My Preseason Top 25
For the second straight year, however, I will be Connecticut’s AP Top 25 men’s college basketball voter. At least I’ve prioritized the important things to vote for in this world.
Will I have a chance to vote for UConn at some point this season? Doesn’t look too likely, but you never know. In fact, I’m not too sure how many Big East teams I’ll be voting for throughout the winter. I normally give the Big East a lot of love, because I firmly believe that, year-in and year-out, it is the best conference in the country. This year, I’m not so sure.
Conversely, I’m usually pretty tepid on the Big 10. Other than Michigan State, it seems the conference disappoints more often than not. However, it’s impossible to ignore how stacked the Big 10 is this season. Michigan State, Ohio State and Illinois all have legit Final Four aspirations. Purdue would have, too, if not for Robbie Hummel’s injury. The Boilermakers should still be pretty strong, however.
Anyway, here’s the preseason Top 25 ballot I’ll be submitting later today. First regular season ballot will be submitted on Nov. 15.
1. Duke Picking a repeat champion can be the easy way out, but not with this team. I really like Kyle Singler and the length and skills he brings to the table.
2. Michigan State Did you know that Tom Izzo and Jim Calhoun are “dear, dear friends” … at least according to Calhoun.
3. Ohio State My brother, an OSU alum who lives in Columbus, is getting married in two weeks. Maybe he’ll honeymoon in Houston in early April.
4. Kansas State Curtis Kelly keeps keepin’ on! More importantly for K-State, so does Jacob Pullen.
5. Pittsburgh A young UConn team will get thrown to the fire in its Big East opener on Dec. 27 at Pitt. Merry Christmas, Huskies!!!
6. Villanova Scottie Reynolds is gone – finally – but the two Coreys are still around. Stokes and Fisher, not Haim and Feldman.
7. Kansas Josh Selby hasn’t been cleared by the NCAA yet. If and when he is, Jayhawks will be a national title contender.
8. North Carolina Last year’s NIT runners-up will be back in their usual perch behind freshman stud Harrison Barnes.
9. Illinois Top scorer, rebounder, assist man and shot-blocker are all back for Illini.
10. Kentucky John Calipari will try to do it with a bunch of fab freshmen again – two of whom (Brandon Knight, Doron Lamb) he swiped from under UConn’s nose.
11. BYU With Jimmer Fredette back in tow, these will be the best Cougars this side of Demi Moore and Courtney Cox.
12. Florida Watch out for some Kenny Boynton this year.
13. Syracuse No Wes Johnson, but everyone else is back … and frosh Fab Melo may be Big East’s best big man.
14. Missouri It’s never fun playing Mike Anderson’s Tigers, who love to run and push the ball up the floor as much as any team.
15. Washington Here’s betting that point guard Isaiah Thomas is currently the most popular person by that name in the basketball world.
16. Purdue No Hummel, but with E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson, Boilermakers will still be good.
17. Virginia Tech Hokies won’t be getting yet another disappointing NIT phone call on Selection Sunday this time around.
18. Gonzaga Led by forward Elias Harris, they’ll be strong again, as has become the norm.
19. Memphis Tigers hope to Will (Coleman, Witherspoon, Barton) their way to victory this season.
20. Butler Notice the surname “Howard” is big in sports these days – Dwight, Ryan, Tim … and now Bulldogs’ forward Matt.
21. Baylor If not for scandal surrounding program, I might have them quite a bit higher.
22. Tennessee So Bruce Pearl lied to NCAA investigators? So did Patrick Sellers and Beau Archibald, and they're both out of jobs. Someone remind me why Pearl is still employed?
23. Georgetown He’s a nice player, don’t get me wrong, but if Austin Freeman is the Big East preseason player of the year, the conference is a bit down.
24. Temple Make it a point some time to check out Juan Fernandez, who’s a slightly taller version of former Owl star Pepe Sanchez.
25. San Diego State Let’s see if Tony Gwynn can coach Stephen Strasburg & Co. to the tournament. Oops, wrong sport.
And here's the preseason All-America team I'll be submitting. Normally, I don't like to vote for a freshman on a preseason team, but I'll make an exception in the case of North Carolina's Harrison Barnes.
Kyle Singler, Duke
Kalin Lucas, Michigan State
Jacob Pullen, Kansas State
Jimmer Fredette, BYU
Harrison Barnes, North Carolina
Labels: Jim Calhoun