The majority of the college basketball teams taking foreign trips this offseason will be traveling overseas later this month. Here's a look at the five teams with the most to gain from the early games and extra practice time:
1. Iowa State (Italy, Aug. 9-19): The Cyclones selected the ideal season to participate in their first foreign trip since 2004 considering coach Fred Hoiberg must incorporate eight players who have never worn an Iowa State jersey in an actual game before. Of the utmost importance is seeing how incoming transfers Royce White (Minnesota), Anthony Booker (Southern Illinois), Chris Babb (Penn State) and Chris Allen (Michigan State) mesh with the key returners.
2. Baylor (Toronto, Aug. 11-16): For Baylor to live up to expectations and avoid another disappointing Big 12 finish, the Bears must integrate freshmen Quincy Miller and Deuce Bello into their lineup, settle on a frontcourt rotation and find the capable point guard they lacked a year ago. What better way to get a jumpstart on each of those tasks than a six-day trip to Canada that will also serve as a homecoming of sorts for sophomore Brady Heslip, who hails from nearby Burlington, Ontario.
3. Duke (China/Dubai, Aug 14-27): Of teams that appear in most preseason top 10s, Duke may have the most question marks. Can freshman Austin Rivers really step in and become an instant star? Will this finally be the breakout season Duke has been waiting for from forward Mason Plumlee? And will either Seth Curry or Andre Dawkins evolve from role players to standouts? Duke's trip certainly won't provide definitive answers, but it may at least offer some clues.
4. Texas A&M (Switzerland/France, Aug. 8-17): Getting cut from the U.S. World University Games roster may not have been a pleasant experience for Khris Middleton, but it could pay dividend for Texas A&M. Now the Aggies will have Middleton for a trip that should be crucial if they're going to pick up coach Billy Kennedy's defensive-oriented system in time to make a run at the Big 12 championship next season.
5. BYU (Greece, Aug. 15): The first glimpse of post-Jimmer Fredette BYU will still be meaningful, but it won't be as enlightening as it could have been for the Cougars because they'll be without some key players. UCLA transfer and potential starting point guard Matt Carlino isn't eligible until December so he won't make the trip, nor will forward Brandon Davies, who cannot re-enroll at BYU until September. Perhaps BYU can still find a role player ready to take on greater responsibility in their absence.