It has been 240 days since the Providence Friars season ended in depressing fashion, blowing a 15-point halftime lead to USC of the First Four of the NCAA Tournament. It has been a long and eventful offseason for college basketball fans but the wait is almost over. Tonight the college basketball season will officially begin and the Providence Crier couldn’t be more excited. I have decided to compile a list of the Top 20 Things the Crier is Looking Forward to this Year (Disclaimer: the list will consist of Friar topics and NCAA topics). The plan was to release this list with twenty days to go before the season started but the Crier isn’t known for his punctuality. Without further ado I bring to you the Top 20 Things The Crier Is Looking Forward To This Season!
20. FBI Probe:
Thought I’d start by addressing the elephant in the room and that is the FBI probe into College Basketball that rocked the entire sport. While I can’t say I am shocked it was sad to see the corruption that exists in the great sport of college hoops. Once the probe broke it felt like it took Louisville less than 15 seconds to rid themselves of Rick Pitino and unfortunately I think he’s just the first domino to fall. While I’m not “looking forward” to it the FBI probe is a situation worth monitoring the entire season.
19. The College Basketball Marathon:
What a better way to start the season than ESPN’s 24-hour college basketball tip off marathon. It’s around the clock action with teams playing at absurd hours. It’s the event that was solely responsible for creation the couch bed. What’s the couch bed you ask? It’s when the Crier moved two couches together to create a massive bed in his living room to watch the action. Wait what?!?!?! It turns out that ESPN in fact decided to not go through with the annual marathon this year, this article is off to a great start.
Every season I love to see seniors that put on a show in their final act. While the one-and-done is dominating college basketball this season has a great group of seniors to watch. UNC’s Joel Berry II, Duke’s Grayson Allen (more on him later), Notre Dame’s Bonzie Colson and West Viriginia’s Jevon Carter lead a stellar group of seniors. The Big East boasts a slew of great seniors as well with Xavier’s Trevon Bluiett and Seton Hall’s Big Three (Delgado, Carrington, Rodriguez). The Friars alone have four seniors in their starting five! I’m looking forward to what all these players have in store for their last season.
17. Holiday Tourneys:
While I’d admit the increase of Holiday tournaments has diluted some of the classics like the Maui Invitational and the NIT Pre-Season Tip Off, I love the early season tourneys. It brings teams from different conferences to face off against each other and some of the settings are outrageous. The Battle for Atlantis looks like it’s played at Poseidon’s penthouse suite, the Maui Invitational has coaches dressed like Jason Segel in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and the new PK80 is a giant birthday party for Phil Knight, you can’t make this stuff up. The Crier will be making his infamous return to Madison Square Garden this year for the 2k Classic, last time he made an appearance he was escorted out of the arena for a Big East Championship merch dispute.
16. Makai Ashton-Langford:
For Friar fans the hottest offseason story was the UConn decommitment and PC commitment of Makai Ashton-Langford. Think I can speak for all of Friartown when saying that I am really looking forward to Makai dawning the black and white. So far the early returns in three exhibition games suggest Ashton-Langford will be a great luxury as an additional ball handler with Cartwright. As someone that is from Central MA I am definitely excited to see a kid from Worcester star for PC, it almost happened with Naadir Tharpe but he decommited from PC and went to Kansas.
It’s going to be pretty hard for this year’s freshman year class top last year’s. Ball, Tatum, Fox, Smith Jr and Monk are already making noise in the NBA and that’s not even mentioning number one pick Markelle Fultz. This year’s class is headlined by Michael Porter Jr for Mizzou, watching him in McDonalds All-American game he didn’t wow me but early returns suggest that the Crier is an idiot. Also looking forward to seeing DeAndre Ayton of Arizona, Mo Bamba for Texas and Duke’s Marvin Bagley III.
Alpha Diallo had a really promising first year for the Friars last season and I am really looking forward to seeing what he can do this year. I think he can be a 10-15 ppg scorer for the Friars and he can provide defense and rebounding for the team. Hamidou Diallo is a former Putnam Science star that will suit up for Kentucky this year. Similar to Dennis Smith Jr, Diallo attended UK last season and sat out the spring semester and like Smith Jr he could be a very entertaining player to watch, as he is very athletic and can get to the rim. If anyone from Bleacher Report is reading this please stop including tweets about Hamidou Diallo in the Friar Team Stream because we have a player last named Diallo, can’t be that hard of a fix!
13. Straight Big XII Titles for KU?:
The last time the Kansas Jayhawks didn’t win the Big 12 Title the Curse of the Bambino existed and St. Joe’s and Stanford earned 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament. The Crier’s favorite of the Blue Bloods the Jayhawks should have no problem winning the Big 12 again. They lost Josh Jackson and Frank Mason III but should have enough talent in a conference that isn’t as talented as it usually is. I’m really intrigued by big man Udoka Azubuike, at 7 feet 280 pounds the guy is literally a mon-star.
12. An Actual Race for 1st in Big East?:
Since the Big East changed due to conference alignment 4 years ago the Villanova Wildcats have had a stranglehold on the league to a tune of a 63-9 record and 4 Big East regular season titles. Despite their preseason #6 ranking I think Villanova is at their most vulnerable position this year. They certainly do have good players like Jalen Brunson and Donte DiVincenzo but replacing vets like Arcidiacono, Ochefu, Hart and Reynolds in a span of two seasons is no small task. I think Xavier, Seton Hall and the Friars can all give them a run for their money and win the Big East crown this season.
11. What’s in a Name?:
College basketball may be known for its dunks, buzzer beaters and Cinderellas but its also known for its outrageous names. Some of my favorites have been Longar Longar, Majok Majok, Grandy Glaze, Sir Dominic Pointer and of course PC’s own God Shammgod but this year doesn’t disappoint. We have Middle Tennesse’s Giddy Potts, St. Joe’s Charlie Brown and UCF’s Tacko Fall (seen above) to name a few. Looking forward to seeing these guys and others with outrageous names take the court.
10. Recurring Columns
Unfortunately with the mass exodus that occurred at ESPN a few months back a lot of the recurring columns I love to read, like Eamonn Brennan’s Bubble Watch, will no longer be with us. One of my favorites that will be back this season is Poll Attacks by CBS’s Gary Parrish. I find sport writers from states like Alabama who have a vote in AP Top 25 and just have absurd rankings fascinating. I’m sure the major media outlets will have new recurring columns that I can read to pass the time at work.
9. Rivalry Games:
The best college basketball rivalries have a lot of intrigue this season. As If Duke vs UNC needed anymore intrigue this year UNC is the defending champs, while Duke opens up as preseason #1. Louisville vs Kentucky has a lot of unknown this season, the Cardinals are supposed to have more talent but with Pitino fired who knows what happens in this one. Xavier and Cincinnati is always one of my favorites and its guaranteed for some nastiness. Oh yeah there’s another one I really like…
8. Gus and Raftery:
For Big East fans the best part of the FS1 move besides getting the majority of your team’s games on TV is that we are blessed with Gus and Raftery as announcers. These two are true legends of the game and lets just half their talking… do the talking
7. The Bill Walton Experience:
If you have never had the pleasure to watch a full Pac-12 basketball game called by the one and only Bill Walton I suggest you change that. If you do decide to stay up late and watch Pac-12 you better buckle up because it’s a wild ride. Walton serenades you with stories of the Mojave Desert, the Galapagos Islands, the Grand Canyon and the million Grateful Dead concerts he’s attended. Also he’s absolutely obsessed with the Pac-12 or as he often refers them as the Conference of Champions. Walton makes you think you aren’t watching Arizona vs UCLA but a battle between the Titans and Greek gods. I can’t wait for another season of Walton!
6. The Battle of RI:
It doesn’t get much better for PC and URI fans than the Battle of Rhode Island. Well it probably gets better for URI considering they haven’t won the game since 2009. Ed Cooley has never lost to URI and Dan Hurley has never beaten the Friars. Since I’ve gone to PC (class 2008) the Friars have only fallen to the Rams once. This year’s game will be at URI’s Ryan Center and the Ram fans once again think this year will be different. Is this the year Hurley finally gets over the hump? I doubt it, it will probably go a little something like this…
5. Grayson Allen’s Meltdown
Since Grayson Allen announced he will be returning to Duke for his senior season I’ve been anxiously waiting his final year. Grayson Allen is the villain college basketball needs but not the one it deserves. The tripping incidents, the crying and the temper tantrums are a ton of fun to watch. Unfortunately Duke is a favorite to cut down the nets in March but IF they get eliminated Allen will put on a meltdown of epic proportions and I can’t wait.
4. The Jerome/Champ Week:
The Crier joined a Jerome pool last season for the first time and it’s a ton of fun. What you do is you pick the winners of every single conference tournament and points are awarded for picking the correct teams. You get bonus points if you choose a lower seeded team and they end up taking the title and punching their ticket. The Sun Belt Tournament will never be as thrilling unless you join a Jerome pool. It’s the perfect appetizer for the Big Dance pools and makes Champ Week a blast.
3. The Bubble:
Hopefully for Friar fans this season’s bubble will be less stressful than years past but regardless of where they find themselves the Bubble is always an exciting time. It magnifies the regular season games for teams whom find themselves teetering between making the tournament or finding themselves in the NIT. Will this season be a soft bubble or hard bubble? Who knows but I will be looking forward to it.
You got to give it to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, the guy has made a career of predicting who will be in the NCAA tournament and what seeds they will get. Joey Brackets is either a genius or a complete moron, it all depends on where he places your team. If Lunardi under seeds the Friars this year you bet I’ll be going after him on Twitter.
1. Selection Sunday:
The anger, joy and adulation that occurs during a four and a half month college basketball season comes down to one Sunday afternoon in March. Who gets the one seeds? Where are the teams going to be playing? Who got snubbed? Who didn’t deserve to make it? These are all the questions that are finally answered once the bracket is revealed. If the Friars make it for a school best 5th consecutive season will I think the Friars got under seeded? You bet your ass I will but it’s a small price to pay if your team gets an invite to the dance. March Madness is coming, so buckle up and get ready!
So there you have it those are the Top 20 Things the Crier is Looking Forward to This Season! I couldn’t be more excited to get the season underway, enjoy the games tonight everyone!