Five breakout teams for 2011-12

Updated: October 22, 2011, 9:08 PM ET
By Doug Gottlieb

It has been said that luck is where opportunity and preparation come together. And we've seen this manifest itself frequently in college basketball.

Two seasons ago, I pointed out that the Louisville Cardinals were not, in my opinion, the best team in the Big East, despite having won the Big East regular-season title and conference tournament. They were, in fact, lucky. I say this because a number of factors aligned in just the right way.

That season the Pittsburgh Panthers and Connecticut Huskies, also No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament, did not get home games against the Cards, and while Louisville did beat Pitt, it was destroyed by UConn. Louisville was similarly fortunate to avoid both teams in the Big East tourney.

This is not a shot at Louisville so much as a recognition that there are teams that benefit because of circumstances, timing, luck and, yes, good play.

It is with this thought in mind that I deliver my five picks for the season's top breakout teams. These squads have the talent to climb the national rankings, but should also benefit from favorable circumstances.

1. Baylor Bears

There are two main reasons for skepticism with this team. For one, it is bringing in three new point guards and feeling great about none of them. And Scott Drew's one big season and several disappointing seasons are making him look like a great recruiter who struggles to demand good shots and defense.