LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Are you ready for some … college basketball?
Couldn't resist, even with the National Football League in position to suck all the oxygen from Planet Sports, beginning with its season opener Thursday night.
In 48 states it is football season, but in Kentucky and Indiana it is always college basketball season, especially after the first pre-season magazine to arrive has Louisville and Kentucky picked to advance to the NCAA Final Four, which is booked for April 4-6 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
No reason to delay. As I await the arrival of yearbooks from Athlon Sports and Street & Smith's, here is an abbreviated synopsis of predictions from Lindy's Sports College Basketball Yearbook. (The local edition features Jordan Nwora of Louisville and Ashton Hagans of UK on the cover. The magazine is priced at $8.99.)
The Cards are picked second in the nation, one spot behind consensus national favorite Michigan State … Chris Mack's team is also predicted to finish ahead of Duke (second), North Carolina (third) and defending national champion Virginia in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Nwora, the Cards' talented junior forward, was named a second-team all-American as well as a first-team all-ACC player … Frank Burlison ranked Nwora the 15th best player in the nation … Nwora is the pick for ACC player of the year as well as the league's most versatile player.
Burlison also ranked U of L point guard Fresh Kimble the 92nd best player in America. Kimble is a graduate transfer from St. Joseph's, who was one of the top performers in the Atlantic 10 Conference last season … former Card Pervis Ellison has compared Kimble's game to Michigan State all-American Cassius Winston … Kimble was selected second-team all-ACC … freshman Samuell Williamson was named the team's top newcomer.
Louisville's frontcourt is ranked No. 4 in America, behind Memphis, Maryland and Gonzaga … Mack's recruiting class was ranked No. 15 in the nation and third in the ACC.
The Wildcats were the pick over Florida and Louisiana State in the Southeastern Conference, the league that Lindy's projects to be the nation's best. That's correct: SEC No. 1, ACC No. 2, Big East No. 3, Big Ten No. 4, Big 12 No. 5 and Pac-12 No. 6 … no Kentucky players were selected first-team all-SEC with Hagans named to the second team and forward E.J. Montgomery to the third team.
According to Burlison, Kentucky has three Top 150 players -- Hagans (No. 75); Montgomery (No. 96) and freshman Kahlil Whitney (No. 146) … guard Tyrese Maxey is the pick as the team's top newcomer
Athlon ranks the Kentucky backcourt the nation's third-best, behind Florida and Michigan State .. the Wildcats frontcourt is ranked 10th in the nation … John Calipari's freshman class was ranked third, behind Memphis and Duke.
The Hoosiers were picked to finish 10th in the Big Ten, behind Iowa and ahead of only Minnesota, Rutgers, Nebraska and Northwestern … Lindy's does not project Indiana to make the NCAA Tournament for the fourth consecutive season. If that happens, it will be the first time IU has missed the tournament four consecutive seasons since 1972.
No IU players made Lindy's top three teams in the Big Ten … freshman frontcourt player Trayce Jackson-Davis was selected as the newcomer likely to have the most impact … Joey Brunk, a graduate transfer, was the selection as the team's top newcomer.
The Hilltoppers are the pick to win Conference USA, but Lindy's does not rank Rick Stansbury's team in its national Top 40.
Athlon picked WKU's Charles Bassey a first-team all-American, and Burlison ranked him the third-best player in the nation, behind Winston and Marquette guard Markus Howard … Bassey was also named to the first all-defense and all-glass cleaning teams.
More love for Bassey: Lindy's selected him as the top player in Conference USA as well as the league's top NBA prospect … guard Taveion Hollingsworth was named second-team all-CUSA.
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