6 Mid-major coaches who could be moving up
MARK FOX | NEVADA
In his three seasons in Reno the Wolfpack has gone 81--18 and finished first in the WAC every year.
ANTHONY GRANT | VCU
He would have taken over at Florida had Billy Donovan left, but his '07--08 Rams could be better than the '07--08 Gators.
DARRIN HORN | WESTERN KENTUCKY
The Hilltoppers have won 67 games over the last three years and are poised to make their first trip to March Madness under Horn, who led them to the Sweet 16 as a player.
CHRIS LOWERY | SOUTHERN ILLINOIS
The fourth-year coach signed a seven-year extension last spring, but the Salukis can only fend off major-conference suitors for so long.
SEAN MILLER | XAVIER
He'll eventually follow in the footsteps of Pete Gillen, Skip Prosser and Thad Matta and leave the Musketeers for a high-profile job.
JIMMY PATSOS | LOYOLA
Three years ago he took over after a 1--27 season. Now he has the Greyhounds poised to challenge for MAAC crown.
3 Cinderellas who will be dancing deep into March
The Wildcats went 17--1 in the SoCon last year, and three of their four nonconference losses were to Michigan, Missouri and Duke.
The Patriots could be this year's George Mason, with every starter returning from a team that lost a heartbreaker in the Colonial Athletic Association title game.
Daniel Ruffin, who nearly doubled his scoring last season (to 13.8 ppg), is the best player in the Missouri Valley Conference.
4 Story lines that will keep us guessing
A NEW COACH O IN TUCSON?
Lute Olson's indefinite leave of absence fuels speculation that newly hired assistant Kevin O'Neill will be his successor.
THE WEST COAST RISING
The Pac-10 enters the season as the consensus top conference; eight NCAA bids are not out of the question.
GENERAL'S LAST CAMPAIGN?
Now that Bob Knight has set the alltime wins record, there's a better-than-even chance that he'll retire next spring and hand the reigns to son Pat.
BENCH DECORUM GUIDELINES
How sternly—and consistently—will refs enforce the NCAA's new rules that prohibit coaches' unsportsmanlike behavior?
5 Key faces in new places
DEMARRE CARROLL | 6'8" | JR. | F | MISSOURI (VANDERBILT)
After averaging 12.1 points and 7.4 rebounds in SEC play as a sophomore, he transferred west to play for his uncle Mike Anderson.
FARNOLD DEGAND | 6'3" | SOPH. | G | NORTH CAROLINA STATE (IOWA STATE)
Although he hasn't suited up in two seasons (redshirt, transfer), Degand will take over at the point for the graduated Engin Atsur.
DEVAN DOWNEY | 5'9" | SOPH. | G, | SOUTH CAROLINA (CINCINNATI)
This diminutive point guard made the Big East all-rookie team (12.3 points, 4.1 assists), then left Cincy when Bob Huggins was forced out.
TYLER SMITH | 6'7" | SOPH. | F | TENNESSEE (IOWA)
A Big Ten all-freshman pick (14.9 points, 4.9 rebounds), Smith returned to his home state to be near his father, who died of lung cancer in September.
ROBERT VADEN | 6'5" | JR. | G-F | UAB (INDIANA)
He followed Mike Davis from Bloomington in 2006 after averaging 13.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.2 steals as a sophomore.
4 Players you've never heard of ... but should get to know
JAMONT GORDON | 6'4" | JR. | G | MISSISSIPPI STATE
This physical (230 pounds) Bulldogs bulldog averaged 15.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.9 assists over his first two seasons.
KENTRELL GRANSBERRY | 6'9" | SR. | C | SOUTH FLORIDA
The mammoth (270 pounds) Gransberry is the country's leading returning rebounder (11.4). He also averaged 15.6 points.
ALEKS MARIC | 6'11" | SR. | C | NEBRASKA
Despite facing constant double teams, the big Aussie was second in the Big 12 in rebounding (8.7) and fourth in scoring (18.5).
JEFF PENDERGRAPH | 6'9" | JR. | F | ARIZONA STATE
A former high school teammate of UCLA point guard Darren Collison, he was second in the Pac-10 in rebounding (8.9) and shooting (55.3%).
ALL-AMERICAS | MEN
DAMIAN STROHMEYER (GRANT)
G. NEWMAN LOWRANCE/WIREIMAGE.COM (RUFFIN)
MARK J. TERRILL/AP (PENDERGRAPH)
BOB ROSATO (COLLISON)
DAVID BERGMAN (LANGHORNE)