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68 things to watch this season

Since Connecticut cut down the nets outside of Dallas in April, we've waited patiently to begin again. As the 2014-15 college basketball season tips off and teams set their eyes on being one of the 68 teams in the NCAA tournament, here are 68 facts to get you ready:

Back to the future

• Auburn's Bruce Pearl and Houston's Kelvin Sampson both returned to college basketball after NCAA show-cause penalties led to their departure. Pearl was out for three years and Sampson was an assistant coach in the NBA for six.

Trey Lyles is the first player named Mr. Basketball in Indiana to play for Kentucky since Roger Harden did in 1982.

• UCLA freshman center Thomas Welsh is the Bruins' first 7-footer since Ryan Hollins played the 2005-06 season.

• UTEP will observe its first 100 years of hoops by naming the program's Centennial team: Nate "Tiny" Archibald, Jim Barnes, Randy Culpepper, Antonio Davis, Tim Hardaway, Bobby Joe Hill, Jeep Jackson, Stefon Jackson, David Lattin and Nolan Richardson.

• Arizona freshman Stanley Johnson hails from Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, California. It's the same high school that produced the Wildcats' 1997 Final Four Most Outstanding Player Miles Simon, per Blue Ribbon Yearbook.

• It's a homecoming of sorts for Wake Forest's first-year coach Danny Manning, who starred as a teenager about 30 minutes east of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, at Greensboro Page High School.

• Syracuse has a "first-year" point guard for the third straight season: Michael Carter-Williams (2012-13), Tyler Ennis (2013-14) and now Kaleb Joseph. It's a good omen, as Carter-Williams and Ennis were NBA first-round picks.

• Kansas State sophomore guard Marcus Foster joined former standout Michael Beasley as the only true freshmen in school history to be named All-Big 12.

• Dayton walk-on Joey Gruden's uncle Jon Gruden, who won a Super Bowl with Tampa Bay and is now an ESPN "Monday Night Football" analyst, played football for the Flyers in the mid '80s. Joey is the son of Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden.

• Marshall first-year coach Dan D'Antoni, brother of former Lakers and Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni, played point guard for the Thundering Herd and is a member of the school's Hall of Fame.

Alex Murphy and Jon Horford are both following their respective older brothers' footsteps at Florida. Al Horford helped the Gators to two national titles in 2006 and 2007; Erik Murphy led the 2013 Elite Eight team.

Trivial pursuits

• The Big Ten hasn't won a national title since Michigan State in 2000. But its drought is slightly better than that of the Pac-12, which hasn't won since Arizona in 1997.

• Wisconsin had received a preseason top 10 ranking only twice (1962-63 and 2006-07) before achieving its highest preseason rank this season at No. 3.

• If Louisville wins the ACC that would give it three consecutive titles in three different leagues (Big East 2013, American 2014).

• The Atlantic Coast Conference boasts four active Naismith Hall of Fame coaches in Syracuse's Jim Boeheim, Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, Louisville's Rick Pitino and North Carolina's Roy Williams.

• Since the Pac-12 expanded to its current model in 2011, Colorado has the longest streak of NCAA tournaments, with three consecutive bids.

• Minnesota freshman forward Josh Martin was high school teammates with Minnesota Timberwolves first-round draft pick Zach LaVine (UCLA) at Bothell High School in Bothell, Washington.

• Reaching the NCAA tournament in nine of the past 10 seasons, Villanova has lost to the eventual national champion five times, including to UConn last season.

• Florida's Kasey Hill joined Magic Johnson, Jason Kidd and Keith Gatlin as just the fourth freshman in NCAA history to record 10 assists in a Sweet 16 game, per Blue Ribbon Yearbook.

• Harvard, ranked No. 25 in the Associated Press poll, is the first Ivy League team since Penn (No. 20) in 1974-75 to be ranked in the preseason.

• Wichita State owns a 55-1 record in games reserve junior Evan Wessel has played.

Odds and ends

• Stanford's Chasson (pronounced CHASE-in) Randle got his name thanks to a pact his father made with his buddies. Whoever had a son first in the group would name him "Chasson Dames." Get it? As an adult, his dad thought better of the idea: Randle's middle name is Jermar. Sounds more mature.

• Michigan's Spike Albrecht earned his nickname as a kid from his overwhelming desire to play baseball led him to wear his cleats -- in and out of the house -- for about three weeks straight.

Antoine Mason, the nation's leading scorer last season at Niagara, brought his 25.6 points per game to Auburn and new coach Bruce Pearl.

Devonte Graham signed a letter of intent with Appalachian State in November 2012. He'll make his collegiate debut this season, likely as the starting point guard, for Kansas.

• Louisville's Montrezl Harrell, who once forced a game to be postponed after he broke the backboard dunking in high school, shattered two backboards with dunks over the summer.

• Duke freshmen Justise Winslow, Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor won gold medals as teammates representing the USA in the FIBA Under-17 World Championship.

• Virginia guard Malcolm Brogdon was mentored by former LSU standout Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf (formerly known as Chris Jackson). Brogdon shot 37 percent from 3-point range last season, which virtually matched Abdul-Rauf's career percentage (37.2) in his two years at LSU.

• Oklahoma's Buddy Hield grew up in the Bahamas shooting "baskets" on a crate with the bottom cut out and a rim nailed to a piece of plywood for the backboard. It must have worked. Hield shot 38.6 percent from 3-point range last season.

• Miami has 10 new players on the roster for 2014-15, and seven of its nine available scholarship players did not suit up for the Canes last season.

• Memphis has 10 newcomers (including two who were a part of last year's team but did not play), which is the most for a season since freshmen became eligible to play in 1972-73.

• Texas' 6-foot-11 center Myles Turner grew 6 inches between his freshman and sophomore years in high school and, according to his father, once leaped three shoe sizes within two weeks. He now wears size 21 sneakers.

• Indiana's Stanford Robinson and North Carolina's Nate Britt both shot left-handed as freshmen but will try switching to right-handed as sophomores.

• Subsequently, the only thing Iowa's 7-foot-1 center Adam Woodbury does left-handed is shoot a basketball. He writes with his right, and as a pitcher he used to pitch right-handed.

By the numbers

• North Carolina's Marcus Paige accounted for 87.7 percent of made 3-pointers among the Tar Heels' returning players.

• Oklahoma returns four starters (Buddy Hield, Ryan Spangler, Isaiah Cousins, Jordan Woodard), each of whom started all 33 games last season.

• San Diego State coach Steve Fisher welcomes the most experienced team of his tenure in terms of games played. The roster totals 605 Division I games played, which bested the 2010-11 Sweet 16 squad that entered the season with 523.

• Utah guard Delon Wright's 82 steals last season ranked second in program history to Andre Miller's 84 during the 1998-99 season.

• Eight Kentucky players returned from last season -- the most coach John Calipari has had since taking the reins in 2009.

• Wisconsin's Bo Ryan holds a .703 winning percentage in Big Ten games, which is the highest in league history.

• Duke guard Quinn Cook's 2.64 assist-to-turnover ratio is on pace to shatter Steve Wojciechowski's mark of 2.50 as the best in school history.

• Louisville is the only team in the nation to win 30 games in each of the past three seasons.

• North Carolina's Kennedy Meeks and N.C. State's BeeJay Anya have combined to lose about 110 pounds since arriving as freshmen. Anya dropped from 349 to about 290 while Meeks went from 320 to about 270.

• Of the 24 players in the 2011 McDonald's All-America game, only eight have remained in college four years: Wayne Blackshear, Louisville; Quinn Cook, Duke; Rakeem Christmas, Syracuse; Shannon Scott and Amir Williams, Ohio State; Branden Dawson, Michigan State; Le'Bryan Nash, Oklahoma State; and Kyle Wiltjer, Gonzaga.

• Syracuse owns 43 consecutive winning seasons, the longest active streak in the Division I ranks.

International Players Anthem

• Gonzaga freshman forward Domantas Sabonis, son of Hall of Famer Arvydas Sabonis, was the youngest player to debut in Spain's top pro league (ACB) at 17 years, 5 months and 10 days.

• Iowa State 7-foot-1 center Georgios Tsalmpouris, a native of Greece, is just the seventh 7-footer in the school's history. Meanwhile, Florida State (Kiel Turpin, Michael Ojo, Boris Bojanovsky) has three 7-footers on its current roster.

• SMU center Yanick Moreira averaged 17.8 points and 8.2 rebounds in five games for the Angola national team in the 2014 FIBA World Cup.

• New Zealand featured two of the youngest players on a 2014 FIBA World Cup roster in 19-year-old Nebraska guard Tai Webster and 20-year-old Hawaii forward Isaac Fotu.

• George Washington freshman forward Yuta Watanabe will be the third-ever NCAA Division I men's basketball player from Japan.

• UConn sophomore Amida Brimah speaks six languages: English, French and four African languages -- Twi, Ga, Hausa and Yaruba.

• The last name of San Diego State guard Parker U'u is pronounced exactly how it looks. You you.

• Illinois center Nnanna Egwu, a Nigeria native, was named after his paternal grandfather. His name literally translates to "father of his father" in Igbo. (He also has a twin sister, Nnenna, who was named for her paternal grandmother.)

• Michigan State freshman point guard Lourawls Nairn Jr. was named after his father, who was named after the R&B crooner Lou Rawls. But the native of the Bahamas gets his nickname, "Tum Tum," from the youngest brother, who had an endless appetite, in the 1992 movie "3 Ninjas."

• Texas center Prince Ibeh's middle name is Chinenye, which is Nigerian for "God's gift."

Record numbers

• Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski needs just 17 wins to become the first Division I men's basketball coach to collect 1,000 career wins.

• Ohio State's Thad Matta needs 23 wins to pass former coach Fred Taylor and become the Buckeyes' all-time leader in wins. Taylor amassed 297 wins in 18 seasons; Matta is entering his 11th at the helm.

• Louisville coach Rick Pitino needs just five wins to become the sixth active coach with 700 wins (Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim, Bob Huggins, Roy Williams, Bo Ryan).

• Wisconsin has four players -- Josh Gasser (810), Sam Dekker (807), Frank Kaminsky (726) and Traevon Jackson (668) -- who could each surpass the 1,000-point career mark this season.

• BYU senior guard Tyler Haws has scored the most points in school history through three seasons, with 1,944 points (Danny Ainge scored 1,685 points at the same point.) Haws needs just 656 points to surpass Jimmer Fredette as the Cougars all-time leading scorer.

• In his 12th season at Pittsburgh, coach Jamie Dixon needs just 13 wins to surpass 300 career coaching victories. Dixon's 288 career wins rank as the fourth-most all time after 11 years.

• Gonzaga appeared in its 17th consecutive West Coast Conference tournament final in 2014, which is the second-longest streak of years making a final of a conference tournament among current conferences.

Willie Cauley-Stein needs 103 blocks to break Kentucky's career record. (He had 106 blocks last season, which tied a school record for second-most in a single season.)

• West Virginia guard Juwan Staten (598 points, 186 rebounds, 193 assists) became the first player in school history to score 500 points, grab 150 rebounds and dish out 150 assists in a season last year.

• Kansas has won at least a share of the Big 12 title in 10 straight seasons.

• Wichita State's .834 winning percentage over the past four seasons is the best among all Division I schools.

• VCU coach Shaka Smart's 137 wins are the second-most for a coach in his first five seasons. VCU, along with Duke and Syracuse, are the only three schools to have won at least 26 games in each of the past five seasons.