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Rant Sports NCAAB Season Preview: Five Storylines-CBE Hall of Fame Classic

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Rant Sports NCAAB Season Preview: Five Storylines-CBE Hall of Fame Classic

2011 Champs

Early season tournaments continue to emerge and increase from a competition standpoint. Non-conference schedules have increased in toughness, as college basketball fans prepare for premier match-ups and upsets even in November.

Last season, Missouri took the crown by winning the 2011 CBE Classic in convincing fashion against California. Now, a new field awaits this premier tournament with the anticipation of repeating the Tigers' success from a season ago. Kansas, Washington State, Texas A&M, and Saint Louis highlight the 2012 field from Kansas City, Missouri with each team looking to make an early statement.

Without further ado, let's take a look at five, key story lines to follow at this year's CBE Hall of Fame Classic:

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Start of a Long Year for Washington State?

Ken Bone

Just last week, Washington State head coach Ken Bone announced the dismissal of lead guard Reggie Moore.

The loss of a three-year starter and one of the top point guard in the Pac 12 Conference, leaves the Cougars searching for answers.

Big man Brock Motumreturns as one of the more underrated players in the conference, but Wazzu could be due for a long season, regardless. This field will give the Cougars a good opportunity to gauge their potential, but a semifinal match-up with Kansas certainly doesn't help the cause.

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Texas A&M Prepping for SEC Debut

Elston Turner
Troy Taormina-US PRESSWIRE

It's the start of another year for Texas A&M, but the Aggies move forth as one of two new members in the SEC. Elston Turnerand Ray Turner are back for Texas A&M, while the Aggies also welcome in highly-touted freshman J'Mychal Reese and Alex Caruso. JUCO transfer Fabyon Harris should also help the transition process, but it will be interesting to see what expectations will unfold in 2012-13.

A semifinal date with Saint Louis is certainly no walk in the park, so the 2012 CBE Classic will give the Aggies a great, early opportunity to build momentum. That is, if, they can pull off an upset or two.

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Potential Home Court Title Test?

Jeff Withey

This field features both Saint Louis and Kansas and with the event taking place in Kansas City, Missouri, the potential for a local bout between two relatively close teams could surface. The Jayhawks would have to dispatch of Washington State in the semifinals, while Saint Louis would have to take care of Texas A&M, but heading into the tournament that is what is to be expected.

A potential Saint Louis-Kansas championship match-up could have all the makings of a premier, early-season tilt. Kansas may appear as the field's favorite, but Saint Louis should be among the prized squads in the A-10 Conference this year. Should this game emerge on day two in Kansas City, fans of both teams and college basketball as a whole can certainly get excited.

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No Rick Majerus for Saint Louis

Rick Majerus

News emerged earlier this month that Saint Louis head coach Rick Majerus would miss the entire 2012-13 season. The decision comes after continuous health problems, so interim Jim Crews takes over a team with high expectations. Kwamain Mitchell is back for the Billikens and so too is back court mate Mike McCall Jr.

Atlantic-10 members are on high alert of Saint Louis this season, but the 2012 CBE Classic field is, as well. Saint Louis, who was eliminated in the Round of 32 a season ago, can certainty dance again in 2013, but will the loss of their head coach affect their potential?

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Youthful Kansas Jayhawks

Naadir Tharpe

Jeff Withey is the veteran leader on this squad, while a few other upperclassmen will help mold these Jayhawks into a premier squad once again in 2012-13

However, head coach Bill Self features a number of young guns ready to step up and shine. The Jayhawks' roster features eight freshmen and two sophomores this season, but the talent level in those two classes is premier. Redshirt freshman Ben McLemore has increasingly high expectations, while sophomore guard Naadir Tharpe looks to step up in the back court.

As many of the nation's elite programs do, Kansas doesn't look to rebuild, but instead reload for another deep tournament run. Who will step up and emerge for Self and the Jayhawks early on and throughout the season remains to be determined.