Tuesday might be the official “start of the college basketball season” according to the television networks, but the actual start of college hoops is TONIGHT, and there are some really interesting matchups taking place. The headliner is the West Virginia vs. Texas A&M game, the Armed Forces Classic in Ramstein, Germany. And while a season opener played abroad isn’t always the most accurate way to gain a solid perception of a team, the game will be an interesting early season measuring stick for the SEC in their quest to get back on par with some of the game’s elite leagues. A win over a Big XII frontrunner would be a nice boost.
Sticking in the SEC, we get a look at the newest conference phenom and presumptive #1 NBA Pick – and no, he doesn’t play for Kentucky. Michael Porter, Jr. instead chose to join his father (assistant coach, and another story for another day….) at Missouri. Will Porter follow in the footsteps of Markelle Fultz and Ben Simmons and be #1 picks that don’t even glimpse March Madness, or can he be more like Michael Beasley and Carmelo Anthony and uplift an entire program for a brief, magical season (yes, Michael Beasley was that special at Kansas State, no matter how things have gone since…)
I love the start of the college hoops season. So many unknowns, so much possibility. Last college hoops season was a spectacular one for me here at The Sports Geek. No promises I can recreate it exactly, but I am definitely optimistic heading into a brand-new season.
Let’s dive in!
Today’s College Basketball Pick:
Elon Phoenix at Duke Blue Devils -19
Duke has a nice tradition of playing a lot of instate schools in November and giving some local kids a dream chance to take a swing at the fabled Goliath. It doesn’t usually end up going to well for the various David’s… but at least they get their rock and slingshot. Elon has built a nice program over the past few years and will compete for an NCAA Tournament berth this season. They were picked third by the coaches in the Colonial Conference and have a first team All-Conference player in forward Tyler Seibring. But it ain’t the ACC, and it sure ain’t the #1 team in the country, the mighty mighty Duke Blue Devils.
Will Duke potentially have some growing pains, assimilating all that blue-chip freshman talent? Certainly. But will the likely overwhelm at stretches tonight, smothering with defense and athleticism, easy run-out baskets and transition opportunities yielding dunks and open threes? No doubt.
I don’t see Elon hanging around much more than maybe a half before the Duke depth, size, athleticism and raucous home crowd overwhelm them. It will be a good learning experience for the Phoenix, but tonight, Duke rolls them over.
There’s also some quiet extra incentive for Duke. The 72-61 win over Elon last year was the site of the infamous Grayson Allen tripping incident. The fact they get to OPEN with Elon, in Grayson’s senior year, as he tries to put those demons behind him and resurrect his career (against the PHOENIX), there is so much here it makes a poet’s heart melt. You come here for sports, not waxing philosophy and metaphor, so I’ll spare you. But this schedule could not be a more PERFECT script to what hopes to be a magical season in Durham.
Today’s NCAA Pick: DUKE BLUE DEVILS -19