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: 20-16.
20. Michigan Wolverines
Michigan is coming off of a National Championship Game appearance against Villanova and has the horses to be solid again this season. The most important piece of the puzzle is back in John Beilein who will make the most of the parts he is given.
Moe Wagner, Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Duncan Robinson are all huge losses for the program, but they have talent coming back too. Point guard Zavier Simpson is a good defender, who will need to take on more of the scoring load this season. Charles Matthews is also a good defender, but has offensive production as well. Jordan Poole hit a big shot against Houston. David DeJulius, Adrien Nunez and Eli Brooks will be asked to provide effort and defense off the bench.
On the inside, Jon Teske backed up Wagner and played well in spurts. He has a 7-foot-1 and 260-pound frame that will be tough to match up with. Isaiah Livers got some playing time as a freshman and will likely start or play big minutes this season at forward. Collin Castleton, Ignas Vrazdeikis, Brandon Johns Jr. and Austin Davis all provide unique skills while providing depth.
They may not be favorites to make it back to the NCAA Championship, but Michigan has a solid roster.
19. TCU Horned Frogs
Jaime Dixon has completely changed the culture around TCU, as they now have a basketball team that should make the NCAA Tournament every year for the foreseeable future. This year is no different as the Horned Frogs have a chance to make their second-straight big dance.
The guard-play of TCU will be superb with Jaylen Fisher returning from injury and Alex Robinson coming back. Both have point guard skills, but showed the ability to play off the ball too. At a third guard spot, Desmond Bane provides great scoring and is one of the best three-point shooters in the country. Shawn Olden and a variety of freshmen will help provide depth, but they will not be needed a lot unless something goes wrong.
With Kenrich Williams and Vladimir Brodziansky gone, the Horned Frogs will be relying on JD Miller, ho has played in over 100 games in his career and started in over 60. Kaden Archie, one of the best recruits out of Texas, Kouat Nol, Russell Barlow and Yuat Alok provide really good players to divvy up the rest of the minutes to in the frontcourt.
They made the Tournament last year, but this is TCU’s best team in a long time, maybe since the 1960s.
18. Virginia Tech Hokies
Buzz Williams has brought life to the Virginia Tech program and they can now make the NCAA Tournament every year for the foreseeable future. This will be Williams’ best chance to do a lot of damage in March with the Hokies.
Justin Bibbs has moved on, but the Hokies have a lot of experience coming back. Justin Robinson, Ahmed Hill and Nickell Alexander-Walker will form a great guard trio. Robinson turned down the NBA to return to the Hokies, runs the point and is the leading returning scorer. Hill stretches the floor, while big things are expected out of Alexander-Walker after a great freshman season. Wabissa Bede and Ty Outlaw will come off the bench, but won’t be required to log a lot of minutes.
The Hokies are considerably weak on the interior, although they were able to manage that last year. Chris Clarke is only 6-foot-6, but scores and rebounds well. Khadim Sy, Kerry Blackshear and P.J. Horne will fight for minutes alongside Clarke this season.
The guard-led team may not win the ACC, but they will be near the top of the conference by the end of the season.
17. Florida State Seminoles
The Seminoles weren’t too far from the bubble last season, but still made a nice run in the NCAA Tournament to the Elite Eight. Seven of their top nine scorers return to the team, which makes them dangerous this season.
Brian Angola-Rodas and C.J. Walker are now gone. Florida State will be fine in the backcourt though, as Terance Mann returns. The senior wing averaged 12.6 last season and is the best player on the team. Trent Forrest will be the point guard this season after being a reserve last year. P.J. Savoy, David Nichols (a grad transfer from Albany), Anthony Polite and M.J. Walker are all capable of playing solid minutes and being good role players.
Forward Phil Cofer has a nice inside-out game and has plenty of experience. Center Christ Koumadje is also a returning starter who stands 7-foot-4. He will clog up the lane, block shots and rebound well. They’ll be a little thin up front, but Mfiondu Kabengele and RaiQuan Gary both will come off the bench for the Seminoles.
With Mann and Cofer leading the way, Florida State will be a tough team to beat.
16. Mississippi State Bulldogs
Mississippi State hasn’t made an NCAA Tournament since 2009. Ben Howland, the former UCLA coach, will hope to bring them back to the promised land in his fourth year with the Bulldogs. Making the NCAA Tournament is the first step, but this team may have even higher aspirations this season.
All five starters return for Mississippi State, including three talented guards. The Weatherspoon brothers lead this team from the guard spots. Quinndary Weatherspoon is a senior who is the go-to player on the team. Nick Weatherspoon can score and defend. Joining them is Lamar Peters who also brings back experience. Tyson Carter returns to the bench, while freshmen D.J. Stewart and Robert Woodard will get minutes off the bench.
Aric Holman and Abdul Ado are the returning starters in the frontcourt. Ado is a shot-blocker, while Holman gets rebounds and scores at a decent rate. They signed Reggie Perry, who is a McDonald’s All-American and might fight his way into the lineup. The other players on the roster won’t see many minutes with those three playing a lot.
Howland has had success in the NCAA Tournament before, but the team needs to do better than last season to get him there.
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