We're just one day away from the echo of basketballs pounding against gym floors returning to college campuses across America. The only way to welcome in such an occasion? Showy events highlighted by dunk contests and sub-par rap acts. At least for most programs.
Here are the ten programs doing the Midnight Madness thing better than everyone else:
10. UC Irvine
A year after the Anteaters got Cali Swag District ("Teach me How to Dougie") to perform they've landed New Boyz ("Tie Me Down" "Better With the Lights Off"). Not bad for a lower-tier Big West program.
9. Penn State
Planned events include a half-court-shot contest for $10,000, a "Finish The Play" contest (where past great plays are shown on the video board & then paused and contest has to tell what happened next), a push-up competition against a staff member for free laundry, and entertainment from a secret performer. The Crispin brothers would be proud.
8. North Carolina
UNC always performs team dances and skits which are usually pretty PG. C+ YouTube material at the best. Still, it's North Carolina and it's the preseason favorite to win it all. ESPN will be in the house and Harrison Barnes will be adequately covered.
An undisclosed contest will result in one lucky fan being able to travel with the men's and women's teams to the Big East Tournaments in March. Sure, it may only be a one-day prize, but whatevs. The most remarkable aspect of the Blue Demons' midnight madness, however, is that they will be hosting a whopping 17 prospects. Per Jeff Borzello, Darreon Reddick (2014), Darius Austin (2014), Evan Budrow (2015), Tyler Jackson (2015), C.J. Rivers (2013), Jordan Ash(2015), Prentiss Nixon (2015), Billy Garrett Jr. (2013), Keita Bates-Diop (2014), Glynn Watson (2015), Roosevelt Smart (2015), Karriem Simmons (2014), Amanzke Egezeke (2014), Paul Turner (2014), Jordan Poydras (2012), Jalen Brunson (2015) and Erick Locke (2014) will all be in Chicago on Friday.
6. Michigan State
Tom Izzo always does this thing big. There's generally a theme that coincides with the Final Four location of that season and then a special guest. A year ago, 300 star Gerard Butler made a surprise appearance.
In an especially Duke move, the Blue Devils refuse to call their event "Midnight Madness," opting instead for the completely different message of "Countdown to Craziness." The event is generally entertaining, though. There's a dunk contest, some student groups perform, but the highlights are usually the videos. Who could forget the "Great Moments in Cinematic History" video featuring Nolan Smith and Andre Dawkins re-enacting the portrait scene from Titanic?
Rap superstar Rick Ross will be performing as well as serving as one of the slam dunk contest judges on a panel that will include Penny Hardaway and other celebrities.
The major attraction of the always well-attended event in the Carrier Dome this year is the legends game. Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Coleman, Hakim Warrick, Pearl Washington, Billy Owens, Wesley Johnson, Jonny Flynn,, Adrian Autry, John Wallace and Lawrence Moten are all confirmed participants. Rapper Meek Mill and the Russian Bar Trio, an acrobatic act that appeared on "America’s Got Talent," will also be performing.
2. St. John's
The Johnnies take the prize for best...uh, prizes...as an iPad2 and $50,000 are two of the items up-for-grabs to the winners of some to-be-named contests. Additionally, the first 1,500 fans in attendance will receive free hot dogs from Nathan's. It's also a big night for the program's recruiting efforts, as Chris McCullough (2014), Jermaine Lawrence (2013), Jason Boswell (2013), Dayshon Smith (2013) and Chris Obekpa (2012) are all expected to be in the house. Commits Ricardo Gathers and Darrick Wood are also visiting.
The Godfather of the modern Midnight Madness. Other programs beg their fans and students to show up by luring them with the promise of glitz and prizes, while at Kentucky the fans camp out for three days just to have better odds of getting a good ticket. UK does not disclose any of its guests or activities beforehand, but rest assured it's going to be impressive...and at least 23,000 fans will be there to see it.