A host of variables go into every college basketball team's performance over the course of a lengthy season. Any player's performance or mindset on any given night can radically change the course of an entire campaign. Subtle changes can turn a team from struggling bumblers to world-beaters virtually overnight. Right, Kentucky fans?
These X-factors can take the form of a depth-chart move or improvements in a specific player's game, and they're hard to predict. They are, however, easy to note as factors to watch long before the season starts.
For top teams like these 20, one key player or burning question can make the difference between a national championship and a quiet first-weekend NCAA exit—or worse.
These programs are the top 20 from the August 13 B/R Experts' Poll, so if your school isn't considered a "top" team here, take it up with Jason King, C.J. Moore or Kerry Miller. Or petition the editors to get me added to the poll as a voice of reason.
All KenPom.com links should be assumed to require subscription.