A Guide For College Basketball Casual Fans Everywhere -Welcome To The Season, It Already Doesn't Make Any Damn Sense
This is the day where casual fans and people who are looking for college sports to watch start tuning in. The night that college basketball starts to take over the TV. Sure, NFL playoffs are starting but that's only on the weekends (and a Monday night). But the rest of the week is all college hoops. I know, NHL and NBA are going on, but we still have time for their playoffs to start.
And let me welcome you by saying this season already doesn't make any goddamn sense. Look at almost any rankings you want and you'll see teams like Charleston, Florida Atlantic, New Mexico and ... Pittsburgh decently ranked. They all have legit shots at making the NCAA Tournament, even Pittsburgh.
That's probably where we need to start. It's a down year for blue bloods not named Kansas. Kansas is just fine. But Kentucky, Duke, UNC and even the likes of Baylor and Villanova are all down. Instead teams like Houston, Alabama, Tennessee, UConn, Xavier, Kansas State and Texas are floating around the top-10. Not saying some of those are a surprise - Houston was the betting favorites coming into the year - but you expect to see the bluebloods. Not this year.
As for Player of the Year? Oh all those 5-stars. All those guys coming back? Nope just a monster.
That's the guy leading the NPOY race with guys like Jalen Wilson (Kansas), Azoulas Tubelis (Arizona), Drew Timme (Gonzaga) and probably Jaime Jacquez (UCLA) behind him. Oh and All-Americans? Yeah you can add guys like Jalen Pickett (Penn State), Brandon Miller (Alabama), Markquis Nowell (Kansas State) and Bryce Hopkins (Providence) to the list.
Basically what I'm trying to say is we're in a new era. It's not the transfer portal necessarily. There's just been a shift. A shift in where the bluebloods don't have this massive gap from others. It's different than college football. Sure, we get a TCU in the mix. But everyone else? Tennessee was viewed as a surprise. Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State, USC, Alabama were all in the playoff race at some point.
Oh and it's more than players. We have new coaches across the country immediately finding success. Dennis Gates at Missouri, Sean Miller back at Xavier, Jerome Tang at Kansas State. Even Kevin Willard found some early success at Maryland before coming back to life.
I had some people send questions and wanted to touch on them. Here's some more shit to get you up to date:
Tough to say who is bad but everyone thinks they're good. I think everyone knows Kentucky and Duke aren't good now. But surprising teams - some by name only, some by true surprise - that are actually good: Miami, Charleston, Providence, Xavier, Marquette, Iowa State, Kansas State, Florida Atlantic. Any of those teams could be in the Sweet 16 or even an Elite Eight and I won't bat an eye.
The best conference by far and not even a question is the Big 12. Legit all 10 teams can make the NCAA Tournament. Basically everyone is a Quad 1 team. No one is ranked worse than 41 on KenPom - Texas Tech, a team battling injuries right now. We've seen teams win by scoring 116. We've seen teams shut down other teams. Somehow Baylor, a team that many (including me) thought would be the best team in the country. There's not a bad team in the conference. As for defense? Tennessee and Houston currently have two historical defenses. Fucking Rick Barnes.
Pay him now. Lonny Baxter and Chris Wilcox ain't coming back.
Providence is a weird team to me. Not that they are bad, they are for sure good. But when you start talking about national title, I don't know if I trust Providence to win six straight. They have a star in Bryce Hopkins (please come back). Their defense needs to get better to be in that sort of tier. I also need to see them win away from The Dunk (fuck whatever it's called now) more often. They've beaten 4 bad teams on the road. Lost to decent teams on the road/neutral. That matters in March.
I'm on board with this so I don't have to hear Syracuse and the bubble.
As for futures? My preseason futures are still alive:
Houston at 11/1 is good value. They are the best team in the country right now. Baylor and Kentucky, not great! But we do have Miami at +2000 to make a Final Four, which isn't insane. Same with Texas at +600 to make a Final Four. IF you want to add today, here are current odds:
UCLA at +1600 and TCU at +3000 are both intriguing to me. UCLA is flying a bit under the radar, even almost blowing a home game to USC. TCU has that disgusting loss to Northwestern State, but they are healthy now. They were top-15 preseason for a reason. For Final Four odds? Xavier at +1400 and Kansas State at +1800 are both values that catch my eye.
Either way, welcome to a very weird year. March is going to be awesome.