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Week of College Basketball Lists: 64 Reasons I'm Excited for the 2017-18 Season

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Lists – they are a helluva thing. It’s the easiest thing to argue over. Why isn’t my team ranked higher? Why is this player better than that? It’s completely subjective yet you’ll use stats and numbers to prove someone wrong or right. It’s a beautiful thing.

So that’s what we’re doing this week. This is the college basketball preview using lists. We’ll look at the top-50 players in the country, the best coaches currently in the game, what non-conference games you need to pay attention to, among some other things. Going to try and break up the previews this season a little differently by adding things like this, if you want something specific, let me know @barstoolreags.

Top-50 Players

Top-50 Coaches 

We’re just about to get in the swing of basketball season. Practices are underway, exhibition games are about to happen and the regular season is about 3 weeks out. Thanks to a imple 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 64, because, well, it’s the number of teams in the NCAA Tournament. Spare my the first four garbage, it’s 64 teams.

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.

64. Exhibition Games for Charity

In what’s been a really cool movement, a bunch of teams have scheduled an exhibition game this year to help benefit hurricane relief efforts. I know that it won’t be as special as a regular game, but it’s cool to see these programs band together for this.

63. Wichita State stepping up 

Wichita State is not a midmajor. It hasn’t been a midmajor for a few years now. They’ll continue to shed that as they make the move from the MVC to the AAC. This is something that helps the American as well as the conference needed another strong basketball program to push them more towards the major 6.

62. 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.

61. UNC Running a Small-Ball Lineup

The Tar Heels have never run this small-ball lineup, something that they will be forced to do this year. I expect that to mean an even faster tempo and more of Joel Berry being a star.

60. Cincinnati Playing at NKU’s Arena

It’s a rare circumstance, but Cincinnati a top-20 team will be forced to play home games away from home. 5/3 Arena is being renovated, something that is long overdue and should look awesome when completed. This year though they will be playing over the river at Northern Kentucky in what should just be a weird set up.

59. 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.

58. Emmett Naar and Jock Landale Running Pick and Rolls

St. Mary’s loves to run Landale in the pick and roll set. Throw in a guard in Naar who is an excellent passer and even better at setting his defender up for the screen and you have one of the most efficient offenses in the country.

57. Shaka Running Havoc with Mo Bama

This is the year where Shaka should be able to finally run his Havoc defense. I thought that last year, but Smart went with the two-big lineup (something that never made sense). This year though he has Mo Bamba – an extremely agile and large human being.

56. 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.

55. Grand Canyon Trying to Make the NCAA Tournament

If you haven’t read the first two entries, I’m following Grand Canyon this year with special access for Barstool. They are eligible for the NCAA Tournament for the first time this year and have a legit shot at making it. Throw in Dan Majerle as head coach and all us 80s/90s kids should be on board.

54. Kentucky Trying to Run Positionless Basketball

That’s a phrase you’ll hear quite often when it comes to Kentucky this year. They have a bunch of dudes in that 6’6-6’9″ size range that can guard multiple positions. Just how will it work in Lexington?

53. The Race for the No. 1 NBA Draft Pick

Obviously there’s a major piece missing in college basketball this year in Luka Doncic, but watching Marvin Bagley and Michael Porter Jr. battle out for the best prospect from college will be fascinating. Deandre Ayton and Mo Bamba aren’t far behind them.

52. The Big East

The Big East gets a bad rap from the casual fan because it’s not ‘the REAL Big East.’ They have been one of the 3 best conferences in college basketball the last five years and that trend continues this year. The Big East is the second best conference in America this year.

51. Xavier vs Cincinnati 

One of the better rivalries in college basketball should be at its peak this year. Both teams are top-20 teams to start the season and come early December, we’ll start to have an idea just how good these teams are.

50. Basketball in Los Angeles

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No, I’m not talking about Milos Teodosic (although he’s a top-5 thing to be excited about in the year of 2017). I’m talking about USC and UCLA. The Trojans are a top-10 team while UCLA is still a top-15/20 team despite losing Lonzo Ball, Bryce Alford, TJ Leaf and more.

49. Chris Holtmann at Ohio State

Ohio State should be a program that never stinks at basketball. They have a nice recruiting area, a ton of money and decent history. Chris Hotlmann will turn this program around and I’m looking forward to that.

48. Brad Underwood at Illinois

See above about Ohio State, but multiply it even more.

47. URI Living up to Expectatons

It’s another year where expectations are pretty high for Rhode Island. They got hot towards the end of last year, but ultimately the regular season didn’t feel like the Rams lived up to what everyone thought they would be. They are the favorites in the A-10 this year and should be a top-8 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

46. David Padgett – Interim Coach

This is going to be one of the biggest story lines in the country this year. Padgett is taking over a program that is a mess, but still a top-10 team. I’m hoping he can excel with this group of guys and keep Louisville relevant. College basketball is better when Louisville is good.

45. Mike Brey’s Offense with Bonzie Colson

Mike Brey is an offensive wizard. The way he finds a mismatch and uses a variety of cuts and NBA play calling to take advantage of that mismatch is a sight to behold. He has that with Bonzie Colson this year and it’s worth watching Notre Dame.

44. Doris Burke Calling Games

I’ve done a complete 180 on Doris Burke the last couple of years. When she first came on the scene I thought she was trying too hard to be like Dickie V or having a shtick. She’s gotten back to just breaking down the game and calling what she sees – something she’s great at.

43. 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?’ last week, 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 Marcus Lee.

42. Jevon Carter becoming an All-American

Jevon Carter is one of the most fun guys in the country to watch – especially if you enjoy individual defense. He forces turnovers, flies around the court and looks 45 years old. He shot 39% from the 3-pt line last year. If he does that again you’re looking at a possible All-American. Not to mention this sweet personalized NDPOY hat:

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41. John Beilein’s Two-Guard Offense

It’s my favorite offense to watch in the country. Michigan is so disciplined in where and how to cut and how to read the defense. Beilein is so goddamn smart.

40. The PK80 Classic

The Phil Knight Classic begins this year and it’s absolutely loaded. There are 16 teams in general including UNC, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Oregon, UConn, Michigan State, Duke, Butler, Texas, Florida and Gonzaga.

39. Making Fun of Georgetown’s Schedule

Georgetown is in desperate need of a turnaround under Patrick Ewing. They are at least trying to guarantee wins this year with that schedule. Just so many sub-300 teams and backing out of the PK80 Classic. There will be plenty of jokes, which I’m very here for.

38. 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.

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37. The National Player of the Year Race

Another year the NPOY race is wide open. Most people are pegging Miles Bridges as preseason NPOY, but with Jalen Brunson, Michael Porter, Grayson Allen, Joel Berry, etc. there are plenty of guys that can catch Bridges. Last year we saw Frank Mason win the award, we could easily see something like that again.

36. Maryland’s Offense without Melo Trimble

Melo Trimble was a good player. Maryland’s offense will be better this year. Both can be factually correct. The growth of Kevin Huerter/Justin Jackson/Anthony Cowans and the better ball movement will be there this year, making Maryland’s offense better. Last year they deferred to Melo and let him play ISO ball at times.

35. Someone Losing a Buy-Game

It happens every year. Some big time program brings in a small conference team for the automatic win and next thing you know they are down 6 with a minute to go. I love when it happens as it typically does on a late Friday night or Sunday during football.

34. Devonte’ Graham Moving to Point

Devonte’ Graham is a point guard. He’s had to play off the ball during his time at Kansas though due to playing alongside Frank Mason. This year he moves to the lead ball handler spot and I’m anxious to see how he does there.

33. Jim Boehiem Looking Disgusted And/Or Picking His Nose

Ah, a tradition unlike any other:

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32. The Big 10’s Schedule

I think it’s dumb, but it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out. Because the Big 10 wants to play at MSG and reach its footprint to NYC, the conference is playing the conference tournament a week early. That means there will be December conference games. All in all it’s stupid, but it’s the first time.

31. The Mike Daum Show

Every so often we fall in love with a player who lights up the box score and plays for a non blueblood program. We did it with Jimmer and Steph. We should be doing it with Mike Daum. He’s the nation’s leading scorer returning and is a legit NBA prospect at South Dakota State. The dude is 6’9″ and shoots over 42% from the 3-point line. Get in on the Mike Daum show before it’s too late.

30. Angel Delgado Racking up Double-Doubles

Angel Delgado was arguably as effective as Caleb Swanigan last year (and possible more effective from January on). He’s a walking double-double, who put up 15/13 last year. He’s going to do that at a minimum again this year while being an All-American. He also has a great backstory and is a dude you should cheer to succeed.

29. The Champions Classic

The best non-tournament event each year is the Champions Classic. Duke, Michigan State, Kentucky and Kansas playing a double-header in what used to be part of the 24 hour tipoff marathon (RIPIP). This year all four teams are top-10 teams which means we should have 2 awesome games.

28. Collin Sexton

He’s easily my favorite player in the country this year. He’s the type of guy that can change a program and plays pissed off 100% of the time. Likes to get up and down the court, willing passer and will yam on/fight anyone in the gym.

27. The Four Sophomores at Michigan State

It’s crazy that Izzo only has one title with how good of a coach he is. That said, he has arguably his best chance yet and that’s due to the sophomore class. He had the Flintstones before and we don’t have a name for this group – but Bridges/Winston/Ward/Langford is the best sophomore group in the country. I’m excited to watch them all make the leap under Izzo.

26. Tom Crean in Studio

I actually think Crean was really good during the NBA Draft night and even the Final Four. Also excellent on Pardon My Take – I hear they are popular. While I hate that ESPN/CBS/Fox just loads up on former coaches, Crean was a good hire.

25. How Will Grayson Allen Piss People 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.

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24. College of Charleston being a Cinderella 

Every year there seems to be a midmajor that gets a couple early wins and then come NCAA Tournament time you’re picking them in the 12/5 game. That’s going to be College of Charleston this year. They have a star in Joe Chealey who averaged over 17 a game last year. They are the favorites to win the CAA and keep an eye on them during the regular season.

23. America East Race

My favorite midmajor conference featuring two of my favorite teams. Vermont is the favorite to win the America East with Albany as a close second. Come conference tournament title game I’d be shocked if someone else is there besides these two and the rivals have played classic title games. Anthony Lamb and Trae Bell-Haynes are legit players for Vermont.

22. Dick Vitale

Say what you want about him but the dude genuinely loves college basketball. His cheesy sayings are timeless and if you can still get that jazzed up for college basketball, you’re worth mentioning.

21. The SEC Finally Arriving

It’s been talked about for a few years now with the coaches the SEC brought in and how they should be competing at a higher level. This is the year we finally see it. The middle of the pack has gotten stronger and there are plenty of NBA prospects in the conference outside of Kentucky guys. They should send six teams to the NCAA Tournament.

20. Ethan Happ Extending His Range

During the offseason we’ve seen reports that Ethan Happ has been working on his outside shooting. This is a guy who scored 99% of the time inside the post and is extremely polished there. If he extends his range that just opens up a whole new part of the game for him as he’s already one of the best post players in the country.

19. Northwestern Dealing with Expectations

Northwestern finally got the NCAA Tournament monkey off its back. Now, they need to capitalize. This is the best team that Northwestern has arguably ever had. They need to finish in the top-4 in the Big 10 and be a top-6 seed in the NCAA Tournament. How will they manage now that they those lofty expectations instead of just making the NCAA Tournament?

18. Is Scott Drew an Elite Coach? 

The question that is the running joke inside of college basketball. Look, he’s done the best rebuilding job in the history of the sport and turned Baylor into something. They are a fringe top-25 team this year and it’s worth just talking about Drew doing that instead of his flaws.

17. Villanova Losing Home Court Advantage

I mentioned it earlier with Cincinnati having to play at NKU, Nova won’t have on-campus games this year. The Pavilion is getting redone which means games will be held over at Wells Fargo. Nova was lights out at The Pavilion – will they have the same sort of luck at Wells Fargo?

16. The NCAA on CBS Theme Song

It’s absolute fire. Good luck not whistling this the rest of the day.

15. Bruce Brown and Lonnie Walker

Lonnie Walker was just cleared to play after having surgery on his knee. That’s huge news for Miami – a team that is a top-10/15 team in the country. They have one of the best backcourts in the country in Walker and Brown. Throw in Larranaga at head coach who thrives working with guards and it’s going to be a lot of fun to watch.

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14. 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 expected to be good again this year, meaning each game will have some major implications come rankings and selection Sunday.

13. Marquette’s Offense

Marquette is going to be one of the most offensive teams in the country this year. They will hoist up a million threes, get up and down and spread you out. They have the ability to beat anyone in the country because of that or lose to anyone when they go 2-for-29 from the 3-point line.

12. Makai Mason Returns to Yale

Makai Mason was a monster when Yale beat Baylor two seasons ago in the NCAA Tournament. He was an electric point guard that averaged 16 and 4 in the regular season. He missed last year with a broken foot and returns this year to Yale. However, there’s a caveat. Since you only have 4 years of eligibility and can’t redshirt in the Ivy League, Mason has one year left after this and he already announced he’ll be a grad transfer at Baylor in 2018-19. I don’t remember that ever happening before.

11. A Full Year of Allonzo Trier

Trier is in the mix for NPOY and I just hope we get to see him for an entire year. During his freshman year he was injured and missed some time. Last year he missed half the season to a suspension. Arizona is a top-4 team and Trier is one of the best scorers in the game.

10. Tyler Hall Going Full Jimmer

I mentioned Mike Daum as a midmajor to watch. Another is Tyler Hall from Montana State. He averaged 23 per game last year as a sophomore and has range well past the NBA 3-point line. Don’t be surprised if you see him dropping 40 a couple of times.

9. Jaylen Adams Trying to Get St. Bonaventure to the NCAA Tournament

He put up 20.6 points, 6.5 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game last year on a 59.5 true-shooting percentage. He’s the only player in the last quarter-century of college basketball to hit all of those statistical thresholds in a single season. The A-10 is down this year, meaning St. Bonaventure could steal a bid if Adams gets hot in March.

8. Conference Tournament Week

Sneaky my favorite week of the year. There are more games on than ever, with them starting at noon. There tons of upsets and you still get the thrill of the NCAA Tournament win or go home mentality.

7. Landry Shamet Returning from Injury

Shamet is expected to miss a short amount of time after injuring his foot this offseason. That’s awesome news because Shamet could be the best point guard in the country this year. He has the ability to score at all three levels and is an NBA prospect.

6. Archie Miller at Indiana

Arguably the best hire this offseason was Indiana bringing in Archie Miller. He was wildly successful at Dayton and the biggest name to get whenever a head coaching job lined up. College basketball is better when Indiana isn’t just relevant but when it is good.

5. Watching the Coaches 

We are currently at a time where coaching has never been stronger in the sport. There are Hall of Famers. There are guys like Bobby Huggins who have 800 wins. It’s the absolute best right now. These guys are amazing with the attention to detail and in-game adjustments.

4. Can another Big Time Coach Lose His Final Four Virginity? 

Last year Mark Few finally made a Final Four. This year could we see a Sean Miller finally get there? What about Tony Bennett? 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 he doesn’t get there this year, Arizona fans will be loud about him losing in March.

3. 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:

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2. 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.