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Week of College Basketball Lists: Jerseys, NonConference Games, Rivalries and More

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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

64 Reasons to be Excited for the 2017-18 Season

Best Jerseys

1. UCLA Blues

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2. UNC Blues

UNC-SP-101116-RTW

3. Wake Forest Grey

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4. Notre Dame Green

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Notre Dame

5. Xavier Throwback Blue

6. Villanova White Throwback

AP NOTRE DAME VILLANOVA BASKETBALL S BKC T25 USA NJ

7. Illinois Throwback White

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8. Seton Hall White

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9. Richmond Blue

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10. Iowa State Red

Best NonConference Games

1. Michigan State vs Duke – Nov. 14 9:00pm

Pretty simple here. Two of the four best teams in the country. Two of the top 3 coaches in the country. This is one that you absolutely can’t miss if you’re a basketball fan.

2. Kentucky vs Kansas – Nov. 14 7:00 pm

The best part of the Champions Classic? Having a double header with four of the top-10 teams in the country and the four best coaches in the game right now. This will be a good test for both teams early due to the contrast in rosters. Kentucky has plenty of questions in the backcourt while Kansas has questions in the frontcourt.

3. Louisville at Kentucky – Dec. 29 1:00 pm

It’s easily the best nonconference rivalry and this year will be the first of a new era. The Pitino vs Calipari rivalry was such a great part to this game and added a whole new hatred. This year is the first with David Padgett and again will feature two top-10 teams.

4. Cincinnati at Xavier – Dec. 2 Noon 

This could arguably be the most competitive this rivalry has ever been. Both teams have expectations of the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament and are viewed at as sleeper Final Four picks. If everyone is healthy the Vegas line will be extremely close to a pick ‘em.

5. Notre Dame at Michigan State – Nov. 30 7:00 pm

Michigan State is a team that always schedules strong nonconference games. This is another one, granted it’s part of the ACC/Big 10 Challenge. Notre Dame is a dark horse favorite to win the ACC this year and the matchup of Notre Dame’s space and pace vs Michigan State’s depth will be fun to watch.

6. Miami at Minnesota – Nov. 29 9:15 pm

Two teams that have to live up to expectations this year. Miami and Minnesota are both top-15 teams and this is one of the more intriguing early season matchups for that reason. Whoever wins this, the media will start to talk about more. Bruce Brown vs Nate Mason is going to be all sorts of fun.

7. Kentucky at West Virginia – Jan. 27 Either 4:30 or 7:00 pm

These two teams have a little bit of a history, especially playing in the NCAA Tournament. Huggins used Joe Mazzulla to upset Calipari in the Elite Eight during his first season there. After that Kentucky beat West Virginia in the Round of 32 and then during the 2014-15 season embarrassed them in the game where Daxter Miles Jr., guaranteed an upset. Miles is still on the West Virginia team, so you know that will be talked about. Esa Ahmad will be back for this game and we may see two top-10 teams at the time.

8. Villanova vs Gonzaga – Dec. 5 7:00 pm

Yes, this isn’t the same Gonzaga team from last year but it’s still a top-25 team. There are a lot of individual matchups that are going to be worth watching. Josh Perkins vs Jalen Brunson and Johnathan Williams vs Omari Spellman are the two that jump out right away.

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9. Alabama at Arizona – Dec. 9 10:00 pm 

Two words. Collin Sexton. He’s going to be one of the most fun players in the country this year. You have an upstart Alabama team trying to solidify itself as a top-25 team while Arizona is a top-4 team. There’s plenty of talent with Sexton, Ayton, Trier and Petty. Plus, it’s late night on a Saturday. Things get weird late night on Saturday’s in sports.

10. Cincinnati vs Florida – Dec. 9  TBD

Both teams that will sort of need this win early on to solidify itself in the eyes of the casual fan. The Dec. 9 date is key as its after football season meaning this will game will be paid attention to. Florida will be without John Egbunu most likely, meaning will you see Cincinnati take advantage in the post? The Chiozza/Allen vs Broome/Evans/Cumberland backcourt matchup is what I’m here for though.

Players to Make the Jump

What I mean by the jump is the one you saw Luke Kennard make last year, or Matt Farrell for example. Guys that up their averages or become All-Conference type players. Typically they were either buried on the roster last year or you know their coach tends to develop someone better in year two. 

1. Kevin Huerter – Maryland

Kevin Huerter is an absolute playmaker. He’s similar to Kennard (not because they are both white lanky dudes) in that sense. During the U-19s he struggled shooting the ball, but he was still an important person to be on the floor because of his passing. With Maryland’s offense expected to be more fluid this year look for more open shots for Huerter and the ball in his hands more. The dude can play.

2. TJ Gibbs – Notre Dame

Every year there’s a guard that makes the jump for Notre Dame. Just look at what Matt Farrell did last year when he got his chance to be the starter. Notre Dame needs someone to fill in for Steve Vasturia and VJ Beachem. Gibbs has the talent to do that. He’ll need to up his shooting from 31% from the 3-point line. If that gets up to 36% or so, he’ll be averaging over 10 per game and the 3rd guy with Farrell and Colson.

3. Donte DiVicenzo – Villanova

It wouldn’t shock me if he ends up leading Villanova in scoring this year, especially if teams try to take away Jalen Brunson. He’s a guy that can beat you shooting the ball (36.5% last year) or take you off the bounce. He averaged 12ppg after February 1st, including 20+ point outbursts in the first rounds of the Big East and NCAA Tournament.

4. Aaron Holiday – UCLA

Holiday will get back to the starting lineup this year with the departures of Bryce Alford and Lonzo Ball. Despite being the 6th man last year he was still very effective averaging 12 points and 4 assists per game.

5. Jarron Cumberland – Cincinnati

Jacob Evans averaged about 8 ppg as a freshman and made the jump last year as a sophomore. Jarron Cumberland is in the same boat. He’s a good shooter at 35.5% and with Cincinnati needing someone to step up with Troy Caupain graduating, you can see Cumberland become more of a focal point offensively. He’s efficient offensively with an ORtg of 118.6 last year. I expect him to be better this year against those Tier A/B teams (106.3 ORtg) and truly be the third best player on Cincinnati.

6. Carsen Edwards – Purdue

I love Carsen Edwards’ game and the fact that he got to play for Team USA in the U-19s and in the World University Games with Purdue makes me think he’s going to be even better this year. I would not be surprised to see him up his scoring to 14 ppg and his shooting from 34% from the 3-point line to 38%. The guys that get to play in these international tournaments in the summer always seem to make the jump.

7. Khyri Thomas – Creighton

This will be year two of the jump for Khyri Thomas. As a sophomore he upped his minutes per game from 18 to 31 and doubled his scoring from 6ppg to 12ppg. Creighton will be as good as Thomas and Marcus Foster allow them to be, which means McDermott will script a lot of set plays for the two. He’s a career 40% 3-point shooter and with a higher usage rate this year, he’ll be a potential All-Big East selection.

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8. Johnathan Williams – Gonzaga

He averaged over 10 points and 6 rebounds per game and was used where his strengths let him dominate. This year the Gonzaga team will look at him to be its leading scorer. After losing Karnowski/Collins/Matthews/NWG, someone has to step up for Gonzaga and it makes sense as one of the two returning starters.

9. Kyle Guy – Virginia

I hate putting him here because he got rid of the manbun. But, Virginia needs either him or Ty Jerome to step up this year and I’m going with Guy. Virginia has been excellent when they have someone who can create their own shot late in the shot clock. Guy can do that. He’s a different sort of personality than what Bennett typically has, so the year adjustment should mean a huge jump.

10. D’Mitrik Trice – Wisconsin

There’s a lot of spot to fill on this Wisconsin roster with Koenig/Hayes/Showalter/Brown all gone. I liked what I saw out of Trice last year as the backup point guard and think you can slide him no problem into the starting role. He’s a decent defender, he shot 42% from the 3-point line and is a decent drive and kick guy.

Rivalries Not Named Duke/UNC or UK/Louisville

1. Xavier vs Cincinnati

These two programs full on hate each other. They are separated by just about 3 miles and we’ve seen the hate pour onto the court. Both fanbases scream about the other being little brother and who owns the city. It’s easily the third best rivalry in the country.

2. St. Mary’s vs Gonzaga

Easily the two best programs in the WCC has led to a fun rivalry. There’s not the sort of hate that you see in Xavier/Cincinnati or UK/Louisville, but they are constantly competing for the conference title.

3. UConn vs Syracuse

Good for both these programs on trying to keep the rivalry alive while in different conferences. Two of the bigger names in the game and the fact that they had the same coaches going against each other for so long helps. Hopefully we see this again when they are both good.

4. Indiana vs Purdue

The two schools are less than 100 miles away and this arguably the second best conference rivalry after UNC/Duke. Throw in the fact the state of Indiana loves its basketball so much and the history of Bob Knight vs Gene Keady.

5. Marquette vs Wisconsin

Another proximity rival, the two Wisconsin schools have played some memorable games the last couple of years. Just ask any former player from either school about the other and there’s plenty of disgust, years after they graduate. Both recruit locally so these guys know each other well.

6. UCLA vs Arizona

The two best teams in the Pac-12 have become a lot closer since the John Wooden days. Sean Miller likes to recruit southern California and LA, meaning you get the ‘guy comes home to play’ when they go to UCLA. Alford and Miller are starting to develop a little bit of a thing too, especially last year with the timeout shennaigans.

7. Kansas vs Kansas State

Yes, Kansas absolutely owns Kansas State, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great rivalry. The two teams pack the arenas and we’ve seen some classics. Kansas State is always trying to prove something to Kansas and this feels like a true big/little brother game.

8. Iowa vs Iowa State

It’s hard to imagine a state that produced Trent ever hating anything, but we have that here. There was Georges Niang blowing kisses. There’s been a lot chippy fouls. There’s been Trent and HeavensHawkeyes on Twitter saying they hate Iowa State – which is enough for me.

9. Utah vs BYU

The Holy War. There have been punches thrown in this game recently and even a brief hiatus for the programs to cool down. It’s one of the more entertaining rivalries as I had no idea the state of Utah could get that heated.

10. VCU vs Richmond

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Two schools separated by just six miles. On top of that you have a public school vs a private school. There’s legit hatred here and it shows on the defensive side of the ball. This game is always extremely physical with a couple of hard fouls.

Home Court Atmosphere 

When I mean atmosphere, I just mean everything from fan experience to tradition to noise to student section. This isn’t necessarily who has the best home court advantage, but which venues are the coolest or what student sections are the best. 

1. Phog Allen (Kansas)

2. Cameron Indorr (Duke)

I mean everyone knows the Cameron Crazies. It’s a small gym, old school style which is awesome. Yeah, there are a bunch of nerds dressed up and painted, but they are loud and historically great. An easy top-2 selection here.

3. McCarthy Athletic Center (Gonzaga)

4. Dee Glen Smith Spectrum (Utah State)

The Utah State fan base has been talked about for years now and it lives up to the hype. It’s one of the best student sections in the country and consistently sell out. Again, it’s a name that the casual fan may not now, but the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum is awesome. Never forget superfan Wild Bill who had plenty of pieces done on him.

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5. Rupp Arena (Kentucky)

Again, a huge name but Rupp Arena could be so much better. It gets loud simply because there’s 23,000 people there, which is an awesome atmosphere for big games and whenever a big name is there to be the Y. However, the student section is limited and it’s usually a hassle to get the blueheads to make noise.

6. Breslin Center (Michigan State)

This scene always sticks out for me when I think of the Michigan State fans, which is awesome. Love how they line the student section around and don’t throw them in the corner.

7. GCU Arena (Grand Canyon)

You don’t get praised from the likes of Rick Pitino as being the toughest place to play if you don’t have an awesome atmosphere. The Havocs are a great student section and the way they have set up the party before the game is incredibly smart.

8. Assembly Hall (Indiana)

Just a legendary arena with fans that sell the joint out no matter if they suck or not. Place is always loud, but the way that place was buzzing when they beat Kentucky back in 2011 was unreal.

9. Xfinity Center (Maryland)

Maryland’s student section doesn’t get enough credit. The flash mobs, the chants, the hey you suck, everything. It’s perfect. My only complaint is it’s not Cole Field House because I’ve become sappy in my mature age. Either way this is automatic on the list.

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10. Carrier Dome (Syracuse)

Similar to Rupp, the mere fact of how many people are in the arena is cool in itself. Love the tradition of standing until the first bucket.

Guys Who I Want to Have the Ball with 10 Seconds to Go in a One Possession Game: 

1. Jalen Brunson (Villanova)

2. Miles Bridges (Michigan State)

3. Allonzo Trier (Arizona)

4. Joel Berry (UNC)

5. Grayson Allen (Duke)

6. Tyler Hall (Montana State)

7. Mike Daum (South Dakota State)

8. Trevon Bluiett (Xavier)

9. Jalen Adams (UConn)

10. Jaylen Adams (St. Bonaventure)