I am so excited that the college basketball season has arrived. The new campaign brings a lot of interesting questions as teams strive to make it to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis for the Final Four.
1. Will Kansas live up to all the notoriety as the favorite to cut down the nets in April? Bill Self knows what it takes to win it all, and he has two of the premier players in America in Cole Aldrich and Sherron Collins. The Jayhawks are my choice to win the gold trophy.
2. Can Kentucky live up to all the expectations since hiring John Calipari? This is a young and talented team. John Wall, Patrick Patterson & Co. will have a loyal following of Big Blue fans, but there will be some pressure on the Wildcats as well.
3. Is there a team from the West Coast capable of making some noise on the national scene? The answer is yes, as the California Golden Bears have so much returning talent. The Pac-10 favorite has a solid, experienced backcourt in Jerome Randle and Patrick Christopher. Mike Montgomery's team will be heard from all season long.
4. Will the Big Ten be as good as advertised? Word has it the conference has dominant teams such as Michigan State and Purdue plus a host of other legitimate squads. As many as eight teams could be in the hunt for NCAA tournament berths. Players like Kalin Lucas and Robbie Hummel will garner national attention.
5. After a disappointing 2008-09 season, can Georgia Tech become a legitimate top-20 team? Derrick Favors has a lot of talent, but can he carry Paul Hewitt's club to the elite status in ACC country? This is still a young team and a work in progress, but the potential is there.
6. Staying in the ACC, how will North Carolina fare after losing Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Danny Green? Roy Williams is a Hall of Fame coach, and his team has the talent to be a co-favorite in the league. Tyler Zeller and Marcus Ginyard are back healthy. Deon Thompson and Ed Davis can be tough up front. An excellent class has come in, so this team has the ammunition to be a top-10 team.
7. Who will be a sleeper out of the Big East? It seems as though someone from that conference comes out and surprises every season. Could it be Seton Hall this season? Bobby Gonzalez is getting some publicity in a positive way as the Pirates could climb into the upper echelon of the conference.
8. Who will be the player of the year? My first thought is Notre Dame's Luke Harangody, who decided to return to South Bend for his senior season. He is a double-double man who should enjoy great success in 2009-10. There are a number of other talented candidates.
9. Could the race for diaper dandy of the year be a two-man affair? Wall of Kentucky and Derrick Favors of Georgia Tech stand out to me.
10. Which first-year coach will make the biggest splash at his new program? Will it be Calipari, Sean Miller at Arizona or someone else? I'm curious how Josh Pastner will do with a Memphis program that must be rebuilt.
College basketball is back, baby! We will learn the answers to these questions come April.