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Colorado

Tad Boyle’s Buffs have proved they are serious players in the Pac-12. Boyle’s team won the 2012 Charleston Classic, captured the Pac-12 tournament in 2011-12, and has never won fewer than 21 games in Boyle’s four seasons. CU might have challenged for the Pac-12 crown in 2013-14 had the Buffs not lost their leading scorer, forward Spencer Dinwiddie, to an ACL injury Jan. 12. They played .500 without him, and earned a high seed in the conference tournament. Forward Josh Scott, a double-double machine even before Dinwiddie’s injury, was among the conference’s top 15 in scoring and in the top five in rebounding, while guard Askia Booker picked up his scoring and was superb taking care of the ball and forcing turnovers. Wesley Gordon is among the top young bigs in the conference, ranking among the leaders in blocks, offensive and total rebounds.
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DePaul

The Blue Demons will keep trying to turn things around in 2014 after another tough season in the Big East. Oliver Purnell’s team won only three Big East games and lost 13 of 15 conference games at one point, including 10 in a row. Eleven of the 13 losses were by at least 10 points. But help is on the way, as guard Billy Garrett Jr. was a serious contender to win Big East Rookie of the Year in 2013-14. A five-time freshman/rookie of the week, Garrett led all freshmen in scoring, assists and free throw percentage. Fellow freshman Tommy Hamilton IV led Big East first-year players in rebounding and also took home a freshman of the week award. DePaul will be the first Big East team to play in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.
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George Washington

George Washington had a breakthrough season in its 100th season of college basketball, winning 20 games for the first time with coach Mike Lonergan. GW, fourth in scoring and scoring defense in the Atlantic 10, used an unselfish approach, with five players scoring in double figures. Three of those five, guard Kethan Savage, forward Kevin Larsen and guard/forward Patricio Garino, all sophomores, will be in the Diamond Head Classic. Point guard Joe McDonald, also a sophomore, was among the A-10′s top 10 in assists, assists/turnovers and steals. Injuries hampered the Colonials, as Garino (finger) missed time early, Savage (left foot) was out late and McDonald battled hip problems all season. GW liked playing high-profile teams, knocking off Miami (Fla.) and No. 20/18 Creighton in ESPN’s Wooden Legacy, then upending Maryland three days later in the 19th BB&T Classic.
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Hawaii

The Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic welcomes Benjy Taylor, who on Oct. 31 was named the acting head coach of the University of Hawai’i men’s basketball team for the 2014-15 season. As an assistant coach last year, Taylor helped guide UH to a 19-13 finish and an appearance in the CollegeInsider.com postseason tournament.  Taylor has been a part of numerous NCAA and NIT squads, while coaching at eight different Division I programs, including the 2000-01 Pepperdine squad that went 22-9 and advanced to the second round of the NIT. Most recently, Taylor was the head coach at Chicago State for three years. During his tenure, he helped the Cougars achieve new heights in its Division I era, including the program’s first winning season in more than 23 years. The 2008-09 squad finished with a 19-13 season ledger and also finished the season ranked third nationally in scoring and steals. For his efforts, he captured Independent Division I Coach of the Year honors.

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Loyola Marymount

Loyola Marymount looks to bounce back after finishing at the bottom of the West Coast Conference in 2013-14. LMU lost 13 of 14 during one span of WCC play and, down the stretch, was down to six healthy players. The Anthony Ireland era ended in ’13-14 but the Lions saw an infusion of youth in guard Evan Payne, who finished eighth in the WCC in scoring, setting a school record for points by a freshman, and forward Gabe Levin, who finished ninth in the conference in rebounding with the second-best season for an LMU freshman, and sixth in blocked shots, behind teammate Marin Mornar. Lions coach Max Good, two years removed from a 21-win season, was forced to use 10 different starting lineups, as the team lost 67 manpower games. 
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Nebraska

Nebraska made history in 2013-14, its first season with wins in the double digits in Big Ten play and first winning season in conference play since 1998-99. It was the third straight season coach Tim Miles’ club improved its win total — beating five of the previous year’s Sweet 16 teams in the process. After surviving a shaky start to Big Ten play, the Cornhuskers got hot down the stretch, sparked by the conference’s third-best defense. The Huskers’ young core features explosive swingman Terran Petteway, the Big Ten′s leading scorer and only player with multiple 30-point games, leading rebounder Shavon Shields, who adds 12.0 ppg, and athletic big Walter Pitchford, the Florida transfer, who, at 6-foot-10, shoots almost 40 percent on 3s. Nebraska was 1-2 in last year’s Charleston Classic, beating Georgia after losing to UMass and UAB.
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Ohio University

The Bobcats’ 20-win season in 2013-14 was the 15th in program history, their fourth in five years and their third in a row. The Bobcats advanced to the 2014 CIT, marking the team’s fifth consecutive postseason appearance, a school record. But the ‘Cats come to Honolulu in 2014 needing to replace last year’s leading scorer Nick Kellogg, top shot-blocker Jon Smith and top three-point shooter Travis WilkinsMaurice Ndour is a good starting point. The 6-foot-9 forward was a beast for the ‘Cats, ranking in the MAC’s top 10 in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots, and finishing 12th in field goal percentage. Helping Ndour are Stevie Taylor, one of the MAC’s top guards until he suffered a leg injury, and guard Javarez Willis, who can hit the three and run the point. Also of note: The 2014-15 season is the start of the Saul Phillips era at Ohio, as the first-year head coach comes to Athens after leading North Dakota State to a first-round upset of Oklahoma during the 2014 NCAA tournament.
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Wichita State

Wichita State brings its “Play Angry” tour to Honolulu following its 31-0 regular season and Missouri Valley Conference championship in 2013-14. Gregg Marshall, who won his third straight Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year award, brings back a lot of those pieces, including point guard Fred VanVleet, the MVC Larry Bird Award Player of the Year. VanVleet, also named to the All-Improved Team, led the conference in assists and assist/turnover ratio, and was among the top 10 in steals, three-point shooting percentage, free throw percentage, and field goal percentage. He also was named to the MVC All-Defensive Team. VanVleet, Cleanthony Early and guard Ron Baker formed the first trio of teammates in 30 years to be named MVC First-Team. Guard Tekele Cotton, Second-Team All-Conference and the Defensive Player of the Year, and forward Darius Carter, MVC Newcomer of the Year, also return.