The USA Today/ESPN preseason Top 25 is out for college basketball, and Duke is starting out as the first No. 1 in 2010. It’s not that much of a surprise, because Duke is coming off winning the College Basketball National Championship Game. What might be surprising to some fans of college sports though, is that the NCAA college basketball season is growing closer on the horizon.
Following Duke is Michigan State in the No. 2 slot, after they made it to another Final Four last April. Butler, which finished the 2009-10 season as the No. 2 ranked team, begins the 2010-11 preseason ranked No. 18. No. 3 West Virginia isn’t even ranked this time around, leaving the Top 25 packed with teams that didn’t finish last year with a very good streak of games. Maybe that means that the world of college basketball is going to be very wide open in the next season.
Rounding out the first Top 25 (after Duke and Michigan State) is Kansas State, Pittsburgh, and Ohio State in that order. It’s a very interesting set of teams, with two teams from the Big Ten Conference right there at the top. It’s also a bit of a surprise that Kansas and North Carolina didn’t find themselves in the top five. The rest of the top ten (in order) are Villanova, Kansas, Purdue, North Carolina, and Kentucky.
It’s definitely far too early to put a lot of validity into these preseason college basketball polls, but it going to be indicative of where voters are leaning in the 2010-11 college basketball season. Duke deserves to be No. 1 after they won the last championship, and that No. 1 slot should be theirs to hold on to until they lose it. Having Michigan State hot on their heels will make the first invitational tournaments of the 2010-11 season that much more exciting.
Voters are also predicting that the Duke vs. North Carolina rivalry is about to become watchable again, as it certainly wasn’t last season. Could North Carolina have a top 10 program in their house again? It also looks like the Pac-10 Conference is going to have a down year if we believe how the coaches are voting, with the only team to even make it into the Top 25 are the Washington Huskies down at No. 16. Don’t sleep on the Washington State Cougars, who could have a first round NBA Draft selection residing in Klay Thompson.
2010 NCAA Basketball Preseason Poll
2. Michigan State
3. Kansas State
5. Ohio State
9. North Carolina
23. Virginia Tech