For a lot of students who attend major universities, the athletics experience while there is one of the biggest selling points. You can come to this school and you know you’re going to watch a great basketball team. Or you can come to this other school and you’re going to get great football games. In some rare cases, you go in expected to have quality football and basketball games to take you through the entire school year.
Of course, even when that’s the case it can be a crapshoot. Your football team might in the midst of a rebuild or your star basketball player may have left early, leaving your squad with a hole they can’t fill until next year. But sometimes, the stars align and you get the chance to spend an entire year rooting for top-ranked, title contenders across the two sports.
Now that we’re well into the college football season and on the cusp of the college basketball season, let’s see which fanbases can expect to have that kind of experience through the spring of 2019.
Perhaps no school has a chance to remain extremely happy throughout much of the 2018-2019 academic year like Kentucky. The Wildcats have been a fantastic surprise on the football field so far this season, posting a 6-1 record, including a win over mighty Florida, and rising to No. 12 in the polls. They’re almost certainly not going to win the SEC but it’s entirely possible they could find their way into the SEC Championship Game (where Alabama or LSU will obliterate them). Still, a solid bowl game awaits them. And then there’s their basketball program, with enters the season ranked No. 2 in both polls and is one of the favorites to win the NCAA Title, as they usually are. Oh and this whole you’ve been watching your in-state rival’s athletics program implode. It’s good to be a Wildcat right now.
There’s no big surprise to see Clemson near the top of the college football polls. The No. 2 Tigers are 7-0 and, short of an epic stumble, will probably end up back in the College Football Playoff for the fourth consecutive year. Meanwhile, the basketball program has quietly grown into a dependable force in the ACC. They went to the Sweet Sixteen last year and enter this season ranked No. 22 in the AP Poll and No. 23 in the Coaches Poll. It’ll be a challenge once again to rise near the top of the conference but all signs point to them being a tournament team once again.
When they’re not complaining about schoolyard antics, the Michigan football team is back near the top of the board. Jim Harbaugh has the Wolverines at 7-1 and ranked No. 5 in the nation. They’ve got a chance to control their own destiny by beating Ohio State in a few weeks and could potentially find themselves in the Big Ten Championship or even the College Football Playoff. Meanwhile, John Beilein’s basketball program continues to be among the nation’s most resourceful. They’ll enter the 2018-2019 season as a Top 20 team with their eyes set on returning to the NCAA Championship game for the second-straight year.
West Virginia Mountaineers
Possibly the biggest surprise on here, WVU has put together arguably its best one-two sports punch joining the Big 12. On the football side, Dana Holgorsen’s team is currently 5-1 and ranked No. 13 in the nation. They’re already a perennial bowl program but right now they’re still in the running for a spot in the Big 12 Championship. Meanwhile, Bob Huggins continues to keep the Mountaineers among the top-ranked squads in the nation. They’ll enter this season as a Top 15 team with a chance to really make some waves in the Big 12. They’ll also have a good shot to get back into the NCAA Tournament for the fifth-straight year.
In both sports, the Huskies are led by coaches who have orchestrated quick turnarounds to return their programs to former glory. The football side is a little bit ahead in that as Chris Peterson turned the Huskies from also-rans into Pac-12 title contenders in three years. Now in this fifth year, he’s got the Huskies at 5-2 and ranked No. 15. They’ve still got their work cut out for them if they want to win the conference but they’re likely headed to a solid bowl game either way. On the basketball side, Mike Hopkins made huge strides in his first season at UW and the program is poised to make a major step in 2018-2019. Entering the season ranked in the Top 25, the Huskies have a good shot to get back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011. There’s a lot of positive energy surrounding the program right now and all signs point to that continuing.
Just when everyone was ready to write off the Ducks football program, they’ve turned in a solid 2018 performance. They currently stand at 5-2, ranked No. 19 in the country, and should end up in a pretty good position when its time for bowl games. Meanwhile, the basketball program continues to make good on its Final Four run from a few years back. Dana Altman’s team will enter the season as a Top 20 program and should be considered the favorite to win the Pac-12.