An early national look at 2001-2002 hoops season

ESPN.com's Andy Katz has written an early preview of the 2001-2002 college basketball season -- in the form of 'Duke, and everybody else.' And it's a fair assessment, considering the Blue Devils are the heavy preseason favorite.

Katz lists the teams in the following categories: Contenders (2-11), On the Fringe (12-20), Could Be Dangerous (21-27) and Keep An Eye On (28-51).

With Duke at No. 1, Maryland is listed as a "Contender," Virginia is "On the Fringe" and the Tar Heels are in the "Keep an Eye On" category.

Don't think the Tar Heels are going to be hurting. North Carolina still has Jason Capel and Kris Lang up front and brought in super athletes in Melvin Scott, Jawad Williams and Jackie Manuel. All three are impact players in the ACC. The key will be settling on a point guard between the erratic Adam Boone and Brian Morrison.

Carolina fans will disagree with his placement of the Heels, and Doherty can chalk it up as yet more material for the locker room bulletin board, but with a few big question marks, UNC will need to prove they belong in the Top 25 -- and that's fine. A team can be much more dangerous when underestimated.

On the whole, Katz has done a good job assembling the teams to watch for 2001-2002 -- but there's one team he must have forgotten.

Wake Forest.

The Deacons lost Robert O'Kelley (12.6 points), Josh Shoemaker (7.4 rebounds) and Rafael Vidaurreta, but they return a good core of players: Darius Songaila and Josh Howard are All-ACC talents, Craig Dawson is a dangerous sharpshooter, Broderick Hicks and Ervin Murray have the point well taken care of, Antwan Scott is capable of much more than he's shown thus far and the freshmen class, led by forwards Jamaal Levy and Vytas Danelius, is expected to contribute.

Once the Deacs become comfortable with new coach Skip Prosser's uptempo style, and they piece together Scott and the freshmen to help address a thin returning froncourt besides Songaila, Wake Forest is an NCAA Tournament team.

LINK: More than a few worthy challengers to Duke's crown


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