Early Wednesday, Kentucky fans proved their devotion to their favorite squad when they grabbed their tents and camped out for Big Blue Madness tickets that won’t be distributed until Saturday morning.

Well, it's definitely not the only feverish fan base in America.

Wisconsin, Kentucky’s foe in last year’s Final Four, began selling tickets for its “Grateful Red” student section at 7 a.m. Wednesday.

At 7:05 a.m., the school had sold all 2,100 available student-section tickets, according to a release from the school.

Five. Minutes. Sold. Out.

That’s how they roll in Madison.

Students can still grab tickets for a slate of winter-break games against Buffalo, Purdue, Nebraska and Penn State, though. But the best stuff is gone.

It’s the 10th sellout in the last 13 seasons for a program that’s listed among the likely national title contenders entering the 2014-15 campaign. Ben Brust is the only major loss from last year’s Final Four team. Wooden Award candidate Frank Kaminsky and potential first-rounder Sam Dekker are both back to lead a Badgers squad that should be the favorite to win the Big Ten by a wide margin.
The 2014-15 college basketball season begins next month. And the preseason buzz continues to grow as it approaches.

In Kentucky, it’s exploding.

Makes sense. The Wildcats are coming off a Final Four run and Karl Towns leads another elite crop of incoming recruits. Kentucky should be the No. 1 team in the preseason polls.

Each year, the typically enraptured Wildcats fan base embraces the Big Blue Madness Campout tradition as it seeks free tickets for the squad’s Midnight Madness festivities, which will commence Oct. 17.

The Campout began Wednesday morning.

As John Calipari’s tweet suggests, it was as wild as you might expect. Thousands arrived early to claim a spot in line.

It’s important to note that fans won’t receive their tickets (minimum of four per person) until 7 a.m. Saturday.

Per the Lexington Herald-Leader, four people suffered minor injuries.

Again, they’re not camping out for season tickets.

We’re talking about free tickets for Midnight Madness.

It’s just different in Lexington.

When recruit changes mind, chaos ensues 

September, 17, 2014
Sep 17
On Sept. 4, Antonio Blakeney told ESPN.com’s Reggie Rankin, "I was very comfortable with the coaching staff," after pledging to attend the University of Louisville.

Two weeks later, he told Rankin, “I made a quick and emotional decision based on the wrong reasons," after decommitting from the Cardinal, before following up with a tweet that read, "I am still really considering Louisville. I like everything about there (sic) program, coaches and fans!!"

[+] EnlargeAntonio Blakeney
AP Photo/Gregory PayanAntonio Blakeney, ranked No. 14 in the ESPN 100, verbally committed to Louisville earlier this month only to decommit two weeks later.
Which, to those who parent the odd beast known as teenagers, sounds about right. Teens are as certain about their futures as they are the inner workings of nuclear physics.

The difference is, Blakeney is not your typical teen. He is the No. 14-rated player in the 2015 ESPN 100, and what should be his private, independent decision has ramifications from his home base in Florida throughout basketball offices across the country.

Decommitment is not even a word -- shows up underlined in red every time you type it. Yet it is very much a thing in college sports circles, where kids can and do renege on their verbal pledges.

The problem isn’t nearly as bad in hoops as it is in football. Sports Illustrated’s Luke Winn did a numbers crunch study this summer and found that, in 2013, only 11.8 percent of the basketball players he studied made multiple commitments, down from 12.4 in 2012.

Still, it happens. And when it does, it sends coaches into a tizzy.

3-point shot: Looking for leaders

September, 17, 2014
Sep 17
Andy Katz looks at players who have become leaders in preseason workouts at Cincinnati, Indiana and Illinois.

3-point shot: A look at the Pac-12 schedule

September, 16, 2014
Sep 16
Andy Katz looks at the Pac-12 schedule for Arizona, the return of Charlotte coach Alan Major and the new leaders at Creighton.
Nebraska forward Shavon Shields isn’t just another ballplayer who decided to shave his head bald. He did so as a show of support for Avery Harriman, the 7-year-old son of Huskers assistant coach Chris Harriman who is battling cancer.

Avery is facing his third bout with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, according to the Facebook page chronicling his journey. Harriman affectionately calls the group of well-wishers and supporters "Avery's Army." Shields' gesture should make him a ranking officer. Avery's chemotherapy treatments led to his hair falling out, so Shields, a junior and a tri-captain for Nebraska last season, isn't letting him go through it alone.

Harriman posted a picture of Shields and his son on his Twitter account last night:

3-point shot: Martez Walker's suspension

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15
Andy Katz looks at the recurring success of UConn and Villanova and the suspension of Texas guard Martez Walker.
For 33 years, LeVelle Moton wouldn’t touch the light blue bike that eventually turned rusty brown, a symbol of his pride and heartache.

To ride that bike would suggest that he’d accepted his father’s absence in his life. It was the last gift he’d given “Puffy” months after he’d abandoned the family.

Moton, the coach who led his alma mater North Carolina Central to its first NCAA tourney berth last season, was 5 when the bike reached his doorstep.

He kept it in a garage for decades until his wife finally convinced him to part with the tangible link between a fractured childhood and an improbable dream.

[+] EnlargeLeVelle Moton
Robert Willett/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT/Getty ImagesNorth Carolina Central basketball coach LeVelle Moton highlighted his emergence from a tough childhood upbringing in his book "The Worst Times Are The Best Times."
Moton discussed the significance of that bike and other events in his life in a book titled “The Worst Times Are The Best Times,” co-written with journalist Edward G. Robinson III and available at theworsttimesarethebesttimes.com.

An excerpt from the book:

On my fifth birthday, my father left a bike at my door. For weeks I had talked about getting a bike for my birthday. I believe my mother communicated this to my father. ...

Without knocking or checking in, my father left this beautiful bike with a bow attached and a note with my nickname, Puffy.

I wanted to hop on that bike and ride around the neighborhood. But I resented my father for once again playing me for a fool -- coming to our door but leaving again. I couldn’t remember what he looked like. I thought if I rode that bike I would be accepting him leaving the way he had. So I never rode it. Believe me, it took a lot of willpower to stay off it, because I didn’t have another bike.

Resilience helped Moton, 40, navigate Raleigh, North Carolina's toughest streets and evolve into one of the college game’s top young coaches.

He recently signed an eight-year extension that elevated his original base salary from $100,000 to $250,000.

“Yeah, it’s official,” he told ESPN.com.

He said he wrote the book with some reluctance but eventually decided to share his tales of hardship so that others might be able to see what they can overcome.

Before he became the 1996 CIAA player of the year and the school’s head coach 13 years later, he was a kid trapped in the drug game. He and his friends robbed convenience stores and engaged in petty crime. They also helped local dealers -- although they were too na´ve to know exactly what they were involved with -- move their product through the neighborhood:

“I’d walk a package across the street to a parking lot for 10 dollars. I’d take a stroll down the block for 10 dollars. Eventually, after a few times walking across the street, I realized that I wasn’t delivering cookies.”

But everything changed the night police came to his home to question him about a murder that his buddies had committed during a burglary. Moton said he could have easily gone with that group that day but decided to stay home and watch “Good Times.”

That choice probably saved his life.

Today, he said he uses the lessons that he details in his book to teach his players about the value of good decisions. He said his background helps him reach young men (and their families) who’ve endured fatherless upbringings.

“People just want you to be real, especially when they’re giving you their most prized and precious possessions,” he said.

The light blue bike he held onto all those years was more of a message than a possession.

It drove him.

One day, Moton’s daughter, Brooke, was upset that she couldn’t ride the bike that his father had purchased for him when he was child.

So he told her the story in a way that only a 3-year-old would understand it.

“I had to bend down and tell my daughter that no Moton will ever be able to ride that bike,” he said. “Your father’s Daddy wasn’t there for me the way your father is for you. ... I just really told her my father left me and that’s why I’ll never leave you.”


3-point shot: Moreira strong at World Cup

September, 12, 2014
Sep 12
Andy Katz gives updates on Yanick Moreira and SMU, Kyle Collinsworth's rehab with BYU and an opinion on the Big East schedule.

Biggest moves in new rankings

September, 11, 2014
Sep 11
Today is the day.

After a full summer of evaluations and deliberations, national rankings have now been updated across the board with a new ESPN 100 in the Class of 2015, ESPN 60 in 2016 and ESPN 25 in 2017.

A lot has changed since the spring, but the most glaring difference is the omission of the previous top-ranked prospect in the Class of 2016, Thon Maker, who announced last week that he would be transferring to Athlete Institute in Canada.

Maker's departure opened the door for a new No. 1 prospect in the ESPN 60, and that title now belongs to Jayson Tatum. The ultra-efficient 6-foot-7 swingman starred at virtually every stop this summer, including with Team USA's under-17 team, helping him leap Josh Jackson from the No. 3 spot.

Still, all eyes will be on the Class of 2015, as plenty of prospects saw their stock jump, and a number of others fell down the list.

Read the rest of the story here. Insider

3-point shot: Talking KU and pro days

September, 11, 2014
Sep 11
Andy Katz gives an update on Kansas' Cliff Alexander, Bill Self's opinion on NBA pro days at KU and when pro days should occur.

3-point shot: Intriguing season at Oregon

September, 10, 2014
Sep 10
Andy Katz looks at Oregon, Rutgers and LSU.

3-point shot: More work for Georgia Tech

September, 9, 2014
Sep 9

Andy Katz gives an update on Georgia Tech, Oregon State and the 2015 NIT.
Here are a few new pieces of information I've learned on this fine Monday morning:
  • Country music star Garth Brooks has launched a new world tour. His first show was at the AllState Arena in Rosemont, Illinois, on Friday night.
  • Brooks is not, in fact, retired from making music, but has been performing on the weekends in Las Vegas for several years. On Sept. 3, in advance of his new tour and impending double album, he released a new single: "People Loving People."
  • Self
  • Kansas coach Bill Self attended Brooks' first shows -- Brooks played two in one night -- in Rosemont Friday.
  • Self is not merely an admirer of Brooks' music, but a longtime friend. The two former Oklahoma State student-athletes -- Brooks was on a partial track scholarship -- lived in the Iba Hall athletic dorm in the early 1980s. According to the Lawrence Journal-World, Self used to "encourage" Brooks' musical ambitions around the dorm and would attend his early shows at clubs in the Stillwater area.
  • The two "played together on the same softball team for seven years," Self told the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.
  • Brooks frequently hosts charity basketball events for local kids in the areas where he's touring. On Saturday, Self worked with 150 youths from the Boys and Girls Club and Salvation Army at the charity basketball camp.
  • Self's wife, Cindy, graduated from the same high school -- Yukon (Oklahoma) High -- as the country music star, who starred at quarterback.
  • Other than the Beatles, Brooks has sold more albums than every other musical act in history -- more than 130 million worldwide.
  • In 1999, after a decade of diamond-album dominance, at the height of his popularity and power, Brooks released an experimental concept album by "Chris Gaines," a gothy alter-ego character with bangs and a soul patch. It did not go well.
  • "People Loving People" is not better than you'd think. It's actually probably worse.

But still, Bill Self goes way back with Garth Brooks. Who knew?

3-point shot: Ashley ready to return

September, 8, 2014
Sep 8
Andy Katz checks in on Arizona's Brandon Ashley, who will lead the Wildcats, and looks at NCAA reaction to the antics of USC athletic director Pat Haden.