A few facts from ESPN Stats & Information in preparation for tonight's opening games:
Rhode Island at No. 4 Pitt, 7 ET, ESPNU
Unlike last season, when Pittsburgh needed to replace the core of its team, the Panthers will have plenty of experience in 2010-11. Pitt returns five of five starters and seven of its eight leading scorers. All in all, 86 percent of the scoring, 91 percent of the rebounding and 86 percent of the minutes played returns.
Since the 2001-02 season, Pittsburgh has a win percentage of .790 (245-65), which ranks fifth in Division I. Pitt is topped by only Kansas (.828), Duke (.824), Gonzaga (.807) and Memphis (.799).
Pittsburgh is the only Big East school over the last nine seasons to appear in each NCAA tournament, win 20 games and 10 conference games. The Panthers also owns a league-best 109-41 Big East record over that span.
Since becoming the head coach of the Panthers, Jamie Dixon has been one of the winningest coaches in all of college basketball. Dixon ranks third among active DI head coaches in win pct (behind only Roy Williams and Mark Few) and his .696 win pct in the Big East is the best ever.
UC Irvine at No. 16 Illinois, 8 ET, ESPN3
In Bruce Weber’s first two years in Champaign, he won 88 percent of his games while guiding Illinois to a Sweet 16 and an NCAA title game appearance. However, the honeymoon was short-lived as he’s won 65 percent of his games the last five seasons, while missing the NCAA tournament twice and being bounced in the first round of the tourney twice.
Last season, Weber noted that his team was not as physical as he wanted it to be and were reluctant to draw contact when driving to the basket. This aversion to contact was shown in the Illini’s inability get to the free throw line and lack of points from the charity stripe: free throw makes (11.5, t-319th) and free throw attempts (16.1, 331st)
Last season, Demetri McCamey averaged 15.1 ppg and 7.1 apg, the only player in Division I basketball to reach both of those levels in 2009-10. He was the first DI player to do so since Jared Jordan at Marist in 2006-07.
Illinois missed the NCAA tournament last season for the second time in the last three years. The only other time over the last 30 years (since 1980) the Illini missed the tourney twice in a three-year span was 1991 and 1992, which is also the only time during this period that they missed it in consecutive seasons.
Seattle at Maryland, 8 ET
In each of the past four seasons, Maryland fans could always count on seeing Greivis Vasquez in the lineup. Well, tonight, Gary Williams will be without the second-leading scorer in school history as the Terrapins play host to the Seattle Redhawks in the first meeting between the teams. Despite losing Vasquez (the 2009-10 ACC Player of the Year), Maryland still returns two starters and will have three senior reserves moving into the starting rotation. Seattle, coached by 1995 NCAA champion Cameron Dollar (UCLA), is 1-1 all-time against ACC teams: beating Boston College in the 1952-53 season and losing to Wake Forest during the 1977-78 season.
Navy at No. 25 Texas, 9 ET, ESPNU
Last season, the Longhorns made it to the NCAA tournament for the 12th consecutive year, tied for the fourth-longest active streak of any team. The streak began in Rick Barnes’ first season (1998-99) and is behind only Kansas (21), Duke (15) and Michigan State (13) and is tied with Gonzaga and Wisconsin.
Over the last two seasons, Texas has only two combined losses (22-2) in the months of November and December, but the Longhorns have fallen apart in the regular season once the calendar year turns. In January, they’re 11-6 and in they’re a combined 10-10 in February and March.
Navy begins the season with 10 of its first 12 games on the road, and tonight they travel to Austin to play the No. 25 Longhorns. The only other previous meeting between the two teams was on Nov. 13, 2000, when UT took a 79-65 decision. Texas has won 18 straight nonconference home games (last loss was to Wisconsin on Dec. 29, 2007) and the Horns have not lost a season opener since losing to Arizona to begin the 2001-02 season. The Midshipmen have lost 13 straight games to ranked opponents (7-57 all-time vs ranked teams), with their last win coming against No. 9 Syracuse on March 16, 1986.