I have gone to see damn near every college team the Triad has to offer, so here’s my contribution to tournament season, the most glorious time of the year: the definitive Top 10 for Triad college basketball teams in 2015.
I should note my system includes imaginary points for the following, weighted in order: offensive abilities, defensive abilities, star power, record, competition. Negatives include lack of all those things above. Not that it really matters, but I also included imaginary points for style/watchability. To the list!
1. High Point University (men) — You want an upset pick in this year’s NCAA Tournament? Let High Point (21-7, 12-4 Big South DI) win their conference tournament. If they get a slow, grinding team, place your bets. HPU has a cavalcade of weapons, good three-point shooters and an unbelievable athlete in John Brown. If they get as high as a 13 seed and land some lousy B1G team (Hi, Maryland!), please break me off a piece when you are counting your winnings.
2. Winston-Salem State University (men) — WSSU (16-9, 9-7 CIAA DII) followed a fairly terrific football campaign with a 16-9 overall basketball record, 9-7 in conference play. They now draw a bye in their tournament and, unbelievably, WyKevin Bazemore has earned a fourth straight nomination to the All-CIAA team. That’s all four years, folks. The team also makes the list as the highest-scoring Triad team by far and away, as evidenced by their 5 games with more than 95 points this year and a recent 98-93 win over Johnson C. Smith (Charlotte).
3. Greensboro College (women) — The Pride (21-4, 16-3 USA South DIII) might be the most dominant team on this list. After a road loss at Ferrum (Va.) ended an 8-game win streak, the Pride rattled off five in a row to clinch a regular-season conference title. They beat William Peace (Raleigh) by 30 this past weekend to wrap up a No. 1 seed in the upcoming USA South Tournament. They will face Methodist in the first round, a team they have beaten twice already.
4. Guilford College (men) — The Quakers (17-8, 10-6 ODAC DIII) had a good thing going running up to the toughest part of their schedule. They may have even topped this list a month ago. They’ve dropped 4 out of their last 6, though, and limp into the ODAC Tournament. They play a very entertaining brand of basketball though — they shoot a lot of threes and have a good inside presence.
5. NC A&T University (women) — The Aggie Women (15-10, 8-4 MEAC DI) are riding a six-game win streak as of Sunday and have hit a stride after a patchy middle of the season. They just recently beat Bethune-Cookman (Fla.) on the road, holding their opponent to just 13 in the first half. That’s points. Not shots or free throws, but points. Yeah, that’s awesome.
6. High Point University (women) — It’s enough that coach DeUnna Hendrix runs the same kind of system my dad ran when I played, a set he affectionately called the “Shoot the damned ball” offense. Add that High Point (16-11, 12-6 Big South DI) are pretty good, too. They’ve struggled on the road this season (4-10), but at home they dominate opponents (12-1). While record plays a big part of their not being in a top slot, I cannot argue that they put on a show. Kaylah Keys is a gunner, and they seldom lose big.
7. Wake Forest University (men) — The Demon Deacons (12-15, 4-10 ACC DI) are this high for three reasons: They play in the ACC so the chance to see great talent is much higher than with other teams on this list, Devin Harris and Cody Miller-Macintyre go hard every game and Danny Manning has brought life to a restless fan base. They don’t put up electrifying performances, but they win on occasion against a stacked league.
8. Greensboro College (men) — Not as dominant as their Pride women counterparts, the Pride men finished their regular season with a (15-10, 8-6 USA South DIII) mark. They are a fun team to watch — very athletic and good passers up and down the roster. They draw Maryville (Tenn.) in the USA South conference after earning the No. 5 seed.
9. GTCC (women) — Okay, maybe this is the most dominant team on the list. The Lady Titans (23-3, 16-1 Region X of the NJCAA) recently clinched the National Junior College Athletic Association Region X Carolina-Virginia Regular Season Conference Championship. I know about as much as you do about the level of competition, but a championship is a championship. They’re currently ranked No. 10 in the NJCAA national poll and they will be the No. 1 seed in the upcoming NJCAA tournament.
10. Guilford College (women) — The Quakers have been excellent with a (16-9, 10-6 ODAC DIII) record and will enter their conference tournament with momentum after a nice win over Lynchburg on Senior Day. And, from what I’ve heard, this was supposed to be kind of a down year for the Quakers. I’m thinking they move up the list next year.
Not mentioned: UNCG, my alma mater. The men’s and women’s teams are a combined 14-42. Good lord. Time to start cheating, guys. Somebody had to have gotten rich after graduating, right?