fThe college basketball picture is becoming clearer. Early entrants into the NBA Draft had to make their decisions on whether or not they will remain in the draft. This means college coaches now have a clear view of their roster (minus some outstanding transfer waivers). That allows us to determine the NCAA preseason rankings.
NCAA Preseason Rankings: Part One
Number 30 – Florida Gators
Starters: Tre Mann, Noah Locke, Scottie Lewis, Keyontae Johnson, Omar Payne
This Florida team was a popular pick to win the championship last year. However, they were wildly disappointing. Now, they must replace their two best players, Andrew Nembhard and Kerry Blackshear. It may be just what the doctor ordered. Expectations are low, Mike White is coaching for his job, and the roster has plenty of experience. The one concern is the lack of a true point guard. That is exacerbated by a team that struggled to get good shots last year.
Number 29 – Louisville Cardinals
Starters: David Johnson, Carlik Jones, Charles Minlend, Samuell Williamson, Malik Williams
The Cardinals are trying to replace superstar Jordan Nwora as well as numerous other important pieces. They did add electric guard Carlik Jones who will form a deadly offensive pairing with Johnson. The key to this Louisville team is the development of Williamson. If he can become the third scorer and live up to his lofty potential, this is a very dangerous team led by Chris Mack. While some may think it is a down year, the Cardinals have something else entirely in mind.
Number 28 – Indiana Hoosiers
Starters: Khristian Lander, Rob Phinisee, Al Durham, Trayce Jackson-Davis, Joey Brunk
Indiana is another potential darkhorse. The addition of Lander is very important for this roster. Phinisee can move off the ball and play his natural position and Jackson-Davis finally gets a Batman to his Robin. The starting lineup is deep but the bench is filled with youth. If the freshman can contribute this year, the Hoosiers will be dancing.
Number 27 – Oregon Ducks
Starters: Will Richardson, Chris Duarte, Amauri Hardy, Eugene Omoruyi, N’Faly Dante
The Ducks have to replace Payton Pritchard which is a massive challenge. However, they have some consistency returning at the guard position. The concern is who will be the playmaker and lead guard. Richardson was successful in spurts but he is not a natural point guard so it may be asking a lot of him. However, Oregon is going to be great as an inside-out team. Dante and Omoruyi are going to make a dominant frontcourt and will easily add to the win column.
Number 26 – Connecticut Huskies
Starters: RJ Cole, James Bouknight, Andre Jackson, Akok Akok, Adama Sanogo
The Huskies add Andre Jackson and Adama Sanogo to a talented young roster. The foundation is being laid by Dan Hurley and this is the year that the Huskies finally can compete. They are not title contenders but they are far better than years past. This team will go as far as Bouknight and Jackson can take them.
Number 25 – Richmond Spiders
Starters: Jacob Gilyard, Blake Francis, Nick Sherod, Nathan Cayo, Grant Golden
This team lost one player from last season. The Spiders were a trendy pick to win a game in March all of last season and that roster now has another year of experience. That is a dangerous combination and enough to make them deserving of a preseason ranking. While they do not have the talent of a team like the Dayton Flyers last year, they can find their way to the second weekend this year.
Number 24 – Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Starters: Geo Baker, Caleb McConnell, Montez Mathis, Ron Harper Jr., Cliff Omoruyi
Basketball purists everywhere shield your eyes. Rutgers is in the preseason top 25. They were outstanding for a large portion of last year and then sputtered as the year came to an end. They return their core group and then add talented freshman Omoruyi to the roster. Playing Rutgers is like fighting in a boxing match. No one will enjoy playing this team. If Harper and Baker can become more efficient this Scarlet Knights team becomes truly dangerous.
Number 23 – West Virginia Mountaineers
Starters: Miles McBride, Kedrian Johnson, Emmitt Matthews, Derek Culver, Oscar Tshiebwe
The Mountaineers are tough to judge. They have struggled mightily the last few seasons after being a perennial top 15 team. This year they look better, but still not quite the West Virginia of old. McBride, Matthews, and Tshiebwe need to come up big this year. If the defense does not pick up this season, the Mountaineers can really struggle because buckets will be difficult to come by. They will punish opponents, but you need to score to win.
Number 22 – Ohio State Buckeyes
Starters: CJ Walker, Duane Washington, Seth Towns, EJ Liddell, Kyle Young
While the Buckeyes lost Kaleb Wesson and Andre Wesson as well as two other players to transfer, they also won the transfer portal with the arrival of Towns. The starting lineup is strong and quite talented. The issue will be the bench and depth. If Towns stays healthy, there is a good chance he wins Big Ten Player of the Year and that is exactly what Buckeye fans want to hear.
Number 21 – Stanford Cardinal
Starters: Daejon Davis, Bryce Wills, Ziaire Williams, Spencer Jones, Oscar da Silva
The Cardinal are the most slept on team in college basketball this year. They return their two best players in Davis and da Silva and add a top 5 recruit in Williams. Williams comes from the hyped Sierra Canyon team and will become part of a deadly duo with da Silva. These two are matchup nightmares with so much size. They should have their way in the Pac-12. Arizona State seems to be the class of the Pac-12, but the Cardinal are close. They are absolutely a tournament team this year barring significant injury.
Number 20 – Texas Longhorns
Starters: Matt Coleman, Courtney Ramey, Jase Febres, Greg Brown, Jericho Sims
The Longhorns return everyone from last year and add a solid five star in Brown. Shaka Smart has struggled mightily to win while in Austin. This has to be his last chance so expect a lot of fight out of this Longhorns roster. Coleman and Ramey have so much experience and the guards are deep, experienced, and talented. Texas has no excuses this season. It is winning time.
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