Any longtime follower of college round-ball recognizes the changes in the teams who have had success over the years.
In the 1940s and 50s, Kentucky was a dominant program, winning titles in 1948, 1949, 1951, and '58. Cincinnati went to the Final Four each year from 1959 through 1963, winning the title in 1961 and '62.
The success of UCLA from 1964 through 1975 is well documented with national titles in 10 of those 12 seasons, including seven in a row from 1967 to 1973.
Indiana went undefeated in 1976 while winning the national title. The Hoosiers were the seventh team to go undefeated and win the National Title in the 20 year period of 1956–1976.
Specifically, the 1956 San Francisco Dons of Bill Russell's heyday, Frank McGuire's '57 UNC team, the UCLA teams of 1964, 67, 72, and '73 were all undefeated NCAA Champions.
Further, the 1973 N.C. State team went undefeated, 27-0, but was prohibited from participating in the NCAA Tournament. The following year, the Wolfpack won the National Championship but, had one loss along the way.
Sounds like there is nothing unusual about going undefeated in college basketball. The problem is, no one has done it since Indiana in 1976.
There are reasons galore why this has not happened but, that doesn't stop each generation from explaining how their team will not lose a game during the season.
The upcoming season is no exception. We are bombarded with information about how this team or that team can't possibly lose. But, the truth is, they will. To whom, time will tell.
From first light, it appears there are a "Baker's Dozen" of teams with a legitimate chance of winning the national title this season. Can any of them complete an undefeated season? I doubt it.
That will not stop fans from following their school and becoming filled with happiness or misery depending upon the results of any 40-minute encounter with an opponent.
Case in point, the fine supporters of Kentucky following the loss to VMI on Friday night. It was the Keydets' moment in the sun, the Wildcats have experienced many, and surely will enjoy more in the future.
Let's delve further into the top teams of this season. The way it appears, one of these teams will emerge as the national champion in 2009. Although fans of each school may angrily deny it, the "best team" doesn't always win the title. It is the team that puts together what it takes when the time is right.
With this in mind, I suggest we will find our champion from among the following list of teams. They are rated in the ascending order of championship possibility.
THE BAKER'S DOZEN
12. Wake Forest
11. Notre Dame
9. Michigan State
3. North Carolina
When choosing what will happen in sports, remember a quote from Otto Bettman from many years ago, " Things are sometimes not as they seem, milk often masquerades as cream". I have found truer words have rarely been spoken.