With college basketball season officially getting underway today (I can’t believe I just typed that), Jeff Goodman at CBSSports.com highlights the ten things every fan (or casual viewer) should know heading into the season. There’s no surprise that of the ten, Kentucky made it’s way into three of them.
Goodman started off his column by admonishing Kentucky fans, and even Kentucky foes, that the 2013 class of Wildcats is not like its predecessor.
1. Do NOT compare this year’s Kentucky squad to last season’s group that cut down the nets. Sure, the Wildcats will still have a chance to get back to the Final Four, but there’s no Anthony Davis or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in this group — and there’s also no veteran like Darius Miller who can show the young bucks. The veteran on this year’s team is Julius Mays, a one-year transfer from Wright State who began his career at North Carolina State. However, there’s still more than enough talent for UK to mature into one of the elite teams by the time February rolls around. This group features a new crop of freshmen — led by freak shot-blocker Nerlens Noel, scoring wing Archie Goodwin and talented forward Alex Poythress.
He followed that up with comments on the elite quality of the season’s initially ranked teams; not only Kentucky and Indiana, but several other elite programs (and Louisville) fill up the Top 25, leaving a lot of darlings out in the cold.
3. The big boys are back. The AP preseason poll is loaded with teams that have won national titles. In fact, each of the top 14 teams have won at least one national title. It’s basically a Who’s Who in college hoops with UCLA, Kentucky,Indiana, North Carolina, Duke, Kansas, Louisville, North Carolina State, Michigan State, Florida, Ohio State, Michigan,Syracuse and Arizona. That means we’ll have most of the rabid fan bases involved this season unlike in years past.
Finally, Goodman predicts that, unlike recent years, Kentucky and Louisville might be on equal footing this season.
5. Rick Pitino won’t be overwhelmed talent-wise this season against UK. The Louisville head coach, who recently signed an extension through 2022, has a team that can finally go toe-to-toe with John Calipari’s Kentucky team. The Cards have experience, enough talent, balance and one of the best coaches in the country.
Don’t be fooled, #5 is actually a tremendous compliment. Particularly the language that the Dirty Birds “can finally go toe-to-toe with … Kentucky.” Over the last three years, the competition in the rivalry took a back seat to the intrigue and passion (of which there was plenty), and has been largely one-sided. Goodman isn’t saying that Louisville is better, which is probably a wise decision, just that it won’t be so unfair when Cal heads to the Grease Bucket this year.
With the entire day full of college basketball, and the Cats tipping off tonight against Maryland, there’s really only one thing I need to know: Will Jimmy John’s deliver a sandwich directly into my mouth? Because I don’t plan on taking my eyes off the TV all day.