From a game on an aircraft carrier to a possible players' revolt, what's ahead in NCAA hoops
Every week, our panel of sports fans discusses a topic of the moment. For today's conversation, Emma Carmichael (writer, Deadspin), Hampton Stevens (writer, ESPN and The Atlantic), Patrick Hruby (writer, ESPN and The Atlantic), and Jake Simpson (writer, The Atlantic) talk about the beginning of the NCAA basketball season.
In just about a week and a half, one of the greatest spectacles in recent sports history will take place: The men's basketball teams from North Carolina and Michigan State will play each other, in a game that will count, on a massive aircraft carrier on the water in San Diego. To be exact, the aircraft carrier is the USS Carl Vinson, which hosted Osama Bin Laden's burial at sea in May, and the game will be played on Veterans Day. And, to honor the military, the teams will be wearing camo jerseys that say "U.S.A." on the back instead of their last names.
And here we've been, pining for the loss of the start to the NBA season. A reminder, everyone: There will still be basketball in this country this year, and it will still be great. It doesn't have its own television channel or a business element (although arguably it should), but it is, in my opinion, one of the most entertaining and engaging seasons there is.
So let's talk college hoops—and aircraft carriers, if you'd like. I, personally, am utterly relieved that order has been restored and the Tar Heels are at the top of the preseason rankings, while Duke rests at a lowly No. 6. The rest of the top 25 is similarly predictable, as it always is, but the wonder of this sport is that come March, none of it will matter. Division I men's hoops has, in the past few years, actually come to know something resembling parity. Look no further than Brad Stevens's Butler Bulldogs.
So in a game in which forecasts do no good (except, of course, for the fact that the Heels will be national champions this year), what are you looking forward to, Hampton? As far as I know, your Jayhawks don't have any games on an aircraft carrier this season—but surely, there must be something?