Trev, Trev, Trev. The last time you called us out, you almost earned yourself the EDSBS/RTT Collaborative Original treatment. Fortunately for you, Orson and I couldn't agree on the question of whether to take one of your pictures and make it dance to Elton John's I'm Still Standing or do a moving parody featuring Mark May in the ESPN Studio singing Phil Collins' Separate Lives to you in the Rec Room.
([calling up the stairs from the basement] Look mom! I'm emoting Trev Alberts!)
Anyway, I for one am happy to play along on the condition that you stop calling them "blog sites." They're blogs, man. Just blogs. And for future reference (just in case you fall into the trap that so many MSM types getting used to the medium do), this entry right here is a "post," not a "blog." The "blog" is made up of "posts."
Okay, so here is my proprietary list of the Top Five Reasons Why Tennessee is the Best Team in College Basketball, with the caveat that I'm not really sure I believe it and hence my attempt at manufactured swagger will most certainly result in my paper being returned with a big, fat red FAIL on it.
Photo credit: nutmeg
Reason No. 1. One word: RPI. Okay, so really it's three words in one convenient acronymic package, but you know. Anyway, the RPI is the one measure in college basketball that accounts for a team's winning percentage and strength of schedule (opponents' winning percentage and opponents' opponents' winning percentage). Not only does it account for possessives of possessives, it involves math, and people like you and I, Trev, would be wise not to argue with math. (I am only one or two more embarassing public math errors away from declaring numbers the Official Spawn of Satan, and I am seriously considering the promulgation of the Second RTT Rule: to flee screaming in the other direction at each and every sighting of mathematical formulas, especially when it involves those nasty multiplication signs and fractions and stuff.)
But anyway, RPI is widely considered a reliable indicator of a team's strength, and, what's this, Tennessee is No. 1 in the RPI. Carolina March's team is merely third. Burnt Orange Nation's team is fifth, laudable considering they've lost five games, but still fifth. Bruins Nation's team and Rock Chalk Jayhawk's team are seventh and ninth respectively. Sure, the Tarheels have one fewer loss than do the Vols, but Tennessee's losses are to No. 5 Texas, No. 10 Vanderbilt, and, uh, rival Kentucky. North Carolina's losses are to No. 4 Duke and Maryland, whose mascot is a turtle.
And what about Memphis? They've only lost a single game, but it was at home to Tennessee in a game that, if I may say so myself, was absolute PEARLFECTION.
Reason No. 2. Depth. I agree that we have a "phenomenonally gifted team in terms of athleticism," but the key word there is "team." Pearl is fond of saying that we may not have the best five in the country, but we might have the best nine. He's right. We're not only talented, but we're deep, and not only that, we use our depth exceptionally well. It's not so much a bunch of starters and some bench players; it's more like constantly rotating platoons, and our five best guys just so happen to go first.
Reason No. 3. Defense. Watching our guys play defense is an absolute thrill. The guy defending the ball carrier (hey, we're still a football school trying to get the hang of this basketball thing) will be right in his pocket, arms flailing, bothering every notion of a pass. Meanwhile, the other defenders are all guarding their guys just as close, playing both the man and the passing lane and having their arms up and flapping the entire time, too. Seriously, it's like we've got five squid on the court. With forty arms . . . wait . . . math alert . . . okay, that's right . . . with forty arms, we get a lot of forced turnovers, steals, and tips. Chaos is fun when it's happening to the other team.
Reason No. 4. Pace. All of those ball control thingies in Reason No. 3 lead to a lot of possessions and attempts, which is good because we often don't shoot as well as our opponents.
Reason No. 5. Bruce Pearl is the Incredible Hulk.
So there. Five reasons we're No. 1. All that said, we're likely losing to Florida tonight.
Stay tuned, folks. More blogs coming for the blog site later.