Another revamped, freshman-heavy Kentucky team will take aim at title No. 9 (Getty Images)
Unlike last year when Kentucky and North Carolina towered over the rest of the nation as the season began, there's no prohibitive favorite this winter.
As Midnight Madness approaches Friday night, Indiana, Louisville, Kentucky, Michigan and Kansas are just a few of the dozens of teams who believe they have legitimate national championship aspirations.
In what promises to be a wide-open season in college hoops, there are plenty of storylines worth following. Here are 10 of the biggest:
1. Is this the year NC State unseats Duke and North Carolina atop the ACC?
The last time neither Duke nor North Carolina won or shared the regular season ACC crown was ten years ago when Wake Forest captured the 2002-03 title. NC State has the chance to break that streak exactly thirty years after Jim Valvano led the Wolfpack to the most unlikely of national titles in 1983.
Thanks to the return of Lorenzo Brown, C.J. Leslie and Scott Wood from last year's Sweet 16 team and the addition of a top-five recruiting class, NC State is suddenly the trendy pick to win the ACC. It also helps that defending champ North Carolina has to replace four first-round picks and that Duke isn't quite as talented as usual with no big-time point guard and Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly and Seth Curry playing starring roles.
A word of caution to the Wolfpack faithful, however: Let's not forget that last year's NC State team lost 12 games and snuck into the NCAA tournament as one of the final at-large teams. There's no question NC State will be better, but an outright ACC title and Tobacco Road bragging rights is a huge leap.
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