The opening of the college basketball season is officially here as teams across the country can tip off their first practice at 5 p.m. on Friday. Over time, this opening weekend has turned into the biggest official/unofficial visit weekend of the year as many schools host their versions of "Midnight Madness."
There are now a lot of different names for the events, and they don't happen at midnight anymore; but the idea is usually the same. The goal is to get as many prospects on campus as possible to see the fan support, watch scrimmages and perhaps see coaches and players put themselves through some awkwardly embarrassing skits.
Plenty in town for Big Blue Madness
One of the most heavily attended of all opening nights is Kentucky's Big Blue Madness. Rupp Arena is gigantic, and Wildcat fans will fill it up to hear from John Calipari and get their first look at their latest group of highly touted freshman.
Out on Tobacco road, Mark Gottfried and N.C. State are proving that they can recruit with the big boys. Friday night, they'll have a big-boy type lineup of prospects in town as they kick things off.
He's already visited officially, but five-star point guard and verbal commit Anthony Barber will be back in town. He'll be looking to pick up his first assist or two for the 'Pack. Likely, he'll be focusing a lot of his time on top 40 senior big man Dominic Woodson who very well might be the next player to call things for the Wolfpack. Five-star junior Theo Pinson will be on hand, as will recent junior commitments and top 50 players Caleb Martin and Cody Martin. The visit list is rounded out by potential class of 2015 four-stars Brandon Ingram and Jamar Ergas and probably one of the top five or so players in 2016, Harry Giles.
Late Night in Lawrence
In Kansas Jayhawk land they call their opening night festivities "Late Night," and it goes back to the days when now-SMU coach Larry Brown used to kick things off at midnight. Over the years, it's grown into one of the bigger productions around, and Allen Fieldhouse will be bursting at the seams with fans.
Buzz Williams and his staff at Marquette have put together one of the bigger groups for the weekend. Three of their four commitments will be in town as four-stars Duane Wilson, Deonte Burton and Jameel McKay all pay visits. Even though he's not actually considering Marquette among his final five, the nation's No. 2 player Jabari Parker is expected to be in attendance. Also visiting officially is Memphis four-star shooting guard Jajuan Johnson, at whom the Golden Eagles are making a late run.