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Preseason Hoops, Part 1

Early dates to remember:

Nov 7 – Hampton heads to Maryland and New Orleans and Vermont go head to head in College Park to open up the college basketball season in the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic.

Nov 16-17 – 2K Sports College Hoops Classic (Coaches vs. Cancer Classic) final four at Madison Square Garden.

Nov 20-22
- The Maui Invitational which will have all 12 games televised on the ESPN family. The field includes Kentucky, Georgia Tech, Memphis, and last year’s NCAA runner-up UCLA.

Nov 25 – The Findlay Toyota Las Vegas Invitational which features the Florida/Kansas matchup. Many are predicting this to be a preview of the NCAA Tournament Finals.

Nov 27-29 – The ACC-Big Ten Challenge features 11 games in three days with the most notable game being the Nov. 29th matchup between Ohio State and North Carolina.

Best TV Move:

ESPN. - Bracketbusters, Rivalry Week, Feast Week, Holiday Hoops, Judgment Week, and Championship Week are all examples of ESPN college basketball franchise programming.

Worst TV Move:

CSTV – Why would you move the MWC to a network that isn’t available in your two biggest markets in the league, Las Vegas and San Diego? It just doesn’t make sense.

Amazing TV Move:

It’s hard to believe but the Atlantic Coast Conference will have 278 television appearances for its schools this year, a new record. The ABC/ESPN family will handle 103 games while CBS, Fox Sports Net, CSTV and regional partners will chime in with additional matchups. Now, do you really think college sports are driven by anything but TV and advertising money?

I’m thankful for:

The Internet – Imagine how hard it was back in pre-historic days to get the information required to make an intelligent wager. Now, within seconds, and at your fingertips, is every stat, trend, and note on every player in Division I basketball. Priceless.

What to worry about:

Text Messaging – Would you believe that this is now a major NCAA concern? Its nice to know that we’ve passed the days of coaches handing players bags of cash or parents brand new tractors (see Blue Chips) to lure them to their university. Now we’re going to limit the amount of text messages a recruit can receive per day. Next years problem; MySpace.

New Rivalry:

Hostra – George Mason. February 10th, 2007 in Fairfax, VA will be the only time these teams meet. Hostra topped Mason twice in 10 days late in the season last year only to be left out of the NCAA tournament despite an RPI in the mid-20’s. The rest is history.

Newest Home Court:

USC opens it 10,258 seat Galen Center much to the delight of second-year coach Tim Floyd. A top football team and southern California weather; How attractive do the Trojans look now?

Newest Home Court Advantage: (Tie)

Iowa State – When the coaches in the Big 12 agree that this is a scary place to go, take notice. The Cyclones will beat better teams at Hilton Coliseum.

Wichita State - Koch Arena's 10,478 seats are sold out more than two months before the schools first game. Think this had anything to do with the infamous cheerleader pose?

Oldest Home Court Advantage: (Also a Tie)

Duke – There is no denying the Cameron Crazies are still crazy. Even TV doesn’t do the Duke atmosphere justice. This place is wild.

Air Force – There must be something in the air. Since 2003-2004, the Falcons are 40-1 at home.

Worst offseason move:

Instead of returning to school with the other four starters on his team for another chance at the NCAA Tournament, San Diego State all-conference forward Marcus Slaughter lost his eligibility by applying early for the draft a second time. He wasn’t drafted.

Best offseason move:

After taking an absolute beating by the media and the fans of his own university, Mike Davis heads south to coach UAB where he’ll challenge Memphis for the CUSA crown. Looks like the Indiana faithful will need to find something else to complain about. They should try the football team.

Notable Coaching Moves:

Kelvin Sampson replaces Davis at Indiana, Herb Sendick takes the reigns at Arizona State, Bob Huggins steps in at Kansas State, and Sidney Lowe will look to bring N.C. State back to the top of the ACC. And those are just four of the 59 coaching changes in Division IA this year.

Biggest Impact Freshman:

Arizona coach Lute Olsen says that incoming freshman Chase Budinger has a good chance of being the best prospect ever to play for him. This comes from a tenured coach that has developed 30 all-americans and 12 first round draft picks. Take this statement seriously.

Most intriguing story:

The Florida Gators return all five starters from their 2006 Championship team. With Joakim Noah, Corey Brewer, and Al Horford all likely first round NBA picks and Taureen Green, one of the most underrated guards in the country, Billy Donovan’s bunch is primed for a repeat. Even Donovan has delayed taking his cash by choosing to put off his contract extension until “the time is right.” Talk about a group willing to sacrifice for each other.

Frontrunner for National Player of the Year:

Tyler Hansbrough – North Carolina. As a freshman, Hansbrough averaged 18.9 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. He could be the most dominant player in the ACC…and the country.

Early J.J. Top 10:

10. UCLA 20-1
9. Louisville 30-1
8. Alabama 50-1
7. Ohio State 7-1
6. Duke 22-1
5. LSU 25-1
4. North Carolina 6-1
3. Wisconsin 60-1
2. Kansas 8-1
1. Florida 6-1

Edwards: Wednesday's Wagers
Edwards: Sweet 16 Primer Thursday's Sweet 16 Action
Nelson: Sweet 16 - West Regional
Edwards: Sweet 16 - South Regional
Intertops: Thursday's S16 Best Bets
Bookmaker: Teams to Watch - Sweet 16
Nelson: Sweet 16 - East Regional
Edwards: Sweet 16 - Midwest Regional
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