Yorkers have rare hoops opportunity

Steve Heiser

OK class, settle down.

It's time to do a little geometry and geography schoolwork.

Jay Wright's Villanova Wildcats are ranked No. 1 in the nation.

I know, I know. They're not two of your favorite subjects. You'd rather finger paint rainbow unicorns, or make Easter eggs out of silly putty, but art class isn't for another two periods. Besides, the geometry and geography will pay off in the end. I promise.

First, take out your geometry compass and a map of the mid-Atlantic region. (If you don't know what a geometry compass is, or don't know where the mid-Atlantic region is, you've already failed and will have to repeat the fifth grade).

Next, on the map, place the point edge of the compass on York, and then put the pencil end at Villanova, Pa., and draw a perfect circle.

You will find that, within that relatively small circle, reside the No. 1 and No. 2 men's college basketball teams in the United States.

That's right, York sits fewer than 95 miles from No. 1 Villanova and No. 2 Maryland.

That means that the red-hot center of the college basketball universe is anchored pretty darn close to Continental Square right now.

It also means that fans in these parts have a pretty rare opportunity. In less than a couple hours, they can drive to see the top two teams in the nation — if you can get your hands on tickets.

Otherwise, you'll have to settle for watching the Wildcats and Terrapins on television. Of course, that's not a bad deal, either.

After all, these are two wildly entertaining teams and both have excellent chances of making March Madness runs all the way to Houston, the site of this year's Final Four.

For the past several months, the Wildcats and Terps have operated under the radar while the NFL and college football captivated most of our sports attention.

Football, however, has finally come to an end, and it's time to focus on some other sports.

You can do far worse, on a cold February night, than checking out Villanova and Maryland.

In fact, now would be an excellent time to jump on the bandwagon for either team.

Villanova is No. 1 during the regular season for the first time in its illustrious history.

Jay Wright's Wildcats don't have any real superstars, just a very balanced lineup, with four players averaging in double digits and three more averaging between 6.7 and 9.7 points per game. Junior guard Josh Hart leads Villanova at 15.4 points per game, but on a given night, any one of seven Wildcats can beat you.

Mark Turgeon's Maryland squad is similarly balanced, with five players averaging in double digits. The Terps, however, do boast one of the best-known players in the nation in sophomore standout Melo Trimble, a preseason All-American. The guard is the Terps' undisputed leader and top scorer (14.8 points per game), but he's far from their only threat.

Both teams have size, quickness and talent. Both can also score, defend and rebound. And they both appear to have everything it takes to contend for a national championship, especially in a year when the NCAA field looks completely wide open.

Even better, both teams reside within easy driving distance of York.

So folks, that's your abbreviated primer on the Villanova Wildcats and Maryland Terrapins, two of the best college basketball teams in America.

You can now put away your compass and map.

Class dismissed.

Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com.