IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN!
IT’S AWESOME BABY (Dick Vitale voice).
The weather is changing. The leaves are turning colors. You know what that means. College basketball is here and getting started. For many, this is, mine included, favorite time of the year. College basketball games on every night sprinkled in with some NBA games that nobody with a pulse would want to miss.
For all my avid readers, this is the time of year that the posts will grow in number. Exponentially. There will be a topic going on here weekly, if not bi-weekly. College basketball this year is going to have a hard time matching up with last year’s cinderella top seed, Villanova. NOBODY, and I mean nobody predicted that they would see Villanova, the Big East’s top seed, make it to the National Championship game, much less win it.
Last year was finished with arguably one of the best finishes to a game that our current generation has ever seen. North Carolina hitting the shot at the last second. Then Villanova coming down and running the flip pass for the buzzer beater to Kris Jenkins for all the marbles. Wow, what a finish to a great season.
Fast forward to this season. There are A TON of teams that have question marks next to them and are able to make a run in the Big Dance. We have Mid-Major, Power 5 conferences, and everything in between making sure that they are known and stay known through the season to ensure that they are dancin’ in March. You have your standard top teams. Kentucky, Duke, Kansas, and Nova. You have the other really good teams. North Carolina, Xavier, Louisville, and Indiana.
With all this said, one week in and there has been nothing short of madness to start off the season, which any basketball junkie would LOVE.
We had Duke and Michigan State lose already. Oregon found a way to lose a game early on. There are also some HUGE non-conference match-ups early that show coaches are no longer looking for gimme’ games early on in the season. Top 25 game after top 25 and we have seen some quality games.
Here are my teams at the top:
Kentucky– By no means am I a part of Big Blue Nation, but there is no question that they have one of the best teams in all of college hoops. Calipari has once again recruited his way into a dynamic group of Mcdonald’s All-American Freshman that do nothing but perform. Let’s not forget that the likes of Bam, Malik Monk, and Gabriel are all 17 year olds. Even if they don’t have the best start, or have a slip up, come March they will be in the mix to go all the way.
Kansas– Bill Self and the Jayhawks are coming into the season looking for another Big 12 regular season title. (That would be #12 Folks). Graham and Josh Jackson are two names that you need to keep an eye out for on this squad. Graham is a man on a mission this year, making sure he gets what he and all of Rock Chalk Jayhawk nation wants, a ‘ship. Josh Jackson is a man that will come into his own mid-season, it is just a matter of time.
Duke– This is my top-team pick. Coach K has an unreal amount of versatility on this roster, both young and old. He has a senior in Amile Jefferson in the middle and two of the top recruits from last year’s class in Jayson Tatum and Harry Giles. Don’t forget about Grayson Allen, one of the nation’s top players, and his counterpart from last year Luke Kennard. All of this shooting and talent is a mixture of nothing but deep runs in tournament play. The way I see it, Coach K can run just about any offense, defense, or lack of either that he pleases with this deep of a roster. The key? Making sure the two young freshman are healthy in the next few weeks and not playing hesitant. Injuries will be the only thing that hold back this team from a chance at the title again.
Teams that can make a run:
Xavier– Yes, this is my alma mater. But I am not lying when I say this team can make a run. They have nothing short of the top guards in the country, with Bluiett and Sumner at the top. The source of graduate transfers in Gaston and Bernard along with the freshman group that has the season to come to form. This team will be on the rise come February. The challenging Big East schedule combined with the let down they had last year in the Big Dance, they have their eyes on the prize and will not settle for less.
Texas– Shaka Smart can coach any team in the land. I am confident in that. This Texas team though. WHOAH. They have nothing but his recruits piled in after he has been able to get a year under his belt in Austin. He made strides last year with a roster that was compiled of the previous coach’s recruits. Upsets and close games were a commonality last year. This year though, they look to be in the W column at the end of a bunch of those losses last year. Shaka has a team that can run and press, shoot, and rebound well enough to make a difference in the country and climb up the polls as the season goes on. Even if they struggle through a tough Big 12 conference, look for them to make it to the tourney in March and make some noise as a high seed.
College basketball is here folks. The fun begins and the beauty of small teams upsetting top teams, 40 point blowouts, and mid-week showdowns will hopefully consume your TV much like it will mine. I wish nothing but Madness up until Madness in March, but obviously I have a few favorites in mind myself.
IT’S AWESOME BABYYY! (Dick Vitale Voice).