Daily Word: What's on the line Friday?
Every weekday, Andy Katz leads a panel of our college hoops experts in a discussion of the biggest issues, trends and themes happening in and around college basketball.
1. What game Friday could end up being a résumé win come March?
Andy Katz: St. John's will have its chances for marquee wins but a neutral site victory over Wisconsin in Sioux Falls, S.D., could go a long way toward legitimizing the Red Storm early in the season. A win over the Badgers will have a lasting effect. Wisconsin is only going to be more formidable in March.
C.L. Brown: Georgetown should be an NCAA tournament team regardless of Friday's outcome halfway around the globe against No. 19 Oregon. Should the Hoyas beat Oregon, it will be not only a big win for them, but it also would serve as an opening salvo for the revamped Big East.
Myron Medcalf: I think St. John's has the talent to earn an NCAA tourney slot. And a win over Wisconsin on Friday would be a big early boost for those postseason aspirations.
2. Which player are you most looking forward to seeing debut with his team this weekend?
Andy Katz: Georgetown's Josh Smith debuts for the Hoyas on Friday at Camp Humphreys in South Korea. Smith's endurance, not his weight, will be of high interest. If Smith can stay on the court for an eight-minute stretch, that could prove a significant factor for the Hoyas throughout a rugged nonconference schedule and in the new Big East.
C.L. Brown: The possibility that Louisville's Kevin Ware could make his debut -- just as he predicted in June-- is nothing short of remarkable. One of the reasons the Cardinals were so emotional when he broke his leg against Duke in the Elite Eight was that no one could predict how or if he would come back from such an injury. He will suit up for Louisville against the College of Charleston on Saturday and if he does play, I can only imagine what kind of prolonged ovation he'll receive.
Myron Medcalf: Duke's Jabari Parker. There's lot of hype for Kentucky's young crew and Andrew Wiggins at Kansas. But before those youngsters went prime-time, Parker was the man in the 2013 recruiting class.
3. Which team has been the most interesting in the preseason?
Andy Katz: North Carolina and Louisville are close right now. The Cardinals have had the on-and-off again updates on Ware and the suspension of Chane Behanan. But the Tar Heels still don't know when P.J. Hairston will play and now add Leslie McDonald to the list of players held out for an unknown reason. UNC's soap opera is leading for now.
C.L. Brown: The teams with major player suspensions looming, including North Carolina and Louisville, are interesting, but I've been most intrigued by Florida and how its three suspensions will affect the team. Dorian Finney-Smith, a Virginia Tech transfer, and Damontre Harris, a South Carolina transfer, were expected to play big roles in the frontcourt. While senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin sits, he could be in danger of watching freshman Kasey Hill permanently take a bite out of his minutes.
Myron Medcalf: Kentucky, simply because I have no idea how John Calipari is going to balance playing time with that roster. In the exhibition game against Transylvania on Friday, 11 Wildcats played nine or more minutes.
Season Of Change
Before, when John Calipari was turning Memphis into an annual national title contender, he earned a weird, paradoxical reputation: To casual fans (or "haters"), Calipari was just some clever salesman who recruited talented players and rolled the balls out. In reality, the offensive system that reinforced this reputation -- the freedom-based, talent-reliant, dribble-drive motion offense adapted in the mid-2000s from then-obscure junior college coach Vance Walberg -- was totally, radically innovative. Calipari, as usual, was years ahead of his time. And now it's back.
They Said It
ESPNU Basketball Podcast
Andy Katz and Seth Greenberg check in with newsmakers from around college basketball.