- Paul Lukas
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Early November is when we traditionally present the Uni Watch college basketball season preview, which runs down everything you can expect to see on the court for the coming season.
But this time around is a little different, because the most interesting new looks on the court this season will be the court designs themselves. Sure, there are lots of noteworthy new uniforms, which we'll get to in a minute. But if you're looking for seriously eye-popping graphics, check out this season's floor designs, where you'll find snarling bulldogs, Spartan warriors, monuments from our nation's capital, a beach scene and a "blacktop" concept, among other things.
Maybe this isn't so surprising. After all, there are only so many ways you can design a basketball uniform, and recent evidence suggests that we've pretty much hit the bottom of the design barrel. But court design offers lots of new possibilities. So maybe that's where the new frontier of basketball aesthetics will unfold.
Still, that hasn't stopped dozens of schools from tweaking or updating their uniforms for the current season. With the season set to tip off on Friday, here's Uni Watch's annual alphabetical rundown of all the new looks:
• No change to the front of Arizona State's jerseys, but the Sun Devils are one of several Nike-outfitted teams that are getting a basketball net-themed pattern on the back this season.
• Arkansas is going with a more modern look.
• Green and gold happens to be Uni Watch's favorite color scheme, so Baylor's new uniform is particularly intriguing. Love those green shoulder straps!
• Disappointing to see that your friendly uniform columnist's alma mater, Binghamton, is cutting back on the use of green. Come on, people, it's your primary school color!
• Interesting to see that Boise State is downplaying its school name with much smaller lettering. Also, the Broncos have a new court design. Here's a step-by-step photo series showing how it was installed.
• Clemson is another one of the Nike-outfitted schools with a net-themed pattern on the back of the jersey this season. New collar treatment, too.
• Colorado State has switched from Russell Athletic to Under Armour. Too bad they scrapped the orange "A" at the base of the collar, which was a shout-out to the school's previous incarnation as Colorado A&M.
• Looks like Creighton is keeping the same jersey but changing the trim on its shorts. Also, the athletics department has a new logo, which will now be appearing at center court.
• Duke has a new center-court logo.
• George Washington has a new court design based on our nation's capital.
• Hofstra has changed uniform suppliers, which means its uniforms have changed from a standard adidas template to a standard Nike template.
• Minor changes for Iowa State, which has a new design down the sides of the jersey and shorts. New pattern on the back, too.
• James Madison's new court design is pretty out there. But hey, at least fans sitting on both sides of the floor will be able to see a right-side-up version of the design, right?
• Kent State has invited its fans to vote on which jersey the team will wear for its home opener on Nov. 8. The voting is open until 5 p.m. ET on Nov. 6. Also: The Golden Flashes will be unveiling a new white uniform later this season.
• Louisiana Tech has a new back-jersey design and some minor trim adjustments.
• Louisville is going with the same colored-shoulder treatment as Kansas. You can see the road version in this intrasquad scrimmage shot (which also shows how huge the logos on the shorts are). Also: Some of this season's Louisville retail items will carry a centennial logo, but that logo will not appear on the team's uniforms.
• Disappointing to see Loyola (or, really, anyone) going with outlined lettering and numbering, which is going to be tough to read.
• Miami has added an orange uniform.
• No photos yet, but Michigan State is expected to have two new jerseys this season.
• Milwaukee is going with a back-to-basics look.
• Extreme makeover of the year honors go to Montana State, which has -- well, see for yourself. Wow!
• Nevada has added a sky blue alternate jersey.
• At first glance, New Mexico's new uniforms look pretty conventional. But they have these weird side panels that go down only one side (additional photos here). As you can see, the players' names are now on the jerseys -- a change from last season. Meanwhile, the Pit has a new court design.
• Old Dominion has a new court design.
• No photo yet, but Ohio State and several other Nike-outfitted schools will be wearing throwbacks this season.
• Oregon State is another school with a new court design.
• Presbyterian has added a 100th-anniversary patch.
• Providence has a new court design.
• Richmond is going with a classic look for its new court design.
• St. John's has switched from Nike to Under Armour, which has given the Red Storm a New York skyline-themed uni design (along with Under Armour's ubiquitous square collar treatment). Here's the road version.
• Disappointing move by San Diego State, which has changed its jersey insignia from double-decker to single-decker. Looks too cramped this way.
• Seton Hall has made some minor trim adjustments.
• In a classic example of "Because we can" design, South Carolina has camouflage numbers and trim this season. Plus those stripes on the left shoulder and left pant leg are weird, right? Here's a video of the uniform reveal:
• Stephen F. Austin, which has had one of the plainest home jerseys in the nation, has added a small dose of much-needed pizzazz. Also: See the Southland Conference logo patch in that last photo link? Only Oral Roberts had previously worn the patch, but all conference teams will be wearing it this season.
• Tennessee has scrapped the outlining on its lettering and numbering. Also, there's talk about the Vols possibly getting a "smokey gray" uniform, much like the one worn this season by the Tennessee football team.
• Get ready for lots of heated debate now that beveled typography, long a contentious issue among Texas A&M football fans, has made its way to the school's basketball uniform. At least one Aggies observer has suggested that the top portion of the new jersey "looks like a bathmat," but it's actually a star pattern. Hmmm, maybe a bathmat would have been better.
• UALR is going with a cleaner, less clunky look.
• UCF games will have an interesting look this season. For starters, the team has a new set of pinstriped uniforms. Yowza! In addition, check out the new "blacktop" court design. Double-yowza! You can see additional photos of the court design here, and here's a good time-lapse video of the floor being installed:
• UConn's new "Jonathan" husky logo is now featured at center court.
• USC has added a contrasting collar and some nifty trim on the shorts -- nice!
• Utah has made some adjustments to its collar, side panels and lettering color.
• Rut-roh -- looks like the letters and numbers on UTEP's uniforms are going to be tough to read this season. Here's the rest of the team's uni set. Meanwhile, the Miners also have a new pickaxe-themed court design.
• Good move by Valpo, which has opened up the kerning on its chest mark. Looks sharp.
• Weber State has a new black uniform.
• West Virginia has added a patch to mark the state's sesquicentennial.
• Of all the Nike-outfitted teams that are wearing the net pattern on the back of their jerseys this season, Xavier is the most appropriate because the net design looks like a bunch of X's.
Did we miss anything? Yeah, probably. If you know of additional college hoops uni changes, send them here and we'll run them in a follow-up column.
Paul Lukas is really curious to see how that UCF blacktop court looks in a game. If you liked this column, you'll probably like his Uni Watch Blog, plus you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Want to learn about his Uni Watch Membership Program, be added to his mailing list so you'll always know when a new column has been posted, or just ask him a question? Contact him here.