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2011 College Basketball Stock Report: Which Direction Are Top 50 Teams Headed?

Andy BrownAnalyst IIJune 8, 2011

2011 College Basketball Stock Report: Which Direction Are Top 50 Teams Headed?

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    HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 04:  Athletic director Gene Smith of the Ohio State Buckeyes stands with head coach Jim Calhoun of the Connecticut Huskies as the Huskies celebrate with his team and the trophy after defeating the Butler Bulldogs to win the National Ch
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Every year, teams dream of cutting down the nets in April the way Connecticut did this past season. There's a ton of luck involved, but it's rare to see teams that come out of nowhere to win it all. The previous three champions, Connecticut, Duke, and North Carolina are all viewed as basketball powerhouses.

    In order for even the powerhouses to still be playing in April, effective planning, the right coaching tactics, and of course, talent, is needed on a consistent basis.

    I will be looking at what I believe are the top 50 teams, focusing mostly on the recent years, but still addressing the historically great programs (i.e. Indiana) and how they're looking for the 2011-12 season along with the longer term future if any information has come available.

    I tried to include a good number of mid-major teams, because as we've all realized these past couple years, it's becoming more and more possible for these teams to make it deep in the NCAA tournament.

Temple Owls

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    TUCSON, AZ - MARCH 17:  Ramone Moore #23 of the Temple Owls celebrates after they defeated the Penn State Nittany Lions 66 to 64 in the second round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at McKale Center on March 17, 2011 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Phot
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Under legendary coach John Chaney, Temple was arguably the best mid-major in the country. Now, the Owls are back as a consistent NCAA tournament team, having made it to the Dance in each of the last four years, with albeit an exit in the first weekend each time.

    The Owls return a lot of their talent next year and should be another Atlantic 10 championship contender.

    Stock: Staying the same

Xavier Musketeers

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    CLEVELAND, OH - MARCH 18: Tu Holloway #52 of the Xavier Musketeers handles the ball against the Marquette Golden Eagles during the second round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Quicken Loans Arena on March 18, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Pho
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    The return of Tu Holloway, a prime candidate to have a Jimmer-like season in 2011-12, makes the Musketeers the favorites to win the A-10 and continue their consistent appearance in the NCAA tournament.

    Bringing in highly regarded recruit Dezmine Wells will help them recover from losing two starters.

    With Holloway, these guys could be special next season.

    Stock: Rising

Duke Blue Devils

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    ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 24:  Head coach Mike Krzyzewski of the Duke Blue Devils gestures from the sidelines during the west regional semifinal of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Honda Center on March 24, 2011 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo b
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    One would think after losing stars Nolan Smith, Kyle Singler, and Kyrie Irving to graduation and the NBA that the Dukies would take a huge step back. That would be true, except Coach K is bringing in one of the top recruiting classes in the country, led by Austin Rivers, who will pick up the scoring load left by the trio of scorers.

    Watch out for breakout seasons from Andre Dawkins and/or Seth Curry.

    Stock: Slightly decreasing but not nearly as bad as people think

Florida State Seminoles

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    CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 20:  Chris Singleton #31, Luke Loucks #3, Derwin Kitchen #22, Jon Kreft #50 and Michael Snaer #21 of the Florida State Seminoles talk in the second half against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men'
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Losing NBA lottery pick Chris Singleton will hurt, but the Seminoles should be a better team offensively with a solid recruiting class and some talented youth such as Michael Snaer and Ian Miller expected to shoulder the scoring load. Still, another Sweet 16 appearance is unlikely, but an NCAA tournament appearance is not.

    Stock: Slightly decreasing

Maryland Terrapins

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    CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 18:  Head coach Mark Turgeon of the Texas A&M Aggies looks on in the second half of the game against the Florida State Seminoles during the second round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the United Center on March 18, 201
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Losing one of the greatest coaches in ACC history in Gary Williams to a much-deserved retirement is going to hurt. The question is how much and for how long. Replacement Mark Turgeon had success at Texas A&M, but I'm not sold.

    Losing big man Jordan Williams to the NBA along with a couple recruits because of the coaching change will set this team back a couple years.

    Stock: Plummeting at first, but it will take some time to see if Turgeon was the right hire.

North Carolina Tar Heels

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    NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 27:  Kendall Marshall #5 of the North Carolina Tar Heels talks with head coach Roy Williams during the first half of the game against the Kentucky Wildcats in the east regional final of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Prude
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Ladies and Gentlemen, meet the favorites to win it all in 2011-12. The Tar Heels are absolutely loaded with talent and experience with the returns of future NBA first-rounders Tyler Zeller, John Henson and Harrison Barnes. Still not convinced? How about that they're two McDonald's All-American's coming in next year, James McAdoo and P.J. Hairston, won't be starting and may not be the first off the bench.

    Their frontcourt will be the best in the country while the backcourt will be led by up-and-comer Kendall Marshall. If Marshall is able to play as well as he did at the end of last season, these guys will be tough to beat...at all.

    Stock: Skyrocketing, talent-wise, they're the best team in the country and it isn't that close.

North Carolina State Wolfpack

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    WINSTON SALEM, NC - FEBRUARY 13:  C.J. Leslie #5 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack dunks the ball against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons during their game at Lawrence Joel Coliseum on February 13, 2011 in Winston Salem, North Carolina.  (Photo by Street
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Coming off a much-needed coaching change with the dismissal of Sidney Lowe and the hiring of Mark Gottfried, the Wolfpack are looking to re-establish themselves as an annual NCAA tournament team.

    Gottfried's ability to convince the talented, but somewhat disappointing, C.J. Leslie to return will keep the new coach from having to completely start over. It may take a year or two, but the Wolfpack are on the right track.

    Stock: Rising

Virginia Tech Hokies

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    GREENSBORO, NC - MARCH 11:  Head coach Seth Greenberg of the Virginia Tech Hokies reacts during the first half of the game against the Florida State Seminoles in the quarterfinals of the 2011 ACC men's basketball tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum on M
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    It's become an annual event to watch Virginia Tech play their way in, then out, then back in, and finally back out of the NCAA tournament. There wasn't much excuse last year with senior stars Malcolm Delaney and Jeff Allen, but the Hokies still couldn't get it done.

    Coach Seth Greenberg is once again bringing in a solid recruiting class, led by Dorian Finney-Smith, but it's gotten to the point where if Greenberg can't get a talented crew to the Dance with his past teams, then there's no guarantee he'll be able to change the outcome in the future.

    Stock: Staying the same

Baylor Bears

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 09:  Head coach Scott Drew of the Baylor Bears looks on from the sidelines during their game against the Oklahoma Sooners in the first round of the 2011 Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Basketball Tournament at Sprint Center on March 9, 20
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Incredibly talented Perry Jones' decision to return to school was one of the bigger surprises of the offseason. It was an assumption Jones would be a one-and-done player when coach Scott Drew recruited him. Now, with Jones back, and the just as talented Quincy Miller arriving, the Bears have one of the more talented frontcourts in the country.

    Look for JUCO transfer Pierre Jackson to fill the gaping hole at point guard which prevented the Bears from making the NCAA tournament last season.

    Stock: Rising rapidly, this team could definitely win the Big 12 (or 10)

Kansas Jayhawks

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    SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 25:  Head coach Bill Self of the Kansas Jayhawks reacts during the southwest regional of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament against the Richmond Spiders at the Alamodome on March 25, 2011 in San Antonio, Texas. Kansas defeat
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Losing six of the team's top eight scorers is something few teams can recover from. While the Jayhawks are a storied program, the NBA defection from the Morris twins and Josh Selby was something coach Bill Self wasn't counting on.

    Self managed to secure a few late commitments from some high-level talent (specifically Ben McLemore), but it won't be enough.

    Watch out for Thomas Robinson, a guy who was the best NBA prospect on the team last season and who will be the top option down low next season.

    Stock: Decreasing but not for long.

Kansas State Wildcats

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    TUCSON, AZ - MARCH 19:  Head coach Frank Martin of the Kansas State Wildcats coaches his team against the Wisconsin Badgers in the first half during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at McKale Center on March 19, 2011 in Tucson,
    Harry How/Getty Images

    Last year was supposed to be the Wildcats' year to overtake Kansas and Texas for the Big 12 crown. Didn't happen. Losing star guard Jacob Pullen to graduation will hurt the Wildcats more than it would other powerhouse teams.

    K-State failed to bring in a big name to replace Pullen or big man Curtis Kelly, but in a down Big 12, they won't fall as far as people may expect.

    Stock: Decreasing

Missouri Tigers

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    COLUMBIA, MO - JANUARY 17:  Marcus Denmon #12 of the Missouri Tigers talks with Phil Pressey #1 during a timeout in the game against the Kansas State Wildcats on January 17, 2011 at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Losing only one player, bench player Justin Safford, from a 23-win team means the Tigers should be able to take advantage of the temporary decline of Kansas State, Kansas and Texas.

    The wild card will be new coach Frank Haith, a guy who failed to produce much success during his stint at Miami (FL). I'm not sure Haith was the right hire, but he should have a fantastic season in 2011-12. This team should be the Big 12 favorites.

    Stock: Rising for now, and after next year, it will be dependent on how well Haith takes advantage of his immediate success.

Texas Longhorns

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 12:  Head coach Rick Barnes of the Texas Longhorns looks on against the Kansas Jayhawks during the 2011 Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Basketball Tournament championship game at Sprint Center on March 12, 2011 in Kansas City, Missouri.
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    The Longhorns were spurned by a lying Tristan Thompson, who said he would return but ended up declaring for the NBA draft after one season because of the lack of depth in the current draft class. Fellow freshman Cory Joseph, along with four other seniors will leave Texas with only one player who played consistently in J'Covan Brown.

    The shining light is a six-player, top 10 recruiting class led by the No. 2 point guard in the class, Myck Kabongo. These guys will be depended on early but don't expect them to fully replace the amount of talent that departed.

    Stock: Decreasing significantly but not for long.

Texas A&M Aggies

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    CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 18:  David Loubeau #10 of the Texas A&M Aggies shoots against the Florida State Seminoles in the second half during the second round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the United Center on March 18, 2011 in Chicago, Illino
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    The Aggies return their top two scorers from a 24-win ball club. Their coach, Mark Turgeon, has left for Maryland, and in comes Billy Kennedy, the former coach at Murray State. Kennedy inherits plenty of talent and was able to keep their highly regarded recruit, point guard Jamal Brown, an Aggie.

    They still lose five seniors, and a new coach is always a suspect, despite Kennedy's previous success.

    Stock: Slightly rising, but it's unknown if it'll be for five years or just one.

Cincinnati Bearcats

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    WASHINGTON - MARCH 17:  Larry Davis #11 of the Cincinnati Bearcats celebrates a dunk with teammates Yancy Gates #34 and Justin Jackson #5 against the Missouri Tigers during the second round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Verizon Cente
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    The Bearcats had a terrific season, winning 26 games. Despite losing six seniors, their top four scorers return next season. Coach Mick Cronin also recruited well, bringing in six players to replace the seniors. While the new arrivals won't be able to fully cover the hole left, the returnees will be better.

    Stock: Staying the same

Connecticut Huskies

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    HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 04:  Jeremy Lamb #3 of the Connecticut Huskies dunks the ball against the Butler Bulldogs during the National Championship Game of the 2011 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at Reliant Stadium on April 4, 2011 in Houston, Tex
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    It's pretty impossible to win a second straight national championship. The last to do it, Florida, returned all their stars. Such is not the case for UConn, who lost Kemba Walker, arguably the best player in college basketball last season.

    Coach Calhoun has recruited his replacement in Ryan Boatright, along with the recent verbal of DeAndre Daniels.

    Jeremy Lamb showed flashes of stardom, and it will be his success that will determine how good the Huskies are next season.

    Stock: Decreasing but maybe not as much as people think

Georgetown Hoyas

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    CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 18:  Head coach John Thompson III of the Georgetown Hoyas looks on in the first half against the Virginia Commonwealth Rams during the second round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the United Center on March 18, 2011 in
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Chris Wright's injury late in the season doomed the Hoyas' chances for an NCAA tournament run, and fell to Cinderella team VCU in the opening round. Gone are Wright and fellow seniors Austin Freeman and Julian Vaughn.

    Coach John Thompson does have a top 20 recruiting class coming in to help fill the void, but unless you're Kentucky, relying solely on freshman typically doesn't produce great results. Still, an NCAA tournament appearance is likely.

    Stock: Slightly decreasing

Louisville Cardinals

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    DENVER, CO - MARCH 17:  Head coach Rick Pitino of the Louisville Cardinals looks on from the sidelines against the Morehead State Eagles during the second round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Pepsi Center on March 17, 2011 in Denver, Colo
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    How coach Rick Pitino got his team to win 25 games with a team without that much talent was quite the accomplishment. Losing to Morehead State in the first round was a bit surprising (not to me, because I picked it, one of my few right choices), but it didn't change the fact that the Cardinals overachieved.

    Now, Pitino is bringing in a top 10 recruiting class loaded with talent, led by McDonald's All-American Wayne Blackshear. Losing just one player, Preston Knowles, makes this team one of the favorites to win the Big East next season.

    Stock: Rising

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

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    CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 20:  Head coach Mike Brey of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish watches in the second half of the game against the Florida State Seminoles during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the United Center on March 20,
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The Irish, led by Ben Hansbrough, were one of the bigger surprises in the country last season as they were actually better without Notre Dame star Luke Harangody. Now, the Irish lose Hansbrough, along with their four other top scorers, to graduation. This leaves the cupboard pretty bare.

    With not a whole lot of help coming in, it may be a couple years before the Irish sniff the Dance.

    Stock: Plummeting

Pittsburgh Panthers

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    WASHINGTON - MARCH 19:  Ashton Gibbs #12 of the Pittsburgh Panthers puts up a shot against the Butler Bulldogs during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Verizon Center on March 19, 2011 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/G
    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    The return of Ashton Gibbs from his temporary leave to the NBA draft process was expected, and helps the Panthers stay in the top tier of the Big East.

    Losing starters Gilbert Brown, Gary McGhee and Brad Wanamaker will hurt, but coach Jamie Dixon got great news when highly touted center Khem Birch re-classified to the 2011 class from the 2012 class and will be on campus in the fall.

    He and Dante Taylor will man the paint, and with Gibbs as well as Travon Woodall in the backcourt, this will be yet another balanced Pitt team.

    Stock: Staying the same

St. John's Red Storm

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    DENVER, CO - MARCH 17:  Head coach Steve Lavin of the St. John's Red Storm gestures from the bench against the Gonzaga Bulldogs during the second round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Pepsi Center on March 17, 2011 in Denver, Colorado.  (P
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Talk about a complete renovation project. The Storm lose a whopping nine seniors, including their top five scorers. They return just two players who saw consistent action last season.

    The scary thing is, the Johnnie's might be just as good next season.

    The reason? A nine-man recruiting class, with six of them ranked in the ESPNU Top 100. They're a top three class, and four of them will probably start from day one. Having so many freshmen play so soon could be problematic at first, but if they stay for a few years, then these guys will be scary.

    Stock: Decreasing temporarily and then increasing dramatically in the next year or two

Syracuse Orange

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    CLEVELAND, OH - MARCH 18: Head coach Jim Boeheim of the Syracuse Orange speaks to Kris Joseph #32 of the Syracuse Orange during the game against the Indiana State Sycamores during the second round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Quicken Lo
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    The Orange lose just one player, senior center Rick Jackson, from a team that won 27 games. Yes, Jackson was a good player, but the Orange have his replacement in frosh Rakeem Christmasone of the best centers in the 2011 class.

    Christmas will fill Jackson's spot in the 2-3 zone, and I doubt 'Cuse will lose anything defensively.

    Kris Joseph is expected to be the star of the team, and the rest of the roster is pretty talented.

    Stock: Rising significantly

Villanova Wildcats

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    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 08:  Head coach Jay Wright of the Villanova Wildcats gestures from the bench against the South Florida Bulls during the first round of the 2011 Big East Men's Basketball Tournament presented by American Eagle Outfitters at Madison Squ
    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    The Wildcats collapsed to end the season, and it was a surprise to some that they even made the NCAA tournament. Typically, Jay Wright has more success.

    The Wildcats lose plenty of talent to graduation in Corey Fisher, Antonio Pena and Corey Stokes but still return some quality guys like Maalik Wayns. Their incoming class is decent—but not great.

    Their 2012 class, however, is viewed to be one of the best in the country at this stage.

    Stock: Decreasing but temporarily

West Virginia Mountaineers

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    TAMPA, FL - MARCH 19:  (L-R) Head coach Bob Huggins of the West Virginia talks with Deniz Kilicli #13 against the Kentucky Wildcats during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at St. Pete Times Forum on March 19, 2011 in Tampa, Flo
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    The Mountaineers really didn't wow anyone last season, but were a solid team nonetheless. With 21 wins for a team that was expected to be okay at best, it was a good coaching job by Bob Huggins.

    The Mountaineers are bringing in seven new players to help replace the four departing seniors. None of the newcomers are too highly touted, but Huggins has had plenty of success with those types of players. I wouldn't be shocked if the team falters a bit simply because of such a large number of new guys showing up.

    Stock: Slightly decreasing

Illinois Fighting Illini

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    TULSA, OK - MARCH 20:  Head coach Bruce Weber of the Illinois Fighting Illini yells from the sidelines during the third round game against the Kansas Jayhawks in the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at BOK Center on March 20, 2011 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    Bruce Weber received a shocker when freshman Jereme Richmond elected to leave for the NBA draft. Richmond's play was inconsistent at best while playing for the Illini.

    The team's frontcourt is now gone, but the backcourt returns a couple experienced players in Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson. Both guys will have to increase their output if they expect to make it back to the NCAA tournament.

    The recruiting class is very highly regarded, with four of the six recruits ranked in the ESPNU Top 100. They'll be counted on to provide production immediately.

    Stock: Decreasing

Indiana Hoosiers

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    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 10:  Head coach Tom Crean of the Indiana Hoosiers talks with his players during a timeout against the Penn State Nittany Lions during the first round of the 2011 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse on March 1
    Chris Chambers/Getty Images

    Let's be honest, the Hoosiers haven't been relevant since the scandal that surrounded then-coach Kelvin Sampson. Now, the former powerhouse is getting ready to come back to relevance.

    Indiana loses just one senior, Jeremiah Rivers, and bring in their best recruit under Tom Crean in McDonald's All-American Cody Zeller (younger brother of UNC's Tyler Zeller). He, along with Christian Watford, will finally give Crean a nucleus that's comparable to other Big Ten teams.

    If they're able to get to .500 (reasonable) and Crean keeps his job, then the Hoosiers have a monster class on their way in 2012 that rivals Villanova's. Word is they might not even be done yet, either.

    Stock: Rising, with a good chance of it skyrocketing in two years

Michigan Wolverines

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 20:  Evan Smotrycz #23 and Tim Hardaway Jr. #10 of the Michigan Wolverines react while taking on the Duke Blue Devils during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 20, 2011 in
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Losing Darius Morris to the NBA draft was unfortunate as Michigan probably would've been a top 10 team next year with him. Still, the Wolverines are building on their success.

    Morris is their only departure, and budding star Tim Hardaway Jr. is a guy to watch out for.

    The recruiting class is solid, with Trey Burke expected to compete for the vacant point guard position left by Morris.

    Stock: Slightly rising

Michigan State Spartans

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    TAMPA, FL - MARCH 17:  Head coach Tom Izzo of the Michigan State Spartans address his players during a timeout in the second half against the UCLA Bruins during the second round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at St. Pete Times Forum on March
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    Meet the biggest disappointment of the 2010-11 season. The Spartans were incredibly inconsistent throughout the year and were knocked out of the NCAA tournament in the first weekend.

    With a coach as great as Tom Izzo, it's hard to believe this will become a trend. MSU loses do-it-all point guard Kalin Lucas and Durrell Summers but bring in a solid class led by McDonald's All-American wing Branden Dawson.

    The Spartans won't be back to dominance in the Big Ten, but I refuse to believe they'll be as inconsistent as they were last season.

    Stock: Slightly rising

Ohio State Buckeyes

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    CLEVELAND, OH - MARCH 18: Jared Sullinger #0 of the Ohio State Buckeyes holds his jersey out as head coach Thad Matta looks on late in the game against the Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners during the second round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Unlike Tristan Thompson, Jared Sullinger actually kept his word and returned to Ohio State despite an All-American type season. He, along with returning starter William Buford, the lone upperclassmen on the roster, will form one of the better duos in the country.

    The Buckeyes lose the other three starters in banger Dallas Lauderdale, sharpshooter Jon Diebler and versatile David Lighty. Remember that this team was the perceived favorite to win it all when the NCAA brackets were released.

    Coming in to replace those starters is a top 10 recruiting class led by two McDonald's All-Americans in point guard Shannon Scott and center Amir Williams. It's scary, but the Buckeyes may be just as good next year.

    Stock: Staying the same

Purdue Boilermakers

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    WEST LAFAYETTE, IN - JANUARY 12:  Robbie Hummel #4 of the Purdue Boilermakers runs during the Big Ten game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Mackey Arena on January 12, 2010 in West Lafayette, Indiana. Ohio State won 70-66.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Im
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Imagine how big a hole the Boilermakers would have to fill if Robbie Hummel wasn't coming back? His return helps Purdue maintain its spot in the top tier of the Big Ten. They won't be nearly as talented because of JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore's departures, but they'll still be good enough to expect an NCAA tournament bid.

    Stock: Decreasing

Wisconsin Badgers

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    TUCSON, AZ - MARCH 19:  Head coach Bo Ryan of the Wisconsin Badgers coaches his team against the Kansas State Wildcats in the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at McKale Center on March 19, 2011 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Photo by Harry
    Harry How/Getty Images

    How it is that coach Bo Ryan is able to stomach his style of play I'll never know, but it definitely works. Probably the best guard in the Big Ten last year, Jordan Taylor, returns to the Badgers, making them an immediate contender for the Big Ten championship. Losing Jon Leuer will hurt, but it seems that there are always big guys with skills on the Badgers roster.

    Coming in are five freshmen to replace Leuer and five other graduating seniors.

    Stock: Staying the same

George Mason Patriots

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    CLEVELAND, OH - MARCH 20: The George Mason Patriots huddle before their game against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the third of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Quicken Loans Arena on March 20, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/G
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Believe it or not, but the Patriots have quietly become one of the better mid-major teams each year ever since their improbable run in 2006. George Mason lost its coach, Jim Larranaga, to Miami (FL), but return four players who averaged over 20 minutes per contest.

    That, coupled with the arrival of late signee Erik Copes, the most highly regarded recruit in school history, makes them the prime candidate to unseat the next team from the top of the Colonial.

    Stock: Rising

Virginia Commonwealth Rams

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    HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 02:  Head coach Shaka Smart of the Virginia Commonwealth Rams reacts from the sidelines against the Butler Bulldogs during the National Semifinal game of the 2011 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship at Reliant Stadium on Apri
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    The postseason couldn't have been kinder to the Rams, who were a surprising inclusion in the NCAA tournament and then proceeded to make an improbable run to the Final Four. Duplicating a similar feat seems impossible. The Rams lose four of their top five scorers.

    I love Shaka Smart, but it could be difficult making it back to the NCAA tournament next year with such a depleted roster. I wouldn't put it past him, though.

    Stock: Dramatic decrease, but I fear I may be wrong

Memphis Tigers

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    TULSA, OK - MARCH 18:  Will Barton #5 of the Memphis Tigers goes up to dunk the ball against the Arizona Wildcats during the second round game of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at BOK Center on March 18, 2011 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  (Photo by Rona
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Youth, youth, and more youth. That's what made up the Tigers last year on their way to a Conference USA crown and first weekend exit in the NCAA tournament. Memphis loses only one player, Will Coleman, and return their top six scorers.

    Joining these young Tigers is one of the best players in the country in Memphis-native Adonis Thomas.

    Coach Josh Pastner has picked up where former coach John Calipari left off on the recruiting trail, continuing to bring in top talent.

    Stock: Rising and fast

Butler Bulldogs

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    HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 04:  Head coach Brad Stevens of the Butler Bulldogs shouts from the sidelines against the Connecticut Huskies during the National Championship Game of the 2011 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at Reliant Stadium on April 4,
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    If anyone had said two years ago that Butler would make back-to-back national championship games, they would've been thrown into a mental institution. The Bulldogs have now become the premier mid-major team.

    Next season, with the loss of Matt Howard to graduation and Shelvin Mack to the NBA, coach Brad Stevens will have one heck of a job on his hands to keep their dominance amongst the mid-majors.

    I don't think he can do it, but I also didn't think Butler would get back to the NCAA final game last year, so what do I know...

    Stock: Decreasing

BYU Cougars

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    NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 24:  The Brigham Young Cougars mascot entertains the crowd during their game against the Florida Gators in the Southeast regional of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at New Orleans Arena on March 24, 2011 in New Orleans, L
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Let's be honest, the Cougars aren't going to replace Jimmer Fredette. It isn't happening just like how Davidson wasn't going to replace Stephen Curry. Davidson has since fallen off, but I'm not sure the Cougars will suffer the same fate.

    If Brandon Davies is allowed back on the team, they should be in decent shape in the Mountain West Conference.

    Stock: Big decrease but will still be a good team

San Diego State Aztecs

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    ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 24:  Head coach Steve Fisher of the San Diego State Aztecs shouts from the sidelines during the west regional semifinal of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Honda Center on March 24, 2011 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo
    Harry How/Getty Images

    The Aztecs lost just about as much as anyone will have coming into next season. They lose their top four scorers, top three rebounders, top three assist leaders and the four guys who played the most minutes.

    There's just no way for a mid-major team to even attempt to replace that. It was a fun team to watch, but it may be awhile before we see the Aztecs in the NCAA tournament.

    Stock: Plummeting

UNLV Runnin' Rebels

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    TULSA, OK - MARCH 18:  Anthony Marshall #3 of the UNLV Rebels goes up for a shot against the Illinois Fighting Illini during the second round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at BOK Center on March 18, 2011 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  (Photo by Tom P
    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    A team that was awesome in the early 90s which has become a solid mid-major squad, the Runnin' Rebels were that other team in the Mountain West not named BYU or San Diego State that was good last season.

    This year, they may be the best in the conference. UNLV loses four seniors but return more than both BYU or SDSU with it's second through fifth-leading scorers coming back.

    Stock: Rising

Arizona Wildcats

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    TULSA, OK - MARCH 20:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats stands on the sidelines during the third round game against the Texas Longhorns in the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at BOK Center on March 20, 2011 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  (Photo
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    It's not often when a team loses a future top three NBA pick and is projected to be better, but that's the case with Arizona. Despite losing Derrick Williams, the Wildcats return the vast majority of a team that advanced to the Elite Eight.

    Also, they're bringing in a top 10 recruiting class, led by point guard Josiah Turner. Turner is expected to fill the void as floor general, something that was lacking last season.

    This team will definitely be the class of a slowly improving Pac-10 (or 12).

    Stock: Rising

UCLA Bruins

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    TAMPA, FL - MARCH 19:  Head coach Ben Howland of the UCLA Bruins looks on against the Florida Gators during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at St. Pete Times Forum on March 19, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. Florida won 73-65. (Photo
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    UCLA took a major hit when two underclassmen, Tyler Honeycutt and Malcolm Lee, elected to enter the NBA draft. Just when the Bruins were getting ready to come back to being a powerhouse on the west coast.

    Still, they do return leading scorer and rebounder Reeves Nelson, so they'll still have the talent to be an NCAA tournament team.

    Stock: Decreasing

Washington Huskies

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 20:  Head coach Lorenzo Romar of the Washington Huskies looks on from the sideline in the first half while taking on the North Carolina Tar Heels during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Time Warner Cabl
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Isaiah Thomas' decision to enter the NBA draft was questionable at best. Luckily, the Huskies are bringing in yet another top notch guard in Tony Wroten Jr. Abdul Gaddy will be back from injury, so the backcourt should be fine.

    Still, the Huskies lose their top three scorers, so both players will need to produce at a high level.

    Keep an eye on rising sophomore Terrence Ross, who showed potential to be a star at times last season. He'll need to be if they hope to keep up with the likes of Arizona.

    Stock: Decreasing

Arkansas Razorbacks

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    ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 10:  Arkansas Razorbacks mascot Big Red performs during their game against the Tennessee Volunteers in the first round of the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at the Georgia Dome on March 10, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Back in the mid 90s, the Razorbacks were a powerhouse under coach Nolan Richardson. Now, the Razorbacks are getting back to being relevant.

    Arkansas loses three seniors, only one of which was a starter, and bring in a top 10 recruiting class led by guard B.J. Young.

    The talent level will be at its highest in years with top two scorers Rotnei Clarke and Marshawn Powell coming back as well.

    Stock: Rising significantly

Florida Gators

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    NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 26:  Head coach Billy Donovan talks to Patric Young #4 of the Florida Gators during the second half of their game against the Butler Bulldogs in the Southeast regional final of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at New Orlea
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Billy Donovan just continues to recruit at a high level with the signing of top five recruit Bradley Beal. Beal, along with returnees Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton, will form arguably the best backcourt in the country.

    The frontcourt will be a problem, but if Patric Young is able to live up to his huge potential, the Gators will give the next team a run for their money atop the SEC.

    Stock: Staying the same

Kentucky Wildcats

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    HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 01:  Head coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats looks on during practice prior to the 2011 Final Four of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at Reliant Stadium on April 1, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Andy Lyon
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Unlike last year, John Calipari actually has some players returning for their sophomore season. Two years at college, crazy, I know, but freshmen Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb decided to risk it.

    The insane thing is, Calipari didn't need them for the Kentucky to be a top 10 team.

    Coming in is what looks to be his best class ever. Four players, all in the top 20 overall, three players at the top of their position. If you've never heard of Anthony Davis, Michael Gilchrist or Marquis Teague, you will soon.

    Stock: Rising rapidly

LSU Tigers

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    ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 10:  Head coach Trent Johnson of the LSU Tigers reacts during their game against the Vanderbilt Commodores in the first round of the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at the Georgia Dome on March 10, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    It sure has been a struggle at LSU the past couple seasons. They won 22 games...combined. Luckily, things are looking brighter, partially because they couldn't get much worse.

    The Tigers had zero seniors on their roster, meaning everyone should be returning. Also coming in is McDonald's All-American big man Johnny O'Bryant, a guy who should be the first option down low.

    Coach Trent Johnson will probably need a solid season to keep his job, and it's possible for the Tigers to reach their win total from the last two seasons combined.

    Stock: Rising rapidly

Tennessee Volunteers

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 18:  (L-R) Scotty Hopson #32, Brian Williams #33 and Steven Pearl #22 of the Tennessee Volunteers sit on the bench late in the second half before losing to the Michigan Wolverines 75-45 during the second round of the 2011 NCAA men's
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    These players pretty much sum up the feeling at Tennessee. Cuonzo Martin replaces rule-breaking coach Bruce Pearl. He inherits a depleted roster with only one of the top six scorers returning.

    It's going to be difficult for Martin to revamp this roster in a short amount of time, especially with the SEC getting better and better simultaneously.

    Stock: Plummeting

Vanderbilt Commodores

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    ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 12:  Lance Goulbourne #5, John Jenkins #23, Festus Ezeli #3 and Jeffery Taylor #44 of the Vanderbilt Commodores react after loosing to the Florida Gators 77 to 66 during the semifinals of the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at Georgia
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    If Vandy were to ever make a deep run in the NCAA tournament, 2011-12 will be the year. The Commodores only lose two players who hardly played and return the trio of John Jenkins, Jeffery Taylor and Festus Ezeli, which should be one of the best in the country.

    On top of that, Vandy brings in two guards ranked in the ESPNU Top 100.

    Coach Kevin Stallings has yet to really break through to the top of the SEC inhabited by Florida and Kentucky. This could be the year he does just that.

    Stock: Rising

Gonzaga Bulldogs

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    DENVER, CO - MARCH 19:  Head coach Mark Few of the Gonzaga Bulldogs looks on from the bench against the Brigham Young Cougars during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Pepsi Center on March 19, 2011 in Denver, Colorado.  (Phot
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    The mid-major team that isn't regarded as a mid-major simply because they're a more consistent NCAA tournament team than most BCS conference teams. Gonzaga has never really broken through to become a powerhouse, but it's found a niche as one of the better teams on the west coast. It's what they are, and coach Mark Few appears just fine with it.

    These Bulldogs only lose Steven Gray and bring in a solid recruiting class. They should be better, but I'd be surprised if they make a deep run in the NCAA tournament.

    Stock: Slightly rising

Nevada Wolfpack

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    LAS VEGAS - NOVEMBER 18:  Head coach David Carter of the Nevada Wolf Pack checks the scoreboard during a game against the UNLV Rebels at the Thomas & Mack Center on November 18, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada. UNLV won 88-75.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Imag
    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    Shockingly, Nevada's been one of the better mid-major teams of the past decade thanks to elite players such as Luke Babbitt and Nick Fazekas.

    Yes, they only won 13 games last season, but they had only one senior, who hardly played. They should definitely be better next season and it wouldn't be shocking to see them back in the Dance.

    Stock: Rising

Utah State Aggies

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    TUCSON, AZ - MARCH 17:  The Utah State Aggies mascot performs during their game against the Kansas State Wildcats the second round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at McKale Center on March 17, 2011 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Pet
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Another one of the best mid-major teams people may not recognize, the Aggies have won at least 23 games in each of the last 10 seasons. Pretty impressive.

    That may change, because Utah State will be losing six seniors, three of which were among the top five on the team in scoring.

    Still, it's hard to doubt a team with that kind of consistency. They may not make the NCAA tournament, but I won't count them out for at least 20 wins.

    Stock: Decreasing

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