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November 6, 2008Rivals.com has selected the top 25 story lines for the 2008-09 season and will be revealing one daily. At No. 5, we take a look at who might be No. 2 - because there is no question about the top-ranked team heading into the season.
Almost every coach, analyst and expert is picking North Carolina to capture the national title this season. The Tar Heels received every possible first-place vote in the two main preseason polls.
Where things get interesting is trying figuring out which team North Carolina ultimately will have to get past to win it all. There's plenty to talk about on that topic.
Connecticut is the most popular pick. Despite getting bounced out of the NCAA tournament in the first round last season, the Huskies were voted No. 2 in both polls and also sit No. 2 in the Rivals.com preseason top 65.
Louisville is No. 3 in both polls. UCLA, voted No. 4 in both polls, may be the program that most deserves the No. 2 spot. The Bruins are searching for what would be a remarkable fourth consecutive appearance in the Final Four.
The teams voted Nos. 5, 6 and 7 ? Duke, Pittsburgh and Michigan State ? in the AP poll are separated by only six points.
At least five other teams can make a case for why they should be No. 2 as well. We take a look at each of the candidates below, listed alphabetically, and break down what it's going to take for each to take down the mighty Tar Heels.
Andrew Skwara is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.