The Three-Piece will be an ongoing series where three guests will hop on TSFJ and answer three questions chosen by yours truly. Today’s discussion will focus on the end of the college basketball regular season (as conference tournaments begin to crank up). Also, this is the time when awards start being handed out, and we also discuss a rivalry returning to close the show on Saturday night.
1. Who is college basketball’s player of the year: Anthony Davis or Thomas Robinson?
Brando: The way Kentucky has been built this year, Coach Cal might finally have a ring to call his own. It’s almost as if he tinkered with the one-and-dones for four years just itching at a chance to get the class he has now. While Davis has been an absolute beast down low, Thomas Robinson has carried Kansas from being an also-ran in the Big 12 to a definite Final Four threat. To me, the Naismith Award either goes to someone who puts up eye-popping stats for an entire season or actually lives up to the idealogy that you have to be the most valuable. BYU wasn’t jack without Jimmer last year, and I doubt Kansas would be even threatening right now if not for the DMV’s own. Thomas Robinson takes this one, but it’ll be close.
Matt: This is not a contest for me. Thomas Robinson has enjoyed a phenomenal season, the sort of breakout year that fans were praying for (not just hoping for). He’s given the team more than anyone could have anticipated, so he warrants consideration for certain. But when you’re the best player on the best team in the country, there’s just no contest for who deserves this award.
Ed: Anthony Davis has been the most dominant force in college basketball, but if you ask me who the most unrelenting player is in the league, it’s been Thomas Robinson. Its a classic case of who’s doing less with more, right? If this were the MVP, then I’d certainly give my vote to Thomas Robinson (as I’m in agreement with Brando). KU isn’t contending for a number one seed without the man “putting the team on his back, doe.” However, in college the Naismith Award is given to the best player in college basketball, period. That player has been Anthony Davis.
2. Choose one: Kentucky or Syracuse versus the field to win the national championship.
Matt: Kentucky is really unstoppable at this point. Davis is too much around the rim for most teams to handle, and Calipari has a stellar roster of talent around him as well. Perhaps a team loaded with shooters like Mizzou could make some noise, but it’s not likely.
Ed: I’m taking the field. As much as I love Kentucky and Syracuse, they both have flaws that are hard to ignore. UK’s youth in 2010 with John Wall and Demarcus Cousins was pheonomenal, but when matched up with a West Virginia team that was more seasoned, they couldn’t get over the hump. As far as Syracuse is concerned….they run zone, and I know that folks like to say that the ‘Cuse zone works, but they haven’t won a title in ten years. Plus, as Bomani Jones would say, “Zone is for cowards.”
Brando: Kentucky. That squad is too deep. Reminds me a bit of the team Pitino had (Kentucky ’96) that ran through the NCAA to get him a national title. Then he went to Boston and … yeah, you know the rest. Haha.
Ed: I can’t get over the fact how much North Carolina broke down over the last 90 seconds of the game, as Duke made their glorious comeback with the Austin Rivers dagger over Tyler Zeller. It shouldn’t have happened, and if Roy is worth his salt (and his paycheck), then he should be able to use a similar gameplan to shut down Duke. Tight man defense, crash boards and run the floor. Of course, they are playing in Cameron Indoor so……Tar Heels 77 – Blue Devils 75.
Brando: After Austin Rivers made himself a Duke folk hero (and a first-round pick in the process) with his game winner in Chapel Hill, something tells me UNC will do more to make sure that they don’t get swept by Duke this season. Harrison Barnes still causes matchup problems for the Blue Devils who (like most college teams), live and die by the three. Take that away from the Blue Devils, and who knows where they’d be in the ACC (probably behind Florida State). The rivalry never sees one team dominate the other, and these two are prone to swap wins on the other’s home floor like phone numbers at a junior prom. Tar Heels win this and the ACC regular season crown.
Matt: This Duke team is really something to watch with their late-second heroics (or swoons, depending on your level of optimism). Then again, North Carolina has laid a few eggs this season as well. The home crowd could really be the deciding factor here for a pair of teams that are remarkably unpredictable for being among the best in the nation. Duke by three.
Eddie Maisonet is the founder and editor emeritus of The Sports Fan Journal. Currently, he serves as an associate editor for ESPN.com. He is an unabashed Russell Westbrook and Barry Switzer apologist, owns over 100 fitteds and snapbacks, and lives by Reggie Jackson’s famous quote, “I am the straw that stirs the drink.”