Preseason Mid-Major Top 25
How many preseason top 25 polls have you seen so far? I know, they’re getting old. I have decided to make things a little more interesting by releasing a preseason mid-major top 25 poll.
You guessed it, containing only mid-major teams, as in excluding the Big 6 power conferences.
So lay back and relax, because you will not see a team named Kentucky on this list, and you will not see any teams named North Carolina or Michigan State on this list.
25. Georgia St.
2009-2010 Outlook: The Panthers return their top two scorers from last season, but more importantly they bring in star recruit Rashanti Harris, also one of the nation’s top centers. They also bring in three star center James Vincent, meaning Georgia St. now has a legit inside-outside game, and who knows, maybe they can surpass Georgia by the season’s end.
2009-2010 Outlook: The Dukes lose stud Aaron Jackson, one of the best all around guards in the nation, but they do return the next four leading scorers from a 20-plus win team, which should be enough for them to pick up from where they left off.
23. Utah St.
2009-2010 Outlook: Conference POY Gary Wilkinson is gone, but the Aggies return Jared Quayle, Tai Wesley, and Tyler Newbold, a trio will have to step up in his absence. The WAC does not have a consensus favorite going into next season, so the Aggies should still be able to contend for another conference championship.
2009-2010 Outlook: Why their mascot is a spider I do not know, but what I do know if that they return the dangerous duo of Kevin Anderson and David Gonzalvez in the backcourt. Big man Justin Harper has shown signs of potential and if he can step into a key role down low, the Spiders will have a solid point of attack.
2009-2010 Outlook: The Highlanders had the misfortune of playing the eventual national champs North Carolina in last season’s NCAA tournament, but they return a good group of players including stud big man Artsiom Parakhouski.
20. Old Dominion
2009-2010 Outlook: Last season’s CIT champions will look to take advantage of a down year for VCU in the CAA. The Monarchs return their main core from last season’s team and will look to senior forward Gerald Lee to lead next season’s team.
19. New Mexico St.
2009-2010 Outlook: The Aggies return four double-digit scorers from last season’s 17-win team, and with no clear cut favorite in the WAC for next season New Mexico State could start off leading the pack.
2009-2010 Outlook: Mercer broke onto the national scene after beating both Alabama and Auburn on the road, and they look to build on their success. The Bears return two key players in James Florence and Daniel Emerson, a duo that will cause tough matchups for almost any mid-major team.
17. La Salle
2009-2010 Outlook: I don’t know how they managed to pull it off, but they did. Recruit Aaric Murray, one of the nation’s top centers, committed to the Explorers, and he will immediately become their go to guy in the post. Leading scorer Rodney Green returns as well, putting La Salle in the position to compete at the top of the Atlantic 10 along with Xavier and Dayton.
2009-2010 Outlook: Head coach Tony Barbee was not offered the Memphis job despite John Calipari’s recommendation. The Miners lose star guard Stefon Jackson, but the team’s second leading scorer Randy Culpepper returns. It was a good sign that Arnett Moultrie was invited to try out for the USA national team, because he will need to step into a key role next season. Louisville transfer Derrick Caracter (Pic) is eligible to play next season, and if he can stay on the team he will be a huge addition, possibly huge enough to put them over the top in the C-USA.
2009-2010 Outlook: Conference USA is looking wide open this year, and the Cougars are a team not many are talking about. They return stud guard Aubrey Coleman along with another legit scorer in Kelvin Lewis.
14. Northern Iowa
2009-2010 Outlook: The Panthers surprised the MVC last season by winning the conference tournament, and almost surprised in the NCAA tournament as well by playing Purdue close in the first round. Northern Iowa returns everyone from last year’s team, including four double digit scorers.
2009-2010 Outlook: The departure of leading scorer Booker Woodfox will hurt the Blue Jays, but they have a mixture of new and returning talent. P’Allen Stinnett was the second leading scorer last season and will have to step into the lead role. Creighton has a talented recruiting class including four-star Andrew Bock, who will most likely step into the point guard position right away.
2009-2010 Outlook: Although they are coming off a disappointing season and lose key players in Chris Lowe and Tony Gaffney, the Minutemen are returning a talented group of players and a great recruiting class, including four-star prospect Terrell Vinson and four three-star prospects. Leading scorer Ricky Harris, Anthony Gurley and UConn transfer Doug Wiggins will make up the backcourt.
2009-2010 Outlook: Head coach Mark Fox may have bolted, but the Wolf Pack return their top five leading scorers, including freshman standout Luke Babbitt. They have a solid recruiting class containing two three-star prospects and should be a favorite to win the WAC next season.
2009-2010 Outlook: The Pilots are looking to bump Gonzaga out of the top spot in the WCC. They return all key players from last season, and look to build on what was a successful season. They return a backcourt of Nik Raivio, Jared Stohl and T.J. Campbell. Campbell led the NCAA in three-point percentage last season, shooting 53 percent from beyond the arc, while Stohl was 15th overall at nearly 46 percent.
2009-2010 Outlook: Jonathan Tavernari decided to pull his name out of the draft, giving BYU two star players for next season in Tavernari and Jimmer Fredette. The loss of leading scorer Lee Cummard will hurt the Cougars, but they do return a nice core of young, up and coming players.
2009-2010 Outlook: Jerome Jordan’s decision to return to Tulsa for his senior season and forego the NBA draft was a huge one foe Tulsa. Jordan has great potential and could be one of the best big men in the nation by the season’s end. Guards Ben Uzoh and Justin Hurtt also return, making Tulsa a team to watch next season.
7. Western Kentucky
2009-2010 Outlook: Western Kentucky was almost Sweet Sixteen bound this past season, but while they did not get past the second round, they did show people that they are not a team to be taken lightly. They lose a key player in Orlando Mendez-Valdez, but they return leading scorer A. J. Slaughter. The Hilltoppers also bring in an excellent recruiting class, headed by four-star Terrence Boyd and junior college prospect Cliff Dixon, the half-brother of former Texas star Kevin Durant.
6. Memphis (Without Tyreke Evans, With Shawn Taggart)
2009-2010 Outlook: While this may seem high for a team that has lost almost all of its key players and recruits, Josh Pastner has done a great job rebuilding the Tigers through adversity in only two months. I will also give Memphis the benefit of the doubt and assume Taggart returns. Pastner was able to keep fpur-star junior college recruit Will Coleman and also haul in five-star recruit Latavious Williams, and it now appears that Williams will clear academically. The Tigers will be nowhere near their past form, but they will still have a competitive basketball team next season.
2009-2010 Outlook: The Flyers also surprised in the tourney last season after beating West Virginia in the first round. Next season they will look to make it farther that, with the one-two punch of Chris Wright and Marcus Johnson.
4. Gonzaga (With Austin Daye)
2009-2010 Outlook: As of now it is unclear if Daye will stay in the draft or return, but I will give Gonzaga the benefit of the doubt and assume he is returning. The Zags still return some talented players in Matt Bouldin, Steven Gray and Demetri Goodson, but the return of Daye would be a huge help.
2009-2010 Outlook: Siena came onto the scene this past season after beating Ohio State in the first round of the tourney in double overtime, and they look to pick up where they left off. They lose the conference player of the year in Kenny Hasbrouck, but they return a strong group of players in Edwin Ubiles, Alex Franklin, and Ronald Moore.
2. Xavier (Without Derrick Brown)
2009-2010 Outlook: Derrick Brown has announced that he will be staying in the NBA draft, leaving Xavier without its top three scorers from last season, and that is simply too much to lose to maintain the number one spot. New head coach Chris Mack is as committed as any other coach in the nation, and I don’t believe losing Sean Miller will hurt the Musketeers badly. Jordan Crawford will be eligible this season after transferring from Indiana, and that is a big boost for Xavier.
2009-2010 Outlook: This could finally be the year for Butler to prove they belong with the big boys. It seems ever year they are overhyped with the end result being an early exit out of the tourney. They return everyone from last season’s team including conference player of the year Matt Howard, along with rising sophomores Gordon Hayward and Shelvin Mack.