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Saturday, July 14, 2007

From "Memphis #2 in BlogPoll"

Premature Hoops BlogPoll: No. 2, Memphis

Posted Jul 13th 2007 1:35PM by Michael David Smith

This week, FanHouse is taking a way too early look at the top teams heading into 2007 with a BlogPoll decided on by our college hoops bloggers. It's a time-honored filler for the off-season, and who are we to buck tradition? Today we look at teams 5 through 1.

What's not to like? John Calipari's club has been to the Elite Eight two years in a row, almost everyone is back, and the recruiting class is strong. Memphis is a popular Final Four pick, and ESPN's Andy Katz is among the many experts picking the Tigers to win it all.

Memphis lost only one senior from last year's team that fell to Ohio State in San Antonio, although he was a fairly big loss: second-leading scorer Jeremy Hunt. Chris Douglas-Roberts, Joey Dorsey, Robert Dozier and Antonio Anderson are back, as are all the players who got significant minutes off the bench last year.

And their best player may be incoming freshman guard Derrick Rose, who had an outstanding senior season for Chicago Simeon High School. Another freshman, Jeff Robinson, is expected to make an immediate contribution.

Why they should be ranked here: This looks every bit like a Final Four team. It's hard to find a weakness.

Conference USA isn't exactly the stiffest competition, but any team that goes 16-0 and wins the conference tournament, as Memphis did last season, deserves a lot of credit. Although they got off to a bit of a shaky start in their 2006 nonconference schedule, their loss to Ohio State in the Elite Eight was their first loss of 2007, and they have a good chance of going even deeper into 2008 without a loss.

Why they should be ranked higher: Memphis fans can certainly make a legitimate argument that they should be No. 1. There's not a team in the country that you can definitely say is better than Memphis heading into 2007-08.

Why they should be ranked lower: They'll miss Hunt as a scorer and a leader. They'll also be putting a lot of eggs in the Derrick Rose basket, and it's possible that he won't be quite the big-time player they think he is.

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