C.L. Brown, ESPN Staff Writer 561d

The 2017-18 season will be the return of the big man

Though the echoes of "One Shining Moment" are still fresh on the mind, let’s look ahead to the ways next season might be shaped. Some things we’ll take for granted will take place, such as North Carolina and Duke engaging in epic battles, Kansas pursuing a 14th straight Big 12 title and Kentucky welcoming another batch of potential one-and-done players. Here are a few other things to look forward to for the 2017-18 season:

Return of the big man, Part I

Enough of this small-ball stuff. The depth of talented bigs in the Class of 2017 might lead teams to revert to a time when scoring in the post mattered and offensive strategies focused on working from the inside out. Starting with Arizona's DeAndre Ayton, who is ranked No. 2 in the ESPN 100, and Duke’s Wendell Carter (No. 3), high-percentage shots will be back in fashion next season. Centers Mohamed Bamba (No. 5) and Brandon McCoy (No. 6), both still undecided, are about to make some team’s signing class special.

Porter's big task

Michael Porter Jr., a 6-foot-10 forward, will attempt to buck a recent trend of elite talents who didn’t play at a college basketball blue blood program and did not appear in the Big Dance. It started with Ben Simmons (LSU) in 2016 and continued with Markelle Fultz (Washington) and Dennis Smith Jr. (NC State) missing the tournament this past season. Porter, the No. 1 overall player in the 2017 ESPN 100, will try to lead Missouri back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2013.

Return of the big man, Part II

Given the backdrop of talented post players ushering in the new season, it’s only fitting that one of college basketball’s all-time great big men will be back on the blocks. Georgetown is linking its future to its past with the hiring of Patrick Ewing as head coach. Ewing has never coached in college, but has been an assistant in the NBA for 15 years. He’ll be charged with rejuvenating a Hoyas program coming off consecutive losing seasons.

Bringing the West Coast back

Gonzaga and Oregon reaching the Final Four broke a drought for West Coast teams that went back to UCLA in 2008. No West Coast team has won it since Arizona in 1997, but don’t be surprised if one or more is back playing on the final weekend next season. The Zags and Ducks, depending on early NBA entrees of course, could be positioned to get back. Arizona, UCLA, USC and a sleeper pick -- Nevada -- should all field top-25 caliber teams capable of representing the West to the fullest.

Dirty South cleaning up

The Southeastern Conference as a whole might not need to rely solely on Kentucky carrying the mantle this season. South Carolina’s unexpected Final Four run and having three teams reach the Elite Eight could be a signal the SEC has ended its futility. The SEC has nine classes ranked in RecruitingNations' top 40 classes -- more than any other conference. When Alabama has the fifth-ranked class, and it has nothing to do with Nick Saban, that’s the strongest indication that a shift has taken place.

Another round of realignment

Wichita State could officially jump from the Missouri Valley, where it has been a member since 1945, to the American Athletic Conference as soon as this week. That could potentially be a boost for the depth of the American, but it would set off a chain reaction of mid-major conferences like the Valley and Horizon scrambling to adjust by seeking new members. The Shockers return every rotation player and would potentially enter their new affiliation as the AAC favorite over Cincinnati and SMU.

The jury is out

A carryover from last season's list, once again North Carolina and Louisville will potentially field top-10 teams. And once again they are both looking for some closure from NCAA investigations. In Chapel Hill, the probe of fraudulent classes has dragged on in one form or another since 2011 and received its latest twist with a third Notice of Allegations in December. Men's basketball in particular went from seemingly in the clear to potentially back in the discussion for sanctions. In Louisville, the NCAA rejected the argument that coach Rick Pitino should not be held responsible for its escort scandal. That could be an indication that Pitino might get hit with a similar nine-game suspension as Jim Boeheim and Larry Brown.

Archie's place

The Archie Miller era begins at Indiana, despite some believing Tom Crean's dismissal after nine seasons would lead to the Steve Alford era. Miller will inherit a much better situation -- high expectations included -- than Crean, who took over with the Hoosiers on probation in 2008. Miller had a successful six-year run at Dayton highlighted by one Elite Eight appearance in 2014. To have a long tenure in Bloomington, he'll have to eclipse that. The program is looking for its first Final Four since 2002 and its first title since 1987.

The (second) Ball drops

Lonzo Ball lived up to the hype -- even before his dad started doing most of the talking -- in leading UCLA to the Sweet 16. He’s off to the NBA, and the second of three Ball brothers to commit to the Bruins will have his turn in Westwood. LiAngelo Ball is a 6-foot-6 small forward who is not ranked in the ESPN 100, but even casual fans will know of his arrival thanks to his big brother’s performance last season and his father’s promoting. (The third Ball brother, LaMelo, is a class of 2019 commitment to UCLA.)

Early enrollment or early departure?

Kentucky five-star shooting guard Hamidou Diallo actually enrolled and has been on campus since January and practiced with the team. If Dennis Smith Jr.'s blueprint of a January enrollment at NC State was any indication last season, the 6-foot-5 Diallo is in for a big year. That is, if he sticks around. Diallo graduated from high school last spring. He could declare for the NBA just for the feedback or conceivably stay in the draft. Diallo has maintained since the fall that he plans on playing college. But one good workout for an NBA team could change all that.

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