And, now the day you've all been waiting for: The way too early top 25 is now the post-deadline, pre-NBA draft Top 25. Try to contain your excitement.
This version considers all the early entrants to the NBA draft and some surprise transfers – North Carolina losing the Wear twins dropped UNC down this list – though there's not a whole different from that early April Top 25.
The next Top 25 update won't be until October, after I've had a summer to re-consider these teams and re-think all the irate comments that'll accompany this version.
Michael Conroy / AP
|Will you see Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith doing this again in March of 2011?
1. Michigan State
Key returnees: Kalin Lucas, Durrell Summers, Draymond Green, Delvon Roe, Korie Lucious, Derrick Nix
Key losses: Raymar Morgan
Newcomers: Adrieian Payne, Keith Appling
Duke will probably be the preseason No. 1 in the AP and coaches' poll, but I like the Spartans. They're coming off a 28-8 season, their second consecutive Final Four and have a Top six recruiting class coming to East Lansing. Yes, Lucas' Achilles' tendon will be a question and there are rumors that guard Chris Allen will transfer, but MSU will be a healthy favorite to win it all. I'll take that bet.
Record: 35-5 (national champs)
Key returnees: Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith, Miles Plumlee, Mason Plumlee, Andre Dawkins
Key losses: Jon Scheyer, Brian Zoubek, Lance Thomas
Newcomers: Kyrie Irving, Seth Curry, Josh Hairston
Is this dissing the defending champs or simply playing it safe given that the Devils lost three starters from their 35-5 squad? The Plumlees should provide enough punch inside to offset Zoubek and Thomas, but I think they'll miss Scheyer's reliable, efficient scoring. Yes, Curry and Dawkins can both shoot and incoming freshman Irving may be the best guard in Durham since Jay Williams. But how tough will the transition back to a guard-heavy rotation be?
Key returnees: Robbie Hummel, E'Twaun Moore, JaJuan Johnson, Lewis Jackson, Kelsey Barlow, John Hart
Key losses: Chris Kramer, Keaton Grant
Newcomers: Terone Johnson, Anthony Johnson, Travis Carroll
Matt Painter can finally relax. A little. Moore and Johnson will be back in West Lafeyette, along with a healthy Hummel. The Boilers will miss Kramer, but if the defense is even close to as good as it was during the NCAA tournament, they'll be in the mix for the Big Ten title, a No. 1 seed and possibly – finally – reach that elusive Final Four. Size will be an issue – again – unless Carroll or sophomore Patrick Bade can spell JaJuan Johnson inside.
Key returnees: Ashton Gibbs, Gilbert Brown, Brad Wanamaker, Gary McGhee, Travon Woodall, Dante Taylor
Key losses: Jermaine Dixon
Newcomers: J.J. Moore, Isaiah Epps, Cameron Wright
There's a drop from 3 to 4, but not as much as some might think. Considering the Panthers return seven of their top eight players from a 25-9 squad, including two star-caliber players in Gibbs and Brown and Jamie Dixon's squad is a fair bet to make that Final Four breakthrough. There won't be any embarrassing losses in 2010-11.
5. Kansas State
Key returnees: Jacob Pullen, Curtis Kelly, Jamar Samuels, Wally Judge, Dominique Sutton, Rodney McGruder
Key losses: Denis Clemente, Luis Colon
Newcomers: Freddy Asprilla, Shane Southwell, Will Spradling
Flipped the Wildcats up a few spots from the previous version mostly because of Pullen and the likelihood that Judge has a breakout season. Not that Kelly or Samuels should be ignored, or Sutton and juco transfer Asprilla, for that matter. K-State was a few missed shots away from a Final Four in 2010. Expect the same in 2011.
6. Ohio State
Key returnees: William Buford, David Lighty, Jon Diebler, Dallas Lauderdale
Key losses: Evan Turner, Kyle Madsen, Jeremie Simmons
Newcomers: Jared Sullinger, Deshaun Thomas, Jordan Sibert, J.D. Weatherspoon
Turner's gone, yet some think the Buckeyes could be the nation's second-best team. That's mostly because everyone but Turner is back and will be bolstered by a dynamite recruiting class, led by unflappable big man Sullinger. The last time Thad Matta had freshmen like this, he reached the title game.
Key returnees: Corey Fisher, Corey Stokes, Antonio Pena, Mouphtaou Yarou, Maalik Wayns, Dominic Cheek, Taylor King
Key losses: Scottie Reynolds, Reggie Redding
Newcomers: James Bell, Jayvaughn Pinkston
Originally slated the Wildcats at 16, but various raves regarding Wayns changed my mind. Jay Wright's team remains a deep, talented squad that should benefit from a full season with Yarou down low. Still, this may be optimistic given how crucial Reynolds was the last four seasons.
Key returnees: Tyshawn Taylor, Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris, Brady Morningstar, Tyrel Reed, Thomas Robinson, Jeff Withey, Elijah Robinson, Mario Little
Key losses: Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich, Xavier Henry
Newcomers: Josh Selby, Royce Woolridge
Adding Selby – perhaps the nation's top recruit – makes the Jayhawks a Top 10 team again. The transition to life without Collins and Aldrich won't be easy, but Marcus Morris and Taylor are both poised for breakout seasons. There's plenty of depth while Morningstar and Reed are the stabilizing upperclassmen.
Key returnees: Isaiah Thomas, Venoy Overton, Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Justin Holiday, Abdul Gaddy, Darnell Gant, C.J. Wilcox, Scott Suggs
Key losses: Quincy Pondexter, Elston Turner
Newcomers: Terrence Jones, Terrence Ross, Aziz N'Diaye
This assumes Jones ends up in Seattle (still waiting). The addition of shooting guard Ross to an already excellent perimeter featuring Thomas, Holiday and Overton (to say nothing of sharpshooter Wilcox) will only make Lorenzo Romar's team even more fun to watch – and tough to play. Even if post players Amaning and N'Diaye only block shots and rebound, that's enough.
Key returnees: Darius Miller, DeAndre Liggins, Darnel Dodson, Jon Hood
Key losses: John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson, Eric Bledsoe, Daniel Orton, Perry Stevenson, Ramon Harris
Newcomers: Brandon Knight, Enes Kanter, Doron Lamb, Stacey Poole
Six guys are gone, but John Calipari reloaded. Knight, Kanter (assuming he's fully eligible) and Lamb don't have the pop of his 2010 recruiting class, but they're close. It'll be interesting to see how guys like Miller and Liggins – who mostly focused on defense – fare . Will they assume a larger role in the offense or will they defer to the newcomers?
Toyed with several variations from 11-20, and settled on the following. It'll likely change in October.
11. Virginia Tech
Key returnees: Malcolm Delaney, Jeff Allen, Dorenzo Hudson, J.T. Thompson, Terrell Bell, Victor Davila, Erick Green
Key losses: None
Newcomers: Allan Chaney, Tyrone Garland, Jarell Eddie
Malcolm Delaney gives the Hokies the ACC's second-best lineup as every starter returns and Chaney, a Florida transfer, is added to the mix. No way this team misses out on the NCAA tournament again. It should challenge for the ACC title.
Key returnees: Tre'Von Willis, Chase Stanback, Oscar Bellfield, Derrick Jasper, Brice Massamba, Kendall Wallace, Justin Hawkins
Key losses: Darris Santee, Matt Shaw
Newcomers: Quintrell Thomas, Henry Buckley
Don't sleep on the Rebels. All five starters return from a team that was a buzzer-beater away from beating Northern Iowa. They're deep, athletic and experienced. It won't be a shock to see them win the Mountain West and nab a high seed similar to New Mexico last season.
Key returnees: Steven Gray, Robert Sacre, Elias Harris, Demetri Goodson, Kelly Olynyk, Bol Kong, Mangisto Arop
Key losses: Matt Bouldin
Newcomers: Keegan Hyland
Bouldin, the WCC player of the year is gone, but there shouldn't be a significant dropoff. Goodson can run the point and Gray should pick up the scoring slack. Harris and Sacre remain a handful inside. What's not to like?
Key returnees: LaceDarius Dunn, Anthony Jones, Quincy Acy, A.J. Walton, Nolan Dennis
Key losses: Tweety Carter, Ekpe Udoh, Josh Lomers
Newcomers: Perry Jones, Stargell Love, Bakari Turner
Can't decide which hurts worse: losing Carter's leadership, outside shooting and ball-handling skills, or Udoh's blocking and rebounding. Freshman Perry Jones – along with the explosive Acy and Anthony Jones -- should help offset Udoh, but who runs the show? Does Dunn assume point guard duties or is Walton ready?
Key returnees: Demetri McCamey, Mike Davis, Mike Tisdale, D.J. Richardson, Brandon Paul, Bill Cole, Tyler Griffey, Jeff Jordan
Key losses: Dominique Keller
Newcomers: Meyers Leonard, Jereme Richmond, Crandall Head
To say Bruce Weber was elated to have McCamey back in Champaign is an understatement. Sure, the Illini coach didn't always see eye to eye with his point guard last season, but there's no doubt McCamey's the driving force behind Illinois. Though having all five starters return and a Top 15 recruiting class is nice too…
Key returnees: Will Coleman, Wesley Witherspoon, Angel Garcia, Roburt Sallie
Key losses: Elliot Williams, Willie Kemp, Doneal Mack, Pierre Henderson-Niles
Newcomers: Will Barton, Joe Jackson, Jelan Kendrick, Tarik Black, Chris Crawford, Antonio Barton
The Tigers could've been a Top 10 team if Williams had passed on the NBA draft. Instead, this uber-talent roster – home to 2010's top recruiting class – will have to mesh with a mix of fab freshmen like Will Barton, Kendrick and Jackson along with experienced guys like Coleman and Sallie.
Key returnees: Matt Howard, Ronald Nored, Shelvin Mack, Shawn Vanzant, Zach Hahn, Andrew Smith.
Key losses: Gordon Hayward, Willie Veasley, Avery Jukes.
Newcomers: Chrishawn Hopkins, Khyle Marshall
Gordon Hayward's gone, along with defensive stopper Willie Veasley. But the cupboard isn't bare, what with Howard, a former Horizon League player of the year, underrated Mack and indomitable Nored. The Butler Way – defense and limiting mistakes – will keep the Bulldogs among the Top 25.
Key returnees: Brandon Triche, Scoop Jardine, Kris Joseph, Rick Jackson, DaShonte Riley, Mookie Jones
Key losses: Wes Johnson, Andy Rautins, Arinze Onuaku
Newcomers: Fab Melo, Dion Waiters
Perhaps this is too low, given we just saw the Orange lose their top three players only to reload for an even better season. Still, it's hard to see them improving upon their 30-5 season unless Triche, Jardine or Waiters become consistent perimeter threats. Keep an eye on Joseph. He's ready for his star turn.
Key returnees: Kim English, Laurence Bowers, Marcus Denmon, Michael Dixon, Justin Safford, Miguel Paul
Key losses: J.T. Tiller, Zaire Taylor, Keith Ramsay
Newcomers: Tony Mitchell, Phil Pressey, Ricardo Ratliffe, Matt Pressey, Phil Pressey
They'll miss Tiller's defense and Taylor's shooting, but English, Denmon and Dixon are just as good, while Mitchell gives Mike Anderson the elite scorer he's never had at Missouri. If the Tigers ever stop getting beaten badly on the boards, they'll be in the Big 12 mix.
Key returnees: Kenny Boynton, Erving Walker, Chandler Parsons, Alex Tyus, Vernon Macklin, Erik Murphy
Key losses: Dan Werner, Ray Shipman
Newcomers: Patric Young, Casey Prather
Isn't it about time Billy Donovan's team became a Top 25 mainstay again? Their four top players and sixth man (Macklin) return, while Young's an elite talent who should move into the starting lineup. Look for a breakout season from Boynton.
Key returnees: Scotty Hopson, Brian Williams, Cameron Tatum, Melvin Goins, Steven Pearl, Renaldo Wooldridge, Skylar McBee
Key losses: Wayne Chism, Bobby Maze, J.P. Prince
Newcomers: Tobias Harris, Jordan McRae, Trae Golden
Chism, Maze and Prince were key to the Vols' run to the Elite Eight, but there shouldn't be a huge dropoff thanks to Williams' development and Harris' instant impact. McRae and Golden should provide backcourt help to Hopson. Still, this is a team that'll win with defense, not its shooting.
Key returnees: Jimmer Fredette, Jackson Emery, Noah Hartsock, Brandon Davies, Chris Collinsworth, Nick Martineau
Key losses: Jonathan Tavernari, Chris Miles, Michael Loyd, Tyler Haws
Newcomers: Kyle Collinsworth, Anson Winder
Love Fredette's game. His return places him on the shortlist for national player of the year. But without guys like Tavernari, Miles and Haws (who left to do a mission) and the transfer of talented guard Loyd, everything's on Fredette's shoulders. Are they broad enough to make the Cougars the Mountain West's top team?
23. North Carolina
Key returnees: Tyler Zeller, Larry Drew II, John Henson, Dexter Strickland, Will Graves, Leslie McDonald
Key losses: Ed Davis, Deon Thompson, Marcus Ginyard, Travis Wear, David Wear
Newcomers: Harrison Barnes, Reggie Bullock, Kendall Marshall
Detractors will bemoan having the Heels in the Top 25, and they might not be wrong. They lose three starters and nearly all of their size from a team that wasn't even good enough to make the NCAA tournament. Much depends on Barnes' impact, Zeller's health and if Marshall can form a PG tandem with Drew. Do they eventually land Kadeem Jack to help out in the frontcourt?
Key returnees: Juan Fernandez, Lavoy Allen, Ramone Moore, Michael Eric, Rahlir Jefferson, Craig Williams
Key losses: Ryan Brooks, Luis Guzman
Newcomers: Anthony Lee, Aaron Brown
The A-10 champs lose reliable players in Brooks and Guzman, but return four of their top five scorers. The trick will be getting inside scoring from a player other than Allen. Is Lee ready?
Key returnees: Terrell Holloway, Jamel McLean, Dante Jackson, Mark Lyons, Kenny Frease, Brad Redford
Key losses: Jordan Crawford, Jason Love
Newcomers: Justin Martin, Jay Canty, Jordan Latham, Griffin McKenzie
Despite losing Crawford, Xavier's backcourt remains its strength. Holloway's a ferocious defender, while Jackson is a threat from outside. However, the Musketeers do have size with McLean and newcomers Latham, McKenzie and Martin.
Next 10: Old Dominion, Georgetown, Wisconsin, Wichita State, San Diego State, Richmond, Louisville, Connecticut, UCLA, Texas.
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