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College Basketball Is Here: Every Single Damn Thing You Need To Know About This Season

Mitchell Layton. Getty Images.

We made it back to the best time of the year. Day 1 of college basketball, a day where every single fan has hope, a day where you can finally see how your team does against a team you never heard of because scheduling is still stupid. Whatever that's for a different day, today is the day of hope. So with that in mind I wanted to write up a little preview, get everyone to see where I'm coming from, give out some futures and what not and set up things that will be argued all season. Now it's nearly impossible and frankly boring to go conference by conference, team by team, whatever. So consider this more storylines and shit to watch all year. 

The next era of coaches

I saw Chief tweet this last week and it started to get me thinking: 

Now I would argue we do have new, young college basketball personalities coaching. The problem is none of them outside of Hurley have won yet, let alone make a Final Four. You have the guys like Muss, Oats, Underwood, Lloyd, Painter, Juwan, McDermott, etc and none of these guys have a Final Four. That could very much change this year with a bunch of top-20 teams listed, but at some point we need a passing of the guard. The sport is still led by the Izzo's, Self's, Cal's of the world, especially when you think of coaches, but this is the year we can see the change. 

Kansas is the clear No. 1 team heading into the year and frankly I don't think it means shit

This is no disrespect to Kansas, who is the clear No. 1 team in the country. There's a lot to like about this team with DaJuan Harris and Hunter Dickinson running that high pick and roll. But it doesn't mean shit to be the No. 1 team in the country heading into the year. Every time we see some team get hot in November and immediately becoming the darlings of the world. UConn did it last year, worked out. UNC was the preseason No. 1 team and that truly didn't mean shit. The last time it mattered was Baylor when they won during the COVID year. I'm not going to be surprised if they win a title again. They have Bill Self. They have this roster that makes sense. I'm just not betting on them as a future bet (10/1) right now. 

Rick Pitino is back in a major conference and that's better for college basketball

Chief mentioned Pitino in that tweet, well he's still around. In fact he's got the job of building up St. John's to be a decent program agian. He will. He's the best coach in the country. I don't think that's a hot take or anything, pretty common statement. You get one of the 5 best coaches of all time to your school and you'll probably have success. But he's doing it by bringing in a million transfers. Not shocking with the way the sport is right now. He took advantage. Guys like Jordan Dingle have to make the jump from Penn to St. John's so there will an adjustment period. I always try to warn people about the up-transfers. It's rare that they look the same, especially off the jump. I just hope we get Pitino in the white suits and doing his normal press conferences. He's a personality college basketball needs. 

Calipari's most important year yet

Here's my one blurb on Kentucky. It's Calipari's most important year yet. He hasn't made a Final Four since 2015. He's lost in the Elite Eight in devastating fashion twice, that doesn't matter in Kentucky's world. The last 3 years have been a disaster, most notably in March. This is a roster that's his sort of team. He went and got a loaded recruiting class. He has multiple guards who can attack with DJ Wagner leading it there. Now, the three bigs are still hurt/waiting for NCAA eligibility and that matters. The real key to a Cal team is having a rim protector and they don't have that until one of those three guys are on the floor. But he adapted and got some shooting. He changed his staff. He needs to have a successful year where they look like a national title contender and make a run in March for people to get off his ass. 


The Purdue dilemma 

Purdue is arguably the most fascinating team in the country for me. They were the No. 1 team in the country last year. They have reigning NPOY Zach Edey. They have been a good team who just can't make a Final Four. Now you return a bunch of guys who lost to No. 16 FDU and they still have title expectations. How do you recover from a loss like that? We saw Virginia turn the UMBC loss into a title - also had Hunter healthy, which helped. Now the Big 10 in general tends to have a big man problem. They have dominant big men who don't always translate to the NCAA Tournament. 

UConn being a blueblood 

Perhaps the one thing UConn fans want to yell about the most is being a blue blood. They are, I don't know why we act like they aren't. They have the titles, they've won under 3 coaches now. They also found their guy in Hurley. Perhaps the biggest news is that Donovan Clingan is playing. He had an injury that some would think would keep him out of games. That doesn't seem to be the case and he's a monster. Not just because he's big as shit, but because he's good. He's a sneaky All-American candidate. I don't think teams go back-to-back anymore, but UConn has the look of a top-15 team with ease this year despite losing everything they lost. 

Houston's new world

Yep conference realignment means we have Houston in the Big 12 now. That league is fucking loaded. Now you throw in a program who has a recent Final Four, looks like a top-10 program and they get to run that gauntlet. Kelvin Sampson has done a ridiculous job with that program, getting money in it and winning. I wouldn't be surprised to see them compete with Kansas in the Big 12 but it's still Kansas and a Big 12 title. They always win it. 

Speaking of streaks

One of these have to end at some point, right? I'm talking about no Big 10 team winning a title since Michigan State and no Pac 12 team winning since Arizona in 97. Those are the two teams I'd pick to end the streak too. Tommy Lloyd is a fucking awesome coach and sneaky think Oumar Ballo will be an All-American. Bigs just play well under Lloyd. Michigan State returns everyone, they have the backcourt talent to win which is what the Big 10 has lacked in recent years. I have no idea when the streak will end, but it's gotta end at some point. 

The Big East is still the most must watch league

It's not the best, that's the Big 12. The Big East though is must watch. You have three top-10ish teams in Marquette, UConn and Creighton. You have Nova as a team who people think will get back right. You have Xavier with Sean Miller who should just always be somewhere around the top-25. I mentioned Pitino. You have Cooley vs Providence which is going to be AWESOME. Those fans are fucking ruthless. 

FAU's dream run

The best mid-major is making a jump up. FAU moves to the American after making a Final Four and bring back all but one guy from last year's team. They are rightfully a top-10 preseason team no matter what you think of them. Now comes the question of if they can repeat it. It reminds me a little of Wichita State a few years back when they made the run to the Final Four and then were an undefeated No. 1 seed. I don't think FAU goes undefeated or becomes a 1 seed but they could easily be a top-5 seed in the NCAA Tournament a year after people thought they were underseeded at a 9. It also feels like the last run. Dusty May is going to take a big time job at some point. This is the year where they need to solidify the program. 

Other top mid-majors

I'm talking true mid-majors here, not Gonzaga, St. Mary's, etc. Vermont is a team you always have to put there. Teams to remember for March: Yale, North Texas, Drake, UC Irvine, Charleston, Stephen F. Austin, Indiana State (if you want to watch beautiful offense, this is the team), Hofstra, Long Beach State and Kent State. 

Gonzaga's dominant run will not happen

Gonzaga is going to be just fine this year. In fact on our sportsbook they are sitll heavily favored to win the WCC. But St. Mary's is the play for me at +130 to win the WCC. I love their guard Adian Mahaney. He was awesome as a freshman, who basically almost beat Gonzaga on his own. They have enough power around him and Randy Bennett can coach his ass off. Again, I don't think there's a big gap between them and Gonzaga, in fact St. Mary's was picked to win the league in preseason votes. 


Future bets

My favorite title bets as of now: 

Arizona 22/1

Kentucky 18/1 (just an auto bet for me)

Michigan State 12/1 (hope to wait for better odds) 

Arkansas 30/1

Conference title winners

Memphis +165 AAC

Marquette +250 Big East

Michigan State +300 Big 10

New Mexico +400 MWC

St. Mary's +130 WCC

All-American Team

Zach Edey (Purdue), Hunter Dickinson (Kansas), Tyler Kolek (Marquette), Boogie Ellis (USC), Wade Taylor (Texas A&M)

Underrated teams relative to preseason top-25

Arizona, Arkansas, Kentucky, USC, Xavier, Saint Mary's

See everyone all season. Can't wait to argue about dumb shit and get mad at charges again.