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The Dagger

Nine former champions will go gray this season

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Pics via @NunesMagician, Arizona Desert Swarm and GoDuke.com

Here's the only good thing about Nike unveiling unsightly gray jerseys on Wednesday for some of the nation's most tradition-rich college basketball programs: Each team is only required to wear them once.

[Y! Sports Shop: Show your school colors with team gear]

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Nine former national champions will break with tradition during a game in the coming weeks by forgoing their typical school colors in favor of Nike's new Hyper Elite Platinum jersey. The teams Nike has chosen to wear them are Arizona, Baylor (women's), Duke, Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, Syracuse and Connecticut (men's and women's).

The jerseys are the latest example of Nike's push to introduce gray — sorry, "platinum" — uniforms throughout college basketball. From Kansas State, to Texas, to Purdue, at least 20 prominent Division I programs have already worn a gray alternate jersey this season, the majority of which introduced theirs in the past 12 months.

New jerseys always inspire their share of grumbling, but the release of these has been especially polarizing.

An angry commenter on Kentucky Sports Radio wrote, "Big Blue Nation to Nike: Our colors are BLUE and WHITE." One minute later someone else correctly responded, "Guess what old people? They're not for you. They're for the players."

Indeed, in addition to the obvious merchandising opportunities, the motivation for schools to adopt alternate jerseys like these is often that players like them.  It only aids recruiting to send the message to prospects that they'll always be outfitted in the freshest, most up-to-date gear if they choose your school.

[See Slideshow of all the new jerseys here]

The fan base with the most reason to complain about the new look is Syracuse, which will now don the colors of their fiercest Big East rival, Georgetown. Just like Kentucky should never wear red, Michigan should never don scarlet and Duke shouldn't be caught dead in a lighter shade of blue, Syracuse shouldn't be in gray.

At least Nike was smart enough not to put Syracuse in gray against the Hoyas. The Orange will wear the jersey at home against South Florida on Feb. 22 and then hopefully it can be done with them for good.

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