The perennial powers square off in the now annual tradition known as the Champions Classic - who will bolster their resume with an early marquee win at the United Center tonight in Chicago?
The SWAC is BACK! (and potentially worse than ever)... Texas Southern is still the favorite under Mike Davis, but the rest of the league could account for 9 of the bottom-20 teams in division 1 basketball.
While the transfer epidemic continues to deplete the league's talent supply, the Red Flash project to be a slight favorite in what will likely be yet another rat race to the finish line in the NEC.
The Catamounts have their eyes set on a 2nd straight America East title after running the table last year, but don't count out the dynamic duo of Joe Cremo and David Nichols for Albany.
After a fiercely competitive playing field resulted in a 3-way tie for first atop the SoCon standings last season, as many as 7 teams have a realistic shot at claiming the conference crown in 2017-18.
After steamrolling through the C-USA last year, Middle Tennessee finally looks vulnerable with Jacorey Williams and Reggie Upshaw graduating this summer. The Blue Raiders will have to fend off a handful of worthy adversaries who have the chops to seize the regular season crown in 2017-18.
The WCC is once again a two horse race between Saint Mary's and the Zags. Mark Few and co. should reload instantly, but will this be the year Jock Landale leads the Gaels to an outright WCC title?
The AAC welcomes a new friend to the party this year after the perennial Missouri Valley Conference powerhouse Wichita State joined the now 12-team league this summer. Gregg Marshall and the Shockers look to continue their dominance as they step up in competition, but a formidable foe in Cincinnati patiently awaits the challenge.
While Rhode Island seems to be the clear-cut frontrunner in the A-10 this year, it's hard to find much separation amongst the rest of the 14-team field. With only four games separating the 4th and 9th place teams last season, the margin for error will once again be slim to none in 2017-18.
Despite an impressive 10-4 showing in last year's NCAA tournament, the Pac-12 earned only four berths to the Big Dance - the league's least since 2012. Will a loaded Arizona squad roll through the "Conference of Champions" in a one-horse race? Or will the likes of USC, UCLA and Oregon have the chops to take down the Wildcats?
After sending 7 of it's 10 teams to the NCAA tournament last March - the most since the league's realignment in 2013 - the Big East looks to be just as deep this year. Will Villanova claim their 5th straight regular season title? Or will this finally be the year someone knocks the Wildcats off their perch?
It was yet another frustrating finish to Arizona's season after being bounced in the Sweet 16 by 11-seeded Xavier - head coach Sean Miller's former employer. With a potential player of the year candidate in Allonzo Trier back and fully healthy for his junior campaign, is this the year Miller and the Wildcats finally break through?
Despite an early NCAA tournament exit last year, Villanova will once again be the hunted in the Big East this season. With bonafide big man Omari Spellman now eligible, and preseason POTY candidate Jalen Brunson back in the mix, can Jay Wright and the Wildcats claim their 5th straight league title?
After coming up just three points shy of knocking off Kentucky in last year's NCAA tournament, Gregg Marshall will seamlessly hit the reset button with almost everyone slated to return. With the Shockers about to embark on their first full season in the AAC, expectations have never been higher in Wichita.
Andy Enfield looks to take the Trojans one step further in March behind a roster that is oozing with both talent and experience. With many projecting USC as a top-10 team this year, it's safe to say Enfield has officially resurrected hoops in south Los Angeles.
The Bearcats have been a model of consistency in the AAC, finishing in the top-3 of the conference standings in each of the past four seasons. While the loss of senior leader Troy Caupain will be tough to replace, Mick Cronin found a diamond in the rough in Sacred Heart transfer Cane Broom, who will have big shoes to fill in 2017-18.
Fresh off a roller coaster season which brought the Musketeers to the brink of a Final Four appearance, Trevon Bluiett aims to lead the X-Men to the promise land [of San Antonio] in his last season in Xavier uniform.
After being ousted in the first round of the NCAA tournament in each of the past two seasons, Seton Hall hopes that a third time turns out to be a charm in 2018. Led by three seniors - Angel Delgado, Desi Rodriguez and Khadeen Carrington - the Pirates' experienced talent make them poised for a deep run in March.
Gonzaga wore the burden of mid-majors everywhere last season as they came just a few points shy of college basketball's mountaintop. With the crushing championship defeat behind them, it's time for Mark Few to do what he's done time and time again in Spokane - reboot and reload.
With "Lonzo-mania" moving across town to the Staples Center, a new crop of young talent is set to take the stage for the Bruins. Even with a laundry list of offensive weapons leaving Westwood this summer, UCLA should take only a minor step back in 2017-18, especially if Aaron Holiday proves he's ready for the spotlight.
After coming up one game shy of the Final Four two years ago, Oregon finally took that next step to reach college basketball's biggest stage last season. Despite a massive roster overhaul, Dana Altman has quickly replenished the talent pool with a blue-chip recruit in Troy Brown and two gems via the transfer wire in Elijah Brown and MiKyle McIntosh.
After a crushing 2nd half collapse in last year's First Four showdown against USC, the Friars are chomping at the bit to avenge their recent postseason shortcomings. Ed Cooley will now fuse together a top-20 recruiting class with the formidable core from last year's roster, making Providence a deep sleeper to contend for the Big East crown.
If not for two devastating daggers from Tyler Dorsey in URI's 2nd round matchup with Oregon, there's no telling where Rhody's late-season magic would've ended last year. Now, with a loaded backcourt returning this season, can Dan Hurley lead the Rams back to the Sweet-16 for the first time since 1998?
Now in his 2nd season at the helm, Tim Jankovich looks to maintain last year's momentum with an injection of new talent via the transfer wire, along with a hyper-talented playmaker in Shake Milton back to lead the "Pony Show" in Dallas.
A new coach, along with a handful of fresh new faces will test just how strongly fortified "the Butler Way" persists in the Bulldogs this year. Can senior Kelan Martin lead a young nucleus back to the Big Dance for a fourth straight season? Or will LaVall Jordan's inaugural campaign as head coach be remembered as a rebuilding stepping stone for a new era of Butler basketball?
Without their primary point guard/maestro, Mo Watson, and paint protector, Justin Patton, no longer in the fold, the Jays have some major shoes to fill in 2017-18. Can a talented incoming freshman class, coupled with the return of two all-conference performers in Marcus Foster and Khryi Thomas keep Creighton in the thick of the Big East standings?
There's no shortage of storylines for Monday night's national championship showdown between the North Carolina Tar Heels and Gonzaga Bulldogs. Will the Tar Heels find redemption from last year's heartbreaker against Villanova? Or will Mark Few and the Zags break down the barrier many thought would never be breached...
After beginning the season ranked in the top-5 of the AP Poll, Kansas and Oregon now find themselves just one step away from a trip to Phoenix. With two premier coaches and a plethora of talent set to face off tonight in Kansas City, the Midwest Regional Final has all the makings of an instant classic.
Both Villanova and Duke are sitting on their couches, contemplating their NBA decisions and/or their mortality, leaving several upstarts with a shocking shot at the Final Four...
Two bonafide matchups are set to square off Thursday evening in Kansas City, where the top-seeded Jayhawks will have the closest thing to a home-court advantage outside of their true home in Allen Fieldhouse. Can Kansas continue rolling through the Midwest? And if so, will they run into the unstoppable force that is the March magic of Michigan?