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Five things to watch this season

SPECIAL TO ESPN.COM

August 9, 2006

It's August, and I'm counting the days waiting for the college basketball season to begin. November will be here soon and the tip-off of the 2006-07 season. I know the pigskin is going to be tossed around soon, including Notre Dame against the Ramblin' Wreck of Georgia Tech and Calvin Johnson on Sept. 2. The Irish have to watch out as this is not cupcake city.

I'm not here to talk about the gridiron; I want to talk about hoops, baby!

As I sit here and think about the college basketball season, here are five things to contemplate:

1. I can't wait to see how the diaper dandies at Chapel Hill blend in with the veterans like Tyler Hansbrough. That's right, Roy Williams and North Carolina have a lot of talent, which is one reason I am picking the Tar Heels numero uno in my preseason rankings.

2. I want to see how Florida responds after winning the national championship. The Gators battled all challengers to cut down the nets in April. Now, can Florida reach the dream like the Dookies did in 1991 and 1992, winning back-to-back national titles? Starters Joakim Noah, Corey Brewer, Al Horford, Lee Humphrey and Taurean Green return to defend the championship.

3. I'm looking forward to find out who that magical mid-major will be. It is always a tremendous story, especially after last year when George Mason created a buzz.

4. I can't wait to see how the new coaches blend in with the Big 12. There are some big names, guys like Bob Huggins at Kansas State, young guns in Jeff Capel at Oklahoma and Greg McDermott at Iowa State, who did such a super job at Northern Iowa. Mike Anderson goes to Missouri from UAB, while Sean Sutton takes over the reigns from his father, Eddie, at Oklahoma State. And Kenneth "Doc" Sadler was just hired at Nebraska when Barry Collier left to become the athletic director at his alma mater, Butler.

5. I am looking forward to seeing the moment and response from Robert Montgomery Knight when he becomes the winningest coach in Division I history.

Those will all be big stories to watch during the 2006-07 season. I know it's several months away, but for lovers of the sport like me, I count the days, hours, minutes and seconds before they toss the ball up and start the campaign.