Five at a time, everything you need to know
By Pat Forde
To get this season started right, The Minutes has compiled the comprehensive list of everything you need to know in 2007-08, five easy pieces at a time:
Top Five (2)
This is The Minutes' pecking order -- not necessarily to start the season, but to end it:
2. North Carolina
Second Five (3)
They'll be ready to pounce if any of the teams above falter:
8. Washington State
10. North Carolina State
Bottom Five (4)
They'll occupy the nether regions of the RPI this season:
1. North Carolina Central
2. New Jersey Institute of Technology
4. Maryland-Eastern Shore
5. Northern Colorado
Five Sleepers (5)
Teams that will be better than you think:
4. Western Kentucky
5. Virginia Commonwealth
Five Sliders (6)
Successful programs that are losing their grip:
5. Air Force
Five Teams Trying To Forget How Last Year Ended (7)
1. Stanford: Trendy upset pick in first round of NCAA Tournament instead was humiliated by Louisville.
2. Clemson: Started 17-0 and somehow missed Big Dance.
3. Memphis: Second straight meltdown in regional final.
4. North Carolina: Unraveled late, coughing up big lead against Georgetown to miss Final Four.
5. UCLA: Punked by Florida again.
Five To Boo (8)
Now that Joakim Noah has taken his chest-thumping histrionics to the NBA, who will be the next player opposing fans love to hate?
1. Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina: "Psycho T" plays with an admirable but inelegant fury that tends to leave bodies flying and feelings bruised.
2. Gerald Henderson, Duke: Earned himself a notorious spot in Devils-Heels lore by rearranging Hansbrough's face in Chapel Hill last March with a flying elbow.
3. Eric Devendorf, Syracuse: Looks cocky, plays cocky, occasionally fails to play smart and has the ball in his hands a lot. Gives fans a lot to react to.
4. Joey Dorsey, Memphis: Stunningly shot off his mouth before facing Greg Oden last season, then flamingly failed to back it up. Penchant for not thinking things through means you never know what he might do.
5. O.J. Mayo, USC: Huge rep and a penchant for runaway emotions (see: throwing ball into stands during West Virginia state high school finals) will make him a natural target for opposing student sections.
Five Frequent Trespassers (9) Coaches who will have the hardest time abiding by the new emphasis on enforcing the coaching box:
1. Bob Huggins, West Virginia
2. Rick Pitino, Louisville
3. John Calipari, Memphis
4. John Brady, LSU
5. Tom Crean, Marquette
Five Best Conferences (10)
2. Big East
5. Big Ten
Five from the Sticks (11)
The All-Small Team -- five guys who grew up in small towns but have made it big:
1. A.J. Graves, Butler -- hometown: Switz City, Ind.
2. Chris Lofton, Tennessee -- hometown: Maysville, Ky.
3. Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina -- Hometown: Poplar Bluff, Mo.
4. O.J. Mayo, USC -- hometown: Huntington, W.Va.
5. Bill Walker, Kansas State -- hometown: Huntington, W.Va.
Five Instant-Impact Freshmen (12)
1. Derrick Rose, Memphis
2. Michael Beasley, Kansas State
3. Kevin Love, UCLA
4. Eric Gordon, Indiana
5. O.J. Mayo, USC
Five More (13)
Because this freshman class is that good:
1. E'Twaun Moore, Purdue
2. Patrick Patterson, Kentucky
3. Jerryd Bayless, Arizona
4. Kyle Singler, Duke
5. Nick Calathes, Florida
Five Stellar Sophomores (14)
The talent from the recruiting class of 2006 didn't all go pro with Greg Oden and Kevin Durant. Sophomores we'll be talking about this season:
1. Stephen Curry, Davidson
2. Jodie Meeks, Kentucky
3. Earl Clark, Louisville
4. Chase Budinger, Arizona
5. Raymar Morgan, Michigan State
Five Now-or-Never Seniors (15)
1. Malik Hairston, Oregon
2. Martin Iti, New Mexico State
3. Jason Rich, Florida State
4. Joe Crawford, Kentucky
5. Brian Butch, Wisconsin
Five Players The Minutes Just Likes To Watch (16) They're not stars, but they do a lot of things to make their teams better:
1. Kyle Weaver, Washington State
2. Jamar Butler, Ohio State
3. David Padgett, Louisville
4. Robert Vaden, UAB
5. Randal Falker, Southern Illinois
Five Guys Rehabbing Their Images (17)
1. Josh Heytvelt, Gonzaga: Will be "mushroomed" to death by opposing fans this season after being charged with felony drug possession of psychedelic mushrooms last season.
2. J.R. Giddens, New Mexico: It would be mutually beneficial for Giddens and new coach Steve Alford to be on the same page.
3. Micah Downs, Gonzaga: Transfer needs new start.
4. Jamar Smith, Illinois: He's redshirting this season after injuring teammate Brian Carlwell in a drunk-driving accident.
5. Kyle McAlarney, Notre Dame: Suspended for spring semester last season after marijuana incident but back now for the Fighting Irish.
Five Up-and-Down Guys With a Lot In Their Hands (18)
1. Edgar Sosa, Louisville: Showed how talented he was by tearing up Acie Law IV for 32 points in the NCAAs last March. Showed how mentally frail he is by blowing the game in the final seconds. His maturation process could be the difference between Final Four or bust for the Cardinals.
2. Joey Dorsey, Memphis: Has to avoid foul trouble and off-the-court trouble. Calipari has already said he's down to his last strike -- and if you're down to your last strike with Cal, you've done a few things wrong.
3. Darrell Arthur, Kansas: Talented post player whose inconsistency cost him minutes down the stretch last season.
4. D.J. Augustin, Texas: He can be one of the best point guards in the country when he's not trying to do it all himself. And without Kevin Durant, the temptation will be there to try to do it all.
5. Greg Paulus, Duke: Blue Devils lost eight of their last 12 last season, including their final four. Erratic point-guard play was part of the problem.
Five Guys Who Find Ways To Score (19)
1. Chris Douglas-Roberts, Memphis
2. Patrick Beverley, Arkansas
3. Scottie Reynolds, Villanova
4. Jaycee Carroll, Utah State
5. Bo McCalebb, New Orleans
Five Impact Transfers (20)
1. Tyler Smith, Tennessee. From: Iowa.
2. Robert Vaden, UAB. From: Indiana.
3. DeMarre Carroll, Missouri. From: Vanderbilt.
4. C.J. Giles, Oregon State. From: Kansas.
5. Brian Johnson, Mississippi State. From: Louisville.
Five Must-See Nonconference Rivalry Games (21)
1. Louisville at Kentucky (Jan. 5, CBS): No single game has more fan emotion invested in it than this one. Every year. And now Billy Gillispie arrives to spice things up anew.
2. Tennessee at Memphis (Feb. 23, ESPN): Calipari-Pearl matches hypercompetitive extroverts trying to exert control of the same state. Great stuff.
3. Marquette at Wisconsin (Dec. 8, ESPN2): Tom Crean and Bo Ryan are every bit as competitive with one another as the above two.
4. Villanova at St. Joseph's (Feb. 4): Holy war has gotten downright nasty in recent years.
5. Cincinnati at Xavier (Dec. 12, ESPN2): Amazing how often the underdog overachieves and wins this crosstown battle (see: Cincy last year).
Five Must-See Conference Rivalry Games (22)
1. Duke at North Carolina, Feb. 6 (ESPN): See if Gerald Henderson is greeted as warmly as when he left the Dean Dome last year, after smashing Tyler Hansbrough's face open.
2. Indiana at Illinois (Feb. 7, ESPN): Eric Gordon visits the other Assembly Hall -- the one he was supposed to play in for the home team. How rough will that reception be?
3. USC at UCLA (Jan. 19, CBS): First game of the Mayo-Love Era will be followed with rematch at USC on Feb. 17. Even if it's a short era, it should be great fun.
4. Cincinnati at West Virginia (Jan. 30, ESPN2): Bearcats play their former coach, who now has come home to roost in their conference. It would be better if the Bearcats were at home, but that will have to wait until next year.
5. Louisville at Marquette (Feb. 4, ESPN): Blossoming rivalry has featured some incredible endings in recent years. Game in Milwaukee will be a rematch of thriller Cardinals won on a 3 at the buzzer by Jerry Smith last February.
Five Scheduling Surprises (23)
1. Southern California at The Citadel on Nov. 15: Something tells The Minutes that Tim Floyd has a tee time at Hilton Head on Nov. 14.
2. Seton Hall's two-week December break: No games between Dec. 8 and 22. The Minutes has heard of one week off for finals, but never two.
3. Presbyterian's year abroad: The Division I independent opens with eight-straight road games in November and plays 19 of its first 20 on the road. It has a total of six home games all season.
4. Florida's opening slate: What's the best way to begin life after losing your top six players to the NBA and graduation? Twelve straight games in the Sunshine State.
5. Indiana sets up second residence in the Land of Lincoln: The Hoosiers could play as many as eight games in neighboring Illinois. They play Illinois State in a neutral-site game in Chicago on Nov. 23; Southern Illinois in Carbondale on Dec. 1; Illinois in Champaign on Feb. 7; and Northwestern in Chicago on Feb. 23. Then comes the Big Ten tournament in Chicago.
Five Body Bag Games (24)
1. Georgetown at Ball State, Nov. 21: John Thompson III gets chance to name the score against the depleted school his brother Ronny left amid great acrimony last summer.
2. Houston Baptist at Pittsburgh, Nov. 9: Part of the usual early-season padding for the Panthers is this provisional D-I member.
3. Pittsburg State at Kansas State, Nov. 11: Division II Gorillas probably haven't seen anything like Michael Beasley and Bill Walker before.
4. Dixie State at UNLV, Nov. 13: Honk if you've heard of Dixie State.
5. Youngstown State at UCLA, Nov. 12:. John Wooden is officially invited to take this game off from viewing.
Five New Coaches in Good Spots (25)
1. Billy Gillispie, Kentucky: Fans thrilled to have him, and won't demand the world of the Wildcats this season. Next year could be a different matter.
2. Mark Turgeon, Texas A&M: Steps into program strengthened by Gillispie and gets to coach 7-foot prep All-American DeAndre Jordan for at least one season.
3. Jeff Bzdelik, Colorado: Will be an immediate bench upgrade from Ricardo Patton
4. Tubby Smith, Minnesota: Fresh start he needed, at a place that appreciates him.
5. John Pelphrey, Arkansas: Takes over a ton of poorly coached talent -- not a bad way to get started in the SEC.
Five New Coaches in Tough Spots (26)
1. Billy Taylor, Ball State: Hired in August and after a flurry of dismissals and transfers, now finds himself with nine players, none taller than 6-foot-5.
2. Todd Lickliter, Iowa: He had more talent last season at Butler, guaranteed.
3. Kevin Willard, Iona: Former Pitino assistant takes over program that hit rock bottom last year at 2-28. He gets his first four on the road, including a visit to No. 1 North Carolina and a later trip to No. 6 Louisville.
4. John Beilein, Michigan: He will win here eventually, as he has everywhere. But he inherits very little talent and they're unaccustomed to Beilein's unique style.
5. Randy Peele, Winthrop: Tough to follow the guy (Gregg Marshall) who built the program into something noteworthy.
Five Coaches Who Stayed in Great Spots (27)
1. Billy Donovan, Florida: Not at Kentucky. Not in NBA. Smart man.
2. Chris Lowery, Southern Illinois: Bigger job will come, but for now Lowery is smart to keep it rolling in Carbondale.
3. Rick Barnes, Texas: Pulled himself out of the mix at Kentucky.
4. Dana Altman, Creighton: Not a man who should be calling the Hogs. Wise choice to backpedal out of that job and stay in the Valley.
5. Tony Bennett, Washington State: Like Lowery, his time for an upgrade will come. But the Cougars should be excellent this season, and Bennett should see how far he can take this team.
Five Coaches Who Need Good Seasons (28)
1. Leonard Hamilton, Florida State
2. Dave Odom, South Carolina
3. Norm Roberts, St. John's
4. Gary Williams, Maryland
5. Jay John, Oregon State
Five Coaches Doing An Underrated Job (29)
1. Dereck Whittenburg, Fordham: Now in his fifth year, his win total has improved every season, from six to 13 to 16 to 18.
2. Blaine Taylor, Old Dominion: Monarchs have made two of the past three NCAA Tournaments and squeezed an NIT berth in between.
3. Tom Penders, Houston: He's won at least 18 games in each of his three years at a program that had dropped into single digits in wins the previous two seasons.
4. Scott Sutton, Oral Roberts: He's taken the Golden Eagles to consecutive NCAA Tournaments. Even after losing two leading scorers, there is a lot of experience on this season's team.
5. Doug Wojcik, Tulsa: Looks like the latest in a long line of successful first-time head coaches at Tulsa.
Five Coaches Allergic To Neckties (30)
1. Bob Huggins, West Virginia
2. Mike Brey, Notre Dame
3. Rick Majerus, Saint Louis
4. Duggar Baucom, VMI
5. Tony Bennett, Washington State
Five Changes The Minutes Would Make (31)
1. Put the NBA arc in the paint for easier block-charge calls.
2. Give coaches two fewer timeouts per half.
3. Eliminate the term "bigs" from the lexicon.
4. Kill off the NCAA Tournament play-in game in Dayton.
5. Force the SEC to put at least one marquee team in the inaugural Big East-SEC Invitational. Four games against the Big East, and the best the SEC can do is Alabama, Auburn, LSU and South Carolina?
Five best sights in Rupp Arena (32)
1. Ashley Judd in blue
2. Ashley Judd in white
3. Ashley Judd in gray
4. Ashley Judd with toboggan
5. Ashley Judd without toboggan
Five best gyms -- Old School Edition (33)
1. Hinkle Fieldhouse, Butler
2. Cameron Indoor Stadium, Duke
3. Allen Fieldhouse, Kansas
4. Assembly Hall, Indiana
5. Gallagher-Iba Arena, Oklahoma State
Five Best Gyms -- New School Edition (34)
1. Mizzou Arena, Missouri
2. Breslin Center, Michigan State
3. Galen Center, Southern California
4. Qwest Center, Creighton
5. The Shoemaker Center, Cincinnati
Five Gyms The Minutes Still Hasn't Seen (35)
1. The Palestra, Philadelphia
2. McArthur Court, Oregon
3. Kohl Center, Wisconsin
4. The Pit, New Mexico
5. Thomas & Mack Center, UNLV
Five Big-But-Blah Venues (36)
1. Carrier Dome, Syracuse, 33,000+
2. Value City Arena, Ohio State, 19,200
3. Bryce Jordan Center, Penn State, 15,261
4. Frank Erwin Events Center, Texas, 16,755
5. Lloyd Noble Center, Oklahoma, 15,000
Five Best Final Four Cities (37)
1. San Antonio
3. New Orleans
5. Tampa/St. Pete
Five Best General Fan Bases (38)
4. North Carolina
Five Best Student Sections (39)
2. Notre Dame
4. Michigan State
Five Fearless Predictions (40)
1. Billy Donovan will be SEC Coach of the Year when the Gators finish second in the Eastern Division.
2. Arizona will continue to have problems sharing the ball and playing defense, especially with shoot-first freshman Jerryd Bayless playing the point.
3. The Atlantic 10 will put a team in the Sweet 16 (Xavier and St. Joseph's being the leading candidates).
4. Davidson will win 30 games and make the Sweet 16.
5. Memphis will beat North Carolina in San Antonio for the national title.
Pat Forde is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at ESPN4D@aol.com.