10 Reasons We Can't Wait for the 2013-14 NCAA Basketball Season to Begin
This college basketball offseason has a stench to it.
And here's the good news: It's getting closer, and this season has the potential to be the most entertaining of this century.
You have (potentially) great players, the (potential) greatest recruiting class of all time and a (potential) repeat champ.
The dog days of summer have you down?
August is cr...aw...ling, but I can smell the potential of an amazing season overpowering that offseason stench. Let's get to the reasons for such optimism.
The Big Ten
The Big Ten season cannot be as good as it was last season.
The top five teams all had a realistic shot at the conference title at some point. The team tied for fourth (Michigan) made the national title game. Trey Burke, Victor Oladipo, Cody Zeller and Deshaun Thomas were all All-Americans. And almost every game with the five best teams came down to the wire.
Are we going to get a worthy encore? Maybe not. But there's still a lot of promise for something that's actually pretty good.
Michigan State is a legit title contender. Tom Crean is out to prove that he has some staying power after building IU back to a national power. Michigan has the potentially great duo of Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III. Iowa and Illinois are getting better. And Sam Dekker will make Wisconsin entertaining to watch even if you disdain slow-ball.
Kentucky's Pursuit of Perfection
Can Kentucky win 40 games?
I'm on record as a no. There's a reason no one has done it since 1976, and Indiana only had to win 32 games. Thirty-two.
But hey, I like that John Calipari is actually talking about it. Signing six McDonald's All-Americans in one class was historic. That talented of a team is going to win a lot of games. And if the Wildcats get close, even get to 10-0 or 15-0, it's going to be fun to talk about and see how they react to the pressure.
Conference realignment is cool if you hate history, geography and rivalries. Oh wait. You don't hate those things?
Well, momma always said to try to see the good in the bad, and I guess there's one positive that comes out of this. We get to see Syracuse play Duke on Feb. 1 and Feb. 22.
Maybe, just maybe, that could turn into a rivalry. Watching two of the greatest coaches in the game and two of the best programs go at each other could be entertaining. Syracuse-North Carolina will be fun, too.
I still say, from a basketball (and common sense) standpoint, we were better off before all of this dizzying movement, but at least we get Duke-Syracuse and what Coach K believes will be the greatest basketball conference ever.
Hey Look, It's Easier to Score Again
Look at that picture. The NCAA has been all about brotherly love. Reach out and mug somebody!
After scores dropped to levels last seen in the 1950s, the NCAA spent the offseason trying to do something about all the grabbing and bumping that had been allowed.
The hope is that an emphasis on allowing freedom of movement will make the game less physical and make it easier to score. If the officials can make that happen, then our eyes win.
All those Twittering and YouTubing folks have sure built a lot of hype around this Andrew Wiggins fella. I got a quick glimpse this summer and I must admit, his athleticism was like nothing I had ever seen.
And in a few months, we actually get to watch him fly on a regular basis.
The one-and-done rule is a flawed rule, but college basketball lovers probably shouldn't complain too much. It was a blast watching Kevin Durant for a year, and it should be a lot of fun watching Wiggins.
Marcus Smart as a Sophomore
After Trey Burke's freshman season, he could have left for the NBA. Watching Burke as a sophomore was pretty darn entertaining. The same should be true for Marcus Smart, and we should all root for Smart to be a success.
Even if you don't like the Cowboys or think the media's love affair with Smart is a little much, Smart's decision to come back to school is looking like a good decision and could lead to more guys making similar decisions, which is good for college basketball.
Doug McDermott in the New Big East
It pains me that I've included a second byproduct of conference realignment, but Doug McDermott would be on this list whether he was playing his senior season in the Missouri Valley or the new Big East.
Watching McDermott shoot and employ his awesome fundamentals is a thing of a beauty. And yes, it's going to be fun to see McDermott do his thing against bigger schools.
McDermott has a shot to become a three-time All-American. He's already one of the best college basketball players of the 2000s.
If you think that's a ridiculous statement, just watch McDermott get buckets in the Big East. No one should question his legacy after this season.
The Champions Classic
Circle Nov. 12 on your calendar.
This year's Champions Classic gives us Michigan State against Kentucky and Kansas against Duke. Will there be four teams playing in one venue that are better than this all year? Probably not, and I'm not overlooking the Final Four.
The matchups are perfect. You get the experience of Michigan State, a legit title contender, against the unproven talent of Kentucky, the title favorite. Then, Kansas and Duke features Jabari Parker versus Andrew Wiggins. Their teams are pretty good, too.
If you can get to Chicago, make it happen.
Another date to circle: Dec. 28.
That's when Louisville travels to Kentucky. This game is always entertaining because both fanbases despise each other. Add in the fact that to start the year the Cardinals will be ranked No. 1 and the Wildcats will be ranked No. 2 in the polls (and hopefully still be 1-2 on this date), and it could be the most anticipated game in the rivalry's history.
Sure, they played in the Final Four two years ago, but everyone (probably even realistic Louisville fans) realized Kentucky was going to win that game. This one is a coin flip.
Louisville's Legitimate Shot at Repeating
It's the first time since Florida in 2007 that a national champion has brought back enough talent to repeat.
Louisville returns three starters (Russ Smith, Wayne Blackshear and Chane Behanan), another big man who could be a lottery pick (Montrezl Harrell) and the Final Four MOP (Luke Hancock).
It's kind of lame that most seasons the national champ loses everyone to NBA. This season will be far from lame thanks to Smart, Wiggins, Kentucky and McDermott, all of whom will be chasing Russdiculous and the defending champs.