NCAA BK

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CBK 99 1240 Top 10 storylines for 2012-13 NCAA Tournament 31642133 Remember this? Remember+this%3F CBK

It was a year ago when confetti rained on Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in New Orleans, and John Calipari was finally — finally — a national champion. But a lot has changed since then. Kentucky's not even in the dance this year.

That’s how college basketball goes every year: new season, new slate of players, new landscape. This year’s landscape has some familiar names (North Carolina, UCLA), a few blasts-from-the-past (Indiana and Michigan, UNLV and North Carolina State) and the non-blueblood powers that once again could make a mark (Gonzaga and Miami).


Here are 10 storylines to watch in this year's NCAA tournament.

Reid Forgrave

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CBK 99 1240 Top 10 storylines for 2012-13 NCAA Tournament 31638746 And finally, when the dance is over, who’s the last one standing? And+finally%2C+when+the+dance+is+over%2C+who%26rsquo%3Bs+the+last+one+standing%3F+ CBK

More teams have legit chances at winning the tournament than in any year in recent memory. Indiana’s above the rest, but only by a hair, and a dozen or so other teams are clumped at the top with very little separation. It’ll depend on matchups, on injuries (see: North Carolina, 2012, Kendall Marshall) and on who catches fire at the right time. This year, you could make arguments for plenty of teams, but here’s the one that’s most difficult to argue with: Louisville is the No. 1 seed because the Cards earned it. Their only loss since late January is the five-overtime thriller at Notre Dame. Rick Pitino has his team fully buying in to his defense-first philosophy, which focuses on pressuring the ball handler on one end and taking smart shots at the other. In Peyton Siva and Russ Smith, the Cardinals have one of the best backcourts. If you were going to bet the house on it (and this season, please, please don’t), take Louisville.

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CBK 99 1240 Top 10 storylines for 2012-13 NCAA Tournament 31638744 Will the No. 1 draft pick please stand up? Will+the+No.+1+draft+pick+please+stand+up%3F CBK

There’s no single dominant college-hoops player this season, no transcendent player like last year, when Kentucky’s Anthony Davis rose above all. That’s why this year’s Player of the Year race is so up in the air. Can one elite talent rise above the rest with a series of dominant, clutch performances in March? The players to watch are Kansas’ Ben McLemore, Indiana’s Cody Zeller, Indiana’s Victor Oladipo, Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, Georgetown’s Otto Porter Jr. and perhaps even UNLV’s Anthony Bennett and Syracuse’s Michael Carter-Williams.

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CBK 99 1240 Top 10 storylines for 2012-13 NCAA Tournament 31638743 Lockdown defense vs. high-scoring offense — who wins? Lockdown+defense+vs.+high-scoring+offense+%26mdash%3B+who+wins%3F CBK

Many say lockdown defenses and the slow-it-down, coach-dominated offenses that currently rule the game are the bane of college basketball. But plenty of the highest-scoring and most exciting offensive teams in college hoops — Indiana, Duke, Gonzaga, Michigan, North Carolina and UCLA — have a shot at the Final Four. Will the high-scoring teams beat the Georgetowns and the New Mexicos and the Wisconsins?

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CBK 99 1240 Top 10 storylines for 2012-13 NCAA Tournament 31638745 Mountain West: Really the best? Mountain+West%3A+Really+the+best%3F CBK

Pardon all the skeptics out there, or those with big-conference bias, but how many people really think the Mountain West is the best basketball conference in the country? Yes, they’re tops in conference RPI. But can New Mexico, which is the conference's highest-seeded team as a 3-seed, break through in March? San Diego State? UNLV? If they don’t, we can mark up this Mountain West season as a paper tiger. But if they do …

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CBK 99 1240 Top 10 storylines for 2012-13 NCAA Tournament 31638749 If 2012 was year of the freshman, will this be year of the senior? If+2012+was+year+of+the+freshman%2C+will+this+be+year+of+the+senior%3F CBK

Much was made last year of John Calipari taking a bunch of Kentucky underclassmen and turning them into national champions. But freshmen-dominated teams have struggled this year. Maybe teams whose leaders are upperclassmen (Kansas and its four senior starters; Duke with seniors Mason Plumlee, Seth Curry and Ryan Kelly; Miami with one of the most experienced teams in the nation) will show us that age does matter.

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CBK 99 1240 Top 10 storylines for 2012-13 NCAA Tournament 31638747 Last hurrah for the Big East. Last+hurrah+for+the+Big+East. CBK

The Big East will exist in some form next year. We can only be sure it won’t be the same Big East that has been the nation’s top basketball conference over the past three-plus decades. Could there be any better way for us to say goodbye to the Big East than to have a couple of Big East teams in the Final Four? Georgetown and Louisville look to be the most prepared for March basketball, but Syracuse, with its run to the Big East tournament final, could be a dark horse to go deep, and so could Marquette and even Pittsburgh.

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CBK 99 1240 Top 10 storylines for 2012-13 NCAA Tournament 31638750 Can struggling bluebloods make a run? Can+struggling+bluebloods+make+a+run%3F CBK

Kentucky, North Carolina and UCLA, three youthful bluebloods that were highly touted in the beginning of the season, all went through some serious growing pains during the first few months and dropped from the AP Top 25. Two of those teams, North Carolina and UCLA, righted their paths by March. The other, Kentucky, was kicked off the bubble with a loss to Vanderbilt in the SEC tournament. A Sweet 16 berth, or even a Final Four berth, for any of these teams would ensure all the early-season struggles will be forgotten. UNC looks best positioned for that, as UCLA has lost its second-leading scorer, Jordan Adams, to injury.

WATCH: Why the entire Pac-12 is an underdog this year

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CBK 99 1240 Top 10 storylines for 2012-13 NCAA Tournament 31638748 Some mid-majors are no longer mid-majors ... Some+mid-majors+are+no+longer+mid-majors+... CBK

... like Gonzaga, ranked No. 1 in the country at the end of the regular season. Or Butler, which made two national title games in two years. Or perennial Sweet 16 team Xavier. Or havoc-filled VCU. Or any team in the Mountain West, which ranked No. 1 in conference RPI this year. Or Saint Louis, a fundamentally sound, experienced squad that has suddenly become everyone's favorite dark horse. Will the tournament be filled with historical mid-majors proving to everyone they’ve shed that label?

WATCH: Have Gonzaga and Butler shed the mid-major label?

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CBK 99 1240 Top 10 storylines for 2012-13 NCAA Tournament 31638751 Upset city Upset+city CBK

You probably heard that this regular season has been filled with crazy upsets and cathartic court-stormings (TCU over Kansas? Penn State over Michigan?). Will those upsets translate into March? Louisville coach Rick Pitino has said he wouldn’t be shocked if a double-digit seed wins the title this year. (The lowest seed ever to win was eighth-seeded Villanova in 1985.) It’s doubtful. But if there’s any year it could happen, this is the year.

PHOTOS: A season of storming the court

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CBK 99 1240 Top 10 storylines for 2012-13 NCAA Tournament 31638752 Will the Big Ten measure up? Will+the+Big+Ten+measure+up%3F CBK

All year has been a paean to the resurgence of great Big Ten basketball. Indiana has consistently been the best team in the country throughout the season. Michigan reached No. 1 briefly. Michigan State gathered steam throughout winter. Ohio State kept hanging around and then played the best basketball of anyone down the street, winning the Big Ten tournament. And Wisconsin and Minnesota didn’t want to be forgotten with a couple of huge upsets. But the Big Ten has won only one of the past 23 national championships. Will this be the Big Ten’s year?

WATCH: Breaking down the Big Ten's top teams

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http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/11/12/PI_20131112025841974_136_102.JPG Athletes and auctions Sports figures auctioning big-ticket memorabi... Sports figures auctioning big-ticket memorabilia, including Gold Gloves, World Series rings and game-worn uniforms. Turns out you can own some pretty hefty pieces of sports history . . . but you’ll need a pretty hefty wad of cash to get in on the action. Nov 12, 2013 7:02 AM ET 1 14 /cbk/lists/athletes-sports-figures-auctioned-big-ticket-memorabilia-world-series-rings-cy-young-awards-jerseys-101612
http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/07/11/071113-Sports-Hoffa-Capone-DG-PI_20130711235258415_136_102.JPG The mob and sports The mafia, the mob has held sports influence... The mafia, the mob has held sports influence in fixing games, setting point spreads dating back to Chicago Black Sox up to Tim Donaghy, with a history... Whitey Bulger a Bruins fan just the latest proof that crime's ties to our sports stretch far beyond Vegas & bookies. Jul 12, 2013 10:27 PM ET 1 14 /cbk/lists/mafia-mob-sports-influence-fixing-games-point-spreads-chicago-black-sox-tim-donaghy-jimy-hoffa-whitey-bulger-071113
http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2011/04/19/041911-NHL-Benoit-Pouliot-Andrew-Frerence-Fight-JW_20110419092525320_136_102.JPG Greatest rivalries in sports We list the best rivalries in all of sports. We list the best rivalries in all of sports. From feuding schools to battling nations, check out our list of the greatest rivalries in sports. Jul 7, 2013 3:11 PM ET 1 14 /cbk/lists/Greatest-rivalries-in-sports
http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/06/29/062813_NFL_Patriots_Aaron_Hernandez_PI_CH_20130629010622472_136_102.JPG Tattoos of athletes and their fans Tattoos of athletes and their fans Tattoos of athletes and their fans Tattoos of athletes and their fans. Jun 29, 2013 12:14 PM ET 1 14 /cbk/lists/chris-andersen-kevin-durant-david-beckham-lionel-messi-athlete-and-sports-fan-tattoos-062813