- Ky McKeon
The (Super) Power Rankings
I’m a mega college basketball fan but I’m also a mega superhero fan – call me a double threat. From a young age I’ve been obsessed with both forms of entertainment and now I finally get to connect my two passions in one fell swoop. Below are the current power rankings of the nation’s top teams (chosen by me). Each team has a superhero assigned to them that embodies who that team is, either superficially or spiritually. (Note: Marvel is 1,000x better than DC, so these are all Marvel superheroes. Suck it DC (Batman, you cool)).
12. Creighton (aka Phoenix)
Jean Grey was one of the most underrated powerful mutants in the known universe much like the Creighton Jays, led by All-American candidate Mo Watson, were one of the most underrated powerful basketball squads. Alas, Jean Grey died piloting a shuttle mission back to Earth. And Mo Watson, the nation’s leading assist man, has torn his ACL, ending his career at Creighton. BUT FEAR NOT! The Phoenix force saved Jean Grey (for all intents and purposes) and lives on as a bad-ass super being in the comic universe. Freshman Kobe Paras is Creighton’s Phoenix. He shall engulf Watson’s life form and propel the Jays to a top 5 seed in the Big Dance… or they’ll all succumb to a fiery demise (read: 8 to 10 seed).
11. Wisconsin (aka Groot)
To us lowly humans, Groot appears to utter the same three words over and over again – “I am Groot”. To us lowly basketball fans, Wisconsin appears to be running the same damn offense over and over again (for the past like 50 years) – the swing offense. However, Groot is actually quite intelligent and has a vast vocabulary – we just can’t understand it due to his stiff larynx. Likewise, the swing offense may seem simple and monotonous, but it’s actually a very intricate, fluid system gushing with variety and trickery. Also, player-specifically, Ethan Happ kind of looks like / has the personality of Groot.
10. Florida State (aka Rocket Raccoon)
Sure Florida State looks innocent enough, a perennial ACC doormat (maybe a tad harsh) with a couple cute (style-wise) players. Then you realize the Noles are packing a fucking Bazooka and threatening to win the conference outright. Such is the affable Rocket Raccoon, a cuddly-looking bipedal rodent with a tender smile and a small arsenal strapped to his furry back. Rocket is an expert marksman / sniper; Florida State is ranked 19th in the nation in effective field goal percentage. Rocket is also a badass starship pilot; the Noles appear to be navigating the ACC just fine.
9. Baylor (aka Iceman)
Baylor has won five games this season after being down at halftime. In those five games, the Bears have allowed teams to shoot 32.6% from two and 26.6% from three. Brrr. It’s almost like Baylor somehow iced the other team’s shooters, which they could totally do if they were Iceman, my personal all-time favorite X-Men member (not the wussy “X-Men movie Iceman” – the cool “original member of the X-Men Iceman”). Opponents just seem to go ice cold in the second half against the Bears, who currently own arguably the best resume in college basketball.
8. West Virginia (aka Wolverine)
The similarities between “Press Virginia” and the ferocious X-Men front man Wolverine are clear (including the blue & yellow motif). Opposing ball handlers shouldn’t feel safe around either entity – West Virginia due to their absurd 32.7% TO Rate; Wolverine due to his unavoidable tendency to pop the basketball. With wins over Virginia, Oklahoma State, Baylor, and TCU, the public has all but forgotten the Mountaineers’ little skid against Temple earlier in the year. Likewise, with a regenerative healing factor and an adamantium-plated skeletal structure, Wolverine has all but forgotten his time spent as a child at a Canadian farm in the late 1880s.
7. Louisville (aka Daredevil)
Louisville is the country’s best defensive team (per KenPom on an adjusted basis), able to stifle opponents in a variety of ways be it via turnovers, stout perimeter defense, or blocking the shit out of shots. It’s almost like their defense has enhanced senses, like Daredevil! The superhero’s radar sense allows him to overcome his blindness and “see” in multiple directions, an ability that Louisville’s defense appears to have night after night. Radar sense is awesome, but being blind still isn’t ideal for a team trying to shoot a basketball, where preciseness is key. The Cardinals have a pretty good idea where the hoop is on offense, they just can’t seem to put the basketball through the hoop (196th in 3P%; 208th in 2P%; 217th in FT%).
6. Gonzaga (aka Namor)
Gonzaga is hands-down the best mid-major in college basketball, dominating the WCC ever since Head Coach Mark Few took the reins in Spokane making 17 straight NCAA Tournaments and likely headed for a #1 seed this March. Namor is the best superhero you’ve never heard of – a “mid-major” superhero if you will. Namor is a Sub-Mariner from Atlantis (think a cooler Aquaman) that dominates the sea with his super-strength and mutant abilities. On land, he’s basically just another guy who is strong, can fight, and somehow flies via tiny wings on his ankles (seriously). The sea is the WCC. Namor makes marine life his bitch just like the Zags make the West Coast Conference their bitch. Finally making a Final Four appears to be in the Zags’ immediate future – just like a feature film appears to be in Namor’s.
5. Kentucky (aka Iron Man)
Tony Stark (Iron Man) was able to shirk certain death via shrapnel in his heart (common) by implanting a magnetic plate into his chest (practical), likewise John Calipari has managed to shirk any blame for two separate recruiting investigations at his former schools (Memphis & UMass). Calipari, now in his 8th year at Kentucky, has had a reputation for relying on one-and-done blue chip freshmen – shiny new armor if you will. Iron Man loves upgrading his toys, quickly disposing of outdated armor/gadgets like Monday morning’s banana peel. That’s Kentucky, always upgrading to the newest model, boasting the latest technology, making them one tough SOB in battle.
4. UCLA (aka the Fantastic Four)
- Lonzo Ball is Mr. Fantastic – a natural born leader with crazy stretchy arms which make his shot look funky
Bryce Alford is Human Torch – a spark plug that can catch fire in a hurry, but often can get out-of-control and, from an outsider perspective, looks like he may be a real dick
T.J. Leaf is Thing – a sturdy rock of a man in the middle with a serious, open-mouthed stare
Isaac Hamilton is The Invisible Woman – you don’t know he’s there, but he always scores like 15 points a game and knocks opponents unconscious with force fields
(We can include Aaron Holiday and call him the Silver Surfer).
Their mission: stop Dr. Doom (Steve Alford) from preventing them from capturing their school’s 12th National Championship.
3. Kansas (aka Captain America)
Kansas is the perennial leader of the Big 12 conference, looking to notch their 12th straight regular season championship. Likewise, Captain America is the undisputed leader of the super group called the Avengers. Kansas is the goody-two-shoes of the NCAA, a good ole institution that doesn’t swear and likely uses the word “ma’am” more than twice in a sentence. Like Captain America, Kansas has the personality of a brown paper bag… but unfortunately for the rest of the country, they also have some sick-ass fighting skills.
2. North Carolina (aka Thor)
People seem to gloss over the fact that Thor should essentially be the most powerful superhero in the Marvel universe. He’s a motherfucking God. He can summon lightning, he has a metal hammer that only he can wield, and he’s basically indestructible. Thor should theoretically dominate just about any villain in a fight. With Theo Pinson at full strength, this North Carolina team should be the most dominant in the country. The Tar Heels have virtually no weaknesses – they’re #1 in the country in offensive rebounding, they can actually shoot (37.3% from three-point land), and they have arguably the best point guard in the country in Joel Berry. Thor does have one downfall at times – his intelligence. The similarities are spooky.
1. Villanova (aka Spider-Man)
Not many superheroes come as agile as the great Spider-Man. His ability to contort his body, climb up walls, and sense danger before it occurs give him an unfair advantage over his adversaries. This is Villanova, a team that adapts to its environment and adjusts to unplanned situations with grace and beauty. 5-star center Omari Spellman is ruled ineligible? No problem, we’re still awesome. Phil Booth has missed significant time this year? No problem, we’re still awesome. Also, the Wildcats play one of the smartest brands of basketball around – a little known ability Spider-Man possesses is his near genius-level intellect.