November 7, 2012

John Feinstein: With Calipari on bench, Kentucky among favorites

(Continued from page 1)

John Calipari
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John Calipari gives some instruction to his Kentucky men’s basketball team during a preseason scrimmage.

The Associated Press

Calipari was not pleased last December when Indiana fans stormed the Assembly Hall court after Chris Watford's buzzer-beater gave the Hoosiers their first truly meaningful victory since Tom Crean took over five seasons ago. After going 28-66 in Crean's first three seasons combined, the Hoosiers were 27-9 last season and reached the Round of 16 before losing a rematch with the Wildcats. Like Louisville, Indiana has most of its key pieces back, including the national player of the year favorite, Cody Zeller. He's the younger brother of Tyler Zeller, a first-round pick out of North Carolina last June.

"I love Tyler; he's been a wonderful player for us," North Carolina Coach Roy Williams said last season. "But Cody has the potential to be considerably better than he is."

There are plenty of other storylines around the country as the season begins this week. Among them:

Can North Carolina State really wrest control of the ACC from North Carolina and Duke? State has one of the best freshman classes in the country, and the heart of the team back from the group that reached the Round of 16 a year ago.

What will the Big East be like in the final season for Syracuse and Pittsburgh, and without Jim Calhoun coaching at Connecticut? Can Georgetown contend?

After an all power-conference Final Four last spring (Kentucky, Kansas, Louisville, Ohio State), can an upstart contend again? Butler should be good after a relatively down season, as should Virginia Commonwealth. Both schools have joined the suddenly hoops-mad Atlantic-10. They could possibly meet in that league's fial.

Finally, will Calipari's Wildcats be crowned again in April? One way or the other, he'll be there to tell us ALL about it.


John Feinstein is a contributor to The Washington Post and author of 28 books.


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