College basketball fanatics have been waiting for last Friday’s season opener since the end of March Madness. The season has already started off with a bang with Radford’s upset of Georgetown and Tacko Fall’s dilemma of obtaining an academic waiver to play. Needless to say, although there weren’t any high-intensity games within the last seven months, this offseason was madness and this season looks to be just as crazy. Here’s some insight on the big storylines this season as well as which teams to keep an eye on:
UNC is coming into the season at No.1 in the AP Poll, making them the team to beat this season. Led by senior guard Marcus Paige, North Carolina has a great chance to make it deep in the tournament this year after losing in the Elite 8 to Wisconsin this past year. Paige was plagued by injury last year, but should he stay healthy, Paige increases the Tar Heel’s likeliness of a championship and increases his chance at being an early first-round pick. They have the depth and the leadership to make an impressive run. They also recruited Kenny Williams, a pure outside shooter, who will eventually be a leader on the Tar Heels team. Don’t be surprised if you see Roy Williams dancing after this year’s tournament.
One of this year’s more surprising title contenders has to be Maryland. With an AP Poll ranking of No. 3, Maryland looks to shock the college basketball world this season. In a tough Big Ten Conference competing with Michigan State, Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin, Maryland has a difficult path to the top. However, the sheer talent of three McDonald’s All-American should move them ahead of the pack. One recent move that helped Maryland’s title chances was when Duke’s Rasheed Sulaimon transferred to Maryland. He’s a quality outside shooter who pairs nicely with Melo Trimble in the backcourt. 5-star freshman Diamond Stone will also most likely start this season, making him a force early in his college basketball career and setting him on track as one of the nation’s greatest. Along with this fierce young center is crafty veteran small forward Jake Layman, who looks to win the title in his final year of eligibility. With a well-balanced team diversified by age and talent, Maryland is poised to make some noise this year.
Finally, the player you should be focusing on while North Carolina and Maryland are tearing up the ACC and Big Ten, respectively, is Ben Simmons at LSU. How LSU landed the No. 4 recruit in the country is absolutely astonishing, proving that not every great player ends up at Duke, UNC, Kentucky and other annual title contenders. A 6’10” forward with strength and playmaking abilities, Simmons is widely known around the nation as the likely No. 1 overall pick in next year’s NBA Draft. He has the size and strength to play power forward, but has the vision and instinct to facilitate the offense like a point guard. Regardless of who has the first pick next year, Ben Simmons will be on everyone’s wish list.
While you’re watching schools in the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and other conferences duke it out for the title, don’t forget about your very own Colgate Raiders basketball team trying to earn the top spot in the Patriot League. After losing to American University in the Patriot League semifinals last year, Colgate is looking to earn its first spot in the tournament since 1996. Could a Cinderella Story be on the horizon for the Raiders? Find out in March.