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32 Reasons I'm Excited for the 2016-17 College Basketball Season

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We’re so close to college basketball season it hurts. So with the thanks of a simple gchat from our buddy Captain Cons (check out Zero Blog Thirty) it got me thinking. His question was ‘what are you excited about for this upcoming season?’ I decided to go with 32 because it’s half of the most important number in college basketball and well, let’s be honest. No one is reading 64 reasons to be excited.

I’m sure other sites have run this before, but hey, I don’t write for this sites and this list is the reasons why I’m cised – and you should probably feel the same way. However, if there’s something that gets you jazzed up for college hoops, let me know @barstoolreag

32. The New Ivy League

This isn’t the Ivy League of old. First off, there’s legit talent in this league, with Princeton being No. 35 in KenPom’s rankings. However, this is the first year of the Ivy League’s postseason tournament. Instead of giving the auto bid to the regular season winner, there will be a four-team playoff.

31. Xavier vs Cincinnati

One of the better rivalries in college basketball should be at its peak this year. Both teams are top-25/30 teams to start the season and come late January we’ll know just how good these teams are.

30. Marquette’s New Uniforms

These new uniforms are pretty silly. As part of the Jordan brand, Marquette got a facelift and they are paying homage to both the 1971 and 1977 teams. The dark and baby blue ones are gold.

29. Justin Robinson

The dude is 5’8” and one of the most electric players in the country. As a diminutive sized person myself, watching a 5’8” dude tear it up warms my heart. He’ll make a case for All-American and try to get Monmouth in to the NCAA Tournament.

28. The A-10 Race

The Atlantic-10 is the best ‘non power’ conference out there and this year you’re going to want to pay attention to Rhode Island and Dayton. Both teams are loaded and should be in the top-25 all year. Not to mention VCU as a third team who can make a run.

27. Watching OG Anunoby Play Defense

Anunoby made a name for himself by coming on late last season, especially in the NCAA Tournament. While his offensive game still isn’t great, he’s arguably the best defender in the country. At 6’8” he can guard multiple positions and is always due for a ridiculous block.

26. Monte Morris Becoming a Scorer

Monte Morris has been my favorite player to watch in college basketball the last three years. He’s one of the most gifted passers we’ve seen and hardly turns the ball over. However, this year he’s going to have to be a scorer for Iowa State and with Steve Prohm at head coach – expect him to win some awards.

25. Jay Bilas Bashing the NCAA

One of my favorite things is every Saturday getting to listen to Jay Bilas all day. It starts with GameDay where he takes shots at the NCAA. Then during the primetime game he takes shots again. He’s the best and usually most logical guy out there.

24. Rupp Arena Ice Cream

I said this is my list and while you can’t enjoy a beer at Rupp Arena, they have the best Ice Cream not named Dairy Queen. If you go to a UK game, treat yourself to a cone at halftime.

23. Drinking At the Flight Deck at Xavier and Dayton

Two great arenas are Xavier’s Cintas Center and Dayton’s UD Arena. On top of that they have a bar with a great beer selection on the upper decks. The views are still great and you can stand there and watch the game or bring the beer back to your seat. You can catch me at those Flight Decks during the games.

22. Remembering The Guys Who Have been in College for 17 Years

I gave out my team of the ‘How the Hell are they still in college?’ a couple weeks ago, but there are still names out there. Every year during the first month of basketball, people end up tweeting a name, which cracks me up. I look forward to that. I’m looking at you Rodney Purvis.

21. A New Tom Crean Face

Every year we are given a gift. That gift is Tom Crean taking the worst/most hysterical picture of the year. I mean look at these gems we’ve gotten since he’s been at Indiana:

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  1. The ACC/Big 10 Challenge

Both conferences are considered the best in America this year and they have a legit four national title contenders between them. We’ll get to see a bunch of top-25 matchups and for two days we get quality nonconference games on ESPN.

  1. The Top-5 Teams in the Country

With all the rankings coming out, the one thing that’s certain is everyone agrees on the top-5 in some order. Those teams are Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, Oregon and Villanova. With each representing a different conference, can we have a repeat of 2014 where 3 of the top-4 teams in the preseason all made the Final Four?

  1. Shaka Running Havoc with Jarrett Allen

Jarrett Allen is a five-star freshman who is the perfect big guy to run Shaka’s Havoc defense. With his athleticism and height, Shaka and the Longhorns can press all day and trap wherever they want. To me they are the second best team in the Big 12 and should make a jump in Shaka’s second year.

  1. Dennis Smith Jr

I’m here for Dennis Smith Jr. this year. The freshman at NC State is beyond good. A year after tearing his ACL, I’m being told he looks as good, if not better than before the injury – so that should wipe away any fears from Wolfpack fans. He’s in contention for the No. 1 pick and will make NC State forget all about Cat Barber.

  1. Betting on Noon Games

There’s nothing better than the season kicking off and we get games at noon on a Wednesday. Everyone loves a little sweat in the early afternoon and for a week stretch we get that to help us get through our work days. Be prepared to hit those overs, Glenny.

  1. Watching Roy Williams Lose a Game Late for His Team

Last year we got to see it in all its glory. The day after Big Cat and I spent 15 minutes on a podcast talking about how we both don’t love Roy as a head coach anymore, we got to see him in action against Duke. It happens once a year and I’m giddy to see how it goes down this year.

  1. Watching Melo Trimble Pretending He Still Wants to be at Maryland

Last year was supposed to be the year. Melo was going to be an All-American and lead Maryland to the Final Four as one of the favorites for the national championship. Instead he didn’t look like an All-Conference player and Maryland stumbled throughout the season. Now, that roster is gone – except for Melo – and he gets to play with a whole new crew. He’s going to go into fuck it mode at some point this season take the world on by himself. It will be glorious.

  1. Gus Johnson and Bill Raftery

If you don’t like either of them – especially Bill Raftery – be prepared to catch some hands. Fox got lucky when they were able to bring both of these guys on and ESPN lost the greatest broadcasting group ever. However, Big East fans are blessed to be able to hear these two and every game start with ‘man-to-man’ by Raft. He’s an American treasure and I highly recommend watching the documentary about his life called ‘With a Kiss.’ Now, just some of his best work:

  1. Josh Hart Channeling his Inner Buddy Hield

There were reports that Josh Hart wants to be more aggressive this year – citing Buddy Hield’s work last year as something he’d like to do. However, Hart was the most efficient player in the country last year and with Jay Wright’s system it’s hard to see that happening. You have to assume Wright will give Hart some leeway and watching him attack more will be a ton of fun.

  1. John Calipari’s Recruiting Pitch

Every interview John Calipari does turns into a sales pitch and it’s glorious. Whether he’s hyping up one of his players for the NBA Draft/Scouts or talking about the UK program because he knows recruits are watching, he’s the best ever at turning everything into a sales pitch. Each year he has an absurd quote and that won’t change this year.

  1. The Superstar Freshmen

There’s a reason NBA scouts have been circling this draft. It’s loaded with talent, thanks to an impressive freshman class. We talked a little about Dennis Smith, but throw in Markelle Fultz, Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum, Josh Jackson, Bam Adebayo, Malik Mon, De’Aaron Fox, Miles Bridges, Rawle Atkins and the list goes on. There might not be a Karl-Anthony Towns here, but this class should resemble the one from a couple years ago from just a talent standpoint.

  1. The Champions Classic

In one of the smartest moves in recent memory, the Champions Classic closes out the best night of the year. To end the 24 hour TipOff Marathon, Kansas, Kentucky, Duke and Michigan State get together in rotating cities to play each other. This year all four teams are preseason top-15 and despite not having Harry Giles and possibly Jayson Tatum, a ton of NBA talent will be on display. The matchups this year are Kansas vs Duke and Kentucky vs Michigan State.

  1. Can Wisconsin Live Up to the Hype

For the second time in three years Wisconsin has a ton of hype in the preseason. They return practically everyone from a team that made the Sweet 16 last year and is the favorite to win the Big 10 this year. As a top-10 team, with a ton of talent and experience how will they look in their first full year under Greg Gard?

  1. Our First Real Chance for a Team to go Back-to-Back

For the first time since Florida did it in 2006 and 2007, we have a team who has a legit chance to go back to back in Villanova. They return a good core of players – usually the problem when it comes to teams trying to repeat – and should win 30 games again.

  1. The National Player of the Year Race

For the first time in quite some time it feels like we have the most wide open NPOY race to start the season. There are about 10 different guys to choose from and it’s easy to find a reason why each will and won’t win. I still think Josh Hart is the favorite, but with the likes of Fultz, Allen, Jackson and Smith right behind him.

  1. Can A Major Coach Finally Lose His Final Four Virginity

I’m looking at three in particular here. Mark Few, Tony Bennett and Sean Miller are three coaches who are way too good to have never coached a Final Four. All three have teams in the preseason top-15 and legit shots to make the Final Four. Miller has been the closest losing some heartbreaking Elite Eights in a row (I’m still pissed Derrick Williams didn’t go to the bucket against UConn and I lost my bet in Vegas). If either of these three teams get to the Elite Eight, this will be a major storyline.

  1. How Does Grayson Allen Piss Everyone Off This Year

Last year it was the tripping. The constant tripping, to where everyone turned on Grayson Allen. I’m all for it. I don’t want him to change his image as much as he talks about wanting to shed the villain. Be Christian Laettner, damnit. Let America hate you. You play for Duke and Coach K. Go stab someone in the eye during a game or punt a ball in the stands. He’s going to do something this year to truly piss everyone off.

  1. The Two Best Rivalries in the Game

Four of the most storied programs make up the two best rivalries in the sport. Duke-UNC and Louisville-Kentucky are the best of the best when it comes to hatred. It also happens that all four teams are good this year, meaning each game will have some major implications come rankings and selection Sunday.

  1. The NCAA Tournament

It’s simply the best. There’s nothing like it in sports and it’s the absolute best postseason event we have. You get the two days of pure bliss. Blowing off work to watch Middle Tennessee State beat Michigan State on a Friday. Degenerate gambling. Crazy-ass plays like UNI’s halfcourt shot at the buzzer. Kids from midmajors making names for themselves.

  1. Everyone Reading This and Getting Irrationally Mad or Giddy

I’m dead serious when I say I love arguing about this sport. It’s probably what makes my group of friends, friends. We sit around arguing about something. That goes for Twitter and everything here. The beauty and ugliness with sports is how much we care about the laundry worn by a particular team. People get irrationally mad if you diss their team and it’s beautiful.