College Basketball Rankings: Next Best 25 After the Top 25
It's early, but ESPN has given us a revised Top 25 to critique and utilize. Here, we'll look at 25 teams that didn't make the cut for The Worldwide Leader In Sports, but are the "next best" 25 teams in college basketball.
Last season, nine teams that finished in the postseason ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll were not in the preseason poll. Some of those teams, like Murray State, are being overlooked once again despite strong seasons just one year ago.
Read on to see the "next best" 25 teams in college basketball.
Tennessee was the second-best team in SEC play last year. The Volunteers held tiebreakers over Vanderbilt and Florida, and all three went 10-6 in conference play.
Florida and Vanderbilt both lost more (much more in Vandy's case) than Tennessee this offseason, and yet Cuonzo Martin's squad is still being overlooked.
Jarnell Stokes, Trae Golden and Jeronne Maymon are an experienced, talented trio that is capable of cracking the top 25.
27. Kansas State
After losing distinctive coach Frank Martin, one might be quick to rule out the Kansas State Wildcats. However, they'll retain every player on the roster except for Jamar Samuels.
Those players include breakout star Rodney McGruder, Jordan Enriquez and Will Spradling, among others.
Bruce Weber has a great core of players to work with in his first season as head coach for Kansas State.
Shaka Smart has built Virginia Commonwealth into a consistent tournament team, something that most programs in major conferences cannot say.
Next season will be much of the same, although VCU will have a tougher road in the Atlantic 10 compared to the Colonial Athletic Association.
Bradford Burgess is out, but younger brother Jordan is in. Burgess is the lone player not returning to Coach Smart's squad for next year. Watch out for the Rams in 2012-13.
Ohio might have lost its coach to Illinois, but the Bobcats return every single player that played in the NCAA tournament last year.
No player is more important than D.J. Cooper (No. 5) for the Bobcats. Cooper will almost certainly be the MAC preseason player of the year. Ohio's hopes ride on his shoulders.
This team has tournament experience, a star guard and reason to prove they can make the Sweet 16 again.
30. Florida State
Florida State finished 15th in the polls last season.
Michael Snaer, leading scorer for the Seminoles, returns.
And yet, Florida State is once again being overlooked in the ACC. Those three North Carolina schools—NC State, North Carolina and Duke—are stealing the spotlight.
Chances are, that's how Snaer and FSU would like it. They surprised everyone in the ACC by defeating Duke and North Carolina in the ACC tournament en route to an ACC championship.
A strong recruiting class will keep the 'Noles near the top of the ACC next year.
Yancy Gates is out, but the talented trio of guards stays.
Sean Kilpatrick, Jaquon Parker and Cashmere Wright all averaged over nine points per game last season to go along with a talented roster that graduates two players from a 26-11 team.
Oh, and the Bearcats made it to the Sweet 16. That always helps.
Aside from a 10-8 conference record, the Stanford Cardinal went 16-3. Led by Chasson Randle, Stanford won the NIT over Minnesota (who made the Top 25).
Granted, Minnesota returns Trevor Mbakwe, but Stanford returns their top five scorers. In a much-improved Pac-12, Stanford may be a dark horse team to watch.
33. Saint Mary's
Matthew Dellavedova is one of the best point guards in the nation. Saint Mary's loses big man Rob Jones, but the WCC champions return a strong core.
Couple Randy Bennett's coaching experience with Dellavedova's skill, and the Gaels may be able to retain their WCC crown.
34. Saint Louis
Saint Louis had a successful season last year under coaching maestro Rick Majerus.
They lost in the Atlantic 10 championship to Tu Holloway and Xavier, but went on to the NCAA tournament to beat a talented Memphis team and took top-seeded Michigan State to the wire.
The Billikens lose two seniors, including top scorer Brian Conklin, but return the rest of their 26-8 team. SLU is deep and primed for another strong season.
35. Murray State
There is one reason why Murray State will still be relevant next year: Isaiah Canaan.
The Racers lose their second, third and fourth-best scorers, but keep the Ohio Valley Player of the Year and All-American.
Five recruits will join Canaan in Murray for another bid at an NCAA tournament berth.
36. New Mexico
If you watched one New Mexico game last season, you'll know that the Lobos were not a one horse show.
Drew Gordon and his nightly double-double will be missed in Albuquerque, but guys like Kendall Williams and Tony Snell are capable of stepping up.
Steve Alford is a superb coach. He'll have the Lobos in contention next year.
Terrell Stoglin's 21 points per game will be difficult to replace. But Mark Turgeon has a deep recruiting class coming in, highlighted by Shaquille Cleare.
Couple the incoming recruits with a core including Alex Len, Pe'Shon Howard and Nick Faust, and you have quietly put together a team capable of making the top 25.
Tommy Amaker will see three of his top four scorers return from an Ivy League championship team. The Crimson were extremely balanced last year, with nine players averaging over 10 minutes per game.
Amaker has a satisfying recruiting class coming in with four recruits ranked 86 or above by ESPN. Harvard has a great chance of repeating their success from last season.
The aftermath of the arrest of Khalif Wyatt will largely influence the Temple Owls' 2012-13 season.
Temple has three incoming recruits that stand to fill the shoes of exiting seniors Juan Fernandez, Ramone Moore and Micheal Eric.
In the end, Wyatt may be the most important player on a team that was a five seed in the 2012 NCAA tournament.
Pittsburgh will be a team to watch next year in the Big East. Doug Brodess sums up the Panthers' potential well in this article.
Steven Adams, Tray Woodall and company will lead a Pitt team with something to prove next year.
One thing is for certain: Butler, as long as Brad Stevens is the coach, will be a team capable of making the Final Four.
Arkansas transfer Roteni Clarke will bring a much-needed scoring touch next year.
42. Iowa State
Royce White? Gone.
Top three scorers? Gone.
Iowa State has an uphill battle next year, that's for certain. Fred Hoiberg will have a tough task in piecing together a broken lineup with a recruiting class, headlined by power forward Georges Niang.
Like most teams on this list, Marquette has some big holes to fill.
Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder combined for over 35 points per game, and both are out of town.
Aside from those two, however, Marquette's roster returns. In an uncertain year in college basketball, Marquette's experience should not be overlooked.
Xavier brings in three 4-star recruits (via ESPN) to replace four key contributors, none more missed than Tu Holloway and Kenny Frease.
Soon-to-be sophomore Dezmine Wells is the leading returning scorer. Head coach Chris Mack will need him to step up into a lead scorer role next year.
45. Miami (FL)
Durand Scott is capable of being a breakout star.
Miami has improved each season from their 2009-10 season in the ACC cellar.
In 2012-13, they'll have another chance to improve. An NCAA tournament bid is looming.
Robbie Hummell will be the most difficult Boilermaker to replace from last year. He epitomized Purdue basketball for the past four years, and his presence will be missed.
Terone Johnson and D.J. Byrd will look to retain Purdue's success next year.
47. Wichita State
Wichita State has finished in the top two of the Missouri Valley conference in the past three seasons.
Granted, their four leading scorers from last season were seniors, but head coach Gregg Marshall has high school phenom Fred Van Vleet joining the fray. Expect the Shockers to contend once again next season.
A top recruiting class will join a roster that remains intact from an underwhelming season in the Big East.
Vincent Council will need to step up, especially since Kris Dunn may be out for an extended amount of time with a shoulder injury.
The Big East is always talented top to bottom, and Providence is a team stuck in the middle. It will be an interesting year for the Friars.
Malik Story and Deonte Burton made Nevada one of the best teams in the WAC last season.
In the Mountain West, things may be different for the Wolf Pack. They'll battle top teams like New Mexico, San Diego State and UNLV for supremacy in one of the better conferences in the country next year.
Devonta Pollard makes the Alabama Crimson Tide a team to watch in the SEC. The incoming freshman will join a team needing leadership after the departure of JaMychal Green.
Alabama may not challenge SEC powers like Kentucky, Florida or incoming Missouri, but it is a team with potential.