After being pushed back a couple of weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic, the college basketball season has officially tipped off.
While COVID-19 will present its challenges, the various conferences seem determined to complete as close to a normal season as possible.
Here's theScore's full season preview for the 2020-21 college basketball campaign.
The return of star Luka Garza saw Iowa grab the No. 5 ranking in the preseason poll, the highest for the Hawkeyes in 65 years. Whether Garza can get enough production from the supporting cast should be a deciding factor in the Big Ten. Wisconsin, Michigan, and Michigan State will once again field strong programs in what is arguably the deepest conference in the country. See full preview.
After seeing its annual exodus of players to the NBA, Kentucky once again reloaded with a top-ranked recruiting class led by B.J. Boston. How John Calipari can get the team to mesh in the pandemic-shortened season will be a determining factor in how deep the Wildcats can go in March. Should they falter, both Tennessee and Florida are waiting to snatch the SEC title from Kentucky. See full preview.
With five teams ranked in the preseason AP poll, the Big 12 has as much top-level talent as any conference in the country. The usual suspects - Baylor, Kansas, and Texas Tech - are sure to make noise, but the individual currently garnering the most attention is Oklahoma State's star freshman Cade Cunningham. Will his endless potential be enough to see the Cowboys challenge the Big 12's biggest programs? See full preview.
For the first time since 2012, Duke failed to land a recruit ranked in the top 10 of ESPN's prospect list. Whether Mike Krzyzewski can find a go-to player this season should go a long way to deciding the ACC. Expect Virginia and Louisville to compete for the conference crown yet again, while North Carolina will be looking to rebound from the first losing season of Roy Williams' coaching career. See full preview.
With electric star Remy Martin back in the fold, Arizona State has grand aspirations for the 2020-21 season. The Sun Devils have never made the Final Four in school history, but Bobby Hurley's roster this year is by far his most talented in Tempe. Expect strong pushes by UCLA, Utah, and Stanford, but Arizona State should be the class of the conference. See full preview.
The best of the rest
They might not play in a major conference, but there's little doubt that Gonzaga is currently the best team in the country. The Bulldogs enter the season as the top-ranked outfit and have as good a chance as ever to finally get that elusive NCAA Tournament title. Villanova is another team with title aspirations, as the Wildcats are searching for their third championship in the last five tournaments. They will be challenged by Danny Hurley's UConn Huskies, who are making their triumphant Big East return. See full preview.
While some of the top talent in the country opted to go to the G League and avoid college, there's still a number of big names to watch this season. From prized recruits like Cunningham and Boston to seasoned veterans like Garza, here's the breakdown of the top players to watch this season.