First of all… I did not realize this full game was online, and I’ll be watching it later ON BLAST. What a classic, even though I might have to redact that comment later because it never happened, or whatever.
Tonight Is A Game. After a 38-3 powdering by KSU on Sunday, Jayhawk fans finally have some basketball (that counts) to watch. The fact that the Champions Classic is the first game for both blue bloods is a little bit of overcooked NCAA strategy: the argument is that, by KU-Duke being the first game of the season, it feels more like a true “opening night” for the NCAA hoops calendar. It moves the needle over from a “2” to maybe a “2.5”. Even with the fanfare generated around the NBA’s opening night, and the relief that comes with it, the basketball is kind of an afterthought.
For the Champions Classic, it feels a little different, but barely. As an attendee at several Champions Classics, the basketball is often sloppy, about as sloppy as you’d realistically expect. It’s patently not a very good advertisement for the product, at large, even if some one-and-dones mill about the action. There are some exciting moments, for instance:
Even with my big-picture “40-0” record prediction, a loss to Duke will do little to dent this year’s storyline. This game is a big toss-up, taking place in front of a mixed crowd of fans with healthy disposable incomes. A blowout victory in either direction scans less as “wow, this team is running the table and I’m betting my mortgage/child on it” and more as “dang! Random but haha nice.” Duke has a few elite prospects in the mix—Cassius Stanley, Matthew Hurt, Vernon Carey Jr.—and I expect Kansas to have their hands full up front. Foul trouble, or lack thereof, will dictate the rotation.
But, with Duke -2, I see this game as pretty level. Whoever makes more shots is going to win, and that’s something I think will hover over Kansas all season (kind of like it did last season but the floor for this team is a whole lot higher). If Agbaji and Dotson (as well as other rotation wings) can create space with outside shooting, Kansas’s profile in this game is much stronger.
That being said, KU 74-71. I expect an up-and-down game with lots of four-second bursts of brilliance, and probably an eight-to-eleven-minute stretch of basketball at one point that no one will be able to remember 30 minutes after the game ends.
The Time Has Come
So, as I mentioned earlier in the newsletter, I’m going to activate the paywall for some posts. This isn’t something I’m doing to screen out readers. Actually, it’s the opposite—everything touching on a big moment in Kansas basketball will be free.
Right now, all subscriptions go to charity, and I think that’s the major reason to subscribe. But once the paywall is on, I’ll be sending subscribers more niche and specialized stuff, whether it’s about sneakers or jerseys or Instagram or general Jayhawks Conspiracy Theories. It’s the marginalia, but that’s the reason people get into these newsletters.
I’ve already donated around $3k of subscription $$ to charities and non-profits like Children of Promise, Sean Casey Animal Rescue, Sunrise Movement, National Resources Defense Council, Wayside Waifs, Woodstock Animal Sanctuary and more. (I’ve posted many of the receipts on my Instagram). In the future, I hope to donate more to initiatives involving education in underserved communities, groups supporting environmental advocacy, and animals.
These days, I know there’s a lot of stuff competing for your attention, but your subscription makes a difference. I’m always taking suggestions about where this money can go, and I’m really grateful for everyone that has subscribed so far. Let’s keep this 🏀 rolling.