Mar 31, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; A general view of the tip off between Kentucky Wildcats forward Anthony Davis (23) and Louisville Cardinals center Gorgui Dieng (10) during the first half in the semifinals of the 2012 NCAA men's basketball Final Four at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE
The start of the 2012-13 college basketball season is just 99 days away. To celebrate, let's whet our collective palates with 99 tidbits and predictions about the upcoming season.
As of this moment, the world is 99 days away from college basketball coaches and players being able to hold official practices together as teams. This means that we're 99 days away from the start of the 2012-13 college basketball season.
To commemorate this most holy of summer occasions, here are 99 notable items to get you in the proper mood for the upcoming season. Because, you know, it's always good to get completely in the mood for something you can't have for several months.
1. The number of first team AP All-Americans from last season who are back. Ordinarily this would mean that Doug McDermott would be a lock for any and all preseason National Player of the Year awards, but Doug McDermott plays for Creighton. If McDermott somehow manages to put up even better numbers than he did in 2011-12, then the debate over whether or not a player from the Valley could deserve NPOY honors will become one of the most intriguing of the season.
2. John Calipari's second national championship would make Kentucky college basketball's first back-to-back national champion since Florida achieved the feat in 2007. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, two is also twice the number of years experience UK's top returnee (sophomore Kyle Wiltjer) will have under his belt at the start of 2012-13.
3. It's how many times Ben Howland his missed the NCAA Tournament during his nine-year tenure at UCLA. If he does it this season with the nation's No. 1 recruiting class under his direction then it could very well be his last in Westwood.
4. The number of games being played on aircraft carriers or at military bases to kick off the season on Nov. 9. Michigan State and UConn will square off at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, Florida will face Georgetown in Jacksonville, Syracuse and San Diego State will duke it out in San Diego, and Ohio State and Marquette will play in Charleston, S.C.
5. The number of 2012 NCAA Tournament participants in the eight-team Battle 4 Atlantis field. Louisville, Duke, Missouri, Memphis, VCU, Minnesota, Stanford and Northern Iowa will do battle in the Bahamas on Thanksgiving weekend in what should be the top tournament of the early season.
6. It's how many rounds it will take to play the Big East Tournament after the conference expands to 18 teams in 2013-14, so soak up the familiar format while you can. Although the tournament will still be taking on a different feel in 2012 with West Virginia having already bounced to the Big 12 and UConn being forced to sit out due to its postseason ban for poor APR scores. It'll also be the Big East tourney swan songs for Syracuse and Pitt, who are both off to the ACC after this season.
7. The number of days this Kentucky fan should be forced to spend in prison:
I was talking about the owner, not...you know, the dog.
8. Kansas shocked everyone last season by claiming their eighth straight Big 12 regular season title, and then parlayed that momentum into a run to the national championship game. Archrival Missouri isn't around anymore to fight for the throne, leaving Baylor and Kansas State as the most formidable challengers in the league.
9. There were 9.4 seconds left on the clock when last season's ugly on-court brawl between Xavier and Cincinnati broke out. The fight resulted in eight players being suspended for a combined total of 30 games. It also led to the rivalry series being renamed as the "Crosstown Classic," a shift away from the longtime title of "Crosstown Shootout." The Bearcats and Musketeers will meet on Dec. 19 this season at the neutral U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati.
10. UConn and Toledo are among the 10 teams banned from postseason play in 2012-13 because of poor APR scores. The other eight are: California State-Bakersfield, Jacksonville State, Mississippi Valley State, Texas A&M Corpus Christi, Towson, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, California-Riverside and North Carolina-Wilmington
11. With just over eight minutes to play, that's how many point Florida led Louisville by in last season's West regional final. The memory of that second half collapse is still fresh in the mind of returning stars Kenny Boynton, Patric Young, Erik Murphy and Mike Rosario, who are all back and hoping to take the Gators at least one step further in 2012-13.
12. Siena's O.D. Anosike averaged 12.5 rebounds per game in 2011-12, the best mark in the country. His 23 double-doubles were the second most in Division I, trailing only Thomas Robinson of Kansas. Anosike will be a senior for the Saints this season.
13. Ohio nearly became the first team seeded higher than 12 to make a regional final before No. 1 North Carolina ended that dream by beating the 13th-seeded Bobcats' in overtime of a Midwest regional semifinal. OU returns every notable member of that team for 2012-13 ... except head coach John Groce, who bolted for Illinois after Bruce Weber got the boot.
14. The number of offensive rebounds Norfolk State hauled down in its 86-84 win over second-seeded Missouri in the round of 64. The Tigers had been a 21.5-point favorite, making the game (statistically) the biggest upset in NCAA Tournament history. Fourteen is also the total number of rebounds senior center Kyle O'Quinn had by himself in the game that briefly made him a national star.
15. Only four 15 seeds had ever been victorious in the NCAA Tournament before last season. That number grew by two in the span of just a few hours as Norfolk State beat Missouri and Lehigh shocked Duke on the first Friday of the 2012 big dance. Did you know that the NCAA Tournament is unpredictable? Because the NCAA Tournament is unpredictable.
16. The number of teams that will be playing in the suddenly loaded Atlantic 10 this season now that VCU and Butler have both joined up a year ahead of schedule. It will be the first time since the last round of major conference realignment that the Big East will be outnumbered by another league. Charlotte and Temple are on their way out in the fall of 2013.
17. The number of regular season conference games Texas Tech lost last season, the highest total in the history of Big 12 basketball. If Billy Gillispie -- the Mike Shula to John Calipari's Nick Saban -- doesn't put up at least a respectable effort in his second season on the job then he may be out of chances as far as big time college basketball is concerned.
18. The total number of postseason victories Louisville, Baylor and Cincinnati collected last season while wearing the special "neon" or "infra" uniforms designed for them by Adidas. The Cardinals defeated the Bearcats in the Big East championship game while the Bears were denied the Big 12 title by Missouri. All three advanced to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament with Louisville advancing to the Final Four, Baylor the Elite Eight and Cincinnati the Sweet 16.
19. In its five NCAA Tournament games, Ohio State big man DeShaun Thomas led the Buckeyes in scoring at 19.2 points per contest. Expect him to make a Thomas Robinson-esque leap in his junior season now that Jared Sullinger is getting paid to play the game.
20. Kentucky won each of its six NCAA Tournament games by eight points or more, but it still didn't come close to North Carolina's record average margin of victory of 20.2 points from its 2009 title run.
21. Regardless of what you do or don't remember, it's extremely likely that your 21st birthday went better than Khalif Wyatt's. The Temple senior -- and leading returning scorer -- was caught soliciting a prostitute in Atlantic City and then attempted to flee the scene when he realized he was busted. Wyatt issued a public apology shortly after news of his arrest became public.
22. The number of D-I teams that will be saddling up with new conferences this season. While the group is headlined by the likes of West Virginia, Missouri and Texas A&M, the biggest positive here is the news that programs like Seattle, North Dakota and Longwood will be getting their first shots at an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
23. Murray State won 23 straight games to open last season before falling to Tennessee State on Feb. 9. The Racers return second team All-American Isaiah Canaan and appear to again be the team most capable of becoming the first to enter the NCAA Tournament unbeaten since UNLV achieved the feat in 1991.
24. The number of "early season" tournaments that will be played across the country in Nov. and Dec.
25. The Friday night upsets were the upset highlights of a relatively chalky NCAA Tournament, but two seeds going down during the first weekend isn't exactly a new trend. In fact, all four two seeds have advanced to the Sweet 16 just one time in the past 16 years. The deuces have suffered 25 total first weekend losses compared to just eight by No. 1 seeds over the same span. With the preseason top ten not appearing overwhelmingly dominant, similar chaos should be anticipated in 2012-13.
26. The number of seasons it's been since Indiana's last national championship.
27. The number of seasons it's been since Louisville's last national championship.
28. The approximate number of calls blown in the final five minutes of the UNC-Asheville/Syracuse game in the NCAA Tournament's round of 64. All of those calls went against the Bulldogs, and as a result the Orange were able to limp away with a 72-65 victory. One seeds are now 112-0 all-time in NCAA Tournament openers.
29. The annual meeting between Kentucky and Louisville will take place at the KFC Yum! Center on Dec. 29 this year. It would be safe to call this a golden age for a rivalry that was already college basketball's most heated, but for that to be accurate Rick Pitino probably needs to get the better of John Calipari at least once.
30. The number of points the electric C.J. McCollum dropped on Duke in Lehigh's stunning round of 64 upset of the Blue Devils last season. He eloquently explained his decision to return to school for his senior year back in April.
31. The record-setting number of blocks Kansas senior-to-be Jeff Withey recorded in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. That broke the previous record of 29 set by Florida's Joakim Noah in 2006.
32. Louisville shot just 32 percent from beyond the arc last season as a team and lost its two top outside threats (Kyle Kuric and Chris Smith) to graduation. It's unusual for a Rick Pitino-led team to be so pedestrian from deep, especially one which will likely start the season with a top three ranking.
33. The resulting number of points from Jeff Fryer's record-setting 11 three-pointers in Loyola Marymount's 1990 NCAA Tournament victory over Michigan. Baylor's Brady Heslip threatened the mark when he drilled 9-of-12 treys in the Bears' round of 32 win over Colorado last season. Heslip will step into a larger role as a junior on a Baylor team that lost Perry Jones, Quincy Acy and Quincy Miller to the NBA.
34. Indiana's Cody "Big Handsome" Zeller has opted to hold off on the chance to make 34 mil playing a game.
35. The percentage chance that college basketball produces a better picture than this in 2012-13.
36. The number of seasons that Jim Boeheim has spent at Syracuse, making him the longest tenured coach in Division I. Next in line? Dave Bike at Sacred Heart (34 seasons) and Mike Krzyzewski at Duke (32 seasons).
37. The combined average minutes played per game of Michigan State's Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne last season. Expect that number to increase with Draymond Green gone, and for the Spartan duo to make up one of the most formidable frontcourts in the country.
38. The record-setting number of wins Kentucky amassed last season (against only two losses). It'll be borderline shocking if any team threatens that mark in 2012-13.
39. The percentage of Florida's points which came via made three-pointers last season. The Gators averaged 9.9 made treys per game in 2011-12, more than any other team in the country. They'll look for a better balance this year, especially with big man Patric Young returning for another season.
40. It's how many times archrivals VCU and Old Dominion had played one another as members of the Colonial Athletic Association. That era is over now that VCU is headed to the Atlantic 10. ODU will be spending one more season in the CAA before jumping to Conference USA in the fall of 2013. Both sides have expressed interest in continuing to play one another.
41. College basketball's leading returning scorer not named Doug McDermott is Sacred Heart's Shane Gibson, who averaged 22 points per game as a junior in 2011-12. He dropped a season-high 41 in a double overtime loss to Mount St. Mary's on Jan. 28.
42. The number of times this offseason that I've thought about the quote offered up by Saint Mary's head coach Randy Bennett after his Gaels were nipped 72-69 by Purdue in their NCAA Tournament opener.
"If it didn't sting, it wouldn't be any fun. That's why it stings, because you care so much. There aren't many things you can pour your heart into with a bunch of guys your age and invest so much time and care so much, and that's why it hurts, because when it's over it's gone."
It's as accurate a description of the passion inherent in college basketball as I've ever heard.
43. The number of Big East Tournament games Syracuse has won inside Madison Square Garden since MSG took over as full-time host of the tournament in 1983. This will be the last time the Orange have the chance to add to that total before jumping to the ACC. Still doesn't feel right.
44. The number of teams that could fit on Craig Sager's bracket tie.
45. The combined points per game averages (from their most recent season) of transfers Keion Bell (Pepperdine), Earnest Ross (Auburn), Alex Oriakhi (Connecticut) and Jabari Brown (Oregon), all of whom will suit up for Frank Haith at Missouri this season.
46. Before last season, 1946 had been the only time Harvard had gone dancing. With three of their top four scorers back, the Crimson are now the overwhelming favorites to win the Ivy League, and they have more than enough potential to taste victory in the NCAA Tournament for the first time.
47. The number of Division I programs that will have new head coaches in 2012-13. John Groce at Illinois, Bruce Weber at Kansas State, Frank Martin at South Carolina, James Johnson at Virginia Tech and Rick Ray at Mississippi State are among the most notable of the bunch.
48. The number of Division I teams (not including new D-I member Northern Kentucky) who have never made the NCAA Tournament. It was a group that included Norfolk State and South Dakota State this time last year. Of those 48 teams, Northwestern is easily the most recognizable and the only one which plays in a power conference.
49. That's the Horizon League's current winning percentage in the NCAA Tournament, seventh-best among the 31 conferences in Division I whose champions receive auto-bids to the big dance. Suffice to say it's a mark that's in serious jeopardy with Butler now playing its basketball in the Atlantic 10.
50. The number of times I've loaded up the Trollin' Indiana Baby GIF this summer to make myself smile.
BA-BREAK IT DOWN.
Troll on, my tiny friend.
51. That's how many points Rotnei Clarke dropped on Alcorn State when he was at Arkansas back in 2009-10. The senior sharp-shooter will look to lead Butler back to the NCAA Tournament this season.
52. The number of games Kentucky has gone without losing inside Rupp Arena, good for the longest home winning streak in Division I. The Wildcats have yet to taste defeat at home in three seasons under John Calipari.
53. The average number of points Bo Ryan's Wisconsin team allowed per game last season. The total put it a full point ahead of second-place Virginia. You hate watching the Badgers, but they're going to continue to play this way and win games this season just like they do every other one.
54. How many times I'd like to see Northern Iowa's Interlude Dance this season. Either on television or in person. I ain't picky.
55. The number of points Iona scored in the first half while building a 25 point lead over BYU in a "First Four" NCAA Tournament game in Dayton. The Gaels then inexplicably collapsed in the game's second 20 minutes, allowing the Cougars to move on with a stunning 78-72 victory. It was a far more exciting and enjoyable viewing experience than any bowl game outside of the BCS ... or in the BCS.
56. The number of times better college basketball's postseason will still be than its football counterpart's when the era of the four-team playoff is ushered in.
57. It'll be the Conference USA farewell tour for Memphis in 2012-13, as the Tigers prepare to bolt for the Big East the following fall. Memphis has dominated the league since the last major helping of conference realignment, claiming the league tournament title in six of seven seasons. The lone slip up came back in 2010 when Houston defeated UTEP 57-55 to claim the crown. Coincidentally, that was also the last time the tournament was played in Tulsa, which will be its home in 2013.
58. New Mexico is an astounding 58-1 under head coach Steve Alford when holding opponents under 60 points. The Lobos will take another shot at their first ever trip to the Sweet 16 this season, but they'll do so without last year's star, Drew Gordon.
59. The total number of points Kansas State's Rodney McGruder scored in three postseason games. He has the potential to become a household name in his senior season and should make Bruce Weber's transition from Champaign to Manhattan (a city in Illinois and a city in Kansas) smoother than he might have thought. Classic McGruder.
60. The percentage SIU-Edwardsville guard Kris Davis shot from beyond the arc during his freshman season, the top mark in the country. Unbelievably, he shot just 56.8 percent from the free-throw line.
61. Saint Louis hadn't won a game in the NCAA Tournament since 1998 before last season's 61-54 opening round triumph over Memphis. Expectations will be higher for Rick Majerus and his Bilikens in 2012-13.
62. The number of times Bob Knight will avoid saying "Kentucky" on air.
63. The age of Pacific head coach Bob Thomason, who has announced that he will be retiring after this season. This will be Thomas' 25th season at his alma mater, where he's guided the Tigers to four NCAA Tournament appearances and a pair of first round victories. Pacific is making the move from the Big West to the West Coast Conference after this season, and Thomason has stated that he'd like to see a new coach lead the transition.
64. Indiana finished last season ranked 64th in Ken Pomeroy's defensive efficiency rankings. The lowest ranking in that category for any of the past ten national champions is 19th by the 2003 Syracuse squad. It's no wonder that Tom Crean has spent the bulk of the offseason focusing on defense.
65. The number of times it's acceptable to sing "One Shining Moment" between now and the start of the season. You're doing it right now. I'm moderately proud of you.
66. The number of ACC games Seth Greenberg had won at Virginia Tech before his surprising offseason firing. Former Hokie assistant James Johnson was tabbed as Greenberg's replacement a week after the axing.
67. The national champion hasn't scored more than 67 points in the title game since North Carolina hung 89 on Michigan State in '09. Before Duke's 61-59 victory over Butler in 2010, the national champion had scored 70 or more points in its final game in 23 of the past 24 seasons. The championship game is due for an increase in offensive production.
68. The 1968-69 season was the last one where regional rivals Indiana and Kentucky didn't square off at least once. That will change soon as the two programs couldn't agree on where to play the games going forward and thus elected not to renew the series. The timing couldn't be worse for college basketball fans, as both teams figure to begin the season ranked somewhere in the top five.
69. The number of points Duke's opponents averaged per game last season. That total left the Blue Devils ranked 214th in the country in points allowed per game, sandwiched between Southern Utah and Saint Francis of New York. A rededication to defense will almost certainly be at the center of Coach K's preseason message to his team.
70. Stephen F. Austin's Taylor Smith shot a remarkable 70.1 percent from the field last season, the top mark in the country. He's back for one final season in the Southland.
71. The number of people who are aware that there is a postseason CIT.
72. The projected number of times Duke's Mason Plumlee will cram this season.
73. Perhaps the most underrated rivalry in all of college basketball is Belmont/Lipscomb, a series which Lipscomb currently leads 73-57. Unlike some of the big boys that are allowing their rivalries to fall by the wayside due to conference realignment or -- perhaps more accurately -- pride, these two rivals will continue to play on even with Belmont leaving the Atlantic Sun for the Ohio Valley this year. They'll open the season against one another on Nov. 9 and then square off again on Dec. 4.
74. Larry Brown's winning percentage during his seven seasons as a head coach at UCLA and Kansas. His debut season at SMU will also be his first in college since guiding the Jayhawks to the 1988 national title.
75. The number of times Jay Bilas will jokingly (?) reference Bill Raftery's drinking throughout the course of the season.
76. The 1975-76 Indiana Hoosiers remain the last team to go undefeated during the regular season and then win a national championship. If last year's Kentucky squad couldn't accomplish the feat, then it's hard to see anyone making a serious run at the record in 2013.
77. The combined number of wins between Seattle, UT-Arlington, UT-San Antonio and Texas State in 2011-12. The quartet, along with the Denver Pioneers, will all be members of the WAC this season.
78. The number of points Saint Mary's scored in its four-point overtime victory over arch-rival Gonzaga in the 2012 West Coast Conference title game. The victory sweetened the fact that the week earlier the Gaels had become the first team other than GU to win a WCC regular season title outright since 2000.
79. The number of people who can name one CBI champion.
80. The number of times you're going to see Austin Rivers' buzzer-beater against North Carolina on an ESPN promo. Easiest prediction of the season.
81. The combined increase in points per game, minutes played per game, rebounds per game and free-throw percentage from Jamaal Franklin's freshman season to his sophomore one. The San Diego State guard isn't going to catch anyone by surprise this season.
82. The Iona Gaels averaged 82.9 points per game a season ago, the top mark in the country. Having to replace do-everything point guard Scott Machado as well as leading scorer Mike Glover will likely put a dent in that number. Still, the return of MoMo Jones and Sean Armand, among others, should again make the Gaels one of the more exciting teams to watch in '13.
83. The total number of points scored in Illinois' 42-41 upset of then ninth-ranked Michigan State. The score - which was just one tenth of a point above Iona's per game average (math!) - was indicative of the scoring problem that plagued a large portion of college basketball's 2011-12 season.
84. The average number of tears shed per person upon discovery that West Virginia's Deniz Kilicli has shaved his beard.
84. The 1983-84 season was the last time Arizona missed the NCAA Tournament for a second straight year. That was Lute Olson's first Wildcat team and the only one he didn't take to the big dance. It'll be up to Solomon Hill, Nick Johnson and Sean Miller's elite recruiting class to make sure this is still a fact 10 months from now.
85. It's how many times per night ESPN announcers will make reference to the emphasis on getting the block/charge call correct. Trust me, you're tired of it already and you don't even know it.
86. The percentage of televised games that at least one person you follow on Twitter will declare to be "over" at a moment where the final outcome is still clearly in doubt.
87. Since the series began in 1904, Kansas and Missouri have met a remarkable 267 times. When they meet again, however, is currently up-in-the air with the Tigers headed to the SEC and the Jayhawks unwilling to schedule a non-conference showdown. KU won the last meeting between the two in an 87-86 in overtime thriller on Feb. 25.
88. Last season, Anthony Davis became the first player since Danny Manning in 1988 to win a national championship, be named national Player of the Year and be the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft all in the same year. Indiana's Cody Zeller would seem to be the player most capable of repeating the feat in 2013.
89. It's remarkable that a program as proud as NC State's hasn't had an ACC regular season or tournament championship since Jim Valvano led the Wolfpack to a 10-4 league record in 1989. C.J. Leslie's return, coupled with the addition of star freshman Rodney Purvis, has State in a better position to win the ACC than it has been in decades.
90. The gaudy number UNLV put up in its 90-80 stunner of then-No. 1 North Carolina in Nov. of last season. The Runnin' Rebels have been good for one huge early season win for the better part of the past decade, but haven't been able to parlay that early momentum into big time late season success. If Dave Rice can find a capable point guard to replace the graduated Oscar Bellfield, then the 2012-13 Rebs could absolutely be a top 10 team.
91. The number of times per day you'll miss Gus Johnson between Selection Sunday and the first Monday in April.
92. The free-throw percentage of NC State sharp-shooter Scott Wood last season. The rising senior buried all but seven of his 86 attempts from the charity stripe in 2011-12.
93. The percentage of scoring that Kentucky's six NBA Draft selections accounted for last season. No team has ever lost that much and repeated as national champion. Even though he's bringing in another top recruiting class, John Calipari leading this group of Wildcats to another national title would be one of the more remarkable coaching jobs in college basketball history.
94: 1994 was the last time Michigan advanced past the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament. With the return of Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr., and the addition of a recruiting class that features elite big man Mitch McGary, the Wolverine faithful will be disappointed if that doesn't change this season.
95. The amount of times you'll have to remind yourself that regardless of how many seniors they have and how many Big East upsets they pull, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are not going to do serious damage in the NCAA Tournament.
96. The number of ankles C.J. McCollum will break that nobody will see.
97. The percent chance that North Texas sophomore Tony Mitchell bolts to the NBA after this season. Mitchell is an out-of-this world talent who should be able to have his way with the Sun Belt.
98. The total number of points preseason All-American Trevor Mbakwe scored for Minnesota before tearing his ACL in the championship game of the Old Spice Classic. Mbakwe spurned a shot at the NBA for one final season with the Gophers.
99. The number of days left until it's only moderately unhealthy to daydream incessantly about a cacophony of squeaking sneakers and echoing dribbles in arenas, stadiums and gymnasiums across the country.