Here we go!
The season is STILL early and I'm not yet done with what I'm looking forward to...here's my final thoughts on what I think are the most interesting storylines.
1.) The return of UCLA: Ben Howland hasn't had a whole lot of fun the past couple of years. Injuries, early departures to the NBA and "questionable" players in terms of character have clouded the school's incredible history. However, with a strong recruiting class and some big names, everyone is saying the Bruins are back. A lot hinges on whether Shabazz Muhammad gets cleared to play, but UCLA should have enough talent to get some wins. But WILL THEY?
2.) Kentucky's Nerlens Noel: This one is really just because he's so highly touted and that always interests me. I'll be watching his early play, his development and just in general want to see how good he is on the NCAA stage. I can't say I'm a fan of the Kid N'Play haircut, but I DO admire his commitment to getting UK shaved into the back of his head.
3.) Ohio State without Sullinger: OSU still has talent, so I know they'll be in the hunt for a Big Ten championship, but how will the loss of Sullinger impact the team? Also, will there be less whining to the refs now that he's gone?
4.) Coaching stars: Who's the next "smallish" conference or young coach that makes a splash? Two years ago it was Shaka Smart, last year it was Ohio's John Groce. Next?
5.) Michigan: Really a top 5 team? Not trying to be a hater, but that seems a LITTLE high. I know I should automatically hate them because I'm a State fan, but I actually really like watching Michigan play. Trey Burke is special, Tim Hardaway, Jr. is extremely talented and John Beilen is a great coach (and a really good guy). But is that enough? Who else will step up? And in other news, I'm SO GLAD Zack Novak finally graduated--Huzzah! If he were on my team, I'd love the guy. But he's not....and he irritated me for 4 long years. SEE YA!
6.) Big Ten-ACC Challenge: The last couple of years, the Big Ten has stepped up and won the overall challenge, finally quieting the talk of how the almighty ACC is SOOO superior. On paper, that should hold this year. But WILL IT?
7.) Teams that I find enjoyable to watch in general and make me tune in: UConn, Mizzou, Duke, Louisville, Syracuse. With the exception of UConn, all had huge years last year and lots of hype headed into this season--how will they do?
That's about it for now...but let me know what YOU want to see--and if this early set of games has lived up to your expectations!