Preseason Top 40 for 2013-14
I know it is early, but it gave me something to do while sitting at The Broken Egg. It is subject to change as other player moves, injuries, transfers, etc. can happen. For the moment, here is my look at the best that college hoops has to offer for the 2013-14 campaign.
A number of players have declared for the NBA draft. That group certainly influenced my look at the early top 40 teams for next season.
1. KENTUCKY SEC
Analysis: For those who thought the Cats were going to be down for long, think again. Once again, John Calipari has a super recruiting class, this one even better than last year's. Why is Kentucky No. 1? Besides the recruiting class, led by the Harrison twins, Kentucky has veterans returning to provide experience. Kyle Wiltjer, Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein can help the newcomers learn the ropes, and that can make a difference. The 2012 national champions had players like Terrence Jones, Darius Miller and Doron Lamb available, and it helped.
2. MICHIGAN STATE BIG TEN
Analysis: Having Gary Harris, Keith Appling, Branden Dawson and Adreian Payne back is good enough for me to believe the Spartans are legit contenders to cut down the nets at Cowboys Stadium. Tom Izzo is a master at tournament time and his team should make a serious run in 2014.
3. LOUISVILLE AAC
Analysis: The defending national champions lose a lot (Peyton Siva was a senior, Gorgui Dieng is going to the NBA), but it helps to have Russ Smith and Chane Behanan. NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player Luke Hancock and Wayne Blackshear are back. Rick Pitino also added depth via recruiting and Kevin Ware is expected to make a return from that gruesome injury.
4. DUKE ACC
Analysis: This will be a different Duke team without Mason Plumlee, Seth Curry and Ryan Kelly. Rodney Hood will be eligible after transferring from Mississippi State. Jabari Parker is one of the premier diaper dandies in America. The return of Andre Dawkins will also help. Coach K will have another Final Four contender.
15. NEW MEXICO MWC
Analysis: Steve Alford left for UCLA, but Craig Neal knows the cupboard is not bare.
28. WISCONSIN BIG TEN
Analysis: Bo Ryan always gets the most out of his team, and this season should be no exception.
31. IOWA BIG TEN
Analysis: The experience of an NIT run plus 10 players coming back makes Iowa more dangerous.
33. GEORGETOWN BIG EAST
Analysis: Otto Porter Jr. is gone, but there are enough parts returning to make some noise.
34. HARVARD IVY
Analysis: Kyle Casey's comeback from a one-year absence makes Tommy Amaker's team strong.
36. LA SALLE A-10
Analysis: Ramon Galloway is gone, but the Explorers can build on last season's NCAA run.