On Monday, November 9, college basketball fans all around the country will tune into ESPN and sigh in relief as NCAA basketball returns to action. After a wild 2008-09 season, this upcoming season shows no signs of a letdown in terms of excitement. Top players in the top conferences are returning and highly recruited freshmen provide excitement for all fans this season. The following is my ranking of the top five teams in the country and why I think they will do well this season.
1. Kansas Jay Hawks -Bill Self has point guard Sharron Collins and center Cole Aldrich both returning. Each player is in the running for Big 12 Player of the Year as well as the Wooden Award for the best player in college basketball. If the Jay Hawks can make it through a tough Big 12, a march through the NCAA Tournament should be a breeze.
2. Texas Longhorns -Explosive forward Damion James is back for another season in Austin, which means the Longhorns will be putting pressure on Kansas all season long. Freshman guard Avery Bradley had unlimited range beyond the three-point line, while Dexter Pittman and Gary Johnson solidify the defense on the inside.
3. Michigan State Spartans -The Spartans were the best teams in the Big Ten and one of the top teams in the country last season. After being knocked off by North Carolina in the championship game, Michigan State kept their core players in Kalin Lucas and Raymar Morgan. With these two players coming back, Tom Izzo will have this team challenging for the top spot once again.
4. North Carolina Tar Heels -The Tar Heels won the title last season but lost four of their five starters to the NBA. Roy Williams has a loaded front court with Player of the Year candidate Ed Davis down low with Deon Thompson. Tyler Zeller should play well if he can stay helathy and incoming freshman John Henson is a versatile forward who can play inside or out. If the guards on this team can play consistently on both ends of the floor, UNC will have a chance to repeat as NCAA champions.
5. Kentucky Wildcats -John Callipari brings hope to a team in desperate need of a turn around. Patrick Patterson is the main returning player for the Wildcats as he provides size and scoring in the post. Freshmen John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins will most likely turn pro after this season so they have a lot to prove in one year and should be able to get the job done