Halloween has passed, not-so-secret scrimmages have taken place for the past few weeks, and every player has lost or gained 15-20 pounds this offseason, which means one thing… NCAA basketball is coming.
Inspired by ESPN’s Zach Lowe, I wanted to take a look at the teams I’m most looking forward to watching this season (this is the third annual installment in this column). There is no universal opinion on what makes a basketball team fun. Some people enjoy watching Virginia hold their opponents to 20 points in one half.
I prefer fast, modern attacks, with elite guarding and generally exciting players. The more threes and dunks, the better. Here are some of the things I was looking for in these rankings:
Guard game: For me, guards are college basketball. Your team must have good guards to really interest me.
Superstar/recovery potential: Does your team have a player capable of taking over games? A player who makes you stop what you’re doing and instantly tunes you in to his game?
Athletes: Points for dynamic teams and teams that frequently appear in the Sportscenter top 10.
Aesthetics: If you have a cool court or jersey design, I’m more intrigued.
Scenarios. I want the game to matter, at least a little. If I hop on Twitter, can I find other people talking about this game? That being said, here are the teams I’m most looking forward to watching, broken down into tiers.
Level seven: This team is not very good, but has an interesting piece
Antoine Davis is back for his fifth season of eligibility as the active career points leader at 2,734, 933 off Pete Maravich’s all-time record. Asterisk it if you wish, but Davis has a real shot at a top-ten finish this season. It has unlimited reach and an unstable grip and it’s a name worth keeping an eye on.
29. Eastern Michigan
The Emoni Bates saga has hit the MAC. From the cover of Sports Illustrated to mid-major basketball. I’m not going to sit here and act like I know anything else about this team, but it will be fascinating to follow Bates this season. Will his talent and shooting ability lead to high scoring matches? Can he play in a team mould? Or will his poor shot selection continue to hurt him? I don’t know, but I’ll check.
28. Robert Oral
Remember when the nation’s leading scorer led a huge upset against No. 2 seed Ohio State in the NCAA Tournament, then defeated Florida and put Arkansas on the wire to put a No. 2 seed? No. 15 in the Elite Eight of the ’21 Tournament? Long after a sort of disappointing season to follow, Max Abmas is back. He loves to shoot and so does his team, getting up in threes at will. Abmas should still be in line for some crazy scoring nights this season.