Team preview: Charlotte

Blue Ribbon Illustrated previews the 2004-05 college basketball season, exclusively on Insider.

Updated: October 20, 2004, 4:49 PM ET
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It seemed innocuous at the time -- a rare, early-season regional affair between the defending national champions and an also-ran from Conference USA.

Instead, Syracuse was entangled in Charlotte's web, shot down by Brendan Plavich's 10 threes in a 96-92 wake-up call at the Carrier Dome.

The rest might be considered pre-history. The 49ers went 21-9 overall and claimed a fifth of the C-USA regular-season title with a 12-4 mark, after winning just 13 games total in 2002-03.

However, last season could merely be a prelude to the mother load; four starters -- including a first-team all-conference performer and a prodigal center who also chafed at also-ran status -- are back.