The Sport Dish's Early Look At the Top College Basketball Teams of 2010-2011
It's never too early to starting thinking about next year and after such an unpredictable and crazy NCAA Tournament this year, I find it hard not to start talking about next year's top teams.
There are many teams this year that were very disappointing, but with a great recruiting class they figure to be a championship contender for next year.
Even though many big-name schools lost a lot of players to the NBA draft and graduation, there is still a lot of key players that will help those schools stay on top this year.
This year might be a little different from recent years though, because the ACC and the Big East will not finish as the most dangerous conference next year with the emergence of a scary Big 10 conference. So here is the Pre-NBA draft rankings for next year's top 10 teams.
10. Villanova Wildcats- The Wildcats might not look like a top 10 team with seniors Reggie Redding and Scottie Reynolds graduating, but expect star PG Corey Fisher to excel as the leader of the team.
Villanova will also be returning Maalik Wayns, Corey Stokes, Mouphtaou Yarou, and Antonio Pena from last year's team. This team will be a lot bigger and better defensively, but expect scoring to go down without Redding and Reynolds.
9. Illinois Fighting Illini- It might be a surprise to some by placing a team that was in the NIT last season, in my top 10. The reason I will place them at nine is because of the returning players they have from last season.
The Illini return a stacked lineup with Mike Davis, Demetri McCamey, Mike Tisdale, Brandon Paul, and D.J. Richardson returning.
One other thing that makes the Illini such a dangerous team is their new recruits, Jerome Richmond and Meyers Leonard, who are expected to make a big impact from day one. Expect the deepest backcourt in the country to contend for the Big Ten Championship.
8. Pittsburgh Panthers- Coach Jamie Dixon will be happy to see his team come next season, because of how dangerous they currently look on paper. This Pitt team returns Ashton Gibbs, Brad Wanamaker, Gilbert Brown, Gary McPhee, and Nasir Robinson from last season. Although they did lose Jermaine Dixon, expect Brown to step up as another Forward and help this Pitt team return to the top of the Big East.
7. Xavier Musketeers- The Musketeers out of Xavier surprised everybody in this year's tournament by upsetting Pittsburgh and by losing to Kansas State in a tough double-overtime loss.
One major factor in placing Xavier in the top 10 will be if star shooting guard Jordan Crawford returns for another season. Although they do lose center Jason Love this year, Kenny Frease and Andrew Taylor should help cope with the loss.
With a great recruiting class coming in as well, look for Xavier to be Atlantic-10 Champions again.
6. Georgetown Hoyas- The team who got upset by 14th-seeded Ohio in this year's tournament, will be back and will look for some vengeance.
With Greg Monroe looking to return and a solid back court with Austin Freeman and Chris Wright, the Hoyas should be a national contender from day one. The whole starting lineup will return as well as sixth man Hollis Thompson.
With the return of Monroe on this experienced Hoyas team, look for them to be the favorites in the Big East.
5. Ohio State Buckeyes- The Buckeyes from Ohio State will be back with another solid year, even with the loss of Evan Turner.
It might be a little too high seeing that this team was 3-3 without Evan Turner this season, but with the recruits Thad Matta has brought in this year, this team will be solid.
With new recruits Jared Sullinger and DeShaun Thomas giving the Buckeyes a much needed post presence next year, the Buckeyes will finally be a complete team compared to last year.
The starting lineup also returns William Buford, Jon Diebler, David Lighty, and Dallas Lauderdale. Look for Lighty and Diebler to play a leadership role similar to Turners last year.
4. Butler Bulldogs- The team that almost won the National Championship this year will be back and ranked a lot higher than they were last year. The Bulldogs will be returning a solid group, led by soon-to-be juniors Gordon Hayward and Shelvin Mack.
With only one player, Willie Veasley, leaving next year the Bulldogs are expected to make it to the Final Four next year. Underrated Point Guard in Ronald Nored will be help the Bulldogs with his aggressive defensive play.
With two Horizon League Players of the Year returning, Matt Howard and Hayward, and a talented group of young players returning look for the Bulldogs to cruise past the Horizon League and make a run in the NCAA Tournament.
3. Michigan State Spartans- The most disappointing team in the 2009-2010 NCAA regular season, the Michigan State Spartans, will be looking to prove everybody that making it to the Final Four was not a fluke.
Tom Izzo will be looking to win his second National Championship in his career and with this solid group, I will not be surprised if they win it all.
The loss of Raymar Morgan will be big, but with Kalin Lucas, Korie Lucious, Durrell Summers, Delvin Roe, and Draymond Green set to return this team looks to have the best starting lineup in the nation.
Lucas will be returning as a senior and will be healthy after injuring his Achilles and will lead this experienced National Championship contender.
2. Duke Blue Devils- The defending National Champions will be looking to add some more hardware to Coach K's trophy case, and with a great group returning and coming in next year it will be a great chance for another National Championship.
Although they lose three starters in Brian Zoubek, Lance Thomas, and Jon Scheyer, the Blue Devils do return Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith, Andre Dawkins, and the Plumlee brothers.
The backcourt will add freshman sensation Kyrie Irving and Stephen Curry's brother, Seth Curry. This team will have a great all-around game and should be able to cruise by a weak ACC conference next year.
Watch out, folks, because Duke will be looking to be the first team since the 2006 and 2007 Florida Gators to repeat as National Champions.
1. Purdue Boilermakers- Lastly, the fourth team and final team from the Big 10 will be looking to be the No. 1 team coming into next season.
The Boilermakers will be the National Championship favorite going into next year because of the outstanding trio that returns: Robbie Hummel, JaJuan Johnson, and E'Twaun Moore.
Hummel will be a Naismith finalist for next year and will be looking to lead the Boilermakers to the promised land. Young players Lewis Jackson and Kelsey Barlow will be looking to increase playing time and step up into role players for Purdue.
Purdue will also be adding a good freshman in Terone Johnson. Coach Matt Painter hit the jackpot on this years team and will have a team that could cause major damage in a good Big 10 Conference.
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