Pre-season Top 25
With the season officially under way and games just 3 weeks away, I have never been more excited for a college basketball season. This ranking reflects what I think the Preseason Top 25 is in my opinion and NOT how teams will end up in March.
1. Indiana- They have the best player in the country, Cody Zeller, and only lose reserve guards Matt Roth and Verdell Jones. Jordan Hulls, Christian Watford, Victor Oladipo, and Will Sheehy are serious players who are too often overlooked. Not to mention the Hoosiers add a phenominal freshman class.
2. Louisville- This Louisville team has unbelievable depth. Reports say that Gorgui Dieng and Kevin Ware have improved significantly and transfer Luke Hancock will play a huge role as well as a healthy Wayne Blackshear. Easy choice at #2.
3. Kentucky- Nerlens Noel is no Anthony Davis, but few are. Noel will be solid. This Kentucky team may have even more athleticism than last year, but lack the experience(Lamb, Jones, Miller) of last year. Plenty of upside though with Ryan Harrow, Willie Cauley, Alex Poythress, and Archie Goodwin.
4. Kansas- Kansas is another team that doesn't sweat losing big time players. Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor may be gone, but Elijiah Johnson, Travis Releford, Kevin Young, and Jeff Withey will step up in their place. Freshmen Ben McClemore and Perry Ellis are studs too.
5. Ohio St- The Aaron Craft- Deshaun Thomas duo is as good as any in the country, but this team needs production from the untested guys like LaQuinton Ross, Sam Thompson, Amir Williams, and Amedeo Della Valle. Lenzelle Smith is very reliable guard who will help take some of the scoring load off Thomas.
6. Syracuse- This Cuse team is well rounded and will play all nine of their guys. CJ Fair really came on towards the end of the season and will be even better this year. Michael Carter-Williams, Rakeem Christmas, and Brandon Triche all need good seasons for Cuse to make a run in March.
7. NCST- The Wolfpack are hit or miss. Mark Gottfried said they lost their three hardest workers from last year's surprise sweet 16 team, but they return their 4 most talented players, Lorenzo Brown, Richard Howell, Scott Wood, and CJ Leslie. Leslie is an absolute star in the making. Purvis, Lewis, and Warren will play an important supporting role as freshmen.
8. Baylor- Baylor also has reloaded with a lot of talent and has many guys waiting in the wings. Pierre Jackson and Brady Heslip will continue to run the show at the 1 and 2 respectively, but look for Cory Jefferson and Deuce Bello to make more of an impact at the forward spots. Freshman big, Isaiah Austin has off the charts talents, but is a little soft.
9 Notre Dame- Returning all five starters from a very talented and well rounded team is always a plus. Jerian Grant is one of the best guards in the Big East and center, Jack Cooley provides a ton of toughness. Erik Atkins and Scott Martin gel extremely well with the rest of the team which makes ND so tough to beat... a really cohesive unit.
10. UNC- UNC is lucky the still have so much talent after losing 4 guys to the NBA. Reggie Bullock and James Michael McAdoo will become household names this year, but Dexter Strickland will be the X factor. Strickland is coming off a major knee injury, but can really set the tone defensively. Marcus Paige will need to avoid a Marcus Teague esque start and Desmond Hubert and Joel James need to make an immediate impact.
11. SDSU- Jamaal Franklin and Chase Tapley can really play. SDSU is the best three point shooting team in the country and will finally get help inside from James Johnson and Dwayne Poolee. Remember the name Winston Shepard, the freshman is a big time defender who can lock down the opposing teams best player.
12. Michigan St- Draymond Green will be missed, but Michigan St's frontline is imposing once again. Branden Dawson, Derrick Nix, and Adrein Payne form one of the best frontcourts in the nation and the backcourt of Gary Harris and Keith Appling is not too shabby to say the least. Look for Freshmen Kenny Kaminski and Denzel Valentine to stand out right away.
13. Arizona- After a dissapointing 2011-12 season, Arizona has added serious talent. Mark Lyons will take over the PG role and a three big rotation of Brandon Ashley, Kaleb Tarcewzki, and Grant Jerrett will put this team first in the PAC-12. Don't forget about Solomon Hill who is do it all SF or SG Nick Johnson who could break out.
14. Michigan- Trey Burke had a fantastic freshman campaign, but Michigan will need more from its frontcourt. While Mitch McGary has been a little overrated, Glenn Robinson is the real deal. Tim Hardaway could become a force in his Junior year. The better Burke is the better Michigan is.
15. Florida- Kenny Boynton will need to do what he does best, score. Erik Murphy and Pat Young make a great frontcourt and Will Yeguette is a great option off the bench. The real question marks of this team come at the PG position, is Wilbekin the answer? Also, can Florida get anything from Mike Rosario this year?
16. Duke- The Blue Devils were dissapointing last year in March, but they return key players like Seth Curry, Tyler Thornton, Mason Plumlee, and Ryan Kelly. The additions of Rasheed Sulaimon, Alex Murphy, and Amile Jefferson should lead Duke towards its usual spot near the top of the conference.
17. UCLA- This ranking is with Shabazz eligible, without him they may fall out of the Top 25. Kyle Anderson, Larry Drew, and Jordan Adams are talented but this team was in severe turmoil last year. If Howland can bring the team together they have the talent to go far.
18. UNLV- Talk about building a talented team quickly, the Runnin Rebels have added Khem Birch, Katin Reinheart, Anthony Bennent, and Bryce Jones to an already talented roster. Anthony Marshall and Mike Moser will lead them to the postseason once again.
19. Minnesota- A young Minnesota team earned their postseason experience by traveling deep into the NIT Tournament. This team is so deep and talented that Coach Tubby Smith stated that Trevor Mbakwe will be coming off the bench. The Hollins brothers and Rodney Williams need to repeat their postseason performances.
20. VCU- Havoc defense almost gave the Rams a shot at another sweet 16 last year. This year they return key players like Juvontae Reddic, Darius Theus, Treveon Graham, and Rob Brandenburg and add stud freshman Melvin Johnson. Its too bad that Jordan Burgess didnt qualify becuase he could have put this team in serious top 15 conversation.
21. Missouri- Like Duke, Mizzou fell flat on their face in March, but still have electrifying guards Michael Dixon and Flip Pressey. Laurence Bowers returns from injury and they add key transfers Earnest Ross, Alex Oriakhi, Jabari Brown and Keion Bell. If this talent meshes well than watch out for the SEC's newest team.
22. Georgetown- This is 100% a gut call. I really liked what I saw last year out of Greg Whittington, Otto Porter, and Markel Starks and Jabril Trawick and Michael Hopkins showed flashes of excellence. Adding D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera and Stephen Domingo will spread the floor.
23. Memphis- Adonis Thomas and Joe Jackson will look to lead Memphis to their last CUSA championship. Shaq Goodwin will need to play major minutes since Tarik Black is plagued with foul trouble. Definitely a talented team.
24. Creighton- Cody Zeller may be the best player in the country, but Doug McDermott is no slouch. He will lead the Blue Jays to another post season berth along with Gregory Echinique and Grant Gibbs. If you have never seen the fundamentaly sound McDermott play I would catch a game or two.
25. Texas- With Myck Kabongo's eligiblity potentially up in the air so is Texas's season. Texas needs a big year from Kabongo as well as the rest of his sophomore teammates, Sheldon McClellan, Julian Lewis, Jonathan Holmes and Jaylen Bond. Ioannis Papetrou and Cameron Ridley should help right away too.
Just Missed (in no particular order)- Gonzaga, Tennessee, Davidson, Ohio, Wisconsin, Kansas St, Florida St, Alabama, St Louis, Murray St, Marquette, Cinnci, Pitt, Colorado St
Kenny Kaminski might be back midway through the season but its even more likely that he gets a medical redshirt due to offseason shoulder surgery. Look for freshman Denzel Valentine to play a huge role for MSU this year.
The title is completely up for grabs this year. 10-15 teams imo have a legitimate chance to win it this year.
Michigan's ranked too low here and Baylor's ranked too high IMO. I'd probably swap them because of the difference in their guard play.
Difference in their guard play? Pierre Jackson and Brady Heslip may not be the NBA prospects like Burke and Hardaway but they are just as good college players. Jackson led that Baylor team last year deep into March while Michigan got out in the first round. I also like Baylor's front court better than Michigan's, Bello, Jefferson, and Austin all have really good skills and athleticism.
I don't trust any team with Pierre Jackson at the helm. He's just too wild and erratic. He's a poor decision maker as well.
Michigan has much better point play and more importantly, are better coached.
Thats with Shabazz elgible?? UCLA should be top 10..
So ucla with the number 1 recruiting class and bringing most their team back from last season is #17? they're gonna be competing for the best in the nation
UCLA will be one and done in the tournament. The team is a bunch of malcontents with a lousy coach.
Malcontents? I know Larry drew was criticized for his attitude at unc, hut who else? All those si guys like reeves Nelson and jerime Andersen are gone. As for howland being a lousy coach, he was one of the best coaches in the big sky conference, then took over Pitt and won national coach of the year while leading Pitt to back to back big east titles with almost no NBA talent. Then took over a struggling ucla team and almost immediately led them to 3 straight final 4's. It's been a bad stretch recently, but lots of off the court stuff is now taken care of.
Great Post..You Keep proving you're 1 of the Top 10 best Posters...
SDSU is not better than UNLV.
Trevor Mbakwe's not coming off the bench for Minnesota because they're super deep, he's not starting because it was that or be released from the program after DWI charges
Yeah I really don't understand why UCLA is so low.
But I'm calling it right now Butler will make it to the final 4 this year with the addition of Rotnie Clark
Who does Ohio State rely on after Craft and Thomas? From the looks of it, the loss of Sullinger should lower OSU to the 10-25 range rather than #5.
I think Lenzelle Smith and LaQuinton Ross will surprise people with their scoring ability, especially Ross. Ross might not be great at other aspects of the game but the kid is very talented with his ability to put the ball in the hole. I'd still have them in the top 10. They're a deeper team this year now that their heralded freshman class is a year older. They could also be a better defensive team with Amir Williams' better shot-blocking ability. One injury to the frontcourt could ruin that team though. They're not lacking in depth on the perimeter, but they are in the frontcourt.
I'd add Wisconsin to the top 25 just because you know what you're going to get from them every year. Despite losing Jordan Taylor, they bring back pretty much everyone else as well as add a really nice recruit in Sam Dekker.
I'd move NC State and Memphis up a little bit, but I can certainly see their inconsistency dropping them, so I think you did a great job with your list.
I am the only one who feels that team such as UCLA and ULV are being very underrated I beleive that both teams are bringing in more well rounded freshman classes then Kentucky who are ranked third in the nation with a team based almost entirely off their freshman class and unproven sophmores. But UCLA already has a very talented team, they are top 10 off talent alone and if Howland uses certain players to their full ability such as Kyle Anderson and the Wear twins. UNLV is my suprise team this year with Anthony Bennett, Katin Reinhardt, Khem Birch and with Moser returning they will be a very solid squad and will be top 10 by the end of the year in my opinion. Baylor is much too high with their losses and I think Arizona and Missouri could be sleepers with proper chemistry
put it this way:
you have kentucky at #3 and ucla at #17. There is no one who considers kentucky's freshman class better then ucla's. So that means that you must think kentucky's returning players are that much stronger. Well kentucky lost their entire starting 5 and their best 6th man. They return nobody who scored more then 5 points per game from last season. Meanwhile ucla returns 4 guys in tyler lamb, joshua smith and the wear twins who are all all pac 12 caliber talents who averaged between 9 and 12 per game last season.
So are you saying that ben howland is SO BAD that ucla can have the clear cut better returning talent and the clear cut better incoming freshman class and kentucky is still significantly better? Sounds like some east coast bias to me. We will know soon enough as ucla plays your #1 Hoosiers in november.
What are you talking about? UCLA doesn't clearly have a better recruiting class then UK. If you look around most sites are pretty even between them being #1 and #2. Shabazz is clearly the best player of the bunch, but Poythress and Noel will probably both be better then Anderson, Goodwin is better then Parker, and all 4 recruits UK has are better then Jordan Adams. So outside of the top guy (is he cleared yet?), UK is easily better. You're also forgetting that UK has Ryan Harrow coming in, and Wiltjer is really good despite his numbers. Is UCLA underrated at #17? Yes, if Shabazz plays, but it's not like they haven't disappointed lately. UCLA might be as talented as Kentucky, but Coach Cal is miles ahead of Howland and you know no matter what that UK is going sweet 16, can't say that about UCLA.
Coach Cal is miles ahead of Ben Howland? You mean as a coach or a recruiter?
If any team has the coaching advantage, it's Howland. In terms of X's and O's and teaching on both ends of the floor, there aren't many that are better than Howland. His problem in recent years is that he's recruited a couple of boneheads and misfits in recent years. I'll put it like this, if both Coach Cal and Coach Howland both hosted skills camps by themselves, I know which one I'd be sending my son to.
Howland is a better tactician but he's not a better coach. He couldn't even control his own team the past few years and hasn't gotten the most of his teams talent in years. Yeah, he's had boneheaded players but he lost control of the team, and that's unacceptable. Players listen to Coach Cal, and he always gets the best out of them.
Not just tactics, but in terms of teaching the game, improving players skills, overall strategy, in game adjustments and teaching NBA style halfcourt principles on both ends, Howland has got Cal beat.
Cal has Howland when it comes to recruiting and motivational tactics. That's about it.
I don't think Howland improves his players skills more then Cal does. And while Howland is a better strategist, he's more prone to have a letdown season, let his players do whatever they want, and lose control of his team. Those are some pretty big concerns. Cal is going to get the most out of his usually very talented teams, and his teams are always going to be there at the end, and listen to him. I can't say the same for Howland.
Yeah I don't think Cal is that great at improving player's skills. He puts players in a position to hide their weaknesses while being able to function with 4 other uber talented players. Just look at his track record with PGs. Sure he gets all the blue chippers, but how many of them actually improved as floor generals under him? A lot of his blue chippers leave his program just as green as they were coming in.
Cal is good at motivational tactics. His ultimate motivational tactic is the way his program is set up. If they don't listen, they will be replaced next year by another blue chipper.
I'll take the guy who usually leads one of the best teams in the country over the guy who is inconsistent and loses control of his team, whether he's better at X's and O's or not. And the last time I checked, putting someone into a position to hide their weaknesses is pretty good coaching, whether it helps or hurts the prospect in the long run, it's good for his team.
Given an equal amount of talent, I know who I'd favor to be more successful. I know who I'd favor with lesser talent as well.
So do I. The guy who you know won't lose control of his team, and who won more tourney games last year then Howland has in the past 4 years.
Imagine Calipari's X's and O's with lesser talent. His "schemes" or whatever you want to call them resemble AAU ball which is why the transition is easier. Players don't have to learn much. It's a system based on talent. Strip away that talent and he's just coaching high level AAU ball at the college level.
Yeah because it's not like he didn't make a Final Four and an Elite Eight at U-Mass. Or the 2nd round of the tourney two years in a row before that, or the Sweet 16 before that. I know Marcus Camby was great and all, but does he make a whole team go? Was that a system based on talent? His last five years he never went out before then 2nd round of the tourney with U-Mass. They have had two NCAA tourney appearances since, no wins. But I guess that was a system based on talent, and Calipari just road Camby the whole time.
Was his Nets team that made the playoffs a system based on talent too? Was a Ketih Van Horn, Kerry Kittles, Sam Cassell trio really that good? Sure they got knocked out in the 1st round, but Michael Jordan's Bulls were pretty damn good.
At Memphis he began getting bigger recruits but still not on a ridiculous level, yet he still made the tourney 4/5 years before (being a missed FT away by Washington himself from making it the 5th year) Derrick Rose arrived. In that span, he made two elite 8's. In eight years he had three 5* prospects. None staying longer then two years, I don't think those teams were based only on talent. He finally got elite talent in back to back years with Memphis and they made a Championship, and Sweet Sixteen (one of the only disappointing seasons he's had in his career).
Then he got to UK and started getting recruits at level no one had ever seen before and has had top team after top team ever since. Does he base his system on talent now? Sure, but why wouldn't he? It works. He's adapted and that's why he's constantly succeedes every year with great teams. Just because his system caters to his top talent now, doesn't mean he can't coach. He's proven for years that he can, and has been excellent for three different schools and made the playoffs in the NBA. So become a little more educated when you want to criticize his coaching ability.
Championship game @ Memphis? I'm pretty sure that didn't happen.
Check back in a few years to see if UK ever made any deep NCAA tourney runs.
UMass was his best coaching job to date imo and that was what, 15+ yrs ago? Those UMass teams were blessed with NBA talent with Camby and Lou Roe, but they were also one of the very few Calipari coached teams that could execute in the halfcourt, due in large part to the guard play of Travieso and Padilla.
His Nets stint was considered a success? Being a barely .500 team with the likes of Kittles, Cassell, Jayson Williams, KVH and Chris Gatling is considered a success? Lasting a little over 2 years as a coach WITH executive privileges is a success? You and I must have different standards then. Funny how you mention how Coach Cal always gets his players to play for him when taht Nets team eventually quit on him. Towards the end of his run, not only were his teams losing, but they were getting blown out on a nightly basis.
At Memphis he got plenty of blue chippers due to his relationship with WWW. He wasn't pulling recruits like he's pulling now, but he couldn't becasue Memphis was not a power conference and didn't have quite the exposure or mystique like Kentucky does. He did have his share of really good recruits though which was enough to physically dominate the perenially weak Conference USA. Dajuan Wagner, Darius Washington, Chris Massie, Rodney Carney, Earl Barron, Antonio Burks, Sean Banks, Shawne Williams, Joey Dorsey, CDR, Rose, Tyreke, etc. He had a ton of talent for a mid major conference and he racked up a bunch of wins, while never having a strength of schedule less than the 50s. One thing all those Memphis teams had in common was that they were all poor halfcourt teams. They were all good at out-athleticizing their opponents with their open court play and being better than their opponents in all the facets where athleticism matters, but they were not good at executing. They weren't good at passing, they hardly set any screens on or off the ball and they were notorious for their poor shooting outside of the occasional specialist. Cal got extremely athletic players to play...athletically.
Look, I'm not saying that Cal is a terrible coach. He has his merits, but there are plenty of other college coaches I'd rather have who I think are better teachers, strategists and in-game tacticians. Howland being one of them, along with guys like Jon Beilein, Tom Crean, Coach K, Bill Self, Thad Matta, Pitino, Donovan, Izzo, Bo Ryan, Jamie Dixon, etc. I'd put Cal in the next tier of coaches with guys like Roy Williams, Rick Barnes and Scott Drew. Coaches who aren't great X's and O's guys but great recruiters who put athletic blue chippers in a position to play athletically.
Or how 2 spell.
Yeah I was a bit tipsy after watching football all day with buddies. I obviously went way overboard with my post. Don't mind me, just a biased fan is all.
There's no way the Badgers shouldn't be in the top 25. Bo Ryan is the best coach in college basketball. He wins year in and year out despite mediocre talent across the board. But this year the Badgers have a ton of depth and talent despite losing Jordan Taylor. This team is led by Jared Berggran who is a very good prototypical Wisconsin big man who can stretch the floor and shoot. They also have a plethora of good shooting guards to replace Jordan Taylor including Ben Brust and Josh Gasser. The Badgers have Ryan Evans who is an athletic wing who has a very good mid range game. Sam Dekker, Wisconsins Mr. basketball, and 5 star recruit joins Wisconsin. He is very talented, and has a game similar to Kevin Durant (no way I'm saying hes that good, but their games are similar). And of course the Badgers have a stifling defense. This team will finish in the top 15 at the end of the year with a sweet 16 finish.
^^I agree with the Badgers easily being top 25 this year. Berggren is one of the best bigs in the Big 10 and I think Brust will surprise this year. Both are underrated athletes and shooters.
They had a bad year last year but I wouldn't sleep on Pitt this year.
Tray Woodall's back and healthy. Him going down last yr was what sent Pitt into a tailspin. Trey Zeigler's gonna be one of the most important transfers in the country and he helps solidify their backcourt. They've also got very good depth and size in the frontcourt with Steven Adams, Talib Zanna, Dante Taylor and Malcolm Gilbert. I think they bounce back this yr.
i dont know if they are top 25 good or not, but the third best team in the pac should be stanford. They actually went 15-2 vs out of conference last season and the 2 losses were by 5 points each in the final minutes. They won the NIT championship and they return 5 of their top 6 guys only losing josh owens amongst major contributors. They have a great young backcourt in chasson randle and aaron bright. I think they are gonna be really solid this year and compete with ucla and arizona.
College basketball about to get started already. So early. Looking foward to seeing Duke play UK in late Nov. But other than that the season doesnt really matter to me until Duke plays unc for the first time in Feb. Once football is over. Its going to be great seeing replays of Rivers game winner against unc over and over leading up to the game.