Five storylines to keep an eye on this season

ByDick Vitale ESPN logo
Monday, November 16, 2015

I am so excited for the college basketball season to tip off this weekend. It should be an exciting campaign with numerous quality teams contending to cut down the nets in Houston at the Final Four.

Let's take a look at some of the storylines in play at the start of this new season.

1. How will the 30-second clock influence college basketball?

I firmly believe the 30-second clock will provide more scoring, a fast-paced game and more excitement in the play. One negative: It will play a positive role for the elite teams out there, meaning fewer shock-city upsets. Cinderella doesn't have the same chance because the big guys will capitalize on having more possessions in a game. Teams with subpar talent will have a tougher time shortening the game. The effectiveness of the power teams will come across. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.


Both of these teams were in the Final Four last season, but they both lost a ton of talent. NoJahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones, Justise Winslow or Quinn Cook at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Big Blue Nation lost Karl-Anthony Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein, Devin Booker, Trey Lylesand the Harrison Twins. Coach K and John Calipari brought in new talent that should not miss a beat. Brandon Ingram, Derryck Thornton, Luke Kennard and Chase Jeter will be new faces that shine for the Blue Devils. Grayson Allen should pick up where he left off in the national title game. Kentucky welcomes Skal Labissiere, Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe as diaper dandies. It helps to have Tyler Ulis returning. These guys will be able to score and earn status as big men on campus.

3. How will the diaper dandies fare?

Today's freshmen are much ballyhooed before they even play their first game. There are so many diaper dandies who can make a big difference. I already mentioned the talented groups at Kentucky and Duke. Think aboutLSU'sBen Simmons, who has already received a lot of hype by being picked to the preseason AP All-America team. Look at what Malik Newman does to help Ben Howland atMississippi State. Jaylen Brown can be a difference-maker atCalifornia, where the Golden Bears are expected to challenge for Pac-12 honors. There are big expectations for Henry Ellenson atMarquette. Stephen Zimmerman Jr. is an impressive figure atUNLV. Diamond Stone could contribute up front forMaryland.

4. Will Maryland live up to the hype and dominate a tough Big Ten?

Two years ago, it was struggle city for the Terps. Some people were screaming about Mark Turgeon keeping his job. Now it is 2015-16, and patience has paid off. Turgeon made some roster moves before last year, and a few kids also transferred. It led to better chemistry with addition through subtraction. It also helped to have Melo Trimble come in and make a major impact. Last season, the Terps turned the corner and went to another level. This season, the expectations are even greater, as some experts feel Maryland is a legitimate national championship contender. There will be some pressure, as the Big Ten is not cupcake city. You have to lace 'em up againstMichigan State, Indiana, Michigan, Purdue, Wisconsin, Iowa. You have to come toplay each and every night. How will Maryland live up to those expectations?

5. How good is the Big 12?

Very good when you look at three potential top 10 teams inKansas, Oklahoma and Iowa State. This league has star power with Perry Ellis, Buddy Hield and Georges Niang leading the way. Steve Prohm comes to Ames, Iowa, fromMurray Stateand has a super returning group. There are dangerous teams inBaylor and West Virginia.Texaswill makesomenoise withShaka Smart taking over. This should be a very intriguing league.

There are five storylines to keep an eye on. Enjoy the games, baby!

Related Video