Ready or not, college basketball is upon us.
When games get underway on Friday, months of speculation and anticipation will finally be given some substance. The spotlight will shine brightest on the players and teams who have received high preseason rankings, and it will be up to them to live up to the hype.
Here is a look at five individual players from whom big things are expected in 2012-13—and for good reason, because they are among the most dominant players in the country. Keep an eye on these playmakers throughout the season—some will succeed and others may fail, but all are guaranteed to entertain as well as anyone in college basketball.
Canaan nearly led Murray State to an undefeated regular season last year.
Once they got it, the nation realized that the Racers have a truly special player in guard Isaiah Canaan.
Canaan poured in 19 points per game for Murray State as a junior and led the team to 23 straight wins before losing a single regular season game. Now he's back for his senior year and will attempt to bring the Racers back to the NCAA tournament.
Selected to the Associated Press' preseason All-America team and listed at No. 4 on CBSSports.com's Top 100 Players, nobody is sleeping on Canaan this year. The question will be whether or not he can repeat last season's dazzling performance.
Siva took Louisville all the way to the Final Four last season.
Peyton Siva will have the nation's eyes all over him as soon as the season begins—his Cardinals are ranked No. 2 in the country in preseason polls, ahead of the Kentucky team (albeit a very different Kentucky team) that beat them in the Final Four last spring.
A true point guard, Siva's playmaking ability lies not in big dunks or gutsy shooting but in skillful distribution and court leadership.
A star at Louisville since his sophomore year, Siva's final season has one goal: a national championship.
Though he has averaged more than nine points per game in each of the last two seasons, it's much more important that he create big plays for teammates than score himself. With weapons like Gorgui Dieng and Chane Behanan around him, Siva's final campaign should be fun to watch.
Noel will try to fill the giant shoes of Anthony Davis at Kentucky.
As the most highly anticipated freshman on a team that won a National Championship with nearly all freshmen last season, Nerlens Noel is faced with some lofty expectations.
The arguable No. 1 recruit in the country is expected to meet them, and then some—CBSSports.com already names him as the fifth-best player in college basketball.
Standing 6'10" and very athletic, Noel is sure to treat us to some big jams this season. But his playmaking will be equally if not more important on the defensive end, where his shot-blocking is considered his greatest ability.
He'll naturally be compared to Anthony Davis all year long, and if he bears any sort of resemblance to last season's Player of the Year, his swats will constitute must-see highlights.
To expect Davis-like blocking numbers of Noel simply would not be fair, but the Wildcats do need him to be among the best players in the country if they hope to defend their title. There's a lot riding on the freshman, and time will tell if he's already enough of a playmaker to handle it.
Creighton will look to McDermott to lead them back to the NCAA tournament.
With an average of 23.2 points per game as a sophomore last season, Doug McDermott was the third-best scorer in the entire country.
Creighton will look to its star forward to provide more of that electrifying offense as a junior.
No. 2 on CBSSports.com's list and the recipient of the second-most votes of any player on the AP's preseason All-America team, McDermott should be one of the most entertaining scorers in the nation to watch this year.
His Bluejays will also be one of the most intriguing teams, as they are ranked No. 16 in the country despite coming out of the mid-major Missouri Valley Conference. If McDermott and his Creighton teammates can post a solid regular season record, they may find themselves near the top of the national rankings later in the year.
Zeller is a favorite for Player of the Year this season.
Why not save the best—and most obvious—for last?
Cody Zeller launched Indiana back to relevance last season, and now the Hoosiers are ranked No. 1 in the country heading into this year.
Zeller himself is No. 1 in CBSSports.com's Top 100 and took the most votes among the AP's preseason All-Americans.
The 7'0" sophomore is simply a complete package. Last year's Big Ten Freshman of the Year is capable of some highlight-reel plays every time he takes the floor.
Indiana is expected to contend for a national title this year, and Zeller is expected to be among the leading candidates for Player of the Year. There's an enormous amount of pressure on both Zeller and the team—starting Friday, they must show they can handle it.