Is UMass hoop ready to break through?

Is this the breakthrough year UMass fans have been waiting for?

That's one of the five things ESPN.com college basketball reporter Dana O'Neil can't wait to see in the Atlantic 10 this season. (For the other four, CLICK HERE.)

Here's what O'Neil has to say about the Minutemen:

Since Derek Kellogg returned to his alma mater in 2008, folks have been waiting for the glory years he enjoyed as a player to return to Amherst. Of course that would be a rather tall and ridiculous order, considering Kellogg went to the NCAA tournament four years in a row, including the Elite Eight, and won four consecutive Atlantic-10 regular-season and tournament titles as a player.

But this could at least be the year the Minutemen return to NCAA tournament relevance.

UMass rolled to the NIT semifinals last season, riding on the coattails of guard Chaz Williams. The Hofstra transfer averaged 16.4 points and 6.4 assists per game and is exactly the sort of bona fide star you can build something special around.

If Williams picks up where he left off (he upped his scoring numbers through the NIT to 21.8 per game), UMass might see itself on the big ticket for the first time since 1998.

ESPN.com has a whole lot more in its Atlantic 10 preview, including columns, videos, a podcast and team-by-team previews by Blue Ribbon (Insider content). You can find it all RIGHT HERE.