RTC Top 25: Preseason EditionPosted by KDoyle on November 7th, 2011
Today is the day! Not only does this evening mark the opening night of college hoops, but it is also represents the unveiling of our preseason edition of the weekly Top 25. From now until the conclusion of the regular season, you can count on our editing team here at RTC to provide you with their rankings of the Top 25 every Monday afternoon. In the interest of full disclosure, we’ll be sure to show our editors’ ballots so if you’re wondering how on earth your team could possibly be ranked so low, you’ll know who the culprit is that didn’t give your guys the respect. In conjunction with the rankings, we’ll also provide our quick ‘n dirty analysis that notes any trends and interesting items each week to give the poll a little more context. To see how we did last year, check out our 2010-11 preseason poll - some good (Butler, Kentucky); some not so much (Michigan State, Villanova).
QnD after the jump…
- Nearly a Unanimous #1—Seven of the eight pollsters slotted North Carolina as the top team in the nation, but Connecticut slipped in as the top dog in one of the rankings. Aside from losing Kemba Walker—kind of a big contributor to Connecticut’s run to the championship—the Huskies return virtually every piece to last year’s squad, and were recently blessed with the addition of Andre Drummond over the summer months. As for the Heels, Roy Williams may have his best group in Chapel Hill since the 2005 championship team that featured names such as Sean May and Raymond Felton. With Harrison Barnes having a year of the college game under his belt, coupled with quite the supporting cast around him, the Heels are the easy choice for the top team in our preseason poll.
- Half of the Final Four is Missing—It is somewhat unusual to have half of the previous year’s Final Four missing from next season’s preseason poll, but that is the case this year as Butler and Virginia Commonwealth are on the outside looking in. It is safe to say that these two programs have always had to earn respect—especially VCU. Can Butler advance to the Final Four again? Probably not… but that was the answer to last year’s question as well. A word to the wise: Never bet against Brad Stevens.
- Where To Rank Michigan?—The Wolverines are a bit of a conundrum to the eight pollsters. They are ranked in the top 10 in one poll, but then in two others they are left out of the top 25 altogether. Much is expected of Michigan in the Big Ten this season as Tim Hardaway, Jr., and company look to capitalize on a solid season in 2011. It may have taken John Beilein a year or two longer than many of the Michigan faithful would have preferred, but he has constructed a team that plays well in his system—a system that fostered impressive results at West Virginia.
- Game of the Week—North Carolina vs. Michigan State. We’re still a bit confused how this one will work taking place on an aircraft carrier and all, but Carolina vs. State—Izzo vs. Williams—is no doubt the game that highlights the opening week. This is the first time in many years that Tom Izzo’s Spartans are ranked outside of the top 25 to begin the season, but that can all change very quickly with an upset win
at seadocked in a bay over top-ranked UNC.
- Also Receiving Votes—There are several intriguing teams that sit just outside of the top 25. The aforementioned Spartans are in unchartered waters beginning the season in the “receiving votes” category, while Purdue is on the outside as well with Robbie Hummel returning for his ninth year—kidding, but it does seem like he has been at Purdue forever. Wichita State, Belmont and Harvard are three squads from smaller conferences that are all poised to have big years.
- Conference Call—Big East (6), SEC (4), Big 10 (3), Big 12 (3), ACC (3), Pac-12 (2), Atlantic 10 (2), WCC (1), Conference USA (1)