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Thursday, April 08, 2010

NBC Sports' Beyond The Arc - Preseason Top 25 (Memphis 8th???)

A way too early Top 25
Posted: Monday, April 05, 2010 7:33 PM
Filed Under: 2009-10 season previews

The Big East and Big 12 duked it out for top conference bragging rights in 2010.

Next season, the Big Ten will be at the top.

Purdue, Michigan State and Ohio State all should be title contenders. Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin are going to be Top 25 mainstays. And if Northwestern finally makes the NCAA tournament, how can you deny the Big Ten?

Meanwhile, Duke and Butler both have arguments to enter the season atop the rankings. Throw in Pitt, Syracuse, Kansas, Texas and possibly even Memphis as Final Four contenders and the 2010-11 season could be even more open than the 2010 NCAA tournament.

On that note, it’s time for the “way too early Top 25,” also known as “the best way to anger every fan out there.” It'll get tweaked when all the dusts settles from the NBA draft.

After all, who knows what next season is going to be like? We’re still waiting for NBA draft declarations and for some prized recruits to commit. But I’ll take a stab at it (after consulting this).

Kentucky fans, take note: I have no clue where to slot the Wildcats right now. Neither does John Calipari. Can't remember the last time a team had so much up in the air in terms of one season to the next.

And when you’re done with this, check out Dave Ommen’s bracket projection for next season. Optimistically, it’s still at 65 teams.

1. Michigan State
Spartans only Raymar Morgan from a 28-8 Final Four team. Kalin Lucas will rehab his ruptured Achilles’ tendon, Durrell Summers will stay in school and Tom Izzo will bring in a Top 6 recruiting class. Surviving the Big Ten will be just as tough as reaching the Final Four.

2. Duke
Starters Brian Zoubek, Jon Scheyer and Lance Thomas will be gone, but Kyrie Irving is best prospect Mike Krzyzewski’s had since Jason Williams. Seth Curry will be eligible, while Andre Dawkins, Mason Plumlee and Miles Plumlee are ready for prominent roles.

3. Butler
Losing Willie Veasley hurts, but provided Gordon Hayward returns, the Bulldogs still have a roster capable of returning to the Final Four. You try scoring against that defense.

4. Purdue
Last chance for Robbie Hummel, E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson to get to the Final Four. Keaton Grant and Chris Kramer are gone, but don’t expect the defense to slack.

5. Pitt
Panthers finished 25-9 and were a Big East surprise. By returning four starters and three top bench players, they’re good enough to win league.

6. Ohio State
Yes, Evan Turner’s probably gone. But the other four starters return. And the last time Thad Matta brought in a recruiting class like this was 2006.

7. Kansas State
Might be a bit high given that Denis Clemente’s gone, but I love Jacob Pullen’s game and that dynamite frontcourt.

8. Memphis
Leap of faith. The Tigers have the nation’s top recruiting class and have Elliot Williams, Wes Witherspoon, Roburt Sallie and Will Coleman back.

9. Syracuse
Can Fab Melo and Dion Waiters replace Arinze Onuaku and Andy Rautins? Helps if Wes Johnson sticks around. And I think he will.

10. Georgetown
Greg Monroe says he’ll pass on the NBA for now. If so, Hoyas are really good. No Monroe, no Top 25.

11. Kansas
Replacing Cole Aldrich (and probably Xavier Henry) is easy part compared to having Tyshawn Taylor or Elijah Johnson fill Sherron Collins’s shoes.

12. Virginia Tech
If Malcolm Delaney stays, Hokies will challenge Duke for ACC title.

13. UNLV
Everyone’s back on from a team one shot away from beating Northern Iowa. Rebs might be best on West Coast.

14. UTEP
Where to place a 26-7 team that owned C-USA and returns nearly every player (Derrick Caracter declared for the draft) but loses its coach? Right here. Besides, the defense might get even better with Tim Floyd around.

15. Illinois
Don’t be surprised when the Illini make life miserable for MSU, Purdue and Ohio State. All five starters return and a Top 10 recruiting class arrives.

16. Villanova
Maybe ‘Cats should be lower with Scottie Reynolds and Reggie Redding gone, but that would ignore the talent on Jay Wright’s team.

17. Florida
If Gators play some defense, could be SEC’s top team.

18. Xavier
Even without Jason Love – and possibly Jordan Crawford – I’m done underrating the Musketeers. They’re good for 25 wins and a spot in the Sweet 16.

19. Gonzaga
Same goes for Zags. Matt Bouldin’s gone, but Mark Few always produces a Top 25 team.

20. North Carolina
Another stellar recruiting class (headed by Harrison Barnes), but Heels stay this low until we see just how ready all that young talent is to play.

21. Baylor
Gonna miss Tweety Carter. But Bears have LaceDarius Dunn and a scary frontcourt with Ekpe Udoh, Quincy Acy, Anthony Jones and incoming freshman Perry Jones.

22. Washington
No slow start this time for Dawgs. This low only because Quincy Pondexter’s gone.

23. Vanderbilt
Commodores were sneaky good this season, especially on offense.

24. New Mexico State
Perhaps I think too much of Jahmar Young and Troy Gillenwater. Nah …

25. Missouri
Tigers lose key seniors (again), but have more young talent coming in.

Also considered: Tennessee, BYU, New Mexico, Richmond, Temple, Louisville.

There you go. Who’d I miss?

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