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Updated Preseason Top 25, post Andrew Wiggins

May 14, 2013, 12:45 PM EDT

NCAA Final Four Kentucky Louisville Basketball

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: Even with Andrew Wiggins is heading to Kansas, Kentucky’s recruiting class is still one of the best recruiting classes of all time. 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. LOUISVILLE
Record: 35-5, won the title
Who do they lose?: Gorgui Dieng, Peyton Siva
Who comes back?: Russ Smith, Chane Behanan, Luke Hancock, Wayne Blackshear, Montrezl Harrell, Kevin Ware
Newcomers?: Chris Jones, Terry Rozier, Akoy Agau, Anton Gill
Outlook: With Smith changing his mind and deciding to return to school, Louisville looks like they are going to have a real chance to repeat as national champions. Smith won KenPom’s National Player of the Year award in large part because of the havoc that he wreaks on the defensive end of the floor, which makes him the perfect guard for the Cardinals. The key for this team is going to be the development of Harrell. He needs to develop into a guy that can dominate the paint on both ends of the floor.

3. MICHIGAN STATE
Record: 27-9, lost in the Sweet 16
Who do they lose?: Derrick Nix
Who comes back?: Keith Appling, Gary Harris, Adreian Payne, Branden Dawson, Denzel Valentine, Travis Trice
Newcomers?: Gavin Schilling, Alvin Ellis
Outlook: With both Payne and Harris returning to school, Michigan State is once again loaded. Harris, with a full summer to rehab his shoulder, should have a fantastic sophomore campaign. But getting Payne back was the key, as he’ll be the only real presence that the Spartans have in the paint next season. If he can continue to improve, he’s got the tools to be a first round pick next season.

4. ARIZONA
Record: 27-8, lost in the Sweet 16
Who do they lose?: Mark Lyons, Solomon Hill, Kevin Parrom, Grant Jerrett
Who comes back?: Nick Johnson, Brandon Ashley, Kaleb Tarczewski
Newcomers?: TJ McConnell, Aaron Gordon, Rondae Jefferson
Outlook: I had concerns about the makeup of Arizona’s roster, but the loss of Jerrett actually may be a blessing in disguise. There is no longer such a bottleneck on minutes in the front court. Instead, there are five guys that can rotate between three positions, all of whom are incredibly talented — Gordon, Tarczewski, Ashely, Chol, Jeffereson. The addition of McConnell at the point will be huge, and I think Johnson is primed for a big year on the wing.

5. KANSAS
Record: 31-6, lost in the Sweet 16
Who do they lose?: Ben McLemore, Travis Releford, Jeff Withey, Elijah Johnson, Kevin Young
Who comes back?: Naadir Tharpe, Perry Ellis, Jamari Traylor
Newcomers?: Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Wayne Selden, Connor Frankamp, Frank Mason, Brannen Greene
Outlook: The Jayhawks lost their entire starting lineup from a team that spent the majority of the season in the top ten and won the Big 12 conference, and they are going to be better next year despite the fact that college basketball, as a whole, is going to be loaded at the top next season? That’s the power of Andrew Wiggins. His addition gives Bill Self a go-to guy and allows the loaded recruiting class he brings in to spend a season as role players. The Jayhawks are once again the Big 12 favorites and a national title contender.

6. 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 is a good-but-not-great point guard, and someone from the trio of Jefferson, Murphy and Plumlee is going to have to have a breakout season up front. The Blue Devils could actually really use the infusion of size that Memphis transfer Tarik Black would provide. But there’s enough talent here to be considered a title contender.

7. 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.

8. 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, Michael Gbinije
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 a key to the Cuse offensive attack with his perimeter ability. I think that both Grant and Cooney will end up having big years 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.

9. MICHIGAN
Record: 31-8, lost in the title game
Who do they lose?: Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr.
Who comes back?: Mitch McGary, Glenn Robinson III, Nik Stauskas, Jordan Morgan, Jon Horford, Spike Albrecht, Caris LeVert
Newcomers?: Derrick Walton, Zak Irvin, Mark Donnall
Outlook: The Wolverines got some huge news when McGary and Robinson announced that they would be returning to school for their sophomore seasons. Throw in the return of Stauskas, LaVert and Albrecht and the addition of another good freshman class, and there is plenty to like about Michigan. The key is going to end up being Walton. How good is he going to be at the point guard spot?

10. OKLAHOMA STATE
Record: 24-9, lost in the Round of 64
Who do they lose?: Philip Jurick
Who comes back?: Marcus Smart, Le’Bryan Nash, Markel Brown, Brian Williams, Phil Forte, Michael Cobbins
Newcomers?: Stevie Clark, Detrick Mostella, Leyton Hammonds, Gary Gaskins, Jeffrey Carroll
Outlook: Oklahoma State vaulted Kansas to become the favorite to win the Big 12 when Smart announced to the world that he would be returning to school for his sophomore season, but that changed when Andrew Wiggins decided to head to Lawrence. With Nash, Brown, Williams and Forte also returning, and a talented recruiting class headlined by back court studs Clark and Mostella, the Pokes are going to be a really fun team to watch next season. The key? Cobbins and Murphy inside. Expect a lot of up-and-down basketball out of this group.

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

Also considered: Tennessee, UConn

  1. scouter2012 - Apr 29, 2013 at 6:09 PM

    I’m a Gonzaga fan, and #20 is way too high for them.

    • bigmeechy74 - May 15, 2013 at 10:34 AM

      no you aren’t

  2. mungman69 - Apr 30, 2013 at 7:01 AM

    Kentuk’ is a beast.

  3. txniner - May 14, 2013 at 5:00 PM

    No way Baylor shouldn’t be on this list somewhere. Top 12 recruiting class and all 3 front line starters returning. Maybe better they’re not listed. Something to prove!

    • bigmeechy74 - May 15, 2013 at 10:35 AM

      They have the worst coach in the country and players keep transferring out. Scott Drew does “less with more” more than any coach in the nation

      • txniner - May 16, 2013 at 10:09 AM

        Name a player of ANY consequence that transferred out. Bello and Rose appear to be great kids who saw that handwriting on the wall and went for more playing time elsewhere. Whoever you are you don’t know the facts.

      • bigmeechy74 - May 16, 2013 at 6:15 PM

        This dumb site won’t let me reply to you but I will just say that no one in the coaching profession respects scott drew and I don’t know anyone else in the real world that does either. Besides you. It is so pathetic that with all that talent they didn’t make the tourney. They do this almost every year (besides last year, I’ll give you that one) but he always has about 50 long athletic guys that can score and great backcourts too but yet they are almost always on the bubble. And its soooooooo obvious they cheat. It’s not even really hidden anymore. Only a matter of time before they get caught

  4. ajrod42 - May 14, 2013 at 5:43 PM

    Similar situation to scouter, I’m an IU fan and I am shocked that you have them at 15.

  5. barkleyblows - May 14, 2013 at 7:59 PM

    Bahahaha Michigan State a top 5 team?!?!

    Michigan a top ten team?!?!

    Wesconsen a top 25 team?!?!

    Looks like another year for the overrated big ten!

    • bigmeechy74 - May 15, 2013 at 10:36 AM

      You should be ashamed of your spelling of Wisconsin. That’s humiliating.

      • stlouis1baseball - May 16, 2013 at 1:39 PM

        Look at this handle. Paints a pretty good picture huh?

  6. uacatfan - May 15, 2013 at 3:17 PM

    Not to throw some cold water on your analysis, but Chol transferred from AZ to SDSU; he announced his decision on May 1.

  7. vomitgreen - May 26, 2013 at 11:38 PM

    Alright, so I really must take issue with one thing that while true about your Top 25 is also true about pretty much everybody’s.
    Michigan should be nowhere near the top 10. I do believe it’s fine that they are in the top 25, although I personally would hesitate to rank them higher than 20. Mark my words: There are six team in your top 25 that will certainly do better: Ohio State, North Carolina, Indiana, Marquette, Gonzaga, Wisconsin,and Memphis will all be better teams, hands down. I personally am of the opinion Wichita State, VCU, and New Mexico will as well. They are by far the most overrated team in polls at the moment, including yours.
    Okay, so Trey Burke was Michigan. His prowess on offense created opportunities for his teammates that would be next to impossible for anyone with as little experience and skill coming into the program to do. I don’t believe a point guard who played as well as he did two years ago could do what he did, and I doubt that Walton will play anywhere near that well. He was the one thing that made Michigan consistently good, perhaps aside from their other major loss in the back court – Tim Hardaway Jr. He wasn’t always as consistent as Burke, but he was good. When he was hitting his 3′s he was nearly unstoppable. I don’t see LaVert filling his shoes anytime soon. They lost all the seniors on their bench, some of whom were good. Their key returning players are in no particular order McGary, Robinson, and Morgan. Morgan, if you recall was obviously not good enough to keep his starting spot over McGary. McGary played poorly most of the season, was inconsistent, and really only had 4 or 5 good games all season. It just so happened they were in the limelight of the tournament. He was good because of Burke. Without Burke, I don’t see him playing anywhere near his perceived level during the tournament. Look, I get the thought, “McGary developed into a good player over those games, a developement that took all season.” What I believe to be the case is that as Burke pulled away defenders McGary was able to get easy points. I’m sorry, he just isn’t that good. The idea that he would be a lottery pick was a joke, and had some team drafted him in the first round, they would have been morons. He did not show consistency or much skill all year (trust me I watched the big ten all year). Without Hardaway to draw defenders or Burke, he will be shut down consistently. I can’t believe some Michigan fans believe he is their best returning player, because he isn’t. Even if he does turn out to be a monster in the post, Shaq could beat him in a free throw contest. Making him shoot free throws will shut him down completely. 44% from the line is a joke, and not a very funny one at that.
    The one player they have returning who is legitimately good is Robinson. Robinson had a good start to the year, so we know for sure he has talent. He seemed to play poorly in the Big Ten season, so he has yet to show the consistency needed to be a great player. I do believe that will change for him, but not to the tune of the numbers that Michigan would need from him to be in the top 20. He will be better next year, and I could have seen him going in the early 2nd round on potential. Unfortunately he can’t fill the shoes of Hardaway and Burke while trying to fill his own out a little better.
    Michigan does have a couple decent recruits, but it has yet to be seen if they are ready for prime time. It’s not incredibly common for players to be that good as freshman. It happens, but I believe that there are players who will do great as freshman next year, I just don’t have Michigan’s recruits on that list. They will get playing time, and if McGary does prove to be decent without Burke, Robinson gets the consistency of somebody like Burke or at least Hardaway, and improves a little, LaVert developes reasonably and get’s a good deal of playing time, and have Walton after a year starting at PG in the Big Ten, perhaps they’ll deserve a top 15 ranking going into the 2014-2015 season. As of right now, I don’t believe the most optimistic of Michigan fans could honestly say they deserve to be in the top 20. It seems that when it comes to football and basketball, there is a desire among sports writers for Michigan to do well. Some years those writers are right, and before the last 2 seasons, this wasn’t true of Michigan when it came from basketball. One tournament run doesn’t make a team an elite team. It also doesn’t warrant this high of a ranking after losing the two biggest components of their team. I’m sure if you took a sober look at Michigan’s potential going into next season, you’ll see they don’t belong in the top 15, at the very least. Somebody is going to have to have the cahones to buck the trend, perhaps it could be you the next time you make a top 25 list. I mean look at it reasonably, and at the rest of the teams both nationally at the big ten. The team that finished fourth in the big ten last season will struggle to do even that this year. If you think that Beilien is an elite coach based on one decent year, look at the 2012 NCAA tournament where his team was knocked out by the University of Ohio. Look at how much they lost, and take a look at McGary’s numbers on the year, as well as Robinson’s numbers from the Big Ten season. At least pull them from your next top 10, there is no way that they will be in the top ten at the end of the season or tournament. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if they ended up outside of the top 25 or even going to the NIT instead. I would be surprised if they end up in the top 20, I will be shocked if they end up in the top 15, and have a heart attack if they end up in the top 10.

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