The inaugural BlogPoll roundtable discussion has been started by A Sea of Blue, the Kentucky basketball blog. See the original questions here.
1. Who really looks like the best team in college basketball this season?
I had Connecticut #1 before Pitt beat them. Oklahoma was second, Carolina third, with the Panthers in fourth. Now, I have to go with Jamie Dixon's team. They have the second best record in the nation against the 9th hardest schedule (I'm going by Pomeroy rankings now). Memphis and Carolina, the top two teams statistically, have both lost at home. The Panthers' defeats? At Louisville and at Villanova. Not too shabby.
DeJuan Blair is a force in the paint and the only true contender to knock Luke Harangody off his Big East Player of the Year throne. At 6'7", he has the largest percentage of offensive rebounds in the nation. Add scorer Sam Young to the mix with one of the best point guards in the country (Levance Fields) and Pitt is my favorite to win it all.
2. Is Blake Griffin the Player of the Year already, or can somebody catch him?
No questions Griffin is tops in the country. 14.2 rebounds a game, the highest average nationally, with the third highest scoring average amongst high-major players. A nod to Luke Harangody from this ND blog for scoring a point and a half more per game, but he is nowhere near as efficient as the sophomore from Norman.
3. What currently ranked team is the biggest disappointment so far this year?
I'll go with the Irish because I've seen far more of their games than any other school. A Sea of Blue picked UCLA, a solid choice, but the Bruins manhandled ND in Los Angeles and are still a top 10 team statistically. Notre Dame may have been overrated when they were ranked as high as seventh, but this team is now on the verge of not even making the tournament. Returning four starters from a second round NCAA squad, far more was expected.
Unfortunately, Zach Hillesland never stepped into the reliable power forward role and the team was unable to find a third scorer. Once Ohio State learned to shut down Kyle McAlarney, the season went downhill. There is still time to make a case for an at-large bid, but that is the bare minimum right now in South Bend.
4. Predict the next team to beat Oklahoma.
I think they'll squeak by against Texas on Saturday and cruise until a midweek game at Missouri. The Tigers have a good mix of youth and experience and seem to be on the rise. On paper, Missouri has actually performed better than Oklahoma this year. That won't stop the Tiger student section from storming the floor after a home win against the #1 or #2 team in the nation.