Fresh nets, ripe for the cutting

Staff Writer
The Destin Log

Matt’s Take:

What’s not to love about college basketball?

The game runs the gamut of emotions for us sports fans. There’s excitement, drama, disappointment, and euphoria.

I’ve already had my moment of euphoria and disappointment this season as I sat in front of the picture box to watch Ohio State and

Marquette battle aboard the USS Yorktown in the Carrier Classic. But, the condensation gods wouldn’t have any of that, as the courts were too slick to play. Why would they tease me like that?

Anyway, back to business. Looking at the preseason rankings, I’m on the same note as the voters, who chose to put Indiana at No.1, followed by Louisville, Kentucky and my Buckeyes. But, how does the season play out?

Sure, Jared Sullinger, David Lighty and William Buford are gone, but I have high expectations for a team that lost by two point to Kansas in last year’s Final Four.

So, looking at how the 2012-2013 is going to play out, Ohio State is poised for a deep run, but keeping up with the likes of Indiana and Louisville could be tough when March Madness graces us with its glory.

When the final whistle blows on the season, there are only three schools that I legitimately believe have a chance to cut down the nets as National Champions — Indiana, Louisville and UCLA.

If you watched the Hoosiers last year, you know they are talented, and only got better during the offseason.

Louisville is dominant, but will fall short of a return trip to the title game.

The sexy pick would be Indiana, but it’s not meant to be. In this season’s shocker, the Bruins knock off Indiana for the crown.

Andrew’s take:

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and the holidays are fun too.

As much as I rave about the NFL, and the child-on-Christmas-morning kind of joy it provides every Sunday, it’s still my No. 2. College basketball has my heart.

Most of you don’t care about collegiate hoops, until mid-March, when you buy into a March Madness office pool. But then most of you have never been to a marquee college basketball game.

If you think SEC football games are rowdy, try a northern private school on a random weeknight during the winter. Guaranteed: the arena will be packed to the brim, every student came straight from the library, each slammed a six-pack on the way and is ready to scream and jump for two hours.

These kids are working themselves to death at these institutions, so they have a lot more invested than your average southern frat boy. Going into this season, there seems to be a very distinct top three.

Almost every poll has Indiana at No. 1, Louisville at No. 2 and Kentucky at No. 3. It’s going to be an interesting winter in Kentuckiana.

Going into the NCAA Tournament, these teams will still be at the top. The ACC, Big Ten and Big East each have a few teams that will go on runs and peak their heads into the top of the rankings, but the current top teams are the correct few.

So who survives?

Kentucky is starting four freshmen. Youth brings vulnerability, and the youngsters will lay an egg in March.

Without a doubt, Indiana has the most talented team. But this isn’t the NBA. Coaching matters. Tom Crean can recruit, but I don’t trust his calls from the bench. You should never trust a man who uses a tanning bed.

That leaves Louisville. They’re basically returning the same team that went to the national championship and lost. And Rick Pitino is one of the best tournament coaches of all time.

The Cardinals are your national champions.