1. KJCCC basketball gets underway Wednesday, so who are your league champions in the East and West for both the men’s and women’s teams?
Kelton, HutchNews: I'll start with the West. For the men, No. 9-ranked Hutchinson sits at the top behind a deep and talented roster. HCC men's head coach Steve Eck said he believes he could start 10 different players. For the women, I'll stick with Seward County until I see how the three new starting guards at HCC handles the competition in conference. In the East, Coffeyville for the men and Cloud County for the women. The duo of Scout Frame and Emmiley Hendrixson (two Kansas athletes) is one of the best in the league.
Levi, GCTelegram: For the men, give me Hutchinson and Coffeyville, as well. Until someone knocks those two programs off, that’s the pick. For the women, I’ll take Hutchinson in the West. I’ll trust a long-time head coach and new players over a first-year coach at Seward County — for now. In the East, I’m taking Butler. The Grizzlies are undefeated and already have a top 20 win over Iowa Western so far.
2. Fact of Fiction: Kansas will send three teams to the NJCAA tournament for the second straight season?
Kelton, HutchNews: Fact: The biggest question mark is Barton, who lost three key contributors in Kawanise Wilkins, Keshon Montague, and Marvin Cannon. Barton does bring back Elijah Ford, who played in 35 games last season and averaged 11.1 points per game. Akeen White will also take on more responsibility for Barton. Having Craig Fletchall as a coach also helps. No. 9 Hutchinson and No. 4 Coffeyville also will find their way into the tournament, barring a major letdown.
Levi, GCTelegram: Fiction. That was a unique scenario in how the Jayhawk got Barton, Coffeyville and Hutchinson into the dance. With just eight at-large bids for all of the different leagues, getting two of those will be very difficult once again. I do think getting two teams in is a safe bet.
3. Do you like going back to the split divisions format for the Jayhawk?
Levi, GCTelegram: I’ll complain about this until I’m blue in the face, but I still do not understand why the conference did not go to three five-team capsules, where teams would play the other four teams in their capsule twice and the other 10 teams in the other two capsules once each. That’s 18 games total for everybody and just makes so much more sense. But alas.
Kelton, HutchNews: Yes and no. All the games still matter and east and west will play each other once instead of each team twice, and still complete the double round robin inside of respective divisions. My only gripe is that the format is simply outdated, but I'm not too pressed by the change.
4. How does the Jayhawk do in this week’s bowl games?
Levi, GCTelegram: Obviously, Garden City plays in Thursday’s NJCAA title game vs. No. 1 East Mississippi, but the Jayhawk has two more teams playing in bowl games, as well. Butler takes on Northeastern Oklahoma A&M in the Midwest Classic on Sunday and Hutchinson hosts Navarro in the Salt City Bowl Saturday. I’ll reserve my pick on the title game until later in this week, but I think the Jayhawk goes 1-1 in the other two. I think Butler is knocked off by NEO and Hutchinson is able to edge a mediocre Navarro team.
Kelton, HutchNews: I'll go 2-1. Garden City has been special from day one and I believe in head coach Jeff Sims' last game, the Broncbusters will give the best effort they have given all season long, which is scary. I wasn't high on Butler this season and that won't change now. Give me NEO over Butler. I'm not sure what Hutchinson team will show up Saturday. The one that tore through the conference at the beginning of the season or the team that is on a two-game losing streak. I'll go with Hutch. The talent they have is undeniable.