TheArenaPulse: Ranking The Top 40 Teams in the Nation (Preseason)

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TheArenaPulse: Ranking The Top 40 Teams in the Nation (Preseason)
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Duke is the team to beat heading into 2010-2011

This is the first installment of The Arena Pulse Top 40, a ranking that will be on-going throughout the season on a weekly basis.

This article was originally featured on The Arena Pulse

The regular season officially begins on Wednesday, November 10th, with four games featuring teams competing in the Coaches v. Cancer Classic Although most teams will not get underway until Friday, November 12th, the season is less than three weeks away, and it's time to take a look at some of the top teams in the nation.

No. 1: Duke- The defending National Champions are back and may be better than they were a year ago. Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith, Seth Curry, Kyrie Irving and the rest of the Blue Devil squad are, without a doubt, the team to beat in 2010-2011.

No. 2: Michigan State- Kalin Lucas' torn Achilles tendon ended his season a year ago, but it may have been a unfortunate blessing in disguise. Lucas is back to lead this Michigan State team in search of their third straight trip to the Final Four and more.

No. 3: Kansas State- The Wildcats are the favorites in the Big 12 and they have their sights on bigger things this season. Jacob Pullen is the leader of this team, a team that was denied the Final Four last season by eventual National runner-up Butler.

No. 4: Pittsburgh- The Big East is top heavy, once again. Jamie Dixon's Pittsburgh squad was a No. 1 seed just two seasons ago, a strong showing in the Big East could land them in a similar situation. Ashton Gibbs will be the man for Pitt this season.

No. 5: Ohio State- It's life without Evan Turner, but Thad Matta will have Ohio State buzzing again near the top of the Big Ten. Will Buford, David Lighty and freshman Jared Sullinger highlight a talented roster that will be very dangerous.

No. 6: Villanova- Scottie Reynolds is gone, but Jay Wright has a team that will once again threaten for a Big East championship. Returnees Corey Fisher, Maalik Wayns, Corey Stokes and Mouphtaou Yarou will guide a team that was upset in the second round of the NCAA Tournament last March.

No. 7: Florida- Billy Donovan might have his most talented roster since winning back-to-back National titles a few years ago. Erving Walker, Chandler Parsons and Kenny Boynton will be the key for a Gators team, not to mention freshmen Patric Young and Corey Prather who are also expected to contribute.

No. 8: North Carolina- They had hype a season ago but ended with a very disappointing mark. The Tar Heels lost the Wear twins to transfer, and Will Graves was dismissed from the team. However, Harrison Barnes leads a roster that certainly still has talent; the Tar Heels should get back on track in 2010-2011.

No. 9: Purdue- Robbie Hummel tore his ACL again for a team that would have been No. 3 in the nation to start, however E'Twuan Moore and JaJuan Johnson are back for a squad that was in the Sweet 16 without Hummel a season ago.

No. 10: Kentucky- The talent from a No. 1 seeded team a year ago has moved onto the NBA, but Calipari has done what he has recently been known for, that's bringing in even more freshmen talent. This team would have been in the Top 5 if Enes Kanter was eligible, but many believe he will be sooner or later.

No. 11: Kansas- Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich are gone, but the Morris twins are back and Bill Self is out to prove this isn't a rebuilding year for the Jayhawks. The status of freshman Josh Selby leaves Kansas in a similar situation to that of Kentucky.

No. 12: Gonzaga- It seems each and every year Gonzaga is in this situation. 2010-2011 won't be any different for Mark Few's squad as Elias Harris has plans to lead this team back to the NCAA Tournament.

No. 13: Syracuse- Syracuse emerged in late November, early December last year as a team to be reckoned with. They road that wave all the way to a No. 1 seed, and although loses from last year will hurt, the Orange have Kris Joseph, Scoop Jardine and stud freshman Fab Melo rearing to go this season.

No. 14: Illinois- Demetri McCamey will lead this talented team, another team that could steal the thunder in the loaded Big Ten. The Illini could be a dark horse to win the conference this season.

No. 15: Memphis- Had Elliot Williams returned to the Tigers this team would most likely be in the Top 10. Second-year head coach Josh Pastner has reeled in a talented recruiting class led by Will Barton and Joe Jackson. Memphis should be king in Conference USA.

No. 16: Tennessee- Bruce Pearl has a lot of issues and whether or not it will affect this Tennessee team has yet to be determined. Talented freshman Tobias Harris will contribute right away for a team that needs a big year from wing man Scotty Hopson.

No. 17: Texas- Texas slipped hard in the second half of the season last year and Avery Bradley and Dexter Pittman are gone. However, freshmen Cory Joseph and Tristian Thompson have arrived and J'Covan Brown, Doguas Balbay, and Jordan Hamilton can all boost this Big 12 team.

No. 18: Baylor- LaceDarius Dunn and Perry Jones could give Scott Drew enough talent to threaten in the Big 12. Dunn's off-the-court issues are a distraction for the star guard, but if he's back in form like a season ago, this team has the talent to get back to the Elite 8 for a second straight year.

No. 19: Washington- The bright spot from the Pac-10 a season ago is the heavy favorite heading into this year. Their backcourt is strong and if sophomore Abdul Gaddy can live up to hype, the Huskies can be dangerous come March.

No. 20: Butler- Their improbable run to the National Championship game last season was no fluke. The loss of Gordan Hayward stings, but Shelvin Mack and Matt Howard can lead this Butler program back in what should be another year of dominance in the Horizon League.

No. 21: Missouri- Mike Anderson's system allows Mizzou to play with anyone in the country. Kim English is back and could be an under-the-radar candidate for the P.O.Y. award. The Tigers can make some noise in 2010-2011.

No. 22: Temple- They were a five seed in the NCAA Tournament a season ago, but this year could be even better for the Owls. Led by stud talent Lavoy Allen, Temple hopes to crown themselves atop the scrappy Atlantic-10 conference.

No. 23: Georgetown- Greg Monroe said after G'town's first-round upset loss at the hands of Ohio last season that he would be back. He's in the NBA, but Georgetown will be back with a team led by Austin Freeman who has the talent to sustain the Hoyas presence near the top of the Big East.

No. 24: San Diego State- Tennessee made their first appearance in the Elite 8 in school history last March; however it was San Diego State who nearly knocked them out in the first round. Kawhi Leonard is back for a team who is favored in the Mountain West.

No. 25: Wisconsin- The Big Ten continues to offer more solid teams and more depth in a league that could emerge as the best in 2010-2011. Bo Ryan's squad is led by Jon Leuer and no matter what the hype is, the Badgers seem to always be in the conversation at the end.

No. 26: BYU- Jimmer Fredette is back for the Cougars and the scoring machine looks to build on his already impressive numbers from last season. BYU should dance again this season.

No. 27: Virginia Tech- Malcolm Delaney is the key for a team who should make just their second NCAA Tournament appearance since 1996.

No. 28: Richmond- Like VaTech, their back court stud is the key to success. Kevin Anderson and the Richmond Spiders will give Temple a run for the top spot in the A-10.

No. 29: West Virginia- DeSean Butler and Devin Ebanks are tough to replace from last year's Final Four team, but Kevin Jones is back and Bob Huggins should have the Mountaineers back in the NCAA Tournament.

No. 30: UNLV- Tre'Von Willis can play and despite his off-the-court issues should help guide the Runnin' Rebels back into a race among the elite squads in the Mountain West.

No. 31: Florida State- The ACC has numerous teams that could finish anywhere from the top three to the bottom half of the conference. Florida State will look to assert themselves among the conference's best.

No. 32: Georgia- Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie are potential lottery picks next June, but for this upcoming season, the duo gives the Bulldogs their most talented roster in recent memory. Expect UGA to rise in a tough SEC East.

No. 33: North Carolina State- Sidney Lowe's seat is red hot, but he has a team that can break the Top 25 and succeed in the ACC. Tracy Smith is back and freshmen Ryan Harrow and C.J. Leslie should contribute right away.

No. 34: Wichita State- This season's Northern Iowa could come from the same conference as the Panthers. Wichita State has talent and are the team to beat in the MVC this year.

No. 35: Minnesota- More depth from the Big Ten and a Tubby Smith squad that should compete in the conference. Its unfortunate things with Royce White did not pan out, but the Golden Gophers still have plenty of talent.

No. 36: UCLA- Josh Smith and Tyler Honeycutt lead a roster that looks to get back into the NCAA Tournament. It wasn't too long ago the Bruins had three straight trips to the Final Four.

No. 37: Xavier- Jordan Crawford nearly guided this team to the Elite 8 last year, but he has moved onto the NBA. Don't be fooled, Chris Mack still has plenty to work with heading into the season.

No. 38: Mississippi State- Renardo Sidney is finally ready to go and Dee Bost will play eventually (nine-game suspension). Mississippi State can win the SEC West.

No. 39: New Mexico- Steve Alford's team was a three-seed a season ago and although it would be tough to achieve that again, they can still challenge the top dogs in the Mountain West.

No. 40: Louisville- If Samardo Samuels returned the Cardinals would be higher, but Rakeem Buckles, Peyton Siva and Terrence Jennings make L'ville a tough team to beat in the Big East.

Others (in no particular order): Vanderbilt, Utah State, New Mexico, St. John's, Miami (FL), Maryland, Texas A&M, Arizona, Northwestern, Dayton, UTEP, Murray State, Marquette, St. Mary's, Mississippi.

For college basketball news and updates follow The Arena Pulse on Twitter @TheArenaPulse

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