Sideline Report: Five teams to look out for as college basketball tips off

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Even though it is usually overlooked this time of year, college basketball is an amazing sport. It brings fans together and always contains plenty of upset chances and drama. The praise and attention usually does not come until January but the non-conference portion of the schedule is well worth watching. As the Associated Press Top 25 was recently announced, as well as the Wooden Watch list, college hoops fans deserve to be ecstatic. Here are five teams to watch for as the 2014-15 season gets underway.

5. Wichita State Shockers (No. 11)

Everyone from the state of Kansas already knows how good this team can be. Over the last few years head coach Gregg Marshall has led the Shockers to national prominence with a win percentage of 83.4 percent in the last four seasons, topping the nation. With players such as junior guards Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker coming back to fill key roles, Marshall looks to repeat as Missouri Valley Conference champions and make another deep run in March.

4. Wisconsin Badgers (No. 3)

Experience is the name of the game with this team. Head coach Bo Ryan has plenty of it, as does his stacked roster. Proven talent such as junior forwards Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker have propelled this team to success in the past. As the Badgers begin the 2014-15 campaign in the top three, contention for a national title doesn’t seem like that far of a stretch. The Big Ten is one of the top conferences in the nation and the Badgers are one of the many reasons why. Don’t be surprised to see this team in the Final Four come tournament time.

3. Arizona Wildcats (No. 2)

Head coach Sean Miller brings the Wildcats into this season coming off an encouraging performance in the previous NCAA tournament. A trio of talent in sophomores Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Brandon Ashley as well as freshman Stanley Johnson look to lead this team to the promised land. The Wildcats are looking to be a force to be reckoned with in not only the Pac-12 but also the NCAA tournament once again.

2. Kansas Jayhawks (No. 5)

The Jayhawks always seem to be in the mix of contenders. Coming off of their tenth straight Big 12 championship and a stacked class of incoming freshman, head coach Bill Self looks forward to another successful season. New recruits Cliff Alexander and Devonte Graham look to make immediate impacts with returning stars such as junior forward Perry Ellis and sophomore guard Wayne Selden anchoring the starting lineup. The Jayhawks always look to make noise throughout the season and this year looks to be no different.

1. Kentucky Wildcats (No. 1)

It may seem cliche to talk about the top team in this column. But the Wildcats deserve the talk. Head coach John Calipari has brought yet again a top recruiting class led by forward Trey Lyles and center Karl Towns Jr. Add returners sophomore guard Andrew Harrison and junior forward Willie Cauley-Stein and a championship contender is born. The Wildcats are coming off a national championship game appearance and look to finish the job this season.

All of the Top 25 deserve recognition and will add excitement, heartbreak and triumph at different points in the season. This college basketball season looks to be another amazing year that hopefully culminates in a magical March Madness. This is the beginning of buzzer-beaters, upsets, conference shake-ups and breakout performances. Let’s go.

 

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