I must open tonight's proceedings by cursing out Comcast for still refusing to carry ESPNU. There's honest-to-goodness college basketball on, and I can't watch it.
On Friday, however, I'll begin a rather busy travel schedule for this season. One of the best things about living in the DC area is the number of schools that are close to Metro, within short driving distance, and, for the weekends, in reasonable driving distance. I intend on seeing as many games in the area (and beyond) this season as possible and sharing my experiences with you here on the blog. I already have several games on my agenda, mostly because I knew I'd have to get tickets for them in advance.
November 14: Oregon State at Howard - Something told me to buy tickets to this in advance. The Beavers' head coach is Craig Robinson, aka this country's soon-to-be First Brother-in-Law. It's possible the Obamas join the crowd at cozy Burr Gym on Friday night.
November 24 and 25: The CBE Classic in Kansas City - I decided to make the trip to the Midwest when I saw that my two favorite teams, Florida and Syracuse, would be part of the field. Unfortunately, the two are playing each other in the semifinal. At least, I'll have a rooting interest in both Tuesday games. Interesting fact about the Sprint Center: it has a Quik Trip convenience store inside that's only open during games. Their prices are allegedly the same as one of their normal outlets. I'll certainly be investigating this. I'll also be having barbecue, visiting the Harry Truman and Negro League museums, and visiting Arrowhead for Bills-Chiefs (a game I was far more confident about three weeks ago).
November 27, 28, and 30: Old Spice Classic - This is an easy trip for me, as my parents live about 45 minutes from Disney. I've had the pleasure of seeing this tournament grow up. I remember attending the first affair two years ago, when you could pick out individual people in the crowd on television. Last year's event was a blast, with Michael Beasley showing off his first-round skills and George Mason's band impressing the crowd, even if the championship game was decided on one of the worst calls of the year. This year's tournament should be a monster. I'll miss the Thanksgiving afternoon session (Tennessee-Siena and Wichita State-Georgetown) having dinner with my family, but will be ready for Michigan State-Maryland and Gonzaga-Oklahoma State in the evening. Potential Tennessee-Georgetown and Michigan State-Gonzaga semifinals on Friday are far better than Thanksgiving leftovers, though I am picking a Siena upset now.
December 7: BB&T Classic - Navy v. Virginia Tech and Maryland v. George Washington - The Hokies should win the opener easily. As for the nightcap, I remember watching the Terps fall to VCU last year. They may face the same fate this year, if the Colonials are any better than they were in 2007-08.
December 13: Memphis at Georgetown - This game is not going to be as HUGE as it was in 2007, but it will be big.
January 10: Syracuse at Rutgers - I'm very excited to see a game at the RAC, a place where the Orange have had a hard time over the years.
January 14: Syracuse at Georgetown - Tough loss for the Orange at the Verizon Center last year.
January 24: St. Joe's at Penn - The Hawks are sharing the Palestra with the Quakers this year, while Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse receives a much-needed makeover. I've never had the chance to see a game at the "Home of College Basketball" until now. If the tip times hold, I'll see Georgia State at Delaware in Newark earlier in the day.
February 7: Syracuse at Villanova - I really thought the Orange were on the upswing after they won at Wachovia last season. Whoops.
I plan on attending several other games locally, since there are so many options. I suspect that most Saturdays and many weekend evenings, I'll be on campus taking in a game.
As for the postseason, I can only hope to be as lucky as I was last year, when I got to see four conference champions crowned in the span of a week. Depending on who is placed where in the bracket, I could very well travel to Philadelphia or Miami for the first weekend of the NCAA tournament.
I anticipate releasing my first bracket of the season on Sunday, January 4th, as the non-conference season will be pretty much complete and some conferences will be just starting league play. Updates will come each Sunday night, unless other factors intervene. Championship week will bring more frequent brackets.
In the meantime, I'll just find some other ways to talk about college hoops news and trends.