Friday, October 31, 2008

The ZagBell / Rancho Chico Preseason Top 25

Gonzaga basketball is ONE day away!

The AP poll was released today and it looks a little better than the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll. MaxZag already gave you his poll sponsored by Chicken-N-More (kidding). Today I'll be unveiling my top 25 which I will dub the ZagBell/Rancho Chico Top 25.

1. North Carolina. This is a very conditional pick due to the recent injury of Hansbrough. No one on that team can match the level he plays at and without him they will struggle.

2. Louisville. This could be a title season for Rick Pitino. He's loaded in the front court with Earl Clark (right) and Samardo Samuels.

3. Connecticut. There is nothing better than Big East basketball. Probably the most dominant conference in major college athletics.

4. Michigan State. I love this team. I had the chance to see Kalin Lucas live in the NCAA Tournament last season and was blown away. Hopefully Delvon Roe's injury is not a major issue.

5. UCLA. Jrue Holiday is a stud and it's hard to question Ben Howland but I don't think this is a title team. They will run through the very weak PAC-10 this year.

6. Pittsburgh. They may not be at full health right now but they are so solid in Big East play and I think this team has the potential to be a final four contender. DeJuan Blair is the one to watch for the Panthers.

7. Oklahoma. Many believe Texas is the best team in this conference but I give the edge to the Sooners. They probably have the most talented freshman in the country in Willie Warren as well as the likely #1 selection in next year's NBA draft in Blake Griffin.

8. Notre Dame. Harangody is a beast and they have some talent in the back court as well.

9. Texas. Every team could use a player like Damion James (left). The Longhorn's power forward does a little bit of everything and has really improved over his years at Texas.

10. Duke. Coach K has one of the better back courts in all of college basketball. Kyle Singler should be poised for a breakout season.

11. Gonzaga. Still plenty of question marks for the Zags this season. The talent is there but there is not much depth down low for Mark Few's Bulldogs.

12. Memphis. The Tigers lost a lot with the departures of Dorsey, Rose, and CDR but they reloading quite nicely. Taggart and Dozier will have to lead this team that will rely on plenty of youngsters.

13. Tennessee. JP Prince's injury worries me but he should be back healthy for the bulk of the season. Bruce Pearl signed one of the best players in the country in Scott Hopson and he'll be expected to contribute immediately.

14. Purdue. Robbie Hummel is a top player in college basketball this season. Only a sophomore, Hummel will be counted on to make this team go. If they can stay more consistent this year, they could be great.

15. Georgetown. I'm hoping and praying that the Hoyas and Zags match up this season. Dajuan Summers is bound to break out this year. He's got all the tools to be a top tier player this year.

16. Arizona State. James Harden could wind up being the player of the year in college basketball. The Sun Devils should challenge UCLA in the PAC-10.

17. Florida. Florida should be vastly improved from last year. Jai Lucas (right) looks like the real deal and Calathes could make an All-American team by season's end. The Gators are on their way back to the top of the college basketball world.

18. Villanova. This team is nowhere near the Foye, Lowry, and Allen Ray team but they have the potential to be a very good team by the end of the year.

19. Wake Forest. Three five-star freshman will be taking the floor for Wake and they are all taller than 6'9'', I wish Gonzaga could borrow one. Get to know Al-Farouq Aminu.

20. Marquette. The Eagles have been a consistently solid squad for many years and this year will be no different. Jerel McNeal is one of the best guards in the nation and Dominic James is always reliable.

21. USC. If Davon Jefferson was still in the fold, this would be an elite team but now they are forced to rely on freshman DeMar Derozan.

22. Miami. It feels odd to me to put Miami in a top 25 for basketball but they should be a force this season in the ACC.

23. UNLV. I think this is going to be a very special season for Lon Kruger's team. Wink Adams is one of the top guards in the nation and redshirt freshman Beas Hamga should be a man in the middle.

24. Xavier. There will be plenty of new faces in the max for the Musketeers but they have some solid returning players like B.J. Raymond.

25. Saint Mary's. The Gaels deserve a spot in the Top 25 as they have one of the best combos in the nation with Diamon Simpson and Patty Mills. Mills should become a household name by seasons end.

Who Just Missed: I'm not ready to put Kansas in the Top 25 yet. They lost so much from last year's championship team that they'll have to prove it first. The fact that San Diego only got one vote combined in the two major polls is stunning. I have them pegged as a top 30-35 team to start the year. The loss of Jason Richards is going to hurt Davidson a lot more than people like to think. Stephen Curry is a much better player when he can move without the ball. As the point man, he's not going to have that luxury very much. I struggled leaving Baylor out of the top 25. Curtis Jerrells (left) is about as good as it gets in the Big 12. Syracuse has a whole ton of talent but I'm not convinced that Jim Boeheim is going to be able to harness it all.

As always, preseason rankings are relatively useless but they do serve as excellent conversation starters so tell us what you think!

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Anonymous said...

The ACC is the most dominant conference in all of college basketball, the Big East is overrated, and weak this year.

ZagBell said...

I've got 7 Big East teams in the top 25...including two of the top 3 teams. You could also make an argument for Syracuse being in the Top 25. They are loaded with talent. The ACC is pretty solid this year with Carolina, Duke, Wake, Miami but aside from that it's all pretty average.