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Breakfast With Berndon: Picking Apart the Preseason Top 25

October 27, 2010

I'm going to come up with my own preseason top 25, along with some other college hoops preview-type stuff in the next couple of weeks in pure "Breakfast with Berndon" style. But, for now, here's my take on the top 25. In my opinion, some of the squads are ranked too high, some are ranked too low, and others are sitting right about where they should be, at least in my humble college basketball obsessed brain. Granted, I haven't watched a whole lot of the freshman, apart from the McDonald's game, but in terms of what people have coming back, I'm confident with my knowledge.

Ranked Too High
4. Pitt: Pittsburgh is going to be really good with pretty much their whole roster back in the fold, but I'd but them in the top 10. Just not the top 4.

7. Kansas: There are eligibility concerns about top newcomer Josh Selby, but even if he's cleared and plays every game, I don't see how a team that lost in the 2nd round to Northern Iowa, and lost their point guard and best low-post option should be in the top 10. To be fair, I often made fun of Cole Aldrich. But he is huge and the Jayhawks will miss his rebounding and interior defense.

8. Purdue: The Boilers have no business being ranked this high without Robbie Hummel. Illinois moves ahead of them in the Big 10, and Purdue should now be about 20-25.

9. UNC: No one can accuse me of being a homer. That is until I have a conniption when Harrison Barnes drops 40 in his first college game. I need to see improvement from Larry Drew, and whether or not the Heels have enough depth inside before they crack the top 10.

10. Kentucky: They have a stellar recruiting class once again, but it's not the same as the one they brought in last year. Plus they don't have anyone coming back who's as good as Patrick Patterson.

15. Missouri: Maybe if Frosh Tony Mitchell was eligible, but since he's not, Missouri doesn't belong in the top 15. I don't see any pros on this roster. They'll be good, but not this good.

24. Wisconsin: I feel like this ranking comes mainly out of respect for Bo Ryan. Jon Leuer is back, but they lose Trevon Hughes and didn't bring in anyone that significant. They'll be a fringe top 25 team all year, and won't go far in March.

25. Texas: They have four point guards, they still have to deal with Rick Barnes as their coach, lost three starters to the NBA, and have no business being in the top 25 after losing in the first round of the dance to Wake Forest.

Ranked Too Low
11. Florida: The Gators returned everybody from last year, and picked up Patric Young and Casey Prather. This is the year Billy Donovan brings the Gators back to the front of the SEC and back to national relevance.

13. Syracuse: Boeheim lost a lot, but they weren't supposed to do anything last year and look what happened. They bring in Fab Melo to team with Rich Jackson, have two really good players that played lesser roles in Kris Joseph and Scoop Jardine, and have other recruits that give them a lot of depth. I think the Cuse should be in the top 10.

14. Baylor: LaceDarius Dunn is back, and should be an All-American. If Perry Jones is anything close to being as good as advertised, Baylor also is a top 10 team.

17. Washington: Lorenzo Romar had the Huskies in the Sweet 16, and has most of the pieces from last year back. They won't get challenged in the Pac-10 outside of maybe getting a game or two from Arizona, and should parlay this into a high seed come dance time.

18. Butler: I would  have thought Butler would have gained more respect after their run last year. They did lose Gordon Hayward, but they still have a roster chock full of contributors from last year's team. If Matt Howard plays like he did as a soph, Butler will again be in final four contention.

23. Virginia Tech: Granted, they've been on the outs of making the tourney the last two seasons, but VT has an absolute-stud back in Malcolm Delaney. Throw in the fact that they return the majority of their roster and that the ACC is slightly down outside of Durham and Chapel Hill, and you get a top 20 team.

Ranked Where They Should Be
1. Duke: There's no way they can be ranked anything but number 1 right now. They simply have too much firepower returning. I'll find a way to figure out how they're not going to repeat at some point, but right now I have to say they're the favorites.

2. Michigan St: Like Duke, Michigan St simply advanced too far and return too much for them not to be ranked where they are. Kalin Lucas' returning from injury is a key variable in how good they really can be, but if Durrell Summers plays like he did in March and Delvon Roe really is healthy, Sparty will definitely be in title contention.

3. Kansas St: Some might say this is too high, but I'm not one of them. Jacob Pullen might not be an NBA player, but he's a great college guard. They return a lot of big bodies and with Frank Martin at the helm, they'll be tough as hell.

5. Ohio St: Losing Evan Turner obviously will hurt them, but with the combination of returners and newcomers the Buckeyes won't slip much. If they figure out their point guard situation, they'll challenge MSU for the Big 10 title.

6. Villanova: The Wildcats have depth for days, and despite losing Scottie Reynolds will advance much further than last year when the Australian National Team (St.Mary's) took them down early. I like Villanova here, and they could creep into the top 5.

16. Illinois: This is the year that Bruce Weber brings Illinois close to the standard set by the Deron Williams, Dee Brown teams. Jereme Richmond is going to challenge Jared Sullinger for Rookie of the Year honors in the Big 10, and with Demetri McCamey, Mike Davis, and Mike Tisdale returning, the Illini will move into the top 3 of the league.

19. Memphis: From all accounts, the class they brought in is special. They also have just enough returning to make some noise in Conference USA.

20. Tennessee: Despite the drama brought about from all the Bruce Pearl recruiting mishaps, the Vols bring in Tobias Harris to go along with Scotty Hopson, Brian Williams, and others who played key minutes on an Elite 8 team. If Hopson takes it up a couple of notches, they'll challenge Florida and be better than Kentucky.

22. Temple: Lavoy Allen is one of the best bigs in the land, and with everyone back except Ryan Brooks, Temple is exactly where they should be.

Coming Soon: My actual preseason top 25, conference predictions, preseason All-Americans, and the first ever LCB podcast where Langston and I will break down the upcoming season. Get excited.


berndon4 said...

I forgot to include Gonzaga at number 12....which I would say is a little bit too high...4 starters back, but I think losing Matt Bouldin will hurt apologies to the citizens of Seattle

October 28, 2010 at 1:27 AM
Russ said...

Its great that Duke plays both Kansas State and Michigan State early. Great litmus tests for how good they will be.

Its hard to predict UNC because I just don't know how good Barnes will be and how much better John Henson will be, but I think they are closer to being slightly better than last year's team then they are a Top 10 team. The frontcourt depth is non-existant and its been proven that size and lots of it is what wins in college basketball.

October 29, 2010 at 1:54 AM
berndon4 said...

that's why they play the games russ....can't wait for it to start

October 29, 2010 at 2:04 AM
Teach said...

By the end of the year Barnes will probably be the best player in the ACC.

October 30, 2010 at 9:07 PM
Russ said...

I'm holding you to that comment.

October 31, 2010 at 3:04 AM
Teach said...

Go ahead. It's not that bold. It contains the qualifier of a probably. And who else is there as competition besides Singler?

October 31, 2010 at 11:03 AM
Teach said...

Also, while UNC will be susceptible to foul trouble on the front line. They do have 6'9" transfer Justin Knox and a lot of size on the perimeter. The starting line up will feature:

Zeller 7'0"
Henson 6'10"
Barnes 6'7"
Strickland 6'3" or Bullock 6'7"
Drew 6'2" or Marshall 6'3"

Is this team going to win a national title or a conference championship? No. But they do have enough pieces on the wings to make things interesting.

October 31, 2010 at 11:11 AM
Russ said...

Kyrie Irving will be up there in the coversation. He probably won't get the minutes that Barnes get because of the depth on the perimeter, but reports are best PG in the NCAA right now.

October 31, 2010 at 1:29 PM

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