The top 25 teams in the nation as the season draws near. Who are the favorites to travel to Houston for the National Championship this year? Can Duke successfully defend its title? Can Butler make another improbable run without Gordon Hayward? Can Purdue win without Hummel? What team should be ranked No. 1 in the nation when the preseason rankings come out? These are my rankings and feel free to leave your opinion.
A year after winning the Big East Tournament Mountaineers fans should expect a drop off. Huggy Bear is a great coach but without Da'Sean Butler things will be very difficult for WVU. Losing Devin Ebanks is also a huge loss. Darryl Bryant and Joe Mazzulla will lead WVU to a good record and a birth into March Madness. A number seven or eight seed is most likely. I hate to say that a team that did so well last year will drop of so much.
Gonzaga only loses Matt Bouldin but he was an integral part of the Zags' offense. Bouldin is a huge loss but Steven Gray should be able to step up his leadership and lead to the Zags to a possible Sweet 16. As long as Gonzaga doesnt draw Syracuse they should be fine. They should win the West Coast Conference again.
The face of the Bulldogs last year and their leader to the National Title game was drafted this summer to the NBA. Despite that loss the Bulldogs should remain a top 25 team with great coaching and Shelvin Mack running the show. Dont expect to see this team upsetting a team like MSU again this year. They might not even make it to the Sweet 16.
A great team that will only finish fifth in the mighty Big Ten this year. Bo Ryan is a great coach and will have the Badgers ready when their season starts. The loss of Trevon Hughes and Jason Bohannom is large but Rob Wilson and Jordan Taylor should be able to lead a veteran laden Badgers team to March Madness. Expecting a five seed is very legitamate.
The Temple Owls are not a very exciting team to watch but they get the job done. I believe they will win the Atlantic 10 this year over Xavier and get a pretty good seed. They don't have big losses but they dont have any real recruits either. With their strong defense the Owls will be a very tough team to beat.
The Hokies should return to March Madness after missing the cut last year. VT returns almost all of its players and all its starting five. The Hokies could challenge Duke for first in the ACC if they have a great year but more realistically they will fight UNC for second. They should get a berth in the big dance as a five or six seed.
Kentucky lost almost all of their fab freshman to the NBA last year and again are depending on freshman. Thank goodness they recruit well because if they didn't they wouldn't be dancing in March. As it is they could get as high a seed as number three if their freshman perform well. Don't expect another regular season like last year.
This is a very generous placement. Texas could fall out of the Top 25 very easily without Dexter Pittman, Damien James and Avery Bradley. The are basically the only three players that can play. Sorry Gary Johnson, you just are not good enough. They have good coaching and some good recruits so maybe things will go well for them.
A team that nearly upset Michigan State to go to the Final Four has to replace three starters and its best players. Bruce Pearl is a great coach and i think he will be able to make his team win. Brian Williams has to lead the team this year and i wonder if he is up to that task. I think they make March Madness as a five seed.
LaceDarius Dunn might be the best player in the nation and if Ekpe Udoh had returned the Bears would be a top 10 team. As it stands now Dunn will need serious help from his teammates and bench if Baylor will get to the Final Four. A three seed is very possible for this team.
After getting dominated last year by Ohio in the first round of the NCAA tournament Georgetown has HAS to come back with a vengeance. Greg Monroe is gone but G-Town still has maybe the best backcourt in the country with Chris Wright, Jason Clark and Austin Freeman. Nate Lubick the freshman recruit will need to step up big to fill the hole left by Monroe. I can see G-Town in the Elite Eight quite easily. They have great coaching and a great team. Dont be surprised to see this team in the AP top 10 by mid-season.
NO ROBBIE HUMMEL AGAIN. Robbie is done for the year. With Hummel in the lineup Purdue had a chance to win the Big 10 and a shot at the National Championship. Witohut Hummel Purdue becomes a three or four seed who will only make it to the Sweet 16. MSU take a sigh of relief. JaJuan Johnson and E'twaun Moore will lead the team in Hummel's absense.
Roy Williams is a great coach and he will return UNC to March Madness. The Tar Heels are expected to only challenge for second with Virginia Tech but I think Williams will lead his team to the Promised Land once again. A year after winning the Championship over Michigan State the Tar Heels made an improbable run and won another Championship. This time the NIT championship. They played like a top 5 seed in the NCAA tournament and with Harrison Barnes playing this year UNC could win again. This time the big one.
Memphis used to be the the best team outside of the Big Six conferences and this year they will return to that lofty pedistal. This is a very questionable selection and but I think Memphis could go 29-3 quite easily. We will see as the season goes on how this pick holds up.
. Florida has some very good young talent but will be led by seniors Vernon Maklin, Chandler Parsons and Alex Tyus. They have some good high end potential but could also be a big bust. I think they will make March Madness as a three seed.
Without Scottie Reynolds Villanova will suffer but if senior point guard Corey Fisher can lead the team Villanova wont suffer too badly. They could make the tournament again as a two seed and make it farther then last year as well. Still Reynolds is a HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGE loss.. and everyone knows it.
Washington is another team with an amazing backcourt led by Isaiah Thomas and Abdul Gaddy. Washington loses Quincy Pondexter there far and away best player but senior Justin Holliday should be able to make due in his stead. The Huskies have a good chance to win the Pac-10.
Illinois was a good team last year in a very tough conference. This year the Illini will be a great team in a VERY VERY good Big Ten. The Illini have four seniors starting, a great recruiting class and all five of last year's starters after Demetri McCamey and Mike Davis chose not to go through with the NBA draft. Illinois will have a tough time winning the Big 10 over MSU, OSU and Purdue, but they definitely have a chance to get to the Elite 8 and with the top end potential the Illini have.... Well they could be going to Houston.
Scoop Jardine talking to Jim Boeheim
Syracuse loses Wesley Johnson and Andy Rautins who were definitely their best players. Scoop Jardine will lead a still very good Orange team in the Big East. Syracuse has a very good chance to win the Big East especially with Fab Melo, a 7-foot Brazilian freshman who has A LOT of talent. Junior Kris Joseph will be under the most pressure this year as he steps into the small forward position previously occupied by team leader Wesley Johnson. Syracuse is my personal favorite to win the Big East.
Brad Wanamaker driving the ball
Pitt returns four of its starters and is planning to bring home the Big East Championship. They are the preseason favorite to win the Big East but they will be heavily pressured by Syracuse and Villanova. The Panthers have a great coach in Jamie Dixon and he has a lot of talent to use this year. Watch out for Pittsburgh in March.
National Player of the Year Evan Turner is gone but the Buckeyes return its other four starters. Jared Sullinger heads one of the best recruiting classes in the country and is likely to start at power forward. The biggest question I have for Ohio State is who runs the offense in Turner's wake. Jon Diebler is the likely candidate but we will see how he reacts to the added pressure. Ohio State should make it to the Final Four but that doesn't mean they will. Ohio State is also trying to win the tough Big Ten over Michigan State. This will be an exciting year for the Buckeyes.
Tyshawn Taylor and the Morris brothers after last years heart breaking loss to Northern Iowa
Kansas was the favorite to win last years NCAA tournament but they lost.... in the second round......... to...... NORTHERN IOWA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If that is not motivation enough to win this year for Tyshawn Taylor and the other returning Jayhawks I dont know what is. The Jayhawks lose Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich but will have a great team again this year. They won't be better but the might be just as good. Josh Selby will step into Collins' quarterback (point guard) position and will be a huge impact player if he is allowed to go to Kansas. Bill Self is a great coach and I have no doubt that he will have his players ready to go on opening day.
Jacob Pullen and K-State are the team to beat this year in the Big 12. They only lose sporadic shooter Dionte Clemente and two bench players. Kansas State is ready to show the Jayhawks who they really are. K- State better be a number one seed and still dancing when April hits. Their coach is a very VERY hard-nosed coach and he will not tolerate losing this year. If they can avoid being upset (so much easier said then done) Kansas State will be a number one seed.
Kyle Singler after winning the National Championship
Duke won last year and is one of the favorites to win again this year. Duke does lose three starters including Jon Scheyer who was arguably their best player. Coach K still has lots of talent with Seth Curry and Kyrie Irving stepping into the fold. Kyle Singler decided to stay for his senior year which makes Duke a scary good team. I just have to believe there is one team that could have beaten Duke last year without a certain injury that will be better then Duke this year. Duke will be a number one seed and could repeat as Champions this year.
Michigan State star Kalin Lucas
Michigan State absolutely has to be the preseason favorite. They lose Raymar Morgan and a no name transfer to Central Florida. The Spartans lost to Butler last year by two measly points and you have to believe that if they would have had star point guard Kalin Lucas that they would have known. Tom Izzo is a absolutely amazing coach in all months let alone March and April. Freshman Adreian Payne is the most athletic big man Tom Izzo says he has ever seen and will help fill the gap left by Raymar. Lucas is back and he is healthy. Durrell Summers showed us what he can really do last March and i look forward to seeing if he can average 20 points a game. This could be the best Michigan State team Tom Izzo has ever coached and that is the most scary concept of all. MSU will be in the Final Four AGAIN you can bank on that. If the Spartans did as well as they did last year without Lucas they will do much better this year. Sophomore centers Garrick Sherman and Derrick Nix have more experience and they could do great things. In most polls MSU and Duke will be No. 1 or 2 but in mine I think Michigan State is just better.