I heard the following question asked this week and I wanted to pose the question to you as well: Who won the NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship last season?

Did you remember without cheating? If you did, how long did it take you? I’ll tell you, it took me a few minutes.

Over the last two years, sports has provided a sense of normalcy while serving as a welcome distraction. It has also been chaotic, unpredictable and at times, a blur.

With the 2021 college football season soon coming to an end and the college basketball season already in full swing, I thought I’d familiarize myself and the rest of us with the current state of our most popular programs.

I previously discussed my love for UNC and ECSU and their teams. I am a fan of both coaches and they lead squads largely comprised of players possessing as much potential as they have talent. Both coaches have an opportunity to show off this season.

Duke is ranked number two in the country as Mike Krzyzewski continues his farewell tour. As of now, the Blue Devils are the only ACC team ranked in the top 25.

While it’s unusual for them to be there alone, you need only see their 6’-10” freshman and future number one NBA draft pick Paolo Banchero play to see why they are there. He’s the kind of player on every basketball coach’s Wish List to Santa.

N.C. State is young. They don’t rebound well and they struggle to shoot, but they are still better than their 7-3 record. They have been very competitive, even in their losses. If their work ethic on the court is an indication of their effort off of it, then I expect they will continue to improve.

Wake Forest has won nine of their ten games thus far, leaning heavily on their experience. While the remainder of Tobacco Road is relying largely on the output of freshman, sophomores and transfers, the Demon Deacons get the majority of their scoring from four seniors. I don’t know how much they can be expected to improve, but don’t be surprised if they make trouble for others throughout the season.

ECU is undefeated at home with their only two losses thus far coming on the road, once against Oklahoma and later against Davidson. It seems Joe Dooley’s return to the Pirates in 2018 continues to pay off.

Between newer players still learning how to best play beside their teammates and others returning from injury, East Carolina is a team that is likely still far from as good as they can be. That’s good news for Pirate Nation.

This is where most of our favorite college teams “sit” about ten games into the season. Let’s hope things are as positive for us when I return after the holidays. By us… I mean mostly UNC, ESCU and Wake Forest fans.

David Friedman is a long time sports writer and lifelong believer that BLM. David can be reached via e-mail at fourthandlongcolumn@gmail.com.

Thadd White is Group Editor of the Bertie Ledger-Advance, Chowan Herald, Perquimans Weekly, The Enterprise & Eastern North Carolina Living. He can be reached via email at twhite@apgenc.com.