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The Way Too Early Preseason Top 25

Apr 9, 2013, 8:54 AM EST

John Calipari

The 2012-2013 college basketball season is over. Done. Kaput. That means it’s time to start looking forward to the 2013-2014 season. So here is our top 25.

IMPORTANT NOTE!!!: There are still going to be players entering the NBA Draft. We do our best to predict who is staying and who is leaving. We also take a guess at where Andrew Wiggins ends up playing his college ball. Any player with a ‘*’ next to his name is a guess that we made.

1. KENTUCKY
Record: 21-12, lost in 1st round of NIT
Who do they lose?: Nerlens Noel*, Archie Goodwin, Julius Mays, Ryan Harrow
Who comes back?: Alex Poythress, Kyle Wiltjer, Willie Cauley-Stein
Newcomers?: Julius Randle, Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, James Young, Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee
Outlook: We’re assuming here that Andrew Wiggins is going to be heading to Florida State, but that doesn’t really matter. Kentucky’s recruiting class is still the best recruiting class of all time, and they also return two future lottery picks in Poythress and Cauley-Stein. I have some doubts about this group, but it won’t change the fact that they are the favorite to win it all as of today.

2. ARIZONA
Record: 27-8, lost in the Sweet 16
Who do they lose?: Mark Lyons, Solomon Hill, Kevin Parrom,
Who comes back?: Nick Johnson, Grant Jerrett, Brandon Ashley, Kaleb Tarczewski
Newcomers?: TJ McConnell, Aaron Gordon, Rondae Jefferson
Outlook: I have concerns about the makeup of Arizona’s roster. They have an abundance of front court talent but not enough spots to play them. Is Aaron Gordon a three or a four? If he’s a four, how does Sean Miller balance minutes for Jerrett, Ashley and Tarczewski? The addition of McConnell at the point will be huge, and I think Johnson is primed for a big year. Throw in Rondae Jefferson, and there is plenty to like with this team.

3. DUKE
Record: 30-6, lost in the Elite 8
Who do they lose?: Mason Plumlee, Seth Curry, Ryan Kelly
Who comes back?: Quinn Cook, Rasheed Sulaimon, Amile Jefferson, Alex Murphy, Marshall Plumlee
Newcomers?: Rodney Hood, Jabari Parker, Matt Jones, Semi Ojeleye
Outlook: It feels weird ranking a team that loses their top three scorers this high, but it’s very much deserved. Parker is going to be a star, which is a good thing when you consider that either Sulaimon or Mississippi State transfer Hood will end up being the third option for this team. Cook isn’t a great point guard, and someone from the trio of Jefferson, Murphy and Plumlee is going to have to have a breakout season. But there’s enough talent here to be considered a title contender.

4. FLORIDA
Record: 29-8, lost in the Elite 8
Who do they lose?: Kenny Boynton, Mike Rosario, Erik Murphy
Who comes back?: Patric Young, Scottie Wilbekin, Casey Prather, Michael Frazier, Will Yeguete
Newcomers?: Chris Walker, Kasey Hill, Dorian Finney-Smith, Damontre Harris
Outlook: The Gators lose their top three scorers, but they could end up being even better next season thanks to the infusion of talent they have in their front court. Not only is Young coming back to school, but they add a McDonald’s all-american in Walker and two high-major transfers in Finney-Smith and Harris. Hill is one of the best point guards in the Class of 2013. The key is going to end up being how the rest of Florida’s perimeter attack — Prather, Frazier, Wilbekin — ends up developing.

5. SYRACUSE
Record: 30-10, lost in the Final Four
Who do they lose?: Michael Carter-Williams*, James Southerland, Brandon Triche,
Who comes back?: CJ Fair, Jerami Grant, DaJuan Coleman, Rakeem Christmas, Trevor Cooney
Newcomers?: Tyler Ennis, Ron Patterson, Tyler Roberson, BJ Johnson, Chinonso Obokoh
Outlook: The Orange lose quite a bit this offseason, but with what they bring back and what they bring in, I think that Jim Boeheim will have a successful first season in the ACC. Fair is one of the most underrated players in the country, and I think that both Grant and Cooney will end up having big seasons for the Orange. But with Ennis and Patterson joining them in the back court, along with two more freshmen wings in Roberson and Johnson that are perfectly built for the Cuse zone, the Orange have a bright future.

6. LOUISVILLE
Record: 35-5, won the title
Who do they lose?: Russ Smith, Gorgui Dieng, Peyton Siva
Who comes back?: Chane Behanan, Luke Hancock, Wayne Blackshear, Montrezl Harrell, Kevin Ware
Newcomers?: Chris Jones, Terry Rozier, Akoy Agau, Anton Gill
Outlook: Pitino has already made it clear that Dieng is gone to the NBA, and I have a hard time seeing Smith coming back to school when all it would do is give scouts another year to become concerned about his size in the NBA. That said, Jones is a JuCo transfer that could end up being one of the best point guards in the country, while Terry Rozier could have battled for minutes this season if he hadn’t gone to Hargrave Military Academy. The key is going to end up being Harrell’s development in the middle.

7. MARQUETTE
Record: 26-9, lost in the Elite 8
Who do they lose?: Junior Cadougan, Trent Lockett, Chris Otule
Who comes back?: Vander Blue, Davante Gardner, Jamil Wilson, Todd Mayo
Newcomers?: JaJuan Johnson, Deonte Burton, Duane Wilson, John Dawson, Jameel McKay
Outlook: This could end up being Marquette’s best team since Dwayne Wade resided in Milwaukee. Finding someone to replace Cadougan at the point guard spot is going to be vital, but beyond that, the Golden Eagles bring back a number of key pieces from last season’s Big East co-champs and Elite 8 team. They also add a loaded recruiting class. Buzz Williams is as good as any coach in the country when it comes to coaching up his players, and I bet he still finds a way to convince them they are being underrated even with a ranking this high.

8. MICHIGAN STATE
Record: 27-9, lost in the Sweet 16
Who do they lose?: Derrick Nix, Adreian Payne*
Who comes back?: Keith Appling, Gary Harris*, Branden Dawson, Denzel Valentine, Travis Trice
Newcomers?: Gavin Schilling
Outlook: It feels weird saying this, but Michigan State’s season may depend on whether or not Payne declares for the NBA Draft. Personally, I think that he’s gone. At his size with his athleticism and range on his jump shot, Payne has the tools to be intriguing enough to an NBA GM that he could end up sneaking into the end of the first round. Without Payne, the Spartans simply aren’t going to have enough depth in their front court. I like Schilling, and I think that Matt Costello and Alex Gauna are serviceable, but the Spartans have a ceiling if Payne’s gone.

9. OHIO STATE
Record: 29-8, lost in the Elite 8
Who do they lose?: DeShaun Thomas, Evan Ravenel
Who comes back?: Aaron Craft, Lenzelle Smith, LaQuinton Ross, Sam Thompson, Shannon Scott
Newcomers?: Marc Loving, Kameron Williams
Outlook: The knock on Ohio State this season was that they didn’t have a second scoring option to compliment Thomas, and that will be a problem when he’s in the NBA next year and not launching threes in Columbus. How good will Ross end up being? Can Scott or Smith become 15 point-per-game threats? That will be what ends up determining just how good the Buckeyes end up being.

10. KANSAS
Record: 31-6, lost in the Sweet 16
Who do they lose?: Elijah Johnson, Jeff Withey, Travis Releford, Kevin Young, Ben McLemore*
Who comes back?: Perry Ellis, Naadir Tharpe, Andrew White, Jamari Traylor
Newcomers?: Wayne Selden, Joel Embiid, Brannen Greene, Conner Frankamp, Frank Mason
Outlook: You want to know why I have Kansas 10th? Because of Bill Self. It never matters the kind of talent or the age of the talent on his roster. Bill Self wins basketball games. And he’ll do that again in 2013-2014.

11. North Carolina
12. Colorado
13. Michigan
14. Indiana
15. UCLA
16. Wichita State
17. VCU
18. Wisconsin
19. Gonzaga
20. Harvard
21. Virginia
22. Memphis
23. Boise State
24. New Mexico
25. Florida State

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

  1. rmfields - Apr 9, 2013 at 9:06 AM

    Harvard #20? WHOAAAAAAAAAAAAAH

    • flosox - Apr 9, 2013 at 1:15 PM

      Agreed.

      I’d leave Harvard out and take my Dunkcity Eagles at #25, thank you very much!!

      • flosox - Apr 9, 2013 at 4:26 PM

        I know this article is about pre-season rankings, however:

        /clears throat

        http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2013/apr/09/mens-basketball-fgcu-lands-in-final-top-25-poll/

        Ready for next year! Just need to land a good replacement for Enfield.

      • tomtravis76 - Apr 9, 2013 at 5:48 PM

        It would be great if assistant coach Kevin Norris was able to get the job as head coach.

  2. philliesblow - Apr 9, 2013 at 10:40 AM

    If Adreian Payne leaves there’s no way Michigan State can be 8th in the country. Unless Branden Dawson develops a jump shot, I’d have a hard time seeing them in the top 15 – 20.

  3. ukcatsfan - Apr 9, 2013 at 11:02 AM

    I honestly hope that this isn’t going to be a bad way to start. I said at the start of last season and I will say it now…..They don’t need these high rankings handed to them, they need to earn them. Start them in the top ten if you think they are that good but make them work their way to a number one spot.

  4. protectthishouse54 - Apr 9, 2013 at 11:48 AM

    As a Syracuse fan, I think this ranking is a little high (assuming MCW leaves). However, if they are going to crack the top 5, it will probably have something to do with Mike Gbinije, the former McD’s AA and Duke transfer who becomes eligible, yet was not mentioned in your write-up.

  5. gatordontplay - Apr 9, 2013 at 12:14 PM

    another factor this poll is extremely early is taking in consideration kids who graduate early and are allowed to transfer with out sitting out and kids who transfer for “to be close to sick family members”

  6. lorddarkhelmet - Apr 9, 2013 at 12:28 PM

    Michigan #13!? You realize they were in the championship game last night right? I know they likely lose Burke but still have Spike and one of the best incoming PGs in the country.

    • johnelwayishorsefaced - Apr 9, 2013 at 1:50 PM

      I would say that putting Michigan at 13 is actually pretty generous. Burke is gone and Michigan will be in big trouble without him. Spike played one fluke half all season and you’re ready to anoint him as Michigan’s next star/Burke’s successor? No one aside from Michigan fans and a few hardcore college hoops fans even knew who he was until last night.

      • savoirlaire - Apr 9, 2013 at 2:56 PM

        Agreed…you think Howdy Doody is ready to be their next star after making 5 shots? And at this point, everyone thinks they have got the best incoming point guard in the country, sorry to tell you.

    • asimonetti88 - Apr 9, 2013 at 7:31 PM

      Losing Burke really hurts, and they also have some other big time players that could leave. They might have a good team next year, but they are going to have to prove themselves.

  7. cranespy - Apr 9, 2013 at 12:38 PM

    So interesting to compare the current outlook for UK vs the outlook for Louisville. Cal recruits and rolls the ball out…..Pitino builds teams. BBN has a stellar crop and they may run the table and win another title for Cal….all I’m saying is….if they dont play as one then it will turn out like this year…..Cal can not coach them thru it….they either buy in as one (A Davis et al) or subject BBN to another heartbreaking year.

  8. akirchstein - Apr 9, 2013 at 1:13 PM

    So you have the Michigan that played in the national championship game last night as #13 and Kentucky who didn’t even MAKE the regular tournament as #1? I understand that an awesome recruiting class looks promising for Kentucky but basketball has to do with more than just talent, they have to be coached in the right way as well. If they would have even made the tournament this year, I would be more likely to believe that they could be #1 next year.

    • johnelwayishorsefaced - Apr 9, 2013 at 1:56 PM

      You do understand that Trey Burke wont be back at Michigan next year don’t you? And you do understand that he’s ranking these teams based on their potential for next season and not what happened this season right?

    • savoirlaire - Apr 9, 2013 at 2:58 PM

      And you do understand that UK has the best recruiting class…ever, don’t you? I’m a U of L fan and this seems about right to me.

  9. imforbigblue - Apr 9, 2013 at 4:02 PM

    You do understand UK will have like 8 NBA players on it’s team next year. I mean we will have guys coming off bench who would start at any other school in the country. Hell our second team will be better than most teams starters. As for the moron who said Cal can’t coach that’s a joke. Last years team didn’t want to listen or played however they wanted and that problem player is leaving for the NBA and the crybaby crappy PG is transferring out. Watch and learn how scary Good UK will be next year

    • bbil2012 - Apr 9, 2013 at 8:35 PM

      Plus they almost knocked off Robert Morris in the NIT this year. Can’t forget that. Tremendous potential.

    • florida727 - Apr 10, 2013 at 4:30 PM

      “Last year’s team didn’t want to listen or played however they wanted…”

      Hate to overstate the obvious, but isn’t it the coach’s responsibility to get them to listen and play the way HE wants them to instead of how THEY want to?

      #bbil2012, classic. You’re in the running for Post of The Year.

  10. udub - Apr 9, 2013 at 6:18 PM

    No Oregon?

  11. kchoya - Apr 10, 2013 at 11:22 AM

    No Georgetown? I know they crapped the bed in the Tourney (again), but if Otto Porter doesn’t go to the NBA, they return everyone from a top-10 team, plus they bring back Greg Whittington, add Josh Smith for the second semester, and bring in some decent frosh. Heck, even if Porter goes to the league, they’re still top 25.

  12. imforbigblue - Apr 11, 2013 at 7:06 PM

    Laugh all you want now because next year UK not only beats teams they run them over. The two kids who messed this team up are gone and have been replaced by waaay better players so get your jabs in now won’t be any next year. Plus if we get Wiggins you might as well tell your team to stay home

  13. lundy337 - Apr 15, 2013 at 1:05 PM

    WTH is unc doing in there? That’s a gimme on name alone. Sure they add a couple of freshmen with some potential but it’s not like they are UK type of freshmen. There are ‘supposedly’ no more fake classes going on over at u*nc anymore, (they have pictures to prove it!) so their recruits can’t fake going to class and work on their game all day. They will be just like this past year and start high in the rankings and climb higher on cupcakes before the ACC schedule rips them to shreds. They get in the NCAA on name alone AGAIN and will lose in the first round.

    That’s what a level playing field and no more cheating do for you.

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