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Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Super six teams to watch for

By Dick Vitale
ESPN.com

Just an idle thought while I am relaxing at "The Broken Egg" in Lakewood Ranch, Fla.

I was speaking with a couple of basketball fans and they had a good question. They wanted to know which teams to keep an eye on that people were not really talking about this summer.

Well my friends, I went right to the VBDI (Vitale Bald Dome Index) and came up with my super six teams that may be under the radar nationally based on fan discussion. These teams will show up in various national prognostications because they can flat-out play.

It's obvious that North Carolina, Kentucky and Ohio State will be talked about by college hoop lovers during the offseason. When you have a Harrison Barnes or a Jared Sullinger coming back and skipping the draft, you will be part of the crème de la crème.

Here are my super six teams to keep an eye on. I know some of them will be highly rated when the pollsters give their thoughts just prior to the 2011-12 campaign!

VANDERBILT

The Commodores may not be talked about as much because of back-to-back exits in the early stages of the big dance. But, Kevin Stallings has to be thrilled with his returning players. John Jenkins is an outstanding scorer on the perimeter. Festus Ezeli is a big man who is getting better and better. I also love the athleticism of Jeffery Taylor. Vanderbilt finished the 2010-11 campaign with a 23-11 record and will return all five starters and 10 letter winners from that team. People are talking about Kentucky and Florida in the SEC, but watch out for Stallings' club.

ALABAMA

I know that fans down in Tuscaloosa are talking about the pigskin and Nick Saban as a national championship contender. However, Anthony Grant has a club that will make some noise too. The Tide missed out on the NCAA tournament last season, but they have Sweet 16 material coming back. JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell can dominate up front, and I love Trevor Releford in the backcourt. Fans will be smiling down in Crimson Tide country!

MISSOURI

New coach Frank Haith takes over for Mike Anderson, who went to Arkansas. Haith will be happy with the returning talent and the Tigers will be heard from in the Big 12 minus two! Ricardo Ratliffe, Kim English, Lawrence Bowers and Marcus Denmon help make up an exciting nucleus in Columbia. Kansas, Texas and Texas A&M will get a lot of hype in league circles, but the Tigers will be very dangerous.

Mick Kronin
Mick Cronin and the Cincinnati Bearcats are looking to be a force in the Big East this season.

CINCINNATI

Mick Cronin recently got a new deal and his Bearcats are going be getting plenty of W's in the competitive Big East. Yancy Gates has developed into the big man on campus at Cincinnati and he should have a major impact. Dion Dixon and Cashmere Wright provide outstanding backcourt play.

INDIANA

I really believe you will see tremendous improvement in Bloomington. The addition of Cory Zeller gives coach Tom Crean an impact diaper dandy. The Hoosiers need to keep some of their other veterans healthy and they can move up in the Big Ten.

USC

Kevin O'Neill's Trojans lost NBA first-round pick Nikola Vucevic, but there is a lot of talent coming in. Iowa transfer Aaron Fuller is among the newcomers joining the USC roster. Then add Jio Fontan for a whole season (he sat out the first semester last year) and this team could push the likes of Arizona, Washington and UCLA out west.

There you have it, a super six to watch while you enjoy a beautiful summer. I cannot wait to tip it off for real, but we have several months to wait. Oh well, back to my breakfast at "The Broken Egg", baby!