Arrival of college basketball brings Vitale

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 14, 2005

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The arrival of college basketball season means many things: March Madness, the Cameron Crazies, Dick Vitale.

For 26 years, Vitale has been the loud, enthusiastic and unsinkable voice of the game. He has helped create the language of college basketball and, in the process, has become the sport's effervescent ambassador.

During a recent visit to Charlotte, Vitale took a few minutes to talk with staff writer Ron Green Jr. about the coming season.

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QUESTION: It's no secret that Duke is everybody's preseason No. 1, including yours. Are the Blue Devils that good?

ANSWER: The beauty of college basketball is that it's not four out of seven. If it were four out of seven, it's obvious Duke would be unbeatable. I believe nobody would beat them four out of seven if they stay healthy.

But in the one-game scenario, the one bad night and the party's over. So I don't think it's a lock.

Are they the best team on paper? Yes. I think Mike Krzyzewski would agree. That team is deep, talented, has size, has flexibility and, most of all, they have two veterans where a lot of teams just have a star.

J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams have come back. That means a kid like (Josh) McRoberts doesn't have to be the first option. He now can play as a blender with the stars. A lot of schools get a kid like that and he has to carry the team.

Q: Barely six months ago, North Carolina won the national championship. Since then, the Tar Heels have lost their top seven players and many expect them to be left out of the NCAA tournament field this year. What do you expect from the Tar Heels?

A: I might be a little wacky. On my Web site I have my 65 teams projection and I have North Carolina as one of the teams going out of the ACC. I have six from the ACC.

I think they're going to be better than people think. Because of their youth and inexperience, they're going to have nights when they shock people and play out of their mind and other nights when they'll probably get beat by someone you wouldn't expect.

Q: What else about the ACC jumps out at you?

A: The arrival of Boston College. Last year you saw Virginia Tech and Miami come in and make a little bit of an impact. Boston College is much more talented than that.

They have two legitimate stars. If I had to pick two of the top 20 players in America _ Jared Dudley and Craig Smith. In fact, Smith made my All-American first team.

Boston College could be a major factor in the ACC.

Q: Which teams do you like nationally beyond Duke?

A: Texas and Michigan State are going to be outstanding. Kentucky has a great backcourt. Louisville is going to be outstanding again. Everybody is talking what about losing all these kids to the NBA. College basketball is still so exciting, it's going to go on. Those kids that leave, they're the ones who end up missing a lot. The game is getting bigger and bigger.

Ron Green is a columnist for Knight Ridder Tribune.