Preseason Top 40
By Dick Vitale
SPECIAL TO ESPN.COM
(Editor's note: Due to Alabama guard Ronald Steele's decision to redshirt this season, the All-Rolls Royce team was updated on September 19.)
The summer is just about over and it is time to get ready for the 2007-08 college hoops season. Wow, it is going to be awesome, baby with a capital A!
With that in mind, I used the VBDI (Vitale Bald Dome Index) to come up with my preseason rankings. I am going from number 40 all the way up to numero uno, the team I am picking to cut down the nets in San Antonio. So here we go…
DICKIE V'S 2007-08 PRESEASON TOP 40
1. North Carolina: Roy Williams has to be thrilled to have Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington all returning. Deon Thompson will step up big-time in place of Brandan Wright up front.
2. Memphis: After back-to-back trips to the Elite Eight, John Calipari's team is ready to move to national championship contention. Chris Douglas-Roberts will have a phenomenal season.
3. Louisville: Rick Pitino will have national championship aspirations with this club. David Padgett has to stay healthy.
4. Georgetown: Even without Jeff Green (now a Sonic), John Thompson III has a solid squad, led by big man Roy Hibbert. The addition of diaper dandies to strengthen the backcourt is a positive.
5. UCLA: Darren Collison will be the maestro man, leading a very good club. Ben Howland welcomes the premier high school player of the year in Kevin Love, and he will provide an immediate impact up front.
6. Kansas: Rock, chalk, Jayhawk will be celebrating another super season. This is a deep and talented Bill Self-led team. A key will be the health of Brandon Rush.
7. Michigan State: Look for big things from Drew Neitzel and Raymar Morgan as Tom Izzo has the team to beat in the Big Ten. The Izzone will be rocking and rolling, baby!
8. Indiana: Kelvin Sampson is thrilled to have diaper dandy Eric Gordon, and the newcomer will make a difference right out of the blocks. DJ White has to have a strong season.
9. Tennessee: Bruce Pearl has brought energy and enthusiasm to Rocky Top. Chris Lofton spurned the NBA and returned to Knoxville, and the addition of Tyler Smith is a major plus.
10. Oregon: Ernie Kent has a veteran nucleus returning. Even without Aaron Brooks, this will be a tough team to beat out west.
11. Marquette: Tom Crean was thrilled when Dominic James pulled out of the draft and returned to school.
12. Duke: Coach K's team was plagued by injuries in the off-season, but when the bell rings, never count the Dukies out.
13. Stanford: It helps to have the Lopez twins in the lineup.
14. Texas: No Kevin Durant, but AJ Abrams, DJ Augustin and company can flat out play.
15. Kentucky: Billy Gillispie will have this program firing on all cylinders. The addition of Patrick Patterson will help.
16. Washington State: The Cougars won't sneak up on anybody this season.
17. USC: OJ Mayo and friends will rock and roll. Tim Floyd would have had a top 10 team if Gabe Pruitt and Nick Young came back; they didn't.
18. Syracuse: Jim Boeheim has a lot of talent in his incoming class.
19. Clemson: Forget about last year's collapse as Oliver Purnell has a strong squad.
20. Florida: No Noah, Horford, Brewer, Green or Humphrey, but Billy Donovan will reload with a lot of young talent.
21. Arkansas: John Pelphrey takes over and the return of Patrick Beverley makes a difference.
22. Ohio State: No Oden, Conley, Cook, but Thad Matta has a lot of new and talented faces ready for action.
23. Gonzaga: Mark Few will play anyone, any place, any time. His team will be prepared.
24. Pittsburgh: Jamie Dixon doesn't have true superstars, he has team players that work hard and flat-out win.
25. Mississippi State: Rick Stansbury has a lot of depth and some momentum after a strong NIT showing.
26. Kansas State: Bob Huggins is gone but the expectations are high with Michael Beasley leading the way.
27. Arizona: Chase Budinger has some help with 6-3 newcomer Jerryd Bayless.
28. Notre Dame: Cheer, cheer for old Notre Dame. Mike Brey wakes up the echoes.
29. Villanova: Scottie Reynolds can flat-out play as Jay Wright's team is solid.
30. Texas A&M: Mark Turgeon takes over and inherits a Big 12 contender.
31. Alabama: Ronald Steele has decided to redshirt this season.
32. Virginia: Dave Leitao is thrilled to have Sean Singletary back.
33. Connecticut: Jim Calhoun's team will improve thanks to a season of experience. Last year's squad was very young and mistake-prone.
34. Washington: Jon Brockman leads the way as Lorenzo Romar wonders what would have been if Spencer Hawes came back.
35. NC State: Sidney Lowe will build something special in Raleigh. They will miss Mr. Atsur but you can expect big things from Brandon Costner.
36. Texas Tech: Never count out the General, Robert Montgomery Knight. Martin Zeno will impress this season.
37. Georgia Tech: Paul Hewitt would have had a top 15 team if Thaddeus Young and Javaris Crittenton returned. There is talent and the return of Lewis Clinch will help.
38. Providence: Tim Welsh very quietly has assembled a nice squad, including Geoff McDermott and Sharaud Curry.
39. Xavier: I love the backcourt of Stanley Burrell and Drew Lavender as Sean Miller has the team to watch in the A-10.
40. Southern Illinois: Chris Lowery's team can play defense and the Salukis are 78-26 over the last three seasons. Randal Falker leads the way.