The NBA season is on hold and seems as if it will never start.
No worries hoops fans, there will be plenty to watch _ the college basketball season is upon us.
It didn’t seem all that long ago that Connecticut and one-man gang Kemba Walker cut down the nets in Houston after beating mid-major monster Butler in its second straight trip to the title game.
Now, there’s a new season with a new set of story lines _ some pretty interesting ones, too.
The Tar Heels, Ohio State, Kentucky and UConn are among the front-runners to cut down the nets in New Orleans on April 2. Super sophomores Jared Sullinger of Ohio State and North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes are the likely favorites to be the player of the year.
Many college hoops fans already knew that.
To get ready for a season that’s actually going to start on time, here’s a few other things to keep an eye on.
Can North Carolina go undefeated? No team has done it since Indiana in 1975-76 and the odds aren’t all that good, particularly with games against Kentucky, Texas and Michigan State on the nonconference schedule. But the Tar Heels do have a lineup that could include five NBA first-round draft picks and the ACC isn’t all that strong this season, so you never know.
The new stars. College basketball lost some big names, with Walker, Derrick Williams and The Jimmer off to play in the NBA. Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger and Harrison Barnes of North Carolina figure to be the best bets to be the ones to take their places, but there are plenty of talented players around the country, from UConn’s Jeremy Lamb, Pittsburgh’s Ashton Gibbs and Kentucky’s Terrence Jones, among others.
Mike Krzyzewski’s run at history. The Duke coach has 900 wins, leaving him two behind Bob Knight to become the winningest men’s basketball coach in Division I history. Coach K can tie the record Nov. 12 at home against Presbyterian and pass Knight three nights later against Michigan State at Madison Square Garden.
Can Butler make it to a third straight title game? The Bulldogs pulled off one of the more improbable feats in college basketball history by coming a half-second shot away from beating Duke in the 2010 national title game, then making it all the way back to face UConn last season. Chances are the small school with the tough academic standards won’t have much of a shot, but the Bulldogs have been the kings of proving everyone wrong, so don’t count them out.
Big East blast off. This could be the final season of the Big East as we know it, with Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia all bolting for new conferences. The Big East is set to invite SMU, Houston and Central Florida _ along with Boise State, Navy and Air Force in football _ but it won’t be quite the same, so we should enjoy it while we can.
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By Elaine Donnelly
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