College Basketball Rankings: Early Look at Country's Top 10 Teams

Talib BabbCorrespondent IJune 11, 2012

College Basketball Rankings: Early Look at Country's Top 10 Teams

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    The top team from last season, the Kentucky Wildcats, is presumed to be the No. 1 team heading into next season. But who are the nine other programs that will join them in the top 10?

    Many players have moved on from some schools and many players have been moved in to some schools. Those players both lost or gained, can have big impacts on their teams, both positive and negative. Here are the 10 teams that will start off the season at the top of the rankings.

10: Michigan State Spartans

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    The Michigan State Spartans can find themselves starting the season in the top 10. They were bounced in the Sweet 16 last season, but don't dare think they will not improve.

    The Spartans did also lose big man Draymond Green, but they have a coaching icon at Tom Izzo to lead them. They also are bringing in the No. 11 ranked player in the ESPN 100, SG Gary Harris. The Spartans will most definitely be competing for a Big Ten Championship in the 2012-2013 season.  

9: Arizona Wildcats

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    The Wildcats struggled last season, but this season they are sure to turn things around. They have one of the top recruiting classes in the country.

    C Kaleb Tarczewski, PF Grant Jerrett, and PF Brandon Ashley are all bound to change the fortune of the Wildcats. Those three incoming players give them size and depth inside the paint. If these players blossom quickly, they could be dominating teams in the low post. 

8: North Carolina Tar Heels

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    You can always count on UNC to be a top team heading into a new season. Though they are losing their four top players to the draft, they will retool with four ESPN 100 recruits.

    As long as you have a coach like Roy Williams running the show, your team will not see much failure. Count on the Tar Heels to be competing for the top spot in the ACC as usual.

7: Michigan Wolverines

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    Michigan St. in-state rivals will join them in the top ten preseason rankings. The Michigan Wolverines are in great position to make a lot of noise next year. 

    They have a strong backcourt that is returning with Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke. The Wolverines also have a solid recruiting class. If one of their freshman can have a freshman year like Burke did last season, they will be a true problem. 

6: UCLA Bruins

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    The UCLA Bruins had a disappointing 2011-2012 season. However, things are definitely looking up for this season. 

    The Bruins top three scorers are returning along with the arrival of two of the top five high school players in the nation. One of them being the 6'7" SF Shabazz Muhammad, who averaged nearly 30 points and 10 rebounds in high school.

    Now, of course, the same production from Muhammad in college is highly doubtful, but a good amount of it will carryover. The Bruins will find their way back into the NCAA tourney this season. 

5: Syracuse Orange

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    The Syracuse Orange are always a powerhouse in college basketball, and next year should be no different. Even though they will lose Fab Melo and Scoop Jardine, they have been known for their depth and rotation. They managed to make it to the Elite 8 last season while Melo was suspended.

    Coach Jim Boeheim is second in active coaches for wins all-time. He will find a way to get the best out of his players no matter who is playing for him.

4: Baylor Bears

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    The Baylor Bears already have a national championship on the women's side. The men's team is searching for its. Whose to say if they will get it this year, but at least they will start off the season in the top 10. 

    They have a top five recruiting class which includes the No. 3 ranked player in the ESPN 100, C Isiah Austiin. Austin stands 7' tall and his presence inside will make Baylor a top defensive team in the country. 

    Last season, they lost in the Elite 8 to the national champs. Expect the Bears to continue their recent success into next season. 

3: Duke Blue Devils

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    The Blue Devils have one reason to be in the top 10 in the rankings every year: their coach. Coach Mike Krzyzewski has the most wins amongst active coaches in Division I.

    They are always at the top when it comes to recruiting, so when they lose players, they always find ways to replace them. The Blue Devils exited in the second round of the NCAA tourney in a huge upset. But, that loss will only motivate them for the future. 

    The Blue Devils will find themselves in their usual spot next season, at the top.

2: Indiana Hoosiers

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    The Hoosiers were a surprise team last season, but they are here to stick around for a few years. The Hoosiers were able to knock off the No.1 team in the nation last year and never looked back.

    They are a stacked team already with SF Christian Watford, G Victor Oladipo, and C Cody Zeller. On top of that, they have three players coming in from the ESPN 100. They also have no major departures, so the Hoosiers have solid players that are growing up together.

    The Hoosiers will continue to get better and better as the 2012-2013 progresses.

1: Kentucky Wildcats

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    The defending National Champion Kentucky Wildcats will be the top team when the 2012-13 season tips off. They will, what seems like every year now, have a top three recruiting class. 

    They have four incoming freshman that are in the top 40 of the ESPN 100, including the nation's top player, C Nerlens Noel. Noel is expected to dominate the paint with his size and athleticism. 

    Coach John Calipari has showed he has no problem with letting his freshmen play large amounts of minutes. So don't be surprised if these young players find their way and learn the winning tradition very quickly.