The final day of April is here. Only 194 days until the 2017-18 season tips off (unless the NCAA decides to start the season earlier than November 10th - more on that later). There are a couple of noteworthy topics to mention so let's get started.
The NBA combine invitation list was revealed earlier today. The list includes more than 60 players. Noticeably absent from the list is Braxton Key. The general consensus is that if an underclassmen testing the waters does not receive an invite to the combine, it's a good idea to return to school. Hopefully, Braxton will announce his intentions to return to school in the coming days.
Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports tweeted earlier today that Alabama and Rhode Island have agreed to a home-and-home series, which will start in Tuscaloosa for the 17-18 season. The Rams finished 25-10 this past season, making the NCAA Tournament and knocking off Creighton before losing a tough 3-point game to Oregon in the round of 32. With 6 of the top 8 scorers expected to return, Rhode Island should be a preseason favorite for the A-10 title.
For those keeping track, here's what the Bama schedule looks like so far:
Memphis [Veterans Classic at Annapolis, Maryland]
Rhode Island [Game will most likely be played in Tuscaloosa]
Barclays Center Classic [Based on Umass press release from July of last year. Umass, Alabama, BYU and TBD team will be the four host schools]
Texas [Return game in home-and-home series. My guess is that Texas will be the opponent in the 2017 version of the Vulcan Classic]
SEC/Big 12 Challenge [Alabama will take part in the event this season. My prediction: Alabama will travel to Iowa State to face Bama alum Steve Prohm.]
The NCAA is discussing the possibility of a new start date for college basketball, one that will be more uniform than what we have now. What is being discussed is making the Tuesday before the second Friday in November the uniform start date for the sport. The belief is a mid-week start date might bring more attention and excitement to the sport. There is also hope that by starting the season earlier, it will create a less compressed schedule, particularly in the non-conference months. With that in mind, the NCAA has also discussed the possibility of a standardized 21-week playing season with a mandatory 3-4 day break for the student athletes during the winter vacation period.
I'm for a uniform start date to the season, but there has to be high profile games to go along with it, or casual fans still won't care. The first weekend of college football has become dotted with exciting games that pull in viewers from every part of the country. College basketball will have to do something similar if it's going to make an impact in early November. And as far as the break during the winter vacation period: I'm all for it. Without students on campus, home games lack energy, and the games themselves suffer because of this. Avery has dealt with this problem by scheduling games in Birmingham and Huntsville during the winter break, but giving the players extra time during the break would be in the best interest of the student-athlete from a mental and physical standpoint, which is what all of this is supposed to be about, right?