College basketball returns with big expectations for UNC and Duke
The college basketball season begins Monday, with nearly every team in the state playing that night.
Why it matters: The Triangle is sure to attract national attention this season thanks to UNC's No. 1 ranking and the start of a new era at Duke.
Here are four of the most interesting story lines we will be watching:
Duke's new era
Jon Scheyer, welcome to the spotlight.
- Legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski, who took the Duke job in 1980 — seven U.S. presidents ago — retired after last season and leaves a very long shadow over the program.
Scheyer hopes for a similar start to his career as his neighbor in Chapel Hill, Hubert Davis, who reached the championship game last year — and defeated Duke in the Final Four — in his first season after replacing Roy Williams at UNC.
- Pressure to win will be there from the start: Scheyer starts the year with the nation's No. 1 recruiting class.
Coach K isn't going away entirely. He plans to keep an office on campus, though he's indicated he won't be hovering in the stands during games.
Be smart: Scheyer's two most touted recruits, Dariq Whitehead and Dereck Lively, are starting the season injured.
Will UNC retain late season magic?
Expectations could not be higher for UNC after Davis took last year's squad to the championship game in his first season.
- Most of that team returns, including star big man Armando Bacot. It’ll be hard to find a more experienced and talented lineup in the nation.
Be smart: One key difference this year: the loss of graduate senior Brady Manek.
- Manke's hot three-point shooting helped propel the team to the Final Four. The Tar Heels are hoping Northwestern transfer Pete Nance can fill his role, so watch his progress gelling into the team.
Can Kevin Keatts get things right?
This could be a make or break year for N.C. State coach Keatts' tenure in Raleigh.
- The Wolfpack hasn't made the NCAA Tournament since 2018, and fans and alums are hungry.
- Additionally, two of Keatts' most lauded recruits — Robert Dillingham and Shawn Philliips — decommitted in the offseason.
Be smart: N.C. State sophomore guard Terquavion Smith is the player to watch on this roster. He has NBA talent and the Wolfpack will need his scoring.
NCCU's experienced squad
LeVelle Moton might be the most underrated coach in the Triangle. He’s taken N.C. Central to the NCAA Tournament four times, including a three-year run from 2017-2019.
- The Eagles are expected to compete for a top spot in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference this year, with their top scorer returning and the addition of a 7-foot-1 center.
- Another tournament appearance could bring a high-profile offer his way.
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