Sunday, October 31, 2010

PHSports College Basketball Preseason Top 25

  1. Duke.  It disgusts me, but they are the best team on paper.  Kyrie Irving will not be as efficient as John Scheyer was, but he's more explosive.
  2. Michigan State.  If it were not for their unexpected shuffling of the backcourt, they would be #1.  Izzo will have this team ready come March.
  3. Kansas.  This ranking relies on the availability of Josh Selby.  If so, you're hard-pressed to find a more battle-tested squad with more depth.
  4. Illinois.  The Illini returns five starters and gains two blue chip recruits.  Bruce Weber may even get the chance to use a 3-guard lineup a la 2005.
  5. Pittsburgh.  If the Panthers can adequately replace Jermaine Dixon and the core stays healthy, they will be a top 5 team. 
  6. Ohio State.  I'm not buying that the Buckeyes are better without do-everything guard Evan Turner, but they most definitely reloaded.  If Jared Sullinger is closer to Greg Oden rather than BJ Mullens, then the Buckeyes may be Final Four bound.
  7. Kansas State.  How will the Wildcats replace Denis Clemente?  Conventional wisdom suggests a 3-guard led by Jacob Pullen who will be flanked by Martavious Irving and Rodney McGruder. If the Wildcats are to contend, they'll need more depth at all positions.
  8. Gonzaga.  Despite losing Matt Bouldin, the Zags will be deeper and more experienced.  Also, you have to love their scheduling.  They face San Diego State, Illinois, Washington State, Notre Dame, Baylor, Xavier, and Oklahoma State before the new year.
  9. Baylor.  If LaceDarius Dunn is reinstated, watch out.  Perry Jones may allow Bears fans to forget about Epke Udoh. 
  10. Kentucky.  Have you ever heard of a team that's lost 5 players to the 1st round of the NBA Draft?  And been able to reload?  Neither have I.  If Enes Kanter is not cleared, then Coach Cal will not have a chance to have a Final Four taken away by the NCAA.
  11. Memphis.  Josh Pastner knows how to recruit, and for that reason, they have this rating and will be atop the Conference USA throne.
  12. Georgetown.  The Hoyas boast one of the best, most experienced backcourts.  Should they get any contribution with consistency from the frontcourt, they could win the Big East.
  13. Villanova.  I have no question that Villanova is talented and well-coached.  I just wonder where the leadership will come from without Scottie Reynolds.
  14. North Carolina.  Tempo is the name of the game.  When UNC regains their speedy tempo, they will be great again.  What leadership abilities will Harrison Barnes exhibit in his first and only year?
  15. Florida.  Billy Donovan finally has the type of squad in the mold of his championship winning teams.
  16. Butler.  Brad Stevens returns four starters and one of the most disciplined teams in D-I.  They'll be around come the second round of the tournament again.
  17. Washington.  The Huskies have adequate replacements for Quincy Pondexter, and they return one of the quickest backcourts in the nation.
  18. Syracuse.  Jim Boeheim lost some great players, but his returning core is a year older and he has Fab Melo to patrol the middle of the lane.
  19. Missouri.  40 minutes of hell returns for its latest installment, and the Tigers have added some beef to address rebounding issues.  The jury remains out on their schedule.
  20. Purdue.  Even without Robbie Hummel, Purdue is well-coached with two of the best 25 players in the nation (JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore).  If they can find a consistent third scorer, they are a top 10 team.  
  21. Temple.  The Owls lost Ryan Brooks, but Juan Fernandez slides to the point.  Lavoy Allen will bring the pain at power forward.
  22. Virginia Tech.  Tech needs to show their worth in Maui.  Otherwise, they need to win 9 or 10 to make the NCAA Tournament.  Anything is possible with Malcolm Delaney at the controls.
  23. San Diego State.  Steve Fishers returns five starters including Kawhi Leonard, a double-double machine.  The Aztecs can limit teams to one possession, and have left their best basketball for March in recent seasons.
  24. West Virginia.  The Mountaineers lost DaSean Butler and Devin Ebanks.  If Deniz Kilicli can assume some scoring responsibilities and buy into Huggins's system, then WVU will be relevant in the Big East shuffle.
  25. BYU.  Jimmer Fredette is a stat sheet stuffer and a true baller.  The roster lost some talent, including Michael Loyd Jr., who saved his best games for the end of the season.  Expect them to contend with SDSU and UNLV for the Mountain West title.
Honorable Mention 
Tennessee.  Tobias Harris makes the Vols a legit top 15 team, but Bruce Pearl's status with the NCAA will affect the psyche of this team.  For that reason, they're not in the preseason top 25.