Today is a huge, momentous day for our country. Our divisions will grow wider. Battle lines will be drawn darker. Flags will be planted as firmly as ever.
It's the first day of the college basketball season.
The sport's marquee regular season event is tonight in Indy, the Champions Classic pitting Michigan State v. Kansas and Kentucky v. Duke. The second of those two tilts is exceptionally intriguing, with Duke's trio of top prospects squaring off against what I'd consider John Calipari's most interesting roster yet, a blend of high-end experience and youth that gives Kentucky a roster that, right now, doesn't appear to have many holes.
It'll be a fun night in Indy.
Should be a good time in Cincinnati too. The Travis Steele begins at the Cintas Center, and long-awaited answers to any number of offseason questions start getting provided tonight.
The main one is whether the Musketeers can be as good defensively as Steele has discussed. XU won't be completely punchless by any stretch, but outside shooting seems like it might be an issue, and more than at any point in recent years, the Muskies might have to rely on getting stops to win games.
I'm excited to be at Cintas Center to see what Xavier has in store this evening.
And I'm looking forward to seeing if the good times can continue at NKU, where Drew McDonald is back for his 13th season with the Norse, and where John Brannen has established a winning culture his team will try to build upon as one of the hunted in the Horizon League.
Of course, I can't wait for tomorrow night at Fifth Third for the Bearcats and Buckeyes, but I'm happy to wait one more day for UC and OSU to get the evening's stage to themselves while a whole bunch of other teams get underway tonight.
I love baseball and football passionately. This NFL season has been entertaining as hell, and I'm already counting down the days until I can drink an overpriced beer at Great American Ballpark. I'm a huge NBA guy, one who gorged himself on five different League Pass offerings last night.
But nothing is better than college basketball, and no season's opening gets me more excited.
Here's some stuff...
*The Reds continue to get this stuff right: The stuff where they do things like celebrate their past, and make people feel good about their brand. Yesterday's unveiling of their plans for the 150th anniversary season included a number of fun and interesting touches that I'm looking forward to enjoying next year.
Yet I remain skeptical about next year's team being markedly better, and I feel like there's finally some pressure being put on Dick Williams by ownership to "get the pitching."
But these things can co-exist. The marketing people can push forward initiatives like the 150th anniversary, and the baseball folks can be charged with getting the on-field product back to where it needs to be. These things are mutually exclusive.
We as fans should treat them as such.
*The way the Bengals unveiled their plans for their 50th anniversary season v. the way the Reds announced their plans for season number 150: night and day. And we wonder why some feel one way about one and a different way about the other.
*Turner Ward and Derek Johnson. Both solid hires.
*I'm late on time so I don't have time to elaborate on this, but given what the Bengals need, and who they play this Sunday, this is frustrating...
Here's some other stuff...
Bill Lazor and Hue Jackson were both guests on Adam Schefter's podcast. Not together, because that would be weird.
I asked five questions about XU hoops to The Athletic's Shannon Russell. She answered.
Michael Lombardi writing about the NFL always provides good reading material.
This is a good college basketball preview, with a good point within it made about Kentucky.
Sixty-eight predictions for the new college basketball season that are sure to come true (unless they don't)
Radio Show: Dan Dakich on college hoops at 3:33. Paul Dehner on the Bengals at 4:05. Both on ESPN1530. We start at 3:05. Listen here.
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