Big League Clu continues his college basketball top 10 preview.
So here is the second installment of my breakdown of the NCAA Mens basketball top 10. I present to you the very best now, as we break down teams #5 all the way to #1. Check them out!
#5 Michigan Wolverines
2011-2012 Record: 24-10 (13-5), Big 10 regular season champs (Lost in the first round)
A few things to point out at first… Michigan starts off the season at #5, which is actually the highest ranking that they have received since 1993, when they had two back-to-back national title game appearances (remember the fab 5 anyone?). It’s also worth to note that Michigan is one of three Big 10 teams ranked in the top five this season (we’ll get to the other two). The main man who should bring all the excitement for the wolverines this season is Sophomore guard Trey Burke, who opted to stay for his second season instead of turning pro (a smart move in my opinion) as he led Michigan in scoring with 14.8 ppg and was named Big 10 freshman of the year and second team All Big 10. With him and Junior guard Tim Hardaway Jr. (14.6 ppg) also as a big threat for UM, they should be a contender to get to their first Final Four in quite some time.
#4 Ohio State Buckeyes
2011-2012 Record: 31-8, (13-5), Lost in the Final Four
Despite a solid 2011-12 campaign where the Buckeyes made it all the way to the Final Four, they might be in for a world of hurt in 2012-13. There’s no more Jared Sullinger, who was a major force under the basket for them but now plays for the Boston Celtics. The 2012 OSU team looks much different, as they lack a talented big man. While, they’re smaller, they are offensively sound, if that makes any sense to you. They should be ok, as Junior Deshaun Thomas looks to be the clear cut offensive juggernaut on this team. They also have that scrappy white boy Aaron Craft (8.8 ppg, 4.6 apg, 3.2 rpg), who many Syracuse fans hate just from the Elite 8 game last year, because he might have single-handedly been the reason for Ohio State punching their ticket into last year’s Final Four. Might not be the same story this season though… We shall see.
#3 Kentucky Wildcats
2011-2012 Record: 38-2 (16-0), 2011-12 National Champions
What can coach Calipari do to out do himself after winning a national championship last year? Simple… win it again in 2013. He has certainly reloaded his team this year, with a bunch of potential one and done Freshmen who are insanely good. He brings with him the No. 2 recruiting class for 2012 (according to the ESPN 100 rankings of course), including the top-ranked player in the country, Nerlens Noel. Noel, who was sought out by a ton of colleges, chose Kentucky and will immediately step into the shoes left by Mr. Unibrow himself, Anthony Davis (who of course won a plethora of SEC and NCAA awards, a National title as a freshman, and decided to peace it to the NBA). The 2011 Wildcats D was one of the toughest in the nation. They allowed probably one of the lowest field-goal percentages, points per possession, and led the nation blocks per game and block percentage. This year they will rely heavily on Noel to be a one man wrecking crew, as he did average 3.9 blocks per game as a HS senior. Yes, Kentucky did lose Davis to the NBA, but with the core of their defense still there, and not to mention Nerlens Noel, they should manage to be near the top of the NCAA title chase again.
#2 Louisville Cardinals
2011-2012 Record: 30-10 (10-8), Big East Tourney champs (lost in Final Four)
Want to talk about comparing Coach Pitino’s Cardinals to Coach Cal’s Wildcats? Total opposite philosophies for sure. Where there was one clear cut player to watch out for in Kentucky, Louisville had five guys who were capable of scoring at will and being a pain in any opponents side. They have a couple of tall, lanky guys, but they play small and scrappy and they live and die on the “theres no I in team” philosophy for sure. Guards Russ Smith (11.5 ppg) and Peyton Silva (9.1 ppg, 5.6 apg) look to be the backbone of the Cardinals front court. Louisville has already been picked to be the top team in the Big East this year, as they for sure look to build off of what they did last year as they try to make it back to the Final Four for a second straight season.
#1 Indiana Hoosiers
2011-2012 Record: 27-9; 11-7 in Big 10 (Lost in the Sweet 16)
The Hoosiers are the third and final team out of the Big Ten to be in the top 5 this year. By the way… When was the last time Indiana was ranked #1 in the country?? Have to think about that right? Its been a while; all the way back to the Bobby Knight days for the Hoosiers. But good for them! They finally have a superbly formidable team that could be a major powerhouse in the Big 10 and the NCAA. Last season, the Hoosiers had four players average over 10 ppg.. Just an FYI, all of those players have returned this year, so they are a very well versed and dangerous team. The main guy to watch for is Sophomore big man Cody Zeller (15.6ppg, 6.6 rpg), who was Big 10 freshman of the year (along with Michigan’s Trey Burke) and also made the All-Freshman team. Now, as a Sophomore, he looks to be even more poised to help get Indiana get back to the Final Four for the first time in ten years, and possibly even win their first title since 1987.
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