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College Basketball Yearbook Review: The Sporting News

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Much like when Owen Wilson exuberantly announces to buddy Vince Vaughn in Wedding Crashers that spring has sprung, we've reached that point in the year where there's real signs of life college basketball is right around the corner. The litany of ignominious grade scandals, eligibility rulings and instances of flat out lying - which have all given us pounding headaches - are slowly beginning to find resolution. Frankly, we are so over it.

Now earlier and earlier, it seems as though those attractive looking college basketball annual yearbook's are hitting newsstands, forcing fans to tack on another $7.99 to next week's grocery bill. You must have one of these, you need one of these to supplement your intake of online content, but God Almighty you shouldn't impulsively buy one of these things.

Hang out here for the next three days as we sift through a handful of annuals to ensure you get the best value. Today we start with The Sporting News, after the jump.

Pages: 188

Feature Articles:

  • "Sparty’s Surge," by Mike DeCourcy 
  • "SN Conversations with Butler’s Brad Stevens," by Pete Williams            

First Team All-America

  • Kyle Singler (Duke)
  • Marcus Morris (Kansas)
  • Harrison Barnes (UNC)
  • Jimmer Fredette (BYU)
  • Jacob Pullen (Kansas State)

Final Four

  • Michigan State (Nat'l Champions)
  • Duke
  • Purdue
  • Kansas

Five bold predictions/statements:

  • Despite losing 46 percent of their offense, Syracuse will repeat as Big East regular season champions.
  • Kansas’ Marcus Morris ousted Kansas State’s Jacob Pullen for the Big 12’s "Best Player Under Pressure." Did they not watch the Wildcats’ Sweet 16 game against Xavier?
  • With partner Rivals.com raking Memphis’ freshman class as the second best in the country, Sporting News is placing a lot of stock in Will Barton, Joe Jackson and Jelan Kendrick, predicting the Tigers will earn a #3 seed on Selection Sunday.
  • Could three squads from the Big 10 make the Final Four? It’s not far-fetched in these parts, as the Ohio State Buckeyes check in at #5 in this top-25. Frankly, I want a taste of what these editors are sipping, because I also love the potential of Thad Matta’s club.
  • Banking on Michigan State cutting down the nets in Houston, the uber-talented but unpredictable Durrell Summers checks in on The Sporting News’ All-American Second Team. The player who perhaps stole Summers’ spot from the first-team? That would be North Carolina’s highly touted freshman forward Harrison Barnes.

Analysis

To be honest, Sporting News offers the best looking annual (it feels sleek, smells fresh) but comes up short with enough compelling articles and information for someone that’s more than just a casual fan. After the top six in each BCS-conference, the word-count for team previews are cut in half, and non-BCS conference schools get even less love.

Because I am unable to come up with a more witty and impressive sounding adjective, their top-25 is my… wait for it…favorite out of the three. It’s bold (Ohio State at #5, Florida all the way down at #20, and an underrated Florida State squad at #25), and makes you wonder if they were simply looking to attract attention or have editors and contributors who are really onto something. We also appreciated the stat-box comparing each team’s metrics against their opponents, but the fact that we are pointing this out probably best exemplifies the over-arching problems of this yearbook. It just needs more.

If you're killing time at your local book or grocery store, flip through the pages and admire the illustrations, but walk away before you reach the point of purchase.