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.
Oh Big Blue Nation, you need your own reality show; one that’s hosted by a Celebrity Rehab cast-off.
Many of you guys are convinced that The New York Times’ Pete Thamel is out to bring down the Calipari Regime, but the fact of the matter is you guys are a moving target stuck to a neon sign that says "PAY ATTENTION TO ME!" Thamel, who was rightfully criticized for a bit of fact-fudging and misquoting, took the lead on Eric Bledsoe's Transcriptgate, and tracked down Nedim Karakas, Fenerbahce Ulker's general manager, to get the Enes Kanter story rolling.
While the NCAA likely didn't need Thamel to break the story for an official investigation, it allowed the layperson to develop an understanding of what many prep and college coaches, and recruiting experts were murmering all along: that Kanter was a "pro" long ago and would be poisonous to whatever college team he signed with.
Some exclaimed that the NCAA's new rule that deemed young, European players who played professionaly overseas then came stateside to play in college, as mere prep, or even JuCo transfers who received monetary compensation to live on their own. That certainly occured in the case of Kanter, but the additional $33,030 served as the tipping point that sends him back to Turkey.
The loss of what many considered the best freshman big man drops the Wildcats down a few notches on our list. We were ready to crown them as the most intriguing team for this season, but question marks abound as to just how successful this team can be with no formidable frontcourt player in its rotation.
Ah well, Calipari has lured and stolen some of the most prominent names in the classes of 2010 and 2011 to Lexington. At the very least, it's ensures more banner days (figuratively, not, like up-in-the-rafters banner) lie ahead.What happened this summer:
Hmmm, where to begin. If you're looking for a refresher, we're thinking you can't be saved or brought up to speed in the concise manner we provide this information. From Bledsoe to Kanter, Anthony Davis and the Chicago Sun-Times, and a bevy of top 10 recruits for 2011 that should create more great days UK basketball history, it was another busy summer down in Lexington.
Games that really matter:
- 11/22-24 @ Maui Invitational
- 12/4 @ North Carolina
- 12/11 vs. Indiana
- 12/31 @ Louisville
- 1/8 @ Georgia
- 2/5 @ Florida
- 2/8 vs. Tennessee
Most intriguing player:
Brandon Knight (6'3" guard; freshman) - The latest point guard to to sign-up for Calipari's Dribble Drive Offense as a way to hone his game in preparation for the pros, Knight showed what he's capable of during the team's August trip to Canada. In three games, the floor leader averaged 25 points and 8 assists. More Derrick Rose than John Wall, Knight will be called upon to score in bunches as well as run the offense. Additionally, the precocious one is already maturing. As a high-school senior, Knight sported dreads, only to lop them off this summer upon arriving on campus. He's already getting it.
What's on the line:
Only the well-being of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Duh!
We all know that football is often the #1 sport on our college campuses, but we also all know that hoops reigns supreme like no other in Lexington. A national brand that's a religion locally, John Calipari has restored the glory for UK, also putting enormous pressure on himself and players each season to win a national title. Problem here is that their current philosophy to sign as many top 10 recruits each fall is not the right approach at building a roster capable of cutting down nets. Companies cannot succeed or earn a favorable reputation with high turnover among employees, and the same rules apply in college sports.
Attention you'll receive, national championships you will not.
The loss of Kanter really hurts Kentucky, to the effect that now this young team has no frontcourt and could struggle to see the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament. A team where previous year's statistics are virtually irrelevant given the prominence of one-and-done players, it's difficult to gauge what to expect, but we think Cal will play a very up-tempo style that emphasizes a high-volume of possession and putting the ball in the hands of Knight and fellow freshman Terrence Jones.
- Conference: 2nd in SEC-East
- Postseason: Sweet 16