November 4th, 2012 by Nat Black-Heaven
As we lead up to the college hoops tip-off tournament on November 9th, we preview our Top Ten ranked Division One teams going into the new season. As always, expect to see six months of exciting, up-tempo, hard fought, grind-out games.
The new recruits are in and join the veterans as they have a number of goals in mind … to climb the college rankings, win their conference, make the postseason, contract some Tournament Fever and, ultimately, win a National Championship title … while a number of the leading players will aim to get drafted by the NBA. Watch all this unfold with ESPN America as we March into the Madness. This is not an official ranking.
#1 INDIANA HOOSIERS – Big Ten
Cody Zeller was OUTSTANDING last year. The 7’0” giant was definitely the top big man in the game and yes, the Big Ten freshmen of the year will be back! Not only that, but the Hoosiers have a great supporting cast and signed two of the top 50 recruits in Yogi Ferrell and Jeremy Hollowell. Trust me, this team is big business.
#2 KENTUCKY WILDCATS – SEC
Recruiting master John Calipari has done it again. The Wildcats have the top recruit in Nerlens Noel, a 6’10 Anthony Davis-esque star (though Calipari is trying to dampen media comparisons), and two other top 15 recruits. Can the champions defend their crown?
#3 LOUISVILLE CARDINALS – Big East
Big East standout Louisville represented this stacked conference in the Final Four last year. Peyton Siva, Chane Behanan and Gorgui Dieng all made noise last season and are back this season; hungrier than ever. No top 50 recruits for this squad but another Final Four appearance?
#4 UCLA BRUINS – Pac-12
The Bruins will certainly celebrate the arrival of small forward duo Kyle Anderson and Shabazz Muhammad. They just made an already good team great. Te recruiting job done by this school is the reason why the Bruins will be near the top all season long. Shaazz Muhammad was ranked by ESPN as the no2 freshman while Anderson was at no5. Expect this team to just run and gun against opponents, day in day out.
#5 OHIO STATE BUCKEYES – Big Ten
How so you stay in the top 10 with no top 100 recruit? You bring back two of the best college players in the country! Deshaun Thomas is an offensive powerhouse and point guard Aaron Craft is ‘big time’, plain and simple. Experience is vital in this league and this team has it.
#6 MICHIGAN WOLVERINES – Big Ten
Trey Burke’s season-long performance could have made him an NBA prospect last year but his decision to stay put will continue to make the Wolverines strong. Not only that, but this school’s ability to recruit talent is second to none. Michigan brings in the backboard breaking sensation Mitch McGary (ranked no3 in ESPNU’s top 100 recruits), and along with 6’6″ versatile forward Glenn Robinson Jr, this team is a Final Four contender.
#7 NC STATE WOLFPACK – ACC
One of the ACC top dogs, NC State has all the pieces in place to make a long run this year. They have a good set of incoming freshmen to help advance the team in the right direction. Their good mixture of quality experienced returnees and newcomers is what they need to help them stand out.
#8 DUKE BLUE DEVILS – ACC
Duke has two formidable new faces this year. After losing best player Austin Rivers one-and-done to the NBA, the Blue Devils picked up two of the top two of the top 25 recruits, most notably Rasheed Sulaimon, a scorer that will give back that offensive edge missing from Rivers. Something they will surely need in the ACC.
#9 SYRACUSE ORANGE – Big East
Although Syracuse lost a lot, they’re still scarily good. DeJaun Coleman will be the name to look out for as he’ll dominate in the paint. The 6’9’’, 275Ib recruit is a sheer force. He’ll allow the perimeter games of combo guards Brandon Triche and Michael Carter-Williams to flourish.
#10 NORTH CAROLINA TARHEELS – ACC
With four top 100 recruits, this team will aim for another Midwest 1 seed going into the post-season. The Tarheels are always coached tremendously well and have toughness and physicality inside. They never go down without a fight and will look to lead the ACC again.
|19 Jun - 23:30||NBA Tonight|
|21 Jun - 09:30||NBA Tonight|
|21 Jun - 23:30||NBA Tonight|
|6 Jul - 07:00||30 For 30 - Jordan Rides the Bus|
© ESPN 2013