I was checking out the three sports magazines I get in the mail - Sports Illustrated, Sporting News and ESPN - and suddenly as I read one story, a school name and coaches name jumped out at me.
The University of Akron is ranked No. 50 in the country in a Sporting News men's college basketball article.
SN college basketball writers Mike DeCourcy and Jeff D'Alessio put together a list of their top 50 teams in the country for the 2009-2010 season and UA made the cut.
Zips coach Keith Dambrot is quoted in the magazine, saying: "We are in elite company on this list, and that is proof that we have taken another step toward our goal of becoming a top-25 program."
DeCourcy and D'Alessio's projection means the Zips would be dancing in March for the second consecutive season. UA qualified for the NCAA Tournament last season after winning the Mid-American Conference tournament title by defeating Buffalo at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
Kansas is ranked No. 1.
Kentucky, Michigan State, North Carolina, West Virginia, Texas, Purdue, Duke, Villanova and Mississippi State round out the top 10.
UNC is the defending national champion.
Other Ohio schools ranked in the top 50 are: Ohio State (19), Dayton (23), Cincinnati (26) and Xavier (30).
The Zips return four starters from last season: senior forward Chris McKnight, senior guard Darryl Roberts, sophomore guard Anthony "Humpty" Hitchens and sophomore forward Nikola Cvetinovic. The only starter lost was Nate Linhart, a four-year standout forward.
Key UA reserves returning are: senior forward Jimmy Conyers, junior forward Brett McKnight, junior guard Steve McNees, junior center Mike Bardo and sophomore guards Brett McClanahan and Ronnie Steward.
The 2009-2010 Zips will also feature highly-touted 7-foot freshman center Zeke Marshall, a consensus top-100 recruit and rival.com’s highest-ranked player to ever sign with a MAC school.
Gonzaga is ranked No. 41 in the article. The Bulldogs defeated the Zips in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at the Rose Garden in Portland last season.