Published: Friday, November 10, 2017 @ 12:06 PM
By: Marcus Hartman
— The four-month journey to March Madness begins this weekend across the country.
Here are seven things to know about the start of college basketball season!
1. It’s a new era for Dayton Flyers basketball.
Anthony Grant’s first real game as the head coach at his alma mater is tonight when Ball State comes to UD Arena, which will also have a new look.
The Flyers will have a much different starting lineup and perhaps a new style of play. They were picked fifth in the Atlantic 10 and begin the season 103rd in the KenPom.com rankings after finishing 39th last year.
2. Wright State is building on last year but with a different cast, too.
Dayton native Mark Alstork transferred to Illinois after leading the Raiders in scoring during Scott Nagy’s first season as coach.
WSU (201 in KenPom) will start the season at Loyola a bit short-handed, but there’s reason for fans to hope Nagy’s team can get hot down the stretch.
READ MORE: Wright State preview
If the Raiders are playing their best basketball in late February, they could be dangerous in the Horizon League tournament.
Oakland is the preseason HL favorite with Wright State picked fifth.
3. Ohio State is starting over, too.
Chris Holtmann is the head coach of the Buckeyes, replacing Thad Matta after 13 seasons.
Holtmann inherited an interesting if flawed group that could finish in the top half of the Big Ten if a few things break right or near the bottom of the standings if they don’t.
The Buckeyes begin the season 79th in KenPom after finishing 73rd last season. They are 12th in the Land of 10 preseason power poll and host Robert Morris tonight.
4. Miami University has two new coaches.
Dayton native Meg Duffy is a first-time head coach charged with reviving the Miami women’s basketball team. Her 12 letter-winners returning include Lauren Dickerson, the reigning MAC Freshman of the Year, and the team was picked to finish fourth in the MAC East.
Jack Owens is the new man in charge of the men’s squad, which has eight newcomers and was picked to finish last in the MAC East.
KenPom’s 294th-ranked team opens the season at Fordham. The RedHawks host Wright State on Tuesday night.
5. Down south, it could be another big year.
Cincinnati opens the year 11th in the KenPom rankings while Xavier is No. 26.
The Bearcats are 12th in the preseason AP poll while the Musketeers are 17th.
UC returns the top three scorers (Jacob Evans, Kyle Washington and Gary Clark) from a 30-win team and has not been this high in the preseason polls since opening No. 2 in 1999.
Trevon Blueitt and J.P. Macura headline Xavier’s squad while
6. Keep an eye on Vincent Edwards.
Last year, the local product making national headlines was Franklin grad Luke Kennard. Since he left Duke for the NBA draft, who will it be this year?
Vincent Edwards from Middletown is a good bet. The 6-foot-8 Purdue forward is on the Naismith Award watch list and according to his school is the only active player in the country with 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 300 assists. He was a third-team All-Big Ten pick last season.
7. Familiar faces fill the preseason rankings.
Duke is No. 1 in both major polls after bringing in No. 1 recruit Marvin Bagley III.
Michigan State is next followed by Arizona (a school caught up in the FBI’s investigation of illegal recruiting practices), Kansas and Kentucky.
Wichita State, the team that knocked Dayton out of the NCAA tournament last season and a newcomer to the American Athletic Conference, is No. 7, while Bob Huggins’ latest West Virginia team is No. 11.