Conference Rankings (Top 10)
2) Big Ten
3) Big 12
7) Big East
8) Mountain West
9) Atlantic 10
10) West Coast
Projected Final Four
Michigan State, Kentucky, Duke, Kansas
Player of the Year Accolades
Gary Harris - Michigan State - Harris can be great. Anyone who knows the college game knows what a stabilizing presence and leader Draymond Green was. Harris is about to eclipse his impact, which speaks volumes.
First Team VI All-Americans
F- Andrew Wiggins, Kansas
F- Doug McDermott, Creighton
C- Mitch McGary, Michigan
G- Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
G- Gary Harris, Michigan State
Second Team VI All-Americans
F- Aaron Gordon, Arizona
F- Julius Randle, Kentucky
C- Patric Young, Florida
G- Andrew Harrison, Kentucky
G/F- Jabari Parker, Duke
Team to Watch (November)
Baylor - The Bears missed out on this Top 25 because of the likely regression Pierre Jackson's graduation will cause, since his leadership and floor skills leave a massive void. That said, Baylor has opportunities to make us look very foolish early, tangling with Syracuse and Gonzaga in Maui and hosting Kentucky on Dec. 6. You figure that bigs Cory Jefferson and Isaiah Austin will be game, but can they get the necessary point guard play to compete?
Preseason College Basketball Rankings
Current School Betting Notes
1 Michigan State: Adreian Payne nearly turned pro, but his return makes Sparty the team to beat entering the season. Sure, there are a couple of more skilled squads now that the talent pool has been replenished, but none will be as cohesive or experienced as the loaded group Tom Izzo returns. Guards Keith Appling and Gary Harris need to take the next step to realize their potential as the nation's top backcourt, while Branden Dawson and Denzel Valentine know their strengths and are growing as major assets. If the bench develops consistency, this will be the best team in both the Big Ten and the country.
2 Kentucky: The Fab Five may have to step aside as John Calipari has brought in Six Studs, a recruiting class hailed by some analysts as one of the best ever despite missing out on Andrew Wiggins. Julian Randle should be the best freshman post player in college basketball, Andrew Harrison could be the best point guard regardless of class, and twin brother Aaron, Dakari Johnson, James Young and Marcus Lee create an embarrassment of riches. The competition promised for holdovers Willie Cauley-Stein, Alex Poythress and Kyle Wiltjer has arrived.
3 Louisville: You can do a lot worse than Russ Smith and Luke Hancock as your senior captains, so even without Gorgui Dieng and Peyton Siva, the 'Ville is poised to be a force once again as the favorite in the American Athletic Conference. Chane Behanan and Montrezl Harrell are on the small side in the post but make up for it with their bulk and tenacity. 6-10 redshirt freshman Mangok Mathiang and 6-9 recruit Akoy Agau will need to supply the length necessary for the Cards to do what they like to defensively. Wayne Blackshear should be a major factor and breakout candidate.
4 Duke:Can Marshall Plumlee adequately replace the physical presence older brother Mason became as a senior? If so, the Blue Devils will be national championship-caliber, as star recruit Jabari Parker joins sophomores Rodney Hood, Amile Jefferson and Alex Murphy to form a superb frontcourt. Hood, a Mississippi State transfer, could join Parker in achieving household name status. Quinn Cook, Rasheed Sulaimon and Tyler Thornton return at guard, as does senior Andre Dawkins, who sat out last season and could be a massive x-factor as a kid everyone should be pulling for.
5 Florida: Patric Young will be one of the most imposing figures in the college game as a senior, anchoring a loaded frontcourt that will feature superb athlete Will Yeguete, 6-10 South Carolina transfer Damontre Harris, Casey Prather and freshman stud Chris Walker. That's a lot of length and strength. Virginia Tech transfer Dorian Finney-Smith and Rutgers defector Eli Carter will fortify the wing alongside superb shooter Michael Frazier. Top-10 point guard recruit Casey Hill will compete with Scottie Wilbekin for that starting spot. Billy Donovan's team won't be favored to win the SEC, but certainly could top the league again.
6 Oklahoma State: Marcus Smart would've undeniably been a Top-5 pick in June's NBA Draft, but surprisingly returned to Stillwater. As a result, the Cowboys should have their best Big 12 finish ever under Travis Ford. Le'Bryan Nash, Markel Brown, Michael Cobbins, Phil Forte and 7-footer Marek Soucek are also back, fortified by a solid recruiting class that should improve on last season's depth issues.
7 Kansas: Wiggins chose the Jayhawks. So did highly-coveted Memphis transfer Tarik Black, forming a ridiculous frontcourt recruiting class when you throw in freshman-to-be Joel Embiid. Tested talent returns in Perry Ellis, Jamari Traylor and Justin Wesley, so Bill Self is going to have plenty of options. The same can't be said at guard, where Naadir Tharpe and freshmen Wayne Selden, Connor Frankamp and Brannen Greene will have to replace major components Ben McLemore, Travis Releford and Elijah Johnson.
8 Michigan: Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway, Jr. left early for the NBA, so the Wolverines won't be as strong as they were in 2012. Still, Mitch McGary, Glenn Robinson III, Nik Stauskas, Caris Levert and Spike Albrecht will now be sophomores who have seen it all. Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford should be healthier, so the ceiling may depend on how large an impact highly touted McDonald's All-Americans Zak Irvin (G/F) and Derrick Walton (PG) have.
9 North Carolina: Roy Williams saw James Michael-McAdoo wisely return for his junior year and added terrific prospects Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks. With Joel James, Brice Johnson and small forward J.P. Tokoto now sophomores, the Tar Heels are loaded up front. Reggie Bullock's departure should lead to a breakout year for P.J. Hairston, but he'll need to toe the line to stay in the lineup. Marcus Paige showed enough as a freshman to trust he'll be a dependable floor general. If he takes another few steps forward, Duke will have company atop the ACC standings.
10 Arizona: Despite the loss of senior leaders Solomon Hill, Mark Lyons and Kevin Parrom, not to mention Grant Jerrett's unexpected leap to the NBA, Sean Miller has the West's top team. Forwards Aaron Gordon and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, elite recruits and likely future lottery picks, join sophomores Brandon Ashley and Kaleb Tarczewski up front. Duquesne transfer T.J. McConnell will help solidify the backcourt alongside returnees Nick Johnson, Jordin Mayes and Gabe York, while incoming freshman Elliott Pitts could be an x-factor.
11 Ohio State: If the Buckeyes figure out how to score consistently by the time March rolls around, they'll be a factor in the national title chase. Losing Deshaun Thomas early stung, but every other key piece outside of Evan Ravenel returns. Few, if any, will be able to pressure the ball defensively like this core should manage to.
12 UConn: After overachieving in a season where they were banned from postseason competition, the Huskies should be back among the nation's elite as they transition to the American. Kevin Ollie has terrific guards Shabazz Napier, Ryan Boatright and Omar Calhoun back in addition to improving forward DeAndre Daniels and center Tyler Olander. GW transfer Lasan Kromah will be elgiible immediately, 7-footer Enoch Wolf could return after having his suspension lifted and a class led by forward Kentan Facey should contribute.
13 Virginia: Jontel Evans's defensive tenacity will be missed, but he's the only missing piece from a team clearly emerging as an ACC power. Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell are back as senior anchors, while talented young cogs like wing Justin Anderson, forward Evan Nolte, center Mike Tobey and guards Teven Jones and Taylor Barnette are back as sophomores. Physical juniors Darion Atkins and Anthony Gill will hopefully be much healthier, leaving depth at the point as the lone question mark. Top recruits London Perrantes and Devon Hall will need to produce immediately to ease concerns. Consider his emergence a huge bonus.
14 Marquette: The Big East's beast resides in Milwaukee, which tells you all you need to know about how different the 10-team league will be. Jamil Wilson is poised for a breakout year, Davante Gardner is a problem in the post and Buzz Williams can be counted on to get his team to play harder than you. He can recruit a little bit, too, adding a class featuring guards JaJuan Johnson and Duane Wilson, as well as potentially special small forward Deonte Burton. Todd Mayo will be an x-factor as the team's most experienced guard. If he improves his shot selection, the sky is the limit.
15 VCU: Getting routed by Michigan in the Round of 32 was a tough ending for an accomplished group, but the Rams will again be in the spotlight this March. Defensive stud Briante Weber will replace Darius Theus full-time, while there are plenty of shooters returning to fill the void Troy Daniels leaves. All-Atlantic 10 candidates Juvonte Reddic and Melvin Johnson should get significant help from FSU transfer Terrance Shannon, who arrives to play enforcer.
16 Memphis: The Tigers won't be going undefeated in the AAC like they managed to in C-USA last season, but will have more opportunities for high-profile wins. Joe Jackson is back to run the show alongside Chris Crawford one of the country's top 3-point shooters. Last season's top recruits, Shaq Goodwin and Geron Johnson, should team with this year's elite class to offset major losses and keep Memphis basketball formidable.
17 Notre Dame: Rising seniors Eric Atkins and Jerian Grant will form one of the country's top backcourts and should be able to dominate games with their savvy while mentoring top recruit Demetrius Jackson. In year one as an ACC member, Mike Brey will worry about his frontcourt, which must make up for the loss of terrific rebounder Jack Cooley. Sophomore Zach Auguste steps in, flanked by shooters Pat Connaughton and Cameron Biedscheid among others.
18 Wichita State: The Shockers won't be sneaking up on anyone coming off a Final Four appearance, but they'll be good enough that it shouldn't matter. Departing bruiser Carl Hall and point guard Malcolm Armstead give way to UL-Lafayette transfer Kadeem Coleby and former star recruit Fred VanVleet, who didn't disappoint as a freshman. Cleanthony Early put himself on the NBA radar and shooter Ron Baker is poised for a breakout sophomore season after playing x-factor in the NCAAs.
19 New Mexico: Point guard Kendall Williams and center Alex Kirk will be trying out for the U.S. World University Games team, while Australian Cameron Bairstow will be in the mix for his country. Though losing Tony Snell to the draft early hurt, the continuity ensured by keeping Craig Neal on to replace Steve Alford should keep the Lobos atop the Mountain West.
20 St. Louis: The 2012-13 A-10 champs won't be as deep, but they'll still out-work teams and defend like it's going out of style. Dwayne Evans, Rob Loe, Mike McCall and Jordair Jett are standouts who should make Jim Crews' first full season as head coach minus the interim tag a successful one.
21 Iowa: The Hawkeyes hope their run to the NIT title game helps turn the corner, because the bulk of the roster is expected to return. If Fran McCaffery and his terrific staff continue to coax progress from the likes of Roy Devyn Marble, Melsahn Basabe, Adam Woodbury, Aaron White and Zach McCabe, this team will be able to hang with anyone up front.
22 Syracuse: The Orange should be rounding into form by the time ACC play rolls around, but there could be bumps early due to a thin, inexperienced backcourt that will be a season-long concern.. Freshman James Ennis takes the keys from early draft entry Michael Carter-Williams and won't have the graduated Brandon Triche to lean on for support. C.J. Fair sticking around provides Jim Boeheim a huge boost, likely keeping Jerami Grant in a sixth man role he should flourish in. Improving bigs Rakeem Christmas, DaJuan Coleman and Baye Keita will make getting to the rim a tough proposition against Cuse.
23 Indiana: The cupboard is nowhere near as stocked, but there's a lot left. Will Sheehey and Yogi Ferrell must step up as leaders, while Colombian forward Hanner Perea-Mosquera has to make big strides in his sophomore season to help protect the paint. ASU transfer Evan Gordon should be a factor as another competent, veteran piece, adding a nice finishing touch to another terrific crop of recruits.
24 Oregon: The Ducks lost basically their entire frontcourt, from former transfers Arsalan Kazemi, Carlos Emory and Tony Woods to sniper E.J. Singler. Don't sleep, though. Mike Moser comes over from UNLV to help fill the void and could have a huge season if he's completely healthy again. 6-11 Waverly Austin should step up in the middle. Dominic Artis and Dameyane Dotson showed flashes of brilliance as freshmen, and head coach Dana Altman has another talented recruiting class coming on board.
25 Creighton: Doug McDermott is back to help his dad, Greg, deal with the transition to the Big East, making the Blue Jays a contender right away. They'll miss gritty Gregory Echenique and Grant Gibbs, but enough talent returns to ensure this won't be a one-man show. It should help that new conference mates will find the trip to Omaha to be one of the new-look league's toughest.
On the Radar: Gonzaga, St. John's, Butler, UCLA, Iowa State, Xavier, Villanova, San Diego State, Washington, Colorado, Missouri, Tennessee, Baylor, Alabama, Wisconsin, Boston College, Boise State, Georgetown, Miami (FL), Stanford, Ole Miss, Louisiana Tech, LSU, Arizona State, Oklahoma.