College Basketball's 10 Best Teams on Paper

Danny Flynn@FlynnceptionSenior Analyst ISeptember 30, 2010

College Basketball's 10 Best Teams on Paper

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    Michigan State Guard Kalin Lucas
    Michigan State Guard Kalin LucasOtto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    In this current one and done climate of college basketball, trying to figure out exactly which teams are the best in the nation going into the season can be a difficult proposition.

    Duke showed last season that having experienced players can win you a title, but it seems that these days you have to find a balance of quality incoming recruits and knowledgeable returning veterans who've been through the wars of a full college season.

    We're still a little over a month away from the start of the college basketball season, but teams around the nation have already started working out as they prepare to make a run towards the NCAA tournament in March.

    Here are few squads that look like they're shaping up to be some serious contenders this season.

10. Memphis Tigers

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    Memphis Forward Wesley Witherspoon
    Memphis Forward Wesley WitherspoonJamie Squire/Getty Images

    Josh Pastner heads into his second season as coach of the Tigers with a talented yet unproven team after losing to Ole Miss in the second round of the NIT last season.

    Memphis will be a mixed bag with a core of three key returning players (Wesley Witherspoon, Angel Garcia, and Will Coleman), as well as a few talented newcomers.

    The talented freshmen include Will Barton, Jelan Kendrick, Tarik Black, and Joe Jackson, who comprised one of the most highly touted 2010 recruiting classes in the nation.

    This team should storm through Conference USA, but it remains to be seen how well they can do on the national scene.

9. Kentucky Wildcats

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    Kentucky Coach John Calipari
    Kentucky Coach John CalipariAndy Lyons/Getty Images

    New year, same story for Kentucky.

    Coach John Calipari will start fresh with a new bunch of highly regarded freshman after coming up short in last year’s Elite Eight.

    Gone are five NBA first-rounders, but arriving is the top recruiting class in the nation.

    Freshmen Enes Kanter, Brandon Knight, and Terrence Jones are the headliners who join seldom-used returnees Josh Harrelson and DeAndre Liggins.

    This isn’t a team that’s as overwhelmingly talented as last year’s bunch, but it’s hard not to expect that the Wildcats will contend for another SEC championship.

8. Syracuse Orange

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    Syracuse Forward Kris Joseph
    Syracuse Forward Kris JosephRick Stewart/Getty Images

    The Orange will miss talented forward Wes Johnson, who left school early to be selected in the top five of the 2010 NBA Draft, but there’s still nothing stopping this team from winning the Big East this year.

    Syracuse loses Johnson, Andy Rautins and Arinze Onuaku, but they return Rick Jackson and Brandon Triche, who both started every game of the season last year.

    The real players to watch are guard Scoop Jardine and forward Kris Joseph, who are both capable of  playing at an All Big East level this season.

    Both were reserves last year, but they have the talent to become the stars of the league this year.

7. Kansas Jayhawks

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    Kansas Forward Marcus Morris
    Kansas Forward Marcus MorrisJamie Squire/Getty Images

    Gone are Cole Aldrich, Xavier Henry and Sherron Collins and with them hopefully leaves one of the most disappointing NCAA tournament campaigns in school history.

    Kansas starts a new this year without the big star studded names they had going into last season.

    The two biggest returnees for this Jayhawks team are the Morris twins, Marcus and Markieff.

    Joining the brothers will be third-year starting guard Tyshawn Taylor and fellow guards Brady Morningstar and new sensation Josh Selby, an elite recruit from Baltimore.

    In the frontcourt, look for seven-footer Jeff Withey to make an impact once he recovers from a broken foot.

6. Ohio State Buckeyes

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    Ohio State Guard Williams Buford
    Ohio State Guard Williams BufordJonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Evan Turner, one of the best players the program has ever seen, departs for the NBA’s 76ers, but he leaves the Buckeyes in some good hands.

    Turner is the only starter gone from an Ohio State team that returns a core of four of the best players in the country.

    David Lighty, William Buford, Dallas Lauderdale, and Jon Diebler all return and Ohio State welcomes incoming star recruit Jared Sullinger, who will make an impact right from the get-go.

    Sullinger should be the next big Buckeyes name.

5. North Carolina Tar Heels

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    North Carolina Center Tyler Zeller
    North Carolina Center Tyler ZellerNick Laham/Getty Images

    Sure, we were expecting a bit of a rebuilding season from the Tar Heels last year, but nobody expected 17 losses.

    Roy Williams spent last season frustrated and disgruntled with his inexperienced team’s output, but the coach should have more to look forward to with this year’s squad.

    The Tar Heels return a frontcourt that includes standouts John Henson and Tyler Henson, as well as the nation’s top recruit, Harrison Barnes.

    In the backcourt, much-maligned Larry Drew will battle it out for a starting spot alongside Will Graves.

    Gone are the Wear twins, who transferred to UCLA, and Ed Davis, who declared early for the NBA, but expect this North Carolina team to be much improved and to challenge Duke in the ACC this year.

4. Purdue Boilermakers

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    Purdue Guard E'Twaun Moore
    Purdue Guard E'Twaun MooreJonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

    Last season looked like the year that this Purdue program was finally going to take that next step and solidify itself as one of the nation’s elite, but a Sweet 16 loss to eventual champion Duke quieted that notion.

    Luckily coach Matt Painter, who owns a 112-53 record in five years at the school, has some superior talent returning to make a run at a championship this season.

    The three seniors, Robbie Hummel, JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaune Moore, are the stars, but they can’t do it alone.

    Some other key Boilermakers who will have an impact for this team include guards Kelsey Barlow and Lewis Jackson.

3. Kansas State Wildcats

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    Kansas States Jacob Pullen and Jamar Samuels
    Kansas States Jacob Pullen and Jamar SamuelsRonald Martinez/Getty Images

    Kansas State comes into this season after one of the most productive campaigns in school history last year.

    The Wildcats finished with a 29-8 record and an Elite Eight appearance to show for their efforts, but some around Manhattan feel they could’ve done just a little bit more.

    That feeling of dissatisfaction is justified, considering all the talent this team had last year.

    Luckily for the Wildcats, they have enough ammunition to make another big run this season.

    Head Coach Frank Martin welcomes back the team’s fulcrum, senior guard Jacob Pullen, as well as difference making guards Martavious Irving and Nick Russell.

    In the frontcourt, expect Curtis Kelly and Jamar Samuels to make some noise.

2. Duke Blue Devils

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    Duke Forward Kyle Singler
    Duke Forward Kyle SinglerJonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    It’s good to be a Duke fan these days.

    The Blue Devils are heading into the season as defending national champions and have a team loaded with enough talent to make another big run this year.

    Senior Kyle Singer, the team’s most pivotal player, returns for another go at things and will be joined by fellow returning starter Nolan Smith.

    The two seniors will be backed up by a deep group that includes possible breakout star Kyrie Irving and one of the country’s best recruiting classes.

    A player to watch could be Stephen Curry’s little brother Seth, who will be eligible this season after transferring from Liberty last year.

1. Michigan State Spartans

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    Michigan State Guard Kalin Lucas
    Michigan State Guard Kalin LucasGregory Shamus/Getty Images

    The Spartans have some crucial players coming back this season but there’s no doubt that the most important returnee is head coach Tom Izzo, who was courted heavily by Cleveland Cavaliers this offseason.

    Izzo returns to coach a squad that looks like it can go toe-to-toe talent wise with any in the nation.

    After coming up one game short of the national championship game last year, you can bet Michigan State will be playing with a chip on their shoulder this year.

    Senior guard Kalin Lucas returns after an Achilles injury sidelined him for most of the Spartans tournament run but it’s his backcourt mate, Durrell Summers, who could be the real of the star of the show.

    The big name of the frontcourt is 6‘6 junior Draymond Green, who averaged nine points and seven assists last year.

    This roster is filled with potential All Big Ten performers and this Spartans team looks like it should definitely contend for another Final Four appearance, which would be the seventh of Izzo’s tenure.