The college basketball season starts Friday night. It's time to celebrate.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – You've heard from the Associated Press, ESPN and Sports Illustrated. Now it's time you heard from me. But first, a public announcement:
Happy College Basketball Season!
I thought you'd never get here. I hope you never end.
Let's proceed to Dr. Bo's 25 Coaches, Players, Events and Tidbits to celebrate as the 2012-13 season begins:
1. John Calipari, Kentucky – defending national champion; relentless rebuilder and recruiter; adaptable coach who changes with his material; determined philanthropist; and he's starting the season by playing Maryland (tonight) and Duke (Tuesday). Calipari has the spotlight and pulpit until further notice.
2. The Rise of Kentuckiana – North Carolina, Duke and N.C. State have never been ranked 1-2-3 to start the season. Neither have Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri. Alabama, Auburn and UAB? Made you laugh. The Hoosiers (1), Cardinals (2) and Wildcats (3) made history. Take a good look at what the heartbeat of college hoops looks like, Tobacco Road.
3. Cody Zeller, Indiana– This is the kind of humorist Zeller is: When he saw his picture on the Sports Illustrated cover this week, he took to Twitter and said he thought they had promised him the cover of the swimsuit edition. This is the kind of player Zeller is: A smooth inside scorer determined to add a little Dirk Nowitzki to his game.
4. Roy Williams, North Carolina – Never sleep on the Tar Heels because even after losing four guys in the first round of the NBA Draft, Dad Gum Roy still has a Top 10 team. But after surviving a major summer health scare, Williams is eager to make his national championship resume read: 2005, 2009, 2013.
5. Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA – The Bruins, and everybody else who enjoys watching a Player of the Year candidate, await the most important freshman eligibility decision of the season from the NCAA.
6. Mid-Major Madness – You don't need another reason to realize how the flow of freshmen to the NBA has changed the game, but I have one: Most pre-season all-American teams have three guys from Planet Mid-Major -- Isaiah Canaan of Murray State, Doug McDermott of Creighton and C.J. McCollum of Lehigh.
7. Battle For Atlantis: Remember when the Maui Invitational was the gold standard for early season tournaments? No more. Rick Pitino is taking the University of Louisville to the Bahamas for this November event, and the Cardinals could find themselves playing Northern Iowa, the second-best SEC team (Missouri) and either Duke, Memphis, Tubby Smith (Minnesota) or Shaka Smart (VCU).
The Cards will either return with a loss – or the Number One ranking.
8. Jim Boeheim, Syracuse– He's making his farewell tour in the Big East and exchanging love letters with Pitino on the way out the door. Don't forget this: He needs 10 wins to get to 900. Nice job, Jim. Now smile a little. You've earned it.
9. Missouri/Texas A&M – Calipari has controlled the SEC as easily as he controlled Conference USA at Memphis. Maybe these two newcomers can make him sweat, especially the Tigers who reloaded with a dazzling group of transfers.
10. DeShaun Thomas, Ohio State – Looking for the guy who will lead the nation in scoring? Could be Thomas, the Buckeyes' slashing junior forward. He's a safer bet to lead the nation in shots.
11. Mark Gottfried, North Carolina State – In the SEC, this guy was just another fired coach. Now in his second season in Raleigh, he's got the team to beat in the ACC and another monstrous recruiting class on the way. Hmmmmmmm. What's going on here?
12. Kevin Ollie, UConn – Jim Calhoun likely delayed his retirement until late summer to ensure that Ollie, one of his assistants as well as a former player, could take over. But the school only gave him a one-year deal so he'll have to deal with a depleted roster and rumors that Smart, Brad Stevens of Butler and every other hot young coach wants the gig.
13. Larry Brown, SMU– He played for Dean Smith at North Carolina and coached Billy Cunningham and Mack Calvin in the ABA. Ask your grandfather or Allen Iverson to explain.
14. Jamie Dixon, Pittsburgh – The Panthers are joining Syracuse and Notre Dame on the Big East Farewell Tour. Freshman center Steven Adams and Trey Ziegler, a transfer from Central Michigan, will have Pitt looking like Pitt again. Duck.
15. Lexington/Indianapolis – There will be second- and third-round NCAA Tournament games played in Rupp Arena and a regional at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indy. Louisville and IU would be happy to start their NCAA drives in Lexington, and the Hoosiers, Wildcats and Cardinals would be thrilled to make a stop in Indy on their way to Atlanta for the NCAA Final Four.
16. Dez Wells, Maryland – Expelled from Xavier, he is exalted at Maryland. He's also eligible from Day One, starting tonight against Kentucky.
17. Chane Behanan, Louisville-- Pitino needs him to be the guy voted the Most Outstanding Player of the 2012 West Regional, not the guy in street clothes, suspended while he missed the Cards' first two exhibitions
18. Gary Harris, Michigan State – Yogi Ferrell of IU wasn't the 2012 Mr. Basketball in Indiana. This kid was – and he said, "No," to Tom Crean, Rick Pitino and John Calipari.
19. Seth Curry, Duke – Prepare to see much more of the sweetest stroke in the ACC now that Austin Rivers isn't around to jack up all the ridiculous shots for the Blue Devils.
20. Jim Crews, Saint Louis– Take a second to hope for the absolute best for Billkens' coach Rick Majerus who will miss this season with health issues. Crews, a member of two Final Four teams at Indiana, runs the show.
21. Tubby Smith, Minnesota– This is Year Six. It's time for Mr. Smith to give the Gophers a reason to get excited in March. The fans are getting annoyed. I understand.
22. D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Georgetown – John Thompson loves his freshman from Indianapolis because he's a point guard wrapped in a power-forward body. Could be the best freshman in the Big East.
23. Mike Rice, Rutgers – Let me be first to predict the Scarlet Knights will be the sleeper team in the Big East, capable of finishing in the first division. Keep an eye on Wally Judge, a transfer from Kansas State.
24. Rotnei Clarke, Butler– Brad Stevens knows what to do with a shooter. In Clarke, a transfer from Arkansas, he has one of the best in the nation. Don't forget the Bulldogs have moved from the Horizon to the Atlantic 10.
25. Bruce Pearl, ESPN – The network that goes wall to wall with college basketball is looking for its next studio star. Pearl will be the guy. He could explain the pick and roll to a parking meter for two hours – and then host the post-game cookout.