The 10 most fun and entertaining college basketball teams you must watch
For a variety of reasons, these are the squads you'll want to see no matter who they're playing
College basketball has 351 teams. The fun of the sport has been how that huge inventory of teams also brings about different styles. Plenty of teams aren't all that appealing, while others win big despite featureless schemes.
We're going to give you a category of teams you'll want to watch as often as possible. These are teams that are not only good, but make winning look fun. Be it because of offense, coaching, exciting freshmen or overall style of play, the teams listed below are among the best watches on the tube.
For a variety of reasons, these are the squads you'll want to see no matter who they're playing
When you've got a super-athletic small forward, and then a guy who's a prime candidate to have a breakout season, a veteran backcourt and yet another guy who's barely played, but is still -- still! -- considered a likely NBA pick, then yes, you're going to be fun to watch.
Kansas is almost always fun to watch. You know that.
And so the Jayhawks, again, will be plenty entertaining. Josh Jackson is the aforementioned super-athletic dude. He could go No. 1 in the 2017 NBA Draft. He enters this season without the hype that hung around Andrew Wiggins a few years back, but truth is, Jackson's got the game to do more than what Wiggins did while at KU.
We'll see, though. Devonte Graham and Frank Mason comprise the backcourt. Combo them with Svi Mykhailiuk (is this finally the breakout year for him?), and that's a very watchable backcourt.
Kansas isn't going to be a dominant defensive team, but sometimes a lack of defense makes a team all the more entertaining, even if not elite. Kansas can crack that, though, because it would be a shock if this isn't a top-15 team, wire to wire, in college hoops this season.
Shaka Smart's teams have been watchable and hustle-heavy from the start of his head-coaching career, which is now entering its eighth season. UT's got a high-flying dunker in Kerwin Roach, Jr. It's got a very underrated wing in Tevin Mack. The team is obviously going to be ferocious on defense. Smart's got a top-five recruiting class, led by five-star man in the middle Jarrett Allen. Andrew Jones is a blazing ball of fun as a combo guard. UT will probably be a little up and down, but I do think this will grow into one of the clear-cut top 20 teams in the country by mid-January. Roach alone makes this team worth turning into. The challenge here is, the team doesn't return one double-digit scorer, so there will be plenty to sort out.
Tom Crean's proven he can build a roster capable of scoring in myriad ways. IU will have Thomas Bryant down low, and he'll probably be denting rims every game. OG Anunoby has sensational athleticism and ability; I think he's going to lift IU this season and keep the Hoosiers in the discussion to be a top-three team in the Big Ten. There's more: James Blackmon will be back after suffering a season-ending injury last season. Blackmon's not a good defender, but he's perfectly suited to have the offense play through him. Robert Johnson and Colin Hartman will have a yellow light to shoot from 3 as well. Crean's had an offense rank in the top 10 in points per possession four of the past five years. I think that will wind up being five of the past six when this season is done.
Dennis Smith, Jr. could become the best point guard in the sport. He's going to have a lot of challengers to that title, which will make college hoops so fun this season. But Smith's smooth playmaking ability, terrific athleticism (even coming off a significant knee injury) and reliable jump shot make him and the Wolfpack must-watch.
You've got BeeJay Anya back, again, and that guy is just a big bowl of boss. And then there's Abdul-Malik Abu, who has the best vertical of anyone on the team, it seems. Imagine being able to jump this high.
NC State could go a number of ways this season. You'll notice not all the teams I've picked here are ranked. Watchable doesn't automatically translate to really, really good. You'd watch a trainwreck, you know? Fortunately for State Fan, Mark Gottfried's team should be far from a trainwreck this season. I'm higher on State than most, I think. Consider me that all-in on Smith's ability. Remember, I told you NC State was one of the better value bets this season.
The Bruins were just bad last year. A 15-17, forgettable season.
Now comes what should amount to one of the best turnarounds for any major-conference squad in 2016-17. Why so confident? Lonzo Ball, first off. He's a future first-round pick, a guard not short on confidence and one who will probably be among the most entertaining, savvy players in the sport by the time we get to March Madness.
Then you've got this guy, the guy with maybe the best name in college hoops: Prince Ali.
Keep the Aladdin puns and jokes coming. He's worthy of 'em.
UCLA has a top-10 recruiting class coming in. Ball and T.J. Leaf are studs. Bryce Alford is still with the team, and he's way more valuable (and also plenty watchable; the guy has developed a penchant for making significant shots) than people give him credit for. Plus, there's the UCLA fan base factor here. It's no secret: they still don't like Steve Alford. So either UCLA falls short of expectations and Bruins fans continue to go mad, or UCLA gets really good and they've got to learn to accept that this team will be Sweet 16-caliber this season.
More names to know: Isaac Hamilton (hello, here comes another really good season) and Thomas Welsh, who will probably have 15 double-doubles.
My guess: this is a top-three enjoyable, watchable, fun team by the time we get to late-January conference play. The more I get ready for this season, the more I look at what Sean Miller has here ... the more and more I'm convinced this is going to be a studly group when everything jells. I'll get to the freshmen in a second, but let's look at who's coming back.
First, Ray Smith. Didn't play last year because of an ACL injury. Not a game. Some believed, if healthy, he could've been the best player for the team. Allonzo Trier, who passed on going to the NBA, is back. Trier's game has strength of character to it that Miller has to love.
Kadeem Allen, to me, will be the breakout player on this team. Dusan Ristic is sort of a JAG on Arizona, whereas he'd be a killer piece with 345 other teams.
Now, the freshmen. I'm already claiming driver's seat responsibility for the Lauri Markkanen bandwagon. He's a 7-foot beast from Finland who can step out and shoot. Look the hell out. Kobi Simmons is a 6-foot-5 point. He's got a lot of room for growth, but he'll be good for some highlights. The third five-star frosh on this team is Rawle Alkins.
And just think, this team could've had Terrence Ferguson. Even without him, Miller's got plenty to work with. You will enjoy watching Arizona this season.
Look at this. Three Pac-12 teams -- all of them ranked in the preseason Top 25 (and one) -- among the most watchable in the country. You can't argue with Oregon. Similar to Arizona, this team is crazy-loaded, only the Ducks are being picked ahead of U of A because Dana Altman's team has more experience. Even casual fans should recognize all these names: Dillon Brooks. Jordan Bell. Tyler Dorsey. Dylan Ennis. Chris Boucher. Fantastic quintet there.
Oregon took a 1 seed last year because the team was fairly solid with the ball and great at swatting shots. They're bendy on both ends. Brooks is a bad dude when he wants to be, and Dorsey will be a top-10 sophomore in the country this season.
Plenty of people around the country didn't get to see as much of Oregon as they should've last year. Try to not make that mistake again, because everyone likes to watch teams put up 80 in college hoops. I expect Oregon to do that at least 20 times, if not more.
Good, great, bad, doesn't matter. If Calipari's coaching at Kentucky, obviously this team is going to be among the most must-watch. You watch to see if they lose. You watch to see how much they'll win by. You watch to see what Calipari will do. You watch to see the latest convoy of five-star kids who've thrown on Big Blue unis, to see how this iteration of domination takes to being the most targeted team in the sport.
UK brings in the No. 2 recruiting class in the country. Edrice "Bam" Adebayo is a 6-foot-9 specimen, a player two coaches once told me they expected him to be a future No. 1 pick. I won't go there, but the lottery? Yeah, that seems a near-lock, and I say that knowing full well what happened to Skal Labissiere last season. Elsewhere in the class, well, I'm throwing in this video of Malik Monk for my colleague, Gary Parrish, who has been smitten with Monk ever since watching him at the Peach Jam a couple of years back.
Monk is fun, but I actually think De'Aaron Fox (my second favorite point guard in the class, only behind Smith at NC State) and Wenyen Gabriel will be bigger players for UK this season than Monk, who is no doubt very entertaining.
Kentucky has five five-star kids this season. And it's still not rated as good as Duke. Just bonkers.
Who's back? Isaiah Briscoe, Isaac Humphries (a big Aussie!) and Derek Willis are the three most significant returnees. Willis was the one who was arrested after being found way too drunk at way too early in the morning back in June.
Few coaches' schemes are as well-respected in basketball circles like the stuff Bob McKillop runs at Davidson. It's a symphony in basketball form to watch Davidson play. The ball movement, the cuts, the way guys not only are found open, but the way McKillop draws them open. Watching Davidson play can, at times, be like seeing an image crystallize in seconds. It's why, despite having a lack of athletes year in and year out, Davidson has remained a relevant program for so long.
The Wildcats will not be favored to win the A-10. But if McKillop manages to make his way into the NCAA Tournament for the seventh time in the past 12 years, I won't be stunned. Ever notice how McKillop and Davidson haven't had their success tied to the fact Steph Curry went there? It's because that's not the case. You'll notice that McKillop hasn't recruited Curry wannabes. Sure, Jack Gibbs -- who's going to be among the most potent scorers in the country this season -- can fill it up, but he's not a Steph clone.
No one runs offense like Davidson. It's fun every single year.
I could be setting myself up for failure here. But Dwayne Bacon is back, and he'll be a scorer. Xavier Rathan-Mayes once put up 30 in four minutes. This has become the most ridiculous College Basketball Thing of the past few years that nobody really talks about.
Between those two and incoming five-star big man Jonathan Isaac, I just think FSU is going to be a blast to watch. You know this program is good for one or two fun upsets per year. How about this team gets back to the NCAAs, Bacon becomes a go-to guy, and Isaac forms into one of the better bigs in the country? The Seminoles have been a program that's been frustratingly just short of being consistently a threat. They've got the guys again. Let's see it.
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