The college basketball season is right around the corner. There has been a lot of anticipation for the season in particular with some star-studded recruiting classes and a lot of good players returning. The question before every season is: Who are the best teams in the country? These articles will help clear that up heading into the season. Here is College Basketball Preseason Top 25: 10-6.
10. Kansas State Wildcats
If anyone is able to stop Kansas’ string of Big XII titles this season, it is their in-state rival Kansas State. They return all key players from a team that went to the Elite Eight last season. Bruce Weber has to be thrilled with his team heading into this season.
Barry Brown tested NBA Draft waters, but decided to return and play guard for the Wildcats again. He is a good defender and scorer, as he dropped 15.9 points per game in 2017-2018. He’s got a high basketball IQ and will lead the Wildcats this season. Sophomore Cartier Diara is the other starting guard and played well down the stretch for Kansas State. Kamau Stokes is a senior that is one of the most experienced in Kansas State history. Mike McGuirl and Shaun Neal-Williams are largely unproven and will provide depth.
The frontcourt is led by Dean Wade, who was dynamic last season in both rebounding and scoring, although he was largely unavailable for the team’s NCAA Tournament run. Xavier Sneed helped fill that void with big games against Kentucky and Loyola Chicago. He can stretch the floor with his three-point shooting. Makol Mawien started all games last season and will be the player who spends most of the time in the paint. Levi Stockard III, James Love III, Nigel Shadd and Austin Trice will all be called upon to play minutes behind the three talented starters.
The Elite Eight run was nice last season, but with a healthy Wade in March, the Wildcats could compete for a National Championship.
9. Michigan State Spartans
Last season Michigan State almost had too many players to fill their minutes. They lost some key players in Miles Bridges, Jaren Jackson Jr., Gavin Schilling, Ben Carter and Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn Jr, but have enough talent to win the Big Ten this season.
Cassius Winston is one of the best passers and playmakers in college basketball, but can also light up the scoreboard from three-point range. Joshua Langford will start as guard as well and provides defense and shooting. Senior Matt McQuaid will likely be a starter this season and is a good three-point shooter as well. Kyle Ahrens, Foster Loyer and Conner George will fill in when needed.
Nick Ward is the go-to-guy on the inside and will play a lot more minutes this season. Freshman Marcus Bingham is the best incoming player and should get minutes next to Ward. Xavier Tillman will go from bench player to a guy with an increased role. Aaron Henry and Kenny Goins will play the wing.
Winston’s playmaking and leadership give Michigan State the ability to compete on a national stage.
8. Nevada Wolfpack
Nevada went to the Sweet 16 before losing to Loyola Chicago. They were a talented team last season and with a lot of key parts back this year, should be able to win a lot of games.
While Kendall Stephens has graduated, both Jordan Caroline and Lindsey Drew are back. Caroline averaged 17.7 points per game and is also a good rebounder from the guard position. Drew ruptured his Achille’s tendon last year, but has experience and runs the team well. He is still recovering and is not guaranteed to play this season. Transfers Corey Henson, Nisre Zouzuoa and Jazz Johnson will all provide good depth.
Cody and Caleb Martin have guard skills, but have good size. Cody won MWC Player of the Year, while Caleb won MWC Defensive Player of the Year last season. Both have NBA potential and are leaders from last year’s team. They will be joined by McDonald’s All-American Jordan Brown, who gives the Wolfpack some star-power on the interior. Vincent Lee and K.J. Hymes are freshmen who will get minutes, but Nevada didn’t often use subs last season. They also have a graduate transfer from Old Dominion in Trey Porter who can score and rebound.
For this team to reach their peak, they need Drew healthy, but they were still good last March without him.
7. Tennessee Volunteers
Tennessee may not have capitalized on their great regular season in March last year, but will have another opportunity to do so this season. With five returning starters and Rick Barnes leading the way, the Volunteers will be shooting for the Final Four.
Jordan Bone, Jordan Bowden and Lamonte Turner are all great contributors who are back for this season. Bone adds three-point shooting and led the team in assists last season from the point guard spot. Bowden and Turner also can shot and provide a scoring punch. Those three players will rotate in and out, but Yves Pons and Jalen Johnson will be there when those three aren’t able to play all the minutes.
Forward Grant Williams won the SEC Player of the Year last season and is a good inside threat. He is undersized at 6-foot-6, but gets the job done. Admiral Schofield has a nice inside-out game to complement Williams. Kyle Alexander is the tallest player on the team and protects the rim well. John Fulkerson and Derrick Walker will come off the bench, but have a lot to prove.
If Kentucky’s freshmen aren’t as good as described, Tennessee can win the SEC and are a threat to make the Final Four.
6. North Carolina Tar Heels
North Carolina got bounced in the second round of last year’s NCAA tournament and will need to cope with the loss of Joel Berry and Theo Pinson to graduation. UNC reloads though and should expect to be one of the best teams in the country again this season.
Cameron Johnson returns as a good shooter and wing. Keny Williams is a senior that averaged 11.4 points per game last year and will be called upon more now. Seventh Woods was a highly-touted recruit, who had to sit behind Joel Berry at the point guard spot, but will now get his chance to start. To back these players up, Andrew Platek, Brandon Robinson and Coby White all provide good options.
After averaging a double-double and becoming one of the best players in the country, Luke Maye is back to lead the team. He can play inside, but also can step out and hit jump shots, making him versatile. One of the best recruits coming into college basketball is Nassir Little, who can do just about everything, although he does need to work on his shot. Sterling Manley and Garrison Brooks got good experience last season and will rebound well and score from inside. Rechon Black will provide further depth, but needs to add strength to his frame.
With Maye leading the way, North Carolina is a threat to go deep in March Madness.
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