Admit it, you've ignored our game over the summer. Since the NBA draft ended, college basketball has been on the backburner. You have even dedicated yourself to learning the rules of team handball for the water cooler Olympics cred. But when the quadrennial festival winds down this week, we'll be about two months from the start of practice for the 2012-13 season ... and you'll be a bit lost as to what's happened in another realignment-fueled summer.
Don't worry, you don't need a full preview... yet. What you do need is the second annual Twitter-style State of the College Hoops union. In 140 characters (or less) per team, you'll be caught up on the most interesting news and team situations -- perfect for our ADD-driven world and to preserve your reputation as the office's sports guy or gal after track and field ends. There's only so much your colleagues need to know about Usain Bolt, you know?
(Teams listed in alphabetical order.)
The frontcourt is reloaded with hyped talent, but if their Xavier transfer can't run the show, the Cats could be out like a Lyons in March.
A lot of talent left, but there's a lot of talent left. Two E8s in 3 yrs have stamped program with cred. This team still Bears watching.
Belmont (Atlantic Sun to Ohio Valley)
Kerron Johnson returns, which gives the "other Valley" three legit stars. Can debutante Bruins pip Murray (Canaan) and Tenn St. (Covington)?
Butler (Horizon to Atlantic 10)
In Clarke and Dunham, perimeter shooting problem has quick fixes. Will quick move into A-10 be too much for Smith/Marshall tandem inside?
Good returning roster + terrific hire in Larry Eustachy = more wins coming in Fort Collins. Can they Ram their way into MWC top 3?
Much like next meeting with Xavier (now on a neutral floor), UC's' condition is guarded -- good when u have Kilpatrick, Parker and Wright.
APR did what Nate Miles couldn't: Get UConn banned from NCAAs. 21 yrs ago, Tark went 26-2 in similar sitch. Is there a J.R. Rider in Storrs?
Maybe the toughest McD since Rounders, Doug's the only 'D' the Jays featured last season. That must improve or they'll get busted again.
Dragons would have danced last year if Chris Fouch hadn't been injured. Does redemption loom? Well, who else besides Mason is even eligible?
Devils could be movin' on up after landing Amile Jefferson to complement Mason Plumlee. Will anyone in the backcourt emerge as a stopper?
Gators will miss the Real Deal (and Walker), but there's enough back with Boynton, Murphy and Young plus some frosh guards to make UK sweat.
Rare to ask how college team can overcome loss of 27yo Air Force vet, but Bernard James is a big interior loss for ACC tourney champs.
Love Otto Porter, but is he enough to help overcome the loss of sweet-passing big Henry Sims and some solid perimeter shooting?
"Is this the year?" is now an annual muse in Spokane. Other non-football powers have broken through; there's a chance for this crew, too.
The Hoosiers will win a lot this season. A whole lot. If frosh PG Yogi Ferrell is smarter than your average bear and D improves, look out.
National finalists will miss T-Rob's automatic double-doubles, but Jeff Withey's back and the young depth missing last season is now there.
Trash Can Compliance pushed Frank Martin to South Cack. Bruce Weber's a questionable hire long-term, but should have returning Cats purring.
Foes don't feel bad that Cats lost almost everyone. Cal just locks (up more talent) and (re)loads. A step back is still a really good team.
Cards dictate terms to everyone. Even the Yum! Center owners need help. Repeat F4 could depend on Luke Hancock's O to support lethal D.
Team Bubble Watch graduated to big boy status. Now Golden Eagles must replace DJO and Jae. Much talent remains, so Buzz about them is legit.
Will Terrell Stoglin's departure help young Terps morph into a more Turgeon-style ball-sharing team? Or will they lack offensive options?
Last year: Where there was a Will, there was a way. Now only one Barton remains and hopes lie heavily on Jack, Black and Pastner's tack.
A year removed from an athletics scandal, injuries and bad luck, the Canes have the talent and the coach to make a legit run in an open ACC.
Loss to Ohio confused Brady Hoke but wasn't a shock. Now Beilein must reload w/o his two best shooters, but Trey Burke's return is huge.
Draymond Green is a huge loss, but repeat after me: Never doubt Izzo. Especially not when he imports a lead guard like Gary Harris to help.
Trevor Mbakwe is back for his final season before AARP eligibility. His ability to score should round out a gritty, now-experienced roster
Missouri (Big 12 to SEC)
If bevy of transfers blend in and Bowers is healthy, the Tigers are a threat to win the SEC. Plus, Mizzou vs. Mike Anderson? #funforfans
The nation is now aware of this Canaan baller. Foes will be reading from the Book of Isaiah again this season, and the Racers will profit.
Lobos have won at least share of three of the last four MWC crowns; Quant guru @DanHanner likes their fundamentals, even w/o Drew Gordon.
Third-best team in state? Only if Heels hold off Davidson. Just kidding. Sort of. Wing talent's there; so are frontcourt Qs beyond McAdoo.
North Carolina State
Pack fans are ever nervous about Rodney Purvis' eligibility, which remains in question. If he's available, expect many celebrations like this.
Abro not getting an extra year was disappointing, but Cooley, Martin and Co. head a dangerous, experienced roster. Legit Big East sleeper.
No Sully or Buford, but Aaron Craft returns with his burning cheek rectangles of doom. Odds D. Thomas drops 40 on someone? #veryhigh
Explosive team that didn't reach its potential last year. If LeBryan Nash finds his equilibrium, that will help solve many in-game theories.
Last year was a blip, right? Too much talent returning, plus frosh Steven Adams and my-dad-got-fired hardship transfer Trey Zeigler says so.
If local star Ricky Ledo is deemed eligible, Cooley and the Gang will have enough talent to Get Down On It in a weaker Big East.
Youth sometimes got served last season, but Hawks shouldn't die very often this year. Should be best bunch on Hawk Hill since E8 squad.
What's a Billiken? A dogged defender who doesn't let you get to your favorite spots on the floor. Should be preseason league champ pick.
San Diego State
Opposite of UNLV: SDSU has guards and needs new frontcourt components to become good. This roster will be in the Big West in '13? LOL.
Cardinal have chance in Battle 4 Atlantis to notch more top-50 RPI wins than P12 had all last season in nonconf play. Or they could go 0-3.
No Joseph, Jardine, Waiters or Melo = fresh start, but talent remains. C.J. Fair, Michael Carter-Williams and Co. plus DaJuan Coleman = ???
Already feeling sting of Ramone Moore's and Juan Fernandez's exits, Owls may also feel Atlantic City sting. NCAA L: 2nd as 5-seed since '10.
Vols fans must be Stokes'd. SEC's down and second half of last year augers well for Cuonzo's plan. Plus they can see Bruce Pearl on TV!
Horns only have 2 NCAA wins in last 4 yrs. That's not nearly enough given annual influx of solid talent. Early entry's hurt, but... #Barnes
Texas A&M (Big 12 to SEC)
Everything went wrong last season, and Big 12 is a tough league if you're running bad. A few games against Auburn, Miss St., etc. will help.
Atlanta AAU asst has paid off, but Qs remain. Will Shabazz fit in D-first m.o.? Will Smith compete or eat? Tony Parker's already hamstrung.
Could be best Rebs team since early '90s. Frontcourt's scary deep. Guard play, starting w/ @ANT_MARZ, will determine just how far they run.
Trojans went 1-17 in a P12 with Utah and ASU in it. They need offense. Especially from the two guys who were 'kneed' last year. #Jio #Dedmon
Vandy rode an experienced core to its peak. Now what? Kevin Stallings wants to coach at least seven more years. First couple may be down.
VCU (Colonial to Atlantic 10)
Smart money says the Rams will be a threat again in March. Reddic or not, the A-10 debutantes come to avenge last season's tough R32 exit.
West Virginia (Big East to Big 12)
Mountaineers on Big Monday? Nothing's changed ... except the time slot, the opponents and the time zone in which they'll often play away.
Instead of regular suicides, Badgers will practice running from bench to scorer's table. Bo knows winning, but can he replace Jordan Taylor?
Post-#ZipEmUp malaise never truly ended. Now X-men start fresh, especially in the backcourt where the two (Tu?) starters have moved on.