I cannot wait for the 2014-15 college hoop season to tip off, baby!
While it's nice to have a few months away from the sport, I am pumped up and ready to go. There are many quality teams, and it is time to dish out my preseason Top 40.
I know that a few of these picks will generate controversial responses. I expect tweets from the fans of schools that were left out. That's the fun thing about sports; you can debate the best of the best, and at the end of the season, you can go back and reflect on your predictions.
Here we go, my breakdown of the top 40:
1. Kentucky: John Calipari has nine McDonald's All-Americans on his roster. Are you serious? Most coaches would be thrilled to have one or two. The Cats have a nice blend of experience with the Harrison twins, Alex Poythress, Willie Cauley-Stein & Co., who are joined by a solid group of diaper dandies. Calipari will find a way to keep everyone happy with their minutes, and more importantly, he'll win.
2. Duke: Jabari Parker is now with the Milwaukee Bucks, but Coach K has a great group of newcomers at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones will have a major impact. Rasheed Sulaimon, Quinn Cook and Amile Jefferson are among the hungry players returning. Krzyzewski will contend for a fifth national title.
3. Kansas: Bill Self lost a lot of talent in Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, but the coach has new talent again. Cliff Alexander will become a big man on campus in Lawrence. Perry Ellis will step up and post more impressive numbers.
4. Wisconsin: Frank Kaminsky decided to return to Madison instead of taking the green of the NBA dollars, making Bo Ryan very happy. Experienced players in the backcourt plus Sam Dekker and Nigel Hayes up front give the Badgers a legit shot at another Final Four.
5. North Carolina: Marcus Paige will be among the star of stars, the elite All-Solid Gold leader of a solid Tar Heels squad. Kennedy Meeks, Brice Johnson & Co. join a talented group of diaper dandies as Roy Williams has a top-five threat.
6. Arizona: The return of Brandon Ashley and the debut of Stanley Johnson will be difference-makers. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson will move into the spotlight now that Aaron Gordon is in the NBA. The backcourt remains solid as Sean Miller's club is the best in the West.
7. Texas: Remember when some people had Rick Barnes on the hot seat? Not anymore. The Longhorns will breathe down Kansas' necks in the Big 12. Isaiah Taylor is an outstanding guard, and there is a lot of experience on the roster. Then add one of the nation's best diaper dandies in Myles Turner, and it's no wonder that fans in Austin are smiling.
8. Virginia: Tony Bennett's team dominated the ACC last season, and he has many pieces back in place for another big run. Malcolm Brogdon is solid and London Perrantes is Mr. Consistent with the rock in his hands. Mike Tobey will make more noise up front.
9. Florida: Another year, another super team for Billy the Kid in Gainesville. Kasey Hill will have added responsibility and will respond to the challenge. Michael Frazier II and Dorian Finney-Smith will be consistent scorers.
10. Louisville: Rick Pitino won't have Russ Smith anymore, but the Cardinals have plenty of talented performers to compete in their new league, the ACC. Chris Jones will step into the star role.
11. Gonzaga: Mark Few may have the deepest backcourt in America, with Kevin Pangos, Gary Bell Jr. and USC transfer Byron Wesley.
12. Wichita State: Gregg Marshall's club has made a lot of noise the last few years, and that will continue, led by Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker.
13. Iowa State: The return of Georges Niang (injured during last year's NCAA tourney) and the addition of Bryce Dejean-Jones (transfer from UNLV) has Fred Hoiberg smiling. There will be a lot of Hilton Magic.
14. Villanova: Jay Wright has a solid nucleus of returning veterans, led by JayVaughn Pinkston.
17. San Diego State: Steve Fisher has done an amazing job with this program, and Winston Shepard keeps the Aztecs rolling.
18. Nebraska: There is more to life than just football in Lincoln. Terran Petteway is a PTPer to watch.
19. Oklahoma: Lon Kruger has an underrated guard in Buddy Hield and enough returning talent to push in the Big 12.
20. Harvard: Tommy Amaker has built something special in Cambridge. This could be a big season.
21. Michigan State: The Spartans lost a lot (Adreian Payne, Gary Harris, Keith Appling). But Branden Dawson is back and Tom Izzo is a magician.
22. SMU: The Mustangs would have been top-15 for sure if Emmanuel Mudiay was there. Larry Brown will have an AAC contender.
23. Ohio State: Thad Matta likes this squad, and the Buckeyes won 25 games last season.
24. Iowa: Aaron White is a guy I love to watch. Fran McCaffery has a lot of experience on his roster.
25. Pittsburgh: Losing PG Cameron Wright (broken foot) for two months is a blow, but the Panthers have some tough kids.
From 26 to 40:
26. Syracuse; 27. Michigan; 28. Kansas State; 29. Stanford; 30. NC State; 31. Utah; 32. Minnesota; 33. Georgia; 34. Colorado; 35. Florida State; 36. Arkansas; 37. UCLA; 38. LSU; 39. Georgetown; 40. Dayton.