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NCAA Preview: Top 10 Teams for 2011

By 07.23.10

Kansas State's Jacob Pullen


After the NBA Draft and before Midnight Madness, it seems nobody really talks about college basketball. While free agency and trades in the pros dominate the headlines, now is the time where your favorite NCAA team is gearing up and building the chemistry that could carry them to a national championship. The recruits are on campus, the returners are learning their new roles, and coaches are devising game plans. Here is my pre-preseason national Top-10:

1. DUKE BLUE DEVILS
Conference: ACC
’09-10 Record: 35-5 (13-3), National Champions
Key Loses: Jon Scheyer, Lance Thomas, Brian Zoubek
Key Additions: Kyrie Irving, Seth Curry (transfer), Joshua Hairston

Duke will miss the senior leadership and big-shot capabilities of Scheyer, but with Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler returning for their senior year they will be more than fine. The Blue Devils also bring in freshman Kyrie Irving and Liberty transfer Seth Curry (Stephen‘s younger brother) to make their backcourt one of the top units in the country. Also look for sophomore 7-footer Mason Plumlee to have a big year.

2. KANSAS STATE WILDCATS
Conference: Big 12
’09-10 Record: 29-8 (11-5), Elite Eight
Key Loses: Denis Clemente, Dominique Sutton (transfer)
Key Additions: Shane Southwell, Nino Williams, Jeuvol Myles (transfer)

K-State just might be the most athletic team in the country, and Jacob Pullen may be the most clutch scoring guard in the land. The frontcourt is also deep, and I believe coach Frank Martin could literally mean-mug his team at least back to the Elite Eight this season.

3. PURDUE BOILERMAKERS
Conference: Big Ten
’09-10 Record: 29-6 (14-4), Sweet Sixteen
Key Losses: Chris Kramer, Keaton Grant
Key Additions: Terone Johnson, Travis Carroll

Purdue is losing one of the best perimeter defenders in the country in Chris Kramer, who also saved them against Texas A&M with a game-winning shot in the Tournament. The Boilermakers return stars Robbie Hummel, JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore; they could have made a legit run at the national title last year had Hummel not hurt his knee during the season.

4. MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS
Conference: Big Ten
’09-10 Record: 28-9 (14-4), Final Four
Key Losses: Raymar Morgan
Key Additions: Keith Appling, Adreian Payne, Russell Byrd, Alex Gauna

MSU returns everyone except Morgan from last season’s Final Four team. But most importantly, they get a healthy Kalin Lucas, and Tom Izzo isn’t coaching the Cavs.

Brandon Knight


5. KENTUCKY WILDCATS
Conference: SEC
’09-10 Record: 35-3 (14-2), Elite Eight
Key Losses: John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson, Eric Bledsoe, Daniel Orton
Key Additions: Brandon Knight, Enes Kanter, Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb

As my man Austin Burton said in the office the other day, “National Signing Day is Kentucky’s national championship.” John Calipari has no problem bringing in stacked recruiting classes, but so far that hasn’t translated into a national title for him. This year’s UK recruits are another handful of one-and-done types, led by two-time Gatorade National High School P.O.Y. Brandon Knight and projected Top-5 pick Enes Kanter.

6. OHIO STATE BUCKEYES
Conference: Big Ten
’09-10 Record: 29-8 (14-4), Sweet Sixteen
Key Losses: Evan Turner
Key Additions: Jared Sullinger, J.D. Weatherspoon, DeShaun Thomas, Aaron Craft

OSU may lose 10-plus this year, seeing as the Big Ten is going to be a lot tougher. The Buckeyes do have a killer recruiting class led by C/PF Jared Sullinger, but who is going to run the offense now that Turner is gone?

7. BAYLOR BEARS
Conference: Big 12
’09-10 Record: 28-8 (11-5), Elite Eight
Key Losses: Tweety Carter, Ekpe Udoh
Key Additions: Perry Jones, Stargell Love

Arguably the most athletic team in the country is also among the most sting defensive teams. LaceDarius Dunn will get buckets outside, and freshman Perry Jones has been compared to Shawn Kemp.

8. KANSAS JAYHAWKS
Conference: Big 12
’09-10 Record: 33-3 (15-1), NCAA Second Round
Key Losses: Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich, Xavier Henry
Key Additions: Josh Selby, Royce Woolridge

The Jayhawks will severally miss Sherron Collins’ leadership at the point and Aldrich’s steadiness down low. But just like last season, Kansas has an instant-impact freshman that can score the rock in Josh Selby.

9. VILLANOVA WILDCATS
Conference: Big East
’09-10 Record: 25-8 (13-5), NCAA Second Round
Key Losses: Scottie Reynolds
Key Additions: James Bell, Jayvaughn Pinkston

Yes, ‘Nova will start this season without Scottie Reynolds, but Jay Wright always seems to have more stars in the backcourt waiting on-deck. Corey Fisher and Maalik Wayns should compensate well for Reynolds’ absence, and the Wildcats actually have a couple solid big guys in Mouphtaou Yarou and Antonio Pena.

10. NORTH CAROLINA STATE WOLF PACK
Conference: ACC
’09-10 Record: 20-16 (5-11), NIT Second Round
Key Losses: Dennis Horner, Julius Mays (transfer), Josh Davis (transfer)
Key Additions: C.J. Leslie, Ryan Harrow, Lorenzo Brown

This is more optimism than objectivity on my part, but for what it’s worth, NC State did bring in one of the best recruiting classes in the nation. 6-9 forward C.J. Leslie is an athletic freak, and point guard Ryan Harrow was the biggest McDonald’s All-American snub in the senior class. Coach Sidney Lowe has been widely criticized during his tenure, but this incoming group could turn things around for him.


TAGSBRANDON KNIGHTc.j. leslieCOLLEGECorey FisherE'twaun MooreEnes KanterFrank MartinJacob PullenJared SullingerJay WrightJOHN CALIPARIJosh SelbyKalin LucasKYLE SINGLERKYRIE IRVINGLaceDarius DunnMarcus MorrisPerry JonesRobbie HummelRyan HarrowTOM IZZO

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