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Two Way Street: Editors Aleck Ryner and Brian Friel talk college football, college hoops and NBA stars

Kevin Sullivan/Orange County Register/MCT

Aleck Ryner and Brian Friel
December 16, 2010

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“Half the editor, twice the emotion”

Who will win the National Championship?

Aleck: I’m going to have to go with Oregon here. Even though Auburn is led by one of the best players in college football in Cam Newton, the Ducks’ high-powered offense has me leaning towards Oregon. The Ducks had one close game this year, the 15-13 win against Cal; the rest were complete massacres. Forth ranked Stanford put up a fight for a half, but then went on to lose by three touchdowns. Auburn may have the tougher schedule, but they barely squeezed by teams like Mississippi State, Clemson and Kentucky. Not that those teams are bad, but let’s just say Oregon’s three touchdown win against one of the best teams in the country was a little more impressive. In addition, Auburn’s defense has had trouble stopping teams all season and I can’t see that streak ending against one of the most prolific scoring teams in recent memory. Oregon by 10, book it.

Brian: I’m going to have to agree with you on this one and pick Oregon. Assuming the top two teams avoid upsets of catastrophic proportions, the Ducks should be playing Auburn in the National Championship, pitting the nation’s most potent offense against the nation’s best player. While the Ducks are by no means perfect (as evident by their near loss to unranked Cal) they are by far the best-conditioned team in the BCS. Few teams have the ability to continue playing at Oregon’s lightning fast pace for the entire game, giving the likes of LaMichael James and Darron Thomas plenty of opportunities to bust a couple of big plays and break open the game late.

Photo: Paul Moseley/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT

It seems as though no one has been able to figure out Oregon’s offense all season, so if the Tigers are to have a shot they are going to have to rely on star quarterback and Heisman front-runner Cam Newton. If the Ducks are able to contain Newton, Auburn’s offense will sputter and be left in the dust. Look for Auburn to give Oregon a game early, with the Ducks pulling away and winning it all in the second half.
Who is your sleeper college basketball team?

Aleck: If I asked most people who the best college basketball team in California was, most people would probably say UCLA. If given two guesses they would probably say Stanford. However, these days, California basketball is run by the Aztecs of San Diego State. The team is ranked 11th in the AP Poll and have already taken down the then 12th ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs on the road, where Gonzaga had only lost four times since 2004. They also handled St. Mary’s and Wichita State, who both recently received Top 25 votes, with relative ease. They even brought their dominant play to the bay where they beat Cal by 20. The team is led by sophomore forward Kahwi Leonard, a likely future NBA Lottery pick, who averaged a double-double as a freshman and has continued his dominance into this season where he is averaging 18 points per game and 10.5 rebounds per game. The front-court is definitely the Aztecs’ strength, because playing alongside Leonard at forward is Billy White, who dropped 30 points in the game against Gonzaga. Athleticism is definitely the team’s calling card as a vast majority of the players could be dubbed “high flyers.” Right now, they are clearly the best team on the West Coast and the only team close is probably Washington. If San Diego State fares well against teams like BYU and UNLV, they probably won’t be “sleepers” for much longer.

Brian: Look out for BYU. After losing to Kansas State in the second round of last year’s bracket, the Cougars are back and looking for revenge. Led by wonder-child point guard Jimmer Fredette, the Cougars are currently 9-0 with notable wins against Saint Mary’s and USF already under their belt. While the Cougars aren’t getting any love in the AP polls, they should be able to roll through their relatively weak Mountain West schedule. If they can pull off the upset against San Diego State, look for the Cougars to get a favorable seed and wreck some serious havoc come March.

Who is the best NBA player?

Photo: Mark Cornelison/Lexington Herald-Leader/MCT


Aleck: Kobe Bryant may not be putting up the gaudy numbers we were used to earlier in his career, but he is still the best player in the NBA. Some may argue for LeBron James or Kevin Durant, but have they ever won a championship? That would be a no. In fact, the Miami Heat, led by James and Dwayne Wade were widely regarded as title favorites but they stumbled out of the gate. You also won’t see Bryant in the news for non-basketball related events very often, which is definitely a good thing.If I was asked who I wanted taking the last second shot to win the game, I would take Bryant 100 times out of 100. I am tempted to put Durant on the same pedestal as Bryant, but for now, he is a step below on the path of greatness. Bryant will most likely not win another MVP award, but he will win the thing that matters most, NBA championships. Kobe is a winner, and so far nobody can compare.

Brian: With Lebron currently living in a nightmare and Kobe getting closer and closer to retirement, I think it’s time that Kevin Durant finally gets the stardom he deserves. For the past three seasons, the 6’11” forward has quietly gone about dominating the league in Oklahoma City, racking up a career average 25.4 points per game. This season has proven to be much of the same, as Durant is currently leading the league with 27.3 points per game. But while it’s no secret that Durant has been one of the NBA’s best scorers since his entrance to the league in 2008, this season has been a testament that Durant is finally becoming more of a complete player. If Durant can continue his dominance and keep the Thunder rolling, he will get my vote for MVP.

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