Is another team really ready to challenge Duke and North Carolina's dominance atop the Atlantic Coast Conference? Which controversial announcer is ESPN wisely protecting? And who is Josh Thompson and why is he dunking over his parents?
It doesn't matter who the next president is, the annual 50 things to know about college basketball is what this country really needs.
1. Steven Adams, a center for Pittsburgh, is the Big East's preseason freshman of the year. The seven-footer out of New Zealand is a mystery to many of the league's insiders. "I'll be tuned into Pitt's early-season games when they're on TV because I want to get a look at this guy," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. "Whenever you have a guy who wasn't on the recruiting circuit, you kind of want to tune in ... And, if he's really good, you lose sleep. Or have a drink. One or the other."
2. Adams is one of 18 children. He had to give up rugby because "I was this tall, lanky kid and I'd get smashed."
3. Indiana returns all five starters and is the Associated Press preseason No. 1 for just the third time. The first time was in 1975-76, which was Bobby Knight's fifth season in Bloomington and when the Hoosiers became the last team to go undefeated (32-0). This is Tom Crean's fifth season as IU head coach.
4. There are three Big Ten teams ranked in the Top 5. Indiana is first, Ohio State is fourth, Michigan is fifth. Clearly, this isn't football.
5. Atlanta is the site of this year's Final Four, with the regionals being held in Washington, Indianapolis, Arlington (Texas) and Los Angeles.
6. Arizona State freshman Jahii Carson supposedly dunked a basketball when he was 13 years old and 5-3. Carson is considered the best ASU player since James Harden.
7. North Carolina State has been picked to win its first ACC regular-season crown since 1989. "It's new territory for our team," coach Mark Gottfried said. "This is uncharted waters and we have to learn how to accept that responsibility." The Wolfpack has lost 10 consecutive combined meetings with conference heavyweights Duke and North Carolina.
8. Trivia: NC State's C.J. Leslie was picked as the ACC preseason player of the year. Who was the last Wolfpack player to actually win the regular-season award? Hint: It was in 2004.
9. Four of the 11 teams in the Colonial Athletic Association are ineligible for the conference tournament. UNC-Wilmington and Towson are dealing with NCAA sanctions and Old Dominion and Georgia State are leaving for Conference USA and the Sun Belt and are not welcomed at the CAA tourney.
10. Old Dominion was picked to finish fourth in the CAA, the other three schools finished toward the bottom. Drexel, which has never been to the NCAA Tournament as a Colonial member, is the league favorite. This is a big year for Bruiser.
11. Butler, a new member of the Atlantic 10, plays four of the teams in the Big 5. Drexel plays two.
12. Former Connecticut player and assistant Kevin Ollie has taken over for Jim Calhoun at UConn, which is ineligible for postseason play because of the program's poor academic performance. One of Ollie's assistants is former Penn coach Glen Miller.
13. Ollie spent 13 seasons in the NBA, including two stints with the Sixers for six years. Ollie bounced around so frequently in the pros that he wore 13 uniform numbers.
14. Tulsa visits SMU on Jan. 6 in an interesting battle of new head coaches. Tulsa is led by Danny Manning. SMU is Larry Brown's latest stop. Brown was the coach and Manning the star when Kansas won the 1988 NCAA Tournament as a sixth seed.
15. An alleged cheating scandal has cost Harvard its best two returning players and the top spot in the conference's preseason poll. "I may have to do more leading than normal," Harvard coach Tommy Amaker acknowledged. Princeton is first, Harvard second, Penn fifth.
16. LSU's new coach is Johnny Jones, who was the lead recruiter when the Tigers landed Shaquille O'Neal more than 20 years ago. Jones had been at North Texas.
17. Michigan, which lost to Ohio U. in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last year, returns sniper Trey Burke. The Wolves also brought in five freshmen, including Mitch McGary, who is wearing Chris Webber's No. 4. "People call us the next Fab Five," said Glenn Robinson III (Big Dog's son). "The Fresh Five, I've (also) heard that a lot."
18. Point guard Korie Lucious, who played 92 games at Michigan State before getting thrown off the team for "conduct detrimental," now is at Iowa State. Lucious is best known for hitting a buzzer-beating three against Maryland to send Sparty to the 2010 Sweet 16.
19. Senior center Derrick Nix was an interesting choice to be a Michigan State co-captain. Nix almost was kicked off the team after an April arrest for impaired driving, but served 24 hours of community service and attended a counseling program specifically for marijuana users. "I've got no more room for errors," Nix said. "I could easily be back at home, on the streets, doing whatever ... but (coach Tom Izzo) fought for me." Without discussing specifics, Izzo said he made Nix' life miserable during the summer and was satisfied with how the kid responded.
20. Might want to avoid walking next to Marquette's Chris Otule, a fifth-year senior. He was born with vision in only one eye and during his college career broke his left foot as a freshman, his right foot as a sophomore and tore an ACL last year.
21. "I think we learned last year that you have to be on your P's and Q's at the beginning of the year as well as at the end of the year," Tennessee junior guard Trae Golden said, referring to last season's sluggish start that included losses to Oakland and Austin Peay.
22. There are several theories about where the phrase "mind your P's and Q's" originated. The most entertaining is that old English bartenders would keep customers in line by monitoring their intake of pints and quarts.
23. ESPN will not schedule analyst Bobby Knight to work games at Rupp Arena, but could have him do Kentucky games on the road and at neutral sites. Knight has been a harsh critic of Wildcats coach John Calipari, who recruits and encourages top players to stay only for a year or two before heading into the NBA.
24. Rhode Island and Duquesne were picked 15th and 16th in the Atlantic 10. Those teams are coached by new hires Danny Hurley and Jim Ferry, respectively. Hurley and Ferry came from Wagner and LIU-Brooklyn where, ironically, they were chosen 1-2 in last season's Northeast Conference preseason poll. "Looks the same as last year," Hurley quipped, "if you just hold the paper upside down."
25. This season can't start soon enough for Murray State's Isaiah Canaan, arguably the best point guard in the nation. Canaan shot just 4-for-17 in an NCAA Tournament loss to Marquette and spent the summer attending camps directed by LeBron James, Chris Paul and Deron Williams.
26. Murray State is first among "others receiving votes" outside the preseason Top 25. Creighton (16), Memphis (17), UNLV (18), San Diego State (20) and Gonzaga (21) are the five schools from non-BCS leagues ranked in the Top 25.
27. Creighton was sixth in the nation in attendance last year with an average of 16,665. Kentucky (23,721) was first, followed by Syracuse, Louisville, North Carolina and Wisconsin. Villanova (8,923) was tops among the locals and 44th nationally.
28. Creighton junior Doug McDermott, who averaged 22.9 points per game, is the nation's leading returning men's scorer. The Blue Jays host a rematch with Saint Joseph's on Saturday, Dec. 1. McDermott had 26 points in 36 minutes in a loss at Hawk Hill last December.
29. Delaware star Elena Delle Donne (28.1) is the top returning scorer among the women. The Blue Hens, picked 11th in the AP women's preseason poll, play at Drexel on Sunday, Jan. 27.
30. Wagner senior forward Josh Thompson dunked over his mother during the school's Midnight Madness event last year. He topped it this year by jumping over mom (ital) and dad, (end ital) who stood back-to-back. Former Drexel point guard Bashir Mason ('07) is in his first season as the Seahawks' coach.
31. BYU and other schools that recruit Mormon athletes are adjusting to the rule that lowered the minimum age for missionaries from 19 to 18. The upshot is that many kids can serve missions out of high school and have uninterrupted college careers. The issue for coaches is that recruits they thought might be available as freshmen are instead now considering their missions. Those missions, by the way, are not mandatory.
32. UCLA spent $136 million renovating Pauley Pavilion but spent fall practice wondering if Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson - two of the nation's most highly regarded freshmen - would receive eligibility clearance from the NCAA. They still haven't. The Bruins' opener is Friday against visiting Indiana State. Muhammad is battling a shoulder injury and might miss the game anyhow.
33. Kansas' version of Midnight Madness is called "Late Night in the Phog," which is also the term for a gathering of sports writers after they've filed game stories.
34. With four returning starters, three D-I transfers eligible and a good recruiting class, everything is in place for San Diego State to make a deep run in the NCAAs. The Aztecs made it to the Sweet 16 a couple of years ago, but were bounced in their first game last season.
35. "The anticipation and excitement that everybody's talked about - a sellout arena, an atmosphere that most in the country would die to have in their building - we have," SDSU coach Steve Fisher said. The Aztecs, ranked 20th, open the season against No. 9 Syracuse on the flight deck of the decommissioned USS Midway in San Diego.
36. The Billy Gillispie flameout at Texas Tech left former Villanova player and assistant Chris Walker to pick up the pieces as the interim coach. He was given six months to audition for the full-time position. "There are a lot of interim coaches out there," Walker joked, "they just don't know it yet."
37. Kansas has won at least a share of the last eight Big 12 regular-season championships and is picked to make it nine. The Jayhawks lost top-two scorers Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor but added a freshman class that includes forward Perry Ellis, a Kansas state high school legend who has drawn comparisons to former KU star Wayne Simien.
38. KU coach Bill Self received a $500,000 raise to $3.8 million annually on a restructured deal that runs through 2021-22. That year's freshman class is in the fourth grade this year. Among his bonuses are $200,000 for winning the national title, $150,000 for getting to the Final Four and $50,000 for winning a conference regular-season title.
39. West Virginia's move to the Big 12 will bring up geographical challenges. "Someone asked who our biggest rival will be," coach Bob Huggins said. "I said, 'Iowa State. They're only 850 miles away.' "
40. Huggins explained one major difference between the Big 12 and his former conference, the Big East, where schools play many important home games in NBA arenas as opposed to on-campus facilities. "Teams in the Big 12 probably have the best homecourt advantage of any of the major leagues," he said.
41. Generally wouldn't recommend New Year's Eve in Iowa City, but Philadelphia native Fran McCaffery and the Iowa Hawkeyes are hosting top-ranked Indiana at 4 o'clock that afternoon. An upset would result in a terrific party. ESPN2 will televise.
42. Florida State won the ACC Tournament last year and guard Michael Snaer is feeling a little snubbed that the Seminoles were chosen fourth in the league's preseason poll. "Obviously, people aren't thinking that we're going to be as good as we're going to be," he said. "Yeah, teams can have all the talent. I mean, when has that affected us? We play teams with talent all the time, but our defense is still the same."
43. Answer to No. 8: Julius Hodge, who averaged 18.2 points per game, was the last NC State kid to be named ACC Player of the Year. Hodge spent three seasons in the NBA and played last year in a professional league in Vietnam.
44. Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel is the best shot blocker to come out of the Boston area since Patrick Ewing. He is expected to fill the void left by Anthony Davis, who was the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft last April.
45. Louisville senior guard Peyton Siva, who averaged a modest 9.1 points last season, is the Big East preseason player of the year and the Cardinals are picked to win the conference. When Siva was 13, he talked his father (Peyton Sr.) out of committing suicide.
46. The Cardinals were one of the few teams not to have some sort of pep rally/practice event signaling the start of the new campaign. "It's definitely all business here," Siva said. "I wish we could have Midnight Madness and play around, but coach Pitino is a business-first type of guy. We have our fun after practice."
47. Notre Dame is hoping to match the football team's magical season by winning a Big East title on what potentially is the Irish's last year in the conference. Notre Dame has all five starters back, including senior forward Jack Cooley, who averaged 12.5 points per game last year after averaging 2.6 his first two seasons.
48. The CBS Sports Network is televising 172 games this season. The first is Nov. 25 when Villanova visits La Salle in what will be a huge game for the Explorers.
49. USC has 10 transfers on its roster thanks to player defections in the wake of another scandal. Ten! "A lot of horror stories," said Jio Fontan, who started at Fordham. "We're all we have," said Ari Stewart (Wake Forest). The Trojans were 6-26 last year, dropping 19 of their final 20.
50. North Carolina coach Roy Williams on his offseason cancer scare: "It does change you," said Williams, 62. "Anybody that says it doesn't, they're a lot stronger or more wacko than I am."
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