Kansas State(19-10) took care of business, beating the woeful Buffaloes 78-72, which saw All-Multiverse power-forward Michael Beasley go for 33 points and 14 rebounds.
For the season, Beasley is scoring 26.9 ppg (3rd in D1) and pulling down 12.6 rpg (1st in D1). In 29 games for the Wildcats, Beasley has posted 26 double-doubles and cut down his turnovers since starting Big 12 play.
This is an isolated comparison because I've seen and remembered these guys play, and other great freshman like Pete Maravich won't be considered because of the NCAA restrictions on freshman, and well, he was before our time. I also consider Tyler Hansbrough's freshman season a close third or fourth.
1. Coaching - For the one season that Carmelo Anthony played at Syracuse, he was coached by the great Jim Boeheim, who's been playing and coaching at Syracuse since 1962. Boeheim is widely considered one of the greatest D-1 coaches of all time, along with Jim Calhoun, Bobby Knight, Eddy Sutton, and Mike Krzyzewski. While not always the most successful coach, his longevity and transforming players into his system puts him well above what Michael Beasley was exposed to this season. First year head coach Frank Martin is also in his first year holding any head coaching position at the D-1 level, and at times has shown his infancy (see: ugly Xavier loss). The predicament of Kansas State hoops has also been hostile of late, as Martin is the third head coach in three years. Thanks, <a href=" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Huggins">Huggy Bear</a>, ya lowlife. In the end, I would have to say 'Melo had a huge edge in the leadership department while Beasley just kind of roughed it.
2. Perception - I shouldn't be offended if most of America considered Carmelo to be the best freshman ever in that Sportscenter poll because all of those people are well aware of his success in the NBA. Being one of the highest paid players in the league, having a scoring title already under his belt, bringing good basketball back to Denver... Anthony sure does carry around some clout these days. With that I can pretty much ignore that poll because Beasley has only been in the spotlight for a year while Carmelo is now a perennial All-Star in the NBA. Carmelo was even known in high school with Oak Hall, so naturally America has become familiar and warmed up to the guy. Beasley wasn't showcased in high school on ESPN and overall the networks haven't picked up KSU games because they aren't an established team, unlike Syracuse.
3. Supporting cast - Up until now, I haven't even mentioned the fact that Syracuse won the National Championship in 2002-03, the year of Carmelo. That year, Syracuse was one of the top teams in the Big East (they didn't win the regular season or tourament titles) and Carmelo had a great supporting cast, including Hakim Warrick, Gerry McNamara, and Kueth Duany. Josh Pace and Craig Forth completed what was pretty much the bulk of scoring for the team. Compared to that Beasley had little to work with, only two other freshman in Bill Walker and Jacob Pullen. Pullen, who has generally played at the point, could only rely on Walker and Beasley to score. Even if all three players are threats from beyond the arc, it still doesn't resolve the issue of overall team defense and Walker and Beasley's affinity to occasionally cough up the ball. Beasley did however start to lower his turnover rate for conference play, signs of a special player.
4. The numbers - Beasley is averaging 26.9 ppg and 12.6 rpg, while Carmelo averaged 22.1 ppg and 10.0 rpg. This being the most concrete evidence, there is always room to explore. After looking at the two schedules, Kansas State played a slightly easier schedule, padded by several questionable non-conference whipping posts. While the Big 12 is more competitive this year, it's no Big East which in the end sometimes just is...big. With great teams in the conference comes a lot of bad teams, teams which now compete in a 16-team conference. When the dust is settled you still can't argue the fact that Beasley plays first-class D-1 ball against the likes of Kansas, Texas, and Texas A&M, so we really can't look into the scheduling too hard.
Of course, let's never forget discussions like these remain arbitrary and we really are just talking about two great college basketball players. But hey, it's definately more legitimate than those worn out Tiger-Michael battles.