Never too early for a new Top 25

Published April 07, 2010

| FoxSports

We waste little time here at FOXSports.com, so we unveil our Ridiculously Early Preseason Top 25 for the 2010-11 campaign.

We'll also make educated predictions with players. For instance, you won't see us predicting that Evan Turner will be back in an Ohio State uniform or that Kentucky will get any of John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins or Patrick Patterson back next season. We're betting that, ultimately, Greg Monroe leaves Georgetown, Devin Ebanks isn't back in Morgantown, A.J. Ogilvy doesn't return to Vanderbilt and Scotty Hopson leaves Tennessee.

So, with that in mind, we take the first crack at next year. Send all concerns, complaints and kudos to jngoodman@aol.com. Now that I have time on my hands, I assure you I will respond to every one of them.

1. DUKE

Record: 35-5 (national champions)

Lose: Jon Scheyer, Brian Zoubek, Lance Thomas

Potential Early Entry Departures: Kyle Singler

Key Returnees: Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith, Miles Plumlee, Mason Plumlee, Andre Dawkins

Newcomers: Kyrie Irving, Seth Curry, Josh Hairston, Tyler Thornton, Carrick Felix

The Blue Devils will lose their starting point guard, Scheyer, but will replace him with one of the top freshmen in the country in Irving. The key whether Duke is a Top 5 team is whether Singler returns, but we think the versatile junior will be back in Durham for a final go-around. Look for a major jump from Mason Plumlee, and Coach K will also get a boost in the backcourt from Stephen Curry's little brother, Seth, who sat out this past season after transferring from Liberty.

2. MICHIGAN STATE

Record: 28-9 (Final Four)

Lose: Raymar Morgan

Potential Early Entry Departure: None

Key Returnees: Kalin Lucas, Delvon Roe, Durrell Summers, Chris Allen, Draymond Green, Korie Lucious

Newcomers: Keith Appling, Adreian Payne, Russell Byrd, Alex Gauna

Morgan is the lone player who departs for a team that went to the Final Four and could have won it all with its floor leader. Lucas will be coming off a torn Achilles', Roe's knee issues remain a concern and Allen and Summers are both seniors and should be more consistent. Green has established himself as a leader, and Izzo brings in a pair of freshmen studs with Appling, a wing, and Payne, one of the most talented big men in the nation.

3. BUTLER

Record: 33-5 (Lost in national title game)

Lose: Willie Veasley, Avery Jukes Potential Early Entry: Gordon Hayward

Key Returnees: Gordon Hayward, Matt Howard, Shelvin Mack, Ronald Nored, Shawn Vanzant, Zach Hahn, Andrew Smith

Newcomers: Khyle Marshall, Chrishawn Hopkins, Erik Fromm

As long as Hayward sticks around, the Bulldogs remain an elite team. If he's gone, Butler will obviously take a major hit and may not even stick in the Top 25. The losses are that of veteran guard Veasley and reserve big man Jukes, but the quartet of Hayward, Mack, Howard and Nored has already proven to be able to hang with anyone.

4. PURDUE

Record: 29-6 (Sweet 16)

Lose: Chris Kramer, Keaton Grant

Potential Early Entry Departure: JaJuan Johnson

Key Returnees: Robbie Hummel, E'Twaun Moore, Lewis Jackson, Kelsey Barlow

Newcomers: Terone Johnson, Donnie Hale, Anthony Johnson, Travis Carroll

Kramer and Grant will be missed, but the key here is whether JaJuan Johnson tests the NBA waters and returns to West Lafayette. Hummel will be back for the start of the season and if Johnson returns, the Boilermakers will have their Big Three and that'll be enough to make them Final Four contenders. Jackson will be healthy to start the year and expect Anthony ohnson, a freshman combo guard, to make an immediate impact.

5. OHIO STATE

Record: 29-8 (Sweet 16)

Lose: P.J. Hill, Kyle Madsen, Jeremie Simmons

Probable Early Entry Departures: Evan Turner

Key Returnees: William Buford, David Lighty, Jon Diebler, Dallas Lauderdale

Newcomers: Jared Sullinger, DeShaun Thomas, Aaron Craft, J.D. Weatherspoon, Lenzelle Smith, Jordan Sibert

It's highly unlikely Turner, the National Player of the Year, returns for his senior season, but the Buckeyes will be a Top 10 team regardless. If he returns, they will be preseason No. 1. Buford, Lighty, Diebler and Lauderdale – all starters – return, and Thad Matta brings in arguably the best freshman-ready player in the country with Sullinger. He also adds another talented frontcourt freshman in Thomas. Look for Craft to step in and get minutes at the point and don't be surprised if Lighty has the ball in his hands more as well.

6. KANSAS STATE

Record: 29-8 (Elite Eight)

Lose: Denis Clemente, Luis Colon, Chris Merriewether

Potential Early Entry Departure: None

Key Returnees: Jacob Pullen, Curtis Kelly, Jamar Samuels, Dominique Sutton, Rodney McGruder, Wally Judge, Jordan Henriquez-Roberts

Newcomers: Freddy Asprilla, Shane Southwell, Will Spradling

The Wildcats will certainly take a hit with the departure of floor leader Clemente, but Pullen will likely return to the point guard spot and he'll have some experienced frontcourt guys around him with senior Kelly and junior Samuels. Senior wing Sutton is also back, and now sophomores McGruder and Judge both have a year under their belts. But the difference-maker could be Asprilla, the FIU transfer who will give Frank Martin the low-post presence K-State lacked this year.

7. VILLANOVA

Record: 25-8 (second round of NCAA tournament)

Lose: Scottie Reynolds, Reggie Redding

Potential Early Entry Departure: None

Key Returnees: Corey Fisher, Corey Stokes, Antonio Pena, Taylor King, Mouphtauo Yarou, Maalik Wayns, Dominic Cheek

Newcomers: Jayvaughn Pinkston, James Bell, Markus Kennedy

Losing Reynolds and Redding will hurt, but Jay Wright can slide in a couple of guys who are just as talented in the backcourt with Wayns and Cheek. Fisher and Stokes will also be back, and the Wildcats will bring in three freshmen – led by Pinkston, a tough power forward. The other key will be the development of strong and athletic big man Yarou – who missed much of last season due to Hepatitis B.

8. PITTSBURGH

Record: 25-9 (second round of the NCAA tournament)

Lose: Jermaine Dixon Possible Early Entry Departures: None

Key Returnees: Ashton Gibbs, Brad Wanamaker, Gilbert Brown, Gary McGhee, Nasir Robinson, Travon Woodall, Dante Taylor

Newcomers: J.J. Moore, Cameron Wright, Isaiah Epps

The Panthers weren't expected to do much this past season after losing four starters, but Jamie Dixon performed some magic to the tune of 25 wins. Pittsburgh's lone loss is that of Jermaine Dixon, but guards Gibbs and Wanamaker have another year under their belt and McGhee made dramatic improvement in the past year. The key could be the progress of Taylor up front.

9. GONZAGA

Record: 27-7 (second round of the NCAA tournament)

Lose: Matt Bouldin Potential Early Entry: None

Key Returnees: Steven Gray, Robert Sacre, Elias Harris, Demetri Goodson, Kelly Olynyk, Mangisto Arop

It won't be easy to replace Bouldin, but the 'Zags still have plenty to remain atop the WCC and be a fixture in the Top 25. Gray and Goodson are a talented and experienced backcourt and Harris and Sacre give Mark Few and Co. a front-line tandem that can match up with just about anyone.

10. BYU

Record: 30-6 (second round of the NCAA tournament)

Lose: Jonathan Tavernari, Chris Miles, Lamont Morgan Jr.

Possible Early Entry Departures: Jimmer Fredette

Key Returnees: Jimmer Fredette, Tyler Haws, Jackson Emery, Brandon Davies, Noah Hartsock, Chris Collinsworth, Nick Martineau

Newcomers: Kyle Collinsworth, Anson Winder

As long as Fredette returns – which he should – Dave Rose and the Cougars will be the clear-cut favorites in the Mountain West. They lose just one starter, Miles, and sixth man in Tavernari – but still have Fredette, Haws and Emery, their top three scorers. Plus, 6-foot-9 Chris Collinsworth returns from a two-year mission after playing nearly 16 minutes a game as a freshman.

11. MEMPHIS

Record: 24-10 (NIT)

Lose: Doneal Mack, Willie Kemp

Probable Early Entry Departure: Elliott Williams

Key Returnees: Elliott Williams, Wesley Witherspoon, Angel Garcia, Will Coleman

Newcomers: Will Barton, Joe Jackson, Jelan Kendrick, Tarik Black, Chris Crawford, Hippolyte Tsafack, Antonio Barton

Talk about loading up. That's exactly what Josh Pastner has done with arguably the top freshman class in the nation. If Williams returns, this could be a buzzsaw with the excess of guards. Jackson is a big-time floor leader from the area, Barton has all the tools to be a dominant wing and Kendrick is versatile and productive. Add Black, an undersized big man, and Crawford – a deadly shooter – and the Tigers could have more talent than they ever had in the John Calipari Era. Witherspoon and Garcia will also figure into the equation in Memphis.

12. NORTH CAROLINA

Record: 20-17 (NIT)

Lose: Marcus Ginyard, Deon Thompson

Potential Early Entry Departures: Ed Davis

Key Returnees: Tyler Zeller, Larry Drew II, John Henson, Will Graves, Dexter Strickland, Travis Wear, David Wear, Leslie McDonald

Newcomers: Harrison Barnes, Reggie Bullock, Kendall Marshall

The Tar Heels were a mess this season, but now Roy Williams will bring in a stud in the No. 1 freshman in the country, Barnes, in addition to another scorer in Bullock and a point guard in Marshall who should challenge Drew for starting floor leader duties. Zeller and Henson are back on the front line and even if Davis leaves, which is my gut feeling, UNC will be long and athletic and difficult to score against.

13. TEMPLE

Record: 29-6 (first round of NCAA tournament)

Lose: Ryan Brooks, Luis Guzman Possible Early Entry Departures: None

Key Returnees: Juan Fernandez, Lavoy Allen, Ramone Moore, Michael Eric

Newcomers: Anthony Lee, Aaron Brown

The Owls won 29 games and return four of their top five scorers from last season. Brooks will be difficult to replace, but Fernandez has a full year under his belt and Allen is a threat in the paint. Fran Dunphy did a terrific job this past season and it'll likely be more of the same this coming season.

14. FLORIDA

Record: 21-13 (first round of the NCAA tournament)

Lose: Dan Werner Potential Early Entry: None

Key Returnees: Kenny Boynton, Erving Walker, Chandler Parsons, Alex Tyus, Vernon Macklin, Erik Murphy

Newcomers: Patric Young, Casey Prather

Billy Donovan and the Gators got back into the NCAA tourney after a two-year hiatus, and they will be improved this season with the return of everyone except for Werner and the addition of Young and Prather. Boynton will be improved with a year of experience and the front line will be deep and talented with guys like Parsons, Tyus, Macklin, Murphy and Young.

15. KANSAS

Record: 33-3 (lost in second round of NCAA tournament)

Lose: Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich

Probable Early Entry Departures: Xavier Henry

Key Returnees: Tyshawn Taylor, Brady Morningstar, Marcus and Markieff Morris, Tyrel Reed, Thomas Robinson, Jeff Withey, Elijah Johnson

Newcomers: Royce Woolridge

Collins graduates, Aldrich is leaving a year early for the NBA and Henry will likely depart after just one season in Lawrence. However, Bill Self still has solid guards with Taylor, Morningstar, Reed and sophomore Elijah Johnson – and he could land highly touted point guard Josh Selby. The Morris twins are both back, and Withey and Robinson should both receive expanded roles.

16. BAYLOR

Record: 28-8 (Elite 8)

Lose: Tweety Carter, Josh Lomers

Potential Early Entry Departures: LaceDarius Dunn, Ekpe Udoh

Key Returnees: Anthony Jones, Quincy Acy, A.J. Walton, Nolan Dennis

Newcomers: Perry Jones, Stargell Love, Bakari Turner

Two starters – Carter and Lomers – graduate, but the key will be what happens with both Udoh and Dunn and whether they declare and ultimately leave early for the NBA. If the Bears lose both, it's unlikely they will be a legitimate Top 25 team. However, if they get one or both back, they will have a shot with the addition of ultra-talented freshman big man Perry Jones.

17. ILLINOIS

Record: 21-15 (NIT)

Lose: Dominique Keller

Potential Early Entry Departure: None

Key Returnees: Demetri McCamey, Mike Davis, Mike Tisdale, D.J. Richardson, Brandon Paul, Bill Cole, Tyler Griffey

Newcomers: Jereme Richmond, Meyers Leonard, Crandall Head

The Illini didn't quite live up to expectations this past season, but showed glimpses of what they can be. No one of note is gone, and McCamey had a stretch in the middle of the season when he finally "got it." Now Richardson and Paul have a year under their belts, but the key will be how quickly the incoming freshmen – Richmond, Leonard and Head – figure things out.

18. KENTUCKY

Record: 35-3 (Elite Eight)

Lose: Ramon Harris, Perry Stevenson

Probable Early Entry Departure: John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson, Eric Bledsoe, Darnell Dodson Potential Early Entry: Daniel Orton

Key Returnees: Darius Miller, DeAndre Liggins, Jon Hood

Newcomers: Enes Kanter, Stacey Poole

I know it sounds crazy because no one has a clue what the UK roster will look like, but I'm optimistic it'll work itself out and the Wildcats will have a clear-cut Top 25 team. Miller and Liggins are solid on the wings, and I'm still not 100 percent sold Orton won't be back. Expect John Calipari to land a couple of freshmen to go along with Kanter and Poole – and one of them will likely be the top guard in the nation, Brandon Knight.

19. WASHINGTON

Record: 26-10 (Sweet 16)

Lose: Quincy Pondexter

Potential Early Entry Departure: None

Key Returnees: Isaiah Thomas, Venoy Overton, Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Justin Holiday, Abdul Gaddy, Elston Turner, Scott Suggs, Darnell Gant, Tyreese Breshers, C.J. Wilcox

Newcomers: Desmond Simmons

The Huskies bring everyone back – except for Pondexter. That'll be a hit, but not one that Lorenzo Romar can't recover from. Thomas, Overton and Gaddy – now with a year under his belt – will be one of the nation's top backcourts. Bryan-Amaning finally began to realize his potential down the stretch and guys like Holiday and Suggs had their moments.

20. XAVIER

Record: 26-9 (Elite Eight)

Lose: Jason Love Potential Early Entry: Jordan Crawford

Key Returnees: Jordan Crawford, Terrell Holloway, Jamel McLean, Mark Lyons, Dante Jackson, Kenny Frease, Brad Redford

Newcomers: Jordan Latham, Justin Martin, Jay Canty, Griffin McKenzie

Chris Mack had a terrific rookie campaign after taking over for Sean Miller, and it could be much of the same next year – if Crawford returns. Xavier still has quality guards with Holloway, Lyons and Jackson without Crawford, but the Musketeers need him to be a legit A-10 favorite and a Top 25 club.

21. RICHMOND

Record: 26-9 (first round of the NCAA tournament)

Lose: David Gonzalvez, Ryan Butler Potential Early Entry: None

Key Returnees: Kevin Anderson, Justin Harper, Dan Geriot, Josh Duinker, Kevin Smith, Darrius Garrett

Newcomers: Derrick Williams, Cedrick Lindsay, Wayne Sparrow

Chris Mooney's only major loss is that of Gonzalvez, but he still has the top player in the A-10 in Anderson to build around. Harper has a world of potential, and the key may be the development of Garrett and whether Geriot can return to the form that made him one of the league's top players before a major injury.

22. VIRGINIA TECH

Record: 25-9 (NIT)

Lose: None Potential Early Entry: Malcolm Delaney

Key Returnees: Malcolm Delaney, Jeff Allen, Dorenzo Hudson, J.T. Thompson, Terrell Bell, Victor Davila

Newcomers: Allan Chaney, Tyrone Garland, Jarell Eddie

It'll obviously depend on whether Delaney returns, but it'd be shocking if the Hokies star doesn't return for his senior campaign in Blacksburg. Seth Greenberg's team just missed out on the Big Dance and will have senior seniors next season and also add Chaney, a Florida transfer, to the mix.

23. MISSOURI

Record: 23-11 (second round of the NCAA tournament)

Lose: J.T. Tiller, Zaire Taylor, Keith Ramsey Potential Early Entry: None

Key Returnees: Kim English, Marcus Denmon, Laurence Bowers, Justin Safford, Michael Dixon, Miguel Paul

Newcomers: Phil Pressey, Tony Mitchell, Kadeem Green, Richy Kreklow

Mike Anderson's system is proven, and now he'll add two big-time recruits with the addition of Pressey and Mitchell. I'm not sure there's a better floor leader for the up-tempo style than the speedy Pressey, and Mitchell can be a star in Columbia. The Tigers lose Tiller and Taylor – a pair of underrated stars who really got after it defensively – but still have guys like English, Denmon and Bowers – who have proven themselves.

24. SYRACUSE

Record: 30-5 (Sweet 16)

Lose: Andy Rautins, Arinze Onuaku

Probable Early Entry Departure: Wesley Johnson

Key Returnees: Brandon Triche, Scoop Jardine, Kris Joseph, DaShonte Riley, Mookie Jones

Newcomers: Fab Melo, Dion Waiters

Rautins and Onuaku are definitely gone, and it'd be a shocker if Johnson didn't join them and leave. However, Joseph could emerge as a star, Triche and Jardine were impressive sharing point guard duties, and Waiters can come in and make an instant impact as a scoring guard. Melo will be a work in progress, but he's big and will give Jim Boeheim another big to go along with Jackson and Riley.

25. UNLV

Record: 25-9 (first round of NCAA tournament)

Lose: Darris Santee

Potential Early Entry Departure: None

Key Returnees: Tre'Von Willis, Chase Stanback, Oscar Bellfield, Derrick Jasper, Matt Shaw, Bruce Massamba, Kendall Wallace

Newcomers: Henry Buckley

Lon Kruger's top eight scorers are back from a team that won 25 games last season. The backcourt is experienced with seniors Willis and Jasper and a pair of juniors – Stanback and Bellfield. The frontcourt is solid with Massamba and Shaw.

20 more to watch Georgetown, Flordia State, Louisville, , Texas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Dayton, San Diego State, Vanderbilt, Wisconsin, Wichita State, New Mexico State, UTEP, West Virginia, Nevada, Wofford, Saint Louis, Cincinnati, Mississippi State, Loyola Marymount

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