College / Jul 23, 2010 / 3:30 pm

NCAA Preview: Top 10 Teams for 2011

Kansas State's Jacob Pullen

After the NBA Draft and before Midnight Madness, it seems nobody really talks about college basketball. While free agency and trades in the pros dominate the headlines, now is the time where your favorite NCAA team is gearing up and building the chemistry that could carry them to a national championship. The recruits are on campus, the returners are learning their new roles, and coaches are devising game plans. Here is my pre-preseason national Top-10:

1. DUKE BLUE DEVILS
Conference: ACC
’09-10 Record: 35-5 (13-3), National Champions
Key Loses: Jon Scheyer, Lance Thomas, Brian Zoubek
Key Additions: Kyrie Irving, Seth Curry (transfer), Joshua Hairston

Duke will miss the senior leadership and big-shot capabilities of Scheyer, but with Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler returning for their senior year they will be more than fine. The Blue Devils also bring in freshman Kyrie Irving and Liberty transfer Seth Curry (Stephen‘s younger brother) to make their backcourt one of the top units in the country. Also look for sophomore 7-footer Mason Plumlee to have a big year.

2. KANSAS STATE WILDCATS
Conference: Big 12
’09-10 Record: 29-8 (11-5), Elite Eight
Key Loses: Denis Clemente, Dominique Sutton (transfer)
Key Additions: Shane Southwell, Nino Williams, Jeuvol Myles (transfer)

K-State just might be the most athletic team in the country, and Jacob Pullen may be the most clutch scoring guard in the land. The frontcourt is also deep, and I believe coach Frank Martin could literally mean-mug his team at least back to the Elite Eight this season.

3. PURDUE BOILERMAKERS
Conference: Big Ten
’09-10 Record: 29-6 (14-4), Sweet Sixteen
Key Losses: Chris Kramer, Keaton Grant
Key Additions: Terone Johnson, Travis Carroll

Purdue is losing one of the best perimeter defenders in the country in Chris Kramer, who also saved them against Texas A&M with a game-winning shot in the Tournament. The Boilermakers return stars Robbie Hummel, JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore; they could have made a legit run at the national title last year had Hummel not hurt his knee during the season.

4. MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS
Conference: Big Ten
’09-10 Record: 28-9 (14-4), Final Four
Key Losses: Raymar Morgan
Key Additions: Keith Appling, Adreian Payne, Russell Byrd, Alex Gauna

MSU returns everyone except Morgan from last season’s Final Four team. But most importantly, they get a healthy Kalin Lucas, and Tom Izzo isn’t coaching the Cavs.

Brandon Knight

5. KENTUCKY WILDCATS
Conference: SEC
’09-10 Record: 35-3 (14-2), Elite Eight
Key Losses: John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson, Eric Bledsoe, Daniel Orton
Key Additions: Brandon Knight, Enes Kanter, Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb

As my man Austin Burton said in the office the other day, “National Signing Day is Kentucky’s national championship.” John Calipari has no problem bringing in stacked recruiting classes, but so far that hasn’t translated into a national title for him. This year’s UK recruits are another handful of one-and-done types, led by two-time Gatorade National High School P.O.Y. Brandon Knight and projected Top-5 pick Enes Kanter.

6. OHIO STATE BUCKEYES
Conference: Big Ten
’09-10 Record: 29-8 (14-4), Sweet Sixteen
Key Losses: Evan Turner
Key Additions: Jared Sullinger, J.D. Weatherspoon, DeShaun Thomas, Aaron Craft

OSU may lose 10-plus this year, seeing as the Big Ten is going to be a lot tougher. The Buckeyes do have a killer recruiting class led by C/PF Jared Sullinger, but who is going to run the offense now that Turner is gone?

7. BAYLOR BEARS
Conference: Big 12
’09-10 Record: 28-8 (11-5), Elite Eight
Key Losses: Tweety Carter, Ekpe Udoh
Key Additions: Perry Jones, Stargell Love

Arguably the most athletic team in the country is also among the most sting defensive teams. LaceDarius Dunn will get buckets outside, and freshman Perry Jones has been compared to Shawn Kemp.

8. KANSAS JAYHAWKS
Conference: Big 12
’09-10 Record: 33-3 (15-1), NCAA Second Round
Key Losses: Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich, Xavier Henry
Key Additions: Josh Selby, Royce Woolridge

The Jayhawks will severally miss Sherron Collins’ leadership at the point and Aldrich’s steadiness down low. But just like last season, Kansas has an instant-impact freshman that can score the rock in Josh Selby.

9. VILLANOVA WILDCATS
Conference: Big East
’09-10 Record: 25-8 (13-5), NCAA Second Round
Key Losses: Scottie Reynolds
Key Additions: James Bell, Jayvaughn Pinkston

Yes, ‘Nova will start this season without Scottie Reynolds, but Jay Wright always seems to have more stars in the backcourt waiting on-deck. Corey Fisher and Maalik Wayns should compensate well for Reynolds’ absence, and the Wildcats actually have a couple solid big guys in Mouphtaou Yarou and Antonio Pena.

10. NORTH CAROLINA STATE WOLF PACK
Conference: ACC
’09-10 Record: 20-16 (5-11), NIT Second Round
Key Losses: Dennis Horner, Julius Mays (transfer), Josh Davis (transfer)
Key Additions: C.J. Leslie, Ryan Harrow, Lorenzo Brown

This is more optimism than objectivity on my part, but for what it’s worth, NC State did bring in one of the best recruiting classes in the nation. 6-9 forward C.J. Leslie is an athletic freak, and point guard Ryan Harrow was the biggest McDonald’s All-American snub in the senior class. Coach Sidney Lowe has been widely criticized during his tenure, but this incoming group could turn things around for him.

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  • SupMan

    Duke. repeat.

  • http://dimemag.com/author/adam Adam Flomenbaum

    I was really hoping to see the Clarkson Golden Knights crack the Top 10 this year – they’re my favorite team.

  • Al

    How is Michigan State not better than Purdue and Kansas State on paper ?

    UNC could still be better than beat N.C. State next season if every stays healthy.

    Nova is also better than Kansas State

  • GM

    I would have Michigan State at 2, but overall nice list.

    Duke looking for that repeat. Kyrie Irving is gonna be making some serious noise.

  • http://www.wix.com/reyrey33/REYZ-WORLD rey jefferson

    @FLOW hahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!

  • This_Will_Hurt

    Wolfpack! That’s whats really good I’ve been sayin’ tho.

    We’re gonna take the ACC by storm.

  • Ben1en

    How is UNC missing?!?!? Harrison Barnes and Reggie Bullock? And John Henson and Dexter Strickland as sophmores? The Tar Heels have a chance to be beastly… IMO

  • http://www.slamonline.com Royal

    I saw Josh Shelby play his highschool division championship( or something like that) and he got his buckets but he seemed OC and he did Not have anything that resembled a midrange game.I’m not sure if it was just an off game but he did not seem like the NBA Prospect like scouts claim he is. Good luck to Josh though ( and all other ballers from PG, B-More and DC)

  • Darius

    Mark these words… Da Eastern Michigan Eagles out the MAC Conference will be the best team in college basketball

  • Otto

    Don’t sleep on the ‘Cuse. Waiters and Fab Melo son.

  • Tyler Whitcomb

    Kansas state over Michigan Stae? seriously?

  • yayo

    Watch out for Illinois Fighting Illini…People will be jocking soon……the truth!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Jerome Richmond check his Youtube and your boi Myles Leonard the cat is 7 one and he jumps over a cat and dunks on em from the freethrow line!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Thunder D

    No Cuse??? that’s just ignorant.

  • JB

    I don’t think KSU is #2, but it’s nice to see them get recognition for an Elite Eight team that returns its biggest playmaker (Pullen) and post threat (Kelly). It’s unfortunate to see Sutton transfer out, and I wish him the best with his family.

  • Daniel Marks

    No Vandy????????

  • http://www.wix.com/reyrey33/REYZ-WORLD rey jefferson

    Sorry Danny but they didn’t make the cut

  • alec

    NCS in the top 10? Bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah

  • Jack Henderson

    WOLFPACK!!!!!

  • kcheel

    Did you notice the typo you made when you put nc state on this. Have you seen them play? UNC’s recruits just owned their recruits in the pro-am tournament. Thats unbelievable!!! What year did you graduate from state?

  • pope

    NC State might finish 10th in the conference. I think that’s doable.

    Duke is far and away the best team in the ACC this year. UNC will probably finish 2nd but I expect Duke to sweep them easily.

  • mphstgr

    NCSU because they had a good recruiting class? Ummm, Memphis had a BETTER recruiting class.

  • david

    @kchell

    Congrats on beating nc state in a summer league game. A game that will be no where close to an ACC game.If your going to argue NC State being in the top 10, i’d suggest a better reason.

  • Danny T

    Good God lol at including NCST. They will be lucky to finish top 5 in the ACC. No chance are a top 10 in the country next year.

  • fredo

    Moo @ #10????????

    BAWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHWAHAHAHAHAAHWAHAHAHA!!!!!

    ahhhhhh…that was good.

    BAWAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAWAHAHAHAHA!!!

    Let’s see. UNC spanked that butt tice last season, got better through subtraction and is bring in a better frosh class. A frosh class that handed the moo’s two beat-downs at the NC ProAm. Two beat-downs so emarrassing to the cow college crowd their team has bolted from the competition.

    BAWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHHA!!!!!!

    Moo @ #10.

    BAWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAWAHAHAAHWAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    That was good…

  • gene

    Great to see KU and KSU mentioned. Purdue will make noise as well. Duke and UNC will again be the class of the ACC. I don’t know enough about NC State to even comment.

  • http://www.twitter.com/NCStatePride Mr. Pack

    Saying “UNC recruits beat NC State recruits” makes UNC’s prospects better this season is just asinine. By that logic, NC State should own DUKE because CJ Leslie owned Singler in open gym about a month ago. That being said, I’m an optimist… not stupid. DUKE earned their #1 slot and NC State has real potential to be sick. The difference between NC State and UNC is that NC State has been attempting to do more with less for years. UNC has somewhere in the range of 5-7 McDonalds All-Americans and could barely scrap out an NIT bid. And before you start crying “But we were semi-finalists”, just remember two things: (1) you guys were scared s@#$less in February that you wouldn’t get in and (2) shut-up and ‘hang a banner’.

  • College Hoops Guru

    NC State should be in the top 10 but neither should Carolina. UNC will be better than NC State next year bc NC State’s coach is terrible. Talent wise UNC has a slight edge but both teams should be strong next year and make the ACC a dog fight.

  • Jerome

    Mr. Pack you are as delusional as Ray Jefferson and the rest of your fan base. How in the world could you put Moo U at 10? I know you guys have a great class coming in, but that does not translate into a pre-season 10 rank. Especially since Kool-Aid man has not proven anything yet. I am not saying UNC should be there either; both teams have to earn it. However, you defending this Jefferson guy is worse than him putting Moo U as 10. Let both teams earn it on the court and then we will talk. GO HEELS!

  • UNC/NCSU

    Who cares about UNC and NCSU? Last time I checked, neither even made the tournament last year. UNC fans– stop bragging about being NC State!!! Why dont you talk about how you got swept by Duke and how we won the nat’l title and how we’re gonna win it again this year?? Roy doesnt have the backbone to truly COACH a team. Reggie Bullock is a headcase and is already giving NCSU and Duke bulletin board material. Let’s see how him, Strickland, McDonald and Will Graves get along in the locker room all battling for the same position. Roy’s got his hands full. I expect NCSU and UNC to be in the #20-30 range all season. Duke is simply on another level…

  • UNC/NCSU

    BTW, its funny that when UNC only beats NCSU, all of a sudden they forget about their rivalry with Duke!

  • fredo

    moo fans are a riot. That ProAm doesn’t mean much, huh? Well enough of you slack-jawed mouth breathers thought it did before the games atarted, lol. Funny how it means diddly after you got your arses handed to you…twice, lol.

    You’re right about one thing though; “clap, clap, clap…not our RI-val!” You’ve sucked so long you’re irrelevant to the conversation. That’s why that ranking is so hilarious!

    Carolina was terrible last year and you still couldn’t manage a win. Can’t wait for the yearly beatings to commence again.

    Hey wait…thought y’all were TOP 5 this year? BAWAHAHAHAHAHAWAHAHAHA!!!

    Delusion mixed with that huge inferiority complex has turned your entire fanbase into crap-spewing dunces. Eat it wussies. You deserve no better. Wallow in that sucktitude.

  • TK

    Sorry fredo but winning by 10pts in a SUMMER league game with barely any Deffense played is embarrassing to brag about. In the first match up they went back and fourth. Both teams showed why they could be ranked in the top 10 this year. Brandon Barnes is a BEAST, but CJ Leslie is too. Bullock had a fluke and I do mean a FLUKE of a performance in the 1st game. Ryan Harrow is a way better pt gaurd then Bullock or Drew could ever dream of being. The second game State took it to UNC and you know it if you were actually watching the game. CJ Leslie for the most part shut down Harison Barnes. If it wasnt for PJ Hairston you wouldnt have even won. I’ll give UNC credit they did show heart to fight back and win that game, but State was in total control in the first half and had nothing left in the tank. No body cares about pick up 5 on 5. Oh I take that back you must FREDO! UNC will be a good team this year no doubt about it, but State will be too! IDK about preseason top 10 but maybe eventually for both teams.

  • TK

    IF we’re not your rival why on earth do you have soooooooooooooo much interest on this blog! Shut up man. No one cares about your southern name calling. Its funny to me how lame you sound. The only reason State fans were excited about the PRO AM was bc it gave em an early glance to see how these recruits could face up against yours in one on one. Tracy Smith said it him self that those types of games are nothing but one on one jam fests. Once the season starts is when we’ll see just how good they are together. UNC only has a couple good players anyways (BARNES, Henson, & sometimes Graves if hes on). Other then that Bullock is not a go-to pt gaurd and is too inconsistant on his shooting. Drew can penetrate and that’s about it. Dont get me started on Zellar………Please. All he can do is DUNK, but anyone who is 7’1 can.

  • Matt

    Rams suck

  • graham

    All of you unc fans talk about beating state so bad twice in the pro-am. Did you realize that unc team was playing wiht a professional point guard? I bet Drew II and kendal marshall(should probably be dropped downt to a 3 star) are going to provide that kind of offense??? Ya’ll are so stupid…CJ dominated barnes in both games and had to leave at half with an 18 point lead becuase of a broken finger. Then you unc fans talk about how state is scared and isnt playing in the tourny anymore….hmmm I wonder why marshall didn’t play…probably becuase he would be embarassed…State def should not be in the top 10 and neither should unc. Duke is the best bottom line.

  • Packattack

    I’m a state fan. That said, I want to say the pg that team Stackhouse had was NOT a pro. He was a rising senior in high school. CJ did NOT break his finger or miss the second half. He did hurt it but he played the whole game although it obviously was bothering him. The only reason team Stack won the second game was because they had a much deeper bench and the pack boys just ran out of gas. For people who think Barnes is WAYYYY better than Leslie your just plain wrong. Barnes had a lot of trouble with CJ’s game, especially his defense. They are much closer in ability than I previously thought. Also, the unc and state boys don’t play again so that has nothing to do with them pulling out of the tourney. Last but not least, team Stack had PJ Tucker. These summer league games mean nothing at all. It’s like the AND1 games. I expect both teams to be top 4 in the ACC next year but neither is a top 10 team at this point anyway. All you guys who get so angry over this stuff need to calm down. It’s an opinion this writer had. No need to get offensive and childish which is exactly what most of the comments I saw were!!!! GROW UP!!!!

  • TennesseeWolfpack

    NC State and VOLS!

  • NCCUbrotha

    Lord Have Mercy!! I can’t sit back and listen to you guys any longer. Do some of you actually believe the stuff that comes out your mouths??? First of all, I’m the biggest UNC fan around, but NO I dont have my blinders on. First of all UNC vs State this year will be FUN!! Secondly, I also attended the Pro-Am games @ NCCU and while it was more “AND1″ than anything my eyes dont lie. I’ll be the first to give props to the State players…they gonna be ballers!Ryan, Lo, CJ….they definitely gonna help. CJ’s, just a helluva freaky athletic player(but so was Darius Miles, a player who reminds me of CJ and had a brief stay in the NBA and was a bit of a head case). I’m just saying! And yes he matches up extremely well with Barnes and I’m sure even Barnes would say that too. But while he’s MORE athletic than Barnes NO ONE in their right mind should think he bested Barnes in these pro-am games or is the better of the 2. He could “potentially” be better than Barnes but right now it’s NO CONTEST! But that being said, STATE is NOT a top 10 team. People just dont realize these kids aren’t going to be playing against High School KIDS anymore and nor will they be the biggest, fastest and quickest on the floor. So chill with the top 10 thing until it’s proven on the court. What will help UNC possibly achieve a top 10 spot before State will be how they finished last season. Not taking anything away from State’s “deep” run into the NIT, but I just feel like UNC AND ROY figured themselves out near the end…..even if it was the NIT.

    Duke fans, I just love you guys… So you won another championship and props to you for that. Even beat the hell out my heels by 30 plus.
    ……..yeah yeah yeah, woopie doo!! AND????? And Yes, everything has lined up for them to make another run(Irving, Singler, Smith, etc)…hard to argue they will be the best team in the league and possibly the country. But you’ll be surprise sometime the most loaded team doesnt win(see; Kentucky, Kansas from last year). But I’m not bout to say they gonna be SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO MUCh better than everyone else in the league. The league is going to be way more competitive than people realize in the top half of the league.

    STATE….. welcome back to the “party” you’ve been gone a longggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg time!

    Top 10 tho’, nahhhhhhhh….see” UNC preseason rankings from last year.

  • dbpackfan

    As a State fan, I know the Pack will be better than last year. I know that Harrow, Leslie and Brown will bring athletic ability and play making ability to State that has been missing for a long time. I also know that they are NOT a top 10 team. But I am optimistic that they will cause a lot of problems for teams in the ACC and will make the NCAA this year. Carolina? Who cares. They did get it together at the end last year, but just like State, they were playing second tier teams.

  • peeaay

    NC State fan here! I too think the top 10 ranking is a big stretch. I just wanted to respond to the posters who seem to think that we (Pack fans) are the ones predicting top 10 finishes. The editors of this magazine picked us 10th, not us! So don’t bash our fans for a writer’s opinion.

    As for the Pro-Am talk, I was there as well and based on what i saw, there will again be some excitement on tobacco road. Duke’s Irving is a beast, UNC’s Barnes is a beast and I like Bullocks fire. Leslie, Harrow, and Brown, give State just what they have been lacking. I don’t know who will come out on top, but it will certainly be fun to watch!

  • KT

    Good to see my Blue Devils getting some love. Up until the championship run all we been getting is hate kicked on our shoes, even from the Dime website where it was predicted by someone that we were going to be bumped the first weekend of this past year’s tournament. Like the Nike ad said…Order has been restored.

  • Jim

    Gimme a break! NCSU’s recruiting class best in country? LOL. Better than Harrison Barnes, Reggie Bullock, and Kendall Marshall. Don’t think so. State will maybe be top 25 team but that’s it.