The College Basketball Notebook

November 8, 2010 6:51 AM

Another College Basketball Season Begins

DukeLooksToWinAnotherTitle.jpgBelieve it or not, college basketball starts tonight. There's no juicy games to talk about until a week from Thursday, when the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic convenes at Madison Square Garden with a four-team tourney of Illinois-Texas & Maryland-Pitt. The Notebook will do a "soft-opening" to the season, as November and December are mostly about getting personnel combinations in place, playing a few high-profile games and generally getting ready for conference plays. Between now and the 18th, there will be general overviews of the eight major conferences--Big East, ACC, Atlantic 10, Big Ten, SEC, Big 12, Mountain West & Pac-10 and then after Christmas we'll do another round of previews before the season begins for real with conference play.

It promises to be an exciting year, as we drive toward the conclusion in Houston on April 2 & 4. Duke and North Carolina have put a monopoly on the national championship trophy, having won the last two, something we will no doubt hear Dick Vitale provide endless reminders of for the next five months. From East Lansing to Lawrence to Philadelphia to Lexington, teams will be aiming to establish a new champion. And speaking of Lexington, lightning-rod John Calipari will try and win his first national title as he loads up on more recruits to replace one-and-done John Wall and Demarcus Couisins.

When last season ended I was absolutely certain the NCAA Tournament would be expanding to 96 teams for this season. No sport ever turns down a postseason expansion and added TV revenue if they can get it. Either the money from CBS wasn't all that enticing or the NCAA realized they had a great thing going. The field is at 68 teams, something that is not a substantial change, as it just means all four regionals will have a play-in game rather than one. The greatest three weeks in sports is preserved with its fundamentals intact.

General overviews will start tomorrow with the Big East. See you then, and don't forget to check out the Notebook's football arms for daily commentary in college football and game analysis in the NFL.

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Dan Flaherty is the editor of the Sports Notebook Family, published through the Real Clear Sports Blog Network, offering daily commentary in college football ,game analysis in the NFL. and coverage of college basketball. He is the author of The Last New Year's, a book that revisits the historic high points of college football's New Year's Day bowl games.

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