Five intriguing teams to watch next college basketball season

Hey, guess what?

The 2011-2012 season ended last night, so that means we have got to start talking about the future, like, right now.

Many pundits have already released their really-early-pre-season top 25 for next season, but there's still plenty of recruiting and early-entry movement yet to be settled that could sway a number of team's chances.

That being said, it doesn't mean some teams can't receive the "intriguing" label for next season.

Here's five we hand-picked, but surely there's plenty more we missed.

Arizona

Aside from Kyle Anderson heading to UCLA coupled with the outside chance of Shabazz Muhammad following, the Wildcats may be the lone reason us East Coast kids stay up on Thursday nights next winter to catch Pac 12 basketball.

Sean Miller scored a recruiting coup for the upcoming season and, while this team will be green behind the ears for the first few months, they will earn valuable experience by the new year and should be nothing but the favorites to win their league. Expectations will be high in Tucson and precocious young men can be volatile, so this will be fun to watch from afar while hoping this team gets to where everyone expects them to be by March.

If they don't, well, questions about Miller will unfairly commence.

Indiana

With Cody Zeller this is a 2013 National Championship contender. Without him, they're a good team with inflated expectations.

Indiana basketball is back, and thank God for that. We need this program to be on its game.

Boasting a nice recruiting class and plenty of options all over the rotation, this will be the first off-season in a while where we're including the Hoosiers in big boy discussions. Already, I'm anxiously awaiting IU - UK Round III in Rupp Arena.

In 2013, the Big Ten goes through Bloomington.

Maryland

The Terrapins will be a can't miss team possibly for only one person.

Remember Alex Len? He's supposed to be really good, and showed he's got potential but a long ways to go to be great based on his 22 appearances last season.

The true seven-footer is an intriguing player to the say the least. If he makes the leap this season along with Terrell Stoglin, Mark Turgeon's team could -could! - end up in the Sweet 16 for the first time in ten years.

Just like Indiana, this is a program that makes college basketball better when they're living in the top 25.

NC State

Staying in the conference formerly known as the best in college basketball, I already feel sorry for Mark Gottfried. Coming off a surprise Sweet 16 appearance in just his first season at the helm, Gottfried should enter next season with many of the important pieces from the 2011-2012 season (fingers-crossed on C.J. Leslie). He gets three top 100 players coming in to help out, and both Duke and North Carolina will likely be down by their standards. This sets up a rare opportunity for the Wolfpack to be the team to beat in the ACC.

Oh, man, is this a recipe for underachievement. I love this team already.

UNLV

If only the Rebels were decent at football, maybe they'd have been named the 12th member of the Pac 12, and not the lowly Utah Utes.

Why does it matter?

Well, they actually have a pretty legit thing going with their basketball team, and Dave Rose's club should absolutely position themselves to advance through the first weekend of next season's NCAA Tournament.

Six-foot-eight-inch Mike Moser is coming back and 6-9 Khem Birch is dying part of his hair red after transferring from Pittsburgh. Role players last season who may now have to step up with an expanded role 6-8 Quintrell Thomas and 6-10 Carlos Lopez means this could be a very long and disruptive defensive team next season.

Remember those few games the NBC Sports Channel carried from the Thomas & Mack Center last season? They were great, right?

Yes, we need this program to keep improving to get more of that sort of atmosphere coming through our TV screens on Saturday afternoons.

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