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Being number one is never easy. It puts a huge target on your back and lets the rest of the college world know that you are the team to beat. Kentucky, who starts this season at the number one spot, can especially attest to this as they started last year in the number one spot as well. Unfortunately for them, a few injuries would lead to a very uncharacteristic season that culminated in a first-round loss in the NIT tournament to Robert Morris. Nonetheless, The Wildcats have two things going for them. One, they have the highest rated freshman class in the entire nation, and two, they have John Calipari who is a future hall of famer coach who is the mastermind that pulls in these top recruits. Vegas has Kentucky as a 4-to-1 favorite to win it all come the National Championship tournament in March. However, they'll need to have a much better season then last year if they hope to do so.
Michigan State earns the number two spot in the preseason NCAA basketball polls. And while the Spartans may feel as if they were cheated, we won't have to wait very long to see who deserves that top spot as they will face off against the Wildcats on November 12th. This is going to be a huge matchup just one week into the regular season that will impact the rankings throughout the nation. If Michigan State wants to prove that this year is the year they'll win it all, they can make a big statement with a win over Kentucky. Along with a handful of other teams like Florida, Arizona and Louisville, Michigan State is a 12-to-1 favorite to win the National Championship this year.
Speaking of Louisville, they return this year as the defending national champion. The Cardinals had a great run last year in the tournament, which was bolstered by the horrific accident of Kevin Ware who gained national attention after breaking his leg during one of the games. Ware could return to the Cardinals lineup in time for their first game this year, which would be a huge motivational boost for a team looking to repeat as national champs.
One of the teams that made the biggest jump with their odds to win it all after this years past freshman signings was Kansas. The winners of the "Andrew Wiggins" sweepstakes, the Jayhawks went from 30-to-1 favorites to win it all, to 10-to-1 favorites once the projected number one pick in the 2014 NBA Draft signed with Kansas. Wiggins has been a phenomenal Canadian standout and will look to prove to people that he is ready to bring his game to America in style. There are no other returning starters for Kansas, so Wiggins will be expected to carry the brunt of the load for majority of the season.
Basketball fans are going to get yet another huge game on November 12th, as Kansas takes on Duke. The Blue Devils, who are 12-to-1 favorites to win it all this year, will look to shutdown Wiggins with two new superstars of their own. Jabari Parker was the number two recruited player in the nation last year, behind the Canadian Wiggins. And although that was Dukes only top commit, they will also get a major boost from Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood. Coach K isn't known for giving his team much credit early in the season, as he wants to motivate them to push themselves even further, but in a recent interview he said this team is good and has the potential to be great. We'll find out just how great come their matchup against Kansas on November 12.
Other teams to watch for this year include Creighton, who is led by Doug McDermott, Oklahoma State, who has preseason All-American Marcus Smart, and VCU, who always makes a strong push in the tournament but starts this season ranked in the top 15. Who knows what other Cinderella stories will show up in this years NCAA basketball season, but it'll be exciting to watch to find out.