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College Basketball 2011-12: Pre-Season Power Rankings

James EvensCorrespondent IJuly 21, 2011

College Basketball 2011-12: Pre-Season Power Rankings

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    College basketball season is a few months away and it's time to start thinking about who is going to be the best this season.

    Although pre-season polls are basically pointless, everyone has their two cents and here are mine.

    Here is my pre-season top 25.

    James Evens serves as a National Featured Columnist for college football and basketball, as well as the FC for the Purdue Boilermakers.    Follow him on Twitter or like him on Facebook.

25. Mississippi State

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    Mississippi State is my 25 team for numerous reasons.  They return a lot of key components from last seasons including one of the most impressive, but troubles players in the SEC in Renardo Sidney. 

    Along with Sidney they return Dee Bost who averaged over 15 points per game just a season ago.

    Although it's too early to really know, this team is looking to be one of the best in the SEC. 

24. UCLA

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    UCLA is kind of a shot in the dark, partly due to the fact that we do not know how they are going to perform with their new transfers from North Carolina, but it's looking like they will have a great season.

    The Wear twins are eligible this season and along with big man Josh Smith returning, it could be great for the UCLA.

    They will be a lot of peoples favorites for the Pac 12 this season. 

23. Wisconsin

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    Wisconsin will suffer great loss as they lose Jon Leuer, but still have one of the most underrated players in the nation, in Jordan Taylor.

    Last season Taylor proved that he was the real deal, but did not get enough credit, possibly because he plays for a defensive minded team.

    Wisconsin should be great this season, and has a shot at the Big Ten Title, if not a steady tournament run. 

22. Arizona

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    Arizona is one of the favorites for the Pac 12 this season and for good reason. Although they lose Derrick Williams they return several key contributors that will help them make a run this year.

    Lamont Jones will be a key contributor this season as he was second in scoring last year and has another year under his belt to perform. 

    They also return Solomon Hill who will be able to help spread the ball. 

21. Michigan

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    Michigan is one of those teams that not many people expect to be in the Top 25, but they have a great shot at winning the Big Ten this season.  They will have to deal with a tough Ohio State squad, but they will contend.

    They lose Darius Morris, but should be able to recover from that due to the fact that they have the four other starters returning.

    With the level of talent on this squad, look for them to be near the top by the end. 

20. Purdue

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    Purdue University loses 2 key performers in JaJuan Johnson and E'twaun Moore, but will be returning former All American Robbie Hummel. 

    Hummel will bring a new breath of wind to the Boilermakers who will be missing the big two.

    Other than that the Boilermakers still return all but two starters and have a plethora of talent. 

19. Alabama

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    Alabama was snubbed last year for the NCAA tournament, but it turns out that VCU was pretty good after all.

    Anyway, they are looking for revenge this season and should not have any trouble at all getting into the Big Dance this year.

    They return a lot of key contributors including JaMychal Green who averaged 16 points per game just a season ago. 

18. Michigan State

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    Michigan State had a very bad season for Izzo standards last year, but return a lot of key players from that team along with getting rid of some problems.

    Kalin Lucas is gone, but Draymond Green still remains, along with Delvon Roe to try and lead this team back to the Final Four, where they have grown to belong. 

17. Gonzaga

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    Gonzaga loses Gray and Goosen but still has plenty of talent to get them going next season.

    They return Harris and Scarce that will be a huge factor in their success this season.  They hope to once again make the NCAA tournament as they have basically been a fixture of the event since their cinderella run in 1999. 

16. Missouri

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    Missouri would be higher if they had some stability within their program, but with a new coach, they just can't be put much higher.

    They are basically loaded, and only lost a minor contributor from last season.

    Star Kim English might break out into the national scene this year if he continued to develop over the summer. 

15. Pittsburgh

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    Pittsburgh is a talented squad that will feature Ashton Gibbs who averaged almost 17 points per game last season.

    Although they are losing Wanamaker, they still should be a great team, I mean let's face it, it's Pittsburgh, they are almost always a contender. 

    They do play in a tough conference, which should season them for a late season run. 

14. Texas A&M

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    A&M returns a lot of key players, but the focus of this next year is going to be on transfer Elston Turner.

    Turner who played at Washington, is a versatile guard who will be able to not only run the show, but score some points for the Aggies.

    A&M is going to be very talented this year, look for them to compete for the Big 12. 

13. Kansas

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    Kansas is almost always good. Bill Self has proven that even if he doesn't have anyone coming back, that Kansas will be good.

    This year they lose more than they retain, but they should be able to make up for it. Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson should be able to step up and lead this squad.

    Although they may not be the best team this year, they will definitely compete. 

12. Connecticut

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    Connecticut is coming off one of the best seasons in school history, as they won the National Title, but how will they fair without Kemba.

    Jeremy Lamb is going to have to really step up and lead this team as he is one of the key returners this year for UConn.

    It won't be the same without Kemba, but with their returning talent, they should be a solid top 20 team. 

11. Florida

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    Although they may not be in every experts, top 15, they are in mine.  Florida is a team that is loaded with talent once again, and will continue to build on it.

    They have a coach that is known to get the best out of nothing and will only have one issue to worry about really and that is the backcourt.

    They have one of the deepest selections of guards int he country, and return Walker and Boynton who led them in scoring last season. 

10. Xavier

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    Xavier returns almost all of their key players, and will be one of the best mid-majors out there this season. The Musketeers are sure to put on a show with the return of the star Tu Holloway.

    Holloway might just have what it takes to be a national name this year as just a season ago he averaged over 20 points per game.

    He very well could be this years Jimmer. 

9. Baylor

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    Baylor loses their leading scorer from a season ago, but returns everyone else from the squad.  

    Perry Jones who will be in his second year this season, will be looked to as the leading scorer for the squad this year.

    He should be able to lead the team which will allow for Baylor to make a serious run at the conference title, if they can get through Kansas of course. 

8. Memphis

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    Memphis was a very young team last year led by a very young coach, but they have finally came back to the top after being brought down by coach Cal leaving.

    Memphis returns key players Will Barton and Joe Jackson who led the team in scoring just a season ago.

    Look for Memphis to possibly do something special this season.  They should be a shoe-in for the Conference USA title. 

7. Vanderbilt

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    Vanderbilt is a stacked team as they only lost one player from just a season ago.

    They have one of college basketball's premier dunkers in Jeff Taylor and a lot of other pieces to the puzzle that might just all fit together to compete with Kentucky, but that is going to take a lot of work and luck.

    Vandy is looking good for next season, and with that crazy home court advantage, who knows how well they can do. 

6. Louisville

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    Louisville will lose two of their main guys this season, but it's okay because Rick Pitino has them covered with plenty more talent.

    Kyle Kuric should be able to pick up the slack this season for the Cardinals as last year he averaged 10.8 points per game just a season ago.

    Look for Louisville to make some serious noise in the Big East this year. 

5. Duke

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    Duke will be good once again, just like every single year.

    This season they will return the Plumlee's and Curry, while also featuring their new center piece, Austin Rivers.

    Duke should be good this season, but it might take some growing into. Look for this team to get better as the year goes on. 

4. Syracuse

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    Syracuse is basically stacked this season. 

    It seems as though Scoop Jardine has been playing for years now, but he is still playing for the Orange and will provide some great leadership for the squad.

    Kris Joseph should also be able to step up and help this team attempt to return to glory. 

3. Ohio State

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    Jared Sullinger, Aron Craft and William Buford are all looking to get the job done this season as the Buckeyes are hoping for a run towards the national title.

    They are a legitimate Final Four contender and should be watched with a close eye.

    They haven't been receiving as much national recognition as the two above them on this list, but they are just as good and talented. 

2. North Carolina

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    North Carolina does not lose anyone, which makes them a very dangerous squad. After going to the elite eight last season they are looking to break through and win the whole thing. 

    The Tar Heel's are returning one of the most impressive teams in basketball and with Barnes and Zeller, they should have a legitimate shot at the national title.

    The only reason they are not number one, is an equally impressive squad who has just a tad more talent which gives them the edge, but not by much. 

1. Kentucky

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    Terrance Jones and Doron Lamb decided to stay in school and along with the most prolific recruiting classes ever, the Kentucky Wildcats are looking very good right now.

    With the addition of the freshman to this already stacked squad, Kentucky is going to be very tough to beat, especially at Rupp Arena.

    In December when they face NC, it should be a true test to how good this squad really is.

    There are definitely high hopes in Kentucky for this squad, as whispers of an undefeated season are already beginning and it has yet to start.

    This squad is talented, but it all depends on chemistry for this Coach Cal Team. 

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