Are you are a fan of college basketball? Are you busy with and distracted by other things in life (i.e. football)? If you answered yes to those questions, you probably have some of your own for me. Your cheat sheet is below. Should there be a test before the college basketball 2015-16 season, knowing this information alone would be enough to earn you a solid B-. Or an A+ at North Carolina.
When does the season start?
TODAY. The slate features mostly crappy matchups but there are some alluring games. No. 9 Gonzaga plays Pittsburgh for the first time ever and will do so at a U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp in Okinawa, Japan (7:00 pm ET, ESPN). Shaka Smart and Texas will play Washington in Shanghai, China, the first regular season game of any major U.S. sport to be held in China. The Pac-12, of which Washington is a member, wants a piece of China: undergraduate applications, sponsors, and anything else that can generate money for the member schools. It’s ambitious and excessive and, well, there’s a college basketball game in China at 10:00 on ESPN. While some of the attractive tournaments begin today, none featuring ranked teams figure to be too competitive.
What are the rule changes this season?
Surely you already read my story from last month, but a quick refresher:
- The shot clock was reduced from 35 seconds to 30
- Fewer stoppages (one fewer timeout in second half; only players can call live-ball timeouts; certain timeouts will replace media stoppages)
- Less rough play (i.e. more foul calls until players adapt)
I go into detail about all the above points, and more, in my Basketball Times story, but if you want some visual examples, check out this video from the NCAA, which is basically a Wisconsin highlight video:
Who are the top freshmen?
Ben Simmons is a 6’10”, left-handed Australian with the dribbling and passing skills of a guard. He is going to be awesome for LSU this season, and almost certainly only this season. Skal Labissiere has some similarities: He’s a really tall import with some guard skills. But the 7’ Haitian took the more traditional path of a highly-rated prospect and went to Kentucky. Several top newcomers chose Duke, headlined by small forward Brandon Ingram. California also cracked the national recruiting rankings by snagging two studs, small forward Jalen Brown and power forward Ivan Rabb. Lastly, Maryland has the sixth-ranked prospect, Diamond Stone—a big reason the Terps are the preseason No. 3.
Wait, Maryland is ranked third?
Yes, but don’t panic—the rest of the preseason Top 25, particularly at the top, looks very familiar. UNC, Kentucky, Kansas, and Duke are the other top-5 teams. Gonzaga is No. 9. Two well-known Wildcats—Villanova and Arizona—are there. Maryland’s Big Ten foes Michigan State, Indiana, Wisconsin, Purdue, and Michigan appear as well. Noticeably absent is Louisville, which has off-court problems in addition to roster issues.
OK, I’m ready. But how can I stay on top of things once the season is underway?