Sixteen things to ponder before the madness begins ...
1 There has been a lot of talk about the special freshmen at top-ranked Marion County. People around the state know Makayla Epps as the daughter of former Kentucky point guard Anthony Epps. Her teammate, Kyvin Goodin-Rogers, is always referenced as "the daughter of University of Louisville standout Tick Rogers."
But if the girls turn out to be as successful in the next four years as many people think they will be, how long will it be before Anthony is just known as "Makayla's dad" and Tick as "Kyvin's father, who also played basketball at some point"?
2 If the aforementioned Lady Knights make it to the Houchens Industries Sweet Sixteen this season, how many big-time college coaches will be making the trip, too? Coach Trent Milby has said he's had coaches from all over the nation inquiring about Epps, Goodin-Rogers and their teammate, sophomore Bre Elder.
3 For the second straight year, there was no luck of the draw in the Sweet Sixteen. Those possessed little lottery balls pulled one over on us again and aligned so that the state's top-ranked team, Marion County, could be meeting the state's No. 2 team, Manual, on the first day of the tournament.
4 If it keeps snowing, will there even be a post-season this season?
5 There have been long, heated discussions about private schools versus public schools winning the state tournament, but maybe the focus should shift to city schools versus county schools seeing as how the last nine state champions have come from either Louisville or Lexington.
6 Will there be another deja Diddle? Last year, 10 repeat region winners returned to the Western Kentucky arena for a second straight year.
7 It seems unlikely that any team can touch Marshall County's 11 straight trips to the state tournament from 1981 to 1991, but Henderson County and Montgomery County seem to be trying. They're both going for six straight.
8 When was the last time the defending state champion (Iroquois) didn't even win a game in its district? The poor Lady Raiders were decimated by graduation and then their coach moved to a new school.
9Bowling Green High School is less than 3 miles from Western Kentucky's Diddle Arena, but it's been 35 years and the Purples still haven't made it there. This will be the year.
10 Is this the year that a team from the 3rd, 9th or 15th regions wins the state tournament? They're the only regions that haven't won.
11 Could there be a more wide open region than the 11th? Six different teams have been ranked among the state's top 25 this season. The five currently ranked: No. 13 Madison Central, No. 16 Scott County, No. 23 Bryan Station, No. 24 Lexington Catholic and No. 25 Franklin County.
12 For the record, I picked Scott County to win the 11th Region because the Cardinals returned everyone from a team that surprised everybody by making it to the region finals last season. Oh, and after the championship loss, Coach Steve Helton promised that "we're going to be back."
13 Don't count out Madison Central. The Lady Indians have home-court advantage at McBrayer Arena in Richmond. But Lexington Christian can claim that, too, since they've won three All "A" Classic titles and two region championships there.
14 If somehow Paul Dunbar's Ebony Rowe or LCA's Sarah Beth Barnette could get out of the 11th Region and get to Diddle Arena, they should have a legitimate shot to be the first player from Lexington to win Miss Basketball in an exceptionally wide open race. Other candidates include Nelson County's Samantha Drake and Louisville Christian's Antonita Slaughter.
15 Lately, the Sweet Sixteen has had a way of turning lesser-known seniors into Miss Basketball-type stars. Is there a dark horse lurking?
16 Hard to believe it's been 10 years since John "Hop" Brown led West Carter to its Sweet Sixteen title. Somewhere in heaven, I just know the coach is still preaching the importance of hitting your free throws.