Although the college basketball season officially started on Tuesday, tonight is the unofficial opening night for the game in the region. Five of the City Six teams are in action, and of the Schuylkill 16:
City Six Games
Seton Hall at Temple, 7:00 p.m. (no TV or radio)
Columbia at La Salle, 7:00 p.m. (WHAT 1340-AM)
Western Kentucky at Saint Joseph's, 7:30 p.m. (no TV or radio)
Bucknell at Villanova, 8:00 p.m. (ESPN3.com/WPEN 950-AM)
Drexel at Loyola (Md.), 8:00 p.m. (no TV or radio)
Schuylkill 16 games
Rutgers at Princeton, 7:00 p.m.
Lafayette at Wagner, 7:00 p.m.
Lehigh at Penn State, 7:30 p.m.
I had been planning to be at Seton Hall-Temple, but something came up at the last minute. However, my Philly.com colleague Dave Isaac will be at the Liacouras Center, and he'll be hosting a chat from courtside during the game.
Dave's chat will also pull in Twitter updates from Inquirer writers at all of the City Six games. So that will be the best place to follow the action across the region no matter where you are. If you're at an arena, you'll be able to access the chat on mobile devices. I hope you'll join in.
Tomorrow, I'll be doing two live blogs: Harvard-Penn football at 1:30 p.m. and Davidson-Penn basketball at 7:00 p.m. Neither of those games is televised, so this blog will be the best place to get live updates on all the action from 33rd Street.
Now for the moment you've all been waiting for. In case any of you were still wondering just how much people have been anticipating the college basketball season around here, we had a record 26 ballots cast this time. That's probably double any total I can remember.
We start with your preseason rankings. The Week 1 ballot will go out early next week, and the results will be posted before next weekend. After that, we'll try to get on a regular schedule of posting Crunchy Numbers on Tuesdays and the Schuylkill 16 on Wednesdays.
As always, the ballot results are served with a healthy helping of sarcasm and pith. We even have a write-in candidate already, and a rather intriguing tie.
1. Villanova, 32 points (21 first-place votes)
- "There should be no doubt what team is the cream of the crop. Nova Nation should easily be a Final Four team, as long as Cory Fisher keeps his hands off his teammates' girlfriends." (Ralph Manoppello)
- "For Halloween, JayVaughn Pinkston went as Delonte West." (Todd Falkenberg)
2. Temple, 50 points (3 first-place votes)
- "The December 30 Villanova-Temple game will prove who is the best team in the Big 5 and Schuylkill 16 this year." (Joe McNamara)
- "I hate Temple because I have to, but they are darn good. All the rest are just all the rest, because that's how us Villanova snobs work!" (Ralph Manoppello)
You have to give him credit for being honest.
3. Penn State, 150 points
- "Can PSU make a charge in the Big 10 this year with Talor Battle playing with his kid brother, Taran Buie?" (Cory Marks)
- "Hope springs eternal at the start of every season..." (Tim AumAn)
If not now, when?
t-4. La Salle, 171 points (1 first-place vote)
- "I'm going to go ahead and pull a Pitino here: I'm picking La Salle No. 1. If you want this vote to make sense, then let's cite "potential" and "good feelings" to explain it." (Brian Ewart)
I will have to consult the rule book to see if there are any references to sense, potential and good feelings. We'll let it go for this week.
t-4. Drexel, 171 points
- "Without games played yet, my rankings are based on very non-scientific information, including a loss of points if the school is located in Delaware or New Jersey." (Marshall Fleming, DAC Pack vice president)
- "I'm picking Drexel to get an at-large and play in the First Four. They've been on the brink for too long to blow it now." (Brian O'Neill)
6. Princeton, 189 points
- "Hooray for guessing." (Jon Solomon, princetonbasketball.com)
- "Just a sign of how much better Princeton is at basketball than football right now: The Tigers gave up an average of 53.5 points to Penn in basketball last year. Saturday they gave up 52 to the Quakers in football." (Zach Klitzman)
7. Saint Joseph's, 191 points
- "My homerism is making me put St. Joe's 6th. Honestly, I would be happy with a home game in the first round of the A-10 tournament." (Brian O'Neill)
- "Here's hoping that Coach Phil at THID U. finds his way out of the local do-nut shops and gets lucky with a few blue chip recruits." (Ralph Manoppello)
8. Rutgers, 194 points
- "Rutgers has scheduled a softie of a schedule. It will be interesting to see if the wins pile up and create some momentum to carry the entire season." (Zach Ceitlin)
- "Does anyone at Rutgers read this? If I vote them 16th every week, will any one care?" (Nick Catrambone)
Perhaps we'll find out now.
9. Bucknell, 257 points
10. Rider, 265 points
- "I was very excited about Rider's potential last year and probably stayed on the bandwagon a little too long. Without Jason Thompson, they are going to have a very hard time luring me back this year." (Brian O'Neill)
- "I'm making this bold prediction: New Jersey will beat Pennsylvania head-to-head. Fortunately for New Jersey, the Nets don't factor in to that record." (Jeff Shafer)
And fortunately for Philadelphia, the 76ers don't either.
11. Penn, 268 points
- "Just like the Old Ball Coach votes Duke at 25 in the Coaches Poll at the start of each college football season, I have to vote the Penn Quakers No. 1 in the Schuylkill 16 to start the season. Don't prove me wrong, guys." (Fred David)
I somehow knew he was going to do that.
- "Penn was selected to win the Ivy League by the Boston Globe. In a year that just might see Harvard win its first Ivy League title, it's surprising to see a Boston news organization not be blatantly homerific." (Zach Klitzman)
Hooray for journalism!
11. Lehigh, 272 points
- "Lafayette, Lehigh and Bucknell all look to make a run at the Patriot League title and one of the inaugural "First Four" games" (Joe McNamara)
13. Delaware, 276 points
14. Lafayette, 289 points
15. Delaware State, 362 points
- "Early front-runner for the All-Schuylkill 16 "Name" team is DSU's Alibaba Odd." (Mario Machi)
Anyone have a better suggestion?
16. Monmouth, 399 points
- "While I might feel like Monmouth is the 13th-best team in the area, that doesn't stop me from ranking them in the top two of my 'Teams I'd Travel to See Play a 6 a.m. Game Next Tuesday' rankings. Along with Stony Brook, of course." (Mario Machi)
- How about Monmouth's "Holiday" tournament... they get to go to Idaho in December. Hope potatoes can be carried across the states." (Dan Loney)
It's the most wonderful time of the year in Moscow, isn't it?
17. Philadelphia 76ers (Fred David)
There was no comment offered with the nomination, but was any necessary?