Championship's over...let's move on.

UNC seemed to definitely be in a league of their own during this year's NCAA tourney winning every game by at least 12 points and the final was really never in doubt versus Izzo's Spartans. If you watched the game between the two teams back in December, you knew UNC was good, very good. And last night, even master-motivator, Tom Izzo couldn't overcome the talent discrepency between the two squads.

And don't get me wrong, MSU is talented, and deep...but UNC's got at least five future NBA players currently on the roster...who will be in the league in the next two years. No development time needed, these guys were great right out of high school.

All that said, MSU's trademark rebounding was non-existant last night and they took very poor care of the ball...when you have 13 turnovers in a half, versus a bad team, you're going to be in a hole. Now, do the same thing versus one of the elite programs, you're flat-out screwed.

Congrats to the Tarheels and the likable (for me at least) Roy Williams who got his second national title as UNC's coach...Now onto '09/'10.

The NYT is the first publication to release a poll for next season, and Purdue is in their top-10.

Let's take a look at this poll and be overly-critical of something that really matters not-at-all.

1. UNC- good call- some great players leaving, but lots of talent returning, and even more coming in...plus, a great coach...since they're the reigning champs, this is an easy call.

2. MSU- another battle-tested team with a lot of talent returning...They lose Ibok and Gray off of the bench, and Suton is gone as well...so the loss of height and bulk might hurt them on the glass. But Walton's loss might prove to be more costly than some are willing to admit, especially since defense is so important to Sparty. Plus, there are a few players who still might be listening to the whispers of agents (Lucas, Morgan). Not sure If I'd put the Spartans this high, but with Lucas running the show, anything's possible.

3. Purdue- Injury-strickened all season, the gritty Boilermakers lost more games than many (myself included) thought they'd lose in the '09 Big Ten season. Losses are only bench players, 12pts/gm and none of the Seniors were integral cogs in the defensive machine that made Purdue go. Plus, Purdue will get some depth underneath the basket with Bade, who has good size, Barlow (who will probably back up Hummel), and probably Sandi Marcius (who's also got a big body)...plus, DJ Byrd might be Chris Kramer-Lite as he's an intense player with a football player's mentality on the court...but he can shoot. Not sure if I'd put Purdue this high, but I think eight-to-ten seems about right. Painter continues to mature as a coach...and if he can figure out how to consistently counter solid zone defenses, as well as work officials (a bit more), Purdue should be in very good shape.

4. Louisville- Pitino has to replace about 30 points of offensive production with graduations and players going pro, but it shouldn't be a problem as they play a defense-creates-offense style of basketball...plus, Pitino is a very good coach. Part of me thinks the Cardinals might be national champs in '10. I thought for sure Pitino would end up in the desert, but I think he believes he's got unfinished business to attend to...and with the new arena just two seasons away, he'd probably like to coach in a venue he helped make possible.

5. Kentucky- Calipari slithers into town and a few of his blue chips will come with him to bluegrass country. If there aren't any significant defections, this team will be very good. And if the SEC doesn't improve in a hurry, it's not a whole lot more difficult to play there than in ConUSA...that said, I don't think a top-5 is warranted.

6. Wake Forest- Consider me a skeptic of this team. They backed out of last season...and that was with Teague. They'll lose a lot in '09/'10, and are still in the ACC. It's going to be tough the Deacs to repeat the success they had early in '08/'09.

7. USC- They've got talent, but that doesn't always mean success...especially if the last two seasons are any indicator. Tim Floyd always looks like he just rolled out of bed, and his team plays like it much of the time.

8. 'Cuse- They don't have any significant losses...but Devendorf seems to be a ticking time bomb with his off-court issues...not to mention his incessant whining on-court. He may not be the best team mate, but he's a pretty good compliment to one of the best players in the nation, Johnny Flynn. The Orange will be tough, and Boeheim's due for a Big East title.

9. Xavier- To me, this is the worst pick of the NYT top-10. If you're going to have a mid-major in here, you might look over in Indy at Butler as the Freshman-filled Bulldogs return everybody AND their talented, boyish coach Brad Stevens. Without the pig-faced genius, Miller, X will struggle...sure, they'll win the A10, but J and I could do that with a bunch of schmoes we found over at the Co-Rec.

10. Kansas- I'd place the Jayhawks much higher in this...especially if Collins returns. Regardless, they're a top-10 that probably will return everybody of note...and they replace some guys at the end of the bench with a four and five-star player- not a bad trade off.

Teams that I think should have been looked at:
Villanova- super-fast, super-talented, well-coached
Duke- if Henderson stays, they're a top-10 team...that's an unlikely "if"
Clemson- Almost everyone's back...and they were great, in stretches, last season
Washington- Thomas and Pondexter might be good-enough to carry them to a Pac-10 championship
aOSU- With Mullens gone, it should be addition by subtraction- his inconsistancy didn't really help Matta's team, and with Buford, Diebler, Lighty and Turner all back, this team will score a lot of points. Sure, they'll crap-out in the end because of lousy coaching, but the talent's there, as always.


Condolences
Sadly, Gene Keady's wife, Pat, died yesterday after battling a myriad of illnesses. She was a ardent supporter of her husband and well-known in West Lafayette. She was 62.

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