With the college basketball season concluded and in the books, college basketball fans are now looking for recruiting battles, rumors, and news about their favorite teams. With recruiting and the NBA draft deadline over, we now are getting a better understanding of this year's top teams in the college game. Here is how I think the poll will unfold once the season begins:
1. Duke Blue Devils
With Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith returning for another season, the Blue Devils have a legitimate chance to repeat. Losing Jon Scheyer could pose problems but Duke has Kyrie Irving and Tyler Thornton, two young guards that can prove they are leaders. Seth Curry, the transfer from Liberty, will be a huge boost in scoring off the bench, and don't forget about Andre Dawkins. Duke will be a great team, IF the Plumlee brothers can establish themselves inside
2. Purdue Boilemakers
Similar to Duke, once the stars JaJuan Johnson and E'twaun Moore decided to give college basketball another crack, Purdue leapt into the top five. They're only losing Chris Kramer and Keaton Grant, so this team still has a bright future. Their projected roster looks something like this. At the guard postions, Lewis Jackson, E'twaun Moore, and Kelsey Barlow. At the forward position you have JaJuan Johnson and Robbie Hummel. That roster has Final Four written all over it.
3. Kansas State Wildcats
The Wildcats could have been in the national championship along with Duke. However, tired legs played a huge part, and they were defeated by the eventual runner-up Butler in the Elite Eight. Only losing one key player in Denis Clemente, the Wildcats have a legitimate chance to become Final Four contenders. The Cats' still have a very athletic frontcourt and they only added to it with Freddy Asprilla. The Cats' could be big players in this upcoming season, as long as Jacob Pullen continues to dominate the game.
4. Michigan State Spartans
If Tom Izzo decided to stay with the Spartans, they would be conceived as No. 2 in this pre-season poll. However, it seems like they're going to lose Izzo. But, the Spartans still have too much talent on their roster to be kicked out of the top five. Every key player except Raymar Morgan is returning, and added key recruits to bolster their roster.
5. Baylor Bears
Baylor lost Tweety Carter and Ekpe Udoh. However, they returned LaceDarius Dunn and acquired the highest rated recruit in school history. Percy Jones is said to be similar to Udoh but slightly better. He brings a better post presence than what the Bears had with Udoh, not to mention, the contributions Quincy Acey will bring.
6. Ohio State Buckeyes
During last season when they lost Evan Turner they were horrible. Something tells me that is not going to happen with this team. The Buckeyes have four returning starters and one of the top recruiting classes this year. The depth of the Buckeyes' will be amazing, and they won't have to depend on one player to do it all.
7. Pittsburgh Panthers
First, the Panthers returned four starters and all of their key reserves off the bench. Then, they added Isaiah Epps, Cameron Wright and J.J Moore to the roster, and now they're a legit top ten squad. They're a deep team, well coached and they play some tough basketball. Brad Wanamaker and Ashton Gibbs will be a duo that'll make noise once the season starts.
8. Illinois Fight Illini
Demetri McCamey and Mike Davis decided to withdraw from the draft; they put
Illinois in a good situation. Illinois is one of the very few teams in the NCAA
to return all of their key contributors. Now factor in their top recruiting
class, and the Illini is looking at a great season. With McCamey leading the
backcourt and Davis in the frontcourt, look for the Illini to make noise in the
9. Villanova Wildcats
Wildcats will lose one of the most celebrated players in Scottie Reynolds, but
they do have returning players Corey Fisher, Corey Stokes, Antonio Pena, and
more. Not to mention, they were fortunate enough to acquire some newcomers in
Jayvaugh Pinkston, Markus Kennedy, and James Bell. Look for Maalik Wayns and
Dominic Cheeks to spark the backcourt, and do what Scottie Reynolds' was able
to do for the Wildcats- maybe better.
10. Washington Huskies
only key player that departed was Quincy Pondexter. Everybody else on the
current roster stayed and they were able to pick up ESPNU top 100 recruit
Terrence Ross to bolster the wing position. With the nucleus of
players that they've got on their roster, mixed with
their recruiting class, they should be headed into
an interesting season. If they were able to keep Terrence Jones it's
no doubt they'd be a top five pick
North Carolina Tarheels
The Tarheels had a season
to forget this past year. However, Roy Williams couldn't be happier that he
landed the No. 1 wing threat in the country. With the Wear twins transferring,
the depth of the Tarheels could be challenged, but nothing is going to stop
them from being great this season. Barnes is on a mission.
12. Kentucky Wildcats
Similar to last season, the
Kentucky Wildcats have snagged the best recruits in the nation and plan on
starting each and every one of them. The most notable is highly touted point
guard Brandon Knight. He will be the leader of this young but talented attack
and don't be surprised if they're better than last year's squad.
13. Kansas Jayhawks
Okay, so they lost Sherron
Collins, Cole Aldrich and Xavier Henry, so what? They still have the Morris
twins, and the number one player in the nation- Josh Selby. They have a bunch
of role players that will step up and be leaders for this offense. Not to
mention they have one of the best coaches in college basketball.
14. Missouri Tigers
Mike Anderson pulled off
getting one of the best recruiting classes in the Big 12. He lost many key
players but he also gained players that could live up to high expectations.
They will have a stifling defense, and with more athletic men, you have to watch
out for the Missouri Tigers.
15. Florida Gators
The Gators' didn't lose
much this off-season just a pair of role players that Billy Donavan has made up
for. Donavan brings in players Patrick Young and Casey Prather, not to mention,
Alex Tyus has returned for another year of college basketball, and the Gators
have a talented roster that will get out of the first round this time around.
16. Gonzaga Bulldogs
The Zags' lost a key piece
of their organization when they lost Matt Bouldin. However, they still
have Elias Harris, and more of their starting unit has returned as well. The
newcomer Keegan Hyland could also make a great addition for the starting unit
and have the Zags' as a top ranked team.
17. Memphis Tigers
Josh Pastner has done a
great job at Memphis thus far. After seeing Calipari depart for Kentucky I must
admit, I never gave the Tigers a chance to be much of anything in the NCAA
anymore. However, Pastner has loaded this team with elite talent and is putting
them back on top, as one of the best mid-major schools.
Jimmer Fredette returning for another season the Cougars are the front-runners
to win the Mountain West. Fredette is going to lead this team the way he did
last year. Watch out for the Cougars.
Temple had a stellar season
last year, and is returning four of their five scoring threats on offense. With
Juan Fernandez outside, and Lavoy Allen in the paint, look for another 25 plus
win season for the Owls.
20. Virginia Tech
Most people believed that
last year Virginia Tech was snubbed by the committee. Now, with all their
starters returning and adding to their roster with acquired recruits and
transfers, Virginia Tech will have a team full of seniors with a lot of
Losing David Gonzalvez was
huge for Richmond. They definitely have big shoes to fill, to make up
his production on the court. But other than that, Richmond is looking bright
with Justin Harper running the show, and Dan Geriot coming back from injury.
22. Florida State
The Seminoles lost key
contributions in the post and the only way they can make up for it is to hope
that their reserves are ready to step up to the challenge. Xavier Gibson and
Jon Kreft could step up, and help the Seminoles become a big player next
23. Syracuse Orange
Syracuse lost a lot this
season- Wesley Johnson, Andy Rautins, and Arinze Onuaku. Those players were key
to Syracuse and they didn't attack the recruiting class to find replacements
like they should have. But they have a lot of returning players so the season
could be something like the last if they play as a team.
24. Butler Bulldogs
Butler lost the key to
their team with Gordon Hayward. But something is telling me that they're going
to make me look stupid for having them all the way ranked at No. 24. They do
still have Shelvin Mack and Matt Howard, and as long as they continue with
their defensive intensity, they'll always make their critics look dumb.
UNLV returned the majority
of the players that helped them to their 25 win season and added Quintrell
Thomas to help out the frontcourt. UNLV should round off a great top 25 teams in college basketball.
Written by DeAnte Mitchell, edit by Rachel Cox