We know that with the NFL and college football seasons in full gear, and the NBA and NHL just kicking off, you probably don’t have a ton of space on your sports calendar to squeeze in much college basketball. But this year, don’t wait until March to turn on your first game, there’s plenty to be excited for right now, in just the first couple weeks of the season. To get you in the college hoops spirit, Hoops Addict has come up with 50 Reason To Be Excited About College Season:
1. The Over-Under on the number of Bumps, Bruises, Sprains, Tears, Cuts and Scratches suffered by Tyler Hansbrough by the end of the year: Whenever I watch North Carolina play, I always inevitably feel bad for Ed Davis, Deon Thompson, or whoever else has to guard “Psycho T,” every day in practice. Watching Hansbrough on the court always reminds me of the scene in Rudy where Vince Vaughn yells, “It’s the last practice of the year, and this a–hole thinks it’s the Super Bowl.” I have to imagine that exchange has happened at a few times in Chapel Hill since Hansbrough’s career began in 2005.
2. Hasheem Thabeet: There’s nothing more frustrating than watching Thabeet on a night-to-night basis, and seeing him go from 26 points, 12 rebounds and 6 blocks, to 4-6-1 in the span of two games. While his game doesn’t always inspire, his shorts sure are funny to look at.
3. Bruce Pearl’s tan: I know the Volunteers primary team color is orange, but Pearl’s hue is so obnoxious we’re going to soon see a crayon named after him. The bottom line is, whoever talked him into the “Premium Package,” at Beach Bum Tanning in Knoxville is definitely getting a raise.
4. Sean McDonough, Bill Raftery and Jay Bilas: There’s no three-man crew in sports that has as good a chemistry, or seems to enjoy ribbing each other more than this Big Monday trio. Listening to them cover the Maui Invitational last week had me laughing out loud on several occasions
5. Hearing how great of a coach Ben Howland is all season: And then watching UCLA get beat by a more athletic team in the NCAA Tournament. Howland is one of the games best teachers, but he still doesn’t have the players in Westwood to match-up with college basketball’s elite.
6. A new group of freshman (and their bloated entourages) using college basketball as a pit-stop to the NBA: Who wasn’t shocked when they heard O.J. Mayo may have taken money to play at USC?
7. Thinking all season that Luke Harangody is a slow, un-athletic white guy: Only to see him drop 34 on some unsuspecting Big East opponent in January and realizing that he’s only a semi-slow, slightly un-athletic white guy, who also happens to be a heck of a basketball player.
8. Realizing that Pitt is finally athletic enough to make the Final Four: Then also realizing that unfortunately the Panthers don’t have enough depth and are too injury prone to make that run.
9. Watching Greg Paulus cry in the arms of Coach K after Duke loses in the NCAA Tournament to the 11th best team from the Big East: Tears have never been more enjoyable.
10. Finally seeing Jim Boeheim let Syracuse play man-to-man defense: It’s almost 2009 and it looks like the Hall of Fame coach is finally ready to stop being so stubborn and stop playing the archaic 2-3 zone. His refusal in the past is the biggest reason Syracuse hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament in three years.
11. Nick Calathes: He’s a white point guard at Florida that makes dazzling passes look easy- so it is inevitable that he’ll be compared to Jason “White Chocolate,” Williams. Don’t let his skin pigment fool you, he’s a more complete player at this stage of his career than Williams was.
12. Steve Lavin’s new haircut: The former UCLA coach and current ESPN analyst has gone away from his traditional slicked-back look for the more contemporary middle-part. While he no longer looks like a mob boss, I’m not sure “member of a barber-shop quartet,” is a good look for him either.
13. Trying to count Miami guard Jack McClinton’s tattoos: As of last night the count was up to 48. Now? Who knows.
14. Oregon State basketball becoming relevant, sort of: No, they won’t improve on their win total from a year ago, but being coached by Craig Robinson- Barack Obama’s brother-in-law- sure does help with PR.
15. James Harden: The Arizona State sophomore was second team All-Pac 10 despite being the youngest player in the league last season. Close to 18 points and 5 rebounds a game as a freshman isn’t too shabby. Imagine what he’ll do with a year’s experience.
16. Wisconsin having another 30 win season: Only for us to realize once again that a team that starts four slow white guys doesn’t win many NCAA Tournament games.
17. Brandon Jennings box scores from Europe: And laughing at the 19-year-old for thinking that going to a foreign country and playing with grown men would be such a cake walk. I do hear that Bulgaria is lovely this time of year.
18. Wake Forest making its first NCAA Tournament since 2005: And realizing they are doing so in honor of the coach- Skip Prosser- who recruited them, and subsequently passed away in the summer of 2007. One of the honestly “feel good,” stories of this season.
19. Guessing how far New Jersey Institute of Technology’s (or NJIT as the kids on the street call it) losing streak will go: 36 games and counting
20. Blake Griffin: No player in recent college basketball history has made a 20 point 20 rebound performance look so easy.
21. B.J. Mullens pencil-thin mustache: Proving once again that just because you can grow facial hair doesn’t mean you should.
22. Dick Vitale: Yes, he is a little over the top, and occasionally annoying. But shouldn’t we all love our job as much as he does?
23. Catching a random Tuesday night UConn game and realizing that Craig Austrie and Jeff Adrien still play for the Huskies: Then remembering that as freshman they were teammates of Rudy Gay, Marcus Williams, Josh Boone and Hilton Armstong. Then remembering that group of Huskies from 2006 as one of the best in the history of the sport not to win a championship.
24. Catching a random Wednesday night Minnesota game and realizing that Tubby Smith is still alive, and coaching: Yes he’s a long way from Kentucky, and I’m sure he doesn’t look very good in a parka, but Smith’s blood pressure must be a lower than his days as coach of the Wildcats.
25. Seeing an interview with Davidson head coach Bob McKillop: And remembering that he is in-fact a basketball coach, and not a U.S. Senator.
26. Louisville forward Samardo Samuels: No, he’s not a trendy SoHo hairdresser, but one of college basketball’s best freshmen.
27. Getting up to the minute reports on Kenny George’s foot injury: I know he’s 7’7, but have we ever paid more attention to a player with less talent?
28. Kansas State falling back into the college basketball abyss without Michael Beasley: They say it doesn’t matter what the media is saying, as long as they are talking about you. With Beasley in South Beach, the only noise coming from Kansas State this season will be the whipping winds on the Manhattan (KS) plains.
29. Seeing Derrick Caracter’s name show up on a police blotter in Grand Forks in mid-January: And realizing that the former Louisville center who was considered a better prospect than Greg Oden is now a backup at someplace called North Dakota Central.
30. Ford Field, the sight of this year’s Final Four: The host of the Final Four is supposed to be a destination city. You know: New Orleans, Tampa, San Antonio. Detroit certainly isn’t that, but with the automobile industry in shambles, the economic boost will be nice for a struggling city.
31. Andy Rautins new “fo-hawk” haircut: The Syracuse junior missed all of last year with an injury. Maybe he should have worked on his pull up jumper, or picked up a hobby, like yoga or something.
32. The ‘Christmas’ spirit at Temple: Yes it will be the most overused joke in college basketball, but Temple’s Dionte Christmas is the real-deal, and will deliver all kinds of treats to Owls fans. When you want to throw up every time you hear his name in a few months, remember we said it here first.
33. Stephen Curry “in the zone”: We’ve heard all the hot-air about how he’s now Davidson’s point guard, but Curry’s already scored 30 or more four times, including 44 against Oklahoma. The scary thing is that he has yet to play his best ball. Wait until you wake up, turn on ESPN’s First Take, and hear Skip Bayless losing his voice because Curry dropped 70 on some unsuspecting Southern Conference foe.
34. Pittsburgh’s inevitable run at the Big East tournament: Then getting to hear 200 times how because so many of the Panthers players are from New York they consider Madison Square Garden their second home-court. We’ve heard the same story for the past 10 years. We get it. Please come up with something new.
35. Watching Sherron Collins lead Kansas on an unexpected run to the Sweet 16: And the media temporarily forgetting that he was arrested this summer for exposing himself in an elevator.
36. The Indiana Hoosiers: If you’re not an Indiana fan, enjoy this season. The Hoosiers will be bad, but they won’t stay down for long under new coach Tom Crean.
37. Watching NC State struggle yet again: It’s nothing personal against the Wolfpack, but no program appreciated a good coach less than when Herb Sendek was in Raleigh. He will likely get the last laugh when he takes Arizona State to their first NCAA Tournament since 2003, while the Wolfpack will again be in the middle of the pack in the ACC.
38. UNLV’s Jo’Van “Wink,” Adams: Isn’t it appropriate a guy playing nicknamed Wink to be playing in Vegas? It seems more likely we hear that Wink fixed a craps game than about anything he’ll do on the court this year.
39. Duke’s starting five: Come on Duke fans, I know you’re sick of us making fun of you, but when you’re starting line-up features a Nolan (Smith), Gerald (Henderson), Kyle (Singler), Lance (Thomas) and Miles (Plumlee) its hard not to. This sounds more like the final five at a country club golf outing (or a 1990’s boy band) than a basketball team.
40. Seeing North Carolina’s Ty Lawson have a monster game: And realizing that the Tar Heels aren’t playing the Sisters of the Poor, but in an NCAA Tournament game. Yes, the junior is that good.
41. The final go around for Marquette’s “little three”: They’re too small to ever make a serious run in the NCAA Tournament, but the Golden Eagles Dominic James, Wesley Matthews and Jerel McNeal have been fun to watch the last four years.
42. Doug Gottlieb: People love to hate ESPN’s most outspoken and outlandish commentator. Think what you want, but no one knows more and cares more about the sport than this guy.
43. Australian “Rules” Basketball: Vanderbilt’s Andrew Ogilvy and St. Mary’s (CA) Patrick Mills could both end up on postseason All-American lists, after each found his way to college basketball from remote outposts in Australia. In December, UConn will welcome Ater Majok, a Sudanese refugee who spent his high school years Down Under as well.
44. Purdue’s Robbie Hummel: I can’t decide if he sounds more like Evil Kneivel’s stunt double, or a NASCAR superstar, but if the Boilermakers want to make the Final Four, they’ll need a big year from the sophomore.
45. Texas’ inevitable second round NCAA Tournament loss: After Rick Barnes goes the whole season refusing to acknowledge that his team is better with A.J. Abrams off the ball.
46. Oklahoma State realizing they invested millions of dollars into a coach with zero NCAA Tournament wins: Cowboys super-booster T. Boone Pickens sure has lost a lot money in the stock market, and shouldn’t be happy paying for first year coach Travis Ford’s contract. Yes, Ford improved the UMass program drastically in just a few years in Amherst, but has also coached in exactly one NCAA Tournament game- a loss when he was at Eastern Kentucky in 2005.
47. Ed DiChellis: Quick, who’s been coaching Penn State basketball for the past six years? Unless you are (the lovely) Mrs. Ed DiChellis, we don’t expect you to answer this question. Anyone get their Rose Bowl tickets yet?
48. Gary Williams sweating: We know that it’s the oldest running joke in basketball, but come on, the guy looks like he just finished a marathon two minutes into a 50 point blowout against Eastern Illinois.
49. West Virginia making its second straight NCAA Tournament appearance under Bob Huggins: While compliance officers from all over the Big East look for something, anything to prove the coach is up to no good. Could it be that the man just knows basketball?
50. Seeing North Carolina cut the nets down in Detroit: It doesn’t matter who you’re a fan of, enjoy this North Carolina team. With as many as seven players with an NBA future, this may be one of the best college basketball teams of you’re lifetime.
Photo Credit: ICON Sports Media