College Basketball Tip-Off

In just a few days, one of the most exciting seasons on the sports calendar begins. It's a season full of tremendous efforts and nail-biting finishes, jam-packed arenas and genius coaches. Yes, college basketball season is about to begin and sports fans around the country couldn't be happier. Here are our favorite aspects of college basketball, the top five reasons we feel the sport is so great:

Playing For Pride: College athletes take a lot of pride in playing for their school. It's a sport that really does focus on the name on the front of the jersey, not the back. In both men's and women's games, you can tell that the players are representing not just their schools, but their friends, classmates, professors and communities. That's why the players get so amped up after a big win. They want to play well not only for themselves, but for everybody else who cares about the team.

The Fans: You won't find too many sporting events louder than a big-time college basketball game. Why? Because the fans are truly awesome. They stand for almost the entire game, making as much noise as they can. At many schools you'll find students with their faces painted, doing anything they can to support their team. It's a level of devotion and intensity that you won't find anywhere else, not even in the pros.

The Atmosphere: It's not just the fans that make a college basketball arena such a special place to watch a game. The band, the cheerleaders and the mascots all chip in, turning the game into a carnival-like event. Most college gyms are relatively small, so the sound bounces off the walls and fills the building.

Rivalries: The best games during the season are rivalry games. Duke vs. North Carolina, USC vs. UCLA and Georgetown vs. Syracuse are all huge games. The players seem to try a little bit harder, the fans seem a little bit louder and the games are a little more important.

Coaches: While student-athletes are only part of the team for a few years, coaches can last for decades. They become the face of the franchise. Great coaches like North Carolina's Dean Smith, Michigan State's Tom Izzo and Syracuse's Jim Boeheim grow into legends, true leaders of the game. The best coaches prepare their players not just for basketball games, but for life after college.

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