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Preseason Top 25: Duke a clear No. 1
Midnight Madness is almost upon us and that means the start of the regular season is just weeks away.
It’s time to unveil my FOXSports.com Preseason Top 25. Picking the top team to begin the season was a virtual no-brainer.
The Big Ten leads the way with five representatives, the Big 12 has four and the ACC, Big East and SEC all have a trio.
2010-11 PRESEASON TOP 25
Record: 35-5 (National Champions)
Lose: Jon Scheyer, Brian Zoubek, Lance Thomas
Key Returnees: Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith, Miles Plumlee, Mason Plumlee, Andre Dawkins, Ryan Kelly
Newcomers: Kyrie Irving, Seth Curry, Josh Hairston, Tyler Thornton
It would be foolish to put anyone else in the top spot heading into the season. The defending champs got Kyle Singler back for his senior season and will also swap in Kyrie Irving at the point for Scheyer. Nolan Smith has also become one of the top guards in the nation and Seth Curry will give the Blue Devils one of the best reserve guards in the country. Then you’ve got the Plumlee brothers up front.
2. MICHIGAN STATE
Record: 28-9 (Final Four)
Lose: Raymar Morgan
Key Returnees: Kalin Lucas, Delvon Roe, Durrell Summers, Draymond Green, Korie Lucious, Derrick Nix, Garrick Sherman
Newcomers: Keith Appling, Adreian Payne, Russell Byrd, Alex Gauna
It’s been quite an offseason in East Lansing. Tom Izzo decided to spurn the Cleveland Cavs and then Chris Allen was jettisoned from the program. But the most important factor in the Spartans' national title hopes is the health of Lucas and Roe. Lucas is coming off a torn Achilles and Roe says he’s as healthy as he’s been since he arrived on campus.
3. OHIO STATE
Record: 29-8 (Sweet 16)
Lose: Evan Turner, P.J. Hill, Kyle Madsen, Jeremie Simmons
Key Returnees: William Buford, David Lighty, Jon Diebler, Dallas Lauderdale
Newcomers: Jared Sullinger, DeShaun Thomas, Aaron Craft, J.D. Weatherspoon, Lenzelle Smith, Jordan Sibert
GOODMAN SEASON PREVIEWS
- Preseason All-Americans
- Preseason Top 25: Who's No. 1?
- 68 things to watch this season
- Best backcourts: Super 'Nova
- Best frontcourts: Big, bad Heels
- Top transfers: Curry's 'lil brother
- Top freshmen: ACC scores talent
- Coaches on hot seat: Careful, Pearl
- ACC preview: Return of UNC?
- Big East preview: New favorites
- Big 12 preview: K-State or KU?
- Pac-10 preview: Huskies and mutts
- Big Ten preview: Power conference
- SEC preview: It's wide open
It’ll be nearly impossible to replace National Player of the Year Evan Turner, but the Buckeyes will still have a chance to go to the Final Four – largely due to the addition of freshman big man Jared Sullinger. Thad Matta has a core of returnees that includes Lighty, Buford and Diebler – and Sullinger is a difference-maker in the paint.
4. KANSAS STATE
Record: 29-8 (Elite 8)
Lose: Denis Clemente, Luis Colon, Chris Merriewether
Key Returnees: Jacob Pullen, Curtis Kelly, Jamar Samuels, Rodney McGruder, Wally Judge
Newcomers: Freddy Asprilla, Nino Williams, Shane Southwell, Will Spradling
Pullen has earned a spot among the nation’s top guards, but now he’ll slide back to the point guard spot with the departure of Clemente. Frank Martin has talent up front with Kelly, Samuels and the addition of Asprilla, who gives the Wildcats a legitimate low-post presence.
Record: 25-9 (second round of the NCAA tournament)
Lose: Jermaine Dixon, Chase Adams
Key Returnees: Ashton Gibbs, Brad Wanamaker, Gilbert Brown, Gary McGhee, Nasir Robinson, Travon Woodall, Dante Taylor
Newcomers: J.J. Moore, Cameron Wright, Isaiah Epps
Jamie Dixon did a terrific job last year sneaking up on people, but that won’t be the case this season with the return of just about everyone. Gibbs and Wanamaker are one of the most underrated backcourts in the nation and the Panthers have plenty of options up front with guys like McGhee, Taylor, Robinson, sophomore J.J. Richardson and redshirt frosh Talib Zanna.
Record: 25-8 (second round of NCAA tournament)
Lose: Scottie Reynolds, Reggie Redding
Key Returnees: Corey Fisher, Corey Stokes, Antonio Pena, Mouphtaou Yarou, Maalik Wayns, Dominic Cheek
Newcomers: Jayvaughn Pinkston, James Bell
Leadership and chemistry will be critical because ‘Nova has the talent – especially in the backcourt with guys like Fisher, Stokes and Wayns. Pena is solid up front and Yarou should be much better now that he’s healthy.
Record: 26-10 (Sweet 16)
Lose: Quincy Pondexter, Elston Turner, Clarence Trent
Key Returnees: Isaiah Thomas, Venoy Overton, Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Justin Holiday, Abdul Gaddy, Scott Suggs, Darnell Gant, Tyreese Breshers, C.J. Wilcox
Newcomers: Aziz Ndiaye, Terrence Ross, Desmond Simmons
The Huskies will have to replace Quincy Pondexter, which won’t be easy, but the bottom line is that Lorenzo Romar has Thomas, Overton and Gaddy all returning in the backcourt and Bryan-Amaning stepped up towards the latter part of last season. Ndiaye could be a factor with his size and ability to block shots and rebound.
Record: 23-11 (second round of the NCAA tournament)
Lose: J.T. Tiller, Zaire Taylor, Keith Ramsey, Miguel Paul, Tyler Stone
Key Returnees: Kim English, Marcus Denmon, Laurence Bowers, Justin Safford, Michael Dixon
Newcomers: Phil Pressey, Ricardo Ratliffe, Matt Pressey, Kadeem Green, Ricky Kreklow
The Gators need a big season from Chandler Parsons.Ronald Martinez
It’s all about the system for Mike Anderson. He’s got more depth and guys like English, Denmon, Bowers and Safford are used to the style of play. Top recruit Tony Mitchell didn’t qualify, but the Tigers added Phil Pressey – a quick floor leader who is the perfect guy to run Anderson’s system.
Record: 21-13 (first round of the NCAA tournament)
Lose: Dan Werner, Ray Shipman
Key Returnees: Kenny Boynton, Erving Walker, Chandler Parsons, Alex Tyus, Vernon Macklin, Erik Murphy
Newcomers: Patric Young, Casey Prather, Cody Larson, Will Yeguette, Scottie Wilbekin
Parsons is primed to have a break-out year and Billy Donovan finally has enough capable bodies. Walker and Boynton both need to be consistent and stay healthy because there’s a lack of depth in the backcourt, but the Gators are loaded up front with guys like Macklin, Tyus, Murphy and the addition of Young.
Record: 33-3 (lost in second round of NCAA tournament)
Lose: Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich, Xavier Henry
Key Returnees: Tyshawn Taylor, Brady Morningstar, Marcus and Markieff Morris, Tyrel Reed, Thomas Robinson, Travis Releford, Mario Little
Newcomers: Josh Selby*, Royce Woolridge
Collins, Aldrich and Henry are all gone, so expect the Jayhawks to have a completely different look and feel. Marcus Morris will be the go-to guy, but more important it his leadership. The key could be whether talented freshman point guard Josh Selby winds up being cleared by the NCAA.
Record: 21-15 (NIT)
Lose: Dominique Keller, Stan Simpson
Key Returnees: Demetri McCamey, Mike Davis, Mike Tisdale, D.J. Richardson, Brandon Paul, Bill Cole, Tyler Griffey
Newcomers: Jereme Richmond, Meyers Leonard, Crandall Head
The Illini didn’t quite live up to expectations this past season, but showed glimpses of what they can be. No one of note is gone and McCamey had a stretch in the middle of the season when he finally “got it.” Now Richardson and Paul have a year under their belt and expect Richmond, one of the most versatile players in the country, to make an immediate impact.
12. NORTH CAROLINA
Record: 20-17 (NIT)
Lose: Ed Davis, Marcus Ginyard, Deon Thompson, Travis Wear, David Wear
Key Returnees: Tyler Zeller, Larry Drew II, John Henson, Dexter Strickland, Leslie McDonald
Newcomers: Harrison Barnes, Reggie Bullock, Kendall Marshall, Justin Knox
Don’t expect a repeat of last season’s NIT performance in Chapel Hill. Not with the addition of a freshman class that includes the nation’s No. 1 player, Barnes, as well as the maturity of Henson and the health of Zeller. Barnes can do it all, but Bullock will also made a major contribution. The key will be point guard play where incumbent Larry Drew II will be pushed by frosh Kendall Marshall.
Record: 24-10 (NIT)
Lose: Elliott Williams, Doneal Mack, Willie Kemp, Pierre-Henderson Niles
Key Returnees: Will Coleman, Wesley Witherspoon, Angel Garcia
Newcomers: Will Barton, Joe Jackson, Jelan Kendrick, Tarik Black, Chris Crawford, Hippolyte Tsafack, Antonio Barton, Charles Carmouche
Josh Pastner has brought in arguably the top freshman class in the country to go along with holdovers Witherspoon, Coleman and Garcia. Barton is the most talented and is a big-time scoring wing, Jackson will run the team and Kendrick is extremely versatile.
Record: 35-3 (Elite Eight)
Lose: John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson, Eric Bledsoe, Daniel Orton, Ramon Harris, Perry Stevenson
Key Returnees: Darius Miller, DeAndre Liggins, Jon Hood, Josh Harrellson
Newcomers: Brandon Knight, Enes Kanter, Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb, Eloy Vargas, Stacey Poole
Talk about a drastic change in personnel. The Wildcats lost five guys to the first round of the NBA draft, but UK has reloaded by adding another terrific freshman class led by Knight – one of the most talented guards in the country. The key, however, will be Kanter – a 6-foot-9 Turkish kid who could be a force in the paint as long as he is cleared by the NCAA.
Record: 27-7 (second round of the NCAA tournament)
Lose: Matt Bouldin
Key Returnees: Steven Gray, Robert Sacre, Elias Harris, Demetri Goodson, Kelly Olynyk, Mangisto Arop
Newcomers: Marquise Carter, Keegan Hyland
The ‘Zags lost Bouldin, but still have enough to be among the nation’s elite with the return of Gray, Harris and Sacre. The most interesting position battle may come at the point between Goodson and junior college floor leader Marquise Carter.
Record: 28-8 (Elite 8)
Lose: Tweety Carter, Ekpe Udoh, Josh Lomers, Givon Crump
Key Returnees: LaceDarius Dunn, Anthony Jones, Quincy Acy, A.J. Walton, Nolan Dennis
Newcomers: Perry Jones, Stargell Love, J’Mison Morgan
Scott Drew loses three starters, including Udoh, who had a terrific season in Waco after transferring from Michigan. Dunn, who has dealt with some offseason issues, is as prolific a scorer as there is in the country and Jones is as talented as any freshman in the nation. The key here may be the development of guys like Walton, Acy and Anthony Jones.
17. FLORIDA STATE
Record: 22-10 (first round of NCAA tournament)
Lose: Solomon Alabi, Ryan Reid, Jordan DeMercy
Key Returnees: Chris Singleton, Michael Snaer, Deividas Dulkys, Derwin Kitchen, Luke Loucks, Xavier Gibson
Newcomers: Jon Kreft, Ian Miller, Bernard James, Okaro White
The departure of the 7-foot Alabi would normally be a major blow to a team, but the ‘Noles have a trio of talented big guys as replacements: Gibson, James and Kreft. Singleton should become more of an offensive focal point, Snaer should step it up with a year of experience and Miller, an explosive scorer, will give Leonard Hamilton another option at point guard.
Record: 21-14 (Lost in first round of NCAA tournament)
Lose: Lawrence Westbrook, Damian Johnson, Devron Bostick, Paul Carter
Key Returnees: Blake Hoffarber, Devoe Joseph, Ralph Sampson III, Al Nolan, Colton Iverson, Rodney Williams
Newcomers: Trevor Mbakwe, Austin Hollins, Maurice Walker, Oto Osnieks, Elliott Eliason
Tubby Smith loses three of his top seven scorers, but the Gophers will be improved with the maturity of Sampson and Iverson up front and the return of guards Joseph, Hoffarber and Nolan – who was suspended the latter half of last season. Smith will also have the services of Mbakwe, who didn’t play at all last season due to legal issues, as well as a freshman class that includes Walker and Hollins.
Scoop Jardine will help run Jim Boeheim's offense at Syracuse again.Jed Jacobsohn
Record: 30-5 (Sweet 16)
Lose: Wesley Johnson, Andy Rautins, Arinze Onuaku
Key Returnees: Brandon Triche, Scoop Jardine, Kris Joseph, Rick Jackson, DaShonte Riley, Mookie Jones
Newcomers: Fab Melo, Dion Waiters, C.J. Fair
Johnson, Rautins and Onuaku are all gone. However, Joseph could emerge as a star, Triche and Jardine were impressive sharing point guard duties and Waiters can come in and make an instant impact as a scoring guard. Melo will be a work in progress, but he’s big and will give Jim Boeheim another frontcourt guy to go along with Jackson and Riley.
Record: 29-6 (first round of NCAA tournament)
Lose: Ryan Brooks, Luis Guzman
Key Returnees: Juan Fernandez, Lavoy Allen, Ramone Moore, Michael Eric
Newcomers: Anthony Lee, Aaron Brown
The Owls return four of five starters from last year’s team that won 29 games. Brooks will be difficult to replace, but Fernandez has a full year under his belt and will move to his natural spot with the ball in his hands. Allen is a threat in the paint and has emerged as one of the top big guys in the country.
21. SAN DIEGO STATE
Record: 25-9 (lost in first round of NCAA tournament)
Lose: Kelvin Davis, Tyrone Shelley
Key Returnees: Kawhi Leonard, Malcolm Thomas, D.J. Gay, Billy White, Chase Tapley, Brian Carlwell
Newcomers: James Rahon, LaBradford Franklin, Jamaal Franklin
Steve Fisher brings back more than 80 percent of his scoring, rebounding and assists from a team that nearly knocked off Tennessee in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Leonard was the Mountain West Freshman of the Year and he will team with Thomas to form one of the best inside duos in the nation. The Aztecs also bring back the starting backcourt of Gay and Tapley – and Fisher also adds Santa Clara transfer James Rahon, who averaged 11.3 points as a freshman and shot 40.7 percent from long distance.
Record: 28-9 (lost in the Elite Eight)
Lose: Wayne Chism, J.P. Prince, Bobby Maze
Key Returnees: Scotty Hopson, Cameron Tatum, Brian Williams, Melvin Goins, Kenny Hall
Newcomers: Tobias Harris, John Fields, Trae Golden, Jeronne Maymon
Bruce Pearl has had a rough offseason and he’ll have a completely different team after losing three seniors: Chism, Prince and Maze. Hopson and skilled freshman Tobias Harris will likely be the scorers while the Vols have plenty of options up front with Williams, Hall and Fields – who has an immediate year of eligibility after transferring from UNC Wilmington. The key is whether Goins, who backed up Maze last season, can run the team.
Record: 33-5 (Lost in National Title Game)
Lose: Gordon Hayward, Willie Veasley, Avery Jukes
Key Returnees: Matt Howard, Shelvin Mack, Ronald Nored, Shawn Vanzant, Zach Hahn, Andrew Smith
Newcomers: Khyle Marshall, Chrishawn Hopkins, Erik Fromm
Even though Hayward left early, don’t sleep on the Bulldogs. They remain the heavy favorites in the Horizon due to the presence of Mack, Howard and Nored – three starters who have Final Four experience.
Record: 30-6 (lost in the second round of the NCAA tournament)
Lose: Jonathan Tavernari, Chris Miles, Lamont Morgan Jr., Michael Loyd
Key Returnees: Jimmer Fredette, Jackson Emery, Brandon Davies, Noah Hartsock, Chris Collinsworth, Nick Martineau
Newcomers: Kyle Collinsworth, Anson Winder
While the Cougars did lose a lot, Dave Rose still has Fredette in the fold and he’s one of the top guards in the country. Miles and Tavernari graduated and Tyler Haws is headed on the mission, but 6-foot-9 Chris Collinsworth is back from a mission.
Record: 29-6 (Sweet 16)
Lose: Chris Kramer, Keaton Grant
Key Returnees: E’Twaun Moore, JaJuan Johnson, Lewis Jackson, Kelsey Barlow
Newcomers: Terone Johnson, Anthony Johnson, Travis Carroll
I had Purdue at No. 2 in the country behind Duke – until Robbie Hummel went down with a season-ending ACL injury on the first official day of practice. Hummel had just been cleared by doctors after suffering his first torn ACL last February and now the Boilermakers' dreams of a Final Four are crushed for the second straight year. Sure, Matt Painter has Moore and Johnson – but Hummel has already proven to be indispensible to the team’s success.
25 more to watch (in order of conference)
Virginia Tech, Clemson, N.C. State, Texas, Texas A&M, Wisconsin, Northwestern, UConn, West Virginia, Georgetown, Marquette, Seton Hall, Vanderbilt, Georgia, Mississippi State, Richmond, Xavier, Saint Louis, Dayton, UNLV, Wichita State, Loyola Marymount, Saint Mary's, Murray State, Wofford
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