Thanks to a NCAA rule change back in the spring, today marks the official start to the college basketball season. Previously a team couldn’t hold their first practice (celebrated with a Midnight Madness event), until four weeks before their first official game. But that was changed back in May to six weeks (or 42 days) before the first game. That day is today.
However, even though teams have two extra weeks to practice, they don’t actually get to practice any more than they did in previous years. When Midnight Madness was held in the past (four weeks prior to the first game) coaches were allowed to conduct 30 practices between then and game day. But now, even though coaches get those two extra weeks, they are still only allowed to practice 30 times.
And I’m not aware of any schools (Big East anyway) that are holding Midnight Madness celebrations tonight. I know there are rumors that all 10 Big East schools could be doing their extravaganzas on Friday, October 25th with Fox Sports 1 doing live look-ins to each. I hope that actually is the case for the obvious reasons of awesomeness.
But anyway, maybe the extra two weeks improves the quality of play out of the gate as teams aren’t as run down as they potentially were in the past. But most likely that extra time will have a negligible effect – if any at all.
The players have already been on campus for a couple of months now, and two teams (St. John’s and Butler) went on a foreign trip to play, so it’s not like today is the first time the squads will be playing together. They’ve been practicing and playing for months, but now you can just call them ‘official’ practices.
So get ready for a plethora of positivity and optimism coming out these camps – just with any sport professional or amateur – because today every team is still 0-0. Most players will be noted as being in the best shape of their lives. They’ve all improved a weakness. And they are all ready to get to that next level.
That’s the beauty of the start of the season. There are going to be teams that surprise and are better than believed. And there will be teams that will simply meet expectations and improve. But there will obviously be teams that disappoint.
But today we don’t know. We may have an idea, but we really don’t know.
Is DePaul going to be terrible again? Maybe. Is Butler in line for a big step back? Could be. Will St. John’s realize all that talent and be a top-25 team? I could see it. And could Providence win the Big East? I believe they can.
Only time will tell.
The important thing is that college basketball is here.