10 burning questions to start season
With the 2011-12 NCAA men's basketball season under way, ESPN Insider Jay Bilas weighs in on 10 pressing questions hanging over the college hoops landscape, starting with a look at the nation's elite teams.
1. They say this season will mark the return of the blue bloods and the truly elite teams. How many teams do you see on that top tier? Who are they and why?
I think the first tier of teams includes North Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio State, Syracuse, Connecticut and Duke. After that, there may be some separation, but those teams are capable of developing into challengers. Teams like Florida, Louisville, Vanderbilt, Memphis, Pittsburgh, Baylor and Xavier. Those teams may not have quite as much power or as many difference makers, but will be very good.
The difference is high-level talent and depth. Each of the top-tier teams (for the most part) has talent, experience and a lot of bodies. The depth provides the ability to compete in practice every day. Too many teams and coaches are shorthanded this year, and that means practices without five-on-five and without great competition. It is one thing to bust it against a walk-on, and quite another to be pushed to the limit by a comparable talent. That is how players and teams get better through a season.
2. Last season Kemba Walker emerged from being merely a good player to a national phenom. Can anyone from off the radar last season make a similar jump to stardom this coming season?
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