You should be getting excited for the upcoming college basketball season, because I know I am. There are a lot of unknowns this season, however it is shaping up to be a very intriguing year in College Basketball.
The AP Preseason Top 25 will be released Monday, November 2, and this is the first year in a while where there is no clear cut for the #1 team. Kentucky, North Carolina, Maryland, Duke, and Kansas all received votes for the #1 seed in the USA Today Coaches Poll. All five teams are projected to win their respective conferences, and they all deserve a more in depth analysis.
Kentucky was the #1 team in the nation for all of last season, until they lost to Wisconsin in the Final Four and ended their season having an outstanding record of 38-1. The Wildcats lost an unbelievable 7 players to the NBA in the offseason and they will have to center their team around star freshmen and returning players Marcus Lee, Tyler Ulis, and Alex Poythress. Coach Calipari is still trying to get a feel of this year’s squad and he is changing their offensive play style. In an interview with SportsCenter, Coach said that he is “trying to put the players in the best position for them, so then they’ll drag the program the way we want it to go.” This roster definitely doesn’t have as much talent as last year’s one, but they are still pretty good and will hope to have the same success in the SEC.
North Carolina received the #1 ranking in the Preseason Coaches Poll that came out about 2 weeks ago. The Tar Heels’ season ended last year with a loss to Wisconsin in the Sweet 16. The Heels have practically the same roster as last year, losing J.P. Tokoto to the NBA, but adding 2 star freshmen, Kenny Williams and Luke Maye. UNC’s point guard, Marcus Paige, is one of the top in the country and was just tabbed as ACC Preseason Player of the Year yesterday. The senior will be the leader of the squad, and if they want to make it to the NCAA Tournament as a high seed, he will be their X-factor.
It has really been an unbelievable turn of events for the Maryland Terrapins. Just a year ago, Mark Turgeon was entering his 4th season with the Terps and he was on top of all the hot seat lists. Turgeon did not bring the school to any tournaments in his previous 3 seasons which is unheard of for the program, but Turgeon didn’t lose faith and Maryland won a school record 28 games last season. This year, Maryland is hungry for more as they return superstar PG Melo Trimble, stud F Jake Layman, as well as bringing in 2 of the nation’s best transfers in Rasheed Sulaimon and Robert Carter. The Terps also bring in one of the country’s best big men in Diamond Stone. Maryland will be challenged with their tough schedule, as they try to prove that they are the real deal.
The defending champs really have to start from scratch this season. The Duke Blue Devils only bring back 4 role players from last year, and their team will be highlighted by their top freshmen class. Duke brings in 4 ESPN Top 100 recruits and we’ll see if they can live up to the hype. Duke will be challenged by its tough out-of-conference and ACC schedule. This Blue Devils team will be good; how good they’ll be is up to Coach Krzyzewski and the work they put in.
The Kansas Jayhawks have won the Big 12 regular season title 12 straight seasons, however in this season it will be a lot tougher than others. Kansas brings back 5 of its great players from last year but they will have as tough as a challenge in their conference as anyone in the country. Oklahoma, Iowa State, Oklahoma State and more will give Kansas problems in the conference this year, much more than any year before. The Jayhawks will have to perform well in their very tough out-of-conference schedule to prove their doubters wrong, win the Big 12, and make a run in the NCAA Tournament.
My preseason prediction to win the tourney this year has to be Maryland. They have the deepest team and could have the best backcourt in the country. They will be challenged by teams along their “journey to the tourney”, but never rule the Terps out of the question.