Vitale's preseason top 25 teams
Another exciting college basketball season will get underway in a few weeks and I cannot wait, baby!
I'm sitting at The Broken Egg here in Florida and I am pumped up. I am thrilled to be sitting courtside calling the action with my buddy, Dan Shulman.
This should be an incredible season because there are a number of legitimate contenders. You will see some great matchups early in the year, including Michigan State-Kentucky and Kansas-Duke in Chicago. That's four of my top five teams squaring off in one night!
I have made several adjustments from my summertime top 25. Here you have it, my preseason Top 25 for the 2013-14 season!
John Calipari has reloaded big time. He has the top recruiting class in America by far, and this group should be special. Think about it -- the Harrison twins (Aaron and Andrew), Julius Randle, Dakari Johnson, James Young, Marcus Lee -- WOW! Then add in veterans like Jarrod Polson, Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein to help the youngsters learn the ropes, and Big Blue Nation will be smiling.
2. MICHIGAN STATE
Having Adreian Payne up front, plus a healthy Gary Harris, Keith Appling and Branden Dawson, is enough to believe the Spartans are legit contenders to cut down the nets in April. The Big Ten favorites will be cohesive and deep. Tom Izzo is a master motivator at tournament time and his team should make a deep run in 2014.
Russ Smith's decision to return to school gives Rick Pitino an even better chance of going back-to-back. Chane Behanan will be even tougher on the glass. Luke Hancock is more confident after being named Most Outstanding Player in the Final Four. I can't wait to watch Louisville and Kentucky go at it in late December.
Mike Krzyzewski will have a more athletic team that will run, baby, run! Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood are newcomers to watch. Expect more from Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon. The return of Andre Dawkins will provide long-range shooting help.
The Jayhawks moved up because of one name -- Andrew Wiggins. There will be excitement for Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk with the diaper dandy leading the way at the Phog. I expect Perry Ellis to develop into a valuable performer.
Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. are gone, but Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III are back. Remember the names of diaper dandies Zak Irvin and Derrick Walton Jr.. They will be crucial for John Beilein.
C.J. Fair will become the next dominant scorer for the Orange. Jim Boeheim lost some talent like Michael Carter-Williams, but he will reload in his first season in the ACC.
Josh Pastner has a solid returning nucleus and several noteworthy newcomers. This will be an exciting team to watch.
11. OKLAHOMA STATE
12. OHIO STATE
Ohio State has won three of the last four Big Ten regular-season titles along with three of the last four postseason tournament championships. Thad Matta has an experienced club ready to roll.
13. NORTH CAROLINA
18. NEW MEXICO
Steve Alford went to UCLA, but Craig Neal has an outstanding group back. Kendall Williams will lead the Lobos to a solid season.
19. WICHITA STATE
Last season, Gregg Marshall got the Shockers to the Final Four. Cleanthony Early and company will not sneak up on anyone.
21. NOTRE DAME
Tommy Amaker gets back two key players that sat out last season, plus an outstanding returning nucleus.
Tad Boyle has established a winner in the Pac-12. Look for big things from 6-foot-6 Spencer Dinwiddie.
The Ducks figure to be smaller and quicker than last year's team. Adding several transfers will help.
Fran McCaffrey has built the program back into prominence. Aaron White and company should be dancing.
OTHERS TO WATCH: Massachusetts, UCLA, Arizona State, Wisconsin, BYU, Stanford, Georgetown, LaSalle, Boise State, LSU, St. John's, Villanova.