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Editor & Publisher Clark Francis    All rights reserved - Copyright 2009

HOOP SCOOP’S PRE-SEASON RANKING OF THE TOP 30 COLLEGE TEAMS FOR THE 2009-2010 SEASON

Published August 31, 2009

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by Clark Francis, Editor & Publisher of the HOOP SCOOP

Rank Team Returning Starters 2008-2009 Record
League/Overall
Conference Talent Rating Comments
1. Kansas 5 14-2/27-8 Big-12 85.6 The top nine players (Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich, Tyshawn Taylor, Marcus Morris, Brady Morningstar, Tyrel Reed, Mario Little, Markieff Morris, & Travis Releford) are back from last year's Sweet 16 Team.  So, with the addition of the three highly touted freshmen (Xavier Henry, Elijah Johnson, & Thomas Robinson), it's easy to see why this is the team to beat in college basketball. 
2. Texas 3 9-7/23-12 Big-12  77.2  The front-line, which features Damion James, Dexter Pittman, & Gary Johnson, returns intact.  But it's all the new faces (Avery Bradley, J'Covan Brown, and Jai Lucas) in the backcourt that should make this the best team that Rick Barnes has ever coached. 
3. Michigan State 4 15-3/31-7 Big-10 75.7  The Spartans are loaded at the 1, 2, 3, & 4-spot with the likes of Kalin Lucas, Raymar Morgan, Delvon Roe, Durrell Summers, Chris Allen, Korie Lucious, Draymond Green, & Isaiah Dahlman.  However, replacing Goran Suton at center may be easier said than done.  The two most likely candidates (Derrick Nix & Garrick Sherman) are freshmen. 
4. Purdue 5 11-7/27-10 Big-10 54.6 Nobody in college basketball will have more experience than the Boilermakers, as E'Twaun Moore, JaJuan Johnson, Robbie Hummel, Keaton Grant, Chris Kramer, & Lewis Jackson have started a grand total of 312 games on teams that have gone 25-9 and 27-10 the last two years.  That's an average of 26 starts per player per season! 
5. Mississippi State 5 9-7/23-13 Southeastern 76.1 With the top eight players returning, plus the addition of Renardo Sidney, John Riek, Shaunessy Smith, & Wendell Lewis, this promises to be the best Rick Stansbury has had in during his 11-year tenure as boss of the Bulldogs.  And, if you don't believe it, just check out Mississippi State's 76.1 talent rating. 
6. Villanova 3 13-5/30-8 Big East 80.8 The Wildcats are much better on paper than they were at this time a year ago.  But for this team to advance to the NCAA Final Four 6'9 Frosh Mouphtaou Yurao will have to make a major impact inside, Duke transfer Taylor King will have to provide additional firepower out on the perimeter, and the other freshmen (Dominic Cheek, Maalik Wayns, & Isaiah Armwood) must provide valuable depth. 
7. Florida 3 9-7/25-11 Southeastern 74.5 Six of the Gators' top eight player are back.  But the big key here is the fact this team should be meaner & tougher, more athletic, better defensively, and a lot more talented than it was a year ago, thanks to the additions of Kenny Boynton, Vernon Macklin, Erik Murphy, & Nimrod Tishman. 
8. Connecticut 2 15-3/31-5 Big East 66.6 Everybody knows that Kemba Walker, Jerome Dyson, & Stanley Robinson promise to be three of the better players in the Big East Conference.  But they appear to be overlooking the immediate impact that guys like Alex Oriakhi, Ater Majok, & Jamal Combs-McDaniel are expected to make. 
9. Kentucky 3 8-8/22-14 Southeastern 75.3 Nobody in college basketball will go to war with three better big men than DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson, & Daniel Orton.  However, there also are still major questions, including chemistry, youth and inexperience, and whether John Wall will be the next Derrick Rose/Tyreke Evans? 
10. Duke 4 11-5/30-7 Atlantic Coast 88.8 The Blue Devils are ranked #1 based on talent!!!  But a lack of depth in the backcourt, overall team speed and quickness, and a killer mentality are legitimate questions.  On the other hand, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski is long overdue to make a serious run in the NCAA Tournament. 
11. Washington 3 14-4/26-9 Pacific-10 60.7  Replacing Jon Brockman inside will be easier said than done.  But Huskies head coach Lorenzo Romar will have all kinds of firepower at the 1, 2, & 3 spots with Isaiah Thomas, Abdul Gaddy, & Quincy Pondexter. 
12. Florida State 4 10-6/25-10 Atlantic Coast 63.2 The bad news is that Toney Douglas, who was the best point guard in the league a year ago, has graduated.  The good news is that Solomon Alabi, Chris Singleton, Derwin Kitchen, Ryan Reid form a heck of a nucleus and Michael Snaer promises to be one of the best freshman in the league. 
13. Louisville 3 16-2/31-6 Big East 70.6 If the Cardinals are going to achieve a third straight Elite Eight appearance in the NCAA Tournament, Rick Pitino will have to go with two bigs (Samardo Samuels & Terrance Jennings) and a plethora of guards (Edgar Sosa, Jerry Smith, Preston Knowles, Reginald Delk, & Peyton Siva). 
14. West Virginia 4 10-8/23-12 Big East 57.7 Mountaineers head coach Bobby Huggins has the foundation in place, as three freshmen (Devin Ebanks, Kevin Jones, Darryl Bryant) played key roles a year ago.  And three more freshmen (Dalton Pepper, Danny Jennings, and Deniz Kilici) are expected to do the same this time around. 
15. Tennessee 5 10-6/21-13 Southeastern 71.6 The top 10 players are back and Volunteers head coach Bruce Pearl will have all kinds of fire power out on the perimeter with players like Tyler Smith, Scotty Hopson, Bobby Maze, Cameron Tatum, Josh Tabb, and Renaldo Woolridge.
16. Memphis 1 14-4/27-9 Conference USA 63.7 Don't sleep on the Tigers!  Wesley Witherspoon and  Duke transfer Elliott Williams will both make money playing the game someday; JUCO transfer Will Coleman is a stud inside; and Doneal Mack, Willie Kemp, Pierre Henderson-Niles, Roburt Sallie all played important roles a year ago. 
17. California 4 11-7-22-11 Pacific-10 59.6 The only thing missing for the Golden Bears, which return four starters (Jerome Randle, Patrick Christopher, Jamal Boykin, and Theo Robertson) from a 22-11 team, is a proven big man.  In other words, 6'8 JUCO Transfer Markhuri Sanders-Frison and/or 6'10 Frosh Bak Bak will have to grow up in a hurry. 
18. North Carolina 1 13-3/34-4 Atlantic Coast 76.8 The talent is there!  But there are too many question marks (i.e. can Larry Drew run the show?) and not enough experience (only one starter return from a last's year' NCAA Championship team) for this to be one of the very elite teams in college basketball.  However, that won't be the case a year from now, as there are nine freshmen and sophomores currently in the program.  
19. Butler 5 15-3/26-6 Horizon League 35.5 Everybody is back from one of the surprise teams in college basketball a year ago.  And Matt Howard, Gordon Hayward, Shelvin Mack, Willie Veasley, Ronald Nored, Zach Hahn, et al. promise to provide even more balance and be even better defensively this time around. 
20. Seton Hall 4 7-11/17-15 Big East 67.7 The Pirates have four starters back from last year's 17-15 team.  But it's the four players (Keon Lawrence, Herb Pope, Melvyn Oliver, & Jeff Robinson) they had sitting out last year that make this potentially one of the surprise teams in college basketball.   And, if it happens, remember where you heard about it first! 
21. Minnesota 5 9-9/22-11 Big-10 54.1 All five starters are back from a 22-11 team.  But that doesn't mean some of the highly touted newcomers (Royce White, Trevor Mbekwe, Rodney Williams, & Justin Cobb) will be called upon just to provide valuable depth, as the Golden Gophers continue their march in to the upper echelon of the league).
22. Siena 4 16-2/27-8 Metro Atlantic 34.4 Six players averaged between 15.0 ppg and 8.3 ppg on a well balanced Saints team that won 27 games last season.  And five of those players are back, including Edwin Ubiles and Ronald Moore, who promise to be two of the best players in the league.
23. Texas A&M 3 9-7/24-10 Big-12 53.8 The best of the rest in the Big -12 Conference should be the  Aggies, which return seven of the top nine players from a team that won 24 games and finished fourth in the league a year ago. 
24. Ohio State 5 10-8/22-11 Big-10 59.0 The Buckeyes have been knocking on the door with 24-13 and 22-11 records the last two years.  However, this team still may be a year away, as their #1-ranked recruiting class features Jared Sullinger, DeShaun Thomas, Jordan Sibert, Lenzelle Smith, Aaron Craft, and J.D. Weatherspoon. 
25. Western Kentucky 4 15-3/25-9 Sun Belt  39.1 A.J. Slaughter, Steffphon Pettigrew, Sergio Kerusch, & Jeremy Evans will provide the nucleus & all of the good young players that the Hilltoppers landed in last year's recruiting class will provide the depth on a team that promises to be even better than it was a year ago. 
26. Cincinnati 4 8-10/18-14 Big East 55.1 Four starters return from a team that just missed being a .500 team in the tough Big East Conference.  But it's the addition of Lance Stephenson, who was one of the top high school players in the nation, and Jaquon Parker, who was one of the best kept secrets nationally in the high school ranks, that make this team dangerous. 
27. Michigan 4 9-9/21-14 Big-10 49.8 With seven players who started seven games or more returning, the Wolverines should be very similar to where they were a year ago.   The two big guns once again will be Deshawn Sims & Manny Harris, but a number of the young players must also step up and play key roles. 
28. Binghamton 4 13-3/23-9 America East 45.3 The Bearcats will have the the star power with D.J. Rivera, Tiki Mayben, and Malik Alvin,  the experience with four other players back who started six or more game last year, and the depth with five excellent recruits.
29. Georgetown 3 7-11/16-15 Big East 58.8 On paper this should be one of the better teams in the tough Big East Conference with players like Greg Monroe, Austin Freeman, & Chris Wright providing what should be a great nucleus.  But a lack of quality depth and last year's level of mediocrity are causes for concern.
30. Georgia Tech 3 2-14/12-19 Atlantic Coast 57.9 The Yellow Jackets should be one of the most improved teams in college basketball with the  added year of experience for Gani Lawal and Iman Shumpert and the addition of Derrick Favors.  But after that there are still a lot of question marks. 

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