👋 Good morning! I tried to write a season preview for both men's and women's college basketball in one day using 1,774 words. It was an experience, but I loved it. Hope you enjoy.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Football and basketball are the two most popular college sports in America; and yet, I've always been struck by the dichotomy between the two.
The bottom line: Beginning tonight and through much of the winter, we will watch teams lose and be fine — a calming escape from the intensity of the gridiron, where a missed extra point in September can ruin New Year's. Welcome to college hoops, everybody. Cue the storylines...
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
In June, the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel voted to move the men's 3-point line from 20 feet, 9 inches to the international distance of 22 feet, 1.75 inches starting this season. (For reference, the NBA's 3-point line is 23 feet, 9 inches.)
What they're saying: Two coaches. Two takes.
As for the women: At the Final Four, coaches voted against joining the men and moving the line back. UConn's Geno Auriemma wasn't thrilled.
Others receiving votes: Washington (164), Colorado (152), Tennessee (78), Marquette 68, FSU (36), Davidson (34), Harvard (24), Illinois (14), Missouri (13), Mississippi St. (12), Houston (11), Georgetown (11), Cincinnati (8), Notre Dame (7), Creighton (4), Syracuse (3), NC State (3), Vermont (2), Alabama (2), USC (2), Liberty (2), Michigan (2), Dayton (1), Colgate (1), Providence (1)
Go deeper: Ranking the top 10 conferences (B/R)
Penny Hardaway has built the country's next freshmen superteam at Memphis led by local legend, James Wiseman, the No. 1 overall recruit and potential No. 1 pick in June.
The projected starting lineup is all freshmen, and they should play a lot, meaning this team could rival 2018 Kentucky for highest percentage of minutes played by top 50 freshmen (see above).
The big picture: Wiseman's story is eerily similar to Hardaway's (played high school ball in Memphis, chose to stay home when the city needed him most). Penny shocked the world and took the Tigers to the Elite Eight in 1992. Where will James take them after a decade of futility? It reads like a movie script.
Go deeper: What past freshman-dominated teams tell us about Memphis (The Athletic)
Top 10 freshmen prospects:
Go deeper: 2020 aggregate NBA mock draft (HoopsHype)
LaMelo Ball (L) and RJ Hampton. Photo: Kelly Defina/Getty Images
While the majority of America's top high school talent chose to spend the year in college where they will earn $0 in wages, LaMelo Ball and R.J. Hampton chose to spend the year in Australia's National Basketball League where they will earn $68,400 each in wages.
What they're saying: Ball was unlikely to be NCAA eligible anyway after playing professionally in Lithuania, but Hampton had full eligibility — he simply chose the path he thought would best prepare him for the NBA.
"My dream has never been to play college basketball. My dream has always been to get to the next level and play in the NBA, so ... I think this was the best route for me to live like a pro and play with grown men every day and not have to juggle books and basketball and just focus on my main goal."— R.J. Hampton
The big picture: Hampton's decision embodies the modern challenge facing college basketball, but fears over this becoming the new normal are exaggerated. After all, as I mentioned up top, the "one-and-done" era will likely end soon. And when it does, these alternative paths will be moot.
The bottom line: We've seen international prospects make noise before, but we've never seen two young Americans — both active on social media with massive followings — playing overseas while their former classmates play on campuses. Should be an fun storyline to follow.
Others receiving votes: WVU (71), Iowa St. (44), Gonzaga (32), Rice (30), Drake (24), Tennessee (22), Boise St. (15), S. Dakota (11), S. Florida (9), Arizona (9), Iowa (8), S. Dakota St. (7), LSU (7), Auburn (5), Duke (4), UNC (4), Rutgers (2), Kansas St. (1), Ohio (1)
Go deeper: Power rankings, team previews (CBS Sports)
Photo: Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Following the program's first trip to the Final Four last season, the expectations are sky high in Eugene — as they should be.
Top 10 prospects:
Go deeper: 2020 WNBA mock draft (ESPN)
The Zion circus has left Durham, but the Duke Blue Devil show goes on (Seth Davis, The Athletic)
"A few players on this year's team most likely will be selected in the first round of next summer's NBA Draft, but there are no surefire lottery picks, and certainly no must-see acrobats. Yet it would be a mistake to assume that means [they] can't compete for a national championship."
Whatever happened to Villanova basketball star Shelly Pennefather? (Elizabeth Merrill, ESPN)
"It's been 28 years since Pennefather left home to become Sister Rose Marie of the Queen of Angels. … Sister Rose Marie will never leave the monastery, unless there's a medical emergency. She'll never call or email or text anyone, either. … And once every 25 years, she can hug her family."
"Itinerant coach Chris Beard has found a home in Lubbock and built a pesky powerhouse in the heart of football country. But now that the Red Raiders have gotten comfortable running with the blue bloods, can they stay hungry?"
Kendall "Gonna watch Blue Chips tonight" Baker