Admittedly, the college basketball season is far away. However, is it ever too early for a preseason poll? Never. The NCAA preseason rankings continue with part two. You can find the first ten teams listed here. This set of rankings contains teams ranked 19th to 11th. Check back tomorrow for the top 10.
NCAA Preseason Rankings: Part Two
Number 19 – Florida State Seminoles
Starters: MJ Walker, Anthony Polite, Scottie Barnes, Raiquan Gray, Balsa Koprivica
The Seminoles were difficult to place this year. Barnes is easily a top-five player in this freshman class and is one of the favorites to win ACC Freshman of the Year. He can do it all and his motor is off the charts, especially in big games. Walker and Polite are going to be the keys here. They need to shoot it well and score consistently. Gray and Barnes are going to be matchup issues for everyone. They have the body of forwards but the skills of a guard. Look for the offense to be started from these guys. The true concerns are the lack of a true point guard and lack of talent inside which caused them to come in at 18. However, they are clearly a top-four team in the ACC.
Number 18 – Creighton Blue Jays
Creighton was hurt by a surprising defection in Ty-Shon Alexander. Luckily, they still return Zegarowski who is a favorite for the Bob Cousy Award. There is a lot of consistency in this roster and they should enjoy early success. As with all Creighton teams, this team will score at will. There just seems to be something missing here. Will anyone be consistent beyond Zegarowski? My gut says no. However, if they can find a true Robin, they can climb the rankings. They are a clear cut number two team in the Big East.
Number 17 – LSU Tigers
Starters: Javonte Smart, Cam Thomas, Charles Manning, Trendon Watford, Darius Days
LSU brings back their two best players from last season but lost Skylar Mays. Smart and Watford make a dangerous duo but also can be very inefficient. Luckily, they have some serious talent on the bench including Josh LeBlanc from Georgetown and Shareef O’Neal from UCLA. While the current starting lineup lacks size, the variability and depth that Will Wade can throw at other teams will make them difficult to guard. The question is the same as last year. Can they guard anyone? The answer seems to be a no right now.
Number 16 – Texas Tech Red Raiders
The Red Raiders lost a lot, but in true Chris Beard fashion, they found ways to replace that talent. Realistically, losing Jahmi’us Ramsey and Davide Moretti should knock them out of the top 25. However, Beard added Ntambwe from UNLV, Santos-Silva from VCU, and stud freshman Burnett. This roster is built to play the way Beard wants to and that should be scary for every other team. I learned my lesson last year thinking Texas Tech would struggle last season so here they are in the middle of the national rankings. If Burnett turns out to be as good as many people think, Texas Tech is going to be really good.
Number 15 – Houston Cougars
Starters: Marcus Sasser, Quentin Grimes, Caleb Mills, DeJon Jarreau, Brison Gresham
The Cougars are flying a bit under the radar. They lose one of their better player in Nate Hinton but they do return Jarreau and Grimes which is enough to get them ranked. Houston plays hard and Kelvin Sampson has revitalized this program. They are once again the favorites in the American and will be a tough out in March. The one concern with Houston is depth. The bench is nothing to write home about. If any of those guys can step up and play big minutes, this team can elevate to the next level.
Number 14 – Michigan State Spartans
Starters: Rocket Watts, Aaron Henry, Josh Langford, Joey Hauser, Mady Sissoko
The Spartans are slightly overvalued for me. A lot depends on whether or not Langford will be healthy and available this year. If he is, they can be very good, but if not they will have some major learning curves. No Cassius Winston means that Watts is thrashed into the Tom Izzo hot seat as starting point guard of the Spartans. If Langford is out, Henry becomes a major key. There are just too many question marks and too many “ifs” to rank the Spartans any higher this year.
Number 13 – North Carolina Tar Heels
Starters: Caleb Love, Anthony Harris, Leaky Black, Armando Bacot, Garrison Brooks
The Tar Heels are another team with plenty of young talent. While the starters only contain one freshman, the bench is loaded with them. The Tar Heels bring in five four-star freshmen or better. Love is going to immediately gain full control of the offense as soon as he steps on campus. He will have the keys to the car and take the Tar Heels as far as they can go. However, North Carolina is back to normal with a ton of paint depth. They add several solid forwards to what already is the best starting frontcourt in the conference. Brooks and Bacot can be dominant and if the freshmen backups also dominate, opponents will be crushed in the paint.
Number 12 – Tennessee Volunteers
Starters: Santiago Vescovi, Jaden Springer, Josiah-Jordan James, Yves Pons, John Fulkerson
The Volunteers will have plenty of consistency with their roster. While they did lose Jordan Bowden and Lamonte Turner, they added a phenomenal guard in Springer to pair with the crafty Vescovi. The frontcourt remains exactly the same and the bench gets much deeper. This is a dangerous Tennessee team that can make a lot of noise in the SEC. Rick Barnes has been on fire since taking over in Knoxville and that should continue this year. The Vols have no excuse to not be ranked all year.
Number 11 – Kansas Jayhawks
Starters: Marcus Garrett, Bryce Thompson, Ochai Agbaji, Silvio De Sousa, David McCormack
The Jayhawks are highly rated in most polls and lower in mine. They lost Devon Dotson and Udoka Azubuike which will hurt. They also have to replace Isaiah Moss who was their only true shooter last year. If Agbaji can score slightly better and more consistently than last year, Kansas can be solid. Their concern is frontcourt production. McCormack and De Sousa are not offensive producers. Then again, Azubuike was not very good in his first season and then took off as he spent more time in Lawrence. If that happens for one of the current Kansas bigs then they have a chance to be very good.
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