College basketball is quickly inching toward us like death to a Stark in Game of Thrones. Most outlets have already dropped their way too early top 25 variations months ago. Thing is, CBB Today is an infant website, still learning how to crawl before attempting to walk.
Caveats, caveats and caveats. I do probably hate your favorite team. This list is subjective. Not objective. There’s nearly no way for me to appease you all, so instead may I anger the masses. Blom. Blurb. Blob. Rabbit’s foot.
As for other disclosures, we will be hitting on every few teams. As one who tends to get a bit long winded, you’re better off reading a column slightly over 1,400 words as opposed to something well over 10,000. Furthermore, for something that’s of little actual importance — how I feel a team will do has zero impact on how it will in reality — just trust me on this.
After the last few words of the second paragraph, how could you not?
25 – Maryland Terrapins
24- Xavier Musketeers
23- Oregon Ducks
22- LSU Tigers (Quick aside, it took me everything to not place them higher. I like LSU a lot)
21- Michigan Wolverines
Gone the way of the dinosaurs: Moe Wagner, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Duncan Robinson and Jaaron Simmons.
New guys: Ignas Brazdeikis, David DeJulius, Brandon Johns, Adrian Nunez and Colin Castleton
Charles Matthews returning is huge, especially with Mo Wagner trotting about the NBA, but don’t overlook Jordan Poole.
In his first season dancing about Ann Arbor, Poole managed to score 6.1 points while only playing 12.5 minutes per game. For those who are awful at the fancy math, that’s nearly one point for every two minutes he’s on the floor. In theory, if he were to play 40 minutes per night (not realistic), he’d average close to 20 majestic points per glorious college basketball game played.
Hastily slotting back to reality for a minute, Poole was able to snag these numbers by being efficient while on the hardwood, shooting a fair 43 percent from the floor, but he made an outstanding 37 percent of his 2.8 attempts from beyond the arch each game.
A former four-star recruit, fully expect Poole to not only receive a massive increase in playing time, but become a focal point on offense. He’s not some one-trick pony or anything. A relatively strong athlete who isn’t afraid to attack the rim, a season of experience under his belt will likely serve him well drawing fouls, allowing him to take advantage of his 83 percent shooting from the charity stripe.
The Wolverines are a team with a ton of upside this season. Michigan is going to need one or two wings to step up in a major way, but if there’s anything we know about John Beilein, it’s that he’s great at taking players everyone previously thought were just fine and turning them into prolific talents.
Back to writing names of schools with numbers attached to them.
20- North Carolina State Wolfpack
19- UCLA Bruins
18- Clemson Tigers
17- TCU Horned Frogs
16- West Virginia Mountaineers
Gone the way of the dinosaurs: Jevon Carter, Daxter Miles and D’Angelo Hunter.
New faces: Jordan McCabe, Derek Culver, Trey Doomes and Andrew Gordon.
Jevon Carter was the best defensive guard in the country last season, the least appreciated talented guy of his stature in years, and it’s almost disrespectful to his brilliance putting West Virginia this high right after losing him to the wonderful world of professional basketball.
Alas, Bob Huggins is still wearing clothes on the bench that look like pajamas I wore when a child, so there’s reason to have blind faith in the Mountaineers.
In all seriousness, the nation knows what it is going to get out of West Virginia season after season. A team that’s tremendously skilled with defensive prowess, even if the offense can sometimes go sideways. The good news in the negative, latter department is that there’s no Truck Bryant in sight.
Kidding. Truck Bryant is one of my most (irrationally so) favorite players ever.
With Carter and Daxter Miles both gone, there does remain some interest in this idea of Press Virginia. Can someone like James Bolden, who has really carved out a nice niche as an excellent volume shooter from distance, play heavier minutes and maintain his excellent shooting while guarding the entirety of the court?
Heading into his redshirt junior season, coupled with Huggins’ history for accepting nothing but (at least) insane effort on the defense, the answer is closer to yes than no.
From many accounts, it is worth noting, former 2017 three-star recruit Brandon Knapper has been developing nicely and might find his way playing regular minutes. Heavens to Murgatroyd, he might even start.
15- Mississippi State Bulls
14- Michigan State Spartans
13- Virginia Tech Hokies
12- Auburn Tigers
11- Florida State Seminoles
10- North Carolina Tar Heels
Gone the way of the dinosaurs: Joel Berry III, Theo Pinson and Jalek Felton.
New faces: Nassir Little, Coby White, and Rechon Black.
Anyway, per Chapel Hill law, Roy Williams has a bevy of talented players on his roster. It’s not just limited to the nationally know guys like Maye and Little, as Coby White and Cam Johnson and etc., should all do wonderful things while wearing the powder blue and white.
Aside. An important one. What if, and hear me out here, North Carolina all those moons ago decided to go with the powder adjective coming before white and regular old blue after? The powder white, as a phrasing, has a really negative connotation connected to it.
Nevertheless, snort these Tar Heels. They should be one of the more entertaining teams in the country, leaving you… wait for it… high off basketball for days.
9- Virginia Cavaliers
8- Kansas State Wildcats (25-12 last season, everyone back)
7- Villanova Wildcats
6- Gonzaga Bulldogs
5- Nevada Wolf Pack
Gone the way of the dinosaurs: Not nearly as many as most assumed, Kendell Stephens and Hallice Cooke.
New faces: Nearly everyone on the planet, Tre’Shawn Thurman, Corey Henson, Jazz Johnson, Nisre Zouzoua, Kwame Hymes, Vince Lee, Trey Porter, and Jordan Brown.
I can feel the heat seething from Villanova and Gonzaga fans’ eyeballs coming through their laptops and penetrating my incredibly luscious hair (only my hair, because it is so delightfully thick, it prevents the seething from getting inside my cranium).
Obviously, arguments can be made for them, as well as Nevada, for being top-four teams entering the season. But if them being outside of mine makes you that upset, write your own top 25 post.
Why is being high on Nevada simple to understand? The Martin twins are back. Lindsey Drew should be, at some point, good to go. So on and so forth and may Eric Musselman have mercy on all our souls.
Before I continue, I love you Big Blue Nation. Love, love, bleeping mother bleeping love you all. Reid Travis is going to be great and good and provide you all with plenty.
4- Tennessee Volunteers
3- Kentucky Wildcats
2- Duke Blue Devils
1- Kansas Jayhawks
Gone the way of the dinosaurs: Devonte’ Graham, Svi Mykhailiuk and Malik Newman.
New faces: Dedric Lawson, K.J. Lawson, Charlie Moore, Quentin Grimes, Devon Dotson and David McCormack.
Dedrick Lawson is good. National Player of the Year maybe/possibly good. Oddly enough, him being forced to sit a season following his departure from Memphis, might turn out to be a great thing for him as well. Already incredibly gifted the last time we saw him on collegiate hardwoods, he’s going to enter the 2018-19 season a fully refined man.
At this point, though, people would likely want to know why Kentucky and Duke aren’t higher or whatever. I’m incredibly high on both.
R.J. Barrett is the highest I’ve been on a college freshman since before Michael Beasley was out here talking about being a Walking Bucket. For me, I just need to see how Coach K utilizes Barrett, Cam Reddish and Zion Williamson together before I fully inhabit the bandwagon as a home.
As for Kentucky, it’s splitting hairs to me. They’re talented yet again, but this time with the bonus plot twist of receiving a fully formed bucket-making marvel in Reid Travis via the transfer market.
Basically, for me, the top three are interchangeable, even though I know most believe Kansas is the “for sure” best team in the country — whatever that means before any games are even played, the hell if we’ll ever know.
Joseph Nardone has been covering college basketball for nearly a decade for various outlets in a variety of ways. You can follow him on Twitter @JosephNardone.
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