College basketball officially kicked off last week, and I am absolutely pumped. It seems like this year has more storylines than ever. Unlike the inevitable Warriors title coming this NBA season, the champion in college basketball is anything but a certainty, despite what Duke fans may currently be saying.
1. Zion destroying the rimGiphy
Screw a national championship, if Zion doesn't break a backboard this year, the season was a failure. As a known Duke hater, it is painful for me to admit how much fun it is to watch this guy play. This isn't like Duke teams of old where you could hate on turds like Jon Scheyer and Greg Paulus. This team is electric and might have the top 3 picks in the NBA draft. If you thought the hype around Trae Young was bad last year, this will be on a whole different level. There isn't a better hate-watch in all of sports.
2. Complaining about seniors who are still in schoolGiphy
No one will ever surpass the legend above, Aaron Craft, but this is always my favorite tradition in college basketball. Every year there are countless teams that you turn on and proceed to scream at your TV, "wait a minute, that guy is STILL in college!?" My award winner this year is Wisconsin Center Ethan Happ, but I am excited to discover plenty of other 35-year-old men still playing college basketball.
3. The lowest scoring game everGiphy
Mark your calendar for March 4th, 2019. This is when Virginia travels to play Syracuse in what will be the lowest scoring game in the history of college basketball. These two teams are currently ranked number 1 and 2 in KenPom's defensive efficiency ratings and absolutely mall teams on that end of the court. As a Syracuse fan, I find the zone a thing of beauty but I understand when many fans call it an eyesore. They are just jealous of the Orange's length and grit.
4. The Nevada hype trainGiphy
I will immediately love any team that has a coach named "Musselman" who takes his shirt off to celebrate NCAA tournament victories. Throw in an incredible set of twins that further contributed to the suffering of NC State basketball fans by transferring from one wolfpack to another, leading their new pack to success that State hasn't sniffed in years, and you've got a fun team on your hands. Don't worry State fans, Kevin Keatts is a winner. The hype is incredibly high on Nevada meaning this season is either going to be an incredible success or a trainwreck. Either way, I'm here for it.
5. FBI falloutGiphy
So the FBI didn't exactly come in and change the whole sport of college basketball like we thought they would. Three sneaker guys got arrested and that seems to be about it. Still, the cloud of the investigation is still hovering over some programs and its always fun to predict which team's wins will be vacated in five years. The corruption in college basketball is part of the fun at this point.
6. St. John's being backGiphy
Remember that crazy two-week stretch last year where St. John's beat Duke and Villanova? Well, this season I think this team will play a lot more like they did during that stretch than literally all of their other games. The reason why? Shamorie Ponds. The kid is a walking bucket and as exciting as any player in the country when he's on a heat-check. I expect the Red Storm to make some noise the first weekend in March.
7. Bill Walton calling gamesGiphy
It's a good thing that Bill Walton announces Pac-12 games because I would never want him calling an actual good basketball game. His incoherent ramblings about things from China's economy to earth's orbit are legendary. Walton will try his hardest to talk about literally anything besides basketball. When he does talk about the game, he refers to the Pac-12 as the "conference of champions" even though a team from that conference hasn't won a title since 1997.
8. Coach Cal alternating between saying "kids" and "guys"Giphy
Everyone knows John Calipari recruits one-and-dones. When those one-and-dones are good, they are his "guys." When they are bad, they are his "kids." This season, Calipari was immediately on the "guys" train, but after the embarrassing Duke loss, I know he will go right back to "kids." The battle between guys and kids is the always the most relevant battle in the SEC.
9. Seeing how UVA will choke this yearGiphy
March madness doesn't truly start until Virginia chokes. I don't care if it's blowing a 15 point to lead to Syracuse in the elite 8 or becoming the first 1 seed to lost to a 16, Tony Bennett always knows how to fail when it counts. It's a shame that it has to happen to such a nice guy but it's too funny not to root for. Get ready for Virginia to be incredible all year, just not in March.