- Wichita St.
- Michigan St.
- Notre Dame
- Texas A&M
- Seton Hall
- West Virginia
- St. Mary’s
Also” UCLA, Texas Tech
Also” UCLA, Texas Tech
Additional: Virginia Tech, Alabama, Virginia, Rhode Island
Preseason Player of the Year: Bonzie Colson (ND)
Preseason Freshman of the Year: Marvin Bagley (Duke)
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Theo Pinson (UNC)
Preseason 1st Team: Joel Berry (UNC), Ky Bowman (BC), Bonzie Colson (ND), Jaquan Newton (Miami), Ben Lammers (GTech)
Preseason 2nd Team: Marvin Bagley (Duke), Quentin Snider (Lou), Tyus Battle (Cuse), Shelton Mitchell (Clem), Grayson Allen (Duke)
Preseason 3rd Team: Terrance Mann (FSU), Deng Adel (Lou), Trevon Duval (Duke), Matt Farrell (ND), Torin Dorn (NCST)
Preseason All-Freshman Team: Marvin Bagley (Duke), Trevon Duval (Duke), Jalek Felton (UNC), Malik Williams (Lou), Matthew Moyer (Cuse)
Other Players of Note: Cameron Johnson (UNC), Lonnie Walker (Miami), Chaundee Brown (Wake), Marcus Carr (Pitt), Geno Thorpe (Cuse), Jerome Robinson (BC), Chris Clarke (VTech)
College Basketball. These very simple two words bring to mind many adjectives: passion, enthusiasm, tradition. In recent weeks, it has also brought about words such as scandal, corruption and probation. Here is a positive thought though. The good will always outweigh the bad. Not everyone has a scandal, not everyone deals in corruption and not every school will be on probation…… we hope not anyway.
There are some very bright, passionate and hard working student-athletes out there getting ready to hit the practice floor preparing to do work like they have in previous years. Some for the last time and some for the very first time. They prepare to do work so that they can give us the show we love to watch. From the flatlands in Kansas and Phog Allen Fieldhouse to Cameron Indoor Arena in Durham, the show will be starting soon.
College basketball will be full of great conference rivalry games as always. Duke vs. UNC, Michigan vs Michigan State, Kansas vs. Oklahoma. The list continues on and on. There are some other games though in the early parts of the season that also give notice to all college basketball fans out there. Those would be the hotly contested non-conference games. The games that may not mean a lot in the conference standings but instead mean the world when it comes to seeding and strength of schedule come NCAA Tournament time.
The following will be a look at the Top 5 non-conference games in college basketball for 2017-2018.
Here are the games garnering honorable mention:
10. November 29, 2017 @ 9pm –
Miami Hurricanes at Minnesota Golden Gophers
The Lowdown – Jim Larranaga heads up a Miami team chalk full of great guards from a conference that could be the best in college basketball hands down. Minnesota is headed up by Rick Pitino…… Jr. Coach Richard Pitino has brought back nearly the same team he had last year at Minnesota and they are hungry and looking for more. How good is this game? The game could features teams that make deep runs in the NCAA Tournament in March. Mark it on your calendar.
9. November 29, 2017 @ 9:30pm
Duke Blue Devils at Indiana Hoosiers
The Lowdown – Duke is heading to the Hoosier State. A state where cornfields grow high and the expectations for the state’s high school and college basketball teams grow higher. Coach K heads to the land where he helped his mentor, Bobby Knight, lead Indiana to a 31-1 season in 1974-75 losing to the Kentucky Wildcats in the Elite Eight after being discharged from the Army a year earlier. Duke’s only other visit to Indiana was in 2005-06 where they won 75-67 over a then top 20 Indiana team in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Indiana may have dropped a bit in terms of their aura of power but Duke needs to remember this date….. December 10, 2011. The Hoosiers weren’t the power they had once been. Tom Cream was trying to rebuild the mystique…. and then the Kentucky Wildcats and their phenoms rolled in to Assembly Hall. What happens? An unranked Indiana Hoosier team knocks off the number one team in the nation on a last second shot. The moral of the story? Duke may have Grayson Allen and a great phenom in freshman Marvin Bagley III, but this is college basketball……….and this……………this is Indiana. Case closed.
8. December 5, 2017 @ 6:00pm
Texas Longhorns at Virginia Commonwealth University Rams
The Lowdown – People may look at me as crazy as putting this down as an honorable mention game for college basketball’s best non conference games of the year. You need to remember something though. This isn’t just the Texas Longhorns from Austin, Texas. These are the Texas Longhorns that are coached by Shaka Smart. The Shaka Smart who literally brought Havoc to Richmond, Virginia and served notice to the country that the VCU Rams where a team people would seriously have to deal with come time for the NCAA Tournament……as noted by the teams run to the Final Four during the 2010-11 season. Expect emotion and passion to run high and feelings to be mixed before, during and after the game. Even though he left Richmond for Austin, lets hope Shaka Smart gets the great ovation he deserves for all that he did for VCU while he was there.
7. December 2, 2017 @ 2:00pm
Wichita State Shockers at Baylor Bears
Scott Drew and Gregg Marshall have quietly built teams that win consistently in their abodes that no one pays much attention to. So why would this be a must watch game? The Bears return two strong players in Manu Lecomte and Jo Lual-Acuil and the Shockers? They just return basically their entire team in what could be Marshall’s best team ever in Wichita, Kansas. That’s saying a lot knowing that the team led by Ron Baker could have won a national championship had they not been defeated by the Kentucky Wildcats in what was probably one of the most entertaining college basketball games in the history of the NCAA Tournament. You may not think much of these teams now……but watch…..patiently. If you follow these teams this year you will understand why these two teams have hype.
6. December 16, 2017 @ 2:00pm
Virginia Tech Hokies at Kentucky Wildcats
Another game where people may look at me with the crazy eyes. Visit a practice at Cassell Coliseum led by Buzz Williams and then tell me if I am crazy. These aren’t your mom and dad’s Hokies. This isn’t going to be a game where Virginia Tech looks to get a good gate by visiting the hallowed sacred basketball grounds of Rupp Arena in Lexington and leaves with a loss. This will be a dogfight. Everywhere that Buzz Williams has coached, he has left the program better. Much of this is due to his blue collar background at the beginning of his career where he was the manager of a team at a small college and wiped the floors with a towel. Calipari began his days at Kansas as a volunteer assistant serving food to the players. Calipari has coached in some great programs and won championships but also left some problems. Buzz Williams is not afraid to let you know who he was and where he began. Williams has not won any championships as yet but his teams have always been contenders and eventually made deep NCAA runs. It is actually very refreshing in these days of scandal and corruption. Williams is a strong personality and passionate in his work but he is humble and grounded. Calipari has been in the NBA and while he cares about his players, he will tell them if you want to go to the NBA come to Kentucky. Calipari makes dreams come true….. Williams is a dream come true. Many people have their own opinions and thoughts on coaching and basketball but if you want to see two very strong personalities in two coaches come out in their team’s play on the court? Be sure to watch this game……….and don’t be surprised if there is a party in Blacksburg afterwards.
THE TOP FIVE NON CONFERENCE GAMES IN COLLEGE BASKETBALL FOR 2017-2018
5. December 29, 2017 @ 1:00pm
Louisville Cardinals at Kentucky Wildcats
The University of Louisville is dealing with some problems that have arisen as of late. They are not the only school dealing with such issues but they are a school with one of the highest profiles in college basketball. One reason is because of their Hall of Fame coach, Rick Pitino. We do not know the whole story. All of that will come out soon enough. This game, though, is one bright spot for the season. Louisville visits Lexington and Rupp Arena. In Lexington, Wildcat fans do not give a red bird’s butt about who is coaching at the “other” Kentucky school. All that matters to Big Blue Nation is that UK wins. This is the joy and the passion that shines bright from the darkness in college basketball. The only thing that would make this game better for the two programs would be if it was for a National Championship and not for state bragging rights. That happened about one step short in 2012 when the Cardinals met the Wildcats in the NCAA Final Four and lost 69-61. Needless to say, if you are a fan of college basketball be sure to tune in and watch this game and the fun that results from it.
4. December 5, 2017 @ 7:00pm
Villanova Wildcats vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs in New York City
On paper this may not seem like much of a game. If you are a college basketball fan though you know that these two programs have been apart of the last two NCAA National Championships in Men’s Basketball. Coach Mark Few has built a powerhouse on the outskirts of Spokane and Villanova? Coach Jay Wright and the Wildcats will more than likely be dedicating this season to the man who also brought a championship to Villanova, Rollie Massimino who died this past August. There will be a lot of emotion and don’t be surprised to see a large throng of people in New York cheer the Wildcats to victory in honor of Coach Massimino. This game will be special to watch.
3. December 23, 2017 @ 4:00pm
UCLA Bruins vs. Kentucky Wildcats in New Orleans
Let’s see how many we can get in 30 seconds ok?
“UCLA always has a Ball of fun in basketball!”
“UCLA could have two Balls this year but one dropped and now they just have one.”
Ok….bad jokes aside……we still love you Steve. We hope you have a Ball this year! Seriously though, Lonzo Ball was a big loss for the Bruins. Lonzo nearly took the Bruins to the big ball of the year….the NCAA Championship but ran into a Kentucky team that was bent on repaying the Bruins for the loss they handed them in Rupp Arena. So I guess you could say that this is the rubber match. Steve Alford has given UCLA a rebirth of expectations in Pauley Pavilion. The Bruins were a team everyone wanted to have a piece of last year……..most notably because of LaVar Ball. Lonzo Ball proved himself to be the real deal. Now UCLA gets to play with another Ball….LiAngelo. Now whether or not he is the next Lonzo is yet to be decided. Coach Steve Alford has more ammo in the holster than just LiAngelo. Alford was able use his Indiana ties to gain the services of 6’7 Kris Wilkes from Indianapolis, a five star forward who chose UCLA over Indiana and Illinois. And Kentucky, well Calipari just brought in 8 new recruits again….. and sorry….only 6 of them were 5 star not 8. The other two were just 4 star. That must really stink for people in Lexington. I mean come on man! Hamidou Diallo will probably have a breakout year and if he does…… four syllables will ring out….again. N. B. A. Draft.
Speaking of the draft, the Wildcats had five leave for the NBA Draft and three actually graduated. So how long will this hurricane of riches keep going for the Wildcats? I guess until the one and done fad is merely that. Just a fad that fades away. For Kentucky though…. the fad is still the main trend. Let’s hope that all that has been good for the Wildcat program in this day of corruption and scandal in college basketball stays good……..for Wildcat fans….for Big Blue Nation and for college basketball.
And the game? I would say it will be pretty good.
2 (tie). November 14, 2017 @ 9:30pm
Kansas Jayhawks vs. Kentucky Wildcats
The Champions Classic at the United Center, Chicago Illinois
This is a must watch game simply on the names of the teams on the front of the jersey alone. The history and the tradition of the University of Kansas with Phog Allen, Larry Brown and Roy Williams. Now Bill Self is positioning himself as one of the all-time greats in Kansas basketball coaching history. While Kansas may have lost a great player in Frank Mason III due to graduation, the Jayhawks will be looking for their identity early in the year against a team that will be full of freshmen trying to find their identity. Needless to say, it is Kansas vs. Kentucky. Two schools which lead all of college basketball in wins (Kentucky with 2,237 and Kansas second at 2,217) That alone should have the players eager and ready to defend their traditions whole heartedly. It will be an early season matchup that is only 43 days away……but it is a matchup that could be a rematch in March if the chips fall right. Must watch television right here!
2(tie). November 14, 2017 @ 7:00pm
Michigan State Spartans vs. Duke Blue Devils
The Champions Classic at the United Center, Chicago Illinois
This game is the first game of a doubleheader that may should have been the main event. The game features a possible player of the year candidate in Miles Bridges from Michigan State against Grayson Allen and the much much hyped freshman Marvin Bagley III from Duke. Not to mention two Hall of Fame coaches in Tom Izzo and Mike Krzyzewski and you have the makings of one of the best early season matchups for the year in college basketball. How good are these teams? Each of these teams could very easily make a Final Four run come March. Not much else needs to be talked about here. This game will be all about watching. Make sure you do!
And the number one non conference game for the year????
So what is so important about Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, turning 80?
For college basketball fans…its not just about a game……….its Phil Knight’s birthday!
Its about games! Lots and lots of games! But not just games with regular teams….. these programs have pedigrees. These teams have history. This is what I call a birthday party for the ages!
During Thanksgiving of this year in November, Phil Knight is throwing himself one heckuva 80th birthday party by hosting the PK80 or as it is called…the Phil Knight Invitational.
The event will be held in Portland, Oregon from November 23 – November 26, 2017 and will host some of the best programs in college basketball:
Butler, UConn, Duke, Florida, Gonzaga, Michigan State, North Carolina, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon and Stanford. Oh…and throw in Texas, Arkansas, DePaul, Portland and Portland State and what do you have? The best thing during Thanksgiving since turkey legs and NFL football. March Madness meet November Neuroticism.
If anything else needs to be said….say it on your own time.
In the meantime, let me end this article by saying…..
Happy Birthday to us….Happy Birthday to us……….Phil Knight is my hero……… I hope you live 80 plus!
39 days and counting! Lets Go!
No job is safe. We all learned that today when the news came out that Rick Pitino had been fired from Louisville amid allegations of serious recruiting violations. Yes, Pitino has gotten off before. He had the extortion case which dealed which personal conduct issues. And more recently he was involved in the sex-for-pay scandals by bringing strippers in for prospective Louisville basketball players. The Cardinals however, didn’t see any of this as enough to fire him. But now, with all eyes on the recent recruiting scandal headlined by Louisville’s basketball program, they were left with no other choice but to let Pitino go. Right now, it is hard to look at Pitino without him being tainted. If these allegations are true, it would be not the first, but the second time he has gotten in trouble for not recruiting fairly. After all, recruiting builds a program, so these are very serious charges. However, is it fair to view Pitino as a cheater?
In order to tackle that question, we need to look at a lot of things. First and foremost, the stats. In 16 years at Louisville, he compiled 416 wins with a .747 winning record, 1 National Championship, and 3 Final Four appearances. In other words, he is a coaching legend. On top of this, he is respected in the coaching realm, is seen as a good role model for aspiring coaches, and is extremely involved in charity work.
I don’t think he’ll go down like Joe Paterno did. I’m not saying what Pitino did was wrong, but it would be inconceivable to think that Louisville is the only program with this going on. Pitino may be tainted for his life. None of these allegations will go away. They’ll haunt him forever. With that being said, no one will ever deny his ability to coach a basketball team. He learned from Boeheim, coached a powerhouse in Kentucky, and finally took a struggling program like Louisville, and turned them into a national powerhouse. On top of all this, Pitino has served as a coaching mentor for the likes of Mick Cronin, Billy Donovan, Andy Enfield, Tubby Smith, Frank Vogel, Kevin Willard, and countless others. I know that it’ll be hard to remember Pitino without thinking of the shadiness that his program was run with. However, I’ll never forget the impact he made on college basketball.
I’m sure you’ve all heard it by now. Multiple coaches are in trouble for paying players to attend their university, hooking potential NBA recruits up with agents, and other things related to fraud. Clearly, this is not good. It doesn’t take a brain to figure out the problem going on. It is fraud, coaches are soliciting kids who aren’t even 18 yet, and it gives the NCAA a negative connotation. Even worse, the coaches involved could face up to 80 years in prison. However, what it really affects are the colleges involved.
Auburn, Oklahoma State, Louisville, Arizona, and USC. Some of the most respected college basketball programs in the nation. And just like that, BOOM! An asterisk is placed next to each of these programs due to the shadiness that surrounds them at this moment. Recruits surely will be wary of attending these schools. Sanctions will be heavy. Their coaches will have tainted legacies, and the schools themselves may as well. However, only time will tell. Regardless of what happens, these programs have the history and respect to bounce back. It may just take time.
Additional Votes: Creighton, Northwestern, St. Mary’s, Texas, Florida State, Michigan, VCU, Marquette, SMU, Dayton, Seton Hall, USC, Virginia Tech, BYU, Xavier
If there’s one thing that is always the same in college sports, it’s that the landscape is always changing. Coaches take new jobs, players transfer, and schools switch conferences. Most of this seems to go under the radar due to summer baseball, and NBA free agency taking precedence. However, come November, College Basketball will be center stage for 5 months. So why not take the time to catch everyone up on some of the biggest moves to take note of?
Butler – Chris Holtmann led Butler to 3 straight NCAA Tournament appearances, including a trip to the Sweet 16 last year. However, he jumped to take one of the most profound jobs in College Basketball, as Head Coach of The Ohio State University. His heir? LaVall Jordan, who played at Butler from 2004-07. He’ll have to win right away, because Butler has become a yearly contender, so expect Jordan to be on the Hot Seat in no time if things don’t work out.
Ohio State – As mentioned before, Chris Holtmann is the new man in town at Ohio State. Although he has a proven track record, Thad Matta was one of the most respected coaches in the last 25 years, with a 337-123 record and two final four appearances during his 13 year tenure at Ohio State, so Holtmann will have to earn his stripes all over again. As for Matta? Health issues have slowed him down, but he is only 50 years old, so a return in the near future may be a strong possibility.
San Diego State – This one is going to be weird. Steve Fischer is done coaching for what seemed like an eternity for the Aztecs – since 1999 to be exact. And the man who helped Kawhi Leonard first get to the national stage will be very tough to replace. However, Brian Dutcher seems like a good fit, as he helped recruit the Fab-5 under Fischer at Michigan, and followed him to San Diego State. Dutcher has the experience and mentor ship, but being under the helm as the big boss will be the real test.
Indiana – Hoosier nation should be really happy about this one. To be fair, Tom Crean wasn’t all that bad for Indiana. Since he started coaching for the Big Ten powerhouse in 2008, Crean led Indiana to three 25-win seasons, and two Big Ten season titles. However, he could never get the Hoosiers past the Sweet 16, which just doesn’t sit well with Indiana. In comes Archie Miller, who may have what it takes to bring Indiana it’s first title since Keith Smart hit “The Shot” against the Cuse in 1987. Miller, who had only one season of under 20 wins and an Elite 8 run in only 6 seasons at Dayton brings a lot of firepower to Indiana, something that Hoosier fans need.
Georgetown – The John Thompson III era is officially closed! He did lead the Hoyas to the Final Four in 2006-07, but since then never got past the second round, and finished with two straight losing seasons. However, GTown has a right to be excited, as Patrick Ewing comes in, looking to get Georgetown back to their glory days. The only question with Ewing is how good he will actually be as a coach, but that will all play out in time. Yes, DC may be back on the map in no time.
Other Notables – Mike Hopkins in at Washington, Mark Gottfried out at North Carolina State.
South Florida – The Bulls have had an insane year as far as transfers go. They lost 2 graduates and 4 regular transfers, and brought in 5 to replace them. The biggest addition may be Payton Banks from Penn State, who averaged over 10 PPG last season for the Nitany Lions. However, it is definitely a transition time for USF.
UConn – Connecticut is on this list for the wrong reason, after losing Vance Jackson, Steven Enoch, and top recruit Makai Ashton-Langford to other teams. They do bring in Antwoine Anderson, a grad transfer from Fordham, but don’t expect this to be enough to propel UConn.
Memphis – Memphis is on here for the same reason as UConn – they lose a lot. This is mainly Dedric Lawson, who averaged almost 20 PPG for the Tigers last season.
Duke – Duke won’t sweat this one too much. Chase Jeter never really worked out for the Blue Devils, but nonetheless, he will be in a new uniform.
Louisville – The Cards add UConn transfer Steven Enoch to an already loaded front-court, just adding to the reasons the they will be competing for a national title come March.
Pittsburgh – Pitt adds Malik Ellison for St. John’s, who should help the guard play for the Panthers. However, they lose Cameron Johnson as a grad transfer. Pitt will be fighting for a bubble spot all season long.
Kansas – Kansas adds super scorer Dedric Lawson to the mix, so the Jayhawks won’t be on the way down any time soon. Bill Self and Co. won’t have much to worry about, so expect Big 12 titles 14 and 15 to be coming soon.
Alabama – The loss of Tevin Mack does hurt Texas, but they do add Mohamed Bamba, so the Longhorns will still be in play for an NCAA birth. However, Mack will help the Crimson Tide compete in a strong SEC.
Wichita State – The AAC hasn’t lived up the whatever expectations it had to begin with. However, adding Wichita State, a team with Final Four odds, to a conference with UConn, Cincy, and SMU should help the conference in the future.
Valpo – Valpo makes a move from the Horizon to the Missouri Valley. They won’t replace Wichita State, but the Crusaders will be playing in a tougher conference, which should help them improve.
Obviously this is only a little bit of what will be new for College Basketball in 2017-18. Of course, rules changes happened too. One of these may help out Jim Boeheim, as the coaching box has grown from 28 to 38 feet. Another change includes the shot clock resetting to 20 seconds when the ball is inbounded in the front-court after a foul by the defense. Soon enough, all of this will be in effect. Until then, we can only wait for what we hope to be another great College Basketball season.
Some things never change. Barring any insane atmospheric changes, the sky will always be blue, day will be light and night will be dark, and the Earth will be round. The same goes for the ACC in College Basketball. It will always be the conference to beat.
Obviously UNC is the team to beat. They are the reigning NCAA Tournament champions, and return star guard Joel Berry II, along with Theo Pinson, Luke Maye, and incoming freshman Jalek Felton. Yes, the Tar Heels lost a lot of big time players. However, Roy Williams knows how to win, and North Carolina will most likely have another 20-plus win season and find themselves in contention to repeat. However, there are some teams that can top the Heels.