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Midnight Madness moves up: NCAA allows preseason practices two weeks earlier

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(USA Today Sports Images)

The NCAA gave men's college basketball programs some needed flexibility this week when it approved a rule change allowing preseason practices to begin six weeks before the first game of the season.

That means fans can count on some programs holding Midnight Madness, which traditionally starts the build up to the season, as early as Oct. 1.

It also could mean we'll see more of those events in the future with the proliferation of conference networks and the need for programming. The earlier date would give more programs a chance to be in the spotlight, though that obviously had nothing to do with the rule change.

The first thought for some might be that coaches will simply use it as an additional two weeks to run their players ragged, but the NCAA only allows 30 days of practices within those 42 days. It is most likely an improvement in the eyes of coaches and players because it gives the athletes more recovery time than the previous setup in which teams practiced virtually every day for a month leading up to the season opener.

The change puts the men's game more in line with current rules on the women's side, which allow for 30 days of practice within 40 days of the first game.

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