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Basketball 2019-2020 NCAA Basketball: the Road to cAtlanta.

mal3volent

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The 2019–20 NCAA Division I men's basketball season will begin on November 5, 2019. the first tournament will be the 2K Sports Classic and the season will end with the Final Four in Atlanta on April 6, 2020. Practices officially began in late September.

Notable rule changes:

  • The three-point line was moved from its prior distance of 20 feet 9 inches (6.32 m) from the center of the basket to the FIBA standard of 6.75 meters (22 ft 2 in). The NCAA published diagrams on June 17, 2019 reflecting the new three-point line, including its distance from the sidelines near the corners of the court. In the corners, the three-point line is exactly 40 1⁄8inches (102 cm) from the sidelines, resulting in the shortest three-point distance being essentially identical to the FIBA standard of 6.6 meters (21 ft 8 in).[4] This change takes immediate effect in Division I, but will be delayed to 2020–21 for Divisions II and III.
  • On offensive rebounds in the frontcourt, the shot clock is now reset to 20 seconds instead of the full 30.
  • Any derogatory on-court comments regarding a player's race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability result in a flagrant-2 technical foul and automatic ejection.
  • Two new rules apply during the last 2 minutes of regulation and the last 2 minutes of any overtime period:
  • Coaches are allowed to call live-ball timeouts. Previously, coaches were prohibited from calling live-ball timeouts at any time.
  • The list of calls that can be reviewed via instant replay expanded to include basket interference and goaltending.
 

mal3volent

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Florida Basketball: 5 reasons why the Gators can win the national championship in 2020.

1) Special backcourt
Quality guard play might be the single most important thing in college basketball, especially when it comes to the NCAA Tournament. Guards have the greatest impact on the game and, when it comes to dealing with the inconsistencies that make up college basketball – different talent levels, various stages of player development, stadium atmospheres, the general hot-and-coldness of teenagers, etc – you need to be able to rely on the players that have the ball in their hands the most.

Florida’s backcourt isn’t laden with seniors, but it is filled with special players. That starts with sophomore point guard Andrew Nembhard, who is one of the country’s best playmakers and is primed for a breakout season. His head coach agrees.

“If you ask Andrew, he’s going to be the guy. He started talking about that last spring. I’ve been open about that in the spring and the summer that he’s challenged himself and he’s made it known that he’s going to really step up his leadership.”
Nembhard may be the leader, but he’s far from the only one who will make an impact on the perimeter.

Noah Locke, Florida’s second-leading scorer a year ago, also returns for his sophomore season and gives them a reliable three-point shooter. Keyontae Johnson will likely see some time on the perimeter as well but may have a bigger role with the frontcourt. Five-star freshmen Tre Mann and Scottie Lewis will also make very significant impacts as well. Mann is a combo guard who can also fill it up from distance, while Lewis is the kind of athletic freak that allows him to be a lockdown defender and a menace in transition.

All these players give Florida a deep, well-rounded backcourt that can also play together and give the Gators multiple looks.


2) Depth
Speaking of depth, Florida has it everywhere – not just in the backcourt. They’re expected to go nine or 10 players deep in the rotation on a nightly basis, and everyone can contribute. Everyone has also proven themselves even though the roster has nine new players.

Nembhard, Locke, and Johnson all return after ranking among UF’s top six scorers a year ago. Blackshear (more on him next) is the SEC Preseason Player of the Year, for crying out loud. Lewis and Mann were both five-star prospects, and freshman center Omar Payne was also ranked in the top 50. Gorjok Gak has proven he can be a quality rim protector when healthy, and Dontay Basset is a quality all-around big man off the bench.

The really exciting thing about this roster, too, is how versatile all of those players are. White will be able to play big, play small, play fast, or play in the half-court depending on the opponent.

Very few teams have this much quality depth, and even fewer are able to play different styles because of it. Florida’s ability to maintain a high level of play when going to their bench, and their ability to adapt and exploit any weakness an opponent has, gives them the chance to be great.

3) Kerry Blackshear Jr.
Let’s talk more about Kerry Blackshear because he provides so much to this Florida team and may end up being their most impactful player.

We already talked about the backcourt and, while that may still be this team’s biggest strength, Blackshear gives them a legitimate threat down low to balance that out. He averaged 14.9 points and 7.5 rebounds per game at Virginia Tech a year ago while earning All-ACC honors for his efforts.

At Media Day, White raved about all the things Blackshear adds to the lineup.

“He’s very talented. He’s smart. He understands the game at a high level. He’s tough. He’s stronger than he looks. He looks strong, but he’s really strong, and he’s difficult to defend. He’s a good defender, as well. He gives us an opportunity to play a little bit differently offensively than we’ve played here in that we’ve struggled to score on the interior. We’ve struggled at times to get to the foul line, to throw it in the post. He’s the best passing big that I’ve coached. He’s good at a lot of things.”
Blackshear will serve as Florida’s best (and perhaps only) interior scoring threat and, because he’s so good down low, he’ll create a ton of open looks on the perimeter for Florida’s shooters. On the other end, he’s an effective defender in the post that can adequately switch out and guard on the perimeter. And, not to be overlooked, he adds needed experience to a lineup that would’ve relied almost exclusively on underclassmen.

Blackshear is going to do many different things for the Gators, and that projected level of impact is why he was the easy choice to win SEC Preseason Player of the Year.


4) Elite defense
A lot of what we’ve talked about already has to deal with Florida’s ability to score, but there’s no doubt they’re going to be able to defend, too.

Since White became Florida’s head coach prior to the 2015-16 season, they have ranked in the top 25 nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency every year. Prior to joining the Gators, White had Louisiana Tech ranked in the top 35 during two of his four seasons there. He has a proven track record of producing elite defensive teams, and this group has the potential to be his best yet.

It starts with the size they’ll have all over the court. Mann is 6-4 while Nembhard and Lewis are 6-5, giving all three the length to bother opposing guards and the capability to aggressively switch everything on the perimeter. Inside, Florida has five players that are 6-10 or taller, which will help deter opponents around the rim.

We’ve seen the increased importance of being great on this end of the court in recent years. Virginia and Texas Tech rode their defenses to the national championship game, while Michigan State used theirs to make a surprise Final Four run. The defense also powered Oregon’s Sweet 16 run and, well, you get the picture.

The old saying is that “defense travels” and Florida looks like they will be shutting down opponents no matter where they play this season.


5) Weaknesses of other contenders
So we’ve covered the fact that Florida is really good, but there are a handful of other really good teams out there. The difference is that the Gators don’t have one big glaring weakness like the rest of those considered contenders.

Michigan State, the presumptive preseason No. 1, has a significant lack of size and depth in the frontcourt. Kentucky’s frontcourt is filled with question marks and they’re not expected to be a good perimeter shooting team (again) (DISCLAIMER: this guy has bad intel apparently LOL -mal). Kansas lacks its usual top-end talent. Duke is replacing four starters from last year’s team and we still don’t know if they can shoot.

Other teams like Louisville and Maryland are good but may not have the top-end talent, while even more like Gonzaga, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas Tech, and Virginia are replacing virtually all of their starting lineups.
 
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mal3volent

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Front-runners
Front-runners sit atop the sport heading into the season and make the most obvious sense right now to be considered favorites.

Michigan State
Current odds: 6-1

Breakdown: The Spartans, the overwhelming preseason favorite, boasts the CBS Sports Preseason National Player of the Year Cassius Winston, and Preseason Coach of the Year Tom Izzo and have a claim to four of the 12 or 13 best players in the Big Ten. Behind Winston is mega-breakout candidate Xavier Tillman, who should be a monster this season. Alongside him in the frontcourt is sophomore Aaron Henry, who MSU fans expect to be as critical as any non-Winston player in multiple games this season. Josh Langford's health is most key. The Spartans are listed here under the expectation that Langford will return to full health from his foot issues and be that tremendous two-way player he's capable of being.

Beyond that, it's a team that ranked fifth in offensive efficiency and ninth in defensive efficiency at KenPom. Hall of Fame coach with nine Final Fours to his name, including last year's run. Making back-to-back Final Fours isn't unusual. It's happened 19 times since 1995. MSU isn't perfect, it's just clearly got the fewest noticeable flaws of any team as of now. Getting to Atlanta is the expectation for the Spartans.


Kansas
Current odds: 8-1

Breakdown: Toss aside all of the NCAA-related drama that's sure to continue this season and just focus on the roster and coach. Bill Self's made three Final Fours and has a good shot at a fourth thanks to the fact he's the only coach with two CBS Sports preseason All-Americans. Udoka Azubuike, Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year, is healthy and stronger after missing 27 games last season. Devon Dotson could prove to not just be the best point guard in the Big 12 but also the fastest in America. There's strong returnees in the frontcourt. Silvio De Sousa won his appeal and will play this season. He'll be joined by Ochai Agbaji, a 6-foot-5 power wing who will skyrocket in usage.

KU is a frontrunner because it looks to progress to a top-five defensive team. Isaiah Moss, a transfer from Iowa, and junior guard Marcus Garrett will stiffen and strengthen KU's approach. Last season was the worst for Kansas basketball in 20 years. The Jayhawks probably won't lose more than five games this regular season.


Kentucky
Current odds: 7-1

Breakdown: It's been four or five years since I was this much in like with a Kentucky club. John Calipari has only once in his Kentucky career returned two starting-level guards. The guards: the Harrison twins, Andrew and Aaron. The season: 2014-15. Kentucky's record: 38-1. The twins were not the biggest part (or the second or third) to UK going 38-0 before falling in the Final Four to Wisconsin, but it's inarguable that having experience return in the backcourt was a significant factor. (Also, freshman Tyler Ulis was sweet that season.)

Here, Immanuel Quickley and Ashton Hagans return. They'll be joined by Tyrese Maxey, who could easily have as much impact on this team as Ulis did five years ago. No, I don't expect Kentucky to win 38 games or even get out of November without a loss, but I do expect Kentucky to be one of the five best teams in college basketball and to have an edge come March due to the team's coach, experience (E.J. Montgomery, Nick Richards are bigs who are back) and overall depth. This is an ideal Calipari blend of NBA talent and just enough competition for playing time to make this team push itself. Watch out for Maxey. He'll be a boatload of fun.

And yeah, that's it. Only three true preseason front-runners, which is a record low since we started this preseason feature. To the next tier!
 

mal3volent

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Title contenders
Title contenders are just a level below the front-runners but still, on paper, clearly possess the roster to win it all.


North Carolina
Current odds: 10-1

Breakdown: Fascinating case here. I'm surprised UNC's Vegas odds are so high at the moment. Without Cole Anthony, you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone recommending you lay down some cheddar on a Tar Heels futures bet. But Anthony does, or at least should, change a lot for Roy Williams' team in 2019-20. He's the CBS Sports Preseason Freshman of the Year, and was named so with the expectation he'll be a volume monster for a Tar Heels crew that needs his scoring, distributing, rebounding and vocal leadership while playing point guard.

As is, Williams has Carolina in contention for the Final Four almost annually. Since Williams took the job in 2003, UNC has been a No. 1, 2 or 3 seed 11 times. That's Final Four potential. This team can do similar, provided Anthony sees an immediate boost from freshman big man Armando Bacot, who will learn under the wings of bigs Sterling Manley and Garrison Brooks. I'd call UNC a title contender, but will probably wind up being the shallowest — as opposed to deepest — roster of any in its class.

Maryland
Current odds: 40-1

Breakdown: At 40-1, you'd best try to get a ticket on Maryland now if you can because that's a bargain. While it might seem like it's been 15 years since the Terrapins were this lauded in the preseason, let me remind you that in 2015 Maryland was the preseason No. 3 team in the AP Top 25. That Terps troupe had Melo Trimble, Diamond Stone, Jake Layman, Rasheed Sulaimon and Robert Carter. It finished 27-9 with a Sweet 16 loss to Kansas as a No. 5 seed.

I expect this year's team to be better. Potentially No. 2 seed material. The biggest reason why is a dual breakout season. Anthony Cowan has been flirting at the fringes of meaningful, consistent point guard play for three seasons. I'm all in on him unlocking his potential at the same time Jalen Smith turns into one of the five or six best big men in college basketball. The Terps return four starters from a 23-win team that was good-or-better in almost every significant tempo-free statistical category except one: turning teams over. Maryland forced opponents into TOs only 14.1% of the time, second-worst in college hoops. I predict a huge jump there and expect Maryland to be in the mold of a Final Four team for most of the season.

Florida
Current odds: 16-1

Breakdown: Tasty team. I actually like Florida's chances to win the SEC, or at least finish atop the standings alongside Kentucky. The reason is not an unusual one. The Gators have a tremendous combination of size, athleticism, experience, NBA-level talent and a feeling of rejuvenation around that program that seems to be infectious. Mike White, now in his fifth season, knows he's got the best roster of his coaching career to date.

Kerry Blackshear Jr. picking Florida for his final season of eligibility is what vaults UF into the title-contenders echelon, but it's the expected second-year leap of point guard Andrew Nembhard, who's got a soft-spoken game but an assuredness in his ability, that gives Florida a great shot to wind up with a No. 1 seed come March. Nembhard will have a pair of talented freshmen in the fold in Tre Mann and Scottie Lewis. No one's quite sure how good those two will be in UF's offense off the bat, but they should help the Gators round into form as a top-five defense in college basketball. This sure looks like the best UF team since the one that won a title in 2007. I like this roster more than the No. 1-seed in 2013-14 that went 36-3 and had Casey Prather, Patric Young, Scottie Wilbekin and Dorian Finney-Smith. We shall see.

Louisville
Current odds: 14-1

Breakdown: I trust Louisville fans have taken the time to stop, smell the air and recognize just how fortunate they are to be in this position for 2019-20. This is only Chris Mack's second season in Louisville and he's managed to dodge what would have been a reasonable downturn in a tough situation. Instead of having the Cardinals positioned and predicted to be a middle-of-the-road ACC team, Mack has the Redbirds in the top 10 of almost every major preseason poll. Jordan Nwora was voted CBS Sports ACC Preseason Player of the Year, but he won't be asked to be an all-on-me guy. Lamarr Kimble, a transfer from Saint Joe's, will probably be a top-three transfer this season in the league and I love Malik Williams' potential to pop as a junior in the frontcourt.

Another positive sign: Louisville's free-throw shooting. The Cards ranked eighth nationally last season with a 77.7% clip. Even if that dips down to 74 or 75, it'll still be good enough to be a contributing factor in U of L's push to an ACC title.

Duke
Current odds: 10-1

Breakdown: The odds are reasonable, and because they are so good I will respect Duke and its coach and its talent here. Overall, I'm a seller heading into the season on the Blue Devils. I want to see how Tre Jones handles being the alpha here and whether he's transformed into a respectable shooter.

In comes the No. 2-ranked recruiting class, though. Vernon Carey is a wide-bodied hoss in the middle. Watching him and forward Matthew Hurt play off each other will be one of the more interesting matchup issues for teams — if Duke gets going in a good way early. Other freshmen are Cassius Stanley(not a lot of buzz on him yet, but I don't know, I sorta think he becomes Duke's best newbie) and small forward Wendell Moore. It's not a complete makeover for Duke. Returning players who I think will get good burn include Jack White, Alex O'Connell and Javin DeLaurier.

Things will be markedly different for this team vs. how it was coached last season. The attention and spotlight also won't be as heavy due to Zion's departure. It feels like the championship aspirations of this team will be dependent on Jones' progression with the jump shot.
 

TheLoveBandit

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Getting to the point ...
Florida Basketball: 5 reasons why
Link for where that came from? I'll share it back to my Gator site.

Our fans still doubt White (as do I), but he keeps us in the national conversation which is better than 80% of the rest of the teams (perhaps moreso when we lookjust in the conference). There are legit questions as to how much players develop (regress?) under him, so while we are elated to have Blackshear, we have to wait and see. And, being old school, I'm more of a mindset on the path of the program than 'this year'. Calipari is the king of one-and-done, and does reasonably well with it. White has had a steady flow of (grad) transfers over the years to fill holes and raise the overall team level. Which, is another way of saying he recruits weaker rosters that have holes he can't coach his kids to overcome.

I sound a bit sour, because I don't like the mercenary approach, and when I look at the real Gator kids that come for more than 1-2y, I'm not seeing them leave better than when they arrived. We could very well have an awesome year, and I'll watch as many as I can, but it's starting to feel somewhat hollow. Blackshear is only a year, obviously. Nembhard tested the NBA last season and surely will go next season. Locke is nice, Johnson is hitting his ceiling I'm afraid, and who knows if the 5* freshman can deliver (see the questionable coaching and development) or be one-and-done.


Any derogatory on-court comments regarding a player's race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability result in a flagrant-2 technical foul and automatic ejection.
LOL..."disability"...."You SUCK!"=Ejection.


= = = = = =

As ever, UK looking to be the top of the SEC with some also rans. Usually UF, lately TN, but otherwise not much of a conference for basketball.

@mal3volent you comment the guy has bad intel on UK outside shooting. How do you see the team?
 

mal3volent

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you comment the guy has bad intel on UK outside shooting. How do you see the team?
Hagans is our sophomore leader this year. Excellent perimeter shooter. Coach has consistently been commenting how much better he's become since last year, which could be scary. Quickly is another sophomore who could've started for any other team last year, but got limited minutes with us. He can get crazy hot from 3 and he's going to be actually playing now. Maxey is our star Freshmen recruit, who I expect will start next to Hagans. Maxey's known for his scoring.

These three could be the best scoring backcourt we've had in a long time.

If Richards can take that next step...that's what we need. I think he will. I saw glimpses of it in the tournament last season. We lucked out getting Sestina as well. He's a fucking beast transfer from Bucknell. Those two and Montgomery give us depth under the net.

Link for where that came from? I'll share it back to my Gator site.
 

TheLoveBandit

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Getting to the point ...
We start against UNF (North Florida), should be a scrimmage win, but at least we start learning the new players' names. Tip off 7PM tonight on SECN.

The Gator board I'm on only has a few that care beyond football. Those that do care about basketball...we haven't gotten over our football yet, so there's not much talk about potential.
 

mal3volent

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Ah man. College hoops is the best! You need to whip them into shape.

I love it way more than college football, and it's not even about UKs status in each respective sport. It's just more competitive and entertaining. Think about how few teams have a legitimate shot at the playoffs in NCAAF. They need to fix that shit somehow.
 

TheLoveBandit

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Getting to the point ...
We start against UNF (North Florida),
So, due to circumstances beyond my control, I sat down with 2sec left in the first half, distracted myself through halftime, and then had guests who wouldn't stfu and leave for most of the second half. Finally got to go back and watch the replay last night. I'm very, VERY pumped about our team. Lone sr. is the transfer Blackshear whom all say is a total class act and a great guy to provide leadership to the younger guys. The rest of the team is pretty much Fr and So, with a few sitting out the year for a transfer. I'm not seeing a handful of walkons on the bench, which tells me we have enough GOOD bodies to hold practices. And the returning players are solid - Nembhard tested the NBA and came back, don't know if this will be his last year as a So but he will be a great pointman for this season and if he comes back, YAY! Got a good look at all the Fr and I'm hoping we keep them for more than 1-2y, but it's up to them.

We still have the concerns over a lack of development by the staff over the years, but we have great talent to start with, so that's awesome. And, part of the reason for all the new faces is the staff flushed out a lot of non-starter players, so even the bench (while young) is an improvement. Looking forward to the game against F$U this weekend, as they've beaten us a lot in recent years and I really hope we lay it on them.
 

mal3volent

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I barely watched UF/UNF....would like to catch a replay of those games though. Did you see them? I assume you watched UK.
Yeah I watched both games. Very satisfying for us to win that game this year after what happened to us in that building last year. Maxey is a beast. If Richards will stop pussyfooting around and start being the guy he can be, I think we could have a shot.
 

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Getting to the point ...
I was demoralized this past weekend as we walked into a home game, against our rival F$U that has owned us the past 5 years, with our awesome class of youngsters and our #6 ranking and we laid a turd. Demoralized.

But...today, I'm looking at scores and I see Evansville won a game




EVANSVILLE!!?!?!?!!!
 

mal3volent

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Have you ever watched a UK home game in November? It's fucking pathetic. The crowd is sleepy and old (season ticket holders). The university needs to make an effort to expand the student section and move it closer to the court. The logistics aren't easy, Rupp is way bigger than somewhere like Cameron Indoor. But I have no problems saying we could learn something from Duke and many of our rivals.

We've not had a loss like this under Cal, but it almost happens every year. Usually we escape, this time we didn't. The team was starving for energy from the crowd. These schools like Evansville are dangerous, they come in with all the motivation in the world. And if you have a good coach (like Evansville does, a former UK player) you will come in wanting blood.

With our best player playing hurt, a sleepy crowd, and our opponent playing the game of their lives...I'm not shocked. Kentucky fans (I'll say 75% ) are spoiled as hell and not what I consider true fans at all. They don't even watch the games but they get on social media and talk shit about Cal or our players when we lose. The players see it, too. The university needs to address all of this, it's been a big problem for a long time.
 
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