College basketball: Fact vs. Fiction
The men's college basketball season begins in earnest Tuesday with 24 consecutive hours of live games on ESPN, a slate featuring 14 of the teams in The Associated Press Top 25. The start of the season always raises a lot of questions, including:
• Will Duke be able to generate the same amount of hate as past Blue Devils teams?
• Will John Calipari ever win as many NCAA titles as Rollie Massimino?
• And what percentage of players have no interest in fighting Dallas "Fort" Lauderdale of Ohio State?
Let's look at the Top 25 and separate Fact from Fiction.
Fact: No. 16 Butler visits Louisville on Tuesday night for the first men's regular-season game at the new KFC Yum! Center.
Fiction: The first 10,000 fans receive a frozen chicken and the colonel's secret recipe.
Fact: In ESPN the Magazine's college preview, Isaiah Thomas of No. 17 Washington said of USC, "I think of Reggie Bush and football when I think of that school, not basketball. I don't even know who their coach is."
Fiction: Their coach is Tim Floyd.
Fact: No. 11 Gonzaga's nonconference schedule includes games against No. 3 Kansas State, No. 13 Illinois, No. 17 Baylor, No. 19 Memphis, No. 25 San Diego State and, depending on the outcome of games in the CBE Classic, may include a tilt against No. 1 Duke.
Fiction: Once again the Zags have loaded their nonconference schedule with a bunch of cupcakes.
Fact: No. 12 Kentucky and No. 8 North Carolina are both loaded with pro talent, so NBA scouts will undoubtedly be in attendance when the Wildcats travel to face the Tar Heels on Dec. 4.
Fiction: Scouts at that game will have the opportunity to get a long, hard look at NBA prospect Enes Kanter of Kentucky.
Fact: No. 3 Kansas State entered the season with its highest ranking since 1962.
Fiction: The Wildcats are now the most popular basketball team in Kansas.
Fact: Some of the sport's traditional powers, including UConn, Arizona, Indiana and UCLA, did not crack the preseason rankings.
Fiction: You feel compelled to "pour some out" for the programs who couldn't make it.
Fact: Dick Vitale picked center Fab Melo of No. 10 Syracuse to be Big East Freshman of the Year.
Fiction: There's a better name in western civilization than Fab Melo.
Fact: No. 25 San Diego State, last season's Mountain West tournament champion, returns all five starters and hopes to make its seventh NCAA tournament appearance.
Fiction: The Aztecs have been known to make a lot of noise in the NCAA tournament.
Fact: Following a highly publicized decision process in which the NCAA considered expanding the tournament from 65 teams to 96 teams, the tournament was ultimately expanded to 68 teams.
Fiction: More ink has ever been wasted on a story that turned out to be a whole lot of blather.
Fact: ESPN polled college players and asked them which opponent they'd least want to face in a fistfight.
Fiction: Someone received a larger percentage of votes than Dallas Lauderdale (13.9 percent) of No. 4 Ohio State.
Fact: North Carolina's Harrison Barnes became the first freshman to make the preseason Associated Press All-America team since voting began before the 1986-87 season.
Fiction: There's a more pointless tradition in sports than voting for preseason awards.
Fact: The NCAA is investigating the recruiting practices of Bruce Pearl, head coach of No. 24 Tennessee.
Fiction: Illinois fans are in no way deriving schadenfreude from Pearl's dilemma.
Fact: With Austin Freeman and Chris Wright, No. 20 Georgetown has one of the best backcourts in the nation.
Fiction: Meanwhile their frontcourt is reminiscent of the days of Patrick Ewing and Michael Graham.
Fact: During Dave Rose's tenure with No. 23 BYU, the Cougars are a dominant 64-16 in the Mountain West Conference.
Fiction: Regular-season success in the Mountain West has always been a precursor to deep runs in the NCAA tournament.
Fact: No. 7 Kansas hopes to rebound from last season's early exit from the NCAA tournament, when the Jayhawks -- a No. 1 seed -- lost to Northern Iowa in the second round.
Fiction: It was unusual for Kansas to flop in the NCAA tournament.
Fact: Fans in the Show Me State are excited by Missouri's up-tempo style of basketball, which has been branded the Fastest 40 Minutes of Basketball.
Fiction: Exuberance about the No. 15 Tigers would permit you to buy this for your wife or girlfriend.
Fact: After some down years following their back-to-back national titles in 2006 and 2007, No. 9 Florida is expected to compete for the SEC title again this season.
Fiction: We look forward to seeing more of the gator chomp, which is a really cool gesture and not nearly as lame as Florida State's tomahawk chop.
Fact: Freshman guard Jalen Kendrick, a McDonald's All-American, has left No. 19 Memphis following a series of incidents, including being suspended for allegedly threatening a teammate.
Fiction: We'd be absolutely shocked if Kendrick ended up at the University of Kentucky.
Fact: The No. 21 Temple Owls play California at 9 p.m. ET on Thanksgiving.
Fiction: In lieu of the traditional turkey, California is going to serve stuffed owl at the team's pregame meal.
Fact: For the first time ever, ESPN's College GameDay will be traveling to Baylor, Purdue, Virginia Tech and Villanova this season.
Fiction: Members of the ESPN crew will find equal amounts to do in Waco, Texas; West Lafayette, Ind.; Blacksburg, Va.; and Philadelphia.
Fact: In the 2K Sports Classic Benefiting Coaches Versus Cancer at Madison Square Garden on Thursday, No. 5 Pittsburgh faces Maryland, followed Friday by a game versus either Texas or No. 13 Illinois.
Fiction: MSG regulars would prefer to see the Knicks play on back-to-back nights.
Fact: Ten of the 12 players on Illinois' roster are in-state products.
Fiction: Coach Bruce Weber admits he's the country's laziest recruiter.
Cam Martin is a contributor to Page 2. He previously worked for the Greenwich (Conn.) Time and The (Stamford, Conn.) Advocate, and has written online for CBS Sports and Comcast SportsNet New England. You can contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter: @CameronDMartin.