My Pre Season Top 25
1. North Carolina
Too much returning talent and with Senior guard Marcus Paige bound to have a big year, they start out on top.
The Blue Devils are my preseason title pick and it’s easy to see why. They have the number one recruiting class to combine with Grayson Allen, Matt Jones and Amile Jefferson. I think UNC will be a better regular season team, but Duke will get it done in March.
This team will live and die on the play of their freshmen. After losing seven guys to the NBA draft, it will be tough to replenish talent, but if anyone can do it, its Coach Cal. Look for Isaiah Briscoe and Jamal Murray to be one of the best back courts in the country.
I really like what Bill Self did with the recruiting class by getting forwards Carlton Bragg Jr. and Cheick Diallo to go along with Jamari Traylor and Perry Ellis. Protecting the paint and rebounding will not be a problem for the Jayhawks, but shooting will. A lot of the success of this team will ride on Junior guard Frank Mason III. He’s going to need to create shots for himself and others around the perimeter.
The Cavaliers might not have that star player that stands out, but they have a team full of role players that execute their job perfectly. If the Cavaliers play the defense they did last year, they have a chance to bring the trophy back to Charlottesville.
There is a ton of talent on this team, the question is going to be, are they going to be able to get Jake Layman shots along with Trimble, Stone and Sulimon. If Layman isn’t scoring, it will be hard for him to make an impact.
Buddy Hield is the make or break of this team. I expect him to have a big season and Oklahoma to make a good run in March.
The backcourt of Jalen Brunson and Ryan Arcidiacono will be special.
The loss of Freshman guard Ray Smith Jr. due to an ACL tear is a big loss. The Wildcats still have plenty of talent to work with, especially returning center Kaleb Tarczewski.
In my opinion, Jaylen Brown is the best freshman in all of college basketball. Brown and Ivan Rabb will be a dynamic duo for the Golden bears.
11. Wichita State
Are Ron Baker and Fred Van Vleet still at Wichita state? Yes, they are and they are both going to have huge seasons and lead the Shockers deep in March.
12. Michigan State
The Spartans are at 12 because of one man. Tom Izzo. Izzo will never disappoint, no matter who he puts on the floor. Look for freshman Deyonta Davis to have a big year for the Spartans.
13. Iowa State
I called the Cyclones all hype last year and they proved me correct. Let’s see if Georges Niang can lead this team to Houston.
Kyle Wiltjer will need to do most of the damage for this team with the loss of point guard Kevin Pangos.
Caleb Swanigan, Isaac Haas and A.J. Hammons down low, now that’s scary.
Sterling Gibbs and Jalen Adams will be looking to lead this team back to the big dance.
A team plagued by the injury bug last year will be healthy and returns everyone for this year. Led by senior guards Caris LeVert and Spike Albrecht, this team should make some noise.
Although the Badgers lost three starters, a Bo Ryan team is never out of it. Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes will keep this team in the hunt for a Big Ten title.
The Bulldogs return many veterans that could lead them to a Big East title.
Although they lose their top scorer Joseph Young, the Ducks gain Villanova graduate transfer Dylan Ennis who should make a good contribution.
21. Florida state
The Seminoles are my underdog pick for this season. They have two of the best and most ready freshman in the country in Malik Beasley and Dwayne Bacon.
2015 AAC player of the year Nic Moore will lead the Mustangs this regular season (they are not eligible for post season play).
Given all the off court issues, it will be hard for the players to stay completely focused. But, Rick Pitino was able to scrap some transfer talent together for the Cardinals to stay competitive this season.
Someone needs to get control of their players at IU, they had three players kicked off the team since May.
25. Notre Dame
The Irish return point guard Demetrius Jackson and pick up a top 100 prospect in Rex Pflueger.
Picture via nbadraftroom.com