Hey, everyone! Welcome back to basketball season. If you were around these parts last year, you remember our weekly feature: This Week in Hoops. It’s changed a bit, but the essence is the same. If you’re new to Palestra Back, TWIH is a helpful guide to the recent goings on in the world of basketball. If something happens on the hardwood, you’ll hear about it here.
The Biggest Story in Basketball
The best thing about settling into the college basketball season is familiarizing ourselves with the new names and faces on the scene. Even though it’s great to see upperclassmen like Denzel Valentine come into their own and even if some of the rising stars will only be around the college ranks for one season, I happily welcome the better games, plays, and highlights that we see thanks to the top freshman in the nation.
This year thus far, there have been two guys receiving the majority of the hype, and rightfully so: Ben Simmons at LSU and Jamal Murray at Kentucky.
Thanks to the Legends Classic, we’ve had the pleasure of seeing Murray take on top level competition. He was the best player on the court, for either team, when his Wildcats battled Duke this past week. Both in transition and as a part of John Calipari’s dribble-drive half-court offense, Murray showcased the athleticism, vision, and scoring ability that make him not only a freshman to watch, but a future lottery pick.
Simmons, on the other hand, has played three games against bottom of the barrel opponents. Despite that, he hasn’t played down to his competition at all. In three games, the lanky Australian forward done it all, averaging 18.7 points, 12.7 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 2.0 steals, and 1.3 blocks per game. He’s already receiving comparisons to the likes of (gulp) LeBron James and Magic Johnson. No doubt its too early for that kind of thing, though he has been impressive.
Thankfully, the LSU schedule goes on a diet (no more cupcakes!) this week, as the Tigers face off with Marquette. If you’re already thinking NBA draft (Sixers/Celtics fans…) or just want to see what the rest of college basketball is in for this season, that will be a must see game.
Basketball is Fun!
With all of the hot takes and super serious basketball related opinions out there, it’s important to remember that this is a game being played and watched for fun. Every week we’ll highlight something on the lighter side of the hoops world.
Last week, we used this space to look at all the wacky small schools who had us yelling “HOLY NAMES!” and then this week, well…
And it continues this upcoming week. I get wanting to schedule a big name to attract attention, but this is getting ridiculous.
But let’s turn away from silly school names and towards silly middle aged women dancing at NBA games to songs from their youth:
All the pieces and posts you need to read to be on the ball.
5 charts that show how much better Stephen Curry is than everyone else – The always great Tom Ziller over at SBNation goes to the bar charts and pie graphs to show how hot Chef Curry has been.
How Duke and coach Mike Krzysewski are winning at Kentucky’s one-and done game – It’s no secret that Coach K has been recruiting more and more of the one-and-done NBA guys. Ian O’Connor over at ESPN.com got some great quotes from Coach K and voices around the country about this shift.
Kevin Durant on the Warriors: The rest of the NBA’s nightmare could happen – Wait, really? REALLY.
It’s Time to Adjust the Starters – Is the Okafor-Noel experiment working in Philly? NO! And Liberty Ballers’ Marc Whittington has the numbers to prove it.
May the Tuesday Top Tens rest in pieces. Long live Rank Shots! If you’re not familiar, this is where we rank the best teams in the NBA, college basketball, and rank another totally irrelevant something.
- Golden State Warriors
- (some people say cucumbers taste better pickled)
- Cleveland Cavaliers
- San Antonio Spurs
- Los Angeles Clippers
- Michigan State
Bad Episodes From Otherwise Good Television Shows
The higher on the list, the more oddly terrible the episode happens to be. And if you think “The Fly” from Breaking Bad should be listed, you’re wrong. Kindly leave.
- “Frank’s Brother” from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
- “Last Days of Summer” from Friday Night Lights (the one where Landry kills a guy)
- “Blockheads” from Arrested Development (the season 4 finale)
- “The Dog” from Seinfeld
- “Niagara” from The Office (yes, this is Jim and Pam’s wedding)
- “Big News” from New Girl
- “Best Buds” from Workaholics
- “Collaborators” from Mad Men
Something Vaguely Basketball Related You Should Have Seen By Now
“Let’s just stay tight and get injured.”
Games To Watch This Week
NBA: Knicks at Heat (7:30/NBATV)
NCAA: St. John’s vs #17 Vanderbilt (2:30/ESPN2), #23 LSU at Marquette (7 PM/ESPN2), Northwestern vs #1 UNC (9:30/ ESPN2)
NBA: Lakers at Warriors (10:30/TNT)
NCAA: Who’s to say?
It’s a big tournament week, so it’s tough to pinpoint matchups or times this week. Keep an eye on your local listings, especially for the games in Maui and the Bahamas.
NBA: Grizzlies at Rockets (8 PM/TNT)
NCAA: #10 Gonzaga vs Washington (Noon, ESPN2)
NBA: No games
NCAA: BC vs #13 Michigan State (6:30 PM/ESPN2), #9 Wichita State vs USC (2:30 PM/ESPN2), Stanford vs #11 Villanova (4:30 PM/ESPN2)
Just watch football on Thanksgiving.
NBA: REMATCH – Heat at Knicks (7:30/NBATV)
NCAA: Memphis vs Ohio State (7:30/ESPN2)
NCAA: Not a lot of great games scheduled or televised, but if you can find the Old Dominion at VCU game, check that out.
NBA: 76ers at Grizzlies (6 PM/NBATV)
NCAA: Utah State at Duke (12:30/ESPNU), The trainwreck formerly known as Wisconsin at #8 Oklahoma (2:30 PM/ESPN2)
Enjoy the Games, Everyone.
(Note: Every edition of This Week in Hoops will end with a song. I’ve compiled all of these songs into a playlist that you can find here.)
Header Image via Stacy Revere (Getty)
Shane McNichol is the founder, editor, and writer at PalestraBack.com. He has also contributed to SALTMoney.org and ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @OnTheShaneTrain. If you have any suggestions, tips, ideas, or questions, email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.