College basketball Top 25 list

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 10, 1999

The Associated Press

Twenty-five things fans should know as the 1999-00 college basketball season begins:<!—->.

Wednesday, November 10, 1999

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Twenty-five things fans should know as the 1999-00 college basketball season begins:

1. The first game of the season is Duke vs. Stanford on Nov. 11 in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Madison Square Garden. Connecticut plays Iowa in the second game of the doubleheader.

2. The last game of the season will be Monday, April 3, at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis.

3. The best of the early season tournaments include the Preseason NIT (Arizona, Kentucky, Utah, Ohio State); Maui Invitational (North Carolina, Florida, Georgetown, Purdue); Great Alaska Shootout (Kansas, Xavier, Louisville, Georgia Tech); Puerto Rico Shootout (Michigan State, DePaul, Texas); Big Island Invitational (Arkansas, Cincinnati).

4. The leading returning scorer in Division I is junior guard Brian Merriweather of Texas-Pan American (23.7). The top rebounder is junior Ian McGinnis of Dartmouth (12.2). The leading assist man is senior Doug Gottlieb of Oklahoma State (8.8).

5. The statistic every fan should think about as the season begins: Pete Maravich averaged 44.2 points per game over his three seasons at LSU. Last season no player in Division I scored more than 44 points in a game.

6. There will be 318 Division I schools this season, eight more than last year. The new members are: Stony Brook, SUNY-Albany, Elon, Belmont, Sacred Heart, High Point, Oakland and Alabama A&M.

7. There will be 31 conferences this season, one more than last year. The new one is the Mountain West, which has eight members, all former Western Athletic Conference schools. The league will not have an automatic bid for the NCAA tournament this season.

8. The retirements of Norm Stewart at Missouri (731 wins) and Don Haskins at Texas-El Paso (719) left five active coaches with at least 700 wins: Jim Phelan, Mount St. Mary’s, 800; Bob Knight, Indiana, 743; Lefty Driesell, Georgia State, 716; Jerry Tarkanian, Fresno State, 709; Lou Henson, New Mexico State, 704.

9. One of the most intriguing early matchups could happen in the CoSIDA Classic in Albuquerque, N.M. If New Mexico and St. John’s each win their first-round games, first-year Lobos coach Fran Fraschilla will get a chance to meet the school that fired him after the 1997-98 season.

10. Five schools start the season with homecourt winning streaks of at least 30 games: Murray State, 43; Duke 36; Utah, 35; Arizona, 32; and Cincinnati, 32.

11. One school that won’t make the postseason this year is Minnesota because of its self-imposed probation over an academic cheating scandal.

12. This is the 50th anniversary of the only double championship in college basketball history as CCNY won the NCAA and NIT in 1950.

13. Three teams start the season coming off perfect conference regular seasons (Duke, College of Charleston, Utah) and three come in off winless conference regular seasons (Liberty, Baylor, Lehigh).

14. Six schools enter the season with consecutive NCAA tournament appearance streaks of at least 10 years: North Carolina, 25; Arizona, 15; Indiana, 14; UCLA, 11; Kansas, 10; Temple, 10.

15. Two schools will be playing under new names this season as Southwestern Louisiana is now Louisiana-Lafayette and Northeast Louisiana is now Louisiana-Monroe.

16. The senior class for 1999-00 could have included Richard Hamilton of Connecticut; Steve Francis, Maryland; Shawn Marion, UNLV; Mike Bibby, Arizona; Tim Thomas, Villanova; Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers; Jermaine O’Neal, Portland Trail Blazers.

17. One team that’s easy to root for this season is North Carolina Charlotte, which is coping with the death of Charles Haywood. The sophomore forward died of leukemia in September.

18. Two big rules changes: The elimination of the ”held-ball” rule – possession in those situations will always be decided by the alternating arrow; and coaches will now have five timeouts of 30 seconds each in a game and no full timeouts, in addition to the four TV timeouts each half.

19. The last team to start this season will be San Diego State under new coach Steve Fisher. The Aztecs open at New Mexico State on Nov. 30.

20. There is only one returnee from each of the first three All-America teams: first team, Mateen Cleaves, Michigan State; second team, Chris Porter, Auburn; third team Scoonie Penn, Ohio State.

21. So the poll voters gets some credit, 13 teams from last year’s preseason Top 25 were ranked the entire season and four were in the Top 10 the whole way (Duke, Connecticut, Stanford and Maryland).

22. The best small player in the country is 5-foot-6 senior guard Chico Fletcher of Arkansas State. The two-time Sun Belt Conference player of the year was second in the nation with 8.3 assists last season while averaging 17.0 points and 2.2 steals.

23. The NCAA tournament selection committee increased from nine to 10 members and will have its first female member, Judy Rose, athletic director at North Carolina Charlotte. The chairman this year will be Craig Thompson, commissioner of the Mountain West Conference.

24. The Pac-10 and Ivy League still will be the only conferences without postseason tournaments.

25. Barring an early clinch by a team from the Pac-10 or Ivy League, a team from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference will be the first to secure an automatic berth in the NCAA field of 64. Its conference tournament ends March 1, three days before any other.