Fantasy College Basketball Game of the Week: Indiana at Michigan
For the most part, I like Twitter. There is no better source of quick sports news and there are some entertaining posts as well. I can also get links to a lot of articles I wouldn't otherwise find. However, for someone who likes to watch games on that have been recorded or, like yesterday, had to go to work and couldn't watch a game until after it was finished, Twitter is the worst. I didn't even look at my general feed, but the NBA scroll. Busybodies had to tweet the final score of the Indiana-Michigan game. I guess I can understand if a person had some general insight about the game why they'd want to tweet about it. Or maybe people tweet to help people who don't have access to the game (such as those who are living abroad) to know what is going on. I don't know, but it seems like people tweet just to be part of the conversation, even when they have little to say. Color me annoyed that I knew who won and how before getting a chance to watch yesterday's excellent game.
Or it may possibly be my problem. Perhaps I should be able to enjoy a game even if I know who wins. Actually, I did enjoy the excellent Hoosier-Wolverine meeting yesterday, but I would have enjoyed it even more if I didn't know that Indiana came back from a four-point deficit with less than a minute remaining because of Michigan's inability to hit free throws. Wait, did I just spoil the game for people who haven't yet seen it? I wasn't able to see the first Michigan-Indiana game because my recording was very, very dark. Darn you, technology! Based on the scores of the two games and my viewing of the second game, I'd say that the two teams were very evenly matched, even though Indiana won both. I also think both teams have a serious shot to make the Final Four and that Indiana should be the favorite to win the NCAA championship this season.
Please allow me a quick rant about the AP poll once more. Does anyone really think that Duke (who is being mentioned as the number one overall seed) and Gonzaga would beat Indiana on a neutral court? If so, what would be the reasoning? It certainly isn't that Duke and Gonzaga have beaten many good teams this season. Duke beat Louisville on a neutral court, but the Cardinals did not have Gorgui Dieng. The Blue Devils also got destroyed by Miami in January. I know, they didn't have Ryan Kelly, but the best team wouldn't take a beat down like that. Gonzaga's best wins were against Oklahoma State and Kansas State. They were beaten at home by a marginal Illinois team and lost at Butler. Granted, the Zags swept through the WCC, but just imagine the Hoosiers in the WCC. Meanwhile, Indiana swept both Michigan and Michigan State. It's not their fault that the Big 10 is the best conference in basketball. The polls make no sense and I will continue to disregard them as much as I can.
In terms of the players, I am not that hopeful about some of their professional prospects. I do think that Victor Oladipo will be a decent pro. He has had an excellent season and actually had his worst shooting games of the year against Michigan. The 6-5 junior made up for his errant ways by collecting a season-high 13 rebounds. While he is not a volume shooter like many shooting guards in the NBA, he projects to be an excellent on-ball defender who gets more than his share of steals. Like any player, he'll need to improve his perimeter stroke (even though he has 46.4 percent of his 3-pointers this season). It will be interesting to watch Oladipo in the tournament because he could push himself into the high lottery with a good performance.
Cody Zeller and Trey Burke are both excellent college players, but neither of them project well to the next level in my mind. Against Michigan, Zeller had a great game in the post, but I don't think he would be able to get away with most of his moves against bigger, stronger opponents. Even Michigan's Jordan Morgan was big enough to cause the 7-0 sophomore some problems. Zeller could develop, but he doesn't seem like anything more than a third or fourth forward on an NBA team. Burke has proven to be one of the most consistent scorers in the nation, but to be a successful six-footer in the NBA, you have to be amazing - like Allen Iverson-amazing. The Wolverine point guard is very good, but the demand for short shooters in the NBA is not high. Burke is averaging 6.8 assists, but I'd say that is more because he dominates the ball rather than having special court vision. The NBA scrapheap is littered with excellent college players who just weren't the right size to make it in the league. I'd also say that the NBA prospects for Michigan's second generation basketball players - Tim Hardaway Jr., Glenn Robinson III, and even Jon Horford - are very slim.
I don't mean to come off as a negative Nelly. Most college players are not destined to play in the NBA and being a great college player should not be seen as nothing. When evaluating college players, I do try to look at them from a scout's perspective and imagine them in NBA uniforms, but I also enjoy the college games in which flawed players like Burke and Zeller can be stars. There are stars this year across the country and this year's tournament, which starts in just over a week, should be one of the most compelling in recent memory.