College Basketball on Sling: Defending Champs Villanova Kick Off Hoops Season, Kentucky Unveils Another Class of Blue Chips

Nov 11, 2016 by Sling Staff

Lafayette (0-0) vs #4 Villanova (0-0)
6:30pm ET Friday on FS2

The college basketball season gets under way today with a veritable orgy of hoops, starting with defending national champs the Villanova Wildcats, who last season went 29-5 before sweeping through the big dance as a 2-seed, winning in the finals against North Carolina 77-74. The ‘Cats open this year ranked #4, as they head into this season without point guard Ryan Arcidiacono (12.5 ppg, 4.2 apg) and forward Daniel Ochefu (10.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg), both of whom graduated. They’ll look to sophomore Jalen Brunson (9.6 ppg, 2.5 apg) and junior Darryl Reynolds (3.6 ppg 4.5 rpg) to fill those voids. Incoming freshman Omari Spellman had fans excited until he was ruled academically ineligible for this season.

The Lafayette Leopards are coming off a 6-24 season that included a 12-game losing streak, but there’s hope yet as they bring back four of their top five scorers from last year, bidding adieu only to Bryce Scott. Whether senior Nick Linder & Co. can step up their game remains to be seen, but one would hope a year’s experience will help.

Canisius (0-0) vs #2 Kentucky (0-0)
6pm ET Sunday on ESPN2

The Canisius Golden Griffins started last season at a respectable 10-10 before falling into a ditch, going 4-9 the rest of the way against their MAAC compatriots. The Griffins bring back three of their top four scorers in Phil Valenti (14.6 ppg 6.1 rpg), Kassius Robertson (14.1 ppg, 2.8 rpg), and Jermaine Crumpton (10.4 ppg 3.1 rpg), and Valenti hopes to take over the point from the departed Malcolm McMillan. But these guys are just a bump in the road on Kentucky’s way to another NCAA Tournament.

John Calipari’s Wildcats went 27-9, before getting bounced in the second round of the tournament by Indiana, 76-67, marking just the second time in Calipari’s seven seasons that they failed to make it to the 3rd round. As is their custom, the ‘Cats lost 3 underclassmen to the draft, with Jamal Murray heading to Denver, and Tyler Ulis and Skal Labissiere landing in Phoenix. And as is their custom, they’ve reloaded with another freshman class of blue chip studs, like Edrice “Bam” Adebayo, Brad “Coach’s Son” Calipari, De’Aaron Fox, Wenyen Gabriel, Sacha Killeya-Jones, and Malik Monk. Gabriel experienced a growth spurt in high school, so he went from a talented point guard to a 6’ 9” ball handler, while Monk is an explosive dunking machine, Adebayo, a big-bodied rebounder, has been named to seemingly every preseason All-American team, and Fox is already projecting as a Defensive Player of the Year candidate who creates plenty of fastbreak opportunities for himself.


Lafayette (0-0) vs #4 Villanova (0-0)
6:30pm ET on FS2

Stephen F. Austin (0-0) vs #2 Kentucky (0-0)
7pm ET on SEC Network

#10 Arizona (0-0) vs #12 Michigan State (0-0)
7pm ET on ESPN

McNeese (0-0) vs #15 Purdue (0-0)
7pm ET on ESPN3

#8 Virginia (0-0) vs UNC Greensboro (0-0)
7pm ET on ESPN3

#11 Indiana (0-0) vs #3 Kansas (0-0)
9pm ET on ESPN

#6 North Carolina (0-0) vs Tulane (0-0)
9pm ET on ESPNU

Pacific (0-0) vs #16 UCLA (0-0)
9pm ET on Pac-12 Network

UMKC (0-0) vs #22 Creighton (0-0)
9pm ET on FS2

Army (0-0) vs #5 Oregon (0-0)
11pm ET on Pac-12 Network


Chattanooga (0-0) vs #6 North Carolina (0-0)
4pm ET on ESPN2

Canisius (0-0) vs #2 Kentucky (0-0)
6pm ET on ESPN2

CS Northridge (0-0) vs #16 UCLA (0-0)
9pm ET on Pac-12 Network

Watch college basketball on ESPN and ESPN2 by subscribing to Sling Orange, on ESPN3, ESPNU and SEC Network by subscribing to Sling Orange’s Sports Extra, on Pac-12 Network by subscribing to Sling Orange or Blue with Sports Extra and on FS2 and FOX by subscribing to Sling Blue

All stats courtesy ESPN and College Basketball Reference.

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