Hail to the links!

Every college basketball fan needs a go-to page to read with their morning coffee (it's okay, you can read Run the Floor after your coffee, as we cover some pretty heady stuff here and you need to be on your game). These are the links pages. What did I miss from last night? What were the must read stories that I need in order to keep up with the show? There are 347 Division I teams, so you could just bookmark all their college basketball pages, or you could bookmark a links page.

But which one? There are so many.

In evaluating the links pages they need to meet a a few criteria. First, they have to be consistent. This means daily (M-F is fine) and published around the same time. Second, they can't just be an aggregate of stories. I need a real human telling me what I'm about to click on, not just headlines. If there is something I absolutely cannot miss, then someone needs to be there to tell me that. They need to be idiot proof. Third, it's all about quality. I don't want to comb through 30 links looking for one thing to read. I want overload. I want to feel like I can't keep up.

With these criteria in hand, I looked through all the links pages I've discovered in the past years, and it really boils down to two. These are the heavyweights.  It's Coach K vs Bill Self. It's Magic vs Bird.

Okay, not really. But they're links pages and they're good.

First up is Matt Norlander's (@MattNorlander) Wakeup Call. Norlander kicks it off each day with odds and ends from the hardwood bizarre places. Today there is a story about a reporter walking (and no, I'm not giving you the links – you gotta go to his page) from Africa to the tip of Chile in 7 years; a reason not to get a Zorb; notes about Hunter S. Thompson's prodigious drug intake; a story about half the world's food ending up in rubbish bins, and a link to a story with this headline: "In Eastside home, IMPD officer finds jug of urine, bullet-riddled TVs, then accidentally shoots floor."

Then he gets to the hoops. The reason his links are so good is that he's not adverse to deep levels of geekdome. He's not scared of stats. It's a CBS page, so he has to link to some of his colleagues, but he doesn't overdo it. And he makes fun of Jeff Goodman a lot. Then there's a basketball video, followed by a music video which brings the whole day's links full circle.

Battling with Wakeup Call is Troy Machir's (@TroyMachir) The Morning Mix. What I like about these links is that there is no messing around. He gets right to it. The games to watch that day are right there at the top, and then he jumps into the must read (or sometimes reads) of the day. Today it's the basketball career of former major league All Star Kenny Lofton. Top Stories is a collection of what was published on their site the previous day, which I skip, because I already checked their site the previous day. Then there's Hoops Housekeeping which will keep you up to date on injuries, transfers, etc…. Observations and Insight is Machir's link to the outside world. And this is where he really shines. He doesn't just mine the major sites. I've discovered plenty of new blogs just by perusing this section. Then you get pictures and dunks. And who doesn't like pictures and dunks?

So who you got, world? Unless you don't have a job you probably cannot fully absorb both these sites daily. But check 'em out. Bookmark one. Bookmark two. And get your links on.