Mike’s College Basketball Preview Teams #1-10

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December 29, 2013 by Ell and Mike Sports

Preseason Top 25 #1-10

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1. Kentucky

Head Coach- John Calipari

2012-13 Record- 21-12

Coming off a national championship in 2011-12, the Wildcats had an up and down season last year, after losing top draft picks PF/C Anthony Davis and SF Michael Kidd Gilchrist. The Wildcats ended their season by losing in the NIT. In the offseason, the Cats reeled in the nation’s top recruiting class. Adding incoming freshmen, PG Andrew Harrison, SG Aaron Harrison, SF James Young, C Dakari Johnson, and PF Julius Randle; this team is sure to be good. The only question is how long will it take for them to be good, because it will take time for them to develop chemistry.  One thing is for sure, a team loaded with this much talent will not be playing in the NIT this year, injuries pending.

Key Player: PF Julius Randle

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2. Michigan State

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Head Coach – Tom Izzo

2012-13 Record – 27-9

While the Spartans didn’t have a top notch recruiting class like some other schools, they will still be a title threat. They return almost all of the their roster from last year, a team that had a good run in the NCAA tournament last season. Don’t think for a second that Izzo will let his team relax. He will still have them playing Michigan State defense and sound offense. PG Keith Appling will be the major key to the Spartans’ success this season. Last year, he was the team’s leading scorer and averaged 3.3 assists per game. Appling is a senior that will have to keep improving his game for the Spartans to win a championship. Don’t sleep on Michigan State this season.

Key Player: Keith Appling

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3. Louisville

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Head Coach – Rick Pitino

2012-13 Record – 35-5 (National Champs)

Last season, the Cardinals took home the championship and had an amazing run only losing 5 games. This year, they lose one their key pieces in PG Peyton Siva. Siva was their floor general and averaged 10 ppg and 5.7 apg. It will hurt a little early in the season replacing him, but they have some good candidates to replace Siva. Chris Jones, 2012-13 Junior College basketball player of the year, will be the most likely candidate to replace Siva. Look for him to become a name to remember this season. Louisville does return their most dynamic player in Russ Smith. Russ Smith thought about leaving for the draft last year, but probably wouldn’t have been drafted higher than the 2nd round, so he decided to stay. Smith led the team in scoring last season averaging 18.7 ppg and is the best SG in the country in my opinion. If the Cardinals can get balanced scoring like they had last year and play good D, it could be back to back championships.

Key Player: SG Russ Smith

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4. Duke

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Head Coach- Mike Krzyzewski

2012-13 Record- 30-6

Another great season for the Blue Devils last season, but they fell short of a championship in the NCAA tournament. For a while now, the Blue Devils have relied on the 3 ball because they had shooters that could spread teams out around the court. Last season, it was Seth Curry and Ryan Kelly who were the main contributors from beyond the arc. This season, they have more athleticism than shooters. I believe this is the most athletic team Duke has ever had. Does this mean they can’t shoot the 3, NO WAY! They still have the ability to shoot the ball, but its combined with the athletic ability of the likes of forwards Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood. Parker is one of the top recruits and he can do it all. Offensively, he can hurt a team in a multitude of ways. He needs to improve on the defensive side of the ball, but I’m sure Coach Mike Krzyzewski will coach him up well. This is another team that will have to build some chemistry, but when they do, I’m putting the ACC and the nation on notice, WATCH OUT! This is my preseason pick to win it all!!

Key Player: SF Jabari Parker

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5. Arizona

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Head Coach – Sean Miller

2012-13 Record – 27-8

Arizona was a offensive powerhouse last season as they finished their season in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. This season though they lose 3 seniors who were on the court a lot and helped power that offense. They will look this season to replace those seniors with some incoming freshmen and transfers. While being a good offensive team last year, Arizona was not as good on defense. They allowed 63.6 ppg and that was 99th in the nation, but with some returning players I expect for that to be improved this season. One of the incoming freshmen, PF Aaron Gordon will be expected to provide some punch offensively and defensively. The freshman is drawing comparisons to Blake Griffin and he can jump out the gym. If he is as good as they say he is, then Arizona could go beyond the Sweet 16 this year. With little experience coming of the bench, Coach Seth Miller will be expecting a lot out of his starting 5.

Key Player: PF Aaron Gordon

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6. Kansas

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Head Coach – Bill Self

2012-13 Record- 31-6

After last season’s run to the Sweet 16, Kansas will have to start over after losing their entire starting lineup. Sensational 2012 freshman SG Ben McLemore left early for the NBA, so that means the Jayhawks will be in need of some scoring. While they will be starting 2 freshmen, SF Andrew Wiggins and C Joel Emblid, they still have experienced players from last season who will start, including PG Naadir Tharpe who averaged 5.5 points off the bench last year. I’m sure if you are an avid hoops fan you have heard about Wiggins. He is probably the most hyped NBA prospect since Lebron James. Wiggins is a 6’8 athletic beast who is still developing his offensive game and is a good defensive player. With the tutelage of Coach Bill Self, Wiggins could emerge as a top candidate for player of the year. This season Kansas will combine some veteran leadership with freshman star power and it could be boom or bust. Either way, I know Jayhawks fan are happy to see another basketball season.

Key Player: SF Andrew Wiggins

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7. Syracuse

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Head Coach – Jim Boeheim

2012-13 Record – 30-10

Last season was another 30 win season for Syracuse and Jim Boeheim. The Orange did have 11 wins in the Big East, but suffered 7 losses. Syracuse runs the 2-3 zone and is capable of shutting any team down, but last year they ran into Michigan which had great shooters to shoot over the zone. This season they lose their top playmaker from last year, PG Michael Carter-Williams, to the NBA. Carter-Williams averaged over 7 assists last season and played great defense. He will be a big loss. On the flip side, the Orangemen have some incoming freshmen that could combine and they give Syracuse some potency. While they did lose some key players from last season, they still have some viable depth and one player I believe could contend for ACC player of the year. C.J. Fair is the player I believe could take Syracuse far this season, that’s of course the freshmen adjust to college basketball by late season. Fair averaged 14.5 points and grabbed 7.0 rebounds a game, while shooting over 46% from beyond the arc. He is a great scoring and will have to be this year. Syracuse should have another great season if the freshman learn how to play Boeheim’s zone quickly and effectively.

Key Player: F C.J. Fair

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8. Florida

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Head Coach – Billy Donovan

2012-13 Record – 29-8

The Gators finished last season by losing in the Elite Eight of the Final Four. Combined with G Mike Rosario, G Kenny Boynton, and F Erik Murphy the Gators were one of the top defenses in the country last year finishing 3rd in the nation in scoring defense. This season the Gators lose those 3 who were the leading scorers for them a year ago, but they still have Patrick Young who is a shot blocker and good rebounder. If Young can improve more on his offensive game, the Gators could give Kentucky a good run in the SEC. There are a lot of if’s on this team, but there is a lot of talent. The Gators are loaded with three point shooters from Michael Frazier to Devon Walker. If Coach Donovan can get the most out of his talent then this team could be a threat for the national championship by time March Madness rolls around.

Key Player: F/C Patrick Young

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9. Michigan

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Head Coach – John Beilein

2012-13 Record – 31-8

The Wolverines had a stellar 2012-13 campaign. I’m not sure how many people picked the Wolverines to end up in the national title game, but they did. They played Louisville tough, but the Cardinals proved to be just too much. This year, while they do lose their talented backcourt, Trey Burke, and Tim Hardaway Jr, they do return 3 starters from last season’s team. Freshmen Derrick Walton and Zakarie Irvin will be replacing those two. Both are highly touted players should eventually grow into great playmaker. This team is already loaded with veteran players from last season though with Glenn Robinson III, Mitch McGary and Jordan Morgan. While all 3 posses good skills, I believe Robinson is the one who is most capable of turning into the star for this team. He is a 6’7 forward that can shoot and go to the basket. Either way he can hurt an opposing team. Beilein will have to get his freshmen caught up with every one else but if anyone can he can.

Key Player: SF Glenn Robinson III

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10. Ohio State

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Head Coach – Thad Matta

2012-13 Record – 29-8

Another Elite Eight for Thad Matta and his Buckeyes last year; they have been to at least the Elite Eight the last 4 years. Matta has built something great in Ohio. Is this the year that they get over the hump and win a national championship? Well this year, they lose a big piece from last year in F Deshaun Thomas. Thomas averaged almost 20 ppg and grabbed 5.9 rpg. He was definitely the star of the team and did a lot on both sides of the ball. While it is bad news that he is gone, the good news is that he is the only starter from last year. that won’t be returning. The Bukeyes don’t have a lot of incoming freshmen, but they do have one that should provide some pop at the forward position. He will grow into a solid big man with time and effort. The player that will be key for Ohio State will be senior Aaron Craft who averaged 10 ppg last year and is the general for the Buckeyes. With as much depth that the Buckeyes have, I believe they could go far this season because of all of that experience.

Key Player: PG Aaron Craft

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