Looking At The Biggest Storylines Heading Into The 2021-22 College Basketball Season
College basketball fans rejoice, it’s finally back! The 2021-22 season kicks off tonight in Madison Square Garden with the Champions Classic. After a year of playing games in empty gymnasiums with no fans and many restrictions, the rabid atmospheres full of crazed fans that we know and love are going to be back in a big way. Here are the three biggest storylines to look out for heading into the season.
Coach K’s Farewell Tour
No story in the college basketball world will come close to the magnitude of the final season of Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski, who announced on June 2nd that this year would be his final season before retirement. In his 46 years as a head coach, he’s amassed 1,170 wins (an NCAA record) and five National Championships.
Similar to icons like Derek Jeter and Kobe Bryant, Coach K’s farewell tour will feature an endless amount of pregame ceremonies and gifts from opponents all year long as they show their appreciation to one of the greatest coaches in the history of sports.
The Blue Devils enter the season ranked 9th in the nation, and begin their quest at sending their coach off into the sunset with one more National Championship tonight against the No. 10 Kentucky Wildcats.
Gonzaga’s Quest For Redemption
Gonzaga was just one win away from an undefeated 2020-21 season before falling to Baylor in the National Championship. On top of that, they lost three starters, including their star Jaylen Suggs.
Despite the tough loss and key departures, the Zags enter the season ranked first overall. Drew Timme is back for his junior season and is expected to be in contention for player of the year. They also added Chet Holmgren, the top recruit in the 2021 class, who will add star power to the Bulldogs’ roster as they aim to avenge last season’s shortcomings.
Will Memphis Break Through?
After years of disappointment due to not reaching the tournament since 2014, things finally appear to be looking up for Memphis. For the second time in three years, the Tigers boast the number 1 overall recruiting class as they bring in a pair of five-star prospects, Emoni Bates and Jalen Duren.
After narrowly missing the tournament last year, head coach Penny Hardaway and Memphis are now expected to make some noise this year as they enter the season ranked 12th in the country.
Game 1: Michigan State vs. No. 3 Kansas (7:00 EST)
Game 2: No. 10 Kentucky vs. No. 9 Duke (9:30 EST)
Photo: Lance King / Getty Images