Featured sports content has been different since the World Series ended a few weeks ago, and most of these changes point to the same glorious fact - college basketball season is coming.
Because I began my time as sports editor toward the end of the NCAA basketball tournament, I don't think I was able to fully convey just how much I love college basketball. I got hooked when I was 7 years old and the obsession has grown to the point that I become a hermit during the winter, avoiding social engagements that conflict with an important game.
My family can tell you that even though I won't let them watch games with me, they can still hear exactly how I feel about the games from any spot in the house. My boyfriend is the only person I consistently let watch games with me, and that's pretty much because the first November that we were dating, he panicked that he wouldn't see me for the next five months ... and I couldn't really blame him.
Even when the season ends, there's still enough college basketball news to keep me occupied through the spring and summer with older players declaring for the draft, younger players committing to colleges and coaches changing jobs. But once the pre-season tournament schedules are made and colleges announce their regular-season schedules, I become both intensely aware of my basketball withdrawal and incredibly excited for the start of the season.
And bit by bit, the amount of college basketball news increases. Pre-season polls rank teams while players and schools commemorate the start of the season with events such as an intra-squad scrimmage, Midnight Madness or, in our case, Spider Mayhem.
All that is great, but this weekend, the real fun begins. The men's and women's basketball teams both open their seasons at home; the women will play Kennesaw State University at 7 p.m. on Friday and the men will play Randolph-Macon College at 8 p.m. on Saturday.
When I realized that our last issue of The Collegian this semester was coming out Nov. 20, I thought first of all that football would continue after the other fall sports had finished their seasons. But when I started to plan our last few issues, I realized just how much of the basketball season will be over by the time we get back from winter break.
The start of the regular season doesn't always offer the most exciting games, because teams are playing non-conference opponents. But there are almost always some good matchups against teams that don't usually play each other, particularly if those teams' best chance of playing each other again is during a post-season tournament.
When I think about the college basketball season, I often remember it in terms of weeks, thanks to ESPN's sponsored programming. First comes Feast Week, which highlights some of the best early-season tournaments around the country and is always one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving break.
Then comes Holiday Hoops Week, which is a fun way to celebrate the end of exams and the beginning of winter break. Conference games start in January, which leads to ESPNU Campus Connection Week, formerly known as Student Spirit Week, and there's all kinds of fun in February.
Rivalry Week offers the chance to watch talented teams whose fans hate each other. Then there's ESPNU Bracket Busters, which the ESPNU Web site calls "a two-day men's college basketball extravaganza pitting potential NCAA Tournament hopefuls against each other."
But then it's time to separate the bubble teams from the locks during Judgment Week, the last week of the regular season, and Championship Week, which culminates in 32 teams getting automatic NCAA tournament bids.
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I could go into my love of Selection Sunday and the NCAA tournament, but I think I'm starting to get ahead of myself. I love the playoffs, but I don't want to depress myself by thinking about the end of basketball season when it's just about to begin.
I have been structuring my life around college basketball for so long now that it's become second nature. One of my greatest concerns about joining the staff of The Collegian was that I'd miss Wednesday night basketball games.
But thankfully, Steve Bisese was kind enough to donate a television for our new office, which makes me feel slightly better about my ability to enjoy all that the 2008-2009 college basketball season has to offer. Brace yourselves ... the march to madness has begun.
Contact Editor Barrett Neale at email@example.com
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