –that I should start listing teams A-Z and grading them. The letter “W” jumps out. West Virginia and Wyoming are teams at the bottom of the alphabet with a real ability to be a top sleeper this March.
Let’s start with Wyoming. Josh Adams is a Delonte West type of point guard. He has a Sacramento Kings Jason Williams deceptive street style to his handle, but his athleticism is dunk competition-worthy. Pair him with Larry Nance, Junior and a fleet of swing-men and this team is very dangerous. The cowboys defeated a very good Colorado Buffaloes team and it wasn’t even close. Wyoming won by a final score of twenty and dominated throughout.
West Virginia could be Bob Huggins best team since a final four run some years ago. The key difference is the size and athleticism at the forward position that allows a feisty full court press. That versatility is most embodied in junior college transfer Jonathan Holton. Holton is a 6-7 senior from Miami who appears to enjoy guarding the ball on an inbound.
True college basketball enthusiasts already know WVU’s guard Juwon Staten is one of the nation’s best point guards. If they can create as many problems for opposing guards in the full court press as they did against a traditionally guard-strong UCONN bunch, it only gives better leverage to Staten and his backcourt. West Virginia is instantly ranked 21st in the nation now after its tournament championship. However, look for this team to disappear again from the national conversation once its conference play brings about the usual suspect headliners in the Big 12—Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma…even Iowa State, which has become a media darling with Fred Hoiberg aka “The Mayor” in charge.