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Monday, November 9, 2009

College Basketball 2009-10 Preview: Dick Weiss' Top 25

Kansas' offseason was a wild ride, with out-of-control brawls against members of the school's football team, guard Brady Morningstar being arrested and then suspended for a DUI and an ongoing soap opera involving McDonald's All-American freshman forward Xavier Henry, who initially signed with Memphis, was released from his letter when John Calipari left for Kentucky, committed to Kansas, then almost changed his mind before comming to his senses.

But basketball season is here and all of that has been forgotten.

The Jayhawks are a near unanimous preseason No. 1 in almost every poll. They have a proven coach in Bill Self, who won a national championship in 2008, and has five Big 12 titles on his resume. They have a young team, with only two seniors, and Henry on board leading an influx of talent.

All they have to do is put it together on the court.

"Everything is a sense of urgency," Jayhawks senior point guard Sherron Collins said. "We have a bull's-eye on our back and we can't get caught up in the hype. My message is to take everything seriously, don't take anything for granted."

1. Kansas: Junior center Cole Aldrich, a 6-11, 245-pound menace in the paint, and Collins, who might be the best point guard in the country, both could have declared for the NBA draft following the Jayhawks' NCAA Sweet 16 run last spring and been first-round picks. But they stayed, along with three other holdovers from the 2008 national championship team, to try to win another. Self has at least three more future pros - freshman guard Xavier Henry, sophomore forward Marcus Morris and St. Anthony's (N.J.) product Tyshawn Taylor, a sophomore point guard - and they should make the Jayhawks the class of the powerful Big 12 once again.

2. Texas: In almost any other season, the Longhorns would easily be No. 1, but they're not even favored in their conference with Kansas on top. Rick Barnes has built a team with as much versatility and depth as the 2003 Final Four team, if not more. Center Dexter Pittman and power forward Damion James are back for their senior seasons, and Barnes has upgraded his backcourt with the addition of Florida transfer Jai Lucas, impact freshman Avery Bradley and 6-7 freshman swingman Jordan Hamilton.

3. Michigan State: The Spartans saved the Final Four last season in downtrodden Detroit when they defeated UConn and advanced to the championship game before falling to North Carolina. Tom Izzo has guided Michigan State to 12 straight NCAA bids, the 2000 title and four trips to the Final Four this decade. They could return as a new one kicks off. Junior point guard Kalin Lucas, a Mateen Cleaves clone, is the best player in the rugged Big Ten and should combine with Chris Allen, Durrell Summers and Korie Lucious to give Michigan State the best backcourt in the country. The preseason has been injury-plagued in East Lansing, including senior power forward Raymar Morgan, who can't afford to miss much time with an ankle injury as Izzo searches for a physical presence in the paint to replace Goran Suton.

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At December 8, 2009 at 9:56 PM , Blogger University said...

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