With the NBA Labor dispute threatening professional basketball, fans of the sport across the country are anxiously awaiting the start of the NCAA season. Although it seems strange talking college hoops in October, Midnight Madness has already officially kicked off the start of the 2011-2012 College Basketball season across many college campuses. These first days of practice typically include a raucous pep rally featuring cheerleaders, loud music, and a slam dunk contest. While this is mainly a publicity stunt, it also mean teams may officially begin practices for games which begin in early November. With only a few week left until tip off, we have come up with rankings for the upcoming season. Below are the Tickifieds.com Preseason Top 25 College Basketball teams.
The Tarheels are probably the most talented team in the nation as they will be returning several stars from last season. Point guard Kendall Marshall should benefit by beginning the season as a starter. Throw in freshman 5-star prospects James McAdoo and PJ Hairston to the front court and North Carolina could be scary good.
Perhaps no one recruited a better freshman class than John Calipari. The Wildcats will feature four 5-star prospects including Anthony Davis, Mike Gilchrist, Marquis Teague and Kyle Wiltjer. If the fantastic freshman can gel with veterans Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb, the could be one of the best college basketball teams in UK history. Until we see them in action, we have to put them at #2.
College Player of the Year Jared Sullinger will be back for his sophomore year and has the Buckeyes in contention for a national title. Although Ohio State doesn’t have the depth of UNC or Kentucky, they will be returning Aaron Craft and William Buford to go along with another solid recruiting class.
We are going to go out on a bit of a limb and project Syracuse at #4. This young and talented team has an impressive backcourt trio with Scoop Jardine, Brandon Triche and Dion Waiters. If Fab Melo and Freshman Rakeem Christmas develop to their potential they could be real scary.
The Blue Devils lost a lot of talent from last year but, as usual, have quickly reloaded with incoming freshman Austin Rivers, Seth Curry and Andre Dawkins set to take over. They may take a while to get things going but there certainly will not be a lack of talent.
After bowing out of the NCAA Tournament in the first round, Vandy will be looking for revenge. With arguably one of the most experienced teams in the nation the Commodores should be strong with Jeffery Taylor, John Jenkins and Festus Ezeli all returning.
Memphis made some noise last year but their inexperience showed last season. With more experience under their belt, Josh Pastner’s squad could finally get to a Final Four with a nice mix of returning players and some exciting freshman.
Although the Cardinals lost guard Preston Knowles, just about everyone else will be back. Lousiville will also add 2 top 35 recruits in Chane Behanan and Wayne Blackshear.
The Gators certainly lost some frontcourt depth from last year but they return 2 of the most unappreciated guards in the country Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton. If transfer Mike Rosario and 5-star recruit Brad Beal live up to potential, Florida could battle Kentucky and Vanderbilt for the SEC title.
The Panthers are a bit of a sleeper pick but any team with Ashton Gibbs certainly has a shot. Pittsburgh has solid chemistry with lots of returning players and a very nice recruiting class. This team could get out of the gates quickly.
The rest of the top 25….
11. Connecticut Huskies
12. Baylor Bears
13. Kansas Jayhawks
14. Wisconsin Badgers
15. Xavier Musketeers
16. Alabama Crimson Tide
17. Arizona Wildcats
18. Michigan Wolverines
19. Texas A&M Aggies
20. UCLA Bruins
21. Marquette Golden Eagles
22. Cincinnati Bearcats
23. Gonzaga Bulldogs
24. California Golden Bears
25. Missouri Tigers