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Sunday, September 07, 2008

Dickie V's Preseason Top 40 (Tigers #13)


Dickie V's Preseason Top 40
By Dick Vitale
ESPN.com
August 29, 2008

The summer is almost over, so it is time to get cracking on my preseason list of the nation's Top 40 teams. Check out teams Nos. 11-40 below and check back Sept. 8 when I'll reveal my preseason Top 10.

DICKIE V's PRESEASON TOP 40

11. Purdue. Matt Painter's team snuck up on a lot of people last season. With Robbie Hummel leading the way, the Boilermakers have high hopes.

12. Marquette. Tom Crean is gone but Buzz Williams has the top-flight trio of Dominic James, Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews back.

13. Memphis. No Derrick Rose, no Chris Douglas-Roberts, no problem. John Calipari has a lot of talent returning plus several standout recruits.

14. Tennessee. Bruce Pearl will rely on Tyler Smith inside to key his SEC challenger.

15. Georgetown. Adding Greg Monroe up front will make this a team to keep an eye on in the rugged Big East.

16. Villanova. Jay Wright has his key players returning, led by Scottie Reynolds.

17. Florida. Billy Donovan's Gators will return to the big dance, keyed by Nick Calathes.

18. Arizona State. James Harden will be one of the premier players in the Pac-10. The Sun Devils will go from surprise team to conference challenger.

19. Davidson. Stephen Curry will carry this team to another big season. Forget about the Cinderella tag this season.

20. Virginia Tech. Seth Greenberg's team fell short of the big dance last season. That won't be an issue this time around.

21. Miami-Florida. Jack McClinton is one of the best players that America has not heard enough about. Frank Haith does a fine job with the Hurricanes.

22. Wisconsin. Bo Ryan will always have the Badgers in the hunt in the Big Ten.

23. Arizona. The return of Chase Budinger makes Lute Olson very happy. If Brandon Jennings didn't go to Europe, this would be a top 10 team.

24. Kentucky. When Patrick Patterson is healthy, watch out. Billy Gillispie's club will be returning to prominence.

25. Kansas. Bill Self lost five players to the NBA draft. He has a young but talented team that should still make noise.

26. Syracuse. In a different league, the Orange would be a contender. In the Big East, it is so, so tough …

27. Oklahoma. I know people are talking about football down in Norman. Jeff Capel's club, led by Blake Griffin, will give fans something else to cheer about.

28. West Virginia. Bob Huggins will have his team battling, scrapping and clawing again.

29. Wake Forest. This young team is talented. You will hear a lot from super sophs Jeff Teague and James Johnson.

30. Baylor. Scott Drew has rebuilt this program in a short time. Remember the name LaceDarius Dunn!

31. USC. Even without O.J. Mayo, the Trojans will be a tough team. Taj Gibson and company will not be an easy touch.

32. Clemson. Oliver Purnell lost a lot of senior talent, but K.C. Rivers is back.

33. St. Mary's. As long as Mr. Mills comes back to school, this team will make noise in the WCC.

34. Alabama. If Mark Gottfried gets back a healthy Ronald Steele, the Tide can reverse last season's misfortune.

35. UNLV. Lon Kruger has won 91 games in his four seasons with the Runnin' Rebels.

36. Mississippi State. If Jamont Gordon had stayed in school, this team would be in the top 20.

37. UAB. Robert Vaden is back. He flirted with the NBA draft but withdrew before the deadline.

38. Ohio State. A lot will depend on the big diaper dandy, B.J. Mullens. Thad Matta is a flat-out winner, my friends.

39. San Diego. Last season was not a fluke … just ask Connecticut.

40. Xavier. Sean Miller's team lost a lot of talent, but the newcomers will make a difference.

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