College hoops does not coming storming through the door the way the National Football League does, or baseball. The NHL opened its regular season in the Czech Republic last month. This is a bit like that.
There'll be some serious games in another week or so, but until they arrive we've got to get you in the mood for basketball season somehow. And what better way than the foundation for a few really good arguments?
That's the idea behind these rankings, which rank the best teams of '08-09 in several important categories.
1. North Carolina. The Tar Heels were a single basket short of 90 points per game -- and they were still trying to figure out some things. This team could be the best offensive group since Duke's Battier-Dunleavy-Williams-Boozer crew.
2. Notre Dame. The best part of the ND attack is its balance. They've got shooters, drivers, a low-post stud and bigs who can shoot facing. The only problem may be that they lean on their offense too hard.
3. Syracuse. Arinze Onuaku is developing as a low-post scorer, and the return of Eric Devendorf and Andy Rautins will give the Orange multiple long-range shooters.
4. Gonzaga. For the Zags to be this good, center Josh Heytvelt has to be himself again.
5. Davidson. Jason Richards' departure leaves a serious void, but who is willing to bet against Stephen Curry filling it?
1. Connecticut. Do you need a whole book, or will the words "Hasheem Thabeet" suffice?
2. Texas. The Longhorns have about 25 fouls to spend to make it difficult on opponents to move a muscle.
3. USC. Coach Tim Floyd does a great job of teaching man defense and a better job of tricking up his schemes to make opponents believe he doesn't.
4. Memphis. Forward Robert Dozier could be the nation's most versatile and dynamic defender.
5. Miami. If you want pretty, take a walk along South Beach.
Davidson star joins Hansbrough, Price, Harden and Harangody as NBCSports.com's first team.
1. Pitt. No program does a better job of keeping agendas out of the locker room.
2. Purdue. It doesn't matter if Chris Kramer plays point guard, shooting guard or palace guard; he's somebody you want on your team.
3. Duke. This group has been terrific about sacrificing positional considerations and personal preferences for the benefit of the team.
4. Davidson. Perhaps it's the smallish campus that keeps this team so close. More likely, it's coaching.
5. Wisconsin. Come to think of it, UW has a huge campus, and the Badgers blend to together a lot like Davidson.
1. Notre Dame. Against Big East defenses, the Irish hit 40.5 percent of their 3-pointers.
2. American. Guard Garrison Carr hit 135-of-299 from behind the 3-point line. And he's not the only long-range weapon.
3. New Mexico. If someone asks who is the best shooter you've seen, tell him or her Chad Toppert even if you've never had the pleasure. He's that good.
Who are college basketball's best coaches? Take a visual tour of NBCSports.com's selections.
4. Cornell. One of the team's three elite shooters, Adam Gore, is injured. But there's still plenty more from a team that shot 48.5 percent from the field.
5. Duke. What players do you guard when Jon Scheyer and Greg Paulus are together?
Most potential to improve
1. Wake Forest. The Deacs were 17-16 last season. Everybody got older, and three freshman recruits made the team bigger.
2. Gonzaga. After being eliminated from the NCAA Tournament's first round, the Zags should get lots more from center Josh Heytvelt and forward Austin Daye.
3. Michigan State. The Spartans have been frustrated recently by an inability to win championships -- conference, conference tournament, NCAA. Might there be room in the trophy case for all three?
4. Connecticut. It took the Huskies too long last season to figure out how good they were.
5. Oklahoma. As Blake Griffin grows from promising freshman to genuine star, he could take all the Sooners with him.
2. UCLA. The core of this team is the senior class, but nearly every other contributor will be a freshman.
3. Memphis. Tyreke Evans is not as dynamic as last year's freshman, Derrick Rose. But he's close enough.
4. Tennessee. With all the Volunteers lost, they might need three starting players from their rookie class.
5. Alabama. Freshman big JaMychal Green could be a double-double guy.
CBT: Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski made it official that he'll be coaching Team USA at the 2016 Rio Olympics, and he'll also be with Duke at least that long, too.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
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