Posted on 12. Nov, 2010 by in All, NCAA Basketball.

 
College Basketball Tip-Off and Journey to Houston

Although the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball season technically opened earlier this week, I deem the start of the season to be tonight.  I may be prejudice, but this is when all my favorite teams tip off and begin the quest for a invite to the Big Dance in March.

I have to admit life as a college basketball fan was easier when I was younger, as I only had one team to cheer for.  The University of Cincinnati Bearcats were the squad I lived for.  Never did I miss a home game at the Cincinnati Gardens, Riverfront Coliseum or later the Shoemaker Center.  And if the ‘Cats were on the road, I tuned into the radio or TV if they were on.  This made it even more special when I was lucky enough to sit the bench for eight seasons and work for one of the top programs in the nation.

Over my eight seasons at UC, I developed relationships with many staff members who have all moved on to programs of their own.  I have very happy to say that they are all very successful, but it has also broadened the teams I watch and cheer for, making my schedule of game watching that much more hectic.

At 8 PM eastern time the Mississippi Rebels take the floor at the “Tad Pad” to open the season against Arkansas State.  Head Coach Andy Kennedy is trying to get his team into the NCAA tournament for the first time since he joined the school as head coach.  He is coming off a NIT Final Four berth last season and looks to build upon that.  Kennedy and I spent numerous years together at Cincinnati and even shared an office before moving across campus into our new digs.  The major downside is that it is difficult to catch Rebels games on TV in the nonconference schedule, so I am forced to listen to the audio feed from the computer or follow the gametracker online.

Two games begin at 9:00 EST that I have heavy interest in.  The first is the West Virginia Mountaineers taking on the Oakland Grizzles in Morgantown at the Coliseum.  I know that place will be packed and loud as fans get their first glimpse of the ‘Eers, fresh off their Final Four Appearance last year.  The two lost a few of their top scorers,  but knowing Head Coach Bob Huggins like I do, his teams do not rebuild, they reload.  Huggs and I became great friends during my eight year stay with him at Cincinnati and have the upmost respect for him.  He always treated me like a son, and I will defend that man until the day I die.

The other 9:00 EST tipoff has quickly become one of my favorite teams in the country.  I have added quite a bit of purple to my wardrobe as I have become a diehard Kansas State Wildcat fan.  The Wildcats enter the season as the number three team in the country preseason, coming off an Elite 8 appearance last season.  The Wildcats take on James Madison in Bramlage Coliseum, otherwise known as the “Octagon of Doom.”  This game is the first round of the O’Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic.  The game will be televised on ESPNU for your viewing pleasure.

After sitting out a year of coaching following his days at Cincinnati, Huggins went to Manhattan, Kansas to help rebuild their program.  After a great first season, Huggins was offered the chance to go home and left for Morgantown and the Mountaineers.  He left behind the new Head Coach Frank Martin, Director of Basketball Operations Andy Assaley, Video Coordinator Dylan Lockwood, and Strength and Conditioning coach Scott Greenawalt, all of whom I feel fortunate to call great friends.  I have made it a point to visit “The Little Apple,” each year and have loved every minute of it.  Manhattan, Kansas and Kansas State University are wonderful places.

I also feel fortunate that during my personal day of College Basketball Tip-Off, I will be able to attend a game in person.  My cousin Scott has an extra ticket to the Charleston Southern against Georgia Tech game that I will be using.  His tickets are fantastic, just a couple of rows off the floor behind Paul Hewitt and the Yellow Jacket bench.  I plan to bring you some pictures from this contest after it happens.

To whomever you cheer for in NCAA Division 1 Basketball, good luck and enjoy the ride towards March.  Although I miss the game of baseball terribly this time of year, watching some great college hoops will always ease my pain.

Here’s to hoping all my favorite teams end the season in the city of Houston at Reliant Stadium the first weekend of April.


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