BOZICH | College Basketball Notebook: First 2016 consensus Top 15 features Kentucky, Indiana
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – With or without a decision by Caleb Swanigan, the show must go on in college basketball.
We will have a season in 2015-16, and I will be counting the days until it begins. But while waiting for a decision by Swanigan, the top remaining recruit, and for the start of practice, I collected pre-season rankings from nine sources.
That stirred me to log the picks from all nine sites. That, of course, convinced me to compile and average those nine rankings.
According to my numbers, 44 teams were named in at least one Top 25. But only 15 were named in all nine. (Louisville was not one of the 15. Rick Pitino's team earned votes in four polls.)
After adding the points (one for first, two for second, three for third and so on), this is the consensus Top 15 -- with an extra serving of editorial flavor from me.
1. North Carolina (17 total points)
High rating: First, USA Today, SB Nation, NBC SportsTalk.
Low rating: Fourth, The Sporting News
Dr. Bo rating: The Tar Heels will be in my top three, but I'm not locked into having them on top. College basketball is guard driven. I don't see a Ty Lawson, Raymond Felton or Phil Ford on the UNC roster.
J.P. Tokoto made his name available for the NBA Draft. Marcus Paige is staying, but he's a scorer, not a point guard. Score one for Roy Williams, who needs a big year, considering Mike Krzyzewski has won two NCAA titles since Williams visited his last Final Four.
One thing more: Carolina needs to play better defense.
2. Kentucky (27 points)
High rating: First, CBSSports, ESPN, Bleacher Report.
Low rating: Sixth, SB Nation.
Dr. Bo rating: The Wildcats will be very good. That's been an automatic during the John Calipari Era.
I don't see a John Wall, Brandon Knight, Anthony Davis, Julius Randle or Karl-Anthony Towns on this roster. Top three? Unlikely. Top 10? Seems more reasonable to me.
3. Virginia (31 points)
High rating: First, Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, Yahoo! Sports.
Low rating: Seventh, CBSSports.
Dr. Bo rating: As long as the Cavaliers don't have to play Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament, they should be OK, right at the top of the ACC with North Carolina.
But considering the ordeal UVa has scoring some nights, they're going to miss the 15 or so points per game that Justin Anderson provided.
4. Maryland (38 points)
High rating: Third, CBSSports, The Sporting News
Low rating: Fifth, Sports Illustrated, SB Nation, Bleacher Report, Yahoo! Sports.
Dr. Bo rating: With prep center Diamond Stone and Georgia Tech transfer Robert Carter (a power forward) arriving in the frontcourt, I'm tempted to make the Terps Number One for the first time since Juan Dixon and Steve Blake were around.
I'm on board. I am a fan of Melo Trimble at point guard. Put Maryland in the top three.
5. Iowa State (39 points)
High rating: Third, USA Today, ESPN, SB Nation, NBC Sports
Low rating: Seventh, The Sporting News.
Dr. Bo rating: I'd be a bit more sold on this idea if I could forget this team lost nine games and couldn't beat UAB in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Louisville. But the Cyclones have Monte Morris, Georges Niang and a cast of thousands.
6. Kansas (46 points)
High rating: Second, NBC Sports Talk.
Low rating: Seventh, USA Today, Bleacher Report.
Dr. Bo rating: The Jayhawks have been upset in the Round of 32 in back-to-back seasons. Good thing Mario Chalmers made that shot against Memphis in 2008 because Bill Self's record in the NCAA Tournament is actually pretty spotty. I'm not gaga about the Jayhawks' guards.
7. Duke (84 points)
High rating: Sixth, USA Today.
Low rating: 19th, Bleacher Report.
Dr. Bo rating: After losing four starters, the Blue Devils are more likely to lose to Mercer than return to another Final Four. Their freshmen should be good. They always are. But I don't see a Jahlil Okafor, Jabari Parker or Christian Laettner.
8. Oklahoma (87 points)
High rating: Seventh, SB Nation.
Low rating: 14th, NBC Sports Talk.
Dr. Bo rating: Bubby Hield, the Sooners' dynamic guard, is the early frontrunner for national player of the year. But he's probably Oklahoma's only pro.
9. Villanova (93 points)
High rating: Sixth, Bleacher Report
Low rating: 14th SB Nation.
Dr. Bo rating: The Wildcats are down three starters from last season when they were the most underachieving one-seed in the NCAA Tournament, so they're lower than ninth on my list.
10. Michigan State (97 points)
High Rating: Fifth, CBSSports.
Low rating: 23rd, The Sporting News.
Dr. Bo rating: Not only does Tom Izzo add a McDonald's all-American (Deyonta Davis), he also adds West Virginia transfer Eron Harris, who reportedly dominated practice at times last season. The Big Ten will be a monster next winter.
11. Arizona (103 points)
High rating: Second, The Sporting News
Low rating: 15th, CBSSports, ESPN.
Dr. Bo rating: If the Wildcats are really the 11th best team in the nation after losing four starters to the NBA, I'll stop mentioning that Sean Miller has never been to the Final Four. Arizona will not be in my pre-season Top 15.
12. Gonzaga (109 points)
High rating: Seventh, Yahoo! Sports.
Low rating: 22nd, SB Nation.
Dr. Bo rating: The Zags will win their 30 games and feature a nice collection of big men, including Kyle Wiltjer, who returns as a fifth-year senior. But I won't give you any more than that – and you know I'm right.
13. Indiana (121 points)
High rating: Ninth, Sports Illustrated, SB Nation.
Low rating: 18th, Bleacher Report.
Dr. Bo: The Hoosiers are likely to average more than 77 points per game again. They're deep. They have a top five backcourt, led by Yogi Ferrell, James Blackmon Jr. and Robert Johnson. They added an important inside piece in Thomas Bryant. But the final scouting report can be reduced to three words: defense, defense, defense.
14. Wichita State (128 points)
High rating: 11th, CBSSports, ESPN.
Low rating: 24th, SB Nation.
Dr. Bo: Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet both opted for college basketball over the NBA Developmental League. Remind me to congratulate them on wise decisions.
15. Wisconsin (181 points)
High rating: 16th CBSSports.
Low rating: 25th ESPN.
Dr. Bo: I realize that Bo Ryan has never finished outside the top four in the Big Ten. I also realize he's never lost the returning national player of the year (Frank Kaminsky) as well as a junior (Sam Dekker) who'll be a 10-year pro.
Top 15? I'll shake my head at that.
Top 25? I know better than to doubt Bo Ryan.
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