Preseason SENSATIONAL 16 and TOP 25 | Nov. 11
Editor's Note: Each week during the 2003-04 season, ESPN's Dick Vitale will rank the nation's top 16 teams (in conjunction with ESPN.com's Power 16). Here are his preseason rankings (expanded to his Top 25).
In honor of the start of the college-basketball season -- it all begins this week with the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Madison Square Garden -- I'm offering a special bonus. Yes, I'm expanding my preseason Sensational 16 to include my full-fledged preseason Top 25.
There is no change at Nos. 1-16 from my previous preseason rankings. UConn remains my clear No. 1. Wisconsin (at No. 16) still rounds out the Sensational 16, while N.C. State (at No. 25) now wraps up the Top 25.
KEY RETURNING PLAYERS -- C Emeka Okafor, G Ben Gordon, G Taliek Brown, G Rashad Anderson, F Denham Brown, F Marcus White
KEY NEWCOMERS -- F Charlie Villanueva, G Marcus Williams, F Josh Boone
KEY LOSSES -- G Tony Robertson
COMMENT -- Coach Jim Calhoun has the prohibitive favorite to cut down the nets at the Final Four.
2. MICHIGAN STATE
KEY RETURNING PLAYERS -- G Chris Hill, F Alan Anderson, G Maurice Ager, G Kelvin Torbert, C-F Paul Davis
KEY NEWCOMERS -- G Shannon Brown, G Brandon Cotton, F Drew Naynick
KEY LOSSES -- F-C Aloysius Anagonye, F Adam Ballinger, F-C Erazem Lorbek
COMMENT -- Coach Tom Izzo has the best team in the Big Ten. Recent international experience will help Ager and Davis. Adding Brown makes this squad a championship contender.
KEY RETURNING PLAYERS -- F Wayne Simien. G Aaron Miles, G Keith Langford, F Jeff Graves
KEY NEWCOMERS -- F-C David Padgett, G J.R. Giddens, G Omar Wilkes, G Jeremy Case
KEY LOSSES: F-C Nick Collison, G Kirk Hinrich
COMMENT -- Coach Bill Self steps into a good situation as the fans in Lawrence celebrate another contender.
KEY RETURNING PLAYERS -- G Chris Duhon, G Daniel Ewing, G J.J. Redick, C-F Shelden Williams, F Shavlik Randolph, F-C Nick Horvath, G Sean Dockery
KEY NEWCOMERS -- F Luol Deng
KEY LOSSES -- F Dahntay Jones, C Casey Sanders
COMMENT -- Here come the Dukies again, baby!
KEY RETURNING PLAYERS -- G Gerald Fitch, G Cliff Hawkins, F Erik Daniels, F Chuck Hayes, G-F Antwain Barbour, F-G Kelenna Azubuike
KEY NEWCOMERS -- C Shagari Alleyne, C Lukasz Obrzut, F Bobby Perry, F Sheray Thomas
KEY LOSSES -- G Keith Bogans, F Marquis Estill, C Jules Camara
COMMENT -- Estill would have been better off returning for his final year of eligibility instead of going undrafted. If coach Tubby Smith gets productivity from his two new big men, watch out!
KEY RETURNING PLAYERS -- G Rickey Paulding, C Arthur Johnson, F Travon Bryant, G Jimmy McKinney, G Josh Kroenke
KEY NEWCOMERS -- G/F Jason Conley, F Linas Kleiza, G Thomas Gardner, G Spencer Laurie, G Randy Pulley
KEY LOSSES: G Ricky Clemons
COMMENT -- If only Clemons had stayed eligible...
KEY RETURNING PLAYERS -- G Salim Stoudamire, C Channing Frye, G Hassan Adams, F Andre Iguodala, C Isaiah Fox, G Chris Rodgers
KEY NEWCOMERS -- G Mustafa Shakur, C Kirk Walters
KEY LOSSES: G Jason Gardner, F Luke Walton, F Rick Anderson
COMMENT -- Coach Lute Olson still has the best in the West.
8. NORTH CAROLINA
KEY RETURNING PLAYERS -- G Rashad McCants, G Raymond Felton, C Sean May, F Jackie Manuel, F Jawad Williams
KEY NEWCOMERS -- F Reyshawn Terry
KEY LOSSES : F Will Johnson
COMMENT -- Coach Roy Williams inherits a tremendous young nucleus. The returning sophomores now have experience playing together -- and who knows what would have happened if May hadn't been injured last season.
KEY RETURNING PLAYERS -- C James Thomas, G Brandon Mouton, G Royal Ivey, F Brian Boddicker, F Brad Buckman, G Sydmill Harris, C Jason Klotz
KEY NEWCOMERS -- F P.J. Tucker, G Edgar Moreno
KEY LOSSES G T.J. Ford, F Deginald Erskin
COMMENT -- If Ford had returned, this would have been one of the top two or three teams in America. Coach Rick Barnes still returns top-10 talent.
KEY RETURNING PLAYERS -- G Anthony Roberson, F Matt Walsh, F David Lee, G-F Christian Drejer
KEY NEWCOMERS -- F Mohammed Abukar, G Lee Humphrey, F Chris Richard, G Ryan Appleby
KEY LOSSES -- F-C Matt Bonner, G Brett Nelson, G Justin Hamilton
COMMENT -- Coach Billy Donovan loses a lot of experience, but there's still plenty of young talent to go around.
KEY RETURNING PLAYERS -- G Gerry McNamara, F Hakim Warrick, G Billy Edelin, G Josh Pace, C Jeremy McNeil, C Craig Forth
KEY NEWCOMERS -- G Louie McCroskey, F Demetrius Nichols, F Terrence Roberts, C Darryl Watkins
KEY LOSSES -- F Carmelo Anthony, G Kueth Duany
COMMENT -- Coach Jim Boeheim is still smiling despite losing Anthony to the NBA. This will be a solid club with lots of talent.
KEY RETURNING PLAYERS -- F Kevin Bookout, G DeAngelo Alexander, C Jabahri Brown, F Johnnie Gilbert
KEY NEWCOMERS -- G Andrew Lavender, F Brandon Foust, G Jaison Williams, G Lawrence McKenzie, G Jimmy Tobias
KEY LOSSES -- G Hollis Price, F Ebi Ere, G Quannas White
COMMENT -- It isn't easy to replace a player and leader like Price. Look for big things from Alexander.
KEY RETURNING PLAYERS -- G Blake Stepp, C-F Ronny Turiaf, F Cory Violette, C-F Richard Fox, G Tony Skinner
KEY NEWCOMERS -- G Errol Knight, F Adam Morrison, G Derek Raivio
KEY LOSSES -- F Zach Gourde
COMMENT -- This could be coach Mark Few's best team, and the addition of Knight will make a big difference.
KEY RETURNING PLAYERS -- F Francisco Garcia, G Taquan Dean, C Kendall Dartez, F Luke Whitehead, F Ellis Myles
KEY NEWCOMERS -- F Nate Daniels, F-C Nouha Diakite, G Brandon Jenkins
KEY LOSSES -- G Reece Gaines, C Marvin Stone, G Bryant Northern, G-F Erik Brown
COMMENT -- Even without Gaines, coach Rick Pitino's squad will be ready to make some noise.
KEY RETURNING PLAYERS -- G Dee Brown, G Deron Williams, G Luther Head, F James Augustine, F Roger Powell
KEY NEWCOMERS -- F Warren Carter, F Brian Randle, G Richard McBride
KEY LOSSES -- F Brian Cook, G Sean Harrington
COMMENT -- Bill Self is off to coach at Kansas, but new coach Bruce Weber has a solid nucleus led by Brown, who scored 47 points in international competition recently.
KEY RETURNING PLAYERS -- G Devin Harris, G Freddie Owens, G Alando Tucker, F Mike Wilkinson, C Dave Mader, G Boo Wade
KEY NEWCOMERS -- C Brian Butch, F Kammron Taylor, F Zach Morley
KEY LOSSES -- G Kirk Penney
COMMENT -- Coach Bo Ryan's team, even without Penney, will be solid and well-coached. The addition of Butch up front will make a difference.
17. SAINT JOSEPH'S
19. WAKE FOREST
23. NOTRE DAME
24. OKLAHOMA STATE
25. N.C. STATE