- Jay Bilas, College Basketball analyst
As you prepare yourself to consume the Bilastrator's preseason college basketball opus -- a collection of national title favorites, outside Final Four contenders, candidates to win the Wooden Award, celebrity doppelgangers for head coaches, a considered judgment on the new rules changes, an exceptional collection of Twitter handles and much more -- the Bilastrator not so humbly says: You're welcome.
In sum, the Bilas opus is the definitive, authoritative and, yes, trillest guide to the 2013-14 season. Usually one needs a Sherpa-aided climb to dialogue with the Dalai Lama or sit at the feet of the Maharishi to hear such wisdom. To see the future so clearly and with such exactitude, one would normally need to read the Quatrains of Nostradamus. Yet the Bilastrator, knower of all things college basketball and beyond, is kind and generous enough to bring this enlightenment directly to you, all in an easy-to-digest form, to educate your mind and soul about the beautiful game. You will soon be able to make the finer distinctions of the true basketball literati.
(Disclaimer: This opus should not be used for ill, but only for good. If one were to take this opus to Las Vegas, it would be akin to Biff taking the future's Sports Almanac to Sin City's past and taking down the entire town. The Bilastrator enjoys Las Vegas, and does not wish to see this happen. So, please, no wagering using this state-of-the-art, landmark resource, as it would anger and disappoint our friends in the barren, waterless, yet very well-lit desert region.)
The 2013-14 college basketball season promises to be one of the best in recent years. A combination of thoughtful rule changes and the arrival of a super-talented freshman class with the ability to deliver on its rare potential will lead to an improvement in college basketball's respectability, play-ability and watch-ability.
So, let's get started. Your journey to the highest plane of basketball comprehension has begun.
The Bilastrator's top eight national title favorites
1. Duke Blue Devils: This is a different Duke team, but Mike Krzyzewski will have a familiar record at the end of the season. The Blue Devils have offensive and defensive versatility; can spread the floor and drive it; and have a truly special player in freshman Jabari Parker. Duke will bring full-court pressure and play at a quicker pace, scoring efficiently from the 3-point and free throw lines. The only question marks are whether Duke can rebound consistently with bigger teams and improve upon its transition defense. By the end of the season, Duke will figure it out and be difficult to beat.
2. Kentucky Wildcats: Erase last season's UK team from your memory, because it has no bearing on this season's Wildcats. John Calipari has talent worthy of Noah's Ark; he has two of everything. The key will be this team's ability to shoot, stretch a defense and attack in dribble-drive motion style. Andrew Harrison is another of Cal's special point guards, and he can bully people off the bounce. The exceptional talent among the talented is Julius Randle, who will push Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker as the best and most productive rookie in the country. This team can win it all.