By Ashley Walls
Now that we’re halfway through November, we can finally smell the sweet scents of fall: popcorn, sweat and leather. That’s right — college basketball season has arrived.
The AP 25 and the USA Today Coaches Poll list Kentucky, Michigan State, Louisville and Duke as the top four teams in the nation. Each of these times won by at least a 22-point margin in their opening games over the weekend, but only time will tell if these four teams truly are the best teams in the nation. In the meantime, let’s look at three players to watch out for this season.
1. Cleanthony Early, Whichita State: This 6’8” forward from Middletown, New York shows promise. In Whichita State’s season-opener, the senior scored 21 points and three boards. Right now, Whichita State is ranked No. 16 in both polls; if Early keeps up his scoring pace, he could help the Shockers go even farther in the tournament than last year’s Final Four appearance.
2. C. J. Fair, Syracuse University: As the Orange’s leading scorer last year, the senior forward from Baltimore is expected to be a big impact again this year. On Friday, Fair didn’t disappoint with 19 points, three rebounds, and three assists against Cornell in Syracuse’s 82-60 win. The AP poll has Syracuse tied for No. 8, but No. 7 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. With Fair on the team, this could be the year Syracuse nabs their second banner.
3. Le’Bryan Nash, Oklahoma State: This 6’7” junior from Dallas, Texas got 21 points, 10 boards, shot .900% of his free throws, and nailed a .667% field goal average in the Cowboys’ 117-62 win last weekend. Tied with Syracuse for the No. 8 spot in the AP poll, and at No. 12 in the USA Today Coaches Poll, Oklahoma State is in a good position to rise to the top. If Nash’s stellar performance this weekend translates into consistency, we could be hearing a lot more about the Cowboys in the next few months.
We’ll see if these players carry their teams to the final rounds of the NCAA tournament. Until then, whether you bleed blue, cheer for the Buckeyes, or tweet #CardNation often, let’s remember one thing every college basketball fan can agree on: the most wonderful time of the year is finally here.