1. Half of the Associated Press preseason All-America list came from schools outside the power six conferences. Lehigh (C.J. McCollum), Murray State (Isaiah Canaan) and Creighton (Doug McDermott) were all represented. The other three (there was a tie for fifth) came from the Big Ten -- Indiana (Cody Zeller), Ohio State (Deshaun Thomas) and Michigan (Trey Burke). No players represented the ACC, SEC, Big 12, Big East or Pac-12. That’s more of a reflection of the NBA draft drain on the major conferences. There will likely be a freshman or two who emerge as All-America but it’s hard to project. The individual honors might not translate into team success, however. Creighton, Lehigh and Murray State should be NCAA teams, but outside of the Bluejays, it’s hard to see a deep run by any of the three. There are plenty of teams like Kentucky, NC State, Kansas, Louisville, Arizona, Michigan State and others that might not have an All-America but are Final Four contenders.
2. Notre Dame coach Mike Brey is extremely pleased with the progress of the Irish so far heading into the season -- with how well the Irish are sharing the ball a major reason for his good vibe. “We can really pass it,’’ said Brey. The Irish should be a top-tier Big East team. Notre Dame can make its mark early in the season in two big events: Nov. 16-17 in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, where the Irish will join three other likely NCAA teams -- Florida State, BYU and Saint Joseph’s -- in Brooklyn, N.Y.; and on Nov. 29, when the Irish host Kentucky in the SEC-Big East Challenge.
3. Tim Jankovich gave up the short-term success at Illinois State for the long-term bump in taking the head-coach-in-waiting gig at SMU. He knew he was leaving behind a possible NCAA team -- so it should come as no surprise that Illinois State was picked to finish second in the Missouri Valley Conference, behind Creighton. First-year coach Dan Muller said he doesn’t know yet if the second-place prediction is justified. But he said practices so far have been going extremely well. The players have immediately bought into his coaching style, and their work ethic has him anticipating a successful season.