All around the country people are currently penning (or posting) their college basketball previews. Most of these will be incredibly serious. They'll talk about players turning down millions of dollars to come back for another year, or wonder why Andrew Wiggins has to wait a year before entering the NBA. They'll talk about a kid from Colgate who almost lost a year of eligibility for playing a couple games in a church league with 30 year olds. They'll talk about how the quality of college hoops has been declining forever (note: the link is facetious, but it is a nice collection of people writing that stuff for real).
But what we are all talking about is a game. The best game. And it's fun. The last two years, Kansas had the benefit of not being weighed down by (too) high expectations. They of course only went to the national title game and then backed that up by earning a #1 seed. This year, expectations are high. It might be Bill Self's greenest team ever. But it also might be his most talented, and his most fun. And it's going to be fun.
Consider this: I can tell you that Kansas features a Freshman not from America who will be a top 10 pick in next year's NBA Draft if he comes out, can affect the game without scoring, and has maybe the highest ceiling of any player in the country, and you could not know which Jayhawk I'm talking about.
There are going to be growing pains. I remember the 2006 team that featured three Freshmen in the lineup. They were one of the best defenses in the country, but it was easy to see the offense wasn't there yet and they ultimately lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament. This year's team probably will have the opposite problem. They can score inside with Tarik Black, Perry Ellis and Joel Embiid. They can score outside with guys like Andrew White and Brannen Greene shooting threes, and they can score slashing to the basket with Wiggins and Wayne Selden. Holding it all together is Naadir Tharpe, who is the latest in a line of point guards who seem to be underrated by Kansas fans. Last year he was 4th in turnover rate among Big 12 point guards, yet he apparently was a weakness.
This is not the time for that, though. This is the time to marvel at how someone is athletically gifted enough to do this, or how someone who has been playing basketball for just a couple years has these kind of skills.
Lastly, let's rejoice that college basketball is back. Tonight Oregon and Georgetown play a game in South Korea. Next Tuesday Kansas plays Duke in Chicago. And we get to watch 20+ games on a court named after the guy who invented the game, who happens to be buried just miles from Allen Fieldhouse.
Bill Self might have his most challenging coaching job yet, trying to mold a group of young, untapped potential into a group that can win the national title. Thankfully he just so happens to be the best coach in the country, ensuring that it is going to be a lot of fun to watch this team grow. Let's sit back and enjoy it.