For the triangular area mapped above, this could be one of the most exciting basketball seasons in a long time. Being the best in this area for the 2012-2013 season doesn’t just mean bragging rights between Bloomington, Louisville, and Lexington… it means you are the best team in the nation. All three of these teams can make a legitimate argument for that top spot, which is why the rivalries between these three teams are going to be most intense it has been in a long time. NBC Sports’ Rob Dauster and a crew of the most gifted college basketball analysts of all-time, sat down to debate which team is the best in the triangle. Each person in the crew took a side and made their case:
Neither Louisville nor Indiana are complete teams. The Cardinals were downright bad on the offensive end of the floor for much of last season and lost their two most efficient scorers to graduation. Indiana struggled on the defensive end of the floor, and many of those same issues look like they could end up arising for the Hoosiers again this season. Kentucky certainly isn’t a complete team right now, either, but they are more of a clean slate. John Calipari will have a ton of talent to mold and blend and turn into a title contender. If Alex Poythress and Archie Goodwin can develop into 15 ppg scorers and the trio of Nerlens Noel, Willie Cauley-Stein and Kyle Wiltjer can find a way to effectively rotate through in the front court, Kentucky has as much raw talent as any team in Kentuckiana.
As a lifelong resident of the area, these three teams have consumed my life since birth. Since I moved away, there’s still no way I can escape them, and I don’t want to. Not with this year being the greatest year for basketball in the Bluegrass and the Heartland. Indiana brings back a the National Player of the Year Candidate in Cody Zeller and a cast of role players. Louisville’s defense is some of the best in the nation and they rode it to the Final Four last season. Kentucky, well, Kentucky has John Calipari, who is the nation’s best recruiter and has developed into a solid X’s and O’s coach. This year should put all three in the Final Four.
Little Bro Louisville:
I’ll take the Cardinals due to their interior depth. Gorgui Dieng, Chane Behanan, Montrezl Harrell and more. On the perimeter while it remains to be seen how much Peyton Siva’s improved his jump shot, the addition of Luke Hancock should not be overlooked. He’ll be another facilitator that Rick Pitino can call on, and will help counteract the occasional craziness that comes with Russ Smith. Add in a healthy Kevin Ware and Wayne Blackshear and Louisville has an embarrassment of riches at every position.
Too bad Indiana and Louisville can’t try for revenge on last year’s team. They had a busy off-season of getting drafted to the NBA. Kentucky brings a new crop of talented players to face these bums, and it’s going to be even more fun to beat them this time around.