The 2017-18 college hoops season is relatively young, but it’s been pretty darn entertaining. We’ve seen some outstanding games and impressive performances from the get-go, and it shows no signs of letting up. Here are some random observations on the young season:
• Kudos to the organizers of the early tournaments—most notably, the Champions Classic and the PK80 Invitational. They did an outstanding job of pitting the nation’s top programs against each other and then creating matchups that everyone really wants to see. Forget Maui and the Preseason NIT—this is a better way to do it.
• On the flip side, whoever created the matchups for the Big Ten/ACC Challenge should have their heads checked. Sure the Big Televenteen isn’t what it used to be, but that’s no excuse for leaving Duke or UNC without a Top 25 opponent. And Virginia vs. Wisconsin—the two slowest teams in the country? Watching paint dry was a close second.
• The best magic act may go to Arizona coach Sean Miller who made the Wildcats’ credibility disappear after an 0-3 showing in the Bahamas. I guess outside shooting does matter.
• Most interesting game so far must’ve been the Minnesota/Alabama game in which the Crimson Tide had their entire bench ejected and played the last 10 minutes with only three players on the court—and almost won! While Bama coach Avery Johnson had to explain his team’s lack of control, Gophers’ coach Richard Pitino had to explain his team’s inability to put away an opponent despite a 10-minute 5-on-3 advantage.
• Duke is certainly as good as advertised, coming back to beat high-quality opponents like Michigan State and Florida. Don’t worry though—the potential for implosion is still there.
• UNC’s Luke Maye looks like an All-American most of the time, but his disappearing act against Michigan State brings into question his toughness. Not buying stock yet.
• Notre Dame’s Bonzie Colson could run away with ACC and perhaps national POY honors.
• New NC State coach Kevin Keatts is making the Wolfpack look interesting again, but it’ll take some time before they have the type of talent that doesn’t make fans cringe toward the end of games.
• Watch out for Virginia Tech! They may be the deepest and most exciting team this side of the Mississippi.
• The Darwin Award goes to the UCLA freshman trio of LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill who got themselves suspended indefinitely for shoplifting in China. C’mon, that’s like getting involved in a land war in Asia…