With the release of the initial ESPN/USA Today poll today, basketball season is officially upon us. While this is only a poll projecting where the teams stand at this point, that does not mean that there are not some rankings I take issue with this. Here are my thoughts on the initial top 25, as well as what my top 25 would look like.
Pittsburgh ranked #6- I would have agreed with this if Mike Cook had been granted another year of eligibility. It would have been acceptable to rank Pitt in the top 10 if Levance Fields was healthy. However, neither of these things have happened, yet the Panthers are still ranked 6th. Maybe Levance Fields will be healthy at some point this season, but as GU fans learned with Josh Heytvelt, foot injuries take a very long time to heal. Fields has had two surgeries on the same foot in the last 8 months, and it is very hard to assume that he will be fully healed at any point this season. With Fields being less than 100%, and Mike Cook not available this season, Pitt is maybe a top 20 team.
Purdue ranked # 10- As I have stated before, I do not understand why the Purdue bandwagon is so full. So what if the Boilermakers return a young team that won the Big 10 last year. The Big 10 was an awful conference last season. Besides a win against a Louisville team that did not have David Padgett, what teams of any significance did Purdue defeat outside of the Big 10? Should I be impressed by those "great" wins over Ball State, Indiana State, Lipscomb, and Missouri St? I am much more concerned by the losses to Wofford, Iowa St., and Missouri. This is not a top 10 team, and I will stand by that all season.
USD receiving no votes- This absolutely stunned me. USD returns their entire rotation, and this is a team that beat UConn in the NCAA tournament, and won at Kentucky. Maybe voters thought that the victory over UConn was a fluke, but how does one person not give USD a vote to be ranked? Brandon Johnson would be a national name if he played in a different conference, and Gyno Pomare is a reliable double-double threat against any team in the country. It also seems like that Billy Grier guy might be a pretty decent coach as well. By the end of the season, the WCC will have three teams in the top 25.
Maximum Zag/Chicken-N-More (Just joking...but this is a gem of a restaurant) Top 25
1) North Carolina- Most talented team in the country....but is this group cohesive enough to win it all?
2) Louisville- Steady PG play is a must for this team to reach their potential
3) UConn- If A.J. Price is healthy, this team can compete for a title
4) Notre Dame- Hopefully Luke Harangody receives the national exposure he deserves. He is better then Tyler Hansbrough.
5) UCLA- Will we see the sophomore or junior version of Darren Collison? How good is Jrue Holiday? This questions must be answered before we know how good UCLA can be.
6) Gonzaga- The most talented team Coach Few has had. Can GU put it all together?
7) Duke- They have a lot of depth in the backcourt, but I'm not sure they have enough talent or depth up front to compete for a national championship.
8) Michigan St.- This team has the potential to be great if Delvon Roe is 100% healthy after microfracture surgery.
9) Texas- Replacing D.J Augustin will be tough, but A.J. Abrams and Damion James can take this team very far.
10) Oklahoma- The combination of Willie Warren and Blake Griffin could be one of the best in the country.
11) Arizona St.- James Harden is an incredible talent, and he and Jeff Pendergraph can take this team all the way to the Final 4.
12) Tennessee- Bruce Pearl has so much athleticism at his disposal, but does he have anyone who can play PG at a Final 4 level?
13) Miami (FL)- Get to know Jack McClinton. He is one of the top guards in the country, and Miami returns nearly its entire rotation.
14) Marquette- This team will rely on the experienced trio of Dominic James, Wesley Matthews, and Jerel McNeal.
15) Memphis- If Tyreke Evans is as good as advertised, then John Calipari will have this team playing at a high level by NCAA Tournament time.
16) Florida- This young team struggled last year, but expect huge improvements from Jai Lucas and Nick Calathes.
17) Villanova- Jay Wright's team really came together last year, and I expect more of the same this season.
18) UNLV- Wink Adams is the best player nobody has heard of. Lon Kruger continues to do a great job in Vegas.
19) Purdue- E'Twaun Moore and Robbie Hummel are really good, but they will miss Scott
20) Georgetown- I expect break out seasons from Austin Freeman and DeJuan Summers.
21) Wake Forest- The Deamon Deacons will struggle at the start, but once their trio of freshman
get settled.....watch out.
22) Pittsburgh- If Levance Fields is healthy then the Panthers deserve to be much higher. However, foot injuries make me very nervous.
23) St. Mary's- Patty Mills and Diamon Simpson are two of the top players in the country. I expect St. Mary's to make the Sweet 16.
24) USC- Demar DeRozan, Taj Gibson, and Daniel Hackett form a tremendous nucleus for the Trojans.
25) Baylor- I love what Scott Drew is doing in Waco. I think this is the year it all comes together for a nice tournament performance.
What do you think of this top 25? TKR would love to hear your thoughts about the polls that have been released.