College basketball came down to the blue bloods last season, with Kentucky adding to its Hoops Rushmore résumé in a Final Four that included Kansas, Louisville and Ohio State.
The mid-majors figure to play a major role this season.
While Indiana is the preseason No. 1 for the first time in 33 years and big names like Duke, North Carolina and Arizona are loaded with talent, it’s the little guys who could make the most noise this season.
Just look at the preseason All-America team. It features Creighton’s Doug McDermott and Murray State’s Isaiah Canaan, players who could be stars anywhere.
Here’s a few other things to look for this season:
Indiana: The long climb from the embarrassment of an NCAA phone-call scandal appears to finally be over. The Hoosiers have 7-foot center Cody Zeller and the kind of team that could make a title run.
Kentucky: The Calipari Method: Sign future NBA players, win, lose them to the NBA, repeat.
Louisville: Rick Pitino flexed his coaching muscles with one of the best jobs of his career last season and may not be done with most of the players from that team back.
Ohio State: Jared Sullinger and William Buford are gone. Deshaun Thomas and Aaron Craft are not.
Michigan: Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. make up a backcourt that could help the Charlotte Bobcats win more games. They certainly will in Ann Arbor.
Cody Zeller, Indiana. Might be the best player in Clan Zeller, which is saying something coming from that family.
Trey Burke, Michigan. Led Wolverines in scoring and assists last season. Don’t expect a sophomore slump.
Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State. Played in the shadow of Jared Sullinger last season. Won’t this year.
Doug McDermott, Creighton. Missouri Valley player of the year, third nationally in scoring, preseason All-American.
Isaiah Canaan, Murray State. Not many players from Murray State can – at least realistically – say they bypassed the NBA to return to school. Canaan did.
BEST NONCONFERENCE GAMES
Kentucky vs. Duke, Nov. 13, Atlanta. Two heavyweights get a test early in the season.
North Carolina at Indiana, Nov. 27. This one will be a gauge for the Hoosiers to see if they live up to the hype.
Florida at Arizona, Dec. 15. They played a memorable overtime game at Florida last season, won by the Gators.
Kansas at Ohio State, Dec. 22. Rematch of last year’s Final Four game won by Kansas.
Kentucky at Louisville, Dec. 29. Another rematch of last year’s Final Four with two teams who don’t like each other will be a nice late Christmas present.