With college football out of the picture, all eyes are on the final two months of the college basketball season.
The 2021-22 campaign has been anything but conventional and has far more parity than years past.
Here are five crucial storylines to follow as college hoops makes its push into the national spotlight.
Can Duke capture 1st ACC regular-season title since 2010?
Not only has it been 12 years since Duke took home the ACC's regular-season crown, but the school hasn't won the outright title since 2006. With North Carolina, Virginia, and Florida State among the many typical challengers, the Blue Devils haven't had it easy.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski's last season at the helm provides a strong opportunity to break the streak, with many of the league's traditional powers putting up below-average campaigns. As a result, Duke sits just half a game back of leaders Miami at 7-2 in conference play. The biggest issue is that one of the Blue Devils' two losses came against the Hurricanes – and the schools don't meet again this season.
In the grand scheme of it all, a regular-season ACC title shouldn't mean too much to a squad primed for a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. But with Coach K's farewell tour in full effect, Duke will strive to achieve every accolade it can manage, especially one that's evaded the program for so long.
Will Shaedon Sharpe suit up?
Kentucky has bounced back from an embarrassing 2020-21 campaign. John Calipari reloaded through the transfer portal in the offseason, landing rebound machine Oscar Tshiebwe, sharpshooter Kellan Grady, and floor general Sahvir Wheeler. Freshman Tyty Washington also made an immediate impact, averaging 13.1 points, 4.4 assists, and 1.3 steals over 20 appearances. The Wildcats have the pieces to make a deep NCAA Tournament run, including the ultimate wild card.
Shaedon Sharpe, the top-ranked prospect on the ESPN 100 for 2022, is eligible to play after enrolling in January. He initially had no plans to suit up this season and there's a chance he could leave for the NBA without making a single appearance for Kentucky. The Canadian is reportedly eligible for the 2022 draft and is a projected top-10 selection if he were to declare.
Sharpe is a game-changing talent who could put the Wildcats over the top. If the 6-foot-6 guard, an explosive athlete with the ability to score from all three levels, plays and performs well, it's hard to see him returning next fall. On the other hand, electing to leave him on the sidelines could come back to haunt Kentucky in March and beyond.