Collected thoughts on preseason ephemera
Kentucky is underrated, Purdue should be No. 1, Kansas frightens me, the death of the charge call, and other extended notes
Fun fact, folks: The 2023-24 college basketball season starts in three weeks. This jarring time hop happens every year. By mid-summer the offseason begins to drone on, you feel like it’s never going to end, you actually abandon all hope of it ever ending, and then suddenly it’s mid-October and bam, just like that, we’re so back.
This year, the dreariest stretch of the offseason coincided with the launch of this thing you’re reading now. It was a pretty scary time to start a college hoops newsletter! Would anyone notice? Did anyone care? Was it better to launch on the first day of the season? January 1? March 15? I decided to just dive in right away and see how it went, to put any overthought (read: clueless) business strategies to the side, to start writing whatever seemed interesting in the moment, to start building the plane in the air.
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As we approach the actual basketball, I have to say: I’m very glad I did. Despite the quiet of the offseason, you guys have showed up, signed up, sent messages, left comments, and above all subscribed in numbers that have steadily grown this beyond any initial expectation for the timeframe. This offseason created a robust foundation. Now, just three weeks away from the start of the season, I’m super excited to see where we go.
I’m also excited to figure out the in-season plan, which in season one — beyond the obvious tentpoles like Bubble Watch — will also happen on the fly. Thus far, there have been a lot of (hopefully) thoughtful essays on the standout college sports news of the week, with some reported features and analyses mixed in. That balance will undoubtedly shift as we get into the season proper.
I also hope to do a lot more casual, quick-turn posting at various times of the day. I have enjoyed my former colleague Bob Sturm’s adoption of the late Grant Wahl’s Three Thoughts format, not just on Bob’s core Cowboys beat but anything else that takes his fancy. This format makes particular sense in the season, I think. More basketball. More blogging. At least that’s the idea. Like I said, we’ll figure it out as we go. (And I do mean we: Leave your ideas and requests in the comments.)
Anyway, where were we? Right: The season fast approaching. We cleared a few major preseason milestones this week: The first Associated Press poll of 2023-24, the release of KenPom.com’s beginning of season rankings, and a bunch of major conference media days, annual rituals all.
As ever, preseason stuff is only so predictive, and no one will remember any of this come January. But these weeks set the dominant baseline perceptions of the next few months, even as early results pile up, and they are at least interesting to shoot the breeze about, particularly when taken in the aggregate. And also if you like betting on college sports.
In fact, let’s start with one you could bet (not, um, that you should):
Everyone has Kentucky too low
Among the many interesting pieces of AP poll trivia that arrived Tuesday was this: 2023-24 is the first time in John Calipari’s tenure Kentucky begins a season ranked outside the top 15. They are No. 16. This immediately struck me as too low. Then I looked at KenPom, which has Kentucky at No. 18, and at Evan Miyakawa’s rankings, which don’t have Kentucky in the top 25. And then I took a long look at myself and thought:
No. It’s the children who are wrong.
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