Roundball chatter

Each week I'll write about the sport I love, college basketball:

• I love the way that North Carolina diaper dandies Harrison Barnes and Kendall Marshall play the game. They have a great knowledge of the game for freshmen. Marshall's basketball IQ is so, so impressive. Barnes and John Henson are future lottery picks according to Hall of Famer Mike Krzyzewski and I agree with that assessment.

• What kind of season is Nolan Smith having at Duke? Not only should he be in the discussion for national Player of the Year (right now Jimmer Fredette of BYU is my choice), but he has a chance to be the first ACC player to lead the league in scoring and assists in the same season. That is an incredible possibility when you think of all the great players to compete in the conference over the years.

• When you look at Notre Dame, Georgetown, Pittsburgh and Villanova and see the veteran players on those rosters, you have to give them an advantage come tourney time. That experience and continuity will count for something.

• It has been a tough season for Paul Hewitt at Georgia Tech. The latest setback came when Brian Oliver had surgery to repair a broken thumb. Oliver is expected to be sidelined for three weeks; he is averaging almost 11 ppg.

• How about a salute for the job being done by Anthony Grant down at Alabama? The Crimson Tide have been the creme de la creme in the SEC West. The Tide have shown tremendous improvement and they have a big win over Kentucky on their resume.

• Has anyone noticed VCU is playing very well? The Rams are 20-6, including a 12-2 mark in the CAA following a win at Delaware in a Maalox Masher. Shaka Smart has done a nice job there.

• Why do I love this time of season? This is the time when teams can play their way into the Big Dance or play their way off of the bubble. There are so many important games that can make a difference when the NCAA tournament committee looks things over. With 68 teams in the field, the choice of the 37 at-large clubs will be interesting. Will we see a few more teams coming from mid-major conferences?