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EducationSportsMorgan State UniversityFootballOld Dominion UniversityVirginia TechGeorge Mason

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ACC

Favorite

North Carolina — A potentially dominant frontcourt of Deon Thompson, Ed Davis and Tyler Zeller mitigates the departure of four starters, including All-Americans Tyler Hansbrough and Ty Lawson, from last season's national championship team.

The contenders

Duke — The Blue Devils are probably a year away from national-title material, but forward Kyle Singler and guards Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith form a solid core.

Maryland — Mercurial point guard Greivis Vasquez passed on the NBA and with any semblance of consistency should carry the Terps back to the NCAA tournament.

Boston College — The Eagles may not have an all-ACC player, but led by forward Joe Trapani, there's enough quality to expect a sixth NCAA bid in seven years.

Games to watch

Villanova vs. Maryland (Washington, D.C.), 7:30 p.m., Dec. 6; Virginia Tech at Virginia, 7 p.m., Jan. 28; North Carolina at Virginia Tech, 9 p.m., Feb. 4; Duke at North Carolina, 9 p.m., Feb. 10; Duke at Virginia, 7:45 p.m., Feb. 28.

Players to watch

Malcolm Delaney, Virginia Tech (Jr., 6-3 G, 18.1 ppg, 4.5 apg); Kyle Singler, Duke (Jr., 6-8 F, 16.5 ppg, 7.7 rpg); Greivis Vasquez, Maryland (Sr., 6-6 G, 17.5 ppg, 5.0 apg); Trevor Booker, Clemson (Sr., 6-7 F, 15.3 ppg, 9.7 rpg); Gani Lawal, Georgia Tech (Jr., 6-9 F, 15.1 ppg, 9.5 rpg).

Colonial Athletic Association

Favorite

Old Dominion — Nearly everybody's back from a 25-10 team, including preseason Player of the Year Gerald Lee and workhorse forward Ben Finney. Guard Kent Bazemore is poised for a breakout season. The league's deepest and most versatile squad.

The contenders

Northeastern — Four starters return from a third-place team, led by senior guard Matt Janning and forward Manny Adako.

VCU — The Rams lost coach Anthony Grant and Player of the Year Eric Maynor, but center Larry Sanders and three other starters return.

George Mason — Sure, the Patriots lost several significant players from a 22-win team, but don't they always contend?

Games to watch

ODU at Georgetown, 7 p.m., Dec. 19; Northeastern at VCU, 7 p.m., Jan. 4; ODU at Northeastern, 2 p.m., Jan. 30; ODU at VCU, 4 p.m., Feb. 6; George Mason at ODU, 4 p.m., Feb. 13.

Players to watch

Gerald Lee, ODU (Sr., 6-10 F, 15.5 ppg, 5.7 rpg); Charles Jenkins, Hofstra (Jr., 6-3 G, 19.7 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 4.3 apg); Larry Sanders, VCU (Jr., 6-11 C, 11.3 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 92 blocks); Matt Janning, Northeastern (Sr., 6-4 G, 14.3 ppg); Cam Long, George Mason (Jr., 6-3 G, 11.7 ppg, 3.2 apg).

Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference

Favorite

Morgan State — The defending champs return only two starters, guard Reggie Holmes and forward Kevin Thompson, but coach Todd Bozeman reloaded with reserves who waited their turns and a few talented newcomers.

The contenders

South Carolina State — An immense roster makeover for the MEAC regular-season runners-up (seven new players), but that didn't stop the Bulldogs from being picked second.

Norfolk State — All-conference guard Michael Deloach is worth the ticket price and is the centerpiece of a team that went to the tournament final last year and filled holes with transfers and freshmen.

Hampton — New head coach Ed "Buck" Joyner Jr., inherits a decent nucleus in guards Vinny Simpson and Darrion Pellum and forward Michael Freeman. The death of captain Theo Smalling provides a cause.

Games to watch

Morgan State at Louisville, 1 p.m., Nov. 22; Morgan State at Hampton, 7:30 p.m., Jan. 11; Hampton at South Carolina State, 4 p.m., Feb. 6; Norfolk State at Hampton, 6 p.m., Feb. 13; South Carolina State at Morgan State, 7 p.m., Feb. 15.

Players to watch

Michael Deloach, Norfolk State (Sr., 6-1 G, 21.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg, .455 FG pct); Reggie Holmes, Morgan State (Sr., 6-4 G, 16.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg); Jason Flagler, South Carolina State (Sr., 6-4 G/F, 12.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg); Neal Pitt, Maryland-Eastern Shore (Sr., 6-6 F, 16 ppg, 8.1 rpg); C.J. Reed, Bethune-Cookman (Soph., 6-3 G, 15 ppg, 3.9 apg).

USA South

Favorite

Christopher Newport — Much hinges on play at point guard, where the Captains must replace Davon Barton. Six of the top eight scorers return, led by forward Michael Green and center Mark Blasingame. Conley Taylor's return after a one-year hiatus helps. Plenty of complementary parts.

The contenders

N.C. Wesleyan — Six of the top seven players return, led by USA South leading scorer Jamel Arrington and guard Trey Drake. Plenty of depth on the perimeter. The question is inside.

Ferrum — The Panthers return four starters, including first-team all-conference performers Keith Crump and Derek Mitchell (Heritage), who combined for 30 points per game last season.

Averett — The defending champs lost four starters, but return forward Kenny Hart (Nansemond River) and a good deal of depth.

Games to watch

Virginia Wesleyan at CNU, 7:30 p.m., Nov. 24; N.C. Wesleyan at CNU, 7:30, Jan. 13; CNU at Ferrum, 4 p.m., Jan. 17; N.C. Wesleyan at Ferrum, 7:30 p.m., Jan. 27; CNU at N.C. Wesleyan, 7:30 p.m., Feb. 6.

Players to watch

Jarmel Arrington, N.C. Wesleyan (Sr., 6-4 G, 17.8 ppg, .370 3-point pct); Mark Blasingame, CNU (Sr., 6-8 C, 11.7 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 3.7 bpg, .605 FG pct); Derek Mitchell, Ferrum (Jr., 6-4 F, 14.9 ppg, 12.4 rpg, .582 FG pct); Keith Crump, Ferrum (Sr., 6-2 G, 15.6 ppg); Trey Drake, N.C. Wesleyan (Sr., 5-8 G, 14.5 ppg, 5.6 apg).

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