Bring on the Brackets, Bubbles and Basketball

Bring on the Brackets, Bubbles and Basketball

Now that the lights have officially gone out on football season, it's time for much of the country to re-introduce itself to a sport called college basketball.


Don't worry if you have not seen the histrionics of Ole Miss' Marshall Henderson or the high-rise flat top of Kentucky's Nerlens Noel. No worries if you didn't know Gonzaga and Butler are back among the nation's elite, while blue-blooded programs North Carolina and UCLA struggle for consistency.


Brace yourself this February as you once again begin contemplating brackets and bubbles: Scoring is down, uncertainty is up. And as you leave the NFL behind, here's your post-Super Bowl catch-up, 10 story lines that are shaping this unique season:


1. Is this the most wide-open season of the century?


No offense to Indiana, Michigan and Florida, because there are a handful of very good teams. But there is no great team in the mold of 2009 North Carolina, 2007 Florida or 2012 Kentucky. And no offense to Creighton's Doug McDermott, Michigan's Trey Burke or Indiana's Cody Zeller, because there are several very good players nationwide. But there is no transcendent player in the mold of Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose or Anthony Davis.


Already parity has come full circle, with Indiana, the preseason No. 1 in the USA TODAY Sports Coaches Poll, back at the top this week. But does anyone think the game of musical chairs atop the polls is finished? Didn't think so. This NCAA tournament figures to be as unpredictable as any this century.

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