Rant Sports Preseason Official College Basketball Top 25 Rankings
College Basketball Preseason Top 25 Rankings
We have waited long enough and although the 2013-14 college basketball season does not officially start until the beginning of November, I am sure college hoops fans all over the country are ready for the new season. So get ready for it by seeing the top 25 teams in college hoops--preseason style.
There may not be a clear cut favorite, but there are a group of teams that could separate themselves from the rest of the country. Not to mention, some of the top teams will play each other right off of the bat, so not only will we find out who some of the best teams are early on, but we will also get to see some great matchups.
If you have not heard by now, the Kentucky Wildcats will arguably have the best freshmen class of all time coming in, the Louisville Cardinals will be returning enough talent to repeat and the Michigan State Spartans will be one of the toughest outs in college hoops.
Billy Donovan’s Florida Gators have made three straight Elite Eights and will be good enough to make a fourth straight one. The Memphis Tigers may have their best team yet under head coach Josh Pastner. Future top 10 NBA draft pick Marcus Smart returns for his sophomore season at Oklahoma State. There are so many storylines for the upcoming season, as there should be.
Just like any top 25, there are going to be many people who disagree and agree with this one. However, we will start this slideshow out by naming some honorable mentions--there are a lot.
There are so many teams that will be good enough to make the NCAA tournament this year and there are so many teams worthy of making the top 25, but as that indicated, there can only be 25 teams in the top 25.
Get ready for the season by seeing the top 25 teams in college hoops. Keep in mind, this is a preseason ranking so things are bound to change.
All of these teams listed could make an argument for being ranked entering the season, but they will get plenty of chances to show their worth during the season. These teams are in no particular order.
Notre Dame, Iowa State, Harvard, Oklahoma, UCLA, St. John’s, Georgetown, Villanova, Boise State, Virginia, Saint Louis, Indiana, Oregon, Cincinnati.
On to the top 25 teams in college hoops.
25. Wisconsin Badgers
The Wisconsin Badgers will be losing a couple of players, but leading scorer Ben Brust will be back, along with rising star Sam Dekker. Dekker had a great freshman season and he should breakout with more playing time this year.
Wisconsin will have two tough tests right off of the bat, so it could easily move up the rankings... or down.
24. Iowa Hawkeyes
The Iowa Hawkeyes missed out on the dance last year, but they showed their worth by making a run to the championship game in the NIT. This team will be returning a lot and it could be one of the biggest surprises in the Big Ten.
Can Iowa really finish in the top three of the conference standings? That will definitely be possible this year, but the Big Ten will play very tough--as usual.
23. Marquette Golden Eagles
Marquette will be losing its best player in Vander Blue. That hurts a lot, but the Golden Eagles will still be one of the best teams in the Big East. Not to mention, they will more than likely be the favorites to win the conference title.
22. Gonzaga Bulldogs
I am sure many people think that Gonzaga should be ranked higher since they did earn a No. 1 seed in the 2013 NCAA Tournament, but I am clearly not one of those people.
The Bulldogs lose Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris. Those two accounted for 32.4 points per game and 14.7 rebounds per game last season, so you can definitely say that they will be missed.
21. Creighton Bluejays
Doug McDermott will be back and that is huge for the Creighton Bluejays. With him returning--among other players--Creighton could be the team to beat in the Big East.
Marquette and Georgetown will get a lot of buzz, but Creighton is no longer a mid-major and it will show that this season.
20. Colorado Buffaloes
Colorado loses the best rebounder in the country in Andre Roberson, but many other players will be back.
The Buffaloes have made a lot of noise under Tad Boyle and we could see them cracking the top 10 this season. This team has a lot of potential and although Arizona will be the clear favorite to win the Pac-12, no one should count Colorado out.
19. Tennessee Volunteers
Tennessee may be the most under-the-radar team entering the 2013-14 season.
Trae Golden is no longer on the team, but that should not be a huge issue. Jarnell Stokes is back. Jordan McRae is back. Heck, even Jeronne Maymon will be back.
Let’s just put it this way. McRae could lead the SEC in scoring, Stokes averaged 12.4 points per game and 9.6 rebounds per game last season and Maymon put up 12.7 points per game and 8.1 rebounds per game in the 2011-12 season.
18. Wichita State Shockers
Wichita State shocked us all by making the Final Four last season. The Shockers will without a doubt be the best team in the MVC, which means they should have no problem making the dance.
A tougher non-conference schedule would have been great to see, but this team does lose some talent and will look a little different in the upcoming season.
17. New Mexico Lobos
The New Mexico Lobos won the MWC by two games last season. Tony Snell is gone, but that is about it. The rest of the conference will be losing quite a bit of talent, so the Lobos could run away with the title this year.
With that said, Boise State could challenge them for a conference title and you can never count out UNLV and San Diego State.
Seeing Kendall Williams take that next step this year would be great, but New Mexico is going to be a really good basketball team regardless.
16. Baylor Bears
Man did Baylor disappoint by not even making the NCAA tournament last year. They did end up winning the NIT, though, so the season wasn’t a complete loss.
Leading scorer Pierre Jackson is gone. The frontcourt could be really dominant, though, since Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson will be returning.
The Bears will be underdogs to Oklahoma State and Kansas in the conference, but they will still be a great basketball team.
15. Connecticut Huskies
The Huskies will have one of the best backcourts in college hoops this season. They will also be allowed to make the Big Dance.
Connecticut returns a bunch from a team that had 20 wins last season. The Huskies will definitely have to get better, but the talent is there for them to go off this season. Kevin Ollie has done a great job ever since taking over as the head coach and it is about to pay off this season.
14. VCU Rams
The VCU Rams made the NCAA tourney as a No. 5 seed last year and they could be even better this season. Michigan may have embarrassed them in the dance, but the Wolverines were one of the best teams in college basketball--made the title game.
Who knows how good Shaka Smart’s team will be this year, but the Rams very well could be one of the best teams.
13. Syracuse Orange
Losing Michael Carter-Williams is no fun, but Syracuse will still be bringing back some players. C.J. Fair led the Orange in scoring last season and the same should be the case in the upcoming one.
It will be interesting to see how Syracuse does in the ACC, but it would not be a surprise if it ended up winning the conference title.
12. Memphis Tigers
Connecticut is going to have an amazing backcourt this season and the Memphis Tigers may have a better one. It helps that Missouri transfer Michael Dixon is joining the team. Not to mention, the Tigers are bringing in a very talented recruiting class.
Some Memphis fans may miss the John Calipari era, but this could be Josh Pastner’s best team yet. Memphis did win 31 games last season, so that is kind of saying a lot.
11. North Carolina Tar Heels
The North Carolina Tar Heels need P.J. Hairston on the court. Who knows how long he will be suspended, but his return will be huge.
Still, point guard Marcus Paige should have a big season, James Michael McAdoo is one of the best players in the ACC and the incoming freshmen could have an instant impact.
North Carolina fans would have probably liked to see their team in the top 10, but this team will have plenty of opportunities to show that it is worthy of a higher ranking. At the same time, this team could disappoint like last season, but I doubt that will happen.
10. Ohio State Buckeyes
The Ohio State Buckeyes struggled to score last season and Deshaun Thomas will no longer be on the team. Thomas averaged 19.8 points per game last season and Ohio State averaged 69.9 points per game as a team.
He will definitely be missed, but Ohio State will return everyone else and it will still have a stingy defense. There are a few players that could replace Thomas when it comes to scoring the ball, so hopefully that is actually the case.
9. Michigan Wolverines
Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. will no longer be on Michigan, but it could still find its way to the national championship game. Last year’s freshmen are set to take over.
Mitch McGary exploded in the NCAA tournament and he could lead the team in scoring in the upcoming season. With that in mind, he averaged less points per game than Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas on the year.
Replacing Burke will be a must, but incoming freshmen Derrick Walton could be the man for the job.
8. Florida Gators
Florida is losing its top three scorers from last year’s team. It has also made three straight Elite Eight trips.
Patric Young is the most notable returning player and this could finally be his team. He will be playing in his senior year and will without a doubt be one of the best players in the SEC.
Other players will be returning and the Gators will have a lot of talent joining the team. Five-star recruit Chris Walker is ineligible, but he could join the team in December. Plus, Kasey Hill is one of the best point guards joining college hoops.
Florida needs to be at full strength and some players are currently suspended. When every one is back, though, this will be one of the best teams in college basketball.
7. Oklahoma State Cowboys
Marcus Smart, Le’Bryan Nash and Markel Brown all averaged 14 or more points per game last season and they will all be back.
Smart is one of the best players in the nation and he will likely be picked in the top 10 of the 2014 NBA Draft.
The Cowboys would have been the favorite to win the Big 12 title, but then Andrew Wiggins decided to join Kansas. Those two teams should have some pretty good battles in conference play regardless.
6. Kansas Jayhawks
Kansas comes in at No. 6 thanks to Andrew Wiggins. He is getting a bunch of buzz and is the most talked about player since LeBron James.
The Jayhawks are losing their entire starting five, so hopefully Wiggins is worth the hype. He is not the only talented player set to join the team, though. Kansas does have two other five-stars joining.
5. Arizona Wildcats
Nick Johnson is the main returning player on Arizona. He averaged 11.5 points per game and could score even more since he is the returning leading scorer.
This team will have a bunch of young talent whether that be from last year’s recruiting class or from the incoming one. Sean Miller is a great recruiter and that will really pay off this season.
Arizona has the talent to be the No. 1 team in the nation, but it will be interesting to see how all of the young players do.
4. Duke Blue Devils
Just like Florida, Duke will be losing its top three leading scorers from last year. However, the Blue Devils will still be picked to win the ACC.
Rasheed Sulaimon and Quinn Cook will both be back, among others. Sulaimon put up 11.6 points per game as a freshman last season and Cook averaged 11.7 points per game. Duke will be getting the No. 2 ranked player in the 2013 class.
Jabari Parker is good enough to lead this team to a conference title alone, but he will have plenty of talent around him.
3. Louisville Cardinals
Louisville won the national championship last season and will have the talent to win a second straight title... or will it?
Chane Behanan was suspended recently and Peyton Siva and Gorgui Dieng are gone. Luckily for the Cardinals, leading scorer Russ Smith will be back. He went off last season by averaging 18.7 points per game.
The Cardinals will be solid, but they need to prove early on that they can compete without three great players from last year’s national title team.
2. Michigan State Spartans
Michigan State could easily make a case for being the best team, but it comes in at No. 2. Preseason rankings are all about hype. Which team has more of that than the Kentucky Wildcats?
The Spartans will enter the year at No. 2, but they will play Kentucky on Nov. 12, so they could gain that No. 1 ranking very early in the season.
Derrick Nix is gone and that is really all you need to know. The Spartans made the dance as a No. 3 seed last year and they will have a very experienced and talented team.
1. Kentucky Wildcats
Kentucky is No. 1.
The Wildcats will be bringing in arguably the best recruiting class of all time and this young talent should fair a lot better than last year’s Wildcats did. It really does help that Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein returned. Not only for Kentucky, but for their future careers in the NBA as well.
This Kentucky team could be very, very good. It could go undefeated on the season and it could wind up winning a national championship. However, it will be tested early and often and will have to actually prove it is the best team once the season starts.
Regardless, the Wildcats will make the NCAA tournament this year and it very well could be as the No. 1 overall seed.