_Connecticut’s teams showed off their skills in front of their fans for the first time since the men brought home the program’s third national championship and the women returned from their 12th Final Four.
They showed off their athleticism for more than 10,000 fans who came out to watch the school’s annual “First Night” show.
Freshman guard Ryan Boatright, generously listed in the media guide at 6-feet-0, won the dunk contest. Niels Giffey topped freshman Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis from the women’s team in the 3-point contest, and there was dancing and contests for students, even appearances from alumni such as Ray Allen and the hero of last year’s national title run, Kemba Walker.
_Vanderbilt hosted its first Midnight Madness session in six years. Vanderbilt went 23-11 last season but failed to get out of the first round of the NCAA tournament for the second straight year. Each of the starters and the top three reserves return. Among those coming back are John Jenkins, Jeffery Taylor and Festus Ezeli _ all three passed on entering the NBA draft last spring.
_Butler stuck to its traditional opening-night schedule. Coach Brad Stevens closed practice, ditched the dunk contests and got down to coaching basketball earlier than most other teams.
Just 15 minutes after the official start to basketball season, the two-time national runners-up hit the court at Hinkle Fieldhouse without a fan in sight.
The Bulldogs never celebrated Midnight Madness when it was covered live on late-night television, and still don’t open it up for fans even though the NCAA has agreed to let teams start working out earlier in the day.
_New Arkansas coach Mike Anderson received the loudest ovation inside Bud Walton Arena. He walked back onto the court he called home as an assistant coach for 17 seasons under former coach Nolan Richardson. Anderson was greeted with plenty of support from the estimated 5,000 who attended “Primetime at the Palace.”
_North Carolina kicked off a season of high expectations in front of a packed arena of about 21,000 fans. The Tar Heels held their annual “Late Night with Roy” preseason event in the Smith Center, which included an intrasquad scrimmage as well as the players performing dances and skits in a night of fun before things get serious for a team expected to contend for the national championship.
All five starters are back from a team that won the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title and got within a game of the Final Four.
_Memphis unveiled its team before an almost full house at the FedExForum.
Fans were waiting outside the arena when the doors opened 90 minutes before the start of Memphis Madness. The festivities included a dunk contest, a 3-point shooting display and a scrimmage.
Rapper Rick Ross was supposed to be the featured entertainment for the evening, but he had a medical problem on a flight from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to Memphis, that forced him to miss the event.
_West Virginia’s Mountaineer Madness had a season-opening scrimmage, slam-dunk contest and a special musical performance.
Deniz Kilicli, a native of Istanbul, Turkey, and an amateur guitarist who has performed around town, entertained the crowd by performing the university’s adopted fight song, “Country Roads,” with his teammates. He played electric guitar as the gold-and-blue clad Mountaineers joined the throng in John Denver’s song.View Entire Story
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