You can't teach height -- or at least that's the old adage about the invaluable place big men hold on the basketball court.
For the Indiana men's basketball team, it also helps that 7-foot, 240-pound sophomore Cody Zeller is athletic, aggressive and smart.
Zeller helped propel the Hoosiers to the top of the year's first USA Today-ESPN preseason poll. Indiana beat out the reigning champions - the Kentucky Wildcats, who start the preseason ranked third - by getting 21 out of 31 possible first-place votes. Indiana finished last season ranked 13th.
Rounding out the top 5 are Louisville in second place, Ohio State in fourth, and Michigan in fifth.
Men's college basketball teams often live and die by their stars, and all indications are that Zeller is in line for a huge year if he stays healthy.
SI.com writes: "Offseason intel on Zeller indicates that he's been extending his offensive game, taking mid- and even long-range jumpers that should stretch defenses and keep him from being double-teamed too often on the low block...it's worth acknowledging how good Zeller was even without the jump-shot option as a freshman.
The USA Today-ESPN preseason top 25, with first-place votes in parentheses:
1. Indiana (21)
2. Louisville (5)
3. Kentucky (5)
4. Ohio State
6. N.C. State
12. North Carolina
14. Michigan State
20. San Diego State
23. Notre Dame
24. (tie)Florida State