A traditional pre-season top 25? They’re fairly ubiquitous this time of year. Everyone has one, but from Duke to Mississippi Valley State and in between, there’s a lot of intriguing teams for the upcoming college basketball season.
In ascending order of squads that pique our interest, our list consists of teams with a rare chance to make noise, have a lot to prove, quirky schedules, or are just named Kentucky.
Follow along. Story lines aren’t just for the nation’s elite.
There was a lot of crappy news received during the off-season. Crappy in a sense that a law degree or solid fluency of the NCAA Rulebook was required just to type up an honest and educated opinion on the matter.
We just want to watch games and criticize a team's atrocious transition "D"!
Then, roughly 12 hours after it was street legal for teams to practice and play under the supervision of coaches, Purdue lost arguably their most important player, the Big 10's fourth leading returning scorer and rebounder, and favorite human being to some in the media. We don't get to see Robbie Hummel play basketball this season. It's just so crushing.
I love teams that grow with us and improve almost in linear fashion. Matt Painter's precocious class of 2007 had been talked about almost as saviors since they arrived in West Lafayette. As freshman, the trio of Robbie Hummel, JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore tasted the second round of the NCAA Tournament - going down in a hotly contested game against Xavier. Then, in 2009 a more seasoned squad with three super sophomores two juniors that loved to play defense, and a guy named Namanja danced to the Sweet 16. Last year, with Hummel out, they exited stage right once again in the third round - making this the season.
Now they're more of an enigma than a contender, a team that likely won't win many games outshooting opponents and certainly not the 2nd most intriguing team we originally pegged them as in early September.
What happened this summer?*
Fans sat on pins and needles as Johnson and Moore weighed their options at the pro level. The school remembered the late John Wooden, class of 1932. A deal was struck to pit Purdue against fellow Hoosier State school Butler in the Crossroads Classic.
Games that really matter
- 12/1 @ Virginia Tech
- 1/16 @ West Virginia
- 1/22 vs. Michigan State
- 1/25 @ Ohio State
- 2/13 @ Illinois
- 2/27 @ Michigan State.
Most intriguing player
Robbie Hummel (6'8" forward; senior) - How is this possible? Well, just because most recognizable face, the centerpiece to your team, is sidelined for the season, doesn't necessarily remove him from the equation. Hummel, in a nice oxford and slacks or basketball jersey, will remain as an integral part to the Boilermakers season. I have a premonition that by conference play ESPN's Tom Rinaldi will script a video essay on this guy, or Dana O'Neil will pen a heartwarming piece that highlights Hummel's importance to his team as its biggest fan, supporter and unpaid assistant coach. Just watch, Robbie Hummel will still be a visible figure during this college basketball season, serving as inspiration for his teammates.
What’s on the line?
Despite that uplifting outlook on Hummel we, to be honest, are not quite sure what this team has on the line. Expectations have been severely deflated, and it's just an unfortunate situation that the once achievable goal to reach the Final Four (they haven't done it since 1980) is now an incredibly daunting task. Frankly, there is no concrete answer as to what constitutes a successful season for the Boilermakers.
- Conference: 3nd (possibly 4th if Illinois overachieves)
- Postseason: Sweet 16