BOZICH | Counting down my college basketball pre-season Top 25 - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Counting down my college basketball pre-season Top 25

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The Associated Press will announce its college basketball pre-season Top 25 Friday and follow with its all-American team Monday. Ballots were due last Friday.

My plan is to share my ballot with five teams (21-through-25) today, Wednesday (16-20) and Thursday (11-15). I will finish with my top 10 on Friday. I'll post my pre-season all-American team Saturday.

I've also gathered the pre-season rankings from Basketball Times, Athlon Sports, The Sporting News and KenPom.com. Believe it or not, we all do not agree. (Heck, I've found three different teams – Kentucky, Arizona and Duke – ranked number one.)

So I'll start the countdown with teams 25-through-21 today:

25. Michigan State (29-9 last season) -- I love Tom Izzo. I respect the consistent work he's done building the Michigan State brand. I realize that his teams are usually a force in March. I can't imagine another big-time coach dressing up in KISS garb the way Izzo did last Friday night. Don't go changing, coach.

But I don't understand why so many people are ranking the Spartans in their Top 15 -- and I'm pretty sure Izzo agrees. 

Not after the Spartans lost two first-round NBA Draft picks (Gary Harris, Adreian Payne) as well as point guard Keith Appling. That's 44 points per game, folks. And Izzo has not been replacing them with McDonald's all-Americans. Brandon Dawson is a nice player, but he's not a first-team all-American.

MSU's other ratings: Basketball Times, 14th; Athlon 14th; Sporting News, 18th, KenPom.com, 12th.

24. Oklahoma (23-10) – The Sooners return four starters from a team that won 23 games last season – and they also return one of the game's best coaches (Lon Kruger). Remember this name – Buddy Hield, a 6-foot-4 guard from The Bahamas, who is capable of averaging 20 points per game. Kruger's teams always defend. Always. Even if you've never heard of most of the guys in his lineup.

OU's other ratings: Basketball Times, 3rd in the Big 12; Sporting News 19th; KenPom.com 28th.

23. Dayton (26-11) – I didn't think people would sleep on the Flyers after Archie Miller took Dayton to the Elite Eight last season, but I did not find them in any other Top 25s. The Flyers return two guys who averaged double figures last season as well as several top reserves and recruit Darrell Davis, who turned down an offer from Michigan State.

Dayton's other ratings: Basketball Times sixth in the Atlantic 10; KenPom.com 50th.

22. SMU (27-10) – Larry Brown thought his team should have been invited to the NCAA Tournament last season and he's right. The Mustangs proved their skills by advancing to the championship game of the NIT before losing to Minnesota. They were on track to be a top 10 team until freshman guard Emmanuel Mudiay decided to play in China, but SMU can still attack with Nic Moore and Markus Kennedy.

SMU's other ratings: Basketball Times 13th; The Sporting News 25th; KenPom.com 36th.

21. Arkansas (22-12) – The SEC is a better and more interesting place when the Razorbacks are good. Of course, you probably don't remember when they were good. It's been nearly two decades as Arkansas has bounced from Nolan Richardson to Stan Heath to John Pelphrey to Mike Anderson. Arkansas returns everybody but Cody Clarke from a team that won 22 games last season. This is not a Corliss Williamson/Scotty Thurman team. But anything less than a trip to the NCAA Tournament will be considered a major disappointment.

Arkansas's other ratings: Basketball Times, second in the SEC; Athlon 25th; KenPom.com 44th.

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