Some of the players, coaches and games to watch for as the 2000-01 season begins:
Top 10 Non-Conference Games
1. Pepperdine at Indiana, Nov. 14 -- This first-round Preseason NIT game will be Indiana's first without coach Bob Knight and it also is a rematch of the last game he coached for the Hoosiers, a 20-point loss in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.
2. Temple at Memphis, Nov. 17 -- Both teams have to win first-round games in the Preseason NIT, but if they do it's another chance for John Chaney and John Calipari to meet at a postgame news conference.
3. Almost any game in the Maui Invitational, Nov. 20-22 -- This tournament field looks like the second week of an NCAA bracket. Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Dayton, Louisville and UNLV join Chaminade, the Division II host school.
4. Illinois vs. Duke at Greensboro, N.C., Nov. 28 -- This is the premier matchup of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
5. Florida at Michigan State, Dec. 6 -- For those with poor memories, this is a rematch of last season's national championship game.
6. Xavier at Cincinnati, Dec. 14 -- This is one of the best intracity rivalries. Cincinnati will remember how Xavier fans celebrated when the Musketeers beat the then-No. 1 Bearcats last season.
7. Arizona vs. Illinois at Chicago, Dec. 16 -- A week earlier Arizona will have played at Connecticut, so these teams will be well-tested by this one.
8. Michigan State at Seton Hall, Dec. 19 -- One of the games in the Jimmy V Classic pits two of the best freshmen classes in the country.
9. Tennessee at Syracuse, Dec. 22 -- Orange you glad they scheduled this one?
10. Duke at St. John's, Feb. 18 -- These teams have split two classics the last two seasons.
Top 10 Freshmen To Watch
(In alphabetical order)
1. Caron Butler, Connecticut -- a 6-6 small forward with tremendous offensive skills.
2. Chris Duhon, Duke -- just what the Blue Devils need, another versatile guard to join Jason Williams.
3. Eddie Griffin, Seton Hall -- New Jersey hasn't been this excited about anything since the Turnpike opened.
4. Rolando Howell, South Carolina -- at 6-9, 220, a real inside presence.
5. Jared Jeffries, Indiana -- last year's Mr. Basketball stayed in state.
6. Jason Parker, Kentucky -- North Carolina wouldn't admit him and the Wildcats jumped at the chance.
7. Zach Randolph, Michigan State -- he is 6-9, 270 and owns the paint.
8. Marcus Taylor, Michigan State -- he steps right into the sneakers of Mateen Cleaves.
9. Gerald Wallace, Alabama -- most people can't believe this 6-7 slasher didn't go right to the NBA.
10. Three-headed point guard of Andre Barrett, Seton Hall; Taliek Brown, Connecticut; and Omar Cook, St. John's -- these three have to be an entry because they're the best point guards to come out of New York City at once since 1983 when Mark Jackson (St. John's), Kenny Smith (North Carolina) and Pearl Washington (Syracuse) were in the same class.
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