2014-2015 Preseason Top 25

1. Wisconsin 

Baylor v Wisconsin

Key Returners: Traevon Jackson, Sam Dekker, Josh Gasser, Frank Kaminsky, Nigel Hayes, Duje Dukan, Bronson Koenig

Key Losses: Ben Brust

Key Additions: Ethan Happ

Anytime a Final Four team returns four of five starters you have to consider them an early favorite to cut down the nets. Their leader Traevon Jackson is back, Frank Kaminsky is an early candidate to win Player of The Year, and Sam Dekker is a potential All American. This will be the best Wisconsin team Bo Ryan has ever had, don’t be surprised if this team cuts down the nets in April.

2. Kansas

Wayne+Selden+12+Basketball+Tournament+Quarterfinals+h5W5ElxAKtOl

Key Returners: Wayne Selden Jr. Naadir Tharpe, Perry Ellis, Jamari Traylor, Frank Mason, Conner Frankamp, Brannen Greene, Andrew White, Landen Lucas

Key Losses: Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid

Additions: (HN’s #1 Prospect) Cliff Alexander, (HN’s #7 Prospect) Kelly Oubre, Hunter Mickelson (Arkansas Transfer)

The losses of Wiggins and Embiid hurt, but this is Kansas and they reload. Their ranking isn’t based off Cliff Alexander and Kelly Oubre though, its based off the fact Kansas returns seven guys that saw key minutes in big games last season. Wayne Selden, and Perry Ellis are ready for breakout seasons, and Cliff Alexander may come in and be the best rebounder in the country. So for all you Big 12 teams hoping to see the streak of conference titles end, I’d advise you not to get your hopes up, this Kansas team is scary.

3. Duke

duke

Key Returners: Quinn Cook, Rasheed Suilamon, Amile Jefferson, Marshall Plumlee

Key Losses: Jabari Parker, Rodney Hood, Tyler Thornton, Andre Dawkins

Key Additions: (HN’s #2 Prospect) Jahlil Okafor, (HN#4) Tyus Jones, (HN #15) Justice Winslow, (HN #27)  Grayson Allen

Like Kansas, Duke loses their two best players, and just like the Jayhawks did the Blue Devils went out and completely reloaded. Tyus Jones is the Point Guard every coach dreams of, and Jahlil Okafor is an absolute beast inside. Take those two and put them with Quinn Cook, Rasheed Suilamon, and Amile Jefferson and you’ve got yourself a legitimate title contender. Duke will going into the now loaded ACC as the favorites to win the league.

4. Arizona 

Sean Miller, Brandon Ashley

Key Returners: T.J. McConnell, Brandon Ashley, Gabe York, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Kaleb Tarczewski

Key Losses: Nick Johnson, Aaron Gordon

Key Additions: (HN#6) Stanley Johnson (HN#36) Craig Victor, Parker Jackson-Cartwright, Kadeem Allen(JUCO)

Assuming Nick Johnson declares for the NBA draft, Sean Miller’s squad will lose not only their most consistent player, but also their leader and the guy that always made the big play late in games. With all that said though, these Wildcats are still title contenders. Brandon Ashley who they lost last year to a foot injury will be back, and ready to take over as the teams go to guy. Stanley Johnson will also step in right away and make a huge impact. The Wildcats will no doubt be the favorites in the PAC 12.

5. Kentucky 

Dakari+Johnson+NCAA+Basketball+Tournament+3euCLh4-i2Ll

Key Returners: Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee, Alex Poythress

Key Losses: Julius Randle, Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, James Young, Willie Cauley-Stein

Key Additions: (#8) Karl Anthony-Towns, (9) Trey Lyles, (19) Devin Booker, (20) Tyler Ullis

Once again John Calipari goes into a season having a ton of question marks, but once again John Calipari has assembled a team ready to answer those questions. The Wildcats will lose a lot of production from their 2014 team, however they will replace it with four Mcdonalds All Americans. Look for Alex Poythress to have a huge year, as well as Tyler Ullis to be a fantastic point guard from day one. This Wildcats team will be young, and inconsistent at times, but I fully  expect Calipari to have them contending for a Championship come March.

6. North Carolina 

Key Returners: Marcus Paige, Kennedy Meeks, Nate Britt, Brice Johnson, J.P. Tokoto

Key Losses: James Michael McAdoo, Leslie McDonald

Key Additions: (10) Justin Jackson,(11) Theo Pinson, (16) Joel Berry

Roy William’s Tarheels return a ton of talent, including arguably the best point guard in the country in Marcus Paige. These returning guys, mixed with an outstanding recruiting class make UNC a serious threat. Theo Pinson, Justin Jackson, and Joel Berry are all ready to step right in and play big minutes. The Duke-UNC rivalry will be a fun one to watch this year.

7. Florida 

Key Returners: Michael Frazier, Kasey Hill, Chris Walker, Dorian Finney-Smith

Key Losses: Patric Young, Scottie Wilbekin, Casey Prather, Will Yeguette

Key Additions: (24) Devon Robinson, (29) Brandone Francis, (43) Chris Chiozza

The Gators lose a lot of experience from their Final Four squad last season, but they also bring back a ton of talent. Chris Walker who missed half of last season due to eligibility issues will be back and ready for a breakout year. Hill, Frazier, and Finney-Smith are all back and were key contributors to last years team. The Gators are stacked again, and will look to make a second straight trip to the Final Four.

8. Michigan 

Key Returners: Caris Levert, Glenn Robinson Jr., Derrick Walton Jr., Spike Albright, Zak Irvin

Key Losses: Nik Stauskas, Mitch McGary, Jordan Morgan, Jon Horford(Transfer)

Key Additions: Kameron Chatman

A lot of questions are still to be answered about this Michigan team. The main one being “Who will go Pro?” But one thing I have learned to never do is doubt John Beilien. Derrick Walton Jr. showed the majority of a Senior last year in his Freshmen campaign, and many people expect Caris Levert to have an All American type season. The Wolverines certainly have the talent to repeat as Big 10 Champions.

9. Texas 

Key Returners: Javan Felix, Cameron Ridley, Isaiah Taylor, Jonathan Holmes, Conner Lammert, Prince Ebeh

Key Losses: None

Key Additions: Jordan Barnett

Remember when Rick Barnes was on the hot seat? Well the seat is no longer hot, and Barnes returns every single player from a Texas team that surprised everyone last season. The Longhorns just might be the only team that contend with Kansas for a Big 12 Championship, and if the Longhorns can add Myles Turner, they could be a huge threat to the Jayhawk’s streak.

10. Virginia

Key Returners: Justin Anderson,Anthony Gill, Malcolm Brogden,Mike Tobey, Evan Notle

Key Losses: Joe Harris, Akil Mitchell, Thomas Rogers

Key Additions: B.J. Stith

Tony Bennett’s team shocked the world last year when they won the ACC, and received a one seed in the NCAA tournament. The losses of sharp shooter Joe Harris, and Akil Mitchell will hurt, but the amount of guy they return make them an immediate contender in the ACC once again.

11. UCONN 

Key Returners: Ryan Boatright, Amida Brimah, Phillip Nolan, DeAndre Daniels 

Key Losses: Shabazz Napier, Niels Giffey

Key Additions: (30) Daniel Hamilton

The defending National Champs lose the heart and sole of their team in Shabazz Napier, but don’t count the Huskies out. Ryan Boatright and DeAndre Daniels showed how good they can be in the NCAA tournament, and Amida Brimah continues to get better. Losing Napier is tough, but Kevin Ollie’s team will recover just fine.

12. Wichita St. 

Key Returners: Ron Baker, Fred VanFleet, Tekele Cotton, Evan Wessel, Darius Carter 

Key Losses: Cleanthony Early, Nick Wiggins, Kadeem Carter

Key Additions: Eric Hamilton

The Shockers return a solid core from a team that lost only one game. Ron Baker, Fred VanFleet, and Tekele Cotton will lead the charge and look to make up for their disappointing ending to last season by making it the their second Final Four in three seasons.

13. SMU 

Key Returners: Keith Frazier, Markus Kennedy, Nic Moore, Cannen Cunningham, Ben Moore, Yanick Moreira

Key Losses: Nick Russell, Shawn Williams

Key Additions: (5) Emmanuel Mudiay, Jordan Tolbert (Texas Tech Transfer)

Larry Brown is an absolute stud. Who would have thought he could turn SMU into a contender this fast? He returns a ton of talent as well as brings in arguably the best Freshmen in the country in Emmanuel Mudiay. I strongly believe Mudiay can win Freshmen of the Year this year, and if he does expect SMU to win the AAC.

14. Villanova 

Key Returners: Josh Hart, Ryan Arcidiacono, Patrick Farrell, JayVaughn Pinkston, Daniel Ochefu, Darrun Hilliard II

Key Losses: Tony Chennault, Nick McMahon, James Bell

Key Additions: Mikal Bridges, Phil Booth

The loss of James Bell will hurt the Wildcats but they also return a lot of guys that played key minutes for a team that earned a two seed in the NCAA tournament. Jay Wright’s team will once again look to compete for a Big East Championship.

15. Gonzaga 

Key Returners: Kevin Pangos, Gary Bell Jr., Kyle Dranginis, Przekmek Karnowski

Key Losses: Sam Dower, David Stockton

Key Additions: Kyle Wiltjer (Kentucky Transfer)

Mark Few once again returns a great core of players, these guys plus the addition of former Five star Kyle Wiltjer will make this Gonzaga team a very fun team to watch. They will be fantastic from three point range, and should have no problems taking care of business in the West Coast Conference.

16. Iowa St. 

Key Returners:  Monte Morris, Naz Long, Matt Thomas, Dustin Hogue, Georges Niang, Abdel Nader

Key Losses: Melvin Ejim, DeAndre Kane

Key Additions: Clayton Cluster

Iowa State obviously take a big hit when they lose Ejim and Kane, but the returning talent they have, added with the outstanding coaching of Fred Hoiberg should allow for this Cyclones team to once again shoot lights out from three, and be capable of beating anybody.

17. Nebraska

Key Returners: Terran Pettway, Shavon Shields, Walter Pitchford, Taj Webster, Benny Parker 

Key Losses: Ray Gallegos, Mike Peltz

Key Additions: Tarin Smith, Jacob Hammond

Nebraska was another team that shocked people last year. It’s been well known Tim Miles would turn the program around, but I don’t think anyone expected it to happen this fast. Returning guys like Shields, Pettway, and Pitchford is huge, and will guarantee Nebraska fans another exciting season of basketball.

18. Louisville 

Key Returners: Chris Jones, Wayne Blackshear, Terry Rozier

Key Losses: Russ Smith, Luke Hankock, Montrezl Harrell

Key Additions: (32) Shaqquan Aaron, (33) Quinton Snider

Rick Pitino loses a lot from his 2014 team, but his guard play will once again be outstanding. Chris Jones will be looked upon to score more, and Terry Rozier will step right in and try to make up for the loss of Russ Smith. These guys, plus the additions of Shaqquan Aaron, and Quinton Snider make the Cardinals a dangerous team.

19. Kansas State

Key Returners: Marcus Foster, Nino Williams, Nigel Johnson, Jevon Thomas, Wesley Iwundu, Thomas Gipson, D.J. Johnson

Key Losses: Shane Southwell, Will Spradling

Key Additions: Justin Edwards (Maine Transfer) Brandon Bolden (Georgetown Transfer), Stephen Hurt

Bruce Weber loses some Senior leadership, but outside of that his team returns a ton of key contributors from last years team. Marcus Foster is a potential All American, and from people I’ve talked with Justin Edwards was one of the best players on the court in their practices last year. Look for the Wildcats to finish near the top of the Big 12

20. Oklahoma

Key Returners: Jordan Woodard, Isaiah Cousins, Buddy Hield, Ryan Spangler, Frank Booker 

Key Losses: Cameron Clark, Tyler Neal

Key Additions: Khadeem Latin, Dante Buford

Lon Kruger’s high scoring Sooners return a lot of guys that were big time factors in their 2014 campaign. The loss of Cameron Clark will not be easy to overcome, in order for the Sooners to see the same success they saw last  year, guys like Buddy Hield,and Jordan Woodard will need to have big seasons.

21. Oregon 

Key Returners: Joseph Young, Dominic Artis, Damyean Dotson, Elgin Cook, Ben Carter 

Key Losses: Mike Moser, Johnathon Lloyd, Richard Armadi

Key Additions: (37) Jaquan Lyle, Michael Chandler (JUCO)

The Ducks are ranked here strictly because I believe they may have the best backcourt in the country. Young, Artis, and Dotson will be lethal. Plus the additions of Jaquan Lyle makes them even scarier. But for the Ducks to compete for a Pac 12 Championship JUCO Transfer and former Louisville commit Michael Chandler will need to have a big year inside.

22. Michigan State 

Key Returners: Travis Trice, Branden Dawson, Kenny Kaminski, Denzel Valentine, Matt Costello 

Key Losses: Keith Appling, Adrien Payne, Gary Harris

Key Additions: Lourawls Nairn, Javon Bess

Michigan State takes a huge hit by losing arguably their three best players, but if anyone can overcome this it is Tom Izzo. The Spartans still return a solid core from a team that won the Big 10 tournament. Branden Dawson will need to score the ball more if the Spartans want to compete for a Big 10 Championship.

23. VCU 

Key Returners: JeQuan Lewis, Briante Weber, Mo Alie-Cox, Jordan Burgess, Treveon Graham, Melvin Johnson

Key Losses: Juvonte Reddic

Key Additions: Terry Larrier, Justin Tilman

The Rams return a solid core from a team that earned a five seed in the NCAA tournament. Treveon Graham is a stud, and a big reason I believe the Rams will win A-10 title.

24. San Diego State

Key Returners: Dwayne Polee II, Aqeel Quinn, Winston Shepard, J.J. O’ Brien, Matt Shringley, Skylar Spencer, Dakari Allen 

Key Losses: Marcus Thames, Josh Davis

Key Additions: Malik Pope

The loss of Marcus Thames is a huge one. Thames was the leader and go to guy last year for the Aztecs. Guys like Dwayne Polle, and Winston Shepard will need to have big seasons if the Aztecs want to return to the Sweet 16.

25. Syracuse 

Key Returners: Trevor Cooney, Rakeem Christmas, DaJuan Coleman, Michael Gbinije

Key Losses: Tyler Ennis, C.J. Fair, Jerami Grant

Key Additions: (28) Chris McCullough, Kaleb Joseph

I’m putting the Orange simply because of how good of a job Jim Boeheim does every single season. The losses of Ennis, Fair, and Grant will be tough to overcome. The Orange will rely on the inside play of Rakeem Christmas and DaJuan Coleman. It could be a very frustrating season for Syracuse fans at times.

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