For Kansas basketball fans, the season really tips off Tuesday night in Chicago when their beloved Jayhawks, ranked #4 in the nation, take on the #5 Kentucky Wildcats.
No offense to Tennessee State of course, but “it is what it is” as the mind-numbing cliche says. Here are three storylines to watch in the house that Michael built Tuesday night.
The Quest to Replace Frank Mason III
Mason was basically the college basketball Heisman, across the board last season. It’s going to be tough for Kansas basketball coach Bill Self to replace that kind of prolific production and leadership, but he has the pieces to potentially do so. It will likely take more than a player or two to reinforce what Mason brought to the table, but Malik Newman and De’Vonte Graham are certainly up to the task.
Billy Preston is another player to keep an eye on.
Kansas Basketball “Team” vs Kentucky Wildcats “Talent”
Three of the four teams in this double header have a pair of players projected into the NBA Draft lottery next June. KU is the only side that doesn’t, and right now, no one on their roster even projects to being a first rounder in 2018. So it will be interesting to see how the supposed “talent versus team” storyline plays out in this one.
On the other hand, don’t reach too much into NBA Draft stock reports because these days the draft is as boring and irrelevant as it has ever been, as it moves closer to becoming the baseball draft. It’s become WAY LESS about what a guy does on the court, the production he achieves and the winning he accomplishes. Now it’s much more about measurables and raw athleticism.
Anyway, here’s a link to an in-depth profile on Kentucky and what they boast on their roster.
Can Pre-Conference College Basketball Ever Really Become a Thing?
This event is often described as a Final Four in November, and that is pretty much what you’d get in a given year if chalk held serve. Pre-conference college hoops doesn’t get any better than this- #1 Duke basketball vs #2 Michigan State, followed by #4 Kansas vs #5 Kentucky. However, getting lots of people to care about the sport before March remains an uphill battle.
In February, a small amount of people care, as conference season winds down and the tournament draws near, but getting people to check in before the New Year is tough. It’s something we’ve written about extensively for several years, and the conclusion is always the same- there’s just too much else going on during the holiday season and sports calendar this time of the year.
Still if you’re going to get into something college basketball related before January, it ABSOLUTELY will be this.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and the Tribune corporation blogging community Chicago Now.
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