On Tuesday, we unveiled The Star’s picks for our top KC-area sports storylines of 2016. Leading the way were themes surrounding the Chiefs and Royals.
It stands to reason the same would be true of our staffers’ picks for top storylines to watch in 2017. And that’s definitely the case as we look ahead to January and beyond.
With the Chiefs on the brink of the playoffs, having secured a postseason berth on Sunday, their drive for a spot in Super Bowl LI in Houston takes top billing among key storylines for 2017.
Close behind, we’re intrigued whether the Royals can do better than 81-81 in the year to come despite the loss of leading men such as closer Wade Davis, designated hitter Kendrys Morales and starting pitcher Edinson Volquez.
Spinoffs from that overarching question include who’ll still be around in Royals blue once the 2017 season concludes. The club has several big-time contracts expiring at season’s end, including those of Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain.
Without further ado, here are 10 KC-area storylines to watch in the coming year, counted down as ranked by The Star’s sports writers and editors.
▪ 10. Where will KU men’s basketball star Josh Jackson be drafted? No. 1 overall is in play for this uber-talented one-and-done.
▪ 9. Figure skating’s United States national championships hit ice at the Sprint Center in January
▪ 8. Does football coach Barry Odom have what it takes to lead the way at Mizzou? He’ll be in year two after going 4-8 in 2016.
▪ 7. Sporting KC takes the field sporting a new-look lineup; are they a championship contender as 2017 unfolds?
▪ 6. Sprint Center also plays host to two big college events in 2017: an NCAA regional in men’s basketball this spring and the NCAA volleyball final four this fall.
▪ 5. Coach in the catbird seat: The K-State football coaching job is Bill Snyder’s until he decides otherwise; could 2017 be the year he says it’s time to step down?
▪ 4. Coaches on the hot seat: We’ll also be watching the respective futures of basketball coaches Bruce Weber at K-State and Kim Anderson at Mizzou.
▪ 3. Kansas men’s basketball coach Bill Self seeks to lead KU to its 13th straight Big 12 championship and a national title; will he keep coaching in Lawrence after his son Tyler graduates in May?
▪ 2. Can the Royals squeeze out one last playoff run before the roster is dismantled? Will manager Ned Yost and/or general manager Dayton Moore retire?
And last but not least ...
▪ 1. The Chiefs’ quest for the Super Bowl: Can they at least make the AFC title game for the first time since 1994?