Believe it or not, college basketball season is starting! Yes, NCAA Division I college basketball teams begin practice today, Friday, October 14th, for the 2011-12 season.
For many teams, the first practice is a huge fan event. This first practice is still often called “Midnight Madness” since it used to start at midnight or 12:01 a.m. That is no longer the case, since the NCAA now allows the practice to begin as early as 7 p.m. on the Friday evening before the October 15th official first day of practice. But “Midnight Madness” is still a popular title for the practices, which often feature both the men’s and women’s teams, though the men still seem to typically get the most attention.
SBNation.com1 lists what it calls “College Basketball’s Ten Best Midnight Madness Events.” ESPN Media Zone2 states that ESPNU and ESPN3 will be broadcasting live from several of the first practices.
The Kentucky Wildcats (UK) are one of the favorites for the national championship this year and many feel they provide the best “Midnight Madness” practice. My preview of the University of Kentucky Wildcats men’s team’s 2011-12 basketball season is available in another Associated Content article3, which also provides links to some of the numerous early preseason top 25 polls for men’s college basketball.
This year many UK fans camped out for a few days to get good seats for the practice, which is billed as “Big Blue Madness.” A capacity crowd will fill Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky for a variety of “Big Blue Madness” events this evening — and several potential recruits for upcoming seasons are expected to be in attendance. Though I didn’t camp out, I do expect to be there at 6 p.m. when the doors open for the Kentucky practice that begins at 7:30 p.m. To me, it seems a great way to start the season for the men’s and women’s basketball teams.
Some, including Matt Norlander on CBS Sports.com4, lament that the first practice is not what it used to be, partially due to the use of it as a recruiting tool. But still the event is highly promoted and heavily attended at many schools, including Kentucky, where some local television stations will be broadcasting the event live.
Overall, college basketball is unimportant compared to college academics — and compared to many news events around the world. But this fan is thrilled that the college basketball 2011-12 season is here!
Note: This article was last revised on the morning of October 14, 2011, the same day it was originally posted.
1Mike Rutherford,”College Basketball’s Ten Best Midnight Madness Events”; SBNation.com; October 13, 2011. Website accessed October 14, 2011.
2GBlackburn, “ESPNU Midnight Madness Returns Oct. 14, Tips Off NCAA Basketball Season”, ESPN MediaZone, October 4, 2011. Website accessed October 14, 2011.
3James Gibson, “Kentucky Wildcats Basketball 2011-12 Preview”, Associated Content.com, September 13, 2011. Website accessed October 14, 2011.
4Matt Norlander, “Midnight madness just isn’t what it used to be”, CBS Sports.com, October 12, 2011. Website accessed October 14, 2011.