When it comes to being a basketball fan, everyone has a choice to make. You are either more of a fan of college basketball or the NBA. With the NBA players and owners still squabbling over how much money they each deserve, now is the chance for all basketball fans to enjoy the college game, and this season is primed to be the best in recent memory.
The past few seasons have been filled with teams that had a lot of young talent, most of whom were only going to be in school for one season before moving on the riches of the NBA. But with the potential of a lockout looming in the NBA after last season, some of those freshman phenoms decided to return to school for another year, which is a big win for fans. Jared Sullinger, Harrison Barnes and Perry Jones are the biggest names to return for their sophomore seasons, all of whom would have been lottery draft picks.
Better players mean more competition and more excitement, and isn't that all you can ask for as a NCAA basketball fan?
What I'm looking forward to
Quicken Loans Carrier Classic
If you haven't heard about this event yet, get ready because this may be the coolest idea ever conceived. The UNC Tar Heels and Michigan St. Spartans will play each other on November 11 on a… wait for it… an aircraft carrier! The game will be played outside on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson in front of mostly fans that are members of the armed services. It should be a great event that becomes an annual one.
Can UConn repeat as champs?
This one is kind of personal but still a question of national intrigue. The defending champs are bringing back basically everyone from last year with one notable exception: Kemba Walker. Highly touted freshman Andre Drummond could fill the void, but with everyone gunning for the Huskies, it's going to be tough. As a UConn alum, I can't wait to find out.
Who will be the surprise team of 2011?
Speaking of UConn (who surprised pretty much everyone last season), who will be 2011's version? I can't really make a prediction because I haven't seen any teams play, but that’s what is so great about it! Any team or player could emerge and capture the attention of the country.
Is it too early to be excited for something that is still months away? No, nope, uh-uh, no way. Last year was an unpredictable NCAA Tournament, so having better teams with more talent this year should mean an even better end to the season. Can anyone give me a better two-day stretch in sports than the first two days of the NCAA Tournament?
- North Carolina vs. Michigan State, November 11:
The aforementioned Carrier Classic will be one of the highlights of the whole season.
- Kansas vs. Kentucky, November 15:
Two of the most storied programs in college basketball playing at the "World's Most Famous Arena," Madison Square Garden.
- Duke at Ohio State, November 29:
The ACC-Big Ten Challenge is full of great games but none compare to Preseason #6 Duke playing #3 Ohio State.
- North Carolina vs. Kentucky, December 3:
#1 vs. #2, 'nuff said.
- Duke vs. North Carolina, February 8 and March 3:
Best rivalry in college basketball, and we get to see it twice.
- UConn vs. Syracuse, February 11 and February 25:
UConn coach Jim Calhoun and Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim have combined for more than 1,700 wins in their careers. It's always great when these two programs play each other.
NCAA Basketball Previews
If you are looking for tickets to watch your alma mater this season, head over to our College Basketball page and find the game you want to see.