Jay Bilas thought college basketball hit rock bottom last year, which says something from one of the sport’s great ambassadors.
The respected ESPN analyst mentioned the low scores, the unwillingness to adjust the rules and simply the quality of play lacking as reasons why the sport has fallen in recent years.
“Look, I love college basketball, but I love it enough to tell the truth about it,” Bilas said.
But Bilas is optimistic about this season getting back on track, praising the new hand-check rules and the added difficulty in drawing a charge. He also raved about the talented freshman class coming into the game, which largely determines how the season goes in this one-and-done era.
“If that holds true again, we’re in for what I think could be a phenomenal season,” Bilas said.
It starts Friday, and the marquee event to begin the season is at American Airlines Center. The Boots and Buckets Showcase features a tripleheader, with Oklahoma-Alabama at 4 p.m., TCU-SMU at 6:30 p.m. and Baylor-Colorado at 9 p.m.
The season ends in DFW, too, when AT&T Stadium hosts the Final Four in April.
Along the way, teams will be trying to impress and earn a coveted spot in the 68-team NCAA Tournament field.
“Friday we start looking at teams,” said Ron Wellman, chairman of the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee and athletics director at Wake Forest.
“All of us are going to be taping games, watching them. We all have assignments on what conferences we’re watching so we have a lot of work to do over the next four months.”
Speaking of which, here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming season, broken into fours in honor of the Final Four coming to Arlington.
Final Four picks
Top four mid-majors
Top four coaches in four words
Top four nonconference games
Top four freshmen
Top four sophomores
Top four juniors
Top four seniors