With the NBA mired in a lockout, more eyes than ever will be focused on college basketball when play begins next week. The timing couldn't be better, as the 2011-12 season is shaping up to be one of the best in recent memory.
North Carolina, which could have as many as five first-round draft picks, is the favorite. But there may not be much separation between the Heels and the trio of Kentucky, Ohio State and UConn.
Several star underclassmen bypassed the NBA draft to return to school and this promises to be an outstanding freshman class. So it's easy to see why the buzz about this season continues to grow. Will it fulfill expectations? We're about to find out.
-- Jason King, ESPN.com writer