While most of the country is gearing up for football season, there are still some of us who are instead starting to examine the collegiate and professional landscapes when it comes to hoops in the 2017-18 season.
As we start to unravel the college basketball side of things for the upcoming season, several things stick out. One of those things is the realization that both the sportsbooks and the prediction models are telling us that Louisville and Kentucky both have great chances of winning it all next year.
Sure, we’re a long way away from that happening. A lot of things can happen between August 1st and the time we get to tournament time in March. However, both John Calipari and Rick Pitino (minus five games) both have really good teams.
Strippers and Championships
In 2017, it should come as no surprise that a team that was the face of bad behavior by the NCAA just a few months ago is now one of the favorites to hang a banner to replace the one they’ll have to take down.
The slap on the wrist by the NCAA may come back to bite them this season if Louisville has a deep tournament run. The loss of Pitino for five games is meaningless and because they got no tournament ban, this team could be dangerous come tournament time.
The only players Louisville lost to the pros are Jaylen Johnson and Donovan Mitchell. Both these guys were solid players for the Cardinals in 2016-17, however, they do have Quinten Snider and Deng Adel coming back, who will be the focal points of the Cardinals this upcoming season.
ESPN’s BPI has the Cardinals ranked 2nd in their first ranking of the way too soon variety. However, the sportsbooks have the Cardinals between +1200 and +1400 to win the championship next season at Heritage, right behind a team they play right down the road from.
Right now at +900 at 5Dimes, the Kentucky Wildcats are one of the favorites to come away with the championship next season. Not only do they have another talented crop of freshman coming in, but Calipari probably isn’t going to the NBA, and he also convinced Hamidou Diallo to return for another season.
Add him into a crop of eight total former 5-star recruits out of high school, and you have a dangerous and very young basketball team. This Kentucky team is going to be big up front and long on the wings.
They might struggle to shoot the three-pointer, which may be their only weakness, but time will tell if they can uncover some shooters out of those young freshman and sophomores. Calipari has proven doubters wrong before, but Quade Green should be a good source of spacing and some people close to Lexington are high on Shai Gilgeous Alexander from distance as well.
It’s still really early to start picking Final Four participants, but if UK and UofL can make waves this season, there is a strong chance both of these teams are in the Final Four. Louisville’s playing to make people forget about all the bad stuff from their university’s basketball teams of the past, while UK is just trying to get back on top to improve their stature as one of college basketball’s elite programs.
Teams like Duke, Kansas, Michigan State, North Carolina, and Arizona are all going to be good once again this upcoming season. However, the two teams from the state of Kentucky might be two of the top five teams once the pre-season rankings come out.
Playing in the SEC also helps, because other than Florida, Kentucky and Louisville really only have to worry about one another. That could help pave the way for some epic showdowns late in the season and potentially in tournament time. It also could get them ready for one of them to take the crown in college basketball in 2018.
Wednesday, August 2, 2017 12:01 PM CDT