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Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Dynamic duos to watch in 2013-14

By Dick Vitale
ESPN.com

Now that college football is under way, I am really excited. This means the calendar is getting closer to the start of college hoops, baby!

As I sit here at The Broken Egg in Lakewood Ranch, Fla., I am looking forward to seeing the crème de la crème this season. I was thinking about some of the top tandems, the dynamic duos who will hit the hardwood this season in college basketball.

My friends, this is not a list of inside-outside pairings, but a super-six of pairs I am looking forward to following this season. I did not include transfers or diaper dandies, which is why you do not see the likes of Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Aaron Gordon or Julius Randle on this list. Let them put on the uniform for the first time and get on the court before we start ranking them.

Here are a super-six tandems to keep an eye on:

• Keith Appling and Adreian Payne, Michigan State: With Gary Harris sidelined with an ankle injury, I went with this veteran Spartans duo. I really like Appling's game and experience and Payne is going to dominate on the glass. He is a quality young man (we had him at the Dick Vitale gala this year). I believe Tom Izzo has a legit national championship contender, and this duo is a key reason why.

• Marcus Smart and Le'Bryan Nash, Oklahoma State: Coach Travis Ford was thrilled when Smart passed up on the green from the NBA to return to Stillwater, where he will be one of the nation's premier guards. Nash will be a big factor inside for the Cowboys. He needs to be consistent this season.

• Russ Smith and Chane Behanan, Louisville: Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino got a boost when Smith decided to return to school. He will be one of the top scoring guards in the nation. We all saw how important Behanan was to the Cardinals in the second half of the national championship game in April, as he was a major glass-eater.

• Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III, Michigan: Although the Wolverines lost Trey Burke, coach John Beilein knows the cupboard is not bare. McGary was sensational during the NCAA tournament run, and big things are expected from him again. Robinson will be even better with a year of experience.

• Doug McDermott and Grant Gibbs, Creighton: McDermott gets a lot of ink, but Gibbs deserves some, too. The Bluejays were excited when he was granted an extra year of eligibility.

• James Michael McAdoo and P.J. Hairston, North Carolina: This is based on Hairston's eventual return following offseason issues. The fans in Chapel Hill are happy to have them back.

Yes, we have a little time to wait before the hoops season. I am thrilled to look ahead to what should be excitement galore, baby!