The Road to College Hoops

Dan Wetzel
Yahoo! Sports

It has been a contentious past couple months – negative advertising, smear campaigns and outright lies by lying liars. It's enough to give college football recruiting a good name.

We here at Yahoo! Sports believe it is time for America to come together by turning its attention away from politics and toward a unifying pursuit: the great sport of college basketball.

It may not be the national pastime, but no other big-time sport is played in 47 states (D-I level) by schools of all shapes and sizes, by mammoth public institutions and small colleges, military academies and religious universities. Top teams can come from little towns on the plains, beachfront schools and urban centers.

In its own unique way, college basketball cuts across all sorts of American socioeconomic and geographic divisions. Where else can you have a team called the Fighting Quakers (Penn)? We need to be reminded of this.

So, for the fifth consecutive year, we are heading out on the road – the Road to College Hoops.

For the next nine days we'll visit (at least) nine schools – from the industrial Midwest to Tobacco Road – on a 1,500-mile odyssey that will lead right up to the start of the season late next week.

Is Michigan State truly back? Just how loaded is Illinois? Is Chris Paul ready to lead Wake Forest to the Final Four? We'll do our best to find out.

We'll catch up one last time with Gene Keady, see what Tubby's got down in Lexington and how Mike Davis is dealing with the pressure around Assembly Hall.

And that's just the start.

As always, we'll travel by car, not plane, because the allure of the open road and the inevitable hijinks that ensue prove that the best part of the trip is getting there. Plus we don't like having to take off our shoes to get through security.

We'll visit with as many top players and coaches as possible, report about some of the best teams and take a shot at the season's most interesting stories. Every day we'll send in a report along with the ever-popular Traveling Violations – covering ground normally not fit for print.

Media bias is a popular topic in election years, and those looking for it will notice that our trip does not take us to all of the aforementioned 47 states, nor all 327 Division I schools.

Besides, this has to be the only time the good folks of Kentuckiana are over-served by the national media. Let them have their day.

No one said this is a complete preview, just generally the most entertaining preview on the market. And we do get around. By the time this trip is done we will have visited 34 schools in 20 states and driven some 11,000 miles over the past five years. With any luck, our total number of speeding tickets will remain at one.

So save the cries of bias for Dan Rather.

Instead, come back every morning and check out what happened the day before. We understand we are living a dream for a college hoops fan, days filled with driving around, watching practice or exhibition games, chatting up coaches and players and then retiring to a local watering hole in search of a working tap.

We understand you have a job, a wife, a life and all sorts of other responsibilities that make such an excursion impossible. So come live through us.

As always, we are interested in dining/drinking recommendations at the college towns on our itinerary and various points in between. We particularly like it when readers come out and join us.

Once again the wheelman/tabmaster for the trip will be Bret Bearup, a wisecracking former Kentucky Wildcat ("In the 1983 Final Four I hung a deuce on Pat Ewing and made him like it") and now financial planner for athletes and entertainers.

So join us. America could use some college hoops, and Yahoo! Sports is here to oblige.

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