Saturday, October 14, 2006

Conference Rankings

1. UNC - It's unanimous; UNC is primed to be a top 3 team in the nation.
2. Duke - They lost Redick, Shelden Williams, and Dockery to graduation. But this is Duke; their scars heal like Wolverine's.
3. Boston College - Losing Craig Smith won't hurt BC as bad as some people think. They can grab some monsterous wins.
4. Georgia Tech - 4th place talent, but they could place between 3rd and 7th in the conference.
5. Florida State - Al Thornton can pick up the slack of fat-man Alexander Johnson in the paint and become a first team all-ACC'er.
6. Virginia - Strong backcourt but shaky frontcourt.
7. Maryland - Not sure what to think of this team. We'll see how they manage without crucial players Chris McCray and Caner-Medley, and see if DJ Strawberry stops playing like a fruit.
8. Virginia Tech - A bunch of decent players who should mount up and soar to greater heights!
9. Wake Forest - Last years awful team lost its 2 best players, but I have faith in their Top 10 recruiting class.
10. Clemson - They might take down some big names, and be taken out by no-names.
11. Miami (FL) - Depleted backcourt, lucky they're not last
12. NC State - With about a 4 player roster and a new coach, this mangled and inexperienced team will struggle violently.

Atlantic 10
1. Xavier - Experience and new big-impact players make Xavier the team to beat in the A-10 this year.
2. Charlotte - With the loss of Curtis Withers, size and rebounding becomes a question for the 49ers. But with their sensational backcourt, they can be a major player if they only get a couple big guys to step it up
3. St Louis - There's no reason that the Billikens should take a step back this year; I think their stock is about steady.
4. UMASS - I originally had this team pegged as my ultra-sleeper. As more and more previews came out, I found I wasn't alone. Now I've turned on them. They'll take a step forward, sure, but this team is experienced only in mediocrity and they won't content for the best record in the A-10. However, they could make a run in the A-10 tourney...
5. George Washington - They lost a lot, yet somehow I feel bad ranking them this low. They could very well be a tourney team when all is said and done.
6. Fordham - This is a good team that could take the league by surprise.
7. Dayton - They're tough inside, but they won't make a huge impact anywhere else.
8. St Joseph's - Another building year before the Hawks once again become the face of the A-10
9. Duquesne - I'm not following the recovery of their players too closely, but they have a couple major impact players that could tear it up in the near future.
10. Temple - One less Mardy Collins and John Chaney = stuggles for Temple.
11. Rhode Island - It's beyond my feeble mind how these last 4 teams will finish.
12. LaSalle - Their Batman and Robin have graduated. Now they will get crushed by the Joker's of the league.
13. St Bonaventure - They were bad last year, and I don't see much of a turnaround
14. Richmond - They could be anywhere from 10-14.

1. Georgetown - I think they'll run away with this conference. They boast one of the best frontcourts around, and they're ready to make an impact on this season
2. Pittsburgh - I'm not buying into all the Pittsburgh hype so much; I think they'll fight with Syracuse for this spot.
3. Syracuse - Without G-Mac, E-Dorf (or Eric Devendorf) has the green light to show off his excellent shot. Demetris Nichols and Darryl Watkins will step up in the frontcourt.
4. UCONN - I can see why some are dropping UCONN to 6th and 7th, but this is still UCONN. AJ Price may be the best point guard in the nation, and their all-star recruiting class can step in.
5. Villanova - A weakened backcourt is going to slow down Villanova, but they're still a force to be reckoned with.
6. Marquette - People are getting carried away with Dominic James mania. They're going to need their shooters to step up for them to make an impact.
7. Louisville - It hurts to drop them this far, but after last year they just failed to live up to expectations, and their big time scorer is gone.
8. St. John's - This defensive minded squad will be a minor surprise in the Big East this year.
9. DePaul - They need to stay consistent this year
10. Cincinnati - If the junior college players can step up, this scrappy team can compete for a tournament spot.
11. Providence - After a lot of thought, I've decided that Providence has the experience for a sleeper team, but doesn't really have Big East talent all around.
12. Notre Dame - The ghost of Chris Quinn haunts the Irish.
13. West Virginia - Coming off a good NCAA tourney run, I don't think West Virginia will be ready for another one in a while.
14. Rutgers - The ghost of Quincy Douby leaves Rutgers hopeless...
15. Seton Hall - A few years away from doing anything...
16. South Florida - Recruits need to realize that this is a Big East school too.

BIG 10
1. Ohio State - I'm buying into all the Greg Oden hype. Also, I'm buying into the rest of Ohio State to hold down the fort until Oden debuts.
2. Wisconsin - A lot of talent, but they didn't prove much last year. The most disappointing of a season I can see them having is being 2nd in the weakened Big 10, though.
3. Michigan - They have the athleticism and reason not to be the NIT team of years past. They could make a big splash this year.
4. Illinois - "In transition", although they are returning a load of talent. The loss of Dee Brown and James Augustine are rough, but outside than that, we have a well rounded team that could be the surprise of the Big 10.
5. Indiana - They're a wild card. D.J. White could disappoint if he doesn't immediately fill Killingsworth's shoes. They could finish anywhere from 3rd (which I doubt) to 7th, or even 8th behind hungry teams like Purdue and Penn State.
6. Penn State - They're on their way up; while other teams rebuild, these guys are returning serious talent, including F Geary Claxton.
7. Michigan State - Izzo's most challenging coaching job yet. Minus their Big 3 and Matt Trannon from a mediocre MSU squad last year, it all depends on how fast the young guys are willing to step it up.
8. Iowa - They'll build around guard Adam Haluska, who's really all that remains from that surprising Iowa squad from a year ago.
9. Purdue - After being in shambles due to injuries last year, those guys are back. I can't rate them too high though, because they've proven nothing. This was a lousy team last year, and they're relying on 2 players to carry the responsibility
10. Northwestern - A step back from the decent team that coach Bill Carmody was able to assemble.
11. Minnesota- Way too young, not ready to make any kind of noise except cries of despair and torture.

Missouri Valley Conference (MVC)
1. Creighton - Nate Funk, after sitting out for last year's NIT season, is now the face of Creighton. I see them taking this conference's regular season crown with relative ease.
2. Southern Illinois - This team will be dangerous in the tournament. Returning their top 9 scores (top NINE freaking scorers) from last year's 11 seed team, I see them making a Sweet 16 run.
3. Wichita State - A shocker (lolz) from last year, this team can do damage again this year. Third is about right for them, though, after losing a couple key players to graduation.
4. Missouri State - A screwjob; that's what it was when MO State's top 20 RPI couldn't get them into the NCAAs. This year it might be the same story; they won't take the conference, but they'll compete. Will that be enough though?
5. Evansville - Absolutely underrated team. All 5 starters return from an improving squad, who's very well rounded and should surprise in the MVC.
6. Northern Iowa - They graduate their best player from a disappointing 05-06 club. I see them falling to the bottom half of the conference this year.
7. Drake - Bad luck last year with many losses by tiny margains. Now they're more experienced and ready to make a serious impact.
8. Illinois State - They're depending on a good recruiting class to put them over the edge.
9. Bradley - 9 looks ugly for last years Sweet 16 team, but the bottom half of the conference is pretty close-knit and they could finish anywhere from 5-10.
10. Indiana State - They lost their one big scorer. This team will suffer.

1. Arizona - Lute's ready to take back the PAC, and he's got plenty of talent to do it. I'm expecting big years from Mustafa Shakur and Ivan Radenovic to complement Marcus Williams, to vault the Wildcats back into powerhouse status.
2. UCLA - Jordan Farmar doesn't replace himself. He was this team's MVP, and without him they might have a tough time.
3. Oregon - Oregon has too much talent to have a losing record. With coach Ernie Kent in danger of losing his job, he'll need breakout seasons from his players. They can hang with anyone in the conference if they don't get al the bad breaks and miserable luck of seasons past.
4. USC - It hurts me to rank them this low, because I really like their talent. They'll have the ability to score like crazy, especially when Gabe Pruitt returns in December. They'll compete for the 3rd spot, and if Oregon fails to live up to my hype then USC will be the ones to fill in.
5. Washington - They return enough to be a solid Pac-10 team, and are hoping Spencer Hawes makes an instant impact. The young guy could feel a lot of pressure from the expectations of him having to step right in and lead them.
6. California - Even without Leon Powe, I like the looks of this team. Ayinde Ubaka will emerge as a star, and DeVon Hardin can fill Powe's spot well. They could compete for higher spots, and I don't see them finishing any lower than this.
7. Stanford - Returning nobody that averaged more than 5 ppg from a half-decent Stanford team of last year, they'll be looking toward 2008.
8. Arizona State - I like their chances in coming years, and even right now they could surprise a few teams.
9. Oregon State - The Beavers have a sweet sweet shooter in Sasa Cuic, and a solid returning frontcourt.
10. Washington State - New coach, loss of everyone over 10 ppg = Failing season for the Cougars.

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