Linked Up: College Basketball Around SB Nation

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Looking around SB Nation to see who's talking basketball as we approach Big Blue Madness in less than a month.

We love football here at A Sea of Blue, but being self-aware Kentucky fans, we know that college basketball is our sport, which reminds me of a long-ago science fiction short story entitled The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester, one of the great writers of the Golden Age of the genre:

Gully Foyle is my name
And Terra is my nation
Deep space is my dwelling place
The stars my destination

I'd rewrite that slightly:

[Your name here] is my name
I'm from the Big Blue Nation
Rupp Arena's where I live
The championship my destination

That's how we think around here, and rightly so. But what about other schools? What are they thinking?

Testudo Times, the Maryland site and our main competitor for Aaron and Andrew Harrison, is monitoring their recruitment somewhat closely. They noticed that ESPNU will be visiting Maryland for Midnight Madness, and conclude that must mean something big:

But it does mean they plan on having something worth actually showing. Which means ... rapper cameo? Real dunk contest? Particularly cool scrimmage concept (alumni coaches?)? I don't know. Hopefully it's not the student dunk contest, though.

A student dunk contest? Seriously? Well, heaven knows, I don't think Kentucky will be planning that. The big question is, will Aaron and Andrew be in College Park, or Lexington, or neither one? We will know in less than 30 days.

The Crimson Quarry, the Indiana Hoosiers site, is always up for basketball, and recently profiled one of their recent freshman additions, Jeremy Hollowell. Hollowell was ranked in the low 40's in the nation coming out of high school, and has good size and skill level:

Next on our player profiles is the freshman who will be wearing #33 for your 2012-2013 Men's Basketball team, Jeremy Hollowell. Hollowell was ranked as the #7 or #10 small forward in his class, and the #42 or #41 player overall by Scout or Rivals, respectively. Scout.com particularly notes his good handles, outside shooting, and pure scoring ability as his positives, while raising concerns about his competitive drive and intensity.

Unfortunately, the Hoosiers are flush with good offensive players, and while having another one on the bench is nice, the question for them this year is exactly the same as last year: Who's going to play defense?

CC sees Hollowell coming off the bench in place of 2-guard Matt Roth, who if you recall still had a year of eligibility, but did not have a scholarship available after he graduated, it having been given to younger talent. Somehow, the CC expect that they can defend a 2-guard with a 6'8" freshman. Aaaallllrighty, then.

Arkansas Expats, SBNation's Arkansas Razorbacks site, had a recent post entitled, "What I really care about is basketball." We hear you, brother. Arkansas and Kentucky have one thing in common this year, and that is football teams that SSSSUUUUCCCKKK!!! Yes, we have to look at it straight up and say that both our teams have had all the character of a day-old passed flatulence, and hence, the homage to the roundball and hardwood.

Anyway, AE's RandleReece looks at the Hawgs' 2012-13 schedule and pronounces it difficult, but not that difficult:

First, about the schedule. Let's drop the "toughest schedule EVAR" talk. The schedule that got Nolan Richardson fired, 2001-02, was probably Arkansas's most difficult opposition. That year, the Razorbacks faced five top 30 foes just in nonconference play, plus rising Memphis and ORU. And the SEC was ridiculous -- seven teams won 20 or more. Alabama was top 10, and Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi State and Georgia were top 25.

This year's schedule features many good games, but it might not even be the most difficult in recent memory. In the past five seasons, Arkansas played as many as 11 nonconference games against legitimate opposition, as few as four against sub-250 RPI crapposition.

Randle is like me, and hates the weak stuff, particularly when you get outside the top 200 into the truly high-calorie opposition that stacks up less like a cupcake than straight freaking lard molded to look like one.

But then, there is the SEC:

Home games, toughest first: Kentucky, Missouri, Florida, Tennessee, Auburn, Texas A&M, Georgia, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State.

I think Florida will be tougher than Missouri, as I am not a believer in Frank Haith. I think he caught lightning in a bottle last year, and he will be trying to cobble together a team of transfers. But whatever, Kentucky is at the top of his list, and deservedly so.

Finally, a trip up to New York to visit Troy Nunes is and Absolute Magician, SBNation's Syracuse site Sean Keely has something to say about Syracuse's big men for 2012-13, and specifically, former UK recruit DaJuan Coleman:

Every year, there's one Syracuse basketball player, usually a big man, who sheds some weight, gets some muscles and transforms his game. This transformation can come as a player steps into a leadership role (Scoop Jardine), realizes he needs to get it together for the NBA Draft (Rick Jackson) or is making a transition from freshman to sophomore (Fab Melo).

This year, we can all look at Rakeem Christmas' arms and say he's the guy. However, for the first time ever, we might actually see a freshman make the transformation before he even gets here, that freshman being DaJuan Coleman.

He's a big boy, and if he gets that body fit enough, he could have a major impact for the Orange. Calipari recruited Coleman for a reason, and the reason is he is the kind of player who can take up a lot of room in the lane. Add strength and athleticism to that space-eating frame and you have a formidable presence.

So that's it for our trip around SBNation to focus on our collective favorite sport.

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