November is one of the best months of the year for sports fans. The NFL and college football are both starting to heat up while basketball and hockey are usually kicking off. November is also when college basketball teams begin their march toward the Final Four in April, and this year it looks like some historic programs will be making a push toward the title.
Indiana comes into the year after having one of its best seasons in recent memory. Last year, the Hoosiers advanced to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in 10 years, and it looked like they were moving toward returning to their glory days of the 1970s and 80s. Pollsters seem to have taken note - the Hoosiers enter the season as number one on the Associated Press Top 25.
It's easy to understand why many experts see big things from Indiana this year. Not only are they led by a great coach in Tom Crean, but they return almost all of last year's squad including seven-foot sophomore Cody Zeller, a unanimous preseason All-American. The return of Zeller, coupled with the arrival of guard Kevin Ferrell, has Indiana sitting as a good pick.
But you can never count out last year's champ Kentucky. Unlike Indiana, the Wildcats return virtually nobody from last year's team, including freshman phenom Anthony Davis (now with the New Orleans Hornets), but coach John Calipari has a new crop of young, talented stars waiting in the wings. Leading the charge is North Carolina State transfer Ryan Harrow who will run the point, but he will be joined by the likes of freshmen Nerlens Noel and Alex Poythress.
The Wildcats aren't the only team from Kentucky to enter the season with high expectations, cross-state rivals Louisville are in the mix as well. The Cardinals visited the Final Four last year under the leadership of coach Rick Pitino, and they return three starters from the team, which had one of the best defenses in the country. It certainly won't surprise anybody if Peyton Siva and Russ Smith lead the Cardinals back to the Final Four.
Last year was strange that Kentucky was the presumptive favorite and never wavered from their quest to capture the title, but that might not be the case this year. Though Indiana, Kentucky and Louisville lead the way, this year is wide open. Anybody - from Ohio State and Michigan, to Syracuse and UCLA - could end up cutting down the net come April.