Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Post NBA Draft Top 25

With the NBA Draft and early-entry speculation finally out of the way, we can now turn our heads towards the 2006-2007 college basketball season. We no longer have to hear, "Well, if so and so stays, they will be tough to beat, but if he goes, it's going to be a rough year." Other than late-signing recruits and last-minute transfers, the rosters are basically set for the season. With that in mind, check out the latest preseason Top 25 and look who's a surprise #1. Of course, this is subject to change before March Madness All Season's official Top 25 is released in early November.

1. North Carolina- I might be the only one that has the Tar Heels #1, but no one repeats nowadays in college basketball, and I think UNC is going to take the title.
2. Florida- Probably the best team in the country, but the road is only going to get tougher as every team is going to give the Gators their best shot this season.
3. Kansas- Might be the only other true title contender at this point. Could have have the deepest, most talented group of players in the country.
4. LSU- Even with the losses of Tyrus Thomas and Darrell Mitchell, Glen Davis is ready to lead the Tigers back to the promised land. Tasmin Mitchell will help pick up the slack.
5. Pittsburgh- When Aaron Gray announced he was returning, the Panthers' hopes immediately jumped a few notches. Guards Ronald Ramon and Levance Fields will be key.
6. UCLA- They lose three starters, but return Arron Afflalo and several role players from their national runner-up team. Joe Shipp also returns from injury.
7. Wisconsin- With Alando Tucker and Kammron Taylor leading the way, coach Bo Ryan has the goods to knock off Greg Oden and Ohio State.
8. Ohio State- Greg Oden leads a heralded recruiting class that will combine with the returning backcourt of Jamar Butler and Ron Lewis to make the Buckeyes tough to beat.
9. Alabama- Ronald Steele is one of the best point guards in the country, while Jermareo Davidson and Richard Hendrix are a load down low.
10. Georgetown- The Hoyas are going to be led by one of the best frontcourt duos in the country in Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert. Consistent guard play will be the key, though.
11. Arizona- This team may have more perimeter talent than anyone in the country, led by Marcus Williams and Mustafa Shakur. Jawan McLellan also returns from injury.
12. Texas A&M- The Aggies return one of the top inside-outside combos in the country in guard Acie Law and post man Joseph Jones. A third scorer needs to be found, though.
13. Duke- The Blue Devils lose All-Americans J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams, but Coach K brings in an excellent recruiting class, while Josh McRoberts should develop into a star.
14. Memphis- They may lose a lot of talent, but there is no shortage of players for the Tigers. Antonio Anderson and Chris Douglas-Roberts need to become go-to scorers.
15. Connecticut- The Huskies are being overlooked by some, but they still have loads of talent. Newcomers Stanley Robinson and Haseem Thabeet could become stars.
16. Villanova- With the return from injury of Curtis Sumpter, the Wildcats have the type of player that can carry them deep into March. Mike Nardi anchors the backcourt.
17. Washington- The loss of Brandon Roy is huge, but newcomer Spencer Hawes and returnees Justin Dentmon and Jon Brockman will keep the Huskies competitive.
18. Louisville- The Cardinals should bounce back from a down year with the additions of star recruits Earl Clark and Derrick Caracter. Terrence Williams could take the next step.
19. Wichita State- The Shockers return four starters from last year's Sweet 16 team, and add the best recruiting class in Mark Turgeon's tenure.
20. Boston College- Jared Dudley could become an All-American, while Sean Williams is developing into a go-to-guy down low. Tyrese Rice could be the key in the backcourt.
21. Georgia Tech- Leading candidate for the nation's most improved team. Newcomers Javaris Crittenton and Thaddeus Young are going to be stars.
22. Marquette- Dominic James is one of the nation's top point guards, while Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews also return on the perimeter. Replacing Steve Novak won't be easy.
23. Texas- Only return one key player from a season ago in sixth man A.J. Abrams. Freshmen Kevin Durant, D.J. Augustin, and Damion James will contribute right away.
24. Southern Illinois- All five starters return for the defensive-minded Salukis, including the backcourt of Jamaal Tatum and Tony Young.
25. Syracuse- Jim Boheim always has the Orange in the hunt. Freshman Paul Harris is going to make an immediate impact, while Eric Devendorf leads the returnees.

Ten Other Teams to Watch:
Florida State- If they can find a quality big man, look out for the Seminoles.
Michigan- Is this the year the NIT champs stop underachieving?
Oklahoma State- Very young team will be tough in Sean Sutton's first year.
Creighton- The return from injury of Nate Funk makes this team a threat.
Hofstra- The best backcourt you haven't heard of returns for the Pride.
Tennessee- Shooter Chris Lofton and a top-10 recruiting class make the Vols tough.
Kentucky- The Wildcats will be better if they can replace Rajon Rondo.
Gonzaga- Mark Few will find a way to win, even without Adam Morrison.
Nevada- Nick Fazekas can single-handedly lead the Wolfpack to the Big Dance.
Xavier- Nearly everyone returns for the Musketeers, plus they add Andrew Lavender.

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