2011-2012 College Basketball Preview: Preseason Top 25 Poll

Now that we’ve officially began our 2011-2012 college basketball previews, it’s only seems right to go ahead and compile our Preseason Top 25 Poll as well.

So with the help of our newest staff writer here at Busting Brackets, Jamal Murphy, it’s time to unveil our Top 25 picks for the upcoming season.

Instead of doing just one poll, we figured we’d offer our individual lists and give you different takes on who we think should be where.

So with that in mind, let us begin!

Blake Lovell

1. North Carolina – The Tar Heels are the most talented team from top to bottom in the country. Pretty good reason to put them at the top, huh?

2. Kentucky – John Calipari reloads once again, and having Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb back will greatly help this fantastic freshmen group.

3. Ohio State – Jared Sullinger will be better than ever. And well, he was the best player in college basketball last season, so that’s saying something.

4. UConn – Even without Kemba Walker, Jeremy Lamb and newcomer Andre Drummond will have this team contending for another national championship.

5. Syracuse – Actually wanted to put the Orange higher. They have the talent to win it all, and they’ll be right in the thick of things come March.

6. Duke – The Austin Rivers and Seth Curry combination should be a lot of fun to watch. As long as they get production in the frontcourt, they’re gonna be tough to beat.

7. Vanderbilt – Although Festus Ezeli is out six games, this is as loaded a Vandy team as there’s even been, so they’ll be fine.

8. Memphis – Josh Pastner finally has a group that could get him to a Final Four. Great returners + great freshmen = an excellent combination.

9. Pittsburgh – I really like the makeup of this team, especially with Ashton Gibbs deciding to return to school.

10. Louisville – Feel like I may be putting them a little low, but there’s no doubt that Rick Pitino will have them in the mix for a Big East title.

11. Florida – Billy Donovan has two of the most underrated guards in the country in Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton. If Patric Young’s production increases up front, they’ll compete with Vandy and Kentucky for the SEC crown.

12. Xavier – Speaking of underrated, Chris Mack is just that. The man can coach and Tu Holloway is a special player that is poised to have a huge season.

13. Baylor – Perry Jones III’s decision to return to school was obviously one that made Scott Drew pretty happy. As Jones goes, so do the Bears.

14. Arizona – Replacing Derrick Williams is going to be impossible, but I still feel like this team is gonna surprise some people.

15. Kansas – The Jayhawks take a step back this year, but are still a Top 15 team. They’ll still be in the Big 12 title race yet again.

16. Marquette – Well, here’s my Big East sleeper. Losing Jimmy Butler hurts, without question. But a lot of players return from that Sweet 16 team a year ago…..and they have Buzz Williams.

17. Alabama – Anthony Grant’s best squad yet with the big three of JaMychal Green, Trevor Releford, and Tony Mitchell returning. They need production from their young players to be even better.

18. Cincinnati – Man, do I like the pieces that Mick Cronin has in place. I think there’s a good chance that they will move up even higher on this list as the season progresses.

19. Texas A&M – It sounds like Billy Kennedy will be back soon, so no worries there. And Khris Middleton can flat out score.

20. Wisconsin – Who is gonna step up and help Jordan Taylor? That’s the biggest question heading into the season for the Badgers.

21. Gonzaga – Steven Gray is gone, but Mark Few still has plenty of talent to lead Gonzaga to another West Coast Conference title…..and more.

22. Michigan – Tim Hardaway Jr. will have to be the man for the Wolverines to be successful, and I expect him to have a monster year.

23. UCLA – Not as sold on UCLA as others just yet. It’s just a matter of seeing what their chemistry looks like with the new additions.

24. California – Mike Montgomery has a ton of talent returning and they’ll be competing for the Pac-12 title along with Arizona, UCLA, and Washington.

25. Missouri – There’s obviously a lot of question marks for Frank Haith in his first season with the Tigers. However, there’s a lot of veteran talent and experience on that team which has to count for something.

Jamal Murphy

1. North Carolina – Barnes, Henson and Zeller return for Roy Williams after an Elite Eight appearance. Smells like championship to me.

2. Kentucky – Cal’s customary top rated recruiting class meets some big time leftovers. Could be the most talented team in the country.

3. Ohio State – With Sullinger, Craft & co. returning, the Buckeyes should pick up where they left off last season.

4. Connecticut – Yes, Kemba’s gone. But, every other big contributor to last season’s championship squad returns. And add a couple of big time recruits for good measure.

5. Pittsburgh – This will be a typical regular season for Jamie Dixon and the Panthers. The addition of top 10 recruit Khem Birch increases their talent level and Final Four chances.

6. Vanderbilt – Yes, even I feel weird ranking the Commodores this high, but the experienced talent is there. Now, can Kevin Stallings do his part?

7. Syracuse – The Orange are stacked with talent, both experienced and green. Boeheim will have the Cuse in title contention.

8. Duke – No proven leader or #1 scoring option, but you know Coach K will have this big, talented roster playing well and onlookers believing they are better than they are come March.

9. Florida
– The Gators backcourt is absolutely stacked, but the frontcourt is thin. My money’s on Billy Donovan figuring out how to make it work.

10. Louisville – Pitino is back, after a disappointing first round exit from last’s year’s NCAA Tournament, with more talent at his disposal. Pitino and any type of talent is scary.

11. Xavier – The class of the Atlantic 10 is led by the Player of the Year candidate, Tu Holloway and a more than capable surrounding cast.

12. Arizona – They lost Derrick Williams, but they still have Sean Miller, a solid nucleus and some impressive recruits.

13. UCLA – Look for Ben Howland to return the Bruins to prominence on the strength of a huge frontcourt, despite their unsettled home court situation.

14. Memphis – They have the talent (a whole lot) to be ranked even higher, but can young Josh Pastner put it all together?

15. Kansas – People are sleeping on the Jayhawks this year, but that’s not wise as long as Bill Self is there.

16. California – The Golden Bears return 3 of the best players in the Pac-10 last year. They will battle for the Pac-12 title this year.

17. Baylor – Again, the Bears have a whole lot of talent. But, we said that last year. Scott Drew must produce.

18. Gonzaga – The class of the West Coast Conference should be strong nationally, once again.

19. Michigan State – After a disastrous 2010-11, Izzo and co. have something to prove.

20. Villanova – The sleeper in the Big East is Nova. They return a solid backcourt and help in the frontcourt. Plus, Jay Wright looks to remind people that he’s more than just an expensive suit.

21. Michigan – It was just a matter of time before John Beilein had the Wolverines contending again. Look for an explosive year from Tim Hardaway Jr.

22. Florida State – The ACC’s 3rd best program will not win any beauty contests, but games are a different story.

23. Marquette – Look for more screaming, sweating and dancing from Buzz Williams and more tireless effort and winning from the Golden Eagles.

24. Temple – Not many are talking about Fran Dunphy and the Owls, but they return 4 starters from a team that won 26 games and reached the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament last year.

25. Wisconsin – Give me Bo Ryan and Jordan Taylor and I’ll give you top 25.

How does your poll look? Let us know who you think is too high or too low heading into the season by leaving a comment below! Also, be sure to subscribe to our RSS feed so you can get all of our 2011-2012 preview pieces as they are released!

Want more college hoops talk? You can follow us on Twitter (@theblakelovell) and @Blacketologist, or check out our Facebook page for more college basketball discussion!

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Tags: College Basketball College Basketball Preview Preseason Top 25 Poll Top 25 Poll

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  • huskyhaul


    • BlakeLovell

      I saw that one coming! Man, I just keep going back and forth, back and forth on the Pac-12. The youth worries me somewhat, but in all honestly, the order I have them in now will probably change by the time we run our Pac-12 preview next Thursday. @huskyhaul

    • Blacketologist

      I like Washington also. They have a lot of talent. I’m just worried about how they’ll mesh, their frontline and the their coaching a little bit. But, I think they’re capable of challenging for the Pac-12 title.

  • Blacketologist

    I like Washington also. They have a lot of talent. I’m just worried about how they’ll mesh, their frontline and their coach a little bit. I think they will be in the mix for the Pac-12 title, though.

  • iamferb

    Cant see Vandy in top 10, ppl say experienced team but all i see is a bunch of upperclassman that have done nothing, Vandy has lost in 1st rd 4yrs str8. Florida-loaded bckcourt n Bradley Beal may be best frosh. Baylor-longest n most atheletic team in cbb, Duke-nuff said, Cuse n Louisville-the usual suspects are all ahead of Vandy. Top 25 Sleepers: UW-Tony Wroten Jr. will be best passer in cbb after Kendall Marshall. Miss St.-Dee Bost, xtr Arnett Moultrie, frosh Rodney Hood n Renardo Sidney aka iamthug 6’10 270 can play inside/out can be one of cbb most dominate forces if he keeps his mind right and stays focused. Worked out w/John Lucas over summer so will see.

    • BlakeLovell

      I like those two sleeper picks. Mississippi State definitely has the talent to be Top 25, but as you mentioned, it’s all about Sidney. As he goes, they go, and that’s a little worrisome given what we saw from him last season.

      On Vandy, I understand your point (although just for the record, they’ve lost in their last three appearances, still bad though, I know). And given this first round exit streak, I get why people will say they’re overrated.

      But from top to bottom, this is one of the most talented teams in the country. They’ve got three first round draft picks in Jenkins, Taylor, and Ezeli, and they’ve got a deep bench. They’ve also got a very underrated freshman guard in Dai-Jon Parker. Extremely athletic kid who could be a game-changer. Can’t argue with the fact that all that means nothing unless they win in March though.@iamferb

    • Blacketologist

      Yeah, I get the Vandy doubt – I thought they should have been better last year, but even so, they were a top 20 team for most of the year. Now everyone returns, you’ve got to think they’ve learned something. But, I am weary of Stallings’ coaching prowess.

      Baylor/Drew is a bigger question mark to me, a lot of talent , I know. But I’ve got to see it.

      Florida has a great backcourt (maybe too many guys), but the frontcourt is unproven.

      I don’t think Duke has the experienced talent that Vandy has, but Coach K will even that out.

      Louisville and Cuse are definitely in the same class, so 6-15 might be a crap shoot.

      I do like UW and Miss St as sleepers, as well.

  • ConferenceChalk

    I can promise you that Purdue will be in the Top 25, probably starting week 2-3 and then for the rest of the season. Losing Johnson and Moore was tough, but Hummel more than makes up for Moore and 7 other rotation players are back. Repeating a Top 3 seed will be tough, but I expect us to compete for the Big Ten’s second best team behind OSU.

    On a side note – in a 12 game span I’ve seen Michigan go from an underrated, well-coached team to a vastly overrated one. I know they came on strong late last season and gave Duke a game in the tournament. let’s not forget they went 9-9 in the conference and oh by the way, lost their best player in Darius Morris. Why they’re now considered to be one of the conference’s teams to beat is beyond me.

    • BlakeLovell

      @ConferenceChalk I agree that Purdue will get there eventually. It’s going to take some time for them to adjust simply because of how much scoring they lost with Johnson and Moore. But a healthy Hummel certainly keeps them in the Big Ten mix.

      As for Michigan, the thought there is that they return four starters, all of whom did or were very close to averaging around 10 points per game last season. So Morris’ load can be more than made up for. Especially if Hardaway Jr. makes the leap that everyone expects him to make. We’ll know a lot more about this team when they hit Maui in in less than a month.

    • Blacketologist

      I agree that Purdue is potentially a top 25 team and they will fight w/Michigan, Mich St and Wisconsin for the league’s 2nd slot, but I think there are more question marks surrounding Purdue than the others, notably Hummel’s health and effectiveness, and their two losses were huge, of course.

      As for Michigan, after watching a bunch of Michigan games last year, it was clear to me that Tim Hardaway Jr was their best player. Morris is pretty good, but I think their 4 returning starters can make up for his absence. Also, it’s just the natural progression of things that Beilein will keep his team moving upward.

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