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65 Teams in 65 Days: No. 51 Western Kentucky

George BarnetteContributor IAugust 26, 2009

PORTLAND, OR - MARCH 21:  Sergio Kerusch #1 of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers goes up for a layup as Demetri Goodson #3 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs looks on during the second round of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Rose Garden on March 21, 2009 in Portland, Oregon.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)


Location: Bowling Green, Ky.
Nickname: Hilltoppers
Conference: Sun Belt
Last Year’s Record: 25-9

 

Western Kentucky Guard A.J. Slaughter

Western Kentucky Guard A.J. Slaughter

 

Why They’ll Make It

It's amazing that as a mid-major, Western Kentucky is getting to the point where it doesn’t rebuild; it reloads.

There are only five returning players for the Hilltoppers this season, but they're the right five.

Led by the frontcourt trio of Sergio Kerusch, Steffphon Pettigrew, and second-team all-conference guard, A.J. Slaughter, the Hilltoppers will still have the most talented starting five in conference.

However, the talent doesn’t stop with the starting five.

They have an outstanding recruiting class coming in, led by the Gatorade Alabama Player of the Year, Jordan Swing and top junior college prospect, Cliff Dixon.

Anyone expecting the Hilltoppers take a step back this season need only to look at this roster. Western Kentucky will continue to be difficult to defeat.

 

Why They Won’t Make It

Depth will be an issue for the Western Kentucky this season.

Among the seven players they lost last season was the Sun Belt’s Player of the Year, Orlando Mendez-Valdez. He’ll be difficult to replace, as will the quality depth this club has enjoyed in recent seasons.

In addition to that, the Hilltoppers had to dismiss incoming freshman David Laury from the team in late July.

They still have a talented class coming in, but it’s always unclear how a group of freshmen, no matter how talented, will adjust to the college game.

If they aren’t able to get solid play off the bench, the Hilltoppers may see their NCAA tournament berth in North Texas’ hands.

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