College basketball season shoves off Friday night, including appearances by 10 Pac-12 teams. Best of the games are Oregon and Georgetown from Camp Humphreys in South Korea, and Colorado and Baylor in Dallas.
Both Oregon and Colorado are highly regarded — the Ducks No. 19 in AP after a Sweet 16 appearance a year ago, and Colorado picked for third in the Pac-12.
This isn’t the cheeriest story to begin the season, but I commend it to you. It’s a detailed Orange County Register piece late in October that reflects the hot water new UCLA coach Steve Alford felt in April with inaccurate comments regarding his insensitive handling of a sexual-assault case during his tenure at Iowa. Apparently, Alford came pretty close to being fired before he ever coached a game in Westwood.
With that, a quickie preview of the immediate future for the Pac-12 teams:
First 3: Friday night, Cal Poly. Nov. 11 – Long Beach State. Nov. 14 – At San Diego State.
Looking beyond: Arizona is in the NIT Preseason Tipoff, which also includes Duke.
Story line: ‘Cats, fifth-ranked by the coaches, are considered the hands-down class of the Pac-12, and a national-title contender.
First 3: Friday night, Maryland-Baltimore County. Nov. 12 – Miami (O.). Nov. 15 – Idaho State.
Looking beyond: Sun Devils have a rugged late-November stretch, with a game at UNLV, home against Marquette and a first-round date in the Wooden Legacy tournament with Creighton.
Story line: Point guard Jahii Carson dominates, but Devils have also added 6-4 Penn State transfer off-guard Jermaine Marshall, who averaged 15.3 points last year.
First 3: Friday night, Coppin State. Nov. 12 – Denver. Nov. 15 – Oakland.
Looking beyond: Bears open with Arkansas in the Maui Invitational, which also includes Gonzaga.
Story line: Cal welcomes touted 6-6 freshman Jabari Bird to a fairly veteran roster.
First 3: Friday night, Baylor (at Dallas). Nov. 10 – Tennessee-Martin. Nov. 13 – Wyoming.
Looking beyond: Buffs catch No. 5 Kansas at home Dec. 7 and play No. 8 Oklahoma State in Las Vegas Dec. 21.
Story line: Anticipation high in Boulder, where season tickets are sold out for the first time in history.
First 3: Friday night, Georgetown at Camp Humphreys, South Korea. Nov. 13 – Western Carolina. Nov. 19 – Utah Valley.
Looking beyond: December schedule includes Mississippi, Illinois and BYU.
Story line: Point guard Dominic Artis and forward Ben Carter are sitting out nine games on NCAA suspension after selling team-issued shoes.
First 3: Sunday, Coppin State. Nov. 13 – Portland. Nov. 17 – At Maryland.
Looking beyond: Beavers open with Akron Christmas week in the Diamond Head Classic, which also features Boise State and St. Mary’s.
Story line: A 104-94 exhibition win over NAIA Concordia doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in an outfit that tied for last in the Pac-12 in 2012-13.
First 3: Friday night, Bucknell. Nov. 11 – BYU. Nov. 14 – Northwestern.
Looking beyond: Cardinal has pre-Christmas games with Connecticut and Michigan.
Story line: Media picked Stanford sixth in make-or-break year for Johnny Dawkins.
First 3: Friday night, Drexel. Nov. 12 – Oakland. Nov. 18 – Sacramento State.
Looking beyond: After a tepid November schedule, Bruins have December games with Missouri, Duke and Alabama.
Story line: Roster is stocked, including Bothell freshman product Zach LaVine, but all eyes will be on Steve Alford, controversial hire as Bruins coach succeeding Ben Howland.
First 3: Friday night, at Utah State. Nov. 12 – Cal State-Northridge. Nov. 15 – Northern Arizona.
Looking beyond: Trojans get Villanova first in loaded Battle for Atlantis field that also includes Kansas, Tennessee, Xavier and Iowa.
Story line: Andy Enfield brings “Dunk City,” last year’s NCAA darlings at Florida-Gulf Coast, to USC.
First 3: Friday night, Evergreen State. Nov. 15 – Cal-Davis. Nov. 21 – Grand Canyon.
Looking beyond: It’s one of the Pac-12’s easier non-league schedules, marked by a 36-day stretch between road games through most of December and early January.
Story line: Soph forward Jordan Loveridge top returnee in Larry Krystkowiak’s third season.
First 3: Nov. 10 – Seattle. Nov. 14 – Cal-Irvine. Nov. 17 – Eastern Washington.
Looking beyond: Huskies face Indiana Nov. 21 and either Connecticut or Boston College the next night in the 2K Sports Classic in New York.
Story line: Picked eighth by media, UW tries to avoid a third straight season without an NCAA appearance.
First 3: Friday night, Cal State-Bakersfield. Nov. 16 – Lamar. Nov. 21 – At Gonzaga.
Looking beyond: Cougars get Butler first Nov. 28 in eight-team Old Spice Classic in Orlando.
Story line: WSU will extend defensive pressure in hopes of foiling media forecast of 12th in conference.