The 2010-11 college basketball season is still a number of months away, but its time for our preseason, post-NBA draft declaration, post-spring signing period preseason college basketball rankings. Its hard to do a preseason ranking based on teams that no one has seen play, so these rankings are based on last year’s performance, returning players, recruiting class depth, performance of last year’s recruiting class, and my judgement. Purdue, Duke, and Michigan State all return significant talent from last year, while the Kentucky Wildcats have reloaded under coach John Calipari this season with another top recruiting class. Josh Pastner should also have the Memphis Tigers back in the thick of the national rankings this season with a top 5 recruiting class after failing to make the 2010 NCAA tournament.
2010 Preseason College Basketball Rankings
1 – Purdue Boilermakers
Purdue loses two guards from last year’s squad in Chris Kramer and Keaton Grant. They return star Robbie Hummel, JaJuan Johnson, and E’Twuan Moore, however, and should be a Final Four contender. Their primary competition in the Big Ten will come from the Michigan State Spartans.
2 – Duke Blue Devils
I don’t think anyone besides Duke fans predicted that they would win the 2010 NCAA championship. They did, and Kyle Singer has chosen to return for his senior season which lands Duke in the top 2 in my preseason rankings. Kyrie Irving will be running the point for Duke, however, since he’s unproven at the college level, I put Duke 2nd instead of #1. Duke also has Seth Curry eligible this season after transferring from Liberty, Nolan Smith, and Andre Dawkins returning. Miles and Mason Plumlee will be looked to for providing inside depth with center Brian Zoubek gone this season. It may take a few weeks of regular season play for the Blue Devils to get used to playing without departed point guard Jon Scheyer, but expect another 30+ win for Coach K’s Blue Devils this season as they attempt to defend their NCAA championship.
3 – Michigan State Spartans
Michigan State lost point guard Kalin Lucas in the 2010 NCAA Tournament and still performed. They will be favored to go deep in the 2011 NCAA Tournament with only losing Raymar Morgan and Tom Herzog from last season’s team. Coach Izzo also adds Keith Appling and Adreian Payne from this year’s recruiting class.
4 – Kansas St Wildcats
K-State has Jacob Pullen back and a strong front court to match. This could very well be the season that K State can dislodge the Kansas Jayhawks from atop the Big 12.
5 – Syracuse Orangemen
Syracuse lost Wesley Johnson, Andy Rautins, and Arinze Onuaku from last year’s squad but return a significant core from the team that saw itself be ranked #1 later in the regular season. The incoming recruiting class is led by big man Fab Melo.
6 – Kentucky Wildcats
Coach Cal has reloaded the Wildcats after losing four freshmen and star Patrick Patterson to the 2010 NBA draft. Brandon Knight, Enes Kanter, and Terrance Jones highlight the star recruiting class which is again the #1 recruiting class on many websites. The Cats will miss a lot with the departure of Patterson, but Darius Miller, Josh Harrellson, DeAndre Liggins, and Darnell Dodson return to help form the nucleus for the 2010-11 Wildcats. Look for this year’s squad to take a few lumps earlier than last year’s, but they have the talent to repeat as the SEC regular and postseason champions again this season.
7 – Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State lost Evan Turner, but return the other four starters from last year’s team. They also will be much deeper this season and have star recruits coming in with Jared Sullinger and DeShaun Thomas. State does find themselves competing with Purdue and Michigan State within the Big Ten, but should find themselves ranked high much of the 2010-11 season.
8 – Memphis Tigers
Josh Pastner very nearly put together another Conference USA champion in a short timeframe to get ready after taking over the head coaching job at Memphis in April last year but lost several players to injury. Pastner has signed a star recruiting class this year and will have Memphis poised to take back over the Conference championship and be a national power again. Wesley Witherspoon may finally have the breakout season that Tiger’s fans have been expecting since he signed with Memphis, and don’t overlook the star freshmen coming in this season.
9 – Florida Gators
Florida loses Dan Werner and Ray Shipman from last year’s squad. They have another strong recruiting class inbound, and a strong backcourt with Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker leading the way this season. Look for Patrick Young to get some heavy PT early in the season and if the freshmen contribute, the Gators will be a contender in the SEC this season.
10 – Illinois Fighting Illini
The Fighting Illini return all of their starters and much of their bench after a mixed year last year. To complement the returning core, Illinois also has a strong recruiting class coming in and should be a contender in the top half of the Big Ten. Unfortunately, they have Purdue, Michigan State, and Ohio State to worry about as well, so we may have to wait until to the postseason to see how far they can go next season.
#11-20 2010 College Basketball Preseason Rankings
11 – Pittsburgh Panthers
12 – Villanova Wildcats
13 – Kansas Jayhawks
14 – Texas Longhorns
15 – North Carolina Tar Heels
16 – Missouri Tigers
17 – West Virginia Mountaineers
18- San Diego St Aztecs
19 – Tennessee Volunteers
20 – Wisconsin
21 – Vanderbilt Commodores
22 – Baylor
23 – Temple Owls
24 – BYU
25 – Washington